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Z is for Zombie

Zombies in tabletop gaming 

 

 

With Halloween almost upon us, I can think of no better subject, no better confluence of wargaming and the supernatural, than the ubiquitous foe that starts with “Z” and ends with “ombie.”

Over the last 10 years or so, zombies have become more common than dread, slumbering Cthulhu as elements in various types of tabletop games and wargames. From the CMON Zombicide series to Fireteam Zero to literally hundreds of others, zombies (and creatures very much like them) are popular adversaries. Heck, there’s even a (very fun) game called “Zombie Dice” where you try to eat brains and avoid getting blasted by shotguns.

Zombies have come a long way in popular culture. Originally park of Caribbean folklore – the dead (or drugged) enslaved to do another’s bidding – they first made more of a splash in now-little-remembered films of the 1930s and 1940s like “The White Zombie” (which, in my opinion, features Bela Lugosi’s best performance) and “I Walked With A Zombie.” George Romero and his long-lived “…of the Dead” series gave us the concept of a zombie plague – and of zombies that will spread their disease through a bite.

It doesn’t seem like it was until the 1990s and into the 2000s that the zombies took off as the sort of “everywhere, all the time” creature that we see now. But practically every wargame you’ll see out there now has at least some faction of zombie hordes or undead that you can field; just look, for instance, at the Nurgle Poxwalkers, Plaguebearers, and so forth in Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40k. But you’ll also find World War II zombies (both Germans and Americans), zombie police, zombie Native Americans (Called, I kid you not, “Zindians”), zombie prison inmates, zombie villagers, zombie conquistadors, zombie dogs, zombie sharks, the list goes on.

And it’s not a bad thing. Let’s face it, zombies are fun. Whether fast or slow, they nevertheless still represent in present society a fear of contagion, the inevitability of death, and it’s fun to field them by the dozens on the board to give your opponent something creepy to try and fight, as a way of combating our own fears about those universal issues.

Furthermore, zombies are fun to paint. Their clothes are ripped and disheveled, their skin mottled with decomposition. They’re gross. There’s any number of ways you can go when you want to depict their rotten madness.

Certainly, there are times when I kind of want to stop and say “Really, zombies? Still? C’mon.” But I know folks can’t seem to get enough of them. And, honestly, I can’t seem to, either.

So, this Halloween, why not set up your terrain, choose a core group of survivors, and pit them against all of the zombies in your collection.

See who lasts longest.

 

About the Author;

Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube

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