Mini-Review: All Flesh Must Be Eaten

The rules are easy to learn.  The creators clearly know their zombie fiction.  And the DIY zombie creation chapter is a lot of fun.

But by GOD does Unisystem have a way of making this game awkward.AllFlesh
Say you want to shoot a Nazi zombie in the head.  Not an unlikely thing to want to do in a zombie game.  First you roll a d10 to hit.  Then the zombie rolls a d10 to dodge.  Then you roll for hit location.  Then you roll for damage.  Then the zombie rolls for his helmet armour.  That’s FIVE stages of dice rolling to find out if the zombie is dead or not.

Also, on any of those stages you rolled a d10, did you get a 1 or a 10?  If so, it triggers extra positive or negative results – that’ll be another die roll, maybe more.  And this is the core resolution mechanic, requiring successive stages of dice rolling 20% of the time that you try to do ANYTHING.  You also have to calculate your degree of success or failure on a chart with extremely inconsistent range bands, which makes learning it by heart difficult, and thus requiring you to look up the outcome of actions with reference material most of the time.

This isn’t a crunchy system.  Like I said, the rules are easy to learn – once you’ve got the core resolution mechanic sorted, the game has little left to teach you.  But unfortunately it is a SLOW system.  Combat takes forever, as each player crawls their way through roll after roll.  Combat with zombies shouldn’t be like this.  It should be wild and bloodsoaked, in an action setting, or desperate and terrifying if you’re aiming for horror.  Both of those genres live and die on their pacing, and in that regard All Flesh is as dead as its shambling antagonists.

It’s a shame, because the multi-setting, GM toolbox approach to campaign design is really cool.  I could imagine myself getting very excited about this game when it first came out fifteen years ago.  These days, roleplayers can do better.

(I never review a game I haven’t played or run.  Check out https://michaelduxbury.com/category/reviews/ for more RPG reviews.)

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