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Subject: Why I like Zombicide and you might too rss

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Marcos Romero
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First off I think a review should be more about what I like and dislike about a game than how the game plays. If you want to find out about how the game plays, there are plenty of things you can read about that. I'm assuming you've probably already read them.

Things I dislike

Well, first off it's pricey. I got mine at a deal $55. Currently it's out of stock and selling for $100+. But even when you could easily buy it, it was $65+. While a cool game, it's still more expensive than most of the games I purchase. And forget it if you want to buy a version with all the expansions as they were going for $400+ and now who knows how much they will sell for.

The manual isn't updated, so everytime we play I have to pull up the new manual online. That may be changed if you're buying this after July 2013. As of now, it's darn inconvenient.

The length of the game can sometimes go very long. I've had four hour games when I was just ready for the game to end.

Now this isn't a complete dislike, but the game is very hard. If you don't play well together you will die. It's difficult to swallow playing for two hours, playing very well. A bad turn of cards, and you're all dead in 30 seconds.

I can't figure out a good way to play with the expansion characters. We use the backside of a normal character and some good $1 heroclix from Cool Stuff. I want to play Machete.... but.....

Normal alpha issues with co-op games. In this particular game my wife somehow has become the alpha. She yells at me when I don't do what she likes, it makes me sad

It's not much of a strategy game. I mean there's not a ton of strategy to the game, you just shoot stuff that moves(hopefully not your teammates). Sometimes I need something deeper, and sometimes it's just fun to shoot things too.

Hard to play with less than 5 players. Although the one scenario where you start with 1-3 and then find other survivors who join you is really fun, very hard to win but fun.(Might is right?)

Things I Like

Look, even when you die, you usually die spectacularly. Nothing like seeing a mob of 30+ zombies surrounding your pack of survivors. I have great pictures of us playing the game and being surrounded.


The nutty thing is that was me(Wanda), and I actually survived and escaped that mob of Zombies to win the scenario.

This is a great game to play with people who otherwise would not normally play a board game to save their life. It's fairly simple to play, as long as you have one person who knows the rules and can work the game for everyone. It's fun and tense and everyone feels a part of the game.

Even though I put it as a thing I disliked about the game, I actually like the difficulty of the game. The game is tough, it's hard to win. But that's part of the fun. We only win about 30% of the time, so when we do it's very rewarding. When we lose we talk about it for days, I wonder what would have happened if we kicked down those doors first?

I like the variability of the game, how the board pieces allow you to try different scenarios. Beyond the scenarios in the box, there are about 20 more of them on the guillotine games website. They are ranked by difficulty, ideal # of players and normal running time. All in all there are probably 30+ scenarios to play. I'm sure there are unofficial maps too, we just have never played them.

The tension is great. It's nerve wracking kicking down a door and not knowing what you're going to find behind it. You can see people really getting into it. I still haven't forgiven Larry for putting a bullet in the head of my daughter so he could escape out the side exit. Or the time my wife got mad because we didn't allow her to go to red before we escaped so she threw a molotav at our location and killed us right before she exited stage right.... on RED!

The chainsaw and the rifle. These are just an absolute blast. We love stepping into a square, with the chainsaw running, and knocking off a dozen zombies in one wild zombie killing fest. Sip a beer, throw back a shot, and hand the chainsaw off to your partner. It's also very fun to have a rifle with a scope and plenty of ammo so you can just pick off zombie after zombie turn after turn.

I like all the campy characters. I love El Cholo(machete), although my friends are tired of me saying in a mexican accent "El Cholo needs no stinkin' ranged weapons. Ranged weapons are for ......" You get the jist. It's just fun, and cheesy like any good Zombie movie, I mean game should be.

Overall Impressions

I like the game. I'd rate it a 7 I guess. I can't really rate it as an 8, because I have to be in the mood to play it. When I'm in the mood for something this light that takes this long, it's very fun and almost perfect. However I'm not always going to want to play, and sometimes when I am playing I'd much rather be playing something else. It is a fun game, I do enjoy playing it, but I don't always want to play it. What I really like is it allows me to have game nights with people I enjoy being with, that just aren't going to join me in a game of Power Grid or Eclipse. My favorite games of Zombicide are with new players who haven't played board games before, it's just watching their eyes light up when they are playing something more difficult than Monopoly.

I normally don't like games with a lot of luck. The luck in this game doesn't really bother me at all. It feels natural and like it works. I think the difficulty level is just about right. Because I don't win often enough it makes me want to play more often.

If you like Zombies, if you don't mind a little luck, if you ever want to play a game with someone else who isn't normally a gamer but might like Zombies, you really can't go wrong. It's not going to be a game that you're going to play every Saturday night, but I feel like you can get years of play out of bringing this game out once a month or so.

Enjoy!

Marcos
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Brent Lloyd
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The game really plays like a puzzle.

The zombies move it perfectly predictable patterns and you need to use your resources to best accomplish the objectives. You can even plan for the double activations. Those plans usually fall apart because someone rolled really bad, there is a triple activation or someone got caught pulling a high risk move.

I love the fast simple play of the game.

Peace
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Marcos Romero
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You know that's a really good portrayal of the game. If you play well, it is like a puzzle. It's not the "deepest" of games, but it is quite satisfying when you win.
 
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Brian M
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The gameplay isn't bad, but I have a hard time getting past how our conversations while playing tend to be a lot less "Quick! See if you can kill those zombies! Ahh, I need to run!" and more "Ok, we need to keep those kill tracks in balance better, so you move away instead of shooting, but be sure not to create a symmetric path."
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Kevin Outlaw
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I need to write a review at some point, but I just don't have the strength right now.

I have very mixed feelings about the game. When it is all packed up, I spend a lot of time thinking about wanting to play it. I get quite excited setting the game up, and that buzz lasts for about a dozen turns. Then the game starts to lose its appeal. Moving and spawning all the zombies is a chore, and I dislike the levelling mechanic because it makes you do dumb stuff (like opening every building as soon as possible, or NOT shooting zombies because you have already killed more than everyone else).

However, once the game is packed up, I immediately start thinking about playing it again. I guess, I don't think it's a bad game, but I want to like it more than I do...

Good review, by the way.
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Thibaud Dejardin
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
and I dislike the levelling mechanic because it makes you do dumb stuff (like opening every building as soon as possible, or NOT shooting zombies because you have already killed more than everyone else).

I can understand your feeling, because this feels unthematic, like the "trargetting rule". On the other hand, i think the elements you point are precisely what makes zombicide a lot more strategic it would have been otherwise, Especially if you play with only 4 survivors. Because you have to split teams, and use the sound mechanic to attract zombies here or there, avoiding unecessery fights, hiding, using the line of sight rules in the buildings, and make tough decisions about opening doors and collecting objectives timing.
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Kevin Outlaw
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Archange227 wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
and I dislike the levelling mechanic because it makes you do dumb stuff (like opening every building as soon as possible, or NOT shooting zombies because you have already killed more than everyone else).

I can understand your feeling, because this feels unthematic, like the "trargetting rule". On the other hand, i think the elements you point are precisely what makes zombicide a lot more strategic it would have been otherwise, Especially if you play with only 4 survivors. Because you have to split teams, and use the sound mechanic to attract zombies here or there, avoiding unecessery fights, hiding, using the line of sight rules in the buildings, and make tough decisions about opening doors and collecting objectives timing.


I know why those design choices were made, and you have to appreciate they made the effort to do something more than "run and gun." But for me, it doesn't add any strategy. There is no tough choice with opening a door - just open it as soon as possible. If you are opening doors once you get past blue level, then you are in a world of hurt. There is no strategy to killing zeds - you just kill them until you are 1 point shy of levelling up, and then you wait for everyone else to do the same.

Every game seems to play out with someone running around like a loon opening doors (the two characters with large movement will do this), while everyone else searches until they have some half-decent kit. Then you grab all the VPs. And the whole time you play you are doing this ridiculous, "I kill one, you kill one" system. It feels forced, and (for me) just isn't fun. Why am I standing in the street passing my gun to the next player? Why aren't I just shooting?

The noise mechanic works really well. It is really fun (and thematic) to hide in the bathroom and watch the zombies shamble by because someone out in the street is getting their gun off. But other mechanics don't work for me at all. Levelling up is the worst mechanic, as in all of our games we felt like we were being penalised for going up a level. There was never a sense of "Yes! Now we can go kick some zombie butt." Levelling up shouldn't elicit groans.

For example, in one game, my friend made a Molotov, and lobbed it at an abomination surrounded by other zeds. Big explosion, massive death. Should have been a great moment, but he killed so many zeds that he went into the next level, and the following spawn turn created so many zombies we ended up being monstrously killed several turns later. Now, you could argue and say, "Well he shouldn't have used the Molotov." But if that's the case, why bother going to the effort to make it? I don't want to be actively encouraged NOT to kill zeds (that is not the game the box art promised).

Linking spawns to levels is the big issue. I think spawning should be based on something else... noise, maybe. For example, when you get to the spawn phase, you count up all the noise tokens on the board, and the total number of tokens determines the spawn level. Then you keep a note of the noise level, and in the next spawn phase, you add the total noise tokens to the previous total, so you gradually accrue noise until the point where it triggers a more powerful spawn (because the zombies have heard you).

I don't know... The game is a big, beautiful melting pot of ideas. I am glad I own it, and I intend to keep it; but it is never as much fun as I want it to be when I play. Put it this way, it is the only game I house rule, and I think I intend to make a lot more house rules just so I can keep playing it.

Sorry. Long post. I'll shut up...
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Thibaud Dejardin
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
There is no strategy to killing zeds - you just kill them until you are 1 point shy of levelling up, and then you wait for everyone else to do the same.

Maybe we don't have the same experience there.
I often attract zeds during the blue level with sound and/or line of sight, and kill them only when necessary.

And of course i try hard that no one reaches yellow before the others, that forces the team to use even the weakest survivors, and i think it's a good balance mechanism, because if it wasn't there, the strongest survivors would do all the job with best equipement, and the weakest would simply follow, doing nothing. With the actual rules, the weakest survivors will be really valuable to collect objectives or kill zombies when others are on the edge of levelling. You will have to give them good weapons to do their part of the job, too, so it actually adds player interactions.

And i think that the initial planing about opening doors is an interesting part of the game, and i often found that opening doors on blue was not always possible or even the best idea around. Sure, you won't have extra activation, but on an unequipped team, sewer attacks will kill you as well as an extra activation.
Plus if you're well equipped, dealing with a building full of yellow spawn is not that hard.

Quote:
It feels forced, and (for me) just isn't fun. Why am I standing in the street passing my gun to the next player? Why aren't I just shooting?

I understand it is unthematic. But it is more strategic.
I think it's a matter of taste here. I don't care if the game is a little less thematic, as long as those "theme deviations" add to the strategic deepness. I think it is what those points do.

Quote:
Levelling up is the worst mechanic, as in all of our games we felt like we were being penalised for going up a level. There was never a sense of "Yes! Now we can go kick some zombie butt." Levelling up shouldn't elicit groans.

You're right, i often feel the same frustration. However, if other systems would have worked better (for example, an independent "threat level"), it would have been more complicated to implement, play, and keep track of. I really like Zombicide fluidity, even if it has a cost.

For this particular point, things will change with season two and all those "ultrared weapons". I tried some with custom deck, and it really adds something, as reaching red with those kick-ass weapons offer you that feeling you're seeking. On the other hand, it offers more great important choices about stuff management.

Quote:
Now, you could argue and say, "Well he shouldn't have used the Molotov." But if that's the case, why bother going to the effort to make it? I don't want to be actively encouraged NOT to kill zeds (that is not the game the box art promised).

I would argue: use that molotov wisely, because it will attract tons of zombies! (and this is actually quite thematic, for once). I had epic moments when i threw molotov to open a path to the exit, while surrounded with zeds.
But my first mototoves did the same than yours: they killed me!

Quote:
I don't know... The game is a big, beautiful melting pot of ideas. I am glad I own it, and I intend to keep it; but it is never as much fun as I want it to be when I play. Put it this way, it is the only game I house rule, and I think I intend to make a lot more house rules just so I can keep playing it.

I really think it's a matter of taste. It really does fit my taste, but i fully understand how it can not fit someone's else. Some will enjoy a more strategic game, others will prefer a more thematic experience. No game is perfect, of course. I think there are chances you will be more satisfied with season 2, as it offers a lot of ways to customize your experience to your taste (ultrared mode will offer you a kick-ass feeling, have you tried it?)

Quote:
Sorry. Long post. I'll shut up...

No problem at all, your ideas are well explained, and have a lot of sense, even if i don't agree with everything
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Kevin Outlaw
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Yeah, the game obviously works for you. But it looks like what makes the game click with your group, puts us off.

If there are weak characters, then that should be factored into the strategy - how do we protect those people, so they stay alive long enough to use their special abilities?

The levelling mechanic is not only unthematic, it forces homogeneity. I never feel like I can specialise. I have to make sure I am able to kill zeds, but I also have to make sure everyone else is just as capable of killing zeds.

The Molotov situation I described was particularly bad. The character would have died if he didn't use the Molotov, and he was most likely to get a VP token we needed. He used the Molotov, and we died a few turns later because of massive spawns. We were punished for doing the right thing. Since then, we have never even bothered trying to make molotovs.

I still don't see door opening as a strategy. You just open as many as you can, when you can. Then you open a door, the VP token is right there, but you walk away from it because you don't want to level up. Horrible.

I don't actually know how many times we have played. Not a huge amount. But every one of our wins when it has been a VP token dash has been achieved in the same way. Open doors, search for stuff, spread out to collect VPs, use the slippy character to grab the VP in the worst area.

I was so disappointed with this game, I never even bothered looking at season 2, so I have no idea what that has to offer, and I sure as hell ain't going to spend the money to find out.

I think I have to stop talking about this game now. The more I talk about it, the less in love I am with it... It is still the best zombie game I have played, and until the arrival of Dark Darker Darkest it is the only zombie game I own besides Incursion. However, it is also, by far, the worse co-op game I own. I love co-op games.

I like what they tried to do by making it more strategic, but I think the strategy is forced into the game through clunky mechanisms, and doesn't create many interesting choices anyway. I would have like a thematic game. I would have liked a really strategic game. For me, in Zombicide they removed theme by adding strategy, but didn't add enough strategy. Sum total for me is a game that isn't thematic, and isn't very strategic either.

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Rick Deckard
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Thanks for posting this. I'm looking for something to replace Zombies!!! with my game group. I'm still on the fence here....

I like the idea that it might attract some non-gamers to the table. Right now my group is hooked on LOTR: LCG and I have noticed that the group has more fun in general when it is a co-op game.

Anyway... I'm still on the fence here... I'll have to let this one marinate.
 
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Simon Barnes
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I'm also on the fence. For the cost in the UK (£50) I expect a thematic game that doesn't have these wtf moments like turning your back on a VP token or refusing to kill a zombie because it will make you better at killing zombies.
 
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Hss Hss
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Darn it. This sounded like a fun co-op game, but linking spawning to level-up is, well I always always hate that.
 
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