Zombicide: Can You Survive?

Zombicide © Guillotine Games

Zombicide © Guillotine Games

The zombie apocalypse. It’s a rare geek who hasn’t at least thought about it and what their plans would be. Personally I have my eye on the convenience store in my village; solid concrete block construction, metal shutters across the doors and windows, and enough tinned and dried foods to keep us going a good six months. Of course we all believe that we’d be the ones who could survive when the dead walk the Earth, but how can you be sure? Zombicide allows you and your friends to work together to achieve objectives in a customizable world filled with the undead.

Zombicide began life as a Kickstarter campaign from Cool Mini or Not and has already gone on to spawn an expansion (Toxic City Mall) and Zombicide Season Two: Prison Outbreak. Designed for one to six players in a cooperative team, the game is highly customizable and can be played at a range of difficulties. The game boards are built from a set of nine reversible numbered tiles which are laid out together to form city blocks. Beginners can start out with small two tile missions while experts can play advanced missions from the rule book, online, or constructing their own.

Zombicide set up for an "easy" mission in the rule book © Sophie Brown

Zombicide set up for an “easy” mission in the rule book © Sophie Brown

The aim of each game is to achieve the mission objectives. This can be as simple as entering the room containing the objective token and picking it up or involve gathering multiple tokens, locating food & water, neutralizing zombie spawn zones, and escaping the board. The flexibility of the game allows for endless play and no two missions will ever be alike. To achieve your objectives you will depend on what you can find by searching buildings. Basic weapons like frying pans can be upgraded for rifles and pistols but beware, noise attracts zombies so sometimes a quiet crowbar might be a better option than a noisy chainsaw. Combat takes place whenever zombies and hunters come together and is dice-based. Weapons are logically ranged with rifles able to shoot out targets down the street while frying pans are only available when the zombie is right on top of you. Hey, given a frying pan over nothing I’m taking it—it worked for Rapunzel right?

Throughout the game you play as a number of named characters, the number you control based on how many players are participating in your game. Each character has their own unique abilities that change as the game goes on and they rack up more zombie kills. As the characters experience grows, the number and type of zombies spawning onto the board increases in difficulty. At the beginning a blue level spawning might only produce a single new walker. Once a character has reached maximum (red) experience that same spawn card can produce up to seven walkers, multiple runners, or other zombie types such as the dreaded abominations. It’s another example of how the game grows with the players. Oh, and the difficulty of the spawn session is determined by the single character with the most experience so you might wanna try and not have one guy leveling up too much ahead of the others.

Controlling a character in the Zombicide app © Sophie Brown

Controlling a character in the Zombicide app © Sophie Brown

A number of additional sets are available to enhance your games. You can add dogs as companions or as canine zombies and even add to the arsenal of zombies looking to take you down. Soon to be released is the first Zombicide Compendium, a large book containing missions designed both by Guillotine Games and by fans. The compendium gathers together the many missions released online and several new ones including Boomtown, a seven-mission campaign to nuke a zombie town off the map. The official website is filled with resources to help gamers customize their games such as hi-res blank character and weapon cards. There’s also a free app for both iPad & Android that works as a digital character card, helping you keep track of your experience points and simplifying combat through digital rolling.

I love the freedom and flexibility of Zombicide. I can play a short mini game by myself or I can set up a three hour epic with a bunch of friends. The minifigures included (and you get a lot of them—72  in the base game alone) are nicely designed. I haven’t attempted painting mine so far; that’s a skill I’ve not yet tried so I dread to think how they’d turn out, but a quick Google search reveals some beautiful paint jobs by other game owners. The game is enough of a blank canvas to be adaptable to various different franchise variants too. I’ve seen custom fan-mods for The Walking Dead and The Last Of Us, and the Kickstarter perks included additional characters based on Shaun of The Dead, the Hannibal Lecter series, and The Shining. Basically, this game can become whatever you want it to be. The possibilities are endless.

Zombicide's storage leaves a lot to be desired when this is the best you can achieve © Sophie Brown

Zombicide’s storage leaves a lot to be desired when this is the best you can achieve © Sophie Brown

Of course nothing is perfect. My biggest gripe with the game is the box itself. Unlike many other games I own, Small World being a rather wonderful example, the inside of the box is something of a let down. There are no nice storage trays, instead the figures are held inside cheap plastic trays within cardboard boxes and the plastic tub for the extra pieces isn’t big enough to hold everything, meaning bits are constantly getting loose. It’s frustrating and makes it difficult to pack everything back inside in a way that allows the lid to sit on the box properly. There’s some lovely trays available at Battlefoam that are especially designed to hold all the pieces, but after spending $90 on the game I’d feel more than a little ticked off at having to add another $40 just to store it so the lid actually goes on and without risk of damage. Not when other companies are giving me that for free.

However storage is at best a minor gripe. Zombicide is an awesome game with limitless potential and with more seasons coming (season three was announced in 2013) the game will just continue to grow. I do wish there was an option to buy a version of the game with pre-painted miniatures for those of us without the time and skill to paint them ourselves, but I’m content enough to play with monotone plastic for the time being. Now if you’ll forgive me there’s a horde of zombies in my office that I should really be dealing with, wherever did I put that shotgun…?

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.