Published on May 24th, 2014 | by Colin0
Cardcore Gamer: Cracking the coffin lid
Grab your shovel and crowbar, it’s exhumation time! Don’t worry, the dead can help themselves out of the grave…
Bloated, rotten thanks to Fireside Games for sending over a copy of Dead Panic to sink my manky teeth into! Before we rummage around in its guts, how about a look at the box cover?
The artwork is at once cartoony and unhygienically horrific, but subtly imitates the cover of it’s sibling Castle Panic (which I reviewed here). It’s big and bold and has a movie-esque tagline; a good start, but what lurks beneath?
The board is very familiar to Castle Panic fans, with the same clear demarcation of areas and excellent use of corner space for quick reference guides. Two stumps up!
The classic cabin in the woods…well ok, it reminds me more of a bandstand, or a summer house, but if you can accept its unorthodox number of sides, then you can begin to appreciate the little details of your slightly flimsy stronghold. The card stand-ups are thick and well printed, though – rather like the zombies – the feet need gluing, or they’ll drop off. I especially like the way the front door lines up with the path and the many little characterful touches on the board.
This is what happens when your walls get damaged, letting in the rain, the wind and the dead. It’s a neat way of showing 3D damage without any plastic pieces.
Also not in plastic: your characters! No miniatures here and no need of them, these colour-coded standees are perfectly functional and suit the games style, it’s also nice to note that there’s an equal number of male and female characters.
The character cards function as a reference guide and status tracker, but they have a dark side too…
And here it is! Once you’re dead, you carry on playing into the afterlife and your standee becomes a flat token. Why? Because anyone who knows their ‘Panic’ knows that monsters are always flat!
There’s a good bias toward your basic shambling corpse, with some special fast/aggressive/tenacious zomboids in the mix as well. You might find some survivors, but by the looks of it, they can be undeaded too! All this once-living evil has to be contained somewhere though, but with the huge expense of a Protection Grid, Fireside instead provide a nifty bag.
The rest of the tokens are as bold and easily-readable and the three-part radio objective is the worlds easiest jigsaw, a clever touch that will surely make you feel like you are actually assembling it, rather than collecting bits.
Now we’ve seen all the chits and tokens, let’s gnaw the shrinkwrap off the card decks; one good and one…not so good. First up, the Cabin Cards, featuring all sorts of familiar zombie-splatting objects and a nod to The Walking Dead…and possibly Cluedo.
And the Event Cards, universally known to gamers as Bad Things Happen And You Die Somehow. The art and titles are well chosen and help bring the theme to some twisted, awful parody of life, OH GOD NO!
Last but not least, the rulebook is well laid out, clearly presented and with lots of example pictures, so even if your brain is splattered across an antique bookshelf, you should still be able to learn the game.
Dead Panic has the looks, but how does it play? No, really, how does it do that? it’s guts are flapping about and it’s missing an arm! Sleep with one eye open and a shotgun by your side, for soon a video review will come a-scratching at your window in the dead of night…