Saturday, April 5, 2014

Zombicide

ZOMBICIDE

by Cool Mini Or Not  &  Guillotine Games

Published in 2012

Lots of zombies! That's the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about this game. And weapons to kill those zombies... That's pretty much it. How entertaining can such a simple idea be?

Turns out; very entertaining!
Well, it works in movies, so why not in board games as well.

Zombicide delivers what it promises and does it very well, without taking itself too seriously. It's a strategy game where you get to roll dice more than enough, but for some reason it doesn't seem to get old.
In Zombicide, the zombies are easy to kill - roll enough on a 6-sided die and they'll go down, but what will you do when there are 10 of them in the building with you, and much more waiting out on the street? Are you going to be able to muster up a die for each of them... and what if you fail a few rolls?
That's where the strategy comes into the equation.


In Zombicide, players control survivors. The survivors move around the map that consists of some buildings and the streets in between them, look for supplies and kill zombies. And the zombies will never stop coming - more will spawn at the end of every round. In fact, so many of them will spawn, that a lone survivor would quickly be overwhelmed. That's why usually at least 4 survivors are needed. The game does not scale down for a fewer number of survivors, so when I play solo I use 4 survivors by myself.

Each survivor has a different set of skills. Only one skill is open at the beginning of the game, but more will become available as the survivors kill zombies and gain experience. But there is a catch: The survivor with the most experience sets the "danger level" of the game, and this level determines how many zombies will spawn at the end of every round - and every time a new building is explored. So while killing zombies makes the survivors stronger, it also summons even more zombies for the survivors to kill... seems like a no-win situation!

The game is easy to lose. In Zombicide, when a survivor dies, they stay dead. And when all the survivors are gone, the game is lost. But there is always a mission. By completing this mission the survivors can win the game. The mission that I have chosen for the soon-to-begin game is one where my goal is very simple: All I need to do is to get one of my survivors into the highest experience level. That's easy enough to remember... I can achieve this by killing zombies and gathering objective tokens that can be found from inside the buildings.

Let's meet my survivors for the game:

Josh the Thug.
This guy is very slippery in his movements, allowing him to evade zombies no matter how many of them are around. Later on he can also develop a strange luck that will make him succeed more often in his attacks.
Josh starts the mission with a crowbar.


Wanda the Waitress.
She moves around quickly with her rollerskates. With experience, she can become a strong fighter as well.
Wanda has found a pistol that she brings to the fight.





Goth Amy.
Amy is fast and she can learn to handle all kinds of weapons. During a real crisis, she might even remember some first-aid skills to patch up herself and other survivors alike.
Amy wields a deadly fire axe.


Crazy Ned.
He is so crazy that he is currently armed with only a frying pan. Maybe he's just lost all of his other stuff, though, as Ned is really good at searching for useful items. When provoked, he can become an effective fighter, and an all-around tough guy who can withstand more damage than most people could.


Now let's see if one of these four can reach the red danger level. This level of experience equals to 43 destroyed zombies, but picking up objectives can help them to reach it faster...

[It should be mentioned that this mission also features cars that the survivors should be able to drive. However, I personally dislike the car-mechanics of the game, so I'll pretend as if the cars were all broken and unusable. They can be searched though.]

THE ZOMBICIDE BEGINS!

There is a door in front of the survivors, and they think they should probably get indoors before zombies start to show up. They also notice a police car to their left - maybe there are some weapons to be found from the car...

Josh pries open the door. He does it silently, with his crowbar, like the street thug he is.

The door leads into a diner of some sort, but the first couple of rooms are a complete mess. At least half a dozen zombies are inside, one of them in the first room right in front of Josh.





Without wasting any time, Josh dashes inside and beats the zombie down with his crowbar.

The other survivors follow Josh. Amy tries to search the room, but only manages to uncover another zombie from under the debris! Amy tries to kill the creature with her fire axe, but fails. Ned whacks the zombie with the only weapon he has, the frying pan, but only when Wanda takes Amy's axe and attacks with it, are the survivors able to finish the foe. Wanda gives her pistol to Amy in return for the axe.
Not a very strong start - it shouldn't take this long time to kill a couple of walkers...

The rest of the zombies inside the diner are roused by the presence of survivors and start to walk towards them. Two more walkers enter the room, and the next room is already packed with zombies. There is even a really big one among them, taking shelter behind some walkers.

One of the zombies is moving alarmingly fast... Must be one of those runners!



The survivors decide to retreat from the diner, as too many zombies are approaching them from inside. Josh kills the two walkers with his crowbar, while Amy lays down some covering fire with the pistol.
She shoots down the walkers from the other room, but the fat zombie is not affected.

The survivors retreat back to the street. Before leaving, Ned and Wanda search the room quickly. Ned finds lots of ammo for a pistol, while Wanda only picks up a bag of rice.


The survivors regroup outside the door, but zombies are closing in from every direction.

The runner from the diner also cathes up with them.










Josh takes on the runner with his crowbar. He and Ned then finish off the walkers too... Ned borrows Josh's crowbar.

Amy takes the extra ammo from Ned and shoots a couple of walkers approaching the survivors from the south. Now she's got plenty of ammo to waste, and hitting the targets gets easier...
The women then head back inside the diner and Wanda manages to hack the big zombie down with her axe.
The survivors determine that they need better and stronger weapons.

Ned comes back in as well. Amy and Ned then finish off the rest of the zombies from the diner. Now that the building is safe, the survivors search it for weapons and other useful items. Ned finds another crowbar, Amy picks up some canned food, but then:

Wanda finds a chainsaw!

The ultimate zombie-killing tool. It makes noise and it's clumsy, but in skilled hands it can take down hordes of zombies quickly!




Not needing her axe anymore, Wanda gives it to Josh, who then sets out to explore by himself.
A bold move, but Josh is known to be careful and elusive in his ways...

Josh turns from the south corner of the diner and sees another police car. There is a lone walker ahead, but Josh reaches the car fast enough and takes a good look around - there is a rifle on the front seat! Josh quickly secures the rifle and shoots the walker with it.


Inside the diner, Amy finds an objective that grants her experience. She feels stronger and faster...
She also finds another pistol! Two pistols is a lot better than one - escpecially for one who's got plenty of ammo for them.






Wanda clears the streets with her chainsaw, while she and Ned begin to head towards Josh, who has found another building to explore.


Josh uses his axe to break down the side door of the diner, giving Amy a quicker way out.

Then he takes the axe to the door on the opposite side of the street. The building is teeming with zombies!

Every survivor should quickly join Josh... This is where the fun begins!

Josh looks inside into what seems like a garage, and shoots the first zombie he sees with his rifle. Amy appears from the door and opens fire with her twin pistols, effectively emptying the garage of all zombies.
After she's done, she searches the police car and finds a submachine gun!

Ned uses his crowbar to break open another door to the building and then steps aside as Wanda darts in with her rollerskates.
She finds two runners and cuts them into pieces with her chainsaw. Then she heads back to the street with the other survivors.

The walkers seem to gain a momentary surge of speed as they suddenly appear into the garage from the other rooms, and then pour out to the street to look for the source of Amy's gunfire.




Except for Ned, who is only carrying crowbars, the survivors have found some useful weapons...









...but there are so many zombies to kill!
Josh and Amy have climbed on top of the police car and prepare to lash out at the horde before them...






...while Wanda and Ned have another group of walkers to deal with!






Josh realizes that he would only be in the way when Amy starts to shoot around with her pistols.
He evades the horde of zombies around the police car and slips into the garage!

There is still almost a dozen zombies inside, but Josh identifies a runner among them and tries to take it out with his fire axe.
He fails though, and runs deeper into the building to prevent the zombies from cathing him.

Meanwhile outside, Amy blasts away all the zombies in her immediate vicinity and gains a lot more experience in process. But there are more zombies close by, and some of them are runners... this is going to get ugly!

Wanda and Ned dispose of the couple of walkers that tried to attack them, and hurry to the police car to help Amy. Ned searches the car and he also finds a weapon; a sawed off shotgun!
He takes a shot at the nearby zombies and takes down one of them.

A runner from inside the garage and another one from the street reach the survivors and attack.
At this point Amy is by far the most valuable survivor, and the others know it. Ned and Wanda get wounded while protecting Amy from the runners.


The rest of the walkers from inside come out, and the survivors are surrounded once again.

Also, a large group of zombies is approaching from both ends of the street...
The situation is getting out of hands.


A bloodbath ensues! Wanda cuts down several zombies with the chainsaw, including both of the runners. When she gets tired, she hands the saw down to Amy, who in turn gives the pistols and the ammo to Wanda.


Amy continues with the saw, and kills of each and every zombie still left around the police car.
She then enters the garage and finds a lone fatty-zombie from inside, which she easily destroys with her chainsaw.

Full of adrenaline, Amy searches the building and finds another objective from a nearby restroom. She is getting close to her experience goal!

And the building seems to be empty now... maybe there are more objectives to be found.



Josh sees that all the zombies from the garage and gone and heads back outside to join the others.

Suddenly two runners attack the survivors. These runners seem extra-fast, even when compared to other runners; they rush to the police car and the trio of survivors is caught off guard!
Wanda gets wounded, but the men are killed in the attack!

Wanda guns down the runners, fires a few rounds at the horde approaching from the west and then moves inside as the streets are getting too dangerous.

Amy finds a third objective from a bedroom near her, and then runs back to the garage to regroup with Wanda.
Only one more objective for Amy, and the survivors' mission would be completed!

But a huge amount of zombies is closing in on the garage door...

Three more runners appear from the street and try to get close to the remaining survivors. Wanda puts away her pistols and arms herself with a baseball bat that she had found somewhere. She kills one of the runners, and Amy takes care of the others with the chainsaw.
Then Amy runs deeper into the building, frantically searching for the next objective. She comes across a messy conference room with a large oval-shaped table. There is a lot of blood around...
But there it is on the table, the fourth objective! Amy runs to grab it, and it's done.



Amy reaches the highest experience level and the survivors are victorious. Countless of zombies have been destroyed and two survivors have died. The fighting continues, but this mission is complete!


CONCLUSION:

This was a very interesting game, and I had a great time playing it. This run didn't even take a very long time to finish - sometimes a game of Zombicide can last more than two hours.

To me, Zombicide has proven to be a brutally challenging game. I think it suits the theme well: A certain degree of desperation is an appropriate feeling when trying to survive in a zombie-infested city!
Zombicide is an unforgiving game. The survivors die very quickly when overwhelmed, and while the zombies are killed by rolling the dice, the survivors die automatically if enough zombies are allowed to attack them.

There is one oddity in the rules: When using ranged weapons, the other survivors on the target space are always targeted first, and zombies only after them! This of course means that the survivors _must_ use melee weapons in crowded situations (although there is a certain weapon-item -combo that allows to bend this rule).
This seems like a bit forced mechanic, but I don't mind, as it balances out the synergy between melee weapons and ranged weapons without making the combat rules unnecessarily complex.

There are also a few extra-activation cards for the zombies. These cards are just about the worst enemies in the game, as they can undo your careful strategies by suddenly giving the zombies around your survivors an extra action you couldn't possibly have prepared for. In this game, Josh and Ned died because one of these cards, and I think overall most of the survivor fatalities in Zombicide happen because an extra-activation is drawn at the wrong time.
But then, just kill more zombies and there are less of them to benefit from these nasty extra-activations, right? I have learned not to complain about these events, but rather to take the possibility of them happening into consideration when I plan my moves.

The game board in zombicide can be quite large. This mission uses the full 3 x 3 tiles, which equals to 75cm x 75cm, or about 2'5" x 2'5". The map tiles are double sided, so there are many ways to build the map, and custom missions can easily be created. The artwork on the tiles is very nice and detailed, but sometimes repetitive, as most of the rooms are used a couple of times with maybe a bit different coloring.
The miniatures are detailed and plentiful. Most of them are walkers, but they don't all look the same, which gives the zombie hordes a lot more lively (or deathly?) appearance.

PS. There is something called an Abomination in Zombicide, and it actually appeared in this mission as well! My survivors never saw it, but it can be seen on the background in some of the pictures...

RATING:  10 /10

SOLO RATING:  9 /10

Zombicide is a cooperative zombie-killing game that is easy to learn and fun to play. Because the minimum number of survivors is 4, playing solo can be an exhausting experience, but usually a very rewarding one too.