Game School: Two, two, two games in one! Zombie – Shambling and Hungry hits play test phase


Zombies. Mindless, shambling and existing only to feed. Much like you and your friends. Use these zombie cards to simulate a zombie outbreak at your next party or family gathering! Or sit yourself down for a fast and furious game of zombie dominance! Now you can do both!

If you’d like to try this game out, grab the Print and Play PDF!

This game started off, like many of my games do, as a conversation on Google Plus with another gamer. My online buddy Moe was thinking of something along the lines of Ninja – Silent but Deadly, except the ninjas would be zombies, and not silent. Nor dressed all in black or wielding ninja swords. You get the picture.

I liked the idea of re-theming N-SbD but I had one niggling little thing shifting around in the back of my head. Board Game Geek, the venerable, go-to board and card game site on the web wouldn’t allow me to add Ninja to their ranks of games. They simply couldn’t classify it. I thought I was okay with it but dammit I wasn’t.

So this game would have to be different. I also realized that some folks would be willing to shell out a few bucks for 20 cards in a fun, prank like ninja game but that was probably a one trick pony. I didn’t want people who wanted a higher than PnP quality game to have to shell out more money for another 20 cards.

I did what any would be game designer would do, and started adding mechanics. And subtracting mechanics, and fooling around with the game in my head and on the table. I also talked to Moe, the original instigator who gave me a great idea to go along with the Infected cards.

How we play the apocalypse

The result? Zombies – Shambling and Hungry! A game where you play one of a thousand in a (sometimes literally) faceless mob. How can you distinguish yourself? Why by pushing yourself to the front! There you have a much better chance to eat something tasty, or get shot, stabbed, shoveled, bludgeoned or stomped in the face by a guy named Rick with a twitchy eye and a psychopathic 10 year old as a sidekick.


This is another light and simple game, which I love at the moment because they’re small, fun and can be rapidly play tested multiple times. They’re the fruit fly of the table top game world.

The object of Zombie – Shambling and Hungry is to be the first to discard all of your cards. This includes the cards in your hand, the cards in your draw pile and any cards you may be forced to pick up. You do this by playing cards into a central play pile based on card suits.

There are four suits in this game, Hearts, Splatters, Biohazards and Palms.

Some cards also have additional effects on the game. These are printed on the cards themselves and happen as soon as they are played.

There are also Infected cards. Infected cards are very hard to discard, and can even lead to losing the game if your entire hand of cards becomes too infected. That’s the equivalent of a head shot, or simply rotting to bits.

This game is a bit simpler than Gaido, one of (sheesh!) four games I have in the play test cycle right now. It was also developed before the thought of Gaido was even in my head, so in some ways the game I’ve released earlier as a print and play is building off of this one. That certainly doesn’t make Z-SaH less of a game, but the two fit two different play styles. Gaido is subtle and quiet, this is fast and furious.


The person who most recently watched a movie or television show with zombies in it is the first dealer. Play proceeds clockwise around the table, and the dealer should begin dealing with the player to their left. Take the play deck (36 cards numbered 1-9). Add to it 2 Infected cards for each player. If you are playing a 2 player game, add a total of 5 Infected cards. Shuffle the deck and deal out all of the cards. In a 2 player game, one player will have one card more than the other.

You must keep 5 cards in your hand if at all possible. If you play a card, you must draw a card from your draw pile. The only time you can have a hand of fewer than 5 cards is if your draw pile is empty and you cannot draw more.

Play begins with the player to the left of the dealer. That player must play one card into a central pile. This card will be one of four suits: Hearts, Splatters, Biohazards or Palms. This card determines which suit will be the current suit. The next player to the left must then play a card of that same suit.

If a player cannot play a card of the same suit as the current suit, they must pick up all of the cards in the central pile and place them on the bottom of their draw pile.ZSH-card-back

Each card has also has a number on it. If a player has 2, 3 or 4 of a kind which includes a card with the  suit currently in play they may play all of these cards. The card with the current suit must be played last so that the current suit is still the top card on the central pile.

If a player ever has all 5 cards in their hand with the same suit (i.e. all biohazard), on their turn they may place all five cards on the central pile and then draw up to five cards (if possible) into their hand.

The first player to discard all of their cards in their draw pile and hand has successfully outdistanced the horde and wins!

16 of the 36 cards also have special powers on them, which spice up game play a bit.

But wait, there’s more!

The Zombie: Shambling and Hungry decks also come with a simple game of infecting friends and peers. It’s like Kindergarten all over again, but with a zombie virus instead of strep throat.

Each deck of Zombies: Shambling and Hungry comes with 20 Infected cards. These cards are not used in the sit down, table top game. Rather, they are used to infect your friends, who in turn can and should infect other friends! Take two less Infected card than you have friends playing. For example, if you have 10 friends playing, use 8 Infected cards. One person becomes Patient Zero, and starts off with 8 Infected cards. They then try to infect others! At the start of the game, only Patient Zero can infect other players.

All you need do to infect another person is to touch them with the Infected card. Slip it into their pocket, hand it to them, using a bit of tape slap it on their backs while saying a friendly hello! This person is now infected! Not only are they now carriers of a deadly disease which will render them undead and hungry, but they can now use the Infected card to infect others. It is up to patient zero to give them between 1 and 3 infected cards. They must then attempt to infect others playing the game using all but one of these cards, which they’ll retain for themselves to show that they are already infected.

If you are able to use all of the cards available before the allotted time is up, the zombies have won! Those last 2 folks who are uninfected won’t be enough to fight off the hordes and will eventually succumb.

If at least three people can remain uninfected until the set deadline, then the humans have won!

This game can be played over a period of time from less than one day to several years – depending on where and how you’d like to do it.

  • A game night: 3-4 hours.
  • A convention: 2-3 days.
  • A group of friends physically near to each other: 1-2 weeks
  • A group of friends separated by lengthy physical distances: 2 weeks plus

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