Student Bodies is a game designed by Matthieu Regney and Michel Grenier, published by Angry Duck Games and Smirk & Dagger Games. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players are high school kids that have been bitten by zombies. Slowly they are turning into the walking dead themselves. The only hope is to make it past a hallway full of zombies into the school’s science lab and find the antidote. Players will then have to race back down the hallway past the zombies and out the front door. The only problem is that the age old adage of “I don’t have to outrun the zombies, I just gotta outrun you,” comes into play. This is NOT a co-op game, it’s a zombie free-for-all. The player that successfully cures themself and makes it out the front door first will be declared the winner.
To begin, place the board in the middle of the play area. The Science Lab and the Fire door are place into their stands and placed in the center of the door spaces marked with their name. The exit cards, lab cards and hallway cards are separated into piles and then each one is shuffled. One card is drawn from the exit and lab deck and two cards are drawn from the hallway deck. The lab and exit cards are placed face down in their areas. The hallway cards are flipped over and oriented so that the arrows point away from each other in the middle, just like on the board. This gives the starting areas for zombies, corpse tokens, obstructions and spawn tiles. Using the cards as reference, you will place those items as designated by the cards. Four zombies are placed on the science lab and four more are placed on the exit. They are unavailable until those areas have been opened. Beaker tokens are then set aside; one antidote for each player and then from two to four more depending on the number of players. The main deck and item deck are separated and shuffled. They are then placed near the board. Players select a character, taking the corresponding character board and figure. They will then place 3 stamina tokens on their tracker and 5 health tokens on their health track. Players will randomly draw a card from the item deck. Players then draw up to a hand size of 5 cards from the main deck. The difficulty is then set for the game by constructing a 21 card zombie deck from the zombie cards as shown in the rules. These cards are then shuffled. Zombie figures are set near the board along with corpse tokens and the zombie attack dice. Players take turn rolling the zombie die until someone rolls a bite. They are the first player. Play can now begin.
On a player’s turn, they will do the following steps in order: ready items, zombie actions, player actions and cleanup. The first step is to ready items. Players can ready up to 3 items, placing them on their character sheet or rearranging the items on their sheet. Items used in previous turns must be reset first by turning them 180 degrees. When the item is used, the player must first pay the ability cost if any and then turn it 180 degrees to show it’s spent. Sometimes items will have to be trashed. Any actions that require the player to trash an item can be used even if the item is spent.
The next step is the zombie actions step. In this step, the player draws the top card of the zombie deck. This card determines what the zombies do that turn. Zombies can take actions just like players or can be spawned on spawn tiles depending on the icons on the revealed card. If a zombie is close enough to a player, they can attack them. In this case, the zombie die is rolled and depending on the results can either bite, miss or knock down a player. Of course, certain items can help defend against the attack.
The third step is the player action step. In this step, players will perform actions as long as they have the stamina and resources to pay for them. Actions include using a readied item, moving, searching a corpse or beaker token, playing a card or opening a door. Since I’ve already explained items, I’ll move on to moving. Moving costs 1 stamina and will provoke an attack from any adjacent zombies. Players can’t move into or through a space occupied by another player or zombie. Moving through an obstacle costs 2 points instead of 1. Also, a player that is knocked down must first stand up before moving. This costs 1 point as well. Checking tokens is a free action if the player ends their action in a space that contains a token. Items can be found on corpse tokens or could possibly end up in being attacked by a zombie instead. Beaker tokens can give special benefits or could be poisonous. There are also cures that are half of the conditions for winning the game. Cards can be played on a player’s turn by paying the cost for them in stamina. Players can use cards to attack zombies or even other players. When a zombie is hit, it’s dead and is then replaced with a corpse token. Attacking another player causes that player to gain a wound, just as if a zombie had attacked them. Opening doors counts as a free action. Once a door is opened, the appropriate card is flipped over and the tokens and zombies are set up in their proper places before continuing. The door is then removed from the board.
The final step is the clean up step. Once a player has played all the cards they wish to play, that player can discard any number of cards. All players will then draw back up to their hand size. The current player’s stamina is then reset to 3. Their turn is now over and play passes to the next player.
Sometimes a player will die. If a player had the antidote when they died, it’s game over for them. However if they didn’t have an antidote, they now become a smart zombie. A smart zombie’s mission is to kill the remaining players. If they are able to do that, they win the game. Smart zombies have special rules and actions for what they can do. All of which is covered in the rules. If a player is able to not die, find an antidote and make it through the exit doors and off the board alive, they win the game.
This game has some truly amazing looking components. First off the artwork is truly amazing looking, from the cards to the standees to the character sheets. I’m blown away with the comic book feel of the characters. The art reminds me a lot of one of my favorite comic artists, J. Scott Campbell. The cards are all really good quality and are easy to shuffle. The different backs make them very easy to separate for set up. All the tokens are thick cardboard, as are the standees, doors, lockers and obstacle tiles. They’re really sturdy and good quality. I like that there are regular player standees as well as smart zombie standees of the characters as well. The only problem for me is that there aren’t enough stands for them all to be placed in. I get that there are different colored ones for the player standees, which means that when the character dies, you will take the regular standee out and replace it with the zombie standee. I would have been happier with 5 extra stands and all of them being black. Having to remove them each time is a bit of a pain and could lead to the standee being worn out quicker or even damaged. Guess I’ll have to find some plastic stands for these so that doesn’t happen. The zombie die is really cool with the different faces on it. All in all, I really like the components, but wish there were more stands.
9 out of 10
The rulebook is absolutely great. It has lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. Everything is explained really well and it looks great. There’s plenty of artwork through the book as well. There’s even a section for playing a five player game as well as enhancing and customizing your game. I really like the quick reference guide on the back of the book. It’s really good to keep handy for those first few games. It explains all the different iconography and how to set up the zombie deck for different amounts of players. There’s also a section about movement costs. Everything is covered really well and is easy to read. I like that there is a section of FAQs as well. In case something came up that you didn’t understand, it’s probably in there. All in all, it’s really well designed.
9 out of 10
This game is a really fun take on the zombie genre. It’s unlike a lot of the zombie style games that I’ve seen and played. I like the take that feel of the game especially if you really play aggressive against the other players. I love the added addition of turning the player’s character into a smart zombie if they die. It gives the game a completely different dimension. Most of the time, when you die, you die. The designers were brilliant in adding this element into the game. Some players will aim for that result as quickly as possible which makes it really interesting for the players that are not trying to die. The game is a little bit long but it keeps you engaged throughout. It’s not a very difficult game to play. It has tons of replayability as the setup cards make every game unique. I’m really thrilled with this game and love playing it.
9 out of 10
Student Bodies is light to medium weight game of zombie high school goodness with a take that feel. The artwork completely drew me in. I love every piece of this game. I would have liked a few more plastic stands for the player zombie standees, but it’s not that big of a deal. The quality of this game is amazing. The game plays in about an hour and a half but it keeps you engaged throughout. It’s fairly simple to learn and play. The only real difficulty is from the cards but after a play or two, it’s easily overcome. I really feel like fans of the zombie genre and take that games will love this one. There’s lots of replayability with the setup cards. The game can even be customized for harder play as well and making your own setup cards. I really enjoy this game. I highly recommend it.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Smirk and Dagger Games and Angry Duck Games at their respective sites.