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Subject: First 3 plays: I'm not enjoying Zombicide yet rss

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Nate
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I have always been wary of cooperative board games. Not because I don't like cooperation, but because I thought it unlikely that a game in which I'm not playing against a human opponent can present interesting decisions and strategy.

However, there are a lot of popular cooperative games out there and I thought if so many others enjoy them, I might, too. So when Zombicide went on sale for 50$ on Amazon, I decided to give it a shot.

Unfortunately, after playing several scenarios with four people, I found that Zombicide suffers from the exact problems that have caused me to overlook cooperative games.

I am not a gamer who has a problem with dice or luck. I like a little bit luck in my games, so this aspect is not a problem for me. I don't have much trouble overlooking some of the wonky rules, either. It's a board game and I understand sometimes rules are made that don't make much thematic sense, but are necessary for good gameplay.

The problem for me is that Zombicide does not offer any interesting decision making or strategy. After our first play, we found that the clear way to win is to search as much as possible early on and then move all the survivors together on the same space. The best course of action always felt transparent during our subsequent plays. The game boils down to, move your blob of survivors from A to B while rolling a bunch of dice. It turns into a tedious exercise.

Another downfall is the lack of tension. We finished most of our games without a survivor taking a single wound. The only time our success felt uncertain is in the early game when your survivors are weaker and don't have very good gear. As a result, there is no impending danger as the game progresses. This is the opposite of what creates an exciting experience. Yeah, there a lot of zombies on the board at the end, but your survivors turn into zombie killing machines that can mow down anything that gets within in a few spaces. Save your bottles and gas for the Abomination (which is exactly the same as a regular zombie except you need an item to kill it) and there is no threat of danger. Heck, even if you don't have a Molotov, you can just run away from it most of the time.

Can the game be made harder? Yeah, you can add extra zombies or house-rule a few things like we did (we played no searching in the start area). But this doesn't change the fact that the process with the best chance of winning is the same, obvious one. In a sense, you're not making it harder, just more unfair.

The designers should have implemented some sort of penalty or situation that requires you to split up. Give the players some problems other than just throwing more zombies at them. I also think it may have been more effective if the threat level increased based on a round timer, rather than just the character's kill counter. This would help the lack of tension and urgency in the game. As it is, you can just sit in a room and search or goof off until you find the stuff you need while zombies slowly trickle out.

With some modifications and rule adjustments you might have the materials you need to make a good zombie game out of Zombicide. But a part of what you pay for when you buy a game is the set of rules. I expect that when I buy a game, I get something fun as is out of the box. As it is, Zombicide is not.
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Mark O'Reilly
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Nate,I agree entirely.
One play was enough for me to sell it.
My group felt the rules were so wonky we got sea sick.
I know hordes of people love this game to bits, and that is great.
Just not my cup of tea either. Great minis though.
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Scott Hill
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Out of interest, which scenarios did you try?

All but one or two of the scenarios in the rule book are quite straight forward, the downloadable scenarios look to be much better (I've not played many of them yet, though).

Also, the new expansions (Prison Outbreak and Toxic City Mall) add new options to the game, which, in my opinion, will make better scenarios much more common.

But, the bottom line is that, Zombicide is a 'sandbox game' - there is a certain minimum level of effort you have to put in in order to get the most out (even if that is only spending the time to look through the many available scenarios to find those that meet your needs).
 
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Peter Cooper
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Thanks for your review. I am surprised you managed easily with only 4 survivors. Sorry you didn't like the game.
 
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Scott Hill
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Also, don't judge all co-operative games based on your experience of Zombicide.

Two other great co-ops are Pandemic and Flash Point: Fire Rescue - both of which are nothing like Zombicide (but are similar to each other (though different enough that I'd recommend both to any one looking to get two co-ops)) and give you game play that involves many meaningful decisions right out of the box, without you having to put any further effort in to them.
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Mark O'Reilly
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Scorpion0x17 wrote:
Also, don't judge all co-operative games based on your experience of Zombicide.

Two other great co-ops are Pandemic and Flash Point: Fire Rescue - both of which are nothing like Zombicide (but are similar to each other (though different enough that I'd recommend both to any one looking to get two co-ops)) and give you game play that involves many meaningful decisions right out of the box, without you having to put any further effort in to them.


Agree entirely, own both games.
pandemic is the best co-op I have personally played.
Another close one is Ghost stories.
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Markus
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
gibolas wrote:
We finished most of our games without a survivor taking a single wound.


Wow, I've always found Zombicide to be a really tough game. Then again we usually split up our team a lot. I'll have to give "blobbing" a try. Too bad you didn't like the game though, I found it quite fun!
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Korwyn D'Ambre
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Thanks for this good review.

I don't play Zombicide but i play some other cooperative games like Pandemic, Witch of Salem and Arkham Horror.

What i like the most in those is that games are very different from one another.

Not only depending on the number of players but also on the roles you've got at your disposal, the initial situation or the events you have to face.

I also appreciate the tension that comes with those games.

If Zombicide lacks those two elements, i now know i can put it aside and go for other cooperative game more to my taste.
 
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Rick S
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Sorry you did not like the game!

The first few times we played, we found the game to be easy. As we played more and became familiar with the rules the game got a lot harder.

The biggest game changer was finding out that each survivor can only search once each players phase.

Zombicide does have a bit of a learning curve. There are a lot of small mistakes that would make the game a lot easier.

Toxic city mall and prison outbreak expansions bring a lot of strategic components to the table. Also the basic strategy you have come up with will not work on a lot of the free scenarios from the guillotine games website.
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Nate
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Scorpion0x17 wrote:
Out of interest, which scenarios did you try?

All but one or two of the scenarios in the rule book are quite straight forward, the downloadable scenarios look to be much better (I've not played many of them yet, though).

Also, the new expansions (Prison Outbreak and Toxic City Mall) add new options to the game, which, in my opinion, will make better scenarios much more common.

But, the bottom line is that, Zombicide is a 'sandbox game' - there is a certain minimum level of effort you have to put in in order to get the most out (even if that is only spending the time to look through the many available scenarios to find those that meet your needs).


We played 1, 6, and 8. I haven't checked out any scenarios outside the book.

I'm hesitant to buy more hoping the problems I have with the game are addressed.
 
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Nate
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
DeePee wrote:
gibolas wrote:
We finished most of our games without a survivor taking a single wound.


Wow, I've always found Zombicide to be a really tough game. Then again we usually split up our team a lot. I'll have to give "blobbing" a try. Too bad you didn't like the game though, I found it quite fun!


On our first try of scenario 1 we tried splitting up and exploiting the noise mechanic. It didn't work out for us, so on the next try we stuck together and breezed through the scenario. The noise mechanic doesn't seem useful because by splitting up you are weakening your group and forcing yourself to forgo actions that create noise, like opening a door or firing a gun/chainsaw in order to not attract zombies.
 
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Scott Hill
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
gibolas wrote:
We played 1, 6, and 8.

Wait there, you played City Blocks (scenario 1) with 4 players, and found it "easy"?!
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Nate
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
bigblock75 wrote:
Sorry you did not like the game!

The first few times we played, we found the game to be easy. As we played more and became familiar with the rules the game got a lot harder.

The biggest game changer was finding out that each survivor can only search once each players phase.

Zombicide does have a bit of a learning curve. There are a lot of small mistakes that would make the game a lot easier.

Toxic city mall and prison outbreak expansions bring a lot of strategic components to the table. Also the basic strategy you have come up with will not work on a lot of the free scenarios from the guillotine games website.


As far as I know we played correctly. We only searched once per player per phase and didn't fire ranged weapons into spaces with other survivors, unless it was a rifle+scope. We used the correct targeting rules for zombies as well. I think those are the most common errors people were making that I read about before playing.
 
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Nate
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Scorpion0x17 wrote:
gibolas wrote:
We played 1, 6, and 8.

Wait there, you played City Blocks (scenario 1) with 4 players, and found it "easy"?!


We beat it on our second attempt because the first attempt was our first game after the tutorial. No wounded or lost survivors. We were in the orange when we made it to the exit and had 2 abominations show up.
 
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Julien Le Jeune
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
You've successfully finished scenario 1, with 4 people, on your second try?!

Damn, it took me 6 months and more tries than I could count :/ you're sure you got those rules right?
 
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Scott Hill
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
I too suspect you were getting something wrong.

City Blocks is hard with 6 players, let alone 4.
 
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Nate
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Shoogoo wrote:
You've successfully finished scenario 1, with 4 people, on your second try?!

Damn, it took me 6 months and more tries than I could count :/ you're sure you got those rules right?


I'm pretty sure we got them right.

For characters we had: Amy, Wanda, Doug, and Josh. We started by moving down to the bottom right and then around the board counter-clockwise. We ended almost every turn in the same square. We searched once per survivor almost every turn and kept out of the street as much as possible so we could do so. The only part I felt we were at risk was clearing out that first building. By the time we got half-way up our score cards, we had gone through the item deck once and had chainsaws, sawed offs, and sniper rifles. At that point there's really nothing to stop you.
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Scott Hill
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
gibolas wrote:
Shoogoo wrote:
You've successfully finished scenario 1, with 4 people, on your second try?!

Damn, it took me 6 months and more tries than I could count :/ you're sure you got those rules right?


I'm pretty sure we got them right.

For characters we had: Amy, Wanda, Doug, and Josh. We started by moving down to the bottom right and then around the board counter-clockwise. We ended almost every turn in the same square. We searched once per survivor almost every turn and kept out of the street as much as possible so we could do so. The only part I felt we were at risk was clearing out that first building. By the time we got half-way up our score cards, we had gone through the item deck once and had chainsaws, sawed offs, and sniper rifles. At that point there's really nothing to stop you.


Did you spawn zombies at all 4 spawn points (drawing one zombie card per spawn point) every turn?

Were you correctly spawning zombies according the danger level as indicated by the survivor with the highest experience?

Were you making sure you placed noise counters when you needed to?

Were you moving zombies correctly, particularly with regard to splitting, moving towards the noisiest zone (unless a survivor is in sight), and runners getting two activations per turn?

Did you ever run out of zombies minis of any type, and did you reactivate all zombies of that type when you need to place them but didn't have them?

Did you spawn on manholes when drawing manhole spawn cards?

Were you reactivating zombies when the extra activation cards were drawn?

Were you taking a wound and discarding an item when getting bitten by zombies?

Were you limiting the number of items a survivor could carry to 5?

Were you only using the two items in the 'equipped' slots of each survivor, and spending an action to rearrange items (unless as part of a trade)?

Were you only picking one of the available skills when reach Orange, or Red?

(I'm sure you probably were on this one, but just in case...) were you reading the weapon stats correctly?
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Nate
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Scorpion0x17 wrote:
gibolas wrote:
Shoogoo wrote:
You've successfully finished scenario 1, with 4 people, on your second try?!

Damn, it took me 6 months and more tries than I could count :/ you're sure you got those rules right?


I'm pretty sure we got them right.

For characters we had: Amy, Wanda, Doug, and Josh. We started by moving down to the bottom right and then around the board counter-clockwise. We ended almost every turn in the same square. We searched once per survivor almost every turn and kept out of the street as much as possible so we could do so. The only part I felt we were at risk was clearing out that first building. By the time we got half-way up our score cards, we had gone through the item deck once and had chainsaws, sawed offs, and sniper rifles. At that point there's really nothing to stop you.


Did you spawn zombies at all 4 spawn points (drawing one zombie card per spawn point) every turn?

Were you correctly spawning zombies according the danger level as indicated by the survivor with the highest experience?

Were you making sure you placed noise counters when you needed to?

Were you moving zombies correctly, particularly with regard to splitting, moving towards the noisiest zone (unless a survivor is in sight), and runners getting two activations per turn?

Did you ever run out of zombies minis of any type, and did you reactivate all zombies of that type when you need to place them but didn't have them?

Did you spawn on manholes when drawing manhole spawn cards?

Were you reactivating zombies when the extra activation cards were drawn?

Were you taking a wound and discarding an item when getting bitten by zombies?

Were you limiting the number of items a survivor could carry to 5?

Were you only using the two items in the 'equipped' slots of each survivor, and spending an action to rearrange items (unless as part of a trade)?

Were you only picking one of the available skills when reach Orange, or Red?

(I'm sure you probably were on this one, but just in case...) were you reading the weapon stats correctly?


Yeah, we got all of those. Noise was never an issue because all the survivors were always together so we stopped placing counters. We never ran out of minis because we kept killing off the zombies. We also never had a survivor wounded. As for extra activation cards, we made sure to keep our distance from runners if that card hadn't already come up. Sniper rifles make that pretty easy.

Hard or not, I think the method for playing through it would be the same.
 
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Jeffrey Nolin
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Were you playing in strict player order?
For sawed-offs, were you reloading?
 
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Scott Hill
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
gibolas wrote:

Yeah, we got all of those. Noise was never an issue because all the survivors were always together so we stopped placing counters. We never ran out of minis because we kept killing off the zombies. We also never had a survivor wounded.


I find that very hard to believe.

The standard weapons will kill, on average, including the most common combinations of skill bonuses, but ignoring Sawed Off reloads, just under 1.8 zombies per action.

But the standard zombie cards spawn, on average, across all danger levels, 3 Zombies per card.

So, in a scenario with 4 spawn points, that's an average of 12 zombies spawning per turn.

Meaning the survivors have to kill an average of 6.666 between them every turn.

That is very hard to do with 4 survivors.
 
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Scott Hill
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Even in Blue, you're looking at 1 zombie per spawn card, on average, so 4 per turn on a map like City Blocks.

And, without any skill bonuses (but still ignoring Sawed Off reloads), you're looking at 0.833 kills per action.

So 4 survivors would have to spend, on average, nearly 5 of their 12 available actions killing, every turn.

And that's if they have average weapons - which they wouldn't in blue, unless you got very lucky with searches.

If we look at just the starting weapons (Pans, Fire Axe, Crowbar, Pistol) you're looking at 0.417 kills per action.

Meaning that have to spend, on average, just over 9 of their 12 actions killing.

The math is simply not in the Survivors favour.
 
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Scott Hill
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
You were actually rolling dice, only killing one zombie for each success, and not killing Fatties without a 2 damage weapon, weren't you?!

Oh, and not killing two walkers/runner for each success with a two damage weapon?

(sorry, but my mind boggles at the idea that you found 4 player City Blocks easy!)
 
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
The skeptic in me finds the "facts" in this "review" rather dubious.whistle
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Brad Zepecki
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Re: Review: I do not like Zombicide
Scott, I applaude your persistence and knowledge of the game. I'm very interested in how this plays out as I recently bought the game but have yet to get it to the table.
 
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