I’d never played a legacy game before ripping the shrink wrap off Zombie Kidz Evolution. For those that aren’t aware a legacy game is one which changes as you play. They are generally not replayable as the game evolves quite dramatically over the course of the game. Despite being a popular mechanic, legacy game offerings are scarce on the market.
The first game of this type was Risk Legacy in 2011 but was arguably made more famous by the arrival of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 in 2015. Fast-forward past Gloomhaven, Charterstone and others to 2019 and you get Zombie Kidz Evolution. This Scorpion Masque production is the first legacy game intended for kids. So lets me tell you about the battles I have had with zombies in the most spoiler free way that I can. Now it is impossible to be 100% spoiler free but I will try not to give away more than is on the back of the box!
The board is two sided, the night-time side is for two players with more gaps between the rooms and the day side is harder to navigate for three to four players. Each player gets one of the four characters and a zombie is placed on each entry way. The aim of the game in this co-operative adventure is to lock the four school gates before the zombies overrun the school.
At the start of the game your turn involves rolling the custom dice and placing a zombie on the room that corresponds to the dice colour. A blank roll is a let off and you don’t have to place a zombie. You can then move one space and clear up to two zombies in the room you end in. If three or more zombies are in the same room it becomes blocked off. If you can meet a team mate by the school gates you can give them a high five and lock an entrance.
Win or lose you get to place a sticker on the game tracker in the rulebook journal. Different challenges are set as the game progresses and evolves. Win the game and complete the challenge and you get a trophy sticker instead of the brain sticker.
Every five or so stickers you get to open an envelope and the game changes. This may be a special ability for a hero, or a power up for a zombie. Often combined with a tweak to the rules or more challenges to attempt.
When you complete fifty-five rounds you will open the final envelope. You are then left with a game you can play again whenever you want.
What it’s like
If there is a carrot to dangle in any board game, it is the lure of opening an envelope and seeing what is inside. Combine this with adding stickers into a journal, and you are pretty much recreating the sticker-book addiction most people have once in their life!
It works too. You cannot wait to get to the next envelope in Zombie Kidz Evolution and whizz through about three rounds in a single sitting. At first this is an addiction and for the first few envelopes you think you could play all day and just rush through it. In reality you don’t.
Zombie Kidz Evolution is aimed at children, and I wouldn’t recommend playing it with just grownups. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed playing the majority of rounds with my boys. All three of my boys have played it without me too. The turn phase and objective is simple enough for my six year old to fathom. A minor downside personally is this is a four player game and there is five of us, so we either need to partner up or someone needs to find something else to do.
Placing the stickers in the book is brilliant. But as you do this regardless of whether you win or lose, it can be difficult to invest in each level. You could adapt it so you only get a sticker if you win to extend the shelf life. Towards the end of the game the gap between envelope openings can drag ever so slightly. I think it could’ve benefitted from a few more challenges along the way too.
This paragraph has a minor spoiler. This is important to read though, as you will be playing with children, thus I am sharing it. It is no secret that your heroes evolve in the game. However, what you won’t know is that they don’t all evolve at the same pace. I therefore strongly advise not allocating players a colour or character that they use every game, as someone could easily feel left behind. One colour gets their skill very early on, another very late. You have been warned!
Zombie Kidz Evolution is like a lot of games, it is considerably easier to play than it is to learn. It’s not impossible by any means, but the rule book doesn’t get you up and playing quickly. Furthermore, more rules get added as you go along and I remember one being a little vexing at first.
The standee characters are full of sass and have a little bit of diversity about them. The custom die is fun too. The rest of the cards, characters, the zombie manual and the board are all good looking.
The best components are the envelopes, tearing those open and seeing what is inside is such a brilliant part of the game.
What the kidz thought
Harrison (13): It’s a great game, I really enjoy it. I think it looks awesome and I like how the game changes over time.
George (10): I really like it and think it is a good game in general. I didn’t like that my favourite colour didn’t get their powers quickly. I absolutely love the artwork, particularly the details on the board.
Max (6): My favourite bit is opening the envelopes and getting stickers.
Final thoughts on Zombie Kidz Evolution
Playing Zombie Kidz Evolution is a simple, mostly luck-based romp. For an inclusive family experience it is oodles of fun.
We regularly played it with the older two just before bedtime, as you can play a round or two in ten to fifteen minutes. They would sneak back downstairs, thinking they got a bit of extra time over our youngest, but it didn’t drag so they weren’t grumpy the next day!
The cooperative nature encourages working and discussing things as a team. You win, or lose, together and it is therefore less likely to end with a bad loser.
Despite it being a legacy game, it offers exceptional value for money. The fact you are left with a playable game at the end is a bonus, however, I can only see us playing it a handful more times. Mind you, we are lucky to have a couple of hundred other games to choose from. If we only had a few that might be different!
Zombie Kidz Evolution may be the first cooperative legacy game for children but it has set the bar very high for whatever comes along in the future. It ticks so many boxes and my boys have loved playing it on a regular basis.
Number of players: 2 to 4
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 7+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 5+
Playing Time: 10 minutes
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 1 minute
Designers: Annick Lobet
Publisher: Scorpion Masqué
Do not be put off by the legacy element of Zombie Kidz Evolution. Hours, upon hours of family fun can be had with this superb board game that has been a massive hit with our three boys. We really do recommend it!
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- Incredible value
- Kids really enjoy it
- Cooperative so you win and lose together
- Great to collect the stickers
- Opening envelopes is exciting
- Only plays up to four
- Not recommended to always play as a colour or character
- Can slow down between later envelopes
- Could do with a few more mission objectives later on
Need more games?
If you already own Zombie Kidz Evolution and enjoy it, or are looking for other inspiration, you might also like these similar games:
- Zombie Teenz Evolution
- My City
- Forbidden Island
Buy Zombie Kidz Evolution
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