Designer: Richard Launius, Jason Maxwell
Publisher: Grey Fox Games
Price: $56.99 Amazon.com
Run Fight or Die: Reloaded is a dice-rolling game of survival amidst a zombie apocalypse. A revamped version of the 2014 game Run Fight or Die, this game involves players shooting, bludgeoning, and trying to outrun hordes of the undead. Its hysterical play style complements its self-aware theme perfectly.
Like any zombie game, Run Fight or Die: Reloaded contains some faux-scary zombie imagery. It is not overly bloody or gruesome (actually, it feels quite tame compared to some other zombie games on the market), but it may be a bit much for younger gamers. Additionally, some of the NPC’s players can encounter have names like the “Rambling Stoner.”
I never played the original Run Fight or Die, but I always wanted to, because I thought it sounded like a ton of fun. After playing its remake, Run Fight or Die: Reloaded, my suspicions were confirmed, and I only wished I had played the game sooner.
Run Fight or Die: Reloaded puts 1-4 players on the defensive against an endless horde of the undead. Each player has a tableau board divided into 3 zones, thematically representing how close the zombies are to munching on their character’s tasty brain. Everyone’s board begins with several zombies already in pursuit.
The goal of the game (in addition to, you know, not dying) is to earn the most points. The core mechanism involves a Yahtzee/King of Tokyo-style dice system – players roll the dice, re-roll up to 2 times, and resolve the results.
- Any die that shows a zombie result is immediately locked, and will cause an extra zombie to be added to the current player’s board at the end of her turn.
- A bat result lets the player wallop 2 zombies in her Zone 1, removing them from the board.
- A shotgun result lets her blast a zombie in any zone.
- A single search result lets her draw a loot card (examples shown below). 2 search results let her draw a follower card, which may be a help or a hindrance (I’ll explain below). 3 search results let her draw 2 followers and choose 1 to keep.
- Explore results allow her to draw a location card and resolve it, according to the number of explores she rolled. With 1 explore, she resolves only the bad outcome. With 2, she reads both the good AND the bad outcome, and with 3, she reads just the good outcome.
- Lastly, each run result pushes a zombie on her board back 1 zone. Zombies in Zone 3 that would be pushed off the board wander over to the neighboring player’s Zone 3.
Once all the dice have been resolved, the current player advances all zombies on her board 1 zone (those in Zone 3 move to Zone 2, those in Zone 2 move to Zone 1, etc.). Zombies that move from Zone 1 attack the player, who receives a wound for each attack. Wounds can be distributed among the player’s character and her followers.
After this, she adds zombies to her now-vacant Zone 3. She always places a minimum of 3, but each zombie result she rolled adds another, as well. This means if she rolled 2 zombie results, she would have to place 5 in total. What’s interesting about the zombie die result is that each player has unique character abilities that require it to activate. Thus, rolling zombies is bad, because they make the pursuing horde grow larger, but combined with the correct results, they can let the player can unleash some sweet powers.
Certain game events may also awaken the “mutant zombie.” This big, behemoth baddie adds an extra phase of play, in which players draw and resolve a card from the mutant zombie deck, in addition to adding zombies to their board. (As you would imagine, they are always bad.)
The mutant zombie also has a pool of health tokens, each with a point value on it. Once it is awakened, a player can spend her shotgun results to shoot it, instead of a zombie on her own board. Each successful shot earns a token, which may be worth extra points at the end of the game. There is a neat push-and-pull here: on the one hand, shooting the mutant zombie is great, because more points means a better shot at victory. However, each die the player spends shooting the mutant zombie is a die that she is NOT using to defend her own board.
I mentioned follower cards above, and I’ll explain them in a bit more detail now. Followers grant end-game points if they survive, but some can be a burden along the way. Each follower has unique abilities, some helpful, others quite the opposite. A follower might, for example, make the player add additional zombies every turn – a real pain in the neck! As one would expect, followers with positive abilities are worth fewer points, but the more challenging ones can award lots of points if they survive. In both cases, though, followers can sustain damage if a player wishes to assign it to them. This means they can be used as a sort of “meat-shield” to soak up damage.
Players continue taking turns rolling and resolving dice in this manner until the game end is triggered. Most often, this occurs when a player dies or finds the “Town Line” card, which is buried somewhere near the bottom of the location deck. Among those who survived, the player with the most points wins!
Of all the zombie games I have played, Run Fight or Die: Reloaded ranks among my absolute favorites, competing with modern-classic Dead of Winter for the top spot. Mechanically and experientially, Run Fight or Die reminds me of King of Tokyo, but in terms of quality and fun factor, I like it 10 times more.
This game is very humorous to play, full of tension and laughs as players fight the neverending parade of the undead. It seems like every game has a moment where one player’s board is packed to the gills with zombies, and it feels like a ticking time-bomb as the grotesque horde inches closer and closer to trampling the player in a nightmarish, undead reckoning. It’s also delightful to add to the chaos by sending more zombies to an already-overrun board, just to stir the pot.
The game’s production is very nice, with oversized dice and a pile of sculpted miniatures. Due to a printing issue, Zones 1 and 3 were switched on the player boards, but the game comes with stickers to correct them; in the end, not a huge issue, as long as players know to apply them. The rulebook is very well-written, and it includes an entire ruleset for solo play. Solo gaming is not really my thing, so I don’t have much commentary about it, but it’s nice that it is included. I know many solitaire gamers who will appreciate it.
As I mentioned before, I have not played the original Run Fight or Die, but I understand the Reloaded version streamlines its gameplay and sands off some of its rough edges. Though I cannot compare them, I will say that the gameplay in the new one is indeed very streamlined – easy to learn and intuitive to play. To that end, I believe this game works best with fewer players. Since there is little “pre-planning” that players can do off-turn, the downtime can become a slight issue with more players. This is not to say that turns drag – they don’t – but the pace of a 2-player game just feels perfect to me.
Run Fight or Die: Reloaded is one of my favorite games so far from 2019. I feel that it does everything King of Tokyo tries to do, but better. This is a game I see myself playing frequently for years to come. It gets a major recommendation from me.
A review copy was provided by Grey Fox Games.
The Bottom Line
Run Fight or Die: Reloaded is one of the best games of 2019. Highly recommended.