Project Z - Review

I am going to be completely honest here, I didn't want to like this game... The Walking Dead hit kickstarter and I also didn't want to play that. At the time I thought this is going to be Zombicide the wargame... Well it turns out The Walking Dead was a no no for me, I don't particularly like games where you play as a character of something and much prefer to forge my own path creating stories of my own, with this in mind I am very much an RPG-Wargamer.

Fighting off Zombies from the roof of a car
Fast forward a few months and I see the Project Z boxed set deal, it looks like a bargain. At the time I am still not interested. Fast forward again to the release date and a guy posts up a link to the new Project Z box he has in stock. I quickly take a look and the link was broken on his site.

I thought, "poor guy, he might be missing out on sales if nobody tells him".

So I let him know and lo and behold he offered me a big discount on the Project Z core set. I took the plunge. Thank the Buddha, Vishnu, Zeus, <your deity of choice> and the man Jesus himself that I did. I really enjoyed putting these together first of all, you can see in my previous April 2016 Painting Table article I had fun with the zombies and the characters have been great fun too.

So far my only gripe with the figures is the flexibility of them. They are a multipart sprue but you are somewhat limited with the poses for males, whilst the zombies are a bit more free to do as you please. The models however are great and are really dynamic so this is the cost of having less freedom with the way they are modelled. Not a biggie at all, I don't intend to build every single weapons combination.

They're coming, get that chainsaw working!!! Don't lose the spam!
The following day me and the wife got set up to run our first game called "Dancing in the Street." In short we had an absolute hoot! There is something to be said for the common creeping zombie, you can laugh at them, you can anticipate their moves but at the end of the day, let them get too close and laugh too much and they will munch your face off.

The game itself is very easy to pickup, the v1.0 rules have some errata so make sure you download the latest revisions as well as range bands for weapons. The game is split into 4 phases, you roll for initiative, then you both take a movement phase moving all your models then your opponent. At the end of the movement phase zombies crawl towards the nearest model, this can be used to great effect to lure them away but just make sure you don't get surrounded!

Biker mounts the burnt out building ready to unleash hell on the zombies!
Following on is the shooting phase, each player does all their shooting which is handled quite simply by a set of custom dice. Hit's are good, Kevlar Vests are good (for the defender), Surges don't help unless you are shooting zombies. At first the weapon profiles seem bizarre. 12 dice on an assault rifle but only 6 inches! 3 inches for a sawn off shotgun! But upon closer inspection we are talking about untrained civilians wielding weaponry they have only seen in movies, I think it works really well and at close range most shooty weapons are deadly. They do come at a price however and that is bullet tokens. This is the balancing mechanic between melee and shooting (otherwise why wouldn't always just shoot stuff). In the heat of the moment reloading a complicated weapon whilst being panicky can be a time consuming task, at the end of each round you roll to try and reload, if you fail you cannot fire the weapon in the subsequent round (unless using grit) leaving you stranded!

Sheriff taking no beef from the oncoming mouldy zombie
Zombies during this phase do nothing, then you head into the melee phase. This creates some great moments as your guys desperately try to bat off the zombie hordes. Melee weapons are more efficient due to not having a reload but they put you right up in your opponents grill! Melee can swing either way too, the victor gets to land a wounding blow on the opposition. Finally after all is done the zombies get their turn, and man this hurts. They will gang up and drag your pathetic survivors down. Multiple combats infer a bonus on the next model to attack so hordes really do pack a punch.

Finally the refresh phase happens where you stand up any shocked units, redraw cards (yes a hand of cards!) and try to reload. Oh and of course, spawn more zombies!

Disco Stu doing off with the loot
So back to the cards, each player has 5 cards that they replenish each turn, these can be used to affect the outcome of fights whether that is shooting or melee. Extra hits in your hand can be used to increase the effectiveness, kevlar vest can be used to thematically dodge an attack. There are also the nasty cards that have a picture of a hand with a black card. These bad boys can be used to interfere with other die rolls such as wounding rolls or your opponents fights to give the zombies a helping hand! Think you survived that wound roll against a zombie? Think again as I cheat the Surge card in so the zombie bites your face off, like that film, face off...

He only went to pickup his date. Then she tried to eat his face, since then Disco Stu has been "ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh, stayin' alive!"
If you thought all this was just mindless fun, think again! There are actual reasons for your survivors being out here and that is loot. Glorious, glorious loot. We are talking medicine, cans of beans and spam, twinkies, cans of fuel. All those zombie apocalypse goods that are so hard to come by. You fight over this loot which has a random value assigned to it which you don't know until revealed. Most missions involve holding onto the loot until the end of the game which can be hard if you are holding the 7 point loot, the equivalent of finding the last pack of loo roll in an apocalypse!

Here they come to eat you! Project Z Zombies.
So there we have it. Did I enjoy it. Yes. Did I expect to? No. This game really hit it off with me and the wife and the gaming group, so much so I wrote a narrative campaign for it called Eat, Fight, Survive! It is available on Board Game Geek and add's an RPG element to the game. It gives you story continuation and a reason to be fighting to survive, if you want to take your games to the next thematic level I suggest taking a look.

On the whole a great find and really glad I gave this game a look in. It's light enough for new gamers to jump straight in but has enough tactical depth for long term vets and above all its fun and thematic, I give it 3 undead thumbs up!

Craig McNicholas

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


  1. Thanks for the great review, Craig

  2. Great review. I have read a few negative blog posts but this has definitely swayed me. Could you substitute loot tokens for objectives, such as rescuing someone barricaded in a building?