A three hour look at the third edition of Dawn of the Zeds

If I can’t livestream boardgames, I guess I can just, well, stream them. Non-live. There’s got to be a word for that. Whatever you want to call it, here is everything you could ever want to know — and then some! — about Victory Point Games’ update and re-release of one of the best solitaire boardgames you can play.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2016/08/20/three-hour-look-third-edition-dawn-zeds/

Tom, is this something you plan to do with other games? I haven’t watched the video yet although I plan to. 3 hours is a lot in one sitting so it will probably be in small chunks.

Looks like a great game. When does it hit Steam?

Alright, must set aside time to view video. Looking forward to this as this game has been on my radar almost since I got back into board gaming about 18 months ago.

Thanks for these @tomchick, I’ve been enjoying watching them over my lunch breaks this week. I’m keen to fire the game up this weekend now!

One rule nitpick - I’m pretty sure Mayor Hernandez only gives the forage roll bonus to other characters in ‘town’ spaces, not ‘village’ or ‘other’ spaces. It’s the keys to the city, not the keys to the surrounding countryside. :)

Gah, great catch, Profanicus. If that’s true! I’m away from the rules for now, but that sounds about right. It’s called “Keys to the City”, after all, and not “Keys to the City, Forest, Mountain, and Outlying Villages”.

I also screwed up the new hospitalization rule. You’re supposed to raise infection a point whenever someone goes into the hospital. Which I completely missed in the rules, but there is it, in black and white. It also explains why you recover a point of infection when you heal. Duh.


I really enjoyed this. I have the new edition but haven’t been able to get it onto the table. This will definitely help jumpstart my game when I get the chance to play it.

Just finished the first episode. Oh the pain of watching those rolls!

“So we really want a high number here. ‘roll’ ‘silence’. That is not a high number.” in Tom’s inimitable deadpan delivery…

Loved the play-through, this game seems right up my alley. I definitely want to pick this up, but should I try to find a 2nd edition version or 3rd. It seemed like you were pretty mixed about some of the changes introduced.

The game is tainted. Asterisk, please.

Tom has his Onirim tutorial

as well as his EPIC play through of Empires in America (6 parts!)

2nd Edition is still a great game. If it’s a matter of buying a cheap 2nd Edition vs shelling out the asking price for 3rd Edition, you won’t go wrong with the 2nd Edition. The 2nd Edition map is sooooo much better than the 3rd Edition map.

That said, there are enough improvements in 3rd Edition (science, healing, infection/outbreak mechanics) that I would have a hard time going back to the 2nd Edition.


I had a couple of great games of Zeds over the weekend, but I have a rules question as I think I played this card wrong…

In the ‘Brains!’ event, do you spawn new Zeds on empty tracks like you would in a standard Zeds phase activation? @tomchick?

I’d have to check the card text, but if it specifies that you activate each track, then yes, you would definitely spawn zeds in the start space of any empty tracks. Activate specifically means to advance zeds on a track, or spawn new zeds in the start space if the track is empty.

Did you win any of your games? And are you playing real Dawn of the Zeds, or one of the many baby versions they decided to put in the box for some reason? :)


Yeah it mentions activating 3 times… so I was definitely doing it wrong!

I’ve been working up the courage for the full adult game, so you’ll be dismayed to learn that yes - I have been playing baby versions. :)

I played two games over the weekend. Yesterday a level two game which I won with around 18 points, then today a level three game (the one where research is first included) which I demolished with 29 points. But of course I was cheating with the Brains cards - I drew two in today’s game, after which it struck me that I’d probably been doing it wrong.

I actually wanted a quick game, so picked the short variant both times. The box says 90 minutes play time - and it took me over half a day per game. Granted a lot of that time was spent looking up rules, but happily much was also spent languidly soaking up the ambience while mulling over strategies.

Next time I’m going all-in real-Zeds full-game Director’s Cut madness, and maybe even chance a normal length game!

I really hate how they go to such effort to break off watered down versions of the game into separate rule sets, because it makes everything more confusing and it encourages new players to play a frankly not very good state of siege game. Dawn of the Zeds without research? Ugh.

Keep in mind – and you probably know this, even though the rules are entirely mum about it – that game length is the straight-up difficulty level. Victory Point couldn’t be bothered to tune the game, so they just dump it in your lap. I’ve been assuming the standard length solo game should be the default, but who can tell.

Also, playing this multiplayer or even co-op? Double ugh.


Yeah that figures; I was playing the baby game and the easiest mode - no wonder I did so well hey! :)

There’s a write-up on p.37 of the main rule book about the design goals for 3rd. They attempted to hit the ‘broadest possible market’ by adding the multiplayer and making the game easier to learn. Did they succeed? Are sales much improved over 2nd I wonder, and internet comments praising the new-found accessibility?

I think it is easier to learn by chunking it up and gradually introducing mechanics - but they went overboard. I would be happy enough with maybe three versions instead of six or seven, say two on side ‘A’ of the board (which I believe is the 1st edition layout?) and then the full game on side ‘B’. Which actually sounds similar to what they had in 2nd edition… ;)

Besides the amount of them, the watered down versions don’t bother me too much. I do wish they’d made the ‘A to Zeds’ rule book actually laid out from, you know, A to Z, and not mixed up. They have those two other rule books which already do that. I was happy to find though that looking up rules was easy, with the ToC, index, and the excellent point-form two page rules reference at the back.

It’s not something I’m particularly keen on, but have you tried the multiplayer game? I had some onlookers eyeing me enviously while playing and I was quick to point out that while the game supported more than one player, it was originally a solitaire design so I had my doubts. But I’ve not actually seen any multiplayer reviews.

Tom is on record as considering any coop game as being functionally solitaire but Dawn of the Zeds doesn’t even assign characters to individual players in coop. I tried once and I just don’t see any reason to play it with other people.

I guess going the other way (any solitaire game is functionally co-op) doesn’t apply so much! :)

Each player does get to select one ‘personal hero’ during setup, and then spend one action per turn without group consensus. I suppose limiting that action to the chosen hero didn’t work so well…

One action doesn’t amount to much in Zeds, and you keep playing regardless of whether the hero you picked still exists. You could certainly thinktank a group strategy with it the same way you could with any solo game, but to me the design does nothing to promote playing with other people or meaningfully divide responsibilities, and while I’m sure Tom would disagree with me, I think pretty much every game that was originally designed for coop does both, to greater or lesser degrees.