Zombicide caused a bit of stir in boardgaming circles (to be fair, it doesn’t take much) – it was a very successful Kickstarter project launched by CoolMiniOrNot which managed to raise nearly $800,000. This in turn led to quite a bit of expectation and hype. I backed the Kickstarter back in May on a whim really, and to be honest pretty much forgot about it, until a man turned up this week with a big box which to my surprise was my copy of Zombicide
In a nutshell it is – ‘zombie apocalypse the board game‘. Six survivors try to erm, well, survive – against hoards & hoards of zombies. The game comes with a modular board of 9 double sided tiles which represent the zombie overrun city, and a lot of minis – 71 in the game and 36 extra as part of the Kickstarter bonus stuff (more on that later). As you might have guessed, a game from a company called ‘CoolMiniOrNot’ is going to feature minis pretty predominantly! They are excellent quality, lots of variety (across the 3 types of zombies there are 8 different poses/sculpts) and fit into the box very well with plastic trays to hold them all. In fact the production quality as a whole, across all the components is exceptionally good.
When I opened the box that arrived I was presented with not just a copy of the game but various extra bits too which mainly were down to the Kickstarter meeting various stretch goals (i.e. them getting way more money than their target). I got an extra tray of 32 zombies + 1 extra big bastard zombie, called an Abomination. Two sets of custom D6 (whooo glow in the dark!), 3 extra “promo” survivors, a bright red ZOMBICIDE t-shirt and a sign art print. Not bad!
That’s a fascinating list you’re thinking, but what does it play like? It’s a lot of fun. It’s a cooperative game for 1-6 players. I have to say, the rule book isn’t brilliant, it has some poor wording and several holes / ambiguities – thankfully the game isn’t really that complex so it isn’t much of an issue. There’s 11 scenarios in the book to play out, each one with different objectives and criteria. They are broadly made up of the same building blocks; kill lots of zombies, explore the city, kill zombies, find objectives & stuff, kill more zombies, get out alive… or not. Zombies spawn each turn from around the edge of the board or when a door to a building is opened for the first time. Zombies come in 4 flavours; Walkers (bog standard shamblers), Runners (fast and nasty), Fatties (hard to kill and nasty) and the Abomination (nasty and nasty, all but impossible to kill). Survivors can search buildings for equipment and weapons to help in the fight against the zombie bastards, and also level up and gain new skills as they rack up their undead kill count. Each survivor has a different set of skills so they all play differently, there’s even scope to create your own. However as the players level up, more zombies will spawn so it’s rather nicely balanced.
Really the game is all about theme. Mechanically I suppose it’s nothing special – but with 6 players getting into it, all having a laugh, that’s when it started to come alive (no pun intended). When we crowbar’ed open the door to the first building only for the poor Ned to be set upon by 5 zombies – a chorus of pissing taking and planning to save him ensued. Somehow he found a chainsaw and massacred half the room. Followed by me wading in, wielding two machetes and a tonne of luck, taking out the rest of the zombies. The game feels cinematic, with a wealth of zombie film tropes for your imagination to call upon. Every turn can feel a little bit like a scene from a movie. It almost bordered on role playing at times, in a good way. Having said that, in order to have any chance of winning you need to “game the system” a bit, planning and working out where zombies would move to, or min-maxing the actions you’ll spend each turn.
Apologies for the simply terrible camera phone pictures, playing in a dingy pub basement has its downsides
We had six players and went through the tutorial which was over in about 10 minutes, it was the perfect intro to the basics. So we moved on to the first proper scenario. This took us approx. three hours to finish. Yeah that’s quite a long time for such a “light” game, but actually it didn’t feel like a drag. A good chunk of that time was taken up with us planning out our turns, discussing (arguing) over tactics, etc. all part of the joys of a co-op game. That length of play wasn’t caused by getting bogged down by the game mechanics or laborious rules.
How did we do? Well, we’d managed to grab three objectives and the food we needed, without losing anyone so we regrouped back at the starting building on the centre of the city to plan our next move. That’s when things started to go wrong. We had two objectives still to go, then we lost Amy and Wanda when they opened a door to be confronted with a group of three Runners. The Runners shot out the door like lightning and ripped the pair of them to pieces. OK we were pretty much screwed now, with the unstoppable Abomination on the loose and huge hoards of Walkers on the prowl. We hatched a desperate plan; Josh would make a suicide dash past the Abomination to take the last of the objectives, he probably wouldn’t make it back but it wouldn’t matter. We handed he food supplies to Phil who would make a desperate run for the exit, if he made it, we’d win. Somehow the crazy plan worked! Josh had the ‘Slippery’ skill making it possible to run through zones with zombies (normally not easy to do). Ned and Doug (controlled by me) kept the hoards at bay with chainsaw and sniper rifle, giving Phil the cover he needed. To our amazement Josh made it back in once piece! In fact all four of us reached the exit. It was very close, another turn, maybe two and we’d have all been zombie chow.
Summary – A great game. Definitely good fun with 6 players. Easy enough to play with non-gamers and the zombie survival theme is an easy on for people to get into. Maybe not a game for the purists that like their eurogames and elegant mechanics. However I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to have a laugh, with some mates, blowing zombies to bits for a few hours. Which is everyone, right?