By Mr. Larry D Mccaskill (ACC )September 19, 2012
If you're trying to survive the latest zombie apocalypse, you might want to ask the Weitzel clan for a tip or two.
Inspired by his son, Mikhael Jr., and assisted by his wife, Faith, Mikhael Weitzel, Army Contracting Command historian, has developed a board game, Zombie Apocalypse Survivor, for those who are looking for ghoulish fun.
Weitzel said, like a lot of 7-year olds, his son enjoys anything that involves fighting zombies. After playing a few of the board games on the market, Weitzel said his son had a better idea than buying another game he didn't really enjoy.
"My son asked me to help him make a game and then went on to describe a zombie survival game that was part board game and part video game," Weitzel said.
"He wanted different kinds of zombies and wanted survivors who were killed to be able to come back as a zombie. I told him I would see what I could do."
The next night, while driving home from a friend's house, Weitzel said ideas for the game began to creep into his head.
"I jotted down some notes when I got home and the next morning took them and started expanding them," said Weitzel, who has been playing and collecting board games and miniature games for 33 years. "I sketched the board designs and talked about it with my wife and son. They shared their excitement, enthusiasm and ideas. Over the next week, my wife and I discussed what materials we would need and began making the components."
Making the game from scratch became a family affair while Weitzel developed most of the rules himself.
"It took about two weeks to make the first playable prototype and a total of five weeks to get to the third prototype," Weitzel said. "We originally used wooden cube beads for dice. My wife and I filled the holes through the beads with wood putty, sanded them flat, spray painted them and then numbered them by hand. We found we could make translucent green resin dice with glow-in-the-dark skull beads inside to represent special zombies."
The game has more than 650 dice, numerous bags and boards but the biggest challenge for Weitzel was ensuring the rules were balanced and the game would be fun.
"I want the game to be fun, but still challenging and something people would want to play again," Weitzel said.
In developing the rules, Weitzel had to be conscious of making the rules simple enough to understand but flexible enough to allow creative thinking.
"I had to write the rules in a way that someone could pick them up and learn how to play. It is easy to tell someone how to play, but converting that into a rulebook was an unexpected challenge," Weitzel said after having a friend's 10-year-old son read them and try to play.
The game itself includes zombies, dice and strategic player placement, a combination Wetzel said he hasn't seen before.
"The game requires a player to make tough choices on what your survivors should do each day and finding the right balance for your strategy," Wetzel said. "It also requires each player to make moral choices. And, the game requires a little bit of luck as you roll the dice."
Over the next few months, Weitzel said he has two public play-tests scheduled and welcomes others who want to play the game to take a shot at it.
"I have already identified three board game publishers that are accepting designs. Then we will keep our fingers crossed. Right now we dream about seeing our game on shelves before Christmas 2013," he said.