3 Chits, 3 Giggles
GRRRRR ARGH! I've always been a zombie fan. I know it's a tired franchise but I've been an 'undead head' for over 13 years. Since I first watched Night of the Living Dead and cemented this love with Dawn of the Dead, I've been obsessed with zombies. I read the Walking Dead graphic novels and have been both thrilled and disappointed by the popular TV adaptation. One of my favourite zombie themed video games is Left 4 Dead. I've had many good times blasting away stalkers and spitters in to the twee hours with 3 chums shouting at me over my headset.
I first played Zombicide at the London MCM convention where it was demoed to me by a lovely man whose name was probably Horatio. 'Horatio' taught us the basics and we dived in to complete the mission and kick some rotten bottom. Soon we were shooting at waves of the undead. Great big 'fatties' appeared at the end of one street. Woah, they look like Boomers, but this was nothing compared to the first time I saw the ABOMINATION! I couldn't resist bellowing "TANK!" at the top of my lungs as this huge terrifying zombie boss marched down the street toward us. The abomination had soon killed one of our team! Were we even going to win? A Molotov cocktail flew through the air and exploded onto the Abomination. It roared in agony as it died and was removed from the board. My Uzi wielding friend took out the remaining few walkers and we got the hell out of there. Phew!
I felt just like I had after a game of Left 4 Dead. I was exhilarated and I had stories to tell about the game I just played. For me, that is the true sign of a great game.
The game was so tense! This is captured by the genius mechanic of upping the danger level as you kill more zombies. The higher the danger level. The more zombies appear at the end of every turn. The more you have to kill, the higher the level keeps going. It's a clever way to keep the game feeling dangerous and scary. A great mechanic that suits the theme so well.
Zombicide is a co-op game. It's you, back to back with your mates, fighting off hordes of undead. The different specialist zombies make the game even more interesting: walkers, runners, fatties and the ABOMINATION ( who deserves nothing less than capital letters!) Each character has 3 action points to spend on various actions; moving one space, opening a door or attacking/shooting a zombie. Characters have different special abilities to make them more interesting and they get more badass the more zombies they kill, including gaining an extra action point.
There is a mission book for players to work through which gives the set-up and conditions to win the mission. Each mission is fun and some are a lot trickier/more exciting than others.
There are a few frustrating mechanics, such as not having the chance to shoot into another square where a player is, even if he is surrounded by zombies. There is also the randomness of searching, which is how the players get better weapons. You can search each room in a cleared building once. Some players might find a tin of beans, whilst the next player might find a chainsaw... in the bathroom? Those with better weapons inevitably have a better time, although my mate Andy once went on a killing spree with nothing but a frying pan to his name. Once again this game leaves you with some great gamer stories.
One of the first ever board games I played was Zombies!!! by Twilight Inc. It was the game of my teens but it got old quickly, so we decided to make it better... I had bought some little plastic insects from a pound shop and these soon invaded the city too. We had been playing a lot of Resident Evil 2 around that time and so it made perfect sense to have huge moths and spiders roaming the streets alongside the zombies. We took it in turns to come up with crazy missions. The most memorable game was when there was a Mantis Parade in the city. A MANTIS PARADE! Its a gaming moment we still talk about ten years later. We changed the game, we added our own eccentricities, it made the game more fun and it meant we kept on playing. Zombicide benefits from this too. Just like the zombie genre, Zombicide can get a bit repetitive and loses its thrill. The game encourages you to invent your own rules to make it more enjoyable. You want to duel-wield frying pans? Go ahead! Fancy grabbing onto the back of a car and roller blading through the streets waving a chainsaw about? Sure, why not! The game gets so much better when you let things get a little bit... silly. You can make the games much more memorable.
Also...THE MINIATURES ARE AMAZING! The quality of the sculpts is very impressive and guillotine games teamed up with "Cool Mini Or Not" to really bring the game to life. All the components in this game are stunning. From the street tiles to the survivor minis, it is a very pretty game to look at, if you find peeling, rotting flesh pretty that is.
Zombicide is only growing in popularity, with the season 4 Kickstarter raising over 4 MILLION DOLLARS. That is an insane amount of money. Zombicide Black Plague has been given a fantasy setting re-theme although essentially the game is the same. I personally didn't back it, as once you have played one Zombicide you have pretty much played them all. My season one box set is battered and tattered which shows the love I have for it, like a well read book with a broken spine and crinkled pages. It has travelled all over London and I have taught it to many more gamers in the same way Horatio(?) taught me.
There are also expansions to the game. I purchased the Mall expansion, it adds some interesting new rules and some nice components but does feel a little bit unnecessary.
Like all good zombie fiction it is not about the zombies so much as it is about the people. The people make great stories and I look forward to making many more with my gaming group.
Now where did I put that toy mantis? There he is!
Review by David Murcutt