Friday, May 16, 2014
'Zombicide' (Game Review)
Board games are hot right now. No, I'm not talking about Monopoly or Connect Four. I'm talking about complex "tabletop" board games. The kind that take all the annoying things you don't like about video games (like inventory management) and turn them into complex rule sets with cards and plastic tokens. Sound like fun? Sometimes it is! I was looking for a horror board game, but I heard through the grapevine you need a PhD in Cthulu-ology to even look at Arkham Horror so I decided to grab Zombicide by Guillotine Games because it was less expensive, had lots of minis, and also zombie apocalypse. Lets check it out!
The entire concept behind Zombicide is fairly open ended, because there really ISN'T a concept besides "survive the zombie hordes and accomplish goal X". Short flavor text blurbs in the instruction manual setup the delivered scenarios, but beyond that you can make your own fun and story lines. The game allows between 1-6 players (don't play with yourself) but at least 3 is optimal. This is a co-op affair and the zombies operate autonomously each round trying to kill your survivors as they slog their way across the board.
The maps tiles are made of heavy card stock tiles that are nice quality. This means you can freely make up your own scenarios and zones however you'd like, if you get through all the included ones and the archive of new adventures on the Guillotine website. (Side note: It's totally cool that these guys release a bunch of free new content to extend the life of their game without having to pay for expansions!) There are place-able tiles for things like doors, equipment stashes, and manhole covers, and you'll also use the tiles and printed streets to determine line of sight for combating the undead hordes. Now I'll move on to the features of the game that aren't so fun.
Zombicide is REALLY difficult! Even with the special abilities of the different characters, you're going to have a hell of a time achieving the posted goal of each mission. In about 7 rounds of the game (taking between 45-90 minutes each) I think we collectively won twice. Not good odds, but maybe that's the expected outcome in a zombie apocalypse? ProTip: The delivered combat rule about shooting into a square occupied by another survivor is just idiotic. We immediately threw it out and used the "alternate gun combat" rules that are all over the internet. Trust me, using those changes the game from "impossible" to "slightly less impossible". The problem seems to arise in the randomization of gear and the strength of the "boss" zombies. Yeah, there are runners and big bloated zombies just like Left4Dead. All are lovingly crafted plastic miniatures, and high quality. I wouldn't expect anything less with the CoolMiniorNot.com folks backing the publication of the game.
At roughly sixty dollars Zombicide isn't the easiest recommendation. It has a bit of a learning curve and high difficulty for the uninitiated, but also provides a lot of co-operative fun for horror fans once you get past the intimidating (and questionable) rule set. The game set itself is top notch however, and I'm interested in trying my hand at painting some of the included minis. Another plus is the free downloadable adventures and the relatively affordable minis. Even with the steep difficulty and slightly repetitive game play, I'd say Zombicide is worth your time if you're looking for something new on game night that's less involved than Arkham Horror but more in depth than Zombie Dice.
Reviewed core retail game set