Sunday, 26 May 2013

Zombicide - the Board-Game

Having spent all of this month reviewing the figures that came with the Zombicide board-game, it is now time to review the game itself. The rulebook measures a mere 28 pages and only half of them are taken up with the rules, meaning it is very easy to learn. The rulebook is in full colour throughout and littered with excellent examples of how the game works. I'm going to show some of those examples here, to give you a flavour of the game.
The game can be played by 1-6 players (Yay, it allows for solo play!). Each player controls one or more of the six survivors provided. The survivors are initially armed with one crowbar, one fire axe and one pistol - that's per group not per player. Note that if Phil is amongst your group he starts with his own pistol. Those who didn't receive one of the three weapons are given a pan as a rather sorry consolation prize. Not much use but better than nothing. Don't worry too much about this, as the survivors are allowed to acquire extra weapons and equipment from a deck of equipment cards whenever they search a room. However, only one search is allowed per turn by each player.
The above illustration explains the character ID card. At the top of the card is a colour-coded bar for keeping track of the number of zombies your survivor kills. Characters advance in skill as they progress from one colour to the next. When you reach the orange and red levels you get to choose what skill you want from those listed. At the bottom right of the card is space for placing your weapons and equipment. You are allowed a total of five weapon or equipment cards but only two can be used at a time. the other three are held in reserve.
The game board is divided up into zones, not all of which are the same size. Indoors, each room is a zone. Outdoors, each area of road between two zebra crossings is a zone. It costs a survivor or zombie 1 Action Point (AP) to move from one zone to an adjacent zone. Diagonal movement is not allowed. Survivors start with 3AP, whilst most zombies start with 1AP.
These are the actions available to the survivors and each one costs 1AP.
MOVE Move 1 zone.
SEARCH Indoors only and as previously mentioned, one Search per turn by each survivor.
OPEN A DOOR Special equipment needed. Note that doors only appear on the outsides of buildings.
REORGANISE INVENTORY Equipment exchange with another survivor (if in the same zone) is permitted.
RANGED COMBAT An equipped ranged weapon is required.
HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT An equipped hand-to-hand weapon is required.
GET IN OR OUT OF A CAR If allowed by the scenario.
TAKE AN OBJECTIVE TOKEN or ACTIVATE AN OBJECT Only if in the survivor's zone.
MAKE A NOISE Gotta need it to risk it.
DO NOTHING And live with it.
The illustration above also details the rules for Line of Sight
Hand-to-hand combat and ranged combat are similar in that you roll to hit according to the Accuracy score on your weapon card. Walkers and Runners are killed by any weapon doing 1 or more points of damage, whilst Fatties can only be killed by weapons doing 2 or more points of damage. The Abomination is the hardest zombie to kill as it requires 3 or more points of damage to destroy it. The big difference between hand-to-hand combat and ranged combat comes in the target acquisition. In hand-to-hand combat a survivor may target any type of zombie in the same zone as him or her. However, in ranged combat there is a target priority that must be adhered to. It goes Survivor, Walker, Fatty (or Abomination) then Runner. So if you are shooting into a zone containing another Survivor, a Walker and two Runners, you'd have to shoot the survivor first. Yes, that is brutal! Then you'd have to kill the Walker before you can even think about shooting those two Runners.
The illustration above explains all the icons on two of the weapon cards. Killing a zombie earns you one Kill Point, unless it is the Abomination, which grants you 5 Kill Points.
Once the players have activated all of their survivors in a turn it is time for the zombies to activate. They have three phases per turn - attack, move and spawn. A zombie can only attack a survivor in the same zone. They do not roll to hit. Each attack automatically causes one wound. And each wound causes the victim to lose one item from his collection. All survivors have two wounds, so the second wound is always certain death. Fortunately, the players can decide who takes the wound(s), if there are more than one survivor in that zone.
Zombies who did not attack move. Each zombie favours visible survivors then noise. Zombies choose the shortest distance to their target. If needed, they split the group and add an extra zombie of the appropriate type to make both groups equal. This is a nasty little rule!
Each scenario has a number of spawn points on the board. For each spawn point, you draw one card from the zombie spawn deck and place the amount of zombies listed on the spawn point according to the player with the highest danger level, i.e. most kills.The illustration above shows a typical spawn card.
Some of the spawn cards are special events like the one shown above. This is, in my opinion, the worst card in the spawn deck, as it allows Runners far too much movement.
Note that spawn cards are drawn whenever a survivor opens a door to an unsearched building. Every room in that buildings requires a spawn card to be drawn. Friendly tip - try to open the doors to all the buildings whilst all of the survivors are in the blue danger zone. That way you get far fewer zombies to deal with.
Finally, here is Phil's ID card as he might appear mid-game. Despite losing a wound he is still in good shape thanks to his combination of cards.
The game provides rules for cars, but they only appear in a few scenarios. There are 11 scenarios listed in the rulebook, including an introductory scenario to help newbies become familiar with the rules. Additional scenarios can be downloaded from the Guillotine Games website - http://guillotinegames.com/en/ Check under the Game Stuff tab.
So, verdict? Come on, you all know that I love this game! I played a few solo games and picked up the rules very quickly. When my friend Mathyoo came to stay with me a short while ago, we became addicted to the game and we played 8 of the 11 scenarios over three days (scenarios 03, 04 and 05 were the ones we didn't play). We won every scenario on the first attempt except for scenario 07 Grind-house, which we played three times before securing victory. A word of advice, try to keep your party as close together at all times and remember to co-operate with one another. The first time we played Grind-house we split into two groups of three and my party got wiped out on turn 3! It went downhill from there.
Normally, I am not a fan of zombie runners or creatures like the Abomination, but in Zombicide, they have their place and actually enhance the game. Kudos to the game designers for pulling that one off!
If you already own the game and have played it, you have to agree that it is a lot of fun to play. I bought my copy at Amazon.co.uk for £66.99 but having checked there this morning I see it is currently out of stock.
I am counting down the days to September when Zombicide 2 is released and I can get my hands on all of the goodies I ordered on the Kickstarter project. It was a lot!

24 comments:

  1. Nice to see how it works and it looks like it has been well thought out. I really must pick up this game.

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    1. I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed, Simon. Yes, it has been well thought out.

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  2. Good review, but you don't mention how long a typical scenario takes *assuming there is such a thing).

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    1. On average, each scenario lasts from 60-90 minuted, unless your survivors get wiped out early on, as mine once did, in which case the scenario will be over very quickly.

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  3. It's very tempting to get this game, though in all honesty I really don't need the distraction!

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    1. I hear you, Hugh. There a lots of games I'd like to get into but as with most gamers, I'm forced to prioritise.

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    2. It's useful for components... even if you never play the game itself.

      ..though you'd be doing yourself a disservice to NOT try this game.

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    1. It is probably my favourite board-game, Fran.

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  5. Great review Bryan!

    We've been playing it quite a bit lately, even delving into the scenarios posted on GG's site. Those have been excellent, and are a great way to get more game variety.

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    1. It's the game that just keeps on giving, Jon.

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  6. This looks like a worth while game. I can see a fair amount of replay value.

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    1. Yes, it does have a lot of replay value, Robert.

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  7. That looks fantastic, i wish i had some spare cash to get a copy, i will put it on my birthday list for September

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    1. I hope you do manage to get a copy, SK.

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  8. Now that you've played it a bit, how does it compare to Last Night on Earth, which I believe you also own? I'm a big fan of LNoE, but rarely get enough interest from others to play it. That's a big reason I didn't get Zombicide.

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    1. LNoE pits one player against the other with survivors vs zombies. LNoE does not support solo play. In Zombicide the players are meant to co-operate. Zombicide is easier to play than LNoE. What both games do have in common are excellent production values and components and both have great figures.

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  9. I backed the Kickstarter, got the extra tray of 36 because of it, added a BUNCH of "walkers" using 2 boxes worth of Wargames Factory zeds. (1 each male and female) and STILL find myself at times going "more walkers... I need MORE WALKERS"

    never come close to using all the fatties or runners, but one of the bonus Kickstarter bonuses for Season 1 was a deck of spawn cards that drop piles of walkers... It gets brutal...

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    1. I must admit that in all of the games that I played I never once ran out of Walkers... and I only had the two trays that came with the game.

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  10. Probably your favourite boardgame you say...That is high praise indeed.

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    1. Clint, this game ticks so many boxes for me.

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  11. I missed out on the Kickstarter, I couldn't even get hold of it to sell to begin with and finally got hold of it on the 2nd import. It is really rather good indeed.

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    1. It's a shame that you missed out on the Kickstarter deal, Adam. The game is very good indeed and I'm pleased to see that you're selling it at last.

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