The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog

Zombie Cafe: The Review



A couple of weeks ago now, the ZRC received a comment on our blog from game creator Wayne West of Spare Brains Games, who kindly offered to send us a review copy of their Zombie Cafe card game.

Of course the ZRC was very pleased to take up this noble responsibility, and so last weekend we got our copy in the mail. Upon which the ZRC learned that its staff had misplaced all of their dice, and more had to be acquired. Not just any dice, mind you; dice suitable for playing Zombie-themed games, for this and future reviews. Plus, this excuse justified a trip to the local game store.

Lo and behold, the perfect steel-grey and green dice were there, ready to pair with the game.




And with that, we were off to the Zombie Cafe!

Zombie Cafe is a refreshingly simple experience after years of playing complicated, constantly-changing card game monstrosities like Hecatomb, Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh (all of which contain/contained heinous anti-Zombie stereotypes by the way). Everything you need, except some 6-sided dice, comes right in the package.


(A one page set of rules, front and back. Ahh, nice to play a game without Errata)

In essence, Zombie Cafe works like this: each player is given a set of brains to sell, and opportunities to draw and deploy ‘Specials’ cards that make their brains easier to unload, their opponents’ brains harder to serve, or otherwise alter the numerical balance of power. As a player relieves themselves of brains, however, they also lessen their card-drawing power, giving other players a chance to catch up to, or gang up upon, their would-be-Champion. The dice are used as a randomizing element to determine the sale of a particular brain on the basis of its total adjusted score.

Particularly innovative in this game is the concept of a ‘Play Immediately’ card, which presents an additional randomizing element to the gameplay, feeling a bit like an infusion of Monopoly’s Chance cards. Given that players often zealously guard and regulate their hands, this adds a potential downside to drawing and turns a universal-benefit into a bit of gamble; drawing a card will, usually, expand one’s strategic options, but it could also spell doom in the form of an additional, unwanted brain that you have to unload.

(Here you can see the Brain and Specials card decks)

Zombie Cafe is easy to learn, easy to play, and highly portable, with the contents all easily fitting into the small game envelope; one could most likely put the entire game in a moderately sized case for carrying a MtG deck. In our experience, games take 15-20 minutes to play (though this is with 2 players, longer games could well take more time), which is perfect for a quick break before bracing oneself for the latest Romero atrocity at the local multiplex, or while hanging out at a convention, or otherwise engaging in direct pro-Zombie activity. (We will be taking the game with us to B-Movie Madness this weekend). Without a doubt it’s a fun independent gaming experience, and on that note we can heartily recommend it.

However, from a Zombie Activism perspective, there are some troubling qualities to be found here. While, generally speaking, the Zombies in this game are portrayed in a far-more-evenhanded approach than in most media, holding down jobs, creating a functional society, possessing taste and intellect, there are still some lingering prejudices to be found within. A losing Cafe-owner is said to be eaten alive by ravenous undead customers, for example; there is also the occasional humorous slight against the Differently Animated. One might also comment on the brain-exclusive diet found in the game, but honestly, we all know brains are delicious. Living humans would eat more of them, if not for prions and the fact that a brain is almost entirely made of cholesterol.

Still, progress is measured in baby steps, and Zombie Rights Campaigners must take what good news we can get, and here is some good news indeed. A Zombie game where the object is to peacefully co-exist with the Differently Animated, to share commerce, currency, perhaps even camaraderie with Zombies? It’s almost too good to be true. The fact that it’s enjoyable is icing on the cake.


About The Author

The role of 'Administrator' will be played tonight by John Sears, currently serving as President of The Zombie Rights Campaign.


5 Responses to “Zombie Cafe: The Review”

  1. Wayne West says:

    Regarding the shown all-brain-exclusive diet, though not specifically stated (perhaps in a rules update or expansion), other items such as head cheese and a variety of refreshing beverages are available.

    Regarding the losers being eaten alive by ravenous undead customers, an editing omission left out some lines that the losers are actually eaten by undead brainless ghouls, which are clearly lacking in sophistication and discernment. Perhaps, again, a rules update will clarify this.

    One point that I should mention for your readers. The copy that I sent you is identical to what I sell online and at finer gaming establishments. I would also like to mention that I am selling the current print run at its cover price, $14.95, with free shipping in North America. I am anticipating a slight price increase with my next print run as my printer is planning a price increase on his end.

    Thank you very much for your review, I hope you have a wonderful time at B-Movie Madness, sadly, there is a dearth of theaters in my area and we have few such events.

  2. John Sears says:

    Ravenous undead ghouls do us all a disservice.

    Beverages! I hadn’t even considered the matter of beverages. Restaurants have a great margin on beverages after all, and surely a Zombie must get parched while dining. I wonder what beverages would be like at a fine Zombie Dining establishment.

    We did in fact have a great time at B-Movie Madness, a post about that will soon go up on the blog. I’m sorry this comment lingered in the moderation queue, I thought that was set up a bit differently; will have to look into it. We were a bit busy with educating the public to log in and check the comments over the weekend.

    Finally, there is no need to thank the ZRC for reviewing your game; it’s our job, after all. We instead should be thankful to you, both for sending us a review copy and for producing a fun game that can serve as a bridge between the living and Undead communities.

  3. Anton Donkin says:

    Magnificent site. Lots of useful info here. I am sending it to several buddies and additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you to your sweat!

  4. eco friendly says:

    eco friendly…

    [...]The Zombie Rights Campaign Blog » Zombie Cafe: The Review[...]…

  5. Aluguel de Temporada é sempre bom porque dá pra levar a família toda pelo preço de um quarto de hotel. Tem alguns blogs muito bons no brasil sobre isso e um ótimo é o onde achei muitos imóveis. Eles são bem fortes em Florianópolis, Praia Grande, Guarujá e Cabo Frio.

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