The (Board) Gamer’s Guide to Supply Management Part VI: Zombie Dice, Tsuro, and Get Bit!

I’m enraptured to continue this one-of-a-kind summer series that will help you whether you are just interested in finding out about this new and exciting career opportunity, or ready to take your Supply Management career to the next level. Not only is it significantly more fun than counting grains of sand for an hourglass, but when you can grasp a lot of the basic concepts by playing the right mix of strategic (and sometimes tactical) board games with your friends, it’s three blasts squared.

I know we still have to tackle the economic games, like Puerto Rico and Dominion, but we’re gong to continue to make use of the fact that, thanks to the unequaled generosity of Wil Wheaton (@wilw) and Geek & Sundry, we have yet another marvelous TableTop episode where Wil introduces us to yet another great game — or, in this case, three great games. Until the tap runs dry, we are going to collect every precious drop of water that Wil is directing our way.

Wil gives us a very succinct introduction to each of the three games covered in TableTop Episode 3, starting with

Zombie Dice

is a press-your-luck dice game. We are all zombies trying to fill our undead bellies with delicious, delicious brains. On every turn, we will draw three dice from the cup. Each die represents a human survivor or, as we call them, lunch. We roll the dice. We then keep all of the brains and all of the shots to the face. Now we have a choice to make. We can stop, and score the brains, or we can press our luck. There’s one special die. It’s this guy, he’s the runner. If we choose to roll again, we have to include him in the three dice total because we haven’t caught him yet. You keep rolling until you are shot in the face three times or you choose to stop and score all of the brains in front of you. The first player to score thirteen or more brains wins.

Zombie Dice is a great game because it helps you understand the Wall Street mentality which, inevitably, leads to financial market meltdowns when left unchecked — just like the subprime mortgage crisis, the dot-com bubble, the speculative currency crises in Asia, Mexico, and Europe in the 1990s, the savings and loans crisis, the oil crisis, the crash of 1929, the shanghai rubber stock market crisis, the rail road panic of 1893, the gurney crisis, the danish state bankruptcy, the south sea bubble and the mississippi bubble, and the tulip mania. While financial market meltdowns are not a new phenomenon, thanks to the internet and the interconnectedness of the global financial markets, they are occurring more and more and will continue to do so as long as the unlimited risk mentality of Wall Street goes unchecked.

It’s critical that you understand this mentality, and the risks associated with it, because the more you try to limit your risk by playing the currency markets, the hedge funds, or even asset-based investments (like gold), the more types of risk you are actually opening yourself up to. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll end up rolling red die after red die, which triples your chance of getting shot in the face.

In addition, what makes Zombie Dice truly great is that it also teaches us about the unpredictability of risk. You never know when you are going to get shot in the face with a supply disruption due to a natural disaster, a civil disturbance, or a quickly enacted political trade barrier, or how much damage it’s going to do. Supply Management is full of risk, and every time you place an overseas order, you could be rolling the dice.


is a path finding, tile laying game. We are flying dragons. On every turn, we will play a tile on the board. Every dragon touching that tile has to follow the path it makes to completion. … If you fly off the board, you are eliminated. If you crash into another dragon, you are eliminated.

This is a cool game because it forces you to think strategically, which is important in markets where demand exceeds supply and you have to outmaneuver your competition to insure that you always get what you need, and keep your organization on the board. It teaches you that you not only need to think about what you need, but if you are in a market where demand exceeds supply, what your competition needs so that you can lock up supply first.

Get Bit

is a bluffing game, designed by my friend Dave Chalker. We are all robots out for a leisurely swim in shark-infested waters. Each turn, to figure out which one of us is swimming the fastest, we will play a card from our hand, numbered one through five. The fastest number goes to the front of the line, and the slowest number will go to the back of the line. The robot who is closer to the shark gets bit. We each have four limbs. So if you are bitten four times, you become Anchor Bot 9000 and spend the rest of your days on the bottom of the sea.

This is a good companion game to Tsuro because, like Tsuro, it forces you to think strategically, but has the added advantage that it demonstrates what happens if your competition mirrors your movements — you both stand still while the other competitors in the market swim past you. You not only have to outmaneuver your competition in this space, you have to prevent them from blocking you.