The Quick and the Undead by Inside Up Games
Players: 1 to 6
Playtime: 45 to 60 minutes
Perfect for: Gaming groups who enjoy direct battling, area control, and push your luck thrills.
The Quick and the Undead is a game proving that this town ain’t big enough for the lot of ‘ya. West Fort has become infested with zombies which, while somewhat inconvenient, does provide an enticing opportunity for the gun-slinging outlaws who reside nearby. Players take control of these lawless hooligans as they wipe out the undead to gain control of the town, but also stop any rival outlaws who might have similar ambitions.
To begin The Quick and the Undead, three to six players (solo and 2-player variants are included) assemble West Fort: a series of buildings and locations where scarce resources lay in wait. In addition, a stack of undead character cards gets shuffled which will be distributed to locales during gameplay, making items like bullets and cash harder to retrieve. Each outlaw receives a Targeting card which tracks bullets, and associated meeples.
Gameplay in The Quick and the Undead occurs over days and each day has three phases. First, players secretly assign their meeple to a space on the board using a d8. Each space will allow a player to choose an action to take, such as fighting zombies or intimidating other outlaws, and possibly gain resources. Players reveal their chosen destinations and place meeples. If only one player goes to a spot, it gets resolved in-kind. Their actions might result in the player gaining notoriety—the equivalency of victory points in The Quick and the Undead. If multiple people choose a space, a duel occurs where outlaws battle each other for control. At the end of the round, players can purchase available buildings which will grant benefits in future rounds. When West Fort has been cleared of zombies, the outlaw with the most notoriety wins.
What works in The Quick and the Undead is the intense shoot-em-up theme that keeps players incredibly engaged with multiple variables—particularly other outlaws. The bullet mechanic is particularly novel. Players load ammunition in slots numbered 2 through 6 and roll a d8 to attack. If they roll a number with a bullet, they hit. A 1 is a critical miss and an 8 is a critical hit which kills instantly. But overall, The Quick and the Undead forces players to critically manage threats from all sides while strategically procuring resources and ultimately opponents. Given the area control elements, outlaws must decide if they’ll try to form shaky alliances (susceptible to backstabbing at any time), or if they’ll go full villain and try to wipe out the competition and deal with zombies later. The level of interaction and drama is fabulous.
Players who don’t enjoy directly battling their peers might not enjoy The Quick and the Undead as much as others. It’s nearly impossible to win as a pacifist given that conflict is often unavoidable. Furthermore, there’s an intentional horrifying quality to the game as people shoot guns at the undead and each other—this might be unsettling for some. Individuals looking for something with less aggression and violence may want to seek out a different game.
The Quick and the Undead is an exceptional game for those who want to get down and dirty by fighting zombies and their fellow scum in the Old West. It’s an excellent blend of luck with a challenge of wits as individuals try to outplay and outfox each other by any means necessary.
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