Here at Ablogalypse we know the importance of spending quality time with your family and loved ones, especially at Christmas. Which is why, on the eve of Christmas, I sit alone in my room, thinking of things to write on a blog about the end of all things.
But why must the two be separate? Surely good wholesome family fun can be combined with the terror and paranoia of the apocalypse? With this in mind we present to you, our beloved readers, a collection of the best apocalypse-themed party games to play with your loved ones this Christmas. Joy to the world!
Mafia but with Zombies
I’m still working on a catchier title but Mafia but with Zombies does have a kind of a ring to it. You’ve all played mafia I assume, but here’s the wiki article with the rules: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_%28party_game%29
In this variant, when players are killed by the mafia they become zombies instead of outright dying. They are still dead in terms of winning or losing and cannot vote or anything but can still affect the course of the game. If the number of zombies reaches critical mass (50% of the total number of players) then the undead overrun the village/hotel/whatever and everybody loses. Once players become a zombie, remaining players become aware of their identity and can opt to kill them during the voting in the usual way. Thus the dilemma is whether to kill off the zombies to keep their numbers low or to try and find the mafia who are causing the deaths. Mafia can also choose to kill zombies in the night to prevent the game ending, thus introducing an element of cooperation between the mafia and villagers in protecting themselves from the undead onslaught, but beware: if the number of zombies increases past 3 (or a percentage of your total players) then they get to choose someone to kill in the night as well as the mafia.
Such a game lends itself to all sorts of optional rules for advanced players. Each player can be given a one-time-only booby trap to defend their room for the night. If the mafia/zombies attack that night, they die instead, but if not, the trap was wasted. You could even add additional characters such as the zombie-proof Survival Expert, or the Necromancer, who brings the dead back to life. Go nuts inventing your own rules and let us know how they play out!
The word guessing game Contact is, as I found out last time we tried to play, kinda hard to explain. Or maybe my home group are just dumb. Anyway, rules are here, third one down: http://www.sparknotes.com/mindhut/2013/01/02/4-nerdy-party-games-you-can-play-without-a-board
Except we usually play countdown from 5 and no proper nouns, but whatever. In this variant each person is dealt a piece of paper before the game starts. One of these will be marked PLAGUE. The game proceeds as normal, but whenever you make contact with someone and both think of the same word, you secretly reveal your card to the other. If you make contact with someone infected with plague, you become infected. Every five guess attempts each person has to reveal their paper to keep track of infection, meaning that it’s not obvious who is spreading the plague but possible to work out. If everyone is infected then the Thinker wins, and celebrates by dancing on your disfigured, postulating corpses*
The interesting thing about this game (apart from being able to should “plaaaaaaaaague!” at your friends) is that once you know who is infected you have to judge whether to make contact with them and thus potentially advance the game or to try and contact someone else. If you are the originally infected host then you can decide to opt out of most of the guessing or just try and spread your miserable disease to as many people as possible. So with this game you can increase your vocabulary AND discover which of your friends are sociopaths!
Post Apocalyptic Monopoly
Ever thought that the classic board game Monopoly could be improved by the threat of sudden annihilation? Well, you weirdo, you’re in luck! Post-apocalyptic Monopoly is played with the standard board and proceeds as normal except that at the end of every round of turns you roll two dice. If you’re combined roll does not exceed 6, a meteorite strike wipes out every building on the map and you start from scratch, keeping your money but having to rebuild Wall Street and Old Kent Road and the rest from the burning rubble. As with the normal version, play ends when all but one of the players are bankrupt, or, far more likely, you get bored. Or you could play the ‘three strikes and out’ rule where after the third meteorite strike, property investment is deemed a tad obsolete and all your characters instead start investing in reinforced underground facilities and space stations, thus ending the game.
For added points you could start referring to money as ‘goats’ after the first strike, since as we all know livestock will replace currency when the end of the world comes a-knocking. You could even bring in extra community chest cards after the first meteorite, with things like “Your buildings have been forcibly occupied by roaming brigands. All money you earn from other players landing on your properties is halved for three turns.” or “You have post traumatic stress disorder from seeing your loves ones vaporised. Miss a go.” or “Pay £50 per building to remove the layer of toxic ash which has settled on your street”. An option to reinforce your buildings for a high cost to make them apocalypse proof might also be fun. Let your imagination run wild as you battle to become the premier property owner in the smoking crater once known as London.
Now there’s two words you don’t normally see together. In this game the players construct a narrative about the apocalypse using the words they put down on the board. So player one might say “One day five guys were playing scrabble when they heard a knock at the door” as he places ‘door’ on the board. Player two responds with “They open the door to reveal a horde of ravenous zombies devouring the neighbourhood”, putting ‘Zombie’ down using the second O of door. Player 3, who really wants to use his Q on the double word score chips in “and to their surprise one of the zombies was the Queen!” And so on. You might want to add more Z’s to the supply of letters to increase likelihood of being able to spell zombie. Expect the story to get very silly very quickly.
This one isn’t based on any existing game but might still be fun. It’s pretty straightforward: take it in turns thinking of a ridiculous end of the world scenario, and the two people on either side of you say how they would survive, for the rest of the players to judge. Judging criteria would be Plausibility (is it actually possible?), Longevity (how long could they last?) and Entertainment Value (could you make a decent movie based on their strategy?). One example might be the Thinker saying “The World is beset by a giant mutant fish”. Survivor A replies confidently “I tame the beast and spend my remaining days scouring the seven seas as a pirate!”, and scores high for entertainment but (presumably) low on longevity and plausibility, whereas Survivor B, who with a shrug states “I move house to somewhere further away from the coast” scores top for longevity but low on entertainment. Let your insanity flow forth!
Playing any party game as a Zombie
Zombies need quality friends/family time as much as the rest of us. In honour of this, why not add a bit of spice to any of your existing games by playing as a zombie? Play zombie charades by vaguely flailing your decaying limbs and moaning in the style of whatever you are trying to imitate. Play board games by dragging your appendages/head across the board and hoping you move your piece onto a ladder, not a snake. Play some X-box by gnawing at the controller and drooling on the TV. The possibilities are endless.
…Eh, it might kill five minutes whilst your other half finishes the turkey. Just make sure to clear up after yourselves.
That concludes the list for this year. Might see you at New Year for some zombie themed drinking games, but ‘till then, Merry Christmas and God bless!