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Smash Up Zombies Strategy – Waking the Dead

I love the Zombies in Smash Up. As a genre, generally speaking, Zombie games are a bit like Cthulhu style games. In the board game world they run the risk of feeling tired and overdone. That being said, in Smash Up, they have managed to fill a niche in the game that can be filled by no other. The Zombies are essential to the Smash Up world, being fun to play and a nightmare to play against. They can go with almost any other faction and are a useful pairing at the best of times.

Zombies – you’ve gotta love them when they’re done right, and I have to admit that Smash Up gets them so, so right.

So, in this article today, I thought we would take a look at the Smash Up Zombies and the strategies they allow for during the game.

Smash Up Zombies – A Summary

The Zombies are, without a doubt, one of the most versatile factions with the Smash Up world. They are free to team up with almost any faction, with crippling results. This makes them desirable to play; however, it also makes them difficult to play against. This is due to their action cards in particular, which make it almost impossible for cards to be discarded forever from the game.

The Zombies are a fun faction to play as they consistently do the unexpected. The more cards there are in the discard pile the better they will play. This wouldn’t be as attractive if they had weak units, but in regards to unit strength, the Zombies actually have fairly standard strength.

The biggest difference in Zombie strategy comes when teamed up with more powerful factions. Where other players will be able to use their highest powered minion (the 4, 5, or 7 minion) only once (maybe twice if lucky), Zombies can keep putting the Zombie Lord in play. Kill him off and he returns again, and again, and again.

So, with that in mind, let’s have a look at the Zombies card list and the kinds of Minions/Actions they can play.

Card List for the Smash Up Zombies

First, let’s look at the Zombie’s hand in some detail. These are the cards they have to play with:


  • Power 5 – 1x Zombie Lord – You may play an extra minion of power 2 or less from your discard pile on each base where you have no minions. NOTE: A direct comparison can be drawn with the King Rex, who has no special ability. The Zombie Lord is an example of the more traditional style “boss minion” in Smash Up
  • Power 4 – 2x Grave Digger – You may place a minion from your discard pile into your hand. NOTE: This is incredibly awesome. Remember this ability.
  • Power 2 – 3x Tenacious Z – Special: During your turn, you may play this card from your discard pile as an extra minion. You may only use the ability of one Tenacious Z each turn.
  • Power 2 – 4x Walker – Look at the top card of your deck. Discard it or return it to the top of your deck.

Zombie Minions


  • 2x They Keep Coming – Play an extra minion from your discard pile.
  • 2x Grave Robbing – Place a card from your discard pile into your hand.
  • 1x Not Enough Bullets – Place any number of minions with the same name from your discard pile into your hand.
  • 1x Overrun – Play on a base. Ongoing: Other players cannot play minions on this base. Destroy this action at the start of your turn.
  • 1x Lend a Hand – Shuffle any number of cards from your discard pile into your deck.
  • 1x Mall Crawl – Search your deck for any number of cards with the same name and place them into your discard pile. Shuffle your deck.
  • 1x They’re Coming To Get You – Play on a base. Ongoing: On your turn, you may play a minion here from your discard pile instead of from your hand.
  • 1x Outbreak – Play an extra minion on a base where you have no minions.
Zombie Strategy Action Cards

Zombie Strategy Action Cards

Summarising The Zombie Cards/Zombie Hints and Tips

Okay, so I’ve already put in a couple of notes up there about the Zombies and how their minions are different to other minions. If we take a step back for a moment though and if we look at it more holistically, we can see the Zombies are really good at a couple of things. Those things are hand restoration and putting cards into play from the discard pile.

The Grave Digger is also a highly powerful card, allowing for a minion to be brought back and put into your hand each turn. What is more, this can be done as many times as you have Grave Diggers (so a maximum of twice in a turn). Imagine pulling a Zombie Lord and King Rex out of your discard pile and reusing them in play. It’s an incredible play, and one that will really worry your opponents. What is more, it can be done twice per turn, so if you have both Grave Diggers and a Tenacious Z on the table then you can withdraw three cards from your discard pile in one round.

Let’s also not forget about those action cards. They are superb, allowing for whole swathes of minions to be risen from the dead on your turn. Lend A Hand and They’re Coming To Get You are two amazing cards that can sway a whole game. They’re Coming To Get You is specifically amazing, allowing you to play minions from your discard pile onto a base. That is a game changer, that forces your opponent to have a strategy that thinks outside of the box.

Imagine playing They’re Coming To Get you, and then, when it gets discarded, bringing it back into the game with Lend A Hand or Grave Robbing. The same with They Keep Coming.

The Zombies have such amazing cards, unlike those Wizards. Wizards suck.

Of course, Zombies are not without their downsides, and these need to be taken into account when playing as them. They tend to rely on a discard pile, meaning they are practically useless without one. It also means they can have a slower start to the game, until that discard pile starts to accumulate, especially if you go for the larger bases right off the bat. Instead, it makes more sense to go for a smaller base, and get it to score. Once it does, no matter how you score upon it, you will then have a discard pile to play with.

It is even worth using the better cards to tip that first, lower scoring and easier, base over. That way the cards go into the discard pile for later use.


Two really awesome action cards that are worth keeping, especially They’re Coming To Get You.

Obvious Zombie Combos

These are combos that, when we think of the Zombies, immediately come to mind.

Zombies + Dinosaurs

I actually mention this a few times throughout this article, as well as in the article I wrote about the Dinosaurs as a whole. Dinosaurs are heavy hitters, and so having a few in the Zombie discard pile means being able to pull them out at whim. Being able to draw the Armor Stego or King Rex out of the discard pile and into play whenever you want is so powerful. It can change the course of a game. When looking at the other side of it, it is possible to use the Dinosaur power actions to reinforce the Tenacious Z when they come out, especially with Upgrade. This will protect it and keep it alive (well kind of, but you know what I mean) long enough to cause havoc.

Zombies + Robots

Quite a few of the Zombies abilities allow for you to draw minions from the discard pile, but there are only a few that allow for you to draw action cards out. So, who better to team the Zombies up with than the Robots, who have 18/20 cards as minions. Yes, the Robots have the highest minion to action ratio, making them a really strong pairing. They also allow for a few really powerful strings of minions to be played. For instance, using the Tenacious Z (Power 2) to pull the Hoverbot (Power 3) and then there is a high chance of pulling an additional minion. That’s five power in a turn, minimum, with the opportunity to play even more. The string can continue if another Hoverbot, specific types of Microbot, or the Zombie Lord come into play.

Less Obvious Zombie Combos

These are combos that, when we think of the Zombies, don’t immediately come to mind but that are quite fun to play all the same.

Zombies + Aliens

There has to be some kind of horror movie in that. Zombies and Aliens are a great combo because one places more minions in play from your side, and the other removes minions form the other. They have quite a nice synergy that is worth players having a go with.

Zombies, on a side note, are great against Ninjas. The Ninjas have the ability to kill off minions, so having something be able to bring them back can be incredibly frustrating for a Ninja player.

Conclusion: Smash Up Zombie Strategy

To be completely honest though, most factions go fairly well with the Zombie ability. It is always useful being able to play powerful cards twice, whether that is the Grand Wizard (boo) or the Enshrouding Mist (which actually has two cards anyway, so that probably wasn’t the best example). Thus there isn’t really a faction in the base set that the Zombies don’t go well with.

They are, for all intents and purposes, incredibly fun to play. From a personal perspective, they are also probably my favourite base faction.

The Smash Up Zombie strategy is open and easy to get the hang of. In my opinion, they are fantastic, but what do you think? What are your favourite combos within the game? Do they include Zombies? Let me know in the comments below.

Other Articles In This Series:
Dinosaur Strategy
Robots Strategy



  1. I think you have the Tenacious Z ability wrong, or I’m misunderstanding you.

    Tenacious Z can only bring itself back from the discard pile. Not other minions. You can play it from the discard pile as an extra minion.

    That means this:

    “That Tenacious Z card may be my favourite minion ability in the whole game. It can be used to bring high power minions back from the dead. Imagine a game where the Zombie Lord and the King Rex (in a Zombie/Dinosaur Smash Up)have both been discarded, and through having one Tenacious Z in play you manage to bring them both back over the course of two turns. That brings 11 power back to the table that would otherwise be discarded.”

    isn’t correct. Unless I’m misreading you.

    I do agree with you overall about the zombies, though. The other cards that *do* let you take any card from the discard pile can be so valuable. Especially actions because they are always discarded when they are played.

    There are factions that do well against them, though. At least I think. Something about making a player shuffle their discard pile into their deck for example.

    Unfortunately I can’t name them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow – how did I misread that so catastrophically?!?! Thanks mate for pointing that out and for the correction. Zombies have just become slightly less cool…although, they are still really awesome…so that’s saying something.

      I can imagine that the faction you’re talking about are great Zombie hunters…but not a lot else. I mean, for everyone else that sounds kind of useful…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good take on the Zombies. They remain one of the top two tournament winners. I’ll usually give them to new players because once you get the hang of recycling them they’re straightforward. Don’t need to worry about anything but your own cards. With experienced players groups they are usually banned because in the right hands they’ll win everytime.

    I like the Robots still because they’re only one of three (I think) factions that don’t have a 10/10 split of minion/action cards. With other low powered factions (i.e. some of the Chthulu factions) they can be deadly but they aren’t overpowered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh sorry, I didn’t see this comment go past! Firstly, I love the fact there are Smash Up Tournaments – that’s amazing. I need to get on that scene! Secondly, yeah, I agree with the Robots. I never used to like them but I can see their appeal now. A great faction.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Once you have enough factions collected it’s easy to run tournaments for 6 to 12 people. Use the brilliant “Kicking it Queensbury” faction choosing system to keep things fair. These “Queensbury” rules are in every Smash Up rulebook (remember that all the rule books are on line at AEG too)

        Liked by 1 person

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