City of Horror, a game played by total jerks, takes the gameplay out of the game

Title City of Horror, a game played by total jerks, takes the gameplay out of the game
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Game reviews
When March 27, 2014

City of Horror isn't really much of a game. The rules are surprisingly simple for a board with so many pieces, most of them being zombies on little plastic stands. It only lasts four turns, which means you will only ever make four moves..

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That's why I'm really not interested in City of Horror. I've heard it's the one zombie boardgame to really grasp the essence of the genre (i.e. that the humans are the real monsters, etc) and that's all fine and well, but I play games with friends, to have fun with my friends. Not to be an asshole to them, and certainly not to exploit and betray them. I'd much rather play something like Zombicide, with its simple but surprisingly rich mechanics and cooperative structure, where I might sacrifice myself to save my friends, not sacrifice my friends to save myself.

(Not to say that I eschew competitive boardgames entirely, but I'd far rather play something where I am clearly and inherently pitted against everyone else from the start and winning is about better timing, maneuvering, efficiency, and use of power. Like Chaos in the Old World.)

Shawn Andrich from GamersWithJobs mentioned the game some time last year, and it caught me completely by surprise. I got its predecessor, Mall of Horror, back when I was in College. My first impression was "Holy crap, it's Dead Rising the board game", what with being more familiar with video game zombies than film ones.

It's actually one of my favorite games to introduce people to, as the rules are easy to remember and really easy to learn. As such, people catch on real quick. But it certainly seems more simplified compared to City of Horror, in that the voting makes up the majority of mechanics. There is a truck in the parking garage that you can get items out of, but there's a limited supply and trading isn't quite encouraged. There is no turn limit, though. The game ends when there are X survivors present.

I'm doubly curious about City of Horror now, as I keep hearing good things about it. I wonder if Mall of Horror would continue to be relevant after getting its...sequel? Do board games have sequels?

I am thinking I'll stick with Last Night on Earth for my zombie love.

I'm glad Tom got to play this. I really hope Dead of Winter keeps the focus of the zombie apocalypse on the survivor interaction and cleans up gameplay by providing a little more direction than City of Horror does. I like City of Horror but it really is all about the players. Dead of Winter seems like it gives players purpose beyond screwing each other over, although that is present in a traitor mechanic as well. Here's hoping.
Tom M

"Zombicide" blows, worst $100 I ever spent. 'Rich mechanics', that's a good one. Cool Mini or Not makes good miniatures, but there hasn't been one game of theirs I haven't been completely disappointed with. They sell toys basically, not games. If I want a minis-based cooperative, I'll play "Gears of War".

"City of Horror" is about negotiation, making a deal then stabbing your friend in the back. If your friends can't have a laugh over a good old-fashioned betrayal, then you have shitty friends. Do your friends gets all pissy when one of them lies about being a spy in "The Resistance"? Or secretly undercuts them as a cylon in "Battlestar Galatica"? There's playing the game and there's being a dick, and it's not hard to tell the difference.

I've played Zombicide several times and felt that they do a lot with a little. The rapidly escalating swarms of zombies mean that time is of the essence and planning (especially when to open buildings) is important, as does the way those spawns increase with the highest level player (meaning kill management is also important). The noise and line of sight mechanics make for interesting tactical zombie management, and adding in things like being slowed by zombies and automatically prioritizing survivors over zombies when firing into melee make caution necessary and dramatic sacrifices sometimes the best play. It's not a perfect game and it's definitely overpriced (because of those minis), but while you're certainly free to dislike it, I disagree with your assessment of its virtues. Especially since "it blows" is, well, not actually a meaningful analysis.

And it's nothing to do with whether or not my friends would be upset by getting backstabbed or betrayed in a game. Frankly, I have no idea if they would and no interest in finding out, but I can't agree that taking that sort of thing personally somehow automatically makes someone a bad friend. It's that I don't enjoy stabbing my friends in the back and don't want to play games where that is the focus. It simply isn't fun for me. If it is for you, well, bully for you, I guess.

"there will be plenty of instance[s]"