“And simply put, it’s a stunning zombie game because, like every half-decent zombie flick, it’s not about zombies. It’s about panic, who you are, and what you’re willing to become.” – Eurogamer review of Day-Z
I’ve just spent a very enjoyable afternoon playing Tank’s Camp – a game I designed to mix elements of the Prisoners’ Dilemma and randomness to create the sort of scenario described in the quote above. I’ve also been inspired by Hordes / Die2Nite and I’m extremely grateful to Yannick Bourquin at Kobojo for introducing me to these games, sharing his thoughts with me and getting me thinking along these lines.
I’m not sure the balance is quite right, but first play tests went well, with a good mix of treachery, mob rule and viciousness quickly appearing among nine good friends. If you have any comments then please let me know.
Dedicated to my good friend Tankred Finke, on the occasion of his 30th birthday.
You are survivors of the zombie apocalypse – for now. You know that eventually you too will fall victim to the zombie hordes. You find yourself together with a group of fellow survivors and form a temporary camp with them. You cannot stay too long as each night zombies will attack, and the longer your camp is in place, the more zombies will attack. Perhaps the others can help you gather enough food to make it to the next camp site. Perhaps not…
You will need:
– 2 packs of playing cards (jokers removed)
– 1 six sided dice
– Scorecard / piece of paper
Shuffle the cards and place them face down in the middle of the table. Calculate the starting food and defence rating of the camp:
– 1/2 food point for each survivor (rounded up)
– 2 defence points for each survivor
Gather enough food to reach the next camp site, before your camp is overrun by zombies. How much food is enough? When you decide to make a break for it, roll one dice. This is the amount of food you need to reach the campsite safely. If you have less food than the dice roll then you die.
Each round players can go in any order. They can decide to either forage for food, or build defences.
Foraging for food
You venture out into the forest hunting for scraps. Who knows what you will find, and how much you will share with your companions.
Take 1 card from the pack in the centre for each consecutive round you go foraging, up to a maximum of 3 cards. The amount of food is calculated as follows:
– 2 – 5: these cards are worth 0 food
– 6 – 10: these cards are worth 1 food
– J, Q, K, A: these cards are worth 2 food
After everyone has taken their turn, and those building defences have said what they built, players who went foraging declare how much food they found in the forest.
Players MUST place cards numbered 2-5 face down in front of them without showing other players what cards they got. Allowing other players to see these cards is an automatic capital offence.
Players may place other cards EITHER face up in the centre of the table (share food with everyone) OR they can place these cards face down along with other discards in the pile in front of them (stash food for themselves)
Players that stay in the camp can either build defences against the zombie attack that evening or improvise personal weapons.
– If the player works on camp defences then the camp’s defence rating is improved by +2
– If the player works on personal weapons then their weapon rating is increased +2
– The player may also decide to work on both, adding +1 to both camp defences and their own weapons
Justice and fights
It’s a post apocalyptic world and there’s only one form of justice: execution. If players feel someone isn’t pulling their weight in the camp, perhaps not sharing all their food with the camp, then they can mete out some rough justice at any time (apart from when someone is trying to escape).
By majority vote players can lynch any member of the camp. Players can abstain from voting if they don’t want to take sides. There is no appeal, and the lynched player is immediately killed.
If a player (or players) wants to try and kill someone without a majority, a fight breaks out. Players in danger of being lynched can call on the support of others to protect them by joining their side. Each player involved in the fight roles the dice and adds their weapon rating to give an attack score. Only the highest attack score from each side counts. Everyone on the side with the lower attack score is killed.
Any food in the discard / stash piles of players that are killed by lynching or in combat are shared by the victors. Weapon scores are not affected by fighting inside the camp.
After players have made their moves three things happen in the camp in sequence:
- Zombie attack
Any surviving players must have enough food for the night as well. Each player eats 1 food. If there is not enough food to go round in the camp’s shared reserves, players decide how to distribute it by majority vote, fighting for it (see rules above) or they may draw food from their stash (the discard pile in front of them). NB if players end up fighting for food then at least one will be killed in the process. Players can only elect to take food from their stash BEFORE fighting commences.
Players that do not have food to eat by either of these methods die of starvation.
Finally, each night zombies attack. If the strength of the zombie attack is greater than the camp’s defence rating, then the zombies breach the camp’s defences and anyone without personal weapons is killed.
The strength of the zombie attack = (round number x number of starting players +1) – 8 + roll of dice
Or for simplicity use this look up table and add the roll of a dice:
If the camp defences are breached, anyone with a weapon rating survives, but their weapon rating is reduced by 1 point. The base defences are not decreased if zombies breach them. Remember to remove 2 points from the camp’s defence rating for each player that dies or escapes.
Any surviving player can now try and escape the camp if they want to. They roll one dice. If they have enough food stashed in the discard pile in front of them, they make it, and get one victory point (Yay!). If they do not have that amount of food, they die in the attempt (no points L).
Players that do not escape get to play another turn.
The game continues until all players are dead or have escaped to the next campsite. Matches are played by replaying the game from the start (no food or weapons are carried over), until one or more players have 3 victory points.
If everyone shares everything, you can theoretically generate enough food for you all to escape … But if anyone starts thinking about themselves, or you have a bad day foraging, well, it is the zombie apocalypse…