Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
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Eric's Review of Zombicide with Expansions from a Solitaire Player's Perspective


Introduction

Review of Zombicide played with all its expansions, once again I won't be repeating the rules verbatim, just giving you the highlights and my likes and dislike. I am not a huge zombie fan, I agree with many that its an over used genre that is rather repetitive. Cliches galore exist in this genre, I admit that seeing a teenager chainsawing a zombie the first time is exciting and gruesome, it gets old movie after movie, show after show, game after game. Does Zombicide breakout of the cliche mode? No, but it does manage to give you the TV Show experience in a boardgame so successfully that you can almost forgive the theme.

I didn't kickstart the original game and bought that aftermarket, but I did kickstart the sequel. Apart from my first game, I have since used all its expansions in a big mix and my review will be from that perspective.

Review

First thing to note is that I had no problems whatsoever with the rules, very straight forward and well written. I think one of the game's strength, as well as its weakness, is simplicity. It is very easy to learn and teach, all the actions during your turn and the zombie's turn makes perfect thematic sense and makes play fluid with minimal need to looks stuff up as you play. Making this game super approachable to everyone that likes cooperative games and certainly makes for a solid solitaire experience. But, the simplicity also means the rules had to simplified like no diagonals or hiding, which does take away some of the realism that could have been introduced, given that I think the compromise is fair and doesn't detract much from the game. I do wish there was a hardcore expert version that uses more wargamey miniature conventions. I think the minis and the beautiful mapboards are perfect for it. I guess there is nothing stopping me using miniature rules from another system like All Things Zombie.

Component quality is excellent, I think the game boards could easily be adapted for an 28mm miniature war game actually and the art work used has a nice consistent style throughout the expansions and looks great in my opinion. And if you use it for miniature games as well, it really a bargain when you think of it that way. The minis are amazing for a boardgame, nice plastic and lots of detail. Would be great for painting, but I am not going to as I have too much in my queue for painting at the moment and more importantly, I think the game is fine with the minis color coded the way they are. (The color code is necessary for gameplay). The only little problem I had was that a few of the boards warp a little after removal from the box, even in a relatively non-humid environment (30% humidity), nothing huge or game breaking, not all the boards warp and because I've mixed everything up I am not sure which expansion is warping as some of the tiles are fine, anyhow its worth noting. The cards are them small ones but does its job admirably since the game takes up a lot of table space as it is and full size cards would be way too big.

I can't write a review without addressing one of the major complaints about the system and that is range combat and the fact that you have to allocate damage to friendly characters before zombies if they share the same zone and you shoot into that zone. I personally had no problems with this during the game, it makes the importance of melee combat and range combat more balance and gives you a good reason to go toe to toe with the zombies. As a solitaire gamer, I am used to some abstraction for the sake of gameplay as long as the abstraction can be justified and I think this rule is fair-enough and makes the game a lot more tactical than without. A great thing about a sandbox game like this is, you can always house rule things you don't like.

Just came off finished playing Scenario 7 from the Prison Outbreak Expansion, this mission combines with the Toxic Mall expansion as well as the original zombicide & the zombie dog expansion. Soloed with 6 characters. It was a close affair, which some crucial moments as this mission requires all 6 survivors to exit for a win. One survivor died to become a zombivor (a survivor that dies can become a human controlled zombie in the addition rules of the expansions) so I am not sure if that counts for complete victory though.



General layout of the game, with character cards with their inventory, skill, experience marked.

Great solo game, I have played a lot of zombie games and this one captures the zombie hordes the best. You get out of one fix and then you are faced with something even worst. As the game proceeds the tension ratchets up as even more zombies are spawned after you level up.

There is a sense of achievement and elation as your survivors struggle to survive. Some say the game feels the same after a few games, I've found that the missions are different enough, especially with the expansion characters, rules, skills, monsters that things turn out a little different than you expect. Some say the game is unbalanced, not true, I think its finely balanced and the balance can be further fine tuned by upping the difficult by using less survivors.




Street of death, a row of zombies rushing down the street, a scary sight indeed, the green zombies are toxic and need to be dealt with at a distance and the brown zombies are armored and need to be dealt with in melee, the grey zombies are just regular zombies. Each color zombie is further differentiated into 3 types with different abilities. Not only are there individual differences, the combination of zombies in a zone really makes for different challenges depending what combo is present. There are also zombie dogs.

Setup is relatively quick but take down is quite long as you replace all the zombies back into the mini-specific bubble wrap for storage. That being said, the storage in the box is one of the best I've ever seen with a place for everything.

The play time for the game is variable depending on the scenarios, anything from 1-6 hours depending on which scenario you pick. Aside from the 35 or so scenarios included in all the gamesets, there are a ton of other scenarios online at the publisher's webpage. Some the rulebook's original scenarios have actually being updated and re-tuned so many of the original scenario problems have being since fixed and no longer apply.

Conclusion

Overall a very enjoyable game for the family that don't mind the theme, there really isn't anything overtly gory about the game visually but still probably not a good idea to play with the very young. As for solo, its very solitaire friendly. Easily a 7 out of 10. for its visual appeal and tactical and tense game play that manages to give you a sense of achievement. The game can be difficult and enjoys quite a bit of replayability. The lovely components can also be used in other games which is an added bonus. Points taken off for lack of strategic decisions, the scenarios are largely independent of each other (there is a campaign mission download though) and because of the chaotic nature of spawns it is difficult to plan anything detailed beyond a turn or two in advance. The theme isn't everybody's cup of tea either, but even for those that are only tolerant of the theme may find something surprising about this game. The game is on the pricey side though, especially with expansions and because the expansions add so much more depth and breadth to the game, I would find it hard to recommend just the base game alone, after having played it altogether. That being said, the base game is fine on its own, but if you like it, expect to fork out a pretty penny for the rest. Even though the miniature greatly contributed to the cost of the game, I think they are worth every cent and the game wouldn't half as good without them.

If you enjoyed this review, you can find my other solitaire reviews at my geeklist here: http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/71266/erics-solitaire-revi...
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Jay Kiley
United States
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As always, great review!
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Jon Kolman
United States
Sacramento
California
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Fantastic Review, Eric.

I just received my copy of Season 2, and am definitely looking forward to getting this game on the table.
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Keiron
United Kingdom
Sittingbourne
Kent
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Hi Eric, thanks for the review.

Would you be able to compare this to Gears of War: The Board Game?

I'm interested in getting Zombicide but am seeing some similarities between the two games that, theme excluded, would suggest if I had one I wouldn't need the other?

What are your thoughts?

Thanks!
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Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
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Belated replay Keiron, been busy moving house...

Both games are undeniably Ameritrash that's for sure and both fixes the same itch, on the whole I enjoyed the more story base, campaign nature of Gears of War: The Board Game a little more. Also in the afterglow of the review, if I had to pull out a game, I would pull out Gears of War first because of the relatively quicker setup time.

I would be keen to compare both to Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster which I haven't broken open yet.
 
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