Over the past few months I have had a rollercoaster relationship with this game. Initial excitement led to disappointment following harsh losses. Elation followed when I finally won, only to turn into disillusionment with the perceived randomness of the game. It stayed that way for a while, with me joining the players who had given up, annoyed with the game's brutality and lack of strategic options, trying to house rule the game to make it playable.
I still read new reviews, and was intrigued when some new players came along with glowing reports about frequent wins, and discussing ways to make the game harder(!!) - throughtheages56 and davidinsydney2. This inspired me to try again, and I lost, as I knew I would.
When I discussed this with them they convinced me to give it another try, with me posting my moves and them helping with advice and suggestions. And lo and behold, I won. And then I won again. Then I lost. Then I won again. If you are interested in the discussion, and the game, you can find it in throughtheages52's Advanced Gameplay Review in the review section:
So it was playable and winnable after all! So I'm happy again!
On reflection I realised what I had been doing wrong in the past that made the game impossible for me to win, and I thought I would share my thoughts to help others in the same boat as me.
I was thinking about the game all wrong. I was playing it like Zombies!!! or Zombicide - slowly advance, adding a few more weapons as you go, running from enemies all the time. But the game is a card game, and to win you have to level up your survivor. Basically it is a deckbuilder - your survivor is your initial deck, and you need to use the cards you are dealt to gain the currency you need to buy better cards and improve your deck.
Your initial survivor is weak and will die, so you need to gain skills and equipment to help them live. You do this by treating the hands you are dealt as an engine for generating the experience points (XP) you need to add the skills and better weapons cards to your survivor. Cards have two uses - the object/item/skill itself, and the attack/follow icons. You should concentrate on using the icons to attack and move, killing zombies and gaining XP. Only certain cards when they appear should be should be sought out, to level up your survivor, such as slayer, no remorse, hero, scoped rifle, machete, rifle, backpack, and beast. Obviously that idea is flexible depending on your situation - for example, if you are wounded concentrate on readying healing cards. But generally, most action cards should be seen as part of the engine that generates XP. Zombies should not be run away from, but should be sought out so that you can kill them for XP. With multiple survivors, allow the killing blow to be done by the person who needs the XP most.
Once you have gained some decent skills/items/weapons and are happy to cycle through your cards at speed to kill zombies, generating XP happens easily, leading to more improvements, and easier kills. It is often better to retreat to kill a spawned zombie than to run into the next location. Readying lots of weapons is great - provided you see them not as combat options but as potential final attacks. Think of weapons as XP generators. Spending 2 XP to ready a weapon that you then use as a final attack can easily net you the 2 XP back, and possibly more.
Obviously you need also to escape, so building your survivor up needs to be balanced with moving to new locations. Some locations can be ignored as lethal death traps, but 5 or 6 are reasonably safe. But don't play location cards unless you are fully tooled up and ready to face the unknown. It is better to spend 3 or 4 turns waiting, picking off spawners and gaining XP, cycling hands to find the useful cards, than to move in and risk it. Even powerful spawners behind you are preferable targets - they give lots of XP.
Also, remember that as in most deckbuilders, cycling through the action cards as quickly as possible will mean you run through and reshuffle the deck. So cards like the Molotov cocktail, Ambush, or the Propane tank will turn up again after you use them. This is why six packs and energy drinks are useful - they cycle through the deck quickly.
There are also certain combos that will aid you if they become available - scoped rifle with slayer can kill anything at a distance; machete and slayer can do the same in melee; propane tank plus bonuses to hit can wipe out an infestation; ambush after a six pack can give you 10 rolls on the damage chart.
The skill in the game, then, is how you should use the hand of cards you have been dealt in a given turn to increase your survivor's equipment and skills, in the context of the zombies and locations you are facing, with the timer ticking down...
So that is my basic advice. Treat the game as a kind of deckbuilder. Cycle through the cards rapidly, using the card icons to kill spawners, gain XP and level up. The better your survivor, the more you cycle, the faster you kill things, the stronger you get, the more options you have.
Of course, it also helps if you know the rules - unlike me. When I first started I was confused by the rules and got many wrong, which didn't help. I think the rulebook isn't very clear at times, and many rules are covered in the keywords list at the back. Here are the ones that I was confused about or missed, which would have helped enormously when starting out:
- final attacks do not use a free attack or attack icon
- final attack damage can be distributed over all zombies in range
- one use weapons are final attacks
- head shot and haymaker can be added to final attacks
- you can retreat from a blocker
- you gain experience for a companion's kills
- you can un-ready readied weapons to use their attack icons
- you can trade weapons in the middle of combat (but only use them once)
- skill cards can stack (so 2 slayers gives +2 attack roll)
- crawlers are discarded if there are no survivors in their location AT ANY TIME. So they will die if the spawn behind you.
Good luck and good hunting!
- Last edited Fri Aug 5, 2016 10:30 am (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 10:41 pm