Nerf Zombie Tag

I have alluded to my love of Nerf guns in the past.  I have a collection of Nerf weaponry and I’m not too proud to admit it.  Nerf is generally good, safe fun, and if a grown man wants to waste a few bucks on a plastic gun, well…in my opinion better that than a real firearm.

In any event, I realized a while back that Nerf weapons could be used for a game of zombie apocalypse, and I’ve developed some rules for playing such a game:


  1. The game requires 4 or more players.  Less than this and it’s not so much a game.  The more the merrier in this game.
  2. Split into two teams, one “Survivors” and one “Zombies”.  The Zombies should have a 2-to-1 or greater advantage if at all possible.
  3. Each Survivor gets one Nerf weapon of their choice to start the game, along with a full load of ammo for the weapon.
  4. Set up two special areas in the game zone – one area is the “Safe House” for Survivors.  Any Survivor in the Safe House cannot be attacked (and cannot attack Zombies).  The second is the Spawn Point, where Zombies return to the game after being killed.  In a large enough game, multiple Spawn Points can be set up.
  5. The Zombie team will be given the remaining guns and ammo to place in caches around the game zone.  The weapons and ammo cannot be specifically hidden.

Once the game zone is set up and the sides are determined, the game can begin.  The zombies all start at the Spawn Point, the Survivors all start at the Safe House.  The object of the game is to eliminate the other side.  For a Zombie this means tagging a Survivor.  No need to bite them or chew their brains, a simple tap will do.  Once tagged, a Survivor must put their weapon and ammo down on the ground and they become a Zombie.

Survivors can eliminate Zombies by shooting them in the head.  For safety sake, all players should be wearing goggles, but this should always be the case when playing.  A Zombie shot in the head must return to the Spawn Point before they can actively attack again.  While “dead”, a Zombie must put both hands up and walk directly to the Spawn Point.

As stated, the Zombies win if all the Survivors are killed and become Zombies.  In the basic version of the game, the Survivors can’t truly win, as the Zombies will continuously respawn.  It’s more a matter of how long can you survive.  However, there are some variations that can add a winning condition for the Survivors.  First is to use an object (a Nerf football is good) that must be captured by the Survivors and returned to the Safe House.  The object is hidden prior to the game start by the Zombie team.  Second is “escape”, adding an Escape Zone that Survivors must reach to “win”.

Nerf darts fired cannot be re-used in the game.  However, if all of the ammo and weapon caches are used and all ammo is expended, the game can be called a draw, the ammo collected and returned for a new round.

It’s generally not a great idea to use Nerf melee weapons, but if you want to be crazy, you can allow the swords, axe or mace.  However, if you use melee weapons, make sure you modify the rules to allow a Zombie to be killed by simply being touched anywhere.  Hitting someone upside the head, even with a Nerf sword, can cause injury.  The idea is to have fun, not sit in the emergency room all day.

Alternate Rule: Super Zombies
One alternate rule you can use is a “Super Zombie”.  This person will be noted in some way, possibly by wearing a cap or brightly colored vest.  The Super Zombie can have additional “powers”, such as returning “dead” Zombies to life or the ability to attack Survivors in the Safe House.  When the Super Zombie dies, they return to the Spawn Point and leave the Super Zombie marker there, returning to the game as a regular Zombie.  The next Zombie to be killed can then retrieve the Super Zombie marker and take over.

Alternate Rule: Gib Fest
This is a good rule for those without a large amount of Nerf ammo – instead of caches hidden around the game zone, ammo is piled up at the Safe House and rounds found on the ground during play can also be used.

Alternate Rule: MEDIC!
As a way to keep the game going for a while, the MEDIC! rule can be applied.  When a Survivor is tagged by a Zombie, instead of becoming a Zombie, they have to sit down and put their hand up.  They cannot attack and must sit quietly until another Survivor reaches them and slaps their hand.  They can then return to the game.

Alternate Rule: Romero
A good handicap for the Zombie team if they outnumber Survivors by 3-to-1 or more is to have them be Romero zombies, i.e. shamblers.  Zombie players cannot run and must walk.  However, they can hide and ambush.  Romero can be combined with a modified MEDIC! rule to have “killed” Zombies sit down.  In this case, the Spawn Point is only used for a starting point for the Zombie team.

Alternate Rule: Zombie Commando
A fun alternative, in Zombie Commando, only one person starts the game as a Zombie.  The rest of the players are all Survivors hunting for the Zombie.  The Zombie can make other Zombies by tagging Survivors, but cannot “respawn”.  A dead Zombie sits down.  The game ends when either all the Survivors are Zombies or all the Zombies are dead.

Alternate Rule: Infected
Similar to Zombie Commando above, Infected begins with more Survivors than Zombies, though there can be more than one starting Zombie.  For Infected, you’ll need stopwatches (found cheaply at dollar stores).  Each Survivor picks a random time out of a hat before the game starts.  These are usually in minutes, from 1 to 10.  When the game starts, they all must start their stopwatches.  When they reach their time limit, they drop their guns and become Zombies.  Prior to the game beginning, an object should be hidden by the Zombies somewhere in the game zone.  The object, the “anti-virus”, cures the Survivor who finds it.  They then have to return it to the Safe House.  Since the Survivors are competing against one another, they should not reveal to each other how long they have before they change into Zombies.

These are some ideas for this.  With the right setting, these games could be a lot of fun.


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