Zombicide is without doubt one of my favourite games and was the first cooperative game I ever played. I was first introduced to Zombicide in late 2012 and this was the very first edition of the game. I didn't know at this point in time that such a thing as a cooperative game existed. By that, I mean teaming up against the game, as I had worked alongside other players playing against other players in the past. Teaming up with friends in the post zombie apocalypse world, just wow!
Zombicide is something else and I instantly fell in love with it. It also made far more sense to me as a zombie game. I used to own Zombies by Twilight Creations back in the 00's, a game where you had to kill Zombies, but also stitch up your opponents along the way to be the one to win. This was fun (could be very long) but after Zombicide came along, Zombies made no sense to me anymore and the box set started gathering dust on a shelf.
Left For Dead
Straight away the game reminded me of the video game "left for dead". So many similarities to this. You work with other players selecting a unique survivor to begin with, then position the survivors on the starting space of the board. There are assorted missions to select in the rule book or many more available on the CMON website to download (a nice bonus from CMON). They all have the basic premise of "complete the mission" and "get out"! At the very start of the game you have basic kit to get by with.
However you can search for better (You'll need it). Zombies spawning are minimal in the beginning, but the more you kill, the more adrenaline points a survivor accrues which in turn leads to a greater amount of zombies spawning. What starts as a few can lead to dozens by the end. But to aid the survivors, as you increase levels of adrenaline (points) your survivors pick up more abilities as well, a levelling up if you will. Every survivor possesses a unique set of skills making them invaluable to a mission and some balance is key. Working together is essential as going alone will almost lead to certain failure and being eaten. This one is intense!
Cool Mini or Not (CMON) are the creators and they have done a wonderful job with this. Zombicide was their first Kickstarter gaming project and (from what I can tell) it has brought them much success. Since then, they have introduced so many further expansions, new themes and now they are on to their second edition of Zombicide. Now they have even integrated this game with a Marvel theme which looks incredible. When I noticed the second edition coming. I took a break from the game, selling off most of my original gear and then backing the second edition Kickstarter due to their being similar content, but much improved gameplay from their original. I wanted the excitement as well of the Kickstarter campaign. They also have a sensational artist working on these games as visually the games all look spectacular. The mini's, the survivors, the zombies, the rule book and boxes all look stunning. For those that have the ability to paint the mini's as well, that is something to behold.
What's improved from the original set to the 2nd edition? You have the same original survivor cast of 6 but they have introduced a further 6 child survivors with slightly altered rules and new abilities allowing for a greater variety in team. Then they have tidied up a few rules, adjusted a few rules/survivor abilities making for a better gameplay. The set up is faster with the design of the board and components. My favourite addition is the Abomination abilities, that adds a heightened threat level for sure. Overall CMON have made an already great game into a far slicker awesome game.
Time To Escape
So, when the board is set, the survivors are selected, it's time to play. Play always commences with the survivors (players) going first. Each player takes a turn beginning with 3 actions which could be movement, combat, search for gear, swapping kit, opening a door (if you have the right tool), jumping in or moving a vehicle, or perhaps something unique to them based on their individual skill set. You can do combinations of these actions for as many actions that the survivor has available. Play continues round, if a building is opened, that could reveal something unpleasant, and when all players are done the Zombies have a go.
Try and avoid finishing a turn in the same space as a zombie as after all players have had their turn those Zombies in play activate, that means they take an action and it is either movement or strike. If they are in the same square as survivors then the survivors are going to get hurt.
If no players are present in a Zombie square then they move towards the nearest (noisiest) group of survivors. Some move quicker and some are tougher to kill with the dreaded abominations being the most challenging. Season 2 of Zombicide has seen a whole host of Abominations with abilities which has proven far more challenging in these games. We've even tried A-Bomb festival rules where by we play with multiple abominations, it is a touch crazy.
You might be wondering, why kill zombies if that means more spawn as survivors level up? Great question, you would think evade, evade, evade where possible and kill as few zombies as possible. Unfortunately the zombies spawn from the pool. If you spawn zombies, but there are none to add to the board from the pool as they are all out, the zombies gain extra activations when they cannot be spawned and then things get very messy for survivors. There's very much a balance required of zombie management and completing your mission objectives. Team strategy and tactics are everything.
CMON are great at adding to their products and Zombicide is no exception. If you have played you will have noted a lot of their survivors bear resemblance to popular celebrities in the public eye. My personal favourite being Yuri (Jack Bauer from TV series 24).
Yuri is just a quality asset in the team of survivors. CMON have produced additional sets of survivors for second edition including "The Boys", "Ironmaiden" and "Ghostbusters" packs. Something which I have not acquired (yet) but would love to get my hands on for a game with. This is additional content comes at a price though. However, there is much more free content on their website usually in the form of additional missions which is very cool to keep this game constantly fresh.
What has impressed me with the second edition is the little learnings from earlier editions and feedback CMON have taken on board. They've made adjustments, amended the rules and improved what is already an awesome game. I commend them for this. I don't think you can go wrong with this game and it has made me think very differently about game type. It's especially great in my collection when I know other players are not feeling a competitive game against others, so the option of having a game to work together on is invaluable. I now own a few other cooperative games because of this one. However, Zombicide is a regular feature on our table top.