Written by Guest Reviewer – Michael Guigliano
I have the honor of reviewing Zimby Mojo, by Devious Weasel Games, with game design by Jim Felli. These are my thoughts and opinions. Enjoy!
Zimby Mojo, is a “Co-Opportunistic Game of Cannibalistic Mayhem.” 1-8 players take on the role of Shaman in a tribe of zimbies. Your goal is to send these dedicated servants on a quest for the King’s Crown, called the Cannibal Crown. Once it is in your zimbies’ possession, and returned to your tribal board, you win. The problem, however, is that all the other tribes are trying to get the Cannibal Crown to their tribal board, as well. On top of that, the King’s thugs are going to do everything they can to protect the King and his Crown. Throughout the game, you will most likely need the help of some of the other tribes in order to defeat the King and his thugs. Since there can be only one King, a betrayal is inevitable when playing with 2 or more players. Be careful, as the Cannibal Crown instills a heavy burden onto those that carry it. As the tribe’s Shaman, you must deal with other tribes of cannibalistic zimbies, zombies, and thugs to grab the crown from the King. Let’s take a better look at the game.
To set up the game, there are a few preliminary items that need to be arranged. After laying out the board, place the Blood Thickets and the Blood Vines in their correct spaces. Next, the Elemental Seals and Elemental Wards are placed. These wards can be placed in their spaces in any order. The seals, however, are randomized and placed face down in their corresponding spaces. To continue, shuffle the 8 Ritual Markers and place 1 in each of the 4 corners of the King’s Sanctum. You’ll notice the matching sword symbols. Make sure these tokens are placed in the corners, and not on the Ritual Tile. In the center of the King’s Sanctum is the Blood Mist. The King is placed on this square to start. His thugs are placed adjacent to the Elemental Seals that were placed earlier. At this point, the board is set up (see above image). Now the players get their material.
Each player takes a tribal board. These have one entrance that leads onto the main board. Players may place them at any Entry Point tile that they would like. For reasons that will become clear a little later, placing your tribal board at the second Entry Point located on the Outer Patrol Route is suggested. If you look on the board you’ll see red and black footprints on some of the squares. These represent to routes that the King’s thugs will take during the game. The red route is used when the King is still alive. The black route is taken after the King is killed. Since the second Entry Point on this black route takes longer to get to, it is recommended to place your tribal board at this tile. Each player then gets 4 mojo tokens, and a selected amount of active zimby tokens. The rules suggest 4 for new players, and 8 for the more seasoned Shamans. In addition, players receive a selected amount of Scroll cards, as well. After shuffling the Scroll cards into one deck, the rules suggest dealing 3 to each player, for the new players, and 6 for the vets. After deciding on the start player, you are finally ready to start your hunt for the Cannibal Crown.
If you’re looking to play this solo, the rules have a few alterations for you. First, you will remove the Scroll cards that have a red dot in the mojo symbol. Shuffle the remaining cards and deal, face down, 17 cards to make up the Scroll deck. These 17 will be the only cards in this game. In addition to the 4 mojo tokens, you will be able to use 8 active zimby tokens. Draw 6 cards from the Scroll deck to represent your starting hand. The next few adjustments will make more sense after the basics of the game are understood. For now, just know that when activating an elemental seal, which usually requires some cooperation, in a solo game a zimby must be sacrificed. Because of this, there must be at least 2 zimbies in a column when at the shrine. The blood of the sacrificed is used to break the seal, and the zimby then goes to the Far Shore (which is a term used for the place where zimbies wait for activation). The King’s Crown gives a witchery (type of scroll card) benefit of 50%. Some of these benefits target the tile that the King is on, as well as ones that target the King himself. There’s also an adjustment to the King’s rituals and when thugs re-enter the board after being killed. Instead of rolling a d4 to determine randomness, you will roll a d6, using a roll of 1-4 as normal, but assigning a roll of 5-6 to a quadrant or portal tile connected or nearest to the player’s tribal board. The thugs will change their behavior in a solo game once the King dies. When this happens the thugs move at a pace of 2d6 along the red Inner Patrol route until they reach the Outer Patrol route that is connected to the player’s tribal board. They will then follow this outer route, at 2d6, until they reach the tribal board entrance. Here, the first two thugs to reach the entry tile will flank the entry tile and hold their positions; the first thug stopping on the first tile before the entrance, with the second thug stopping at the first tile after the entrance. The remaining thugs will continue to patrol the outer route as normal, at 2d6. If a thug manages to defeat a zimby column that is carrying the Cannibal Crown, and can get it back to the Blood Mist tile, located in the center of the King’s chamber, they are then crowned the new Cannibal King, and you lose the game. You will also lose the game if you are unable to draw a card from the Scroll deck during the refresh step. To win the game, simply kill the King and get Cannibal Crown back to your tribal board. If this is accomplished, your score is equal to the number of cards remaining in the Scroll Deck. Easy, right? Ha! Good luck.
“So, now that I have the game set up to play…how do I play?”
In order to kill the King, claim the Crown, and get it back to your tribe, you will need to use your mojo and active zimbies to play Scroll cards, break through the seals protecting the King, and engage in combat. Let me say that the game, at its core, is easy to pick up. You will get the basics to the game pretty quickly. However, there are a lot of moving parts. The rule book is essential, especially for your first few plays. I will not cover every facet of the game in this review. This review is intended to whet your appetite…just a little bit. To completely understand the game, I would recommend running through it a few times on your own, just to get all the rules and terms down, before you really play it or teach it to anyone. Otherwise, you will be searching the rule book for all the different instances of movement, columns, combat, etc. Again, it’s not difficult to learn how to play Zimby Mojo, but getting to know it before you really play it would be a good thing.
How to play:
Each turn, starting from the beginning of round 2, will start with a Refresh. All used mojo and zimby tokens are turned back over to their active sides. Any obstacles that can be turned to their “B” sides are flipped. If a token is already on the “B” side, then it is removed from the board. Next, each Shaman draws a Scroll Card. After the Refresh Event, the King gets his action. If the King is in the Blood Mist, he will move to a random Ritual Tile. Use a d4 and split the board into quadrants to determine onto which Ritual tile the King moves. There are 8 possible Rituals of which 4 are chosen for each game. The Rituals range from filling up the King’s Sanctum with the Blood Mist, dealing damage to the zimbies, to draining mojo from the Shamans, and even sending cannibalistic madness to each Shaman, forcing them to eat their own zimbies! If the King is already on a Ritual tile, then the King moves back into the Blood Mist. After the King, it is each Shaman’s turn. Only during the next three events may a Shaman use such effects as cannibalize, extract mojo, use mojo, and use scrolls. On the Shaman’s turn they may, in any order, spawn new zimbies, move creatures, attack, or make zombies. I’ll explain movement, attacking, spawning, and columns in a moment. For now, those actions make up the Shaman’s turn. After they take the actions that they wish to take, it’s time for the active thugs to take their turns. Thugs are able to move or attack. Movement for them was briefly mentioned earlier. They will either move 1d6, if the King is alive and they are on the red Inner route, or they will move 2d6 if the King is dead, following the rules for movement toward the column that holds the Crown, or toward the Crown’s owner’s tribal board, as discussed before. Attacking, again, will be discussed in a bit. Once the thugs have completed their turn, any zombies on the board will shamble toward the closest living creature, as long as the zombie isn’t soothed (this will make more sense in the explanation below). Next, it’s on to the Wrap-Up Event. First, obstacles that can cause wounds will cause wounds. Then, all Shamans will discard down to 6 cards (player’s choice). Finally, players will determine who the start player for the following round will be. The first player will be the Shaman with the most active, non-chanting zimbies on their tribal board. Ties for this are broken by rolling a die. During the game, the first mover takes the Bag O’ Fate. They will be in charge of all draws from the Bag O’ Fate, will make all die rolls for the thugs and the King, and will take the first turn during the next Shaman’s Turn. Play then cycles from the Refresh step to the Wrap-Up step until someone gets the Cannibal Crown back to their Tribal Board.
If you happen to purchase Zimby Mojo directly from the publisher’s website, the game comes with an “Order of Events” card, to help you through each of the steps. This is also available for download from the files page on the Zimby Mojo page on BGG.
The King’s movement is very specific. Either it moves to a random Ritual Tile, if it is already in the Blood Mist, or moves to the Blood Mist, if it is already on a Ritual Tile. Thug movement follows either the Inner or Outer Patrol routes, depending on if the King is alive or dead. If the thugs are patrolling the Outer routes, only one thug will patrol each quadrant. This is different in the solo game, however (as explained above). Thugs will only move in the direction of the foot icon printed on the board for their specific route. If a thug has been Expelled, which means it was killed and placed on a Barracks Tile, then the thug will return to a random portal, dismissing any creature already on that portal. If during their movement a thug encounters an opponent, it will initiate combat during its Attack phase, which happens after all thugs have moved. During movement, thugs can pass through other thugs, unless that thug is engaged in combat. In this situation, the thugs will join in the fight. After all thugs have moved, they will begin their attack phase. After combat is resolved, surviving thugs continue along their routes. Thugs that are killed are Expelled. Zimby movement depends on how many zimbies are in a column. A column of 1-2 Zimbies may move up to 4 tiles for each 1 mojo spent. A column of 3-4 may move 2 tiles per mojo, and a column of 5-6 Zimbies may move 1 tiles for each mojo. If the column has 7-8 Zimbies that column may only move 1 tile for every 2 mojo spent. Any column of 9 or more Zimbies may only move 1 tile for every 4 mojo spent.
Creatures may be stacked into columns. These columns are considered to be one creature, and may be one of two types of columns: Thugs or Zimbies. Thugs may only stack on other thugs, and zimbies on other zimbies. So, a zimby may never join with a thug, and vice versa. In a solo game, you are only one tribe, so your column will only be one color. When playing with 2 or more players, there may come a time where you want to join forces in order to take down the King, or eliminate some thugs, or even break a seal to the King’s Sanctum. In order to join zimbies into one, multicolored column, the player seeking to join the column must get permission to join from the Shamans that have zimbies in the existing column. During a Shaman’s turn these columns are controlled if the active Shaman has a zimby of their color in the column, or are considered uncontrolled if they do not. Columns have a limit of no more than 3 zimbies of the same color. If, for some reason, the number exceeds 3, then expel any zimbies over 3. Each column also has a Brutality level. When attacking, this is determined by the number of the column’s controller’s zimbies in the column, +1 for each other tribe represented in the column. When defending, the column’s Brutality level is determined by the number of the largest tribe represented in the column, +1 for each other tribe in the column. Although you can attack other tribes in Zimby Mojo, you cannot attack Allied columns. Columns are said to be Allied if they share a common tribe. However, Scroll cards can still legally target zimbies in allied columns.
Thug columns are formed only when they are returning the Cannibal Crown to the Blood Mist, or if they happen to land on top of each other as they are patrolling. They have no size limit, and have a Brutality level of 1, +2 per thug in the column. If the thug column is in combat, they will not separate until the combat is over, and if carrying the Crown, will only separate after returning the Crown to the Blood Mist, or loses the Crown. If the column is not involved in combat and does not have the Crown, then they will separate naturally during the patrol movement phase.
There are 3 types of Scroll Cards: Rituals, Incantations, and Witcheries. Rituals have a target or effect, which happens immediately, and then the card is discarded. Incantations target a Shaman, and have a lasting effect. When using an incantation, a Shaman must first pay its mojo cost, then place an active zimby face up on the incantation symbol on the card, which is placed next to a target Shaman. This chanting zimby is still considered to be part of the Tribal Board. Shamans may never have more than 8 Zimbies on their Tribal Board. Any excess zimbies are sent to the Far Shore (waiting area for zimbies). Witcheries are channeled through a Shama’s zimby on the main board or their Tribal Board. Although Witcheries can target an array of creatures and/or tiles on the board, they are restricted by 3 rules: The casting Shaman must designate an active zimby to the Witchery. The target of the Witchery must be on the main board, and no more than 3 tiles away from the channeling zimby. The channeling Zimby must also have line of sight through a straight line to its target, with no other creature, Darkness, or Blood Mist in the way. This line of sight may not turn or bend, or be diagonal.
Creatures may only make valid attacks within their Combat Zone. Zimbies and thugs have a Combat Zone equal to their movement. The King’s Combat Zone includes all tiles that surround him. Zimbies can decide whether to attack another creature or not. Thugs, however, must attack if there is a creature in its Combat Zone. Zombies are also required to attack other living creatures within their Combat Zone. Only active creatures may initiate an attack on their controller’s turn, and only once per turn. When there is a multi-tribe column of zimbies, the active Shaman may make one attack with that creature. If that column of zimbies happens to leave combat, it may make another attack on its next controller’s turn. A creature is considered in Combat Lock once they, or their opponent, initiate combat. They are locked until they either die or have no opponent in their attack zone. Creatures stay on their tiles until the Combat Roll is resolved. The Combat Roll of the creature is equal to its Brutality, + any effects from Scroll Cards/Cannibalism, + 1d6. After any Scroll Cards are used to alter the attack roll, the Combat is resolved. If the attacker wins, they must move onto the tile where their opponent died. If the defender is the winner, they do not move from their tile. Wounds inflicted by damage are not accumulated. Therefore, in order to kill a creature, a single source must do enough damage equal or greater to the creature’s vitality to kill it on one turn. Zimbies have 1 vitality. Thugs have 2 vitality. Zombies have 3 vitality. But the toughest opponent is the King, with 4 vitality. When wounds are dealt to a multi-tribe creature, the Bag O’ Fate is used. First, set aside all items held by the zimbies in the column. Next, place all zimbies in the column into the Bag O’ Fate. The first mover then randomly pulls out one zimbie for each wound that was dealt to the column during the attack. These zimbies are killed, and placed on the Far Shore. After all the wounds are decided, the first mover will begin drawing one zimbie from the bag for each item that was set aside. These zimbies are now holding those items. Creatures will always defend an attack, even if they did not start the attack.
As a tribe’s population diminishes, a Shaman may decide to spawn new zimbies into the tribe on their turn. Zimbies are spawned from the Far Shore to the Shaman’s Tribal Board, at a cost of 3 mojo per zimby. There must be a zimby present at the Far Shore for the Shaman to spawn a new zimby. These fresh zimbies are placed on the Tribal Board face down, or depleted. A Shaman may only spawn up to 2 new zimbies per turn. However, Scroll effects may break this rule. Remember, a Tribal Board may never contain more than 8 zimbies, and this includes zimbies on Incantation cards, as well.
Yes. After all, this is a game of “Cannibalistic Mayhem”, isn’t it? Cannibalism may be used by Shamans or zimbies. This will provide a short-term gain. No more than twice per round, a Shaman may decide to eat an active zimby from their own Tribal Board. Each zimby eaten will give the Shaman either 2 mojo or the ability to draw a card from the Scroll deck. Zimbies consumed in this manner are sent…you guessed it…to the Far Shore. On your turn, if you decide to have a zimby participate in Cannabilism, they must follow a few rules. First, the zimbies must be in a single-tribe column. You can’t eat another tribe’s zimby. Zimbies in a single-tribe column may eat up to 2 tribesmen. For each one eaten, the Shaman can give the eater either +4 Brutality for its next Combat Roll, double range for its next Witchery channeled, or double effect for its next Witchery channeled. Combat effects to Brutality are additive, meaning each zimby eaten will add +4 (+8 for two zimbies). The doubling for Witchery effects are multiplicative, meaning the first zimby eaten doubles the effect (either towards range or effect of the Witchery) and the second zimby eaten will double the effect again (quadrupling the effect). Cannibalism must immediately precede the action that it is enhancing. No holding on to a zimby’s leg to help out at a later time!
“A Zombie is the shambling, unliving remnant of a Zimby – a brainless, animated meat puppet. They are very powerful, very slow, and very stupid.” One of my favorite lines in the rule book. They are strong, and they are stupid. They could potentially attack, and kill, members of their previous tribe, as well. These “meat puppets” are spawned at a limit of 1 per turn, and no more than 2 per Shaman, and can only be spawned by moving 2 active zimbies from their Tribal Board to the Far shore, then replacing a zimby that is active and alone on a tile on the main board with an active zombie token. This zimby is also sent to the Far Shore. Zombies can be controlled on their creator’s turn, with a movement of 2 tiles per mojo spent, and they have the same combat zone as zimbies. They are unable to pick up items, cannot be joined into any columns, and cannot be used to channel mojo or Witcheries. On the bright side, they cannot pass through blood thickets and will suffer wounds from the Blood Mist, Blood Vines, and Deadly Vines. On the other hand, zombies are unaffected by death curses and pass through the Patches O’ Darkness and Entangling Vines without any damage. During the Wrap-Up phase of the round, all zombies are considered uncontrolled, and all zombies that are not locked in combat will Shamble toward the closest living creature at a movement of 1d6. This is measured through the number of adjacent tiles between the zombie and the creature. If the zombie comes across a creature in its active combat zone it will stop and initiate combat. A zombie’s controller has the option of paying 1 mojo per zombie to prevent it from Shambling. Otherwise, an uncontrolled zombie cannot be affected.
The Cannibal Crown:
This is what you have been after from the start. Now, just get it back to your Tribal Board. But wait! There are a few things you should know about this powerful Crown. With the power comes the burden. If the King was killed in combat by a single-tribe column, it’s now yours. Run! However, if the killing blow came from a multi-tribe column, use the Bag O’ Fate to determine the Crown’s controller. If the King happened to fall due to the effects of a Witchery, then the Crown falls on the tile where the King died. Again…Run! As mentioned, there are powers that come with carrying the Cannibal Crown. The Crown will grant the carrier a 50% immunity to Witcheries and Obstacles. This immunity is determined with 1d6. On a roll of 3 or less (50%), the carrier will be unaffected by obstacles and Witcheries for that turn. Witcheries are still considered to be cast, but have no effect. However, if the Witchery targets the tile on which the Crown carrier is standing, the Crown does not stop those effects. The Crown also grants the ability to use the King’s Rituals, found in the King’s Sanctum. By moving onto a Ritual Tile in the Sanctum, the zimby carrying the Crown can channel 4 mojo to perform the Ritual. If the Ritual affects a random quadrant or portal, the controller may choose one, instead of it being random. Remember, with great power comes…great burden! The Carrier of the Crown will feel the weight of its power through the heavy movement burden. It will, however, decrease in heaviness after the first and second Refresh phases. During the turn in which the King met his death, the Carrier of the Crown moves as if there are +8 zimbies in the column. After the first Refresh, the Carrier will now move as if there are +4 zimbies in the column. After the second Refresh the Carrier will now move as if there are +2 zimbies in the column, for the remainder of the game. As an example from the rule book, if the carrier moves as though there are +4 zimbies in the column, and the column has 3 zimbies in it, it’s as if it is moving with a column of 7 zimbies! From here there are still the Shrines, Wards, and Obstacles, however, these are pretty simple to understand from the descriptions in the rule book. So much for just an appetizer! It may seem like a lot, but it really isn’t. Once you set it up and start going through a full turn or two, it will all start coming together.
The components are great. The stickers on the wooden tokens, representing the different creatures, are simplistic, and well done. Each tribe had a distinct color, and 5 of the 8 tribes have a specific marking over the eyes, that adds just a little bit more in making the tribes different from each other. The wooden bits are of good, chunky quality. The cardboard tokens are also solid. I really like the way the board is set up, with the Inner and Outer Routes, and the easy to find foot prints for each route. The variety in the cards, the randomness of the Seals, and the use of 4 out of 8 possible Ritual tokens gives this game great replay value. I do wish more of the art found throughout the rulebook was used more in the game. The faces on the wooden tokens are fantastic, and the backdrop to the main board is well done, however it would have been nice to see some of the drawings found in the rule book on some of the cards, perhaps. The box cover, done by Naomi Robinson, and the sketches, done by Tani Pettit, are amazing!
There is a lot in this rule book. There has to be, though. This game, although simple at it’s core, has a lot to figure out as you play. The stack, the columns, the Brutality and Vitality levels, the randomness to the quadrants, the movement of the thugs, and the multi-zimby creatures, and the zombies… The rule book gives you everything you need to know, and everything you’ll need to refer to in order to get your answers. What I found odd is the game setup is on page 13. The rule book goes through turn order, the different Events and phases, combat, movement, killing the King, the Burden of the Crown, and a bunch of other things before it even gets you to unfold the board and place it on the table. And honestly, it helped out tremendously! Although I can’t remember a rule book that did the same thing, I felt I knew more about the game after reading through the specifics of the game before I dealt out player pieces, or constructed the Scroll Library. I’m not sure this would work with all games, but with the different layers of Zimby Mojo to learn, I think this was a very smart idea. It also gives you a sample round as a reference, with illustrations to help you understand movement and such.
The player count helps change the dynamic of this game quite a bit. I played it as a solo game a few times, in order to understand the game before I introduced it to my friends. The solo game is good, but doesn’t compare to a multi-player game. The decisions on joining, betraying, and standing to fight changes dramatically with the increasing player count. I haven’t been lucky enough to play it as a 6+, but would jump at the chance, as I am curious to the chaos that would happen when 8 tribes are trying to get one crown back to their tribe. It’s fun and challenging as a solo, with a strict limit of rounds to accomplish your goal, but the multiplayer game is where it’s at. If you’re not a fan of too much randomness, I would go into this game knowing that there is a ton of randomness: Randomness for the quadrants, the portals, the Rituals, the Seals, the 3 types of Scrolls that you may or may not draw from the deck, the randomness in the movement by dice rolling…you get the idea. However, I didn’t mind it at all. Of course, every time I needed a thug to move 4 or less tiles, the die result would almost always be a 5 or 6. I felt it added to the game, instead of taking anything away from it. We are talking about cannibalistic tribes!
Zimby Mojo is a fun, chaotic game of Zombies and Zimbies…and Cannibalism! It’s a bit strategy, with a lot of luck, good for 1-8 players. It received mixed reviews from those that I had the chance of playing it with, mostly iffy from those who didn’t like the randomness and wanted a little bit more control over certain things in the game. Although, those that liked it, including myself, really liked it. We enjoyed the chaos. We enjoyed figuring out how many, or when, to stack the columns, when to back-stab a helping tribesman, and when to get in and kill the King. Overall, if you like luck and randomness in games, I would suggest getting this one to the table!
To find out more about Zimby Mojo, visit: http://deviousweasel.com/
Copyright 2016 by Devious Weasel Games