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Subject: Difficulty balance across player counts? rss

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Adam Vajcovec
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Alright, I've got a zombie in my sights, and I'm really close to pulling the trigger on this one. I still have one question though. I've read the rules that are available and watched the videos, and I'm starting to get a Sentinels of the Multiverse vibe concerning difficulty.

Basically, in almost all coops I've played or read about, one player takes a turn, then the game takes a turn. This is how Ghost Stories, Defenders of the Realm, Pandemic, Forbidden Island and Flash Point: Fire Rescue all work. The D&D Adventure System games are similar in that monsters or encounters will likely activate each turn. Arkham Horror takes a different approach by changing the spawn rates, monster limits, outskirt limits and gate limit.

So my question is, how does Zombicide handle this? From what I've seen and read, all the players have a turn, then the game has a turn. This means that more players will have an easier time, right? The only part of the system that seems to mitigate this is the fact that the threat increases according to the highest player level. Wouldn't 6 players who are careful to distribute XP evenly have an easier game than 4 players doing the same? I'm not seeing anything there to balance this, and from what I've read this was a major balance issue when Sentinels of the Multiverse was released.

So, am I missing something? I really enjoy playing solo, and the video recommends playing 4 characters when playing alone. I'll be honest, that is just about the strict upper limit of how many I enjoy playing. I'm much happier playing 2 or 3 characters when I solo a game. What does everyone think? Will I have to play 4 or more to have a balanced game? Will I need to houserule it? Will 6 player games be a breeze compared to 3 or 4 players? Am I way off base being concerned about this?

Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks!

Edit: I understand, of course, that almost no one has played the game yet, so answers will be speculative. I just wanted to know what people think.
 
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Jeff Dunford
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Due to the way zombies react to who they can see and/or hear (noise counters), it is necessary that all players take their turns before the zombies move. Otherwise, a group of surrounded zombies might be stuck going in circles, for example.

I haven't seen all the rules, and I don't know the answer. However, I can tell you "what they didn't do" from what I do know. There are images of rule book pages showing scenarios that include images of the tile set-up and where to place the zombie spawning markers. They do not seem to depend on number of players (like "place this spawning zone if 4+ with 4+ players," etc). Also, the zombie spawning cards do not mention number of players (like "only include this card with 3+ players" or "spawn 2X zombies, where X = number of survivors etc).

As you mentioned, the video suggests playing four survivors in a solo game, as does the designer note on BGG. This suggests that you would control two survivors each in a two-player game, and 1 each in a four-player game. Does that mean that three players are handicapped by only having three survivors in play, while five or six player games have extra an extra survivor or two to deal with the zombie horde? I don't know, and I'm curious if/how they dealt with balancing the difficulty with various numbers of players... and if there is a range of difficulty levels available for a given sized group (e.g. Easy, Medium, Difficult, Legendary).
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Adam Vajcovec
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*BLAM*

Zombie down, I'm in for $100. Thanks Jeff, that's pretty much what I was thinking. We'll have to wait and see if they did anything that hasn't been revealed yet to account for different player numbers, but I doubt it.

However, it seems like the system is flexible enough that I'll be able to enjoy the game one way or another. With an action point system, it's easy enough to add actions for fewer characters until I find a sweet spot I like. I imagine there will be plenty of other ways to tweak it once I see the whole game.
 
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Maddock Krug
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Hi.

AS I understand it anytime/ often a player character searches a place or does certain things, there will be zombie-spawns. So the number of "targets" rises with the number of player characters involved in a scenario. So no, I don't think there is an advantage in players playing in huge numbers.

But .... Even CNoM/ Guillotine Games warns people: You may play with more then the suggest 6 characters on board, but then you may face balancing issues. I think this could be the case since the number of search action ration drops ... But this is nothing more then wild guesses ...

All the best!
Mad
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Adam Vajcovec
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MaddockKrug wrote:
AS I understand it anytime/ often a player character searches a place or does certain things, there will be zombie-spawns.

Thanks, that is a good point. I had forgotten that there is a chance for spawns when searching.
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Robin Eriksson
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BaseTwelve wrote:
So my question is, how does Zombicide handle this?



If you find the game to be to easy (or hard?), you could easily add a multiplier to the spawn cards depending on the number of players. If the game is suggested for 4 players and you want to play with 6 survivors, just multiply each spawn card with 1.5. Or you could draw an extra spawn card each turn.

I know that once i get all the stuff (base game with extra zombies and all survivors) I will set up a mega-scenario using all 13 survivors.
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Louis Perrochon
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We played with 4 and 5 players, and with 5, those 25% extra capabilities make a big difference. If you have a Tough survivor and walk mostly in a group, mistakes and surprises (extra turns for zombies) are a lot less costly

Has anybody tried to add spawning points? We played the Y last night with 5, and it was a walk in the park. One player with a chain saw did a few extra detours for extra fun.
 
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Bob Barker
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There is no scaling built into the game at all.

More characters makes the game much easier. You can spread out the xp so you don't level quickly, plus you get an extra 3-4 actions per player. So basically, ignore the suggested character per player count and play with at least 5 chars for the first few games, or 6 if you keep getting hosed.

Some people suggested a total action count for the survivors turn, then it wouldn't matter as much the number of characters.

Personally, I think it would be best if the zombie spawns scaled some how, but I haven't seen any suggestions for that.
 
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Jeff Smith
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I have begun trying to scale the game by adjusting the number of activations each player gets at the beginning of the game (blue level).

I figured that six survivors have a total of 18 normal (not extra or bonus) activations at the start of the game. So I took 18 and divided by the number of players (4 or 5) and rounded up to compensate for the fact that with 4 or 5 survivors you have fewers wounds available and also advacnce in difficulty quicker than six survivors. So four survivors would get 5 starting activations each, and five survivors would get 4 starting activations each. I also added a rule that a survivor may only use 3 normal activations for movement (including cars), and maintained the one search per turn rule.

 
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