Gameday First Play – Hit Z Road
“Sometimes the most scenic roads in life are the detours you didn’t mean to take.”
~ Angela N. Blount, Once Upon an Ever After
You and your fellow players embark on a road trip going south from Chicago along America’s famous Route 66 — now infested by zombies. As you travel though adventures rife with danger, you battle zombie hordes, drive abandoned school buses, scavenge for gas and bullets, and explore a darkened, tainted American countryside full of shambling undead, haunted carnivals, and plumes of toxic gas. Your goal is to stay alive until you reach the safe, sandy beaches of the California coast.
First up, the look of the game is great. It’s supposed to be cobbled together from pieces someone found on the road during a zombie apocalypse… The turn order markers are all different colours and shapes and are made up of a credit card, ‘My name is…’ badge etc All the tokens are made to look like bottle tops and even the box is an edited version of a (I assume made up) family game ‘ Hit the Road’ and the back of the box shows you how to play it! (There is a sheet in the shrink wrap showing Hit Z Road for display purposes…)
So it’s a zombie game yes, but it’s mainly an auction game.
Each player starts with 4 Bullets, 4 Adrenaline, 4 Gas and 4 Survivors plus their leader.
4 pairs of cards are laid out and people bid for turn order which is the order this pairs of cards will be taken. These cards tell you which resources you will find, what events will happen and how many Zombies you fight.
When you bid for turn order you need to keep in mind you’re bidding with your resources and these are needed to help overcome the encounters you’re about to face.
Bidding is the simple version which I’m sure has a name but I have no idea what it is. On you turn you either raise your bid, or pass. If everyone passes in a row the Auction round ends.
So once you finish the Auction, you all pay your resources and then the turn order is changed to match the bidding order. This is the order players will choose the pair of cards.
The cards are divided up into 3 sections. On the left it tells you which resources you’ll collect, the centre (on some cards) tells you what event is on the card if there is one and the right will show you how many zombies you need to fight, if any.
Some (Like the bottom left card in the pic above) tell you which token to pick up. These tokens have an effect, good or bad, on cards that come up later in the game.
So you resolve the left card, left to right, then the right card, left to right…
So you gain the resources, resolve the effect… But before you fight you have to look at the colour of the text the effect is written in. If it’s white you resolve it immediately, red and it effects the routes Zombie fight.
Combat is done via Dice… Firstly you get a ranged attack before the Zombies close in on you. You can spend bullets, for each bullet you spend you roll a black die and for each target you roll, kill a Zombie…
Now you fight tot he death, either your group or theirs. For each survivor you have you roll a black die. Targets kill a Zombie, Skulls kill a Survivor… Some Target Symbols and Skull symbols have a Lightning Bolt symbol on them. With these you can spend an Adrenaline to do an extra action which is to kill an extra zombie for a target or save your ‘to be killed’ survivor’.
The Lightning symbol on its own let’s you spend an Adrenaline to kill a Zombie.
Later on in the game the Green Zombie icons can be Red instead… these are Hordes.
Here, this group of 6 Zombies is a Horde and those 2 little Skulls means you change 2 of the black dice you roll to Red. These are harsher and have a side that kills a survivor with no chance to spend Adrenaline to save them.
You can spend 2 Fuel tokens to escape a fight, but you don’t get to keep the cards which can have points on.
So you go on, over 8 rounds and the player/s who make it (if any!) score points for the route cards they picked up along the way. There are also bonus cards that award 3 points to the player with the most of each resource and the most survivors, most points wins.
I’ve played it twice, 8 players, 1 survivor… I think you need to put survival first and just try and get to the end, then either hope you have the most points, most luck or be alone 🙂
Using the resources you need to survive in order to bid for which route you’re going to take leads to painful auction rounds.
Spend your bullets and adrenaline and you can use gas to escape… but you won’t get any points.
Spend gas and adrenaline and hope your bullets get you out of trouble… but a bad roll puts you in a lot of trouble.
Spend bullets and gas to have plenty of choices in combat… always seems the best option to me but I’ve never survived so… make of that what you will!
It’s a very nice game, easy to play and teach, great theme and fun with the right amount of stress. It’s a cheap one too so well worth picking up if it sounds like your kind of thing.