Are you talkin’ to me? Are you talkin’ to me??!??!? I ask because you’re missing part of your lower jaw, and my ears both fell of last week. This is, of course, part of the trouble with belonging to the zombie mafia. Vinnie sleeps with the fishes? Of course he does. Spends his days shambling about an abandoned mall, and then goes back to the docks at night.
What the heck am I talking about? A little something called Dead Fellas, the zombie mobster card game now being distributed by Ninja Division. The game’s been around for a few years now, but it’s looking at a new lease on unlife.
There’s only one rule in the Zombie Mafia: Whack your opponents before they whack you. Messy business, but thankfully you have a bunch of undead Mooks working for you. Flipside of the coin, so do your foes, and the turf war has begun.
Mechanically, the game is pretty simple. You start the game with a handful of mooks, and a handful of cards from the Mafia deck. All of the card art is appropriately thematic and highly entertaining.
Each round you’ll draw a card, and then have the option to do one of three things: Draw an extra card, recruit a new Mook, or if your squad is properly equipped, whack an opposing Mook.
Choosing the balance is key, because you can’t have more cards in hand at the end of your turn than you have Mooks in play. To try to protect your Mooks from being whacked, they need to be equipped. To whack an opposing Mook they need to have the right equipment.
Every card in the game has a bullet rating from 1 to 3. Each Mook is worth points equal to its number of bullets, and the point of the game is to whack 10pts worth of opposing Mooks, so filling ’em full o’ lead is a thing.
To what a Mook, however, you need to have three things:
A weapon, with which to do the whacking.
A disguise, with which to get close enough to do said whacking.
A vehicle, with which to facilitate one’s escape.
Each of these items also has a bullet rating from 1 to 3. When you declare your victim, you must have a total number of bullets on the whacking Mook – including his own rating all equipment – equal to or higher than the rating of the target. If you do, then your whack succeeds, and your opponent has one less body with which to threaten you (and their max hands size is reduced accordingly).
Of course, having committed the crime of whacking someone who was already dead, your own Mook must get rid of some of the evidence by discarding one of the items used in the whacking. This means that while your Mook earned you some points, they’re now more vulnerable to a counterwhack for having done so.
To through a spanner in the works, it’s entirely possible that your opponent will utter those infamous word(s) Fuhgeddaboutit and your Mook will… well, forget to complete the whack. Or maybe there’s a Bodyguard. Maybe a Dying Wish will take all of the dead Mook’s equipment and pass it on to his friend, who will make things nastier in revenge.
Gameplay in Dead Fellas is straightforward, and with little downtime. Everyone’s constantly under threat of being whacked, and hoping – just hoping – to draw that one item card they need to allow them to whack Sammy “Book Worm” Bubaluto, who’s hiding in a Hovercraft while wearing an Ape Suit and just waiting to get his hands on a weapon of some description.
Play can be vindictive as players seek revenge, or they can play for the long game and instead seek to snipe out whoever’s closer to that 10 pt win goal.
Dead Fellas has rapidly became a lunchtime favourite at the FLGS, in large part due to us being able to knock out 2-3 four player games with reasonable ease. The gameplay is smooth and straightforward, the rules clear and easy to follow.
It’s a ridiculously easy game to learn, and makes for a fun beer-and-pretzels style time filler. Goofy, and you can enjoy your hamburger between turns. Is it worth the $20 price point? Yeah, for a knockabout game that’s easy to teach anyone, that everyone can enjoy, and that’s chock full of TERRIBLE humor on the cards names and art, I think so. The chuckles are free and easy.
Dead Fellas is available from Ninja Division, and jolly good fun with only a modicum of mental investment required for maximum payoff. Recommended.