Back in March when we were at T.A.B.L.E., I had the chance to teach Dead Panic to J.R. Honeycutt, one of the co-hosts of the DFW Nerd Night and Brian, one of the authors for their review site The Nerd’s Table. J.R. just posted his review and summary of the game, and I think it’s a great example of the kind of experience you can have with Dead Panic.
What made this game special was that J.R. and Brian both decided to role-play their characters to a degree I hadn’t seen before. Oh sure, if you’re playing Al, the construction worker, you’ll be fixing walls, but what if you’re playing Barbara, the convict? What are your motivations? How would you act in a crisis? If you think a board game can’t handle that kind of play, you should think again.
J.R. played as David, the personal trainer. His ability is to damage zombies even if he is fighting without a weapon, whereas the other players can only push zombies away at best without a weapon. J.R. jumped into the role and played it like an aggressive, over-muscled, lunkhead and it was fantastic. His little piece of cardboard became that character in a zombie movie that puts himself at risk, only to come out victorious . . . most of the time.
While J.R. was off punching zombies and buying us time, Brian and I handled the radio-collecting duties, and this is where he embraced his role. Playing as Barbara, the convict, he secretly decided that if he couldn’t be the first person in the van, no one would get in. Neither of us could help as J.R. finally fell to the undead mob, but we had our own problems to deal with. I believe zombie David was soon taken out with a Chainsaw, but I can’t be sure, it was all a blur.
Once Brian had the radio completed and the rescue van arrived, we agreed where he would move it to and I dove out of the cabin toward sanctuary. Upon which he then used the radio to move the van in the opposite direction, leaving yours truly out in the middle of the board, now on the opposite side from the van and surrounded by the hungry dead!
We all agreed that this was making for too fantastic of a story to hold back, so we decided that we would include the optional player vs player rules (p.11 of the rulebook). On my next turn I ran toward the van but stopped to take a shot at the traitorous Barbara, hoping to deny her the victory and speed up her trip to zombieland. We struggled for a few turns, neither one being able to finish off the other, until we couldn’t wait any longer and dashed for the van. In the end, we both made it in before Brian could move the van further away. So it counts as a win, but I can only imagine the tension in that van as it drives off into the sunset.
In addition to being a hoot, that session shows that what you bring to the game matters, sometimes just as much as what the game gives you. It also made me really proud that we can provide a vehicle that supports that crazy fun kind of enjoyment.
Do you have some great Dead Panic stories? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.