Tag Archives: steve jackson

Game Review: Chupacabra: Survive the Night

20131229-230100.jpgIn June 2013, in an effort to put revenue from the popular Munchkin series back into the game hobby, Steve Jackson Games acquired Haywire Group‘s dice game Chupacabra: Survive the Night. After Jackson posted a direct invitation to established publishers, it appears Chupacabra won the ‘easiest to repackage and redistribute’ award. Soon thereafter SJG applied their extremely successful Zombie Dice model to Chupacabra (why recreate the wheel?). New graphics, portable container, smaller instructions and BAM….another excellent dice game on the shelf.

The 24 dice provides 2-4 players with 10 to 20 minutes of gameplay. Everyone starts with six dice and rolls at the same time (one of the better game mechanics). Each die is the same, it contains a single chicken, double chickens, two single goats, a cow, and a Chupacabra. Like dice must be grouped into herds or flocks (safety in numbers!), and any Chupacabras rolled are used to attack–steal–other player’s animals. One Chupacabra can take up to two chickens or one goat, but it takes two Chupacabras to eat a cow. You must have enough Chupacabras to take an entire herd or flock (i.e. if you roll two Chupacabras, you could take up to four chickens, but no more). The winner is the player who takes all of the dice!

One more devilishly fun rule…Chupacabra Loco…when a player rolls all Chupacabras they can be used to kill any one herd or flock, no matter how many animals are in it. So if your livestock has been depleted and you’re down to one die, you have a one-sixth chance of staging an epic comeback.

Chupacabra, like Zombie Dice, is a perfect example of a ‘filler game.’ Groups of friends don’t come together to play a dice game like this, they come together for 3 hours of Arkham Horror or an all-night RPG session. BUT, in the 15 minutes it takes to set up those games, or in the 10 minute snack break, Chupacabra is the perfect filler. Though they sacrificed higher quality dice for a gimmicky glow-in-the-dark feature (the substance used is already chipping on some dice), I’m glad Steve Jackson decided to expand his gaming empire. If you have $15 left on a gift card now that the holiday dust has settled, this is a great buy.

Designers: David Blanchard, Brian Frodema, and John Jacobsen
Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Game Review: Zombie Dice

20131129-221824.jpgIt is hard to believe that 13 dice in a container the size of a soda can would receive the first perfect score I’ve given since I started writing for Graphic Policy, but believe it, Zombie Dice is flawless. Better known for Munchkin and their role-playing game GURPS, designer Steve Jackson and his self-titled team at Steve Jackson Games managed to combine equal parts luck and risk taking in this quick, addictive, and deceptively simple game.

Two rules: eat brains and don’t get shotgunned. For two or more players, this game can be played in 10 to 20 minutes and can be taught in a single round.  The dice are color coded green, yellow, and red and have three symbols on them, a brain, shotgun, and footprints. The green dice have the most brains and least shotguns, yellow dice slightly fewer brains and slightly more shotguns, and red dice the fewest brains and the most shotguns. On a player’s turn, shake the cup, draw three dice without looking, and roll them. Brains to the left, shotguns to the right, and footprints get re-rolled along with however many more dice you need to draw from the cup to roll three again. Once you roll three shotguns your turn is over, but until then you can choose to stop and score how many brains you have or keep rolling. The first to collect 13 brains wins!

All comments and issues have been heard and answered by Steve Jackson Games (a rarity with many game companies these days). Players mentioned the original container peeled and the bottom sometimes popped out while shaking…so they designed a sturdier dice case. Then people cried for an expansion…and they got  Zombie Dice 2 – Double Feature, which added three additional dice (a hunk, a hottie, and Santa Claus) that added even crazier twists to the game mechanics.  They even released a brain score pad, which I failed to see before I typed ‘brains’ in Amazon and found a 36-count bundle of brain pencil top erasers for teachers. The best part? Reviews underneath said, “these are perfect for Zombie Dice!” They cost more than the game, but I bought them anyways and couldn’t be happier.

Though this game’s popularity exploded once it was featured on TableTop, Star Trek childhood star Wil Wheaton‘s web series, I’d like to think it would have thrived regardless of their excellent game review. Perfect for waiting in line or traveling, and at around $12, this game is a cheap stocking stuffer for last minute buyers (I’ve seen it at Target). Zombie Dice now has a smartphone app, shot glasses, and t-shirts (did I mention it was popular?), but merchandise aside, it is still just a cup with 13 dice that makes for–dare I say–brainless fun.

Designer: Steve Jackson
Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy