Zombies vs. America: A Strategy Game

A war game that simulates the military and economic consequences of a zombie outbreak

Watch a demo.

Zombie Apocalypse Scenario

Zombies Vs. America is a strategy game that simulates an outbreak of a rabies like disease that turns people into violent, biting maniacs. The zombies in this game would not technically be zombies in the modern sense of the word. They are not dead. You do not have to shoot them in the head to kill them. They are still alive, and they need to eat to survive. The infected in 28 Days Later or I Am Legend would be a pretty good proxy. Here are a few facts about the zombie virus in the game:

1) The virus is transmitted by bodily fluids like blood and saliva. If an infected bites you, you are likely to become infected.

2) It takes 2-3 weeks for an infected person to show symptoms. This means that people carrying the virus can move about without easy detection for a while.

3) The virus is not fatal, but the infected will eventually die of things like starvation, bacterial infections (you get lots of cuts and scrapes when you are a zombie), dehydration or other communicable diseases.

4) The virus is Neurotropic, traveling to the brain via a chain of neurons. Once it reaches the brain, the virus shuts down certain brain functions, like the ability to feel pain, make moral judgments or see other people as anything other than a meal.

5) Having said that, the zombies would not be completely mindless. They would be able to forage for food and water, so they would not just starve to death in a few days. A dumpster diving zombie could survive for a while.

6) At the beginning of the game, there is no vaccine, cure or test for the virus. The only way to determine if someone is infected is to wait and see if they show symptoms.

7) Putting the infected into quarantine stops the spread of the disease. Basically, you isolate the infected victim until he or she dies.

8) As with rabies, quickly washing a bite with rubbing alcohol greatly reduces the chances of infection. Consequently, good public health can stop an outbreak. Emergency rooms and first responders that are trained to quickly treat bites and put people into quarantine can stop an outbreak in its early stages.

9) Once symptoms set in, a victim is a pretty obvious danger to others. Law enforcement and local militias won’t hesitate to shoot someone who is running around trying to eat people.

10) The infected hunt in packs, and they don’t attack each other. This means that hordes large enough to overwhelm local law enforcement can form in areas with high rates of infection. A horde of 50 infected would be hard for anything but a disciplined military unit to stop.

A virus that could turn someone into the kind of zombie outlined above is technically possible. However, it is unlikely that this kind of virus would spread fast enough to overwhelm America’s capacity the respond to the outbreak. Neurotropic viruses take a long time to take effect. The Rabies virus can take over a month simply to reach the brain. This makes zombies a really bad vector for a virus. Since people tend to notice when they have been bitten by a crazy person, and quick washing of the wound can dramatically reduce transmission rates, a zombie virus would not be able to spread quickly through the population. Once the new virus has been detected by healthcare officials, people will also take lots of precautions against being bitten. Wearing work gloves, boots, heavy outer wear, stretchy long underwear, a balaclava and safety goggles would offer good protection against a human bite. Most people who have been bitten will have the presence of mind to cooperate with a quarantine to protect loved ones or society at large. An airborne version of a Rabies like virus would be much more effective. However, such a zombie virus is probably technically impossible.

While America could probably contain a widespread super rabies outbreak, it would take a lot of time, money and manpower. Other potential biological weapons, such as anthrax or smallpox, would put a massive strain on hospitals, but would not require military resources. However, trained soldiers would be the only thing that could effectively deal with violent packs of zombies. Regular and reserve military personnel would be needed at home, curtailing America’s ability to intervene militarily overseas. A three week, nationwide quarantine would almost guarantee an economic recession. A rogue nation or group at war with the US could use a genetically engineered zombie virus to open a “second front” on US soil. The origins of such a virus would also be hard to trace. Consequently, a zombie virus could be useful for a regional power looking to create a “distraction” for the US. Seizing the straits of Hormuz or annexing the Donbass would be a lot easier for Iran or Russia if America is busy fighting zombies.

A fertile mind could find other strategic uses for a zombie virus. An outbreak would create the perfect context for a military intervention in a neighboring nation. For instance, Argentina could engineer a zombie outbreak on the Falklands. Argentinian marines could then seize Port Stanley under the pretext of helping the Kelpers fight the Zombies. With Royal Marines weeks away, the British would have a hard time turning down Argentine help. The point is that a zombie virus would not need to be terribly effective to be a useful weapon of war.


In the game, enemy secret agent markers (the yellow rectangles) represent people who are infected, but have not turned violent. Yellow hexes represent areas where bands of zombies have overwhelmed local law enforcement. Basically, the zombies control the streets, and survivors rarely venture outside.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Enemy supply rules are suspended in this game. An enemy can attack an adjacent friendly hex from a hex that is out of supply. Sorry. Zombies are not tanks. They don’t need gasoline, replacement parts or MREs to keep moving.

There is also a novel element of resource management in this game. You need to spend money to play most resource cards. You generate money from the number of supply heads you control by playing the TAXES card. In this game, there are supply heads in Seattle, LA, Chicago, New York and Miami, so they basically represent big cities. This feature simulates the fact that the government’s tax base will shrink as more areas are overrun by zombies. Without money, paying soldiers and funding vaccine research becomes very difficult. Economic collapse is probably the biggest danger in a zombie apocalypse.