Zombicide is a cooperative zombie survival board game played with up to 6 people. It can also be played alone by controlling more than one character. The game is mainly played with the following bundled items: zombie and player character miniatures, double sided modular map boards, cards, dice, tokens and a rule book for the scenario or rule reminders. The game objective is different for every scenario, but the way it is played is very similar. Scenarios are gameplay styles and designs which are played using the core game mechanics but with subtle changes per written scenario. 10 scenarios and one tutorial scenario is given to you within the rule book but many more can be found online, or you can invent your own.
To start and setup a game you first choose a scenario. As explained above there is also a tutorial level to help you understand the game without everything on the board at once. Although this could be counted as an 11th scenario, it only lasts about 10mins once you know how to beat this level, and the same tactic can be used over and over without any random card elements to make it differ. Only one zombie will be in your way if you take the right moves, and it would be hard not to kill it with the weapons you are given at the start. After choosing your scenario, you will need to read it though to understand the subtle or sometimes large changes to the core rules. For the most part, you will either need to deduct or add certain cards to the game, there may be certain limitations to weapons, or there may be activities that will be triggered on your way to completing your objective. Once you have read through and decided this is the scenario for you, you will now be able to create the game board. The game comes with several double sided tiles which match up to the pictures in the scenario. Streets and buildings make up the majority of the map with a few areas specifically designed for certain scenarios to trigger events. After arranging the game board tiles you will then need to place any tokens on the board that also relate to the images in the scenario image. Players start point, zombies start points at the start of the game and later spawn points, objective markers, cars and building doors to name the majority of them. We are now nearly ready to start the game. Yes…nearly, theres quite a bit of setup in this game and 15mins can go by very quickly when discussing the aforementioned with friends. You now have to separate your cards into three decks, one for searched and found items, one for wound cards and one for zombie activity cards. Some of these cards are always left out by default unless asked to add to the deck, and some are taken out when asked. From the searched and found inventory cards you always remove one hand gun, a crow bar and a fire axe plus the amount of pans needed for the number of other players. For example for 4 players I would add all three plus one pan. Each player can randomly pick one of these cards as their starting weapon facing down. The last step is to choose your own character to play as. There are 6 to choose from all with their own special abilities. As you can imagine, some move faster, some start with a weapon, some are better at searching etc. Once chosen you then place your character models on the board and select your player card with an image of your character on. You also have the option to choose a character at random by selecting a card face down, just encase you all wanted to play as the character who automatically starts with a gun. It is NOW time to play the actual game! Setup time is long and it could be advised to set up before other guests arrive at the table if you have all pre decided a scenario and your characters.
There are two main phases of this game, the player phase where you get to do on average (depending on character choice and level) three things: move, search, open a door, reorganise inventory, combat, get in/out or move about in a car, drive a car, take an objective, make a noise or do nothing. Many of which you will only be able to do a few of depending on where you are on the game board and how many zombies are near you. The second phase is the turn of the zombies. For the most part they will walk towards any sight of you one space, walk towards any noise you made or attack you. Within this phase you also draw a zombie card at every zombie spawn point to see how many and which zombies types will spawn. There is an end phase too but this is purely removing noise for the next turn and moving the first player token onwards.
The above becomes much clearer and more intuitive after a few goes, and luckily a shorthand reminder of the rules is also written on the back of the rule book. As a team we found ourselves trying to out think the cards and zombies based on what we knew they could do on their turn. For instance, if you are one space away from a zombie, all that the zombies can do is move towards you on its turn and not attack, so on your turn you just walk one space back again until it is dead. This only applies to some of the zombies, but for the most part the game will only spawn slow zombies until you kill a few of them, by which time you hope to have completed your objective. To more easily win this game, you find yourself sometimes not wanting to kill any zombies so nothing else bad spawns, which in a zombie killing game you’d think would have the opposite effect.
All of the miniatures (which there are loads of) are greatly detailed in their moulded plastic. They are all unpainted which gives you the option to paint them. It would have been nice to have some plastic colour indication between zombie types though. It can be a pain spotting the runners in a mess of walkers. The player characters are coloured differently apart from one which is almost the same colour as the zombies, which again can get confusing and lost in the horde. The double sided modular maps are beautifully designed and printed and the drawings for these modular parts match up seamlessly. The board itself seems fairly durable and isn’t flexible, which is great for keeping everything from sliding about into the middle of an uneven table or surface. The many cards are also lovingly drawn but some do require more information which you have to search for in the rule book. This could have been easily written on the cards in some instances. With the amount of cards the game does feel different every time which does help its replay value. You don’t tend to get through the stack easily in one game. Dice are standard red and white dice, and the tokes are made of the same material as the board which you are required to pop out of a larger piece of card. The rule book isn’t lengthy but can be hard to grasp in one go without reading as you play. For the more visual board gamer, you can easily find video tutorials and playthough’s online instead. This also helps with things that regularly crop up like sight lines and weapon add ons and other found items.
The price tag on this game is quite hefty, but for your money you do get a lot of game play and a lot of included physical content. There is a large online and offline community for this game for any rule help or any extra scenarios you may wish to play through created by others. This is Zombicide’s most outstanding feature, its modular gaming board and scenario system. If you love zombies, working with up to 5 other friends against the cards and rules of a game and strategising your next moves in an endlessly changeable experience, this game is for you.
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