Monday, August 13, 2012

Game Review: Zombicide


This weekend I finally got to play Zombicide, the successfully funded kickstarter by Cool Mini or Not and Guillotine Games that has started arriving on the doorsteps of happy gamers. They'll be demoing the game at GenCon later this week, but since I've already had a chance to fight the brain-eating hordes I thought I'd share my thoughts on this hot off the presses game.

I pledged at the $100 "Abomination" level, so I got not only the basic game, but some extra goodies that I'll talk about later. Let's just start with the standard box that has a retail value of $89. That's not cheap for a game, but a quick look at what you get shows that it's actually a good value.


  • 71 Miniatures in 28mm scale (6 Survivors, 40 Walkers, 16 Runners, 8 Fatties and 1 Abomination)
  • 110 mini-cards (42 Zombie, 62 Equipment, 6 Wounded)
  • 9 Game Board Tiles
  • 6 Dice
  • 6 Survivor Cards
  • 24 Advancement Counters
  • 4 Cars tokens (Police/Pimp Mobile)
  • 18 Noise Tokens
  • 10 Objective Tokens
  • 12 Door Tokens
  • 6 Zombie Spawn Tokens
  • 1 First Player Token
  • 1 Exit point Token
See, lots of stuff, and the quality is really good. The models all come safely tucked in little plastic trays so you don't have them tumbling around the box in a mess once you've opened it up to play. They've also got a good amount of detail so they actually resemble the fantastic images on the cards. For those so inclined, a little dry brushing will make your zombies come to life, or, is it death?

The cards are slightly smaller than standard playing cards, but not so small that you're fumbling them all the time. They're also on a good weight of cardstock with a nice finish so they're likely to hold up to repeated playing. Same with the tokens, which are thick, cardboard cutouts .



All your zombies are grey plastic while your survivors are more colorful so they stand out on the board, except for Phil. He's the cop and he has a brown uniform in the artwork so his mini is brown and I kept losing him. Much like a certain cop on a certain zombie television show is always losing his kid. Except I still kept better tabs on my mini than anyone did of stupid Carl.

There are ten regular scenarios and a tutorial that's a quick and dirty rundown of the game. I started with the tutorial and I think it's worth it not just the first time you play, but any time you're introducing new players to the game. It let's you figure out what works and what doesn't work without being frustrated by making newbie mistakes in a full-length game.

The scenarios start with varying numbers of tiles, zombies and objectives but some things remain the same in every scenario. You will always play the Survivors and Zombicide is always co-op. In all but single player games you'll divide up six Survivors. If you're going it alone, then you manage a group of four.



Be warned. You are likely going to lose Survivors along the way, but you can still win the game. This really is a co-op game and you'll  have to work with other players to decide who to sacrifice in order to save the group. It's that whole "Good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one." scenario but without the space travel.

Each Survivor has a Survivor Card that serves as a place to organize weapons and supplies, track zombie kills, wounds and monitor ever increasing skills, but be careful. Not only do Survivors get more powerful as their kill count grows, but the zombies appear in greater numbers.




Gameplay is straight-forward. Survivors go first, choosing between actions like moving, attacking or even running down zombies in a car decked out like a police cruiser or a pimp mobile. You can also search for weapons and supplies by turning over cards in the Equipment deck, but an unlucky draw gets you a zombie instead.

Equipment cards are clearly marked with the stats for your weapons. They give you range, number of attacks, accuracy and damage. They've also got indicators for noise, which will make the zombies come right at you when its their turn. Guns, for example, will draw their attention but a crowbar might be able to do the same job without making you a target.




Once all the Survivors have activated, then it's time for the zombies. When they attack, you pretty much have to hope you're out of the way. There's no defense when they come for you, so you've got to be very careful to keep your distance. All you get are two wounds, and once you're done, you're done. There are no second chances with zombies.

The zombies also move on their turn, heading first toward Survivors they can see and then to sources of sound. All that noise the Survivors made shooting guns and kicking in doors has it consequences right now. Every time a Survivor makes noise you drop a Noise Token so you can determine where the zombies will shamble when they move.




There are also spawn points at different areas on the board depending on the scenario and you draw a Zombie card for each one. You may get lucky and have nothing happen, but more than likely you'll have some combination of zombies appear.

This is where the zombie kill count at the top of each Survivor card comes into play. As it moves up from blue to yellow to orange to red zones, so does the peril that comes with zombie spawning. A Zombie card that spawns one zombie while you're in in the blue zone might spawn four in orange, and they might be a harder type of zombie to kill.

The most numerous and easiest to kill are Walkers, followed by Runners who move twice as fast making them more dangerous. You'll also face Fatty zombies who spawn with two Walkers and can only be taken down with weapons dealing two damage. Lastly, there are Abominations who can only be taken out with a weapon dealing three damage, so you'd best keep your distance unless you're feeling lucky.

Abomination Pledge Level Rewards

Overall, Zombicide has a nice balance between strategy and chance. We worked really hard in one game to make sure our Survivors had the right weapons to match their skills and objectives, then had some bad dice rolls and a Zombie card wipe out three people in one fell swoop.

What looked bleak was redeemed by our strategy. We kept running out, shooting zombies, and ducking  back inside a building with plans to break out through the back door if the hordes overwhelmed our dwindling numbers.  And we won!

I got extra goodies because of my $100 pledge level, including an extra tray of zombies, a print of the box cover art, glow-in-the-dark dice and three extra survivors.

My favorite Survivor is Dave the Geek and he bears a striking resemblance to Sheldon Cooper. He has an math formula on his shirt and a lightsaber clipped to his belt. I love him.

Sadly, he ended up being useless and couldn't hit a thing, which reinforced the flailing geek stereotype. Honestly, it was perfect.

With so many different scenarios and the randomness of card draws and dice rolls, there are infinite play variations. It's easy to learn, easy to teach, and the theming is spot on with just the right amount of camp. This is my new favorite game of the moment!

Playing time will vary depending on the scenario and number of players, but it ran about an hour in the two-player games we played this weekend. Zombicide retails for $79.99 and is available now!

20 comments:

  1. Looks like a lot of fun! Have you played "Last Night on Earth"? That one is our favorite and really feels like you're in a horror movie when you play. How do the two compare?

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    1. I have played Last Night on Earth, and this is far better for a couple of reasons. You feel even more like you are in the thick of the zombie apocalypse. The way each Survivor has skills that are unique and that let's each of them have that "save the day" moment, and the overall nod to all things zombie in the fluff is just fantastic.

      I also think this one is far more interesting, and allows you to really work as a team to a much greater degree.

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    2. Both are great games in their own way. "Last Night..." has a more cinematic feel while "Zombicide" is all about the zombie-killing action.

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  2. I'm interested to see this, however i'm unsure of what really seem to set this game apart from other zombie games i've played like Last night on earth. those games have all fallen a little flat to me.

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    1. I always thought Last Night on Earth was okay, I'd play it, but I'd never ask to play it. This game, though, I am going to be playing a lot. It's more immersive in terms of fluff, the rules are less fiddly, and the types of zombies make this one more interesting. You never know what your'e going to get and the difference between a Walker and a Runner can be huge in forcing you all to suddenly try and adjust your strategy.

      I also have always thought Last Night took too long. I was usually checking out by the end. With Zombicide I was hooked right up until the minute that we achieved our objective and won the game.

      I truly love this game and it's my favorite zombie title out there right now.

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    2. Sounds a bit biased, after all you did kickstart in $100 and got your bonus swag... Reads like a commercial.

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  3. Good review. I signed for the game after playing a demo at Adepticon and got a couple of Abomination sets. The game is so much fun. The only issue I have is the cards are really slick so they slide around. I will have to make some holders for the player cards to stop things from sliding. I have already started on a set of custom markers for the game and boxes for the cards.

    http://burnindesigns.blogspot.com/2012/08/wip-zombicide-token-set-and-storage.html

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  4. I can never get anyone to play a board game with me, so I have to play video games.

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    1. You can play Zombicide solo!!

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  5. Great review Mrs. Wakelin , i just played the intro mission this afternoon. I couldn't wait for this game to arrive. I also did the abomination level,and picked up the extra survivors that will arrive in the spring. That all aside, i can't wait for tomorrow's nap time for my youngest i plan on tackling mission number one with Dave the geek,Nick the cop, The dual wielding teen, and the conspiracy nut who gets the free search action per turn.

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  6. Great review, I'm going to buy this.

    Thanks.

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  7. This looks awesome! I just wish I knew people who liked to play games. :)

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  8. Would be nice to check out at $50 but at almost $90 and shipping, it seems pretty pricey. Granted their are some nice bits there but....Hm...

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  9. I got my abomination set as well, what I like for a table top game is that this is a co-op so you play with friends not against them. This game also captures some great media trends Zombie theme as well such as a video game Left4Dead and AMC Walking Dead

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  10. Amazing detailed review, nice done. I liked a lot. I read it after playing our first game but I must said that I already knew about the game thanks to those guys in that podcast, something like d6generation, maybe you know them ;)
    The game looks very good, I really liked our game, specially because we win the scenario (number 01, city blocs) even if only two heroes survived to tell the story...

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  11. Forget the price or any doubts.. this game is so much darned fun, worth every penny.
    I've made some gameplay videos over on youtube, search for Killaminis.

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  12. How do I get the extra characters and expansions? Please email me back at dennisherfurth@gmail.com

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