SPLATT! The bodies of the two charging zombies fall lifeless to the ground. Exhausted, The Outdoorsman props himself up against his bloodied aluminum bat. He sees more mutated zombies lumbering towards him in the short distance, and even farther away another group spots him. “You best be working on that motorcycle if we ever plan on making it to the Town Line!” The Outdoorsman yells to the Stoner Mechanic.
“Yeah, we got this dude. Don’t worry about it.”
Another David Ortiz swing. Another pair of skulls crushed.
“Cuz I can’t believe we’ve lived this long,” the burly bat wielder mutters under his breath. He brandishes his pistol and drops two more zombies in the group a short distance away.
The impending doom of Run, Fight, or Die is eerily captured in the dice rolling game designed by Richard Launius and published by 8th Summit Games. Every player is trying to live long enough to get their group of followers to the Town Line. Of course, the player at the end of the game with the most points wins – that is – if you manage to survive that long.
The thematic dread that Run, Fight, or Die is able to capture starts with the placement of the player’s character boards. Every player places their character board underneath their action board. The action board consist of three zones. Zone 1, at the bottom of the zone board, closest to the player’s character, represents zombies that are in your face and can be knocked down and eliminated, two at a time, with each bat icon, or one at a time with each pistol icon on the dice. You’ll need to shoot the zombies in Zones 2 and 3 as they are too far away still for demolishing with your batting skills. Don’t worry though, you’ll get your chance to show them your homerun hitting skill soon enough.
At the end of a players turn, after all the dice have been rolled, rerolled, and resolved, the remaining zombies(if there are any) left in Zone 1 will attack the player, diminishing their health and chances of winning. Every zombie in each zone will advance one zone closer towards the player’s character board. The amount of zombies that will be added to Zone 3 on the player’s board will depend on which followers you have and if you rolled any Zombie icons during your turn. It’s generally at least three zombies at the end of every turn. When your turn is over, you can’t help but wonder how you are going to get out of the mess of zombies bearing down on your character. As you wait for your next turn, the well-produced zombie miniatures are staring at you, taunting, waiting for their chance to eat your brains. It’s these moments, when you’re not quite sure how you are going to survive, the story and trash talking naturally starts. This is where all the theme and fun starts to ooze out of a game that when told how it plays sounds like a typical, dice rolling, boring game.
Add some location cards with thematic varying abilities, character special powers that generally help you mitigate bad dice rolls, event dice, special power icons on the dice, followers that can be painstakingly useless but valuable at the end of the game, and of course, the big bad boss mutant that may appear and wreak havoc on everyone’s groups, and you have a game with some luck elements, a little bit of strategy, but a whole lot of just dice chucking thematic fun. With Run, Fight, or Die’s simple but engaging gameplay and art, it captures the feeling of the apocalyptic, against all odds, lone survivor theme very well.