Welcome back, survivors! We close our preview of Zero Hour with the Final Showdown, the third act where the survivors will either put an end to the Z-B13 outbreak and begin the slow process of restoring humanity to its proper form, or fail to stop the Mastermind and eventually fall to the virus themselves. The Final Showdown plays similarly to the City Phase with a few notable exceptions. In order to win the game, in addition to clearing all locations in the city before being forced to flee, the survivors must complete three important tasks.

First, they must flush the Mastermind out of hiding by closing all locations on their Mastermind sheet. These locations follow the same rules as city locations for dice placement, secured locations, etc. Once their Mastermind sheet is filled, there is nowhere for them to hide and the survivors can shut down their operations.

Second, they must finish any remaining research on active Z-B13 virus mutations. These active mutations follow the same rules as face-down mutation research. Once the number of tokens on the active mutation exceeds the card’s virulence rating, the mutation is suppressed and no longer affects the survivors. Once all active mutation cards are cleared, the Z-B13 virus has stopped mutating on its own.

Finally, as before, the survivors must explore and close all locations in the city to ensure none of the Mastermind’s minions can pick up where their Master stopped. Time is of the essence on all three of these tasks.

The Mastermind and their minions have no intention of simply surrendering, and their actions will be felt on every survivor’s turn in the Final Showdown. As part of each player’s die pool, they will add the Mastermind die. The Mastermind die is considered a threat die and follows the City Phase rules for Ammo and second-rolls, but its consequences have a much wider range. In addition to advancing the threat level, the Mastermind can force survivors to expend resources, lose progress in half-explored locations, and lose research on mutation cards. Survivors will need to ration their Ammo wisely to avoid the Mastermind’s biggest attacks.

However, if the survivors have gathered enough Intel, they may have an additional advantage in the Final Showdown: Intel dice. At the start of the Final Showdown, the group will roll any Intel dice they’ve gained — during a player’s turn, they may swap one of their action dice for a single Intel die. This may give the team the ability to close dangerous locations faster, close secured locations easier, and so on. But there is no re-rolling Intel dice; what you roll is what you learned, and hopefully it will be helpful in that final battle.

Do you press on to the next city for a full Intel pool before the Showdown? Do you start the Showdown sooner than later, in order to avoid a confrontation at Night? Is your team healed, stocked, and ready — or is it truly now or never? Only you can decide how much risk you’re willing to take, and what you’re willing to sacrifice in pursuit of a little more comfort and safety. Zero Hour challenges players at every roll of the dice or flip of a card to work together as a squad and overcome the odds. The Final Showdown is the epic ending to that story.

We hope you have enjoyed this preview of Zero Hour! Next week, we plan to upload a print-and-play version of the Zero Hour rulebook and a sample scenario.