Monday, September 2, 2013

Zombicide - Small Town

Due to the long weekend, a few of the nerds had some extra game time, so we managed to get together for a board game night. Happily this marks the 5th (of a target of 6) 'boardgame' sessions I've had this year. Boardgames doesn't include roleplaying games or wargaming, and despite Battletech being close, I've decided that falls as a wargame as well.

Anyway, Zombicide is a cooperative players vs programmed enemy game. There are tile maps that can be organized many different ways for a wide range of scenarios. Zombie spawn points are marked, and they generate at the end of every round of player turns. In addition, when buildings are opened, each room is checked for zombie spawning as well. Spawns are generated by pulling a card, and there are 4 possible levels of threat/difficulty of zombies.

The levels are determined by the most experienced character on the table. Experience is generated by objectives, as well as killing zombies. It is preferable to try and spread the experience across all the players to avoid having the zombies get tougher before all the players are. As players level up they gain extra abilities such as an extra action, an extra die roll in combat, or some special skills.

You start with some fairly ghetto equipment and need to gear up by searching buildings. Occasionally your search can turn up a zombie. When the zombie turn occurs, it happens as zombies attack, zombies move, zombies spawn. To prevent it from being too deterministic, there are a few spawn cards that cause zombies of a certain class to have an extra action. This can often cause fatalities as the zombies surge against the best laid player plans. Another threat is that when you run out of zombie markers of a given type (walkers, runners, boomers, and spikey monster (forgot the name)), all the zombies get another go. This tends to happen in the end game where the zombies are spawning far FAR faster than you can take them down.

Our game had 4 players on a small map in a scenario called, coincidentally, small town. This is an example where a simple appearing, small map, can actually be far more challenging than a larger one. There was very little capacity to lure zombies in certain directions and dance around them. We also ended up getting shafted when a spikey abomination spawned in the first building we opened. These bastards can only be destroyed by a molotov cocktail.....which isn't in the card deck for this small map. Our entire plan and path was derailed, and we never really fully recovered.

Players start in the top right. The spawn points are the red markers on the cardinal directions. It can be expected that zombies are going to fill the street and, in particular, the intersection. Our plan is to cut south, mover though the building to the bottom right, cross the street to the bottom left single room building, then head to the norther buildings. 
 A few turns later, we can see the abomination has been lured out of the building, so our stealthy guy (orange) has managed to break into the other door and grabbed the objective.
Ned (me), is searching up the small building, while Wanda (roller skater waitress) and Nick (bruce willis knockoff) are holding the street.
 We get pinned in the street, it's a bit touch and go trying to thin out the herd fast enough to give us a chance to break away. Each turn we just get enough killed to avoid getting hurt, but then are covered again by zombies.

This treading water is actually problematic as we are all heading to level up in experience.
 We manage to shift to the center of the map as we make a bit of head way. Our stealthy guy breaks away, with the plan that he should open the buildings before we level to the top level (orange) and have an unstoppable mass of zombies inside each building.
 3 players are still totally pinned in the intersection, as the stealthy guy is cleaning out the first building. We are 2 turns from completing the game, and it doesn't look too bad for us. ....

And then we flub our rolls. Wanda needed to roll two 3+'s on 4 dice.....and didn't manage a single one. I believe there was 3 zero's rolled in fact. Pretty impressive stuff. This was after the player decided that abandoning Nick and Ned to their fate was the only way for Wanda to survive. If she had gotten her kills, she would have gotten the slipper advance which lets her move through zombie squares without the normal massive action penalty. Instead the 3 of us are ripped into zombie snacks.
Meanwhile Grace managed to stealthfully (and slipperly) grab the last objective marker.

WIN! (with 3/4 casualties)

Zombicide is a pretty fun and accessible game. It's also surprisingly challenging. We cheat a bit as we choose who goes first. In the absolute correct version of play, it should be a regular rotation around the table. This, in our minds, would make it far more challenging to eek out a win.

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