Maul of America Review by David Lent
Maul of America is a zombie game from Jolly Roger Games that obviously was influenced by the first Dawn of the Dead movie. The object of the game is to be the first player to accumulate 4 different pieces of equipment and escape from the mall within a 2-hour time limit. The alternate victory condition is to accumulate 7 pieces of equipment and escape within 2 hours. This game supports 2-6 players, where one player plays the zombie controller and the rest are shoppers.
MOA comes in a really big box with nice artwork on the cover. The box takes up as much space as 4 typical boxed wargames. However, when you look in the box the contents are disappointing. The cards are the low quality kind where they are in a perforated sheet and you have to tear them out. There are 4 big paper map pieces that can be put together in any combination you would like, to make a unique map each game. However, their graphics are excessively simple and do not look good enough to be in the same game as the wonderful box artwork. The shoppers and zombies are represented by plastic standup tokens and those are reasonably good quality. There is no reason why this box had to be this big. The maps could have just been folded so everything could fit in a standard wargame sized box. I felt a bit cheated when I opened the box and saw the sparse components.
Setup for Maul of America is very simple. Starting with the zombie controller, he and the shoppers alternate placing map pieces on the table until all four are setup. Each map piece has arrows to show where it can connect with other map pieces. Shoppers then choose a shopping token and place it somewhere in the food court. The food court isn’t marked on the map, so you have to read the businesses to see which ones sound like food establishments. I assume the yellow area next to them is the food court. Next, the zombie controller places the same number of zombies as shoppers on the map at least five squares away from any shopper. Last, three shopper cards are dealt to each shopper and the zombie controller is dealt three zombie cards.
Sequence of play:
Player to left of zombie controller starts and proceeds in clockwise direction
1) Start 2-hour timer (first turn only)
2) Roll for number of actions (2D6 – # of wounds)
3) Spend actions
1) Receive reinforcements (1 * # of shoppers still alive)
2) Spend actions (Each zombie has 4 actions)
Continue taking turns until the 2-hour limit is reached or the first shopper escapes
The actions available to the shoppers are move, attack, search, exchange equipment and use Medkit. Moving costs one action per square. Each attack costs one action. If a ranged weapon is used it may run out of ammo and the weapon is discarded unless the shopper has an ammo card to discard instead. Searching is done when your shopper is in a square with a question mark. It costs one action and the shopper gets a card from the search deck. It’s usually a piece of equipment. A question mark may not be searched a second time by the same shopper, unless he searches another question mark space first. Exchanging equipment happens between two shoppers in adjacent squares and they may agree to exchange anything they wish. Using a medkit allows a shopper to heal all wounds.
Zombies come in as reinforcements at any mall exit. Their only actions are move and attack. Attacking can only be done if a zombie is adjacent to a shopper and has one action to spend for attacking. An attack is successful on a roll of 6 and does one wound. Each wound a shopper has reduces their number of actions by 1 each turn. A shopper will die and come back as a zombie once it receives its fourth wound.
Shoppers can either do melee or ranged attacks. Ranged attacks can be done with guns, flamethrowers or grenades that you can find while searching. Most ranged weapons hit just one target. However, if I’m interpreting the rules correctly flame throwers and shotguns hit every zombie in their arc of fire provided the correct number is rolled.
The only special rule is when a shopper rolls for actions and gets 7 of them. He immediately gets a shopper card and the zombie controller gets a zombie card.
I played several games of this and the game worked best with 3 or more players. With two players, it’s essentially the faster shopper player running away from large groups of zombies. Once there are 25 zombies on the board, no more reinforcements can come and when a zombie spawn card is drawn while searching, nothing happens. It could be argued that in some cases, it’s beneficial to have all 25 zombies on the board. Since the zombie controller chooses the exit the shopper has to use, he will choose the one where the shopper has to go past the most zombies to get there.
In the 3 or more player games, it’s much more interesting. The zombie controller has more targets he can send his zombies after and the shoppers have to compete with each other to be the first to get sufficient equipment to escape the mall. The flamethrower, grenade and shotgun are the best weapons, but there is only one of each in the deck so there isn’t enough for all players in a 3-6 player game.
I’ve found this game to be fun for three or more players, but a bit boring in 2-player mode. Some of the games took far too long and it was very tedious for the zombie controller to move 25 zombies per turn. As mentioned before, the components are very disappointing. Wargamers won’t mind so much, but non-wargamers probably won’t tolerate it. I recommend this game for wargamers who are looking for a really light zombie themed game, but don’t recommend it for non-wargamers.
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View the components in the unboxing video below: