Nothing conjures up thoughts of Halloween more than a horde of mindless zombies bent on having a snack on some poor guy's brains.
Now personally I'm not sure zombies exist, so the best option for exploring the craze around the mindless critters is to play one of the many board games created around them.
Which brings us to Endicott Epidemic: Infectious Contagion, a card game where survivors fight hordes of zombies, race the clock to find the cure before an atomic bomb wipes out the town, and generally scratch and claw to survive.
Created by Douglas Harvey in 2010, Endicott Epidemic packs a lot of positive aspects into a single deck of cards.
To start with the game can be played solitaire, although the chance of winning is a razor thin one, or by up to eight players. That really gives the game a broad range, and can hit the table in most any situation.
The next positive is that the game has three eventual outcomes, so games can take decidedly different paths.
As a group -- each player takes a character card with special attributes on the game -- you can find the 'cure' to the zombie plague and win, with ultimate bragging rights going to the player with the most zombie kills.
The countdown can get you, where the four cards are turned over which result in the nuclear bomb striking. Game over.
Or players can all be turned into zombies, again game over.
On our first play night we had all three outcomes. That seems pretty nicely balanced.
The game also has levels of difficulty. There are 10 extra tough zombies that are much harder to kill. The easiest game has two of these big baddies involved. Four is harder, seven harder still, and all 10, a suicide operation.
The game has already spawned a couple of expansions, a modest six-card one which comes with a deluxe edition, and Endicott Epidemic: Infectious Contagion Expansion #1: Black Ops, an 18-card expansion which adds the MBI Black Ops squad, a team of five deadly Soldiers under the command of the ruthless Chrissy. They know the bomb is coming and will wipe out all traces of their crimes, but on the small chance that a survivor escapes with the Hermit and his Intel, they are out to get the survivors (players) first.
In correspondence with the game designer, two other expansions are on the horizon; a scout pack allowing players tools to look through the play deck to see what is coming, and a 'Radioactive Rumble" which will give players another hazard to overcome, the possibility of radiation poisoning.
The game is evolving, and growing, another positive, since it keeps the game fresh.
A perfect game for the Halloween season, or any night as a fairly quick 45-minute, zombie-fest.
Check this great card game out at www.togentertainment.com
-- Review appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper October 19, 2011 - Yorkton, SK. Canada