“Helicopter was out of fuel. We made an emergency landing near to a hospital. We thought it might be a good idea to check the place for supplies. But we made a mistake. The morgue was still occupied and the local were restless.”
A friend of mine called for a board game night to play Zombicide. I enjoyed my first run through with the original Zombicide. The Season 3 box looked like it was going to be just as much of a blast.
We quickly pulled together a scenario, picked 8 survivors (2 for each of us), grabbed a few beers, and settled in for a nice long game. The scenario was “simple.” Inside the hospital are two keys hidden among the six objectives. You win by finding the keys and doing one of the following:
- lock the hospital doors and clear the remain zombies from the building
- book it to the exit
First turn, we busted down the door to the hospital and split up to get objectives or find supplies. Five survivors went in the hospital and three stayed outside to check the tents. No big issues that turn. No one is wounded and we’ve found few weapons and supplies out in the tents. Second turn is where all hell breaks loose. Abomination pops up in my face as I grab the first objective. Crawlers spring from the beds, cutting a pair of survivors off from the group. We lose three people (gaining their zombie counter parts) and almost everyone was wounded before we were able to regroup outside the hospital doors. The rest of game was a slow brutal, attrition as survivor after survivor were whittled away.
I feel this is the essence of Zombicide. We went in with no plan and split up with no back up and, as is bound to happen, lost the game. We had fun doing it but Zombicide is a cooperative game. Unlike some cooperative games, Zombicide punishes you harshly for not working together all the time. By the time we figured out we weren’t working together enough, it was already too late. We were zombie food.
The game itself is well designed to promote the cooperative play-style and capture the zombie survivor horror feel. The zombies feel terrifying and working together is the only way to combat them. The scenarios are built to be difficult but not impossible. It is a long game but it doesn’t feel like a long game. Even when were stuck just outside the hospital I never felt like we’d been there for two hours of real time that past.
The play suffers from too much upkeep between managing inventory, recording experience, remembering noise, zombie movement and zombie spawning. A lot of stuff gets forgotten or skipped in the heat moment. All that plus looking up the keywords in the rule book (that could be explained in the extra space on survivor cards) can slow the game to a crawl. An enthusiast might want to make basic rule cheat sheets for new players and reference cards for the survivor abilities just to speed up play.
All in all, I like Zombicide. It feels like a mix between Twilight Creations’ Zombies!!! and the dungeon crawl board games. The game pieces are visual interesting. The game can appeal to those who enjoy zombie themes, tactical puzzle solving, or cooperative play.