One to six players take on the role of survivors in a world overcome with zombies and must work together to scavenge for food, reach objectives and try to stay alive!
Even though books, comics, movies, video games and board games have been flooded with the zombie theme, there are still successful franchises that raise the bar and stand out above the rest. Zombicide is one of those. Zombicide has the perfect balance of gameplay depth and easy-to-learn rules that allow players to feel the tension of facing an unending flood of zombies, while having an absolute blast whether they win or lose.
It also should be stated that Zombicide was crowd-funded via the site kickstarter.com, and it was backed with an impressive $781,597! One of the most funded tabeltop games on kickstarter.com.
Zombicide is scenario based, and the rules come with 11 scenarios to choose from. If no one in the group knows how to play, you can start with the first tutorial scenario that takes very little time to set up and play, and is just right for learning the rules.
Each scenario tells you how to set up the board, what the winning conditions are and what special rules there may be.
Setting up the board
The board is modular and can be made with up to 9 tiles that measure just under 10×10 inches square each. The tiles have multiple “zones” (or spaces) on them like rooms and street areas. After the tiles are arranged you then place the zombie spawn points, doors, objective markers and any other scenario based tokens.
Preparing your survivors
You will want to have 4-6 survivors on the board, so depending on how many players there are, you’ll possibly be controlling multiple survivors. For example, in a 2 player game the rules recommend each player control 3 survivors.
Once the players have chosen their survivors, you divvy out the starting equipment. You’ll have an axe, pistol, crowbar and some frying pans of which each survivor randomly gets one. As you can imagine, the frying pan is purely meant as a last resort!
Since we’re on the topic of survivors, a big part of the game involves searching for better equipment and gaining XP by killing zombies so that your survivors can gain extra actions and special abilities. You won’t spend the entire game hitting zombies over the head with frying pans!
Each survivor can carry five items, two of which can be equipped. The XP bar is a two edged sword. You can gain up to 43 XP which are divided into four “danger levels.” The higher the XP, the more special abilities your survivors have at their disposal. The higher the danger level, the more zombies (and tougher zombies) will spawn each turn.
Your objectives are typically to collect objective tokens and stay alive. This involves exploring the buildings and streets, collecting what you need before things get too crazy!
Each survivor will have at least three actions that they can spend during their turn. Actions can be moving, searching a room, opening a door, reorganizing your equipment, trading with another survivor, attacking zombies, collecting an objective or making noise. As you gain XP you’ll unlock abilities, some of which give you additional actions to spend during your turn.
All the actions are straight forward, so we’ll focus on the last one; making noise. If a zombie on the board is going to move, but can’t see any survivors, it will move towards the loudest noise. You will definitely want to use this to your advantage.
Each survivor counts as one noise, so if the survivors didn’t do anything to make a commotion, a zombie would move towards the zone with the most survivors in it. But why would your survivors just stand there, they’ve got objectives to reach and zombies to kill! All the doors on the board start locked, and you’ve got three options to open them; a crowbar, axe or chainsaw! The crowbar is the only way to open the door quietly. When attacking zombies, the chainsaw and any firearm will make noise as well. Shoot your pistol 3 times and you’ve got 3 noise tokens in your zone along with the one noise your survivor makes. So be careful that survivors that are alone or injured don’t draw too much attention.
We should also bring up one of the funnest parts of Zombicide; killing zombies! The survivor first chooses which weapon or combo of weapons they’ll attack with, and then rolls a number of dice based on how many dice the weapon tells you to roll. Each weapon has a “success” roll number to say which dice rolls count as successes. Then you determine the amount of damage dealt and divvy it out amongst the zombies in the target zone. The zombies called Fatties can be a bit tricky to take down because if your weapon doesn’t do a base damage of two it won’t hurt them. So your pistol or sawed off shotgun are useless against them, but a fire axe or chainsaw will definitely do the trick.
If you’re lucky enough to have found gasoline and a glass bottle during your searching you can trade those in for the most powerful weapon in the game; the molotov. Throw this into a zone and everything in it dies, no dice rolling needed, just make sure a survivor isn’t in the same zone because they’ll be eliminated as well!
After all the survivors have completed their actions, it’s now the zombies’ turn. You’ve got Walkers, Runners, Fatties and an Abomination. All the zombies get one action on their turn with exception to the Runners that get two actions. Zombies either attack or move. If a zombie is in the same zone as a survivor it will attack (players choose who if there are multiple options). If the zombie isn’t next to a survivor it will move towards the survivor(s) it can see or the most noise it has heard. If there is ever a tie to where the zombies would move, they will split up. If there are an odd number of zombies, you will have to add a zombie so they can split up… so you’ll want to make sure that doesn’t happen!
It’s those pesky Runners you really need to watch out for because they can move twice, or move into your zone with one action and attack with the second.
It doesn’t take much for the zombies to kill a survivor. You don’t roll to defend an attack, so if you are attacked twice you’re toast. And don’t count on healing your survivors because there aren’t any healing items to be found, and only one character can heal other survivors, but only after she’s reached the max 43 XP!
After all the zombies on the board have performed their action(s), it’s now time to spawn more zombies! You’ll draw a zombie card for each spawning zone. The zombie cards have 4 danger levels on them which show what zombie type and how many will spawn based on the danger level your survivor with the most XP is in. After you’ve spawned zombies for each spawning zone it’s now the survivors’ turn.
The components are all high quality in this game. What really stands out are the professionally sculpted miniatures. If you’re into painting miniatures, the survivors and zombies are definitely worthy, though you’ll have quite the task since there are 71 miniatures included in the game!
Downloadable content & companion app
We usually don’t mention this type of thing, but the online support for Zombicide is amazing! Their website is constantly being updated with free scenarios (created by the publisher as well as user submitted contest winners). You can download blank printable item, weapon and survivor ID cards. There is a free campaign, “Switch City,” made up of 6 scenarios available to download. Also available is a free map editor for PC and Mac.
They’ve even created a companion app for iPad and Android devices that allows you to track your survivor’s stats and equipment as well as aid you in attacking zombies by “digitally” rolling the dice. Definitely take a look at these extra resources to get the most out of your copy of Zombicide!
The rules are very intuitive and easy to learn which is a huge strength for Zombicide. This allows players to jump right in and have fun reaching objectives and attacking zombies as a team without being bogged down with the endless technicalities and rulebook checking that some games have.
Who would enjoy this game?
The key to winning Zombicide lies almost primarily in how well the survivors balance the actions they take and the number of zombies they kill. It only takes one survivor to raise the danger level for spawning zombies so you’ll want to spread the zombie killing around for everyone, trying to keep the game in the lowest danger level possible for the longest amount of time.
Another big part of the game involves walking the fine line of how close your survivors are to the zombies and whether you split the group up or stay together. If you’re close to the zombies, you can spend your actions on attacking them rather than waisting actions on moving. But if you’re too close, there’s a good chance they can quickly catch your survivors and begin their feasting.
Staying together as a group is a sure way to keep each other safe from harm, but also means it can take longer to reach the various objectives. Unless you’re Wanda (the girl with roller skates who can move very quickly), we wouldn’t recommend sending survivors off solo. At least follow the buddy system!
The difficulty level quickly escalates, so if you’ve left certain survivors with low XP and wimpy equipment, they’ll soon meet their demise. The number of zombies that spawn doesn’t scale with the number of players, so you’d be wise to keep everyone alive!
About The Game As A Whole
We absolutely love this game! What really proved to us that this is an excellent game is the fact that whenever we find ourselves a few turns from reaching the final objective, rather than beating the game we’ll continue searching the board for better equipment and fighting off more and more zombies… we just don’t want the game to end!
Another proving point is that it’s a blast even if you loose. You’ll find yourself fighting to the bitter end, and then coming back for more!
Zombicide’s replayability and cusotomization is endless. You can adjust the difficulty by customizing the zombie card deck (click here to learn more about deck difficulty) If you’ve played all the scenarios in the rulebook (which are fun to play over and over), you can go onto the publisher’s website and download new campaigns and scenarios. If you want to make your own characters, equipment, maps and scenarios, the publisher provides free resources for that!
This is a game that is worth every penny, and then continues to keep giving with awesome free downloadable content!
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