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Subject: Total Lack of Balance rss

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Tofof
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Like many of us, I purchased the game partially out of excitement for the wonderfully sculpted minis. As it turns out, apparently that's really all I've purchased.

To put it simply: everything is unbalanced - characters, scenarios, even the zombie and equipment decks.

To flesh out some immediate details:
The characters? Despite the different abilities, they play very similarly, and some characters are quite simply better than others. Thematic conflicts, like the necessity of playing 'pass the chainsaw' or the fact that a 'sniper' should NEVER use the sniper rifle (scope+rifle) are grating.

The configurable city streets? There are only 7 designs total, and really only 3 types of tiles - a 4-5 tile set and two pairs. Designs that would have been possible to at least trivially differentiate aren't, because every detail down to manhole placement is identical.

The cards? Tiny. The equipment cards slide around making xp-tracking awkward. The zombie cards are no larger, but barely a third of the card is anything other than fluff - identical fluff, at that - with mere silhouettes instructing what happens. The difference between a runner and a walker is subtle at best, and abominations (despite being literally covered with spikes and having the single most distinctive silhouette) are depicted as a fatty with a white plus inscribed inside him.

The rulebook? A mess. It lacks an index. It defines terms that are never used again, repeats some rules over and over, while putting others into examples and callouts that can be missed (and are, constantly, judging by the forums thus far). The rules reference items that don't exist, scenarios copy and paste default rules into special rules without changing them, or alternatively copy and paste but DO change a single item. Scenarios are poorly balanced, and contain gems like objective tokens being "not an objective" while existing only to grant 5xp for being picked up as an objective token.

And now to flesh things out further, in gratuitous and unnecessary detail, for the morbidly curious who wonder what put such a bad taste in my mouth:

Characters
Consider Amy and Wanda, two of the most similar. Wanda's abilities trump Amy's in most situations. It's possible for both characters to get (effectively) 4 actions per blue-level turn - Amy can fire three times and move one zone, Wanda can fire twice and move two zones. Both must make a move to get any benefit from their blue ability. Wanda, though, can get up to 6 zones in a single 3-action turn, a feat Amy can't come close to. Okay, you say, but perhaps they balance at higher levels? Yellow is identical, of course. Amy's +1 move/combat action at orange basically brings her on par (perhaps with more combat ability compared to Wanda's mobility) with where Wanda already was at yellow. Wanda's orange choices are slippery, which is huge and the clear winner unless she's in possession of a chainsaw by that point - in which case both are very powerful. Amy has two roughly equivalent improvments to combat, which are ignored, since she can be a medic. There is literally no other way in the entire game (short of the few scenarios that offer medkits as traps) to heal anyone, ever - making it the stronger choice. Wanda's choices aren't bad, with an option identical to one of Amy's, or two ways of becoming even faster still. Amy's red tier is a little stronger, but doesn't bring the character even to equal Wanda, and that's the tier that will see the least playtime.

All the characters suffer these sorts of issues. Things that one character has at level 1 appear on other characters at 3 or 4 (Tough, Slippery, +1 free move/search action). No guidelines exist in the rulebook as to how to balance this if you're making your own characters. Some characters have abilities that are plain inferior - El Cholo and Dave might look balanced on paper, since both get better at killing the Abomination, for example, but in play they're just .. bad, which brings me to...

Equipment
Equipment suffers from similar balance options that ruin what appear to be usable strategies. El Cholo starts with dual machetes, for example, and Doug might find himself in the same situation as they're the only 'Dual' melee weapon. Unfortunately, dual machetes are strictly inferior to the shotgun - the latter similarly rolls two dice to attack, hits on the same number, is still capable of killing fatties, but it only takes one hand and can reach out and touch the next zone, not just the one you're in. The situational advantage the machetes have of bypassing the 'kill survivors if possible' ranged combat rules would offset one of their disadvantages, but not both. Consider that the humble fire axe behaves identically to the machete, but can open doors instead of being dual wielded. Contrast this to dual SMGs vs the Chainsaw - the dual weapons will roll more dice, but have shorter range and follow the ranged targeting rules, balancing them nicely with the Chainsaw's ability to open doors and one-handedness. Perhaps dual pistols would be a fairer comparison to dual machetes, with the machete winning on fatty-killing and noise, where the pistols win on range - except pistols can be further improved with ammo cards, and again the machete ends up on bottom. This wouldn't be so highlighted if it wasn't Cholo's blue ability playing a poor substitute to .. anyone else's.

Melee weapons are silent, except when they aren't.. whereas ranged weapons are always noisy, because no quiet ones make an appearance. Noise is of almost no importance, adding quite a bit of bookkeeping to every turn while generally changing nothing in how the zombies move.

Molotovs are nearly impossible to put together, yet are the only way to kill an Abomination. At first blush, this seems appropriate - until you realize that the Abomination is just boring...

Zombies
The Abomination is an impressive, scary miniature. He's burly and strong and spiked, and attacks with the strength of one walker combined. Yes, one. According to the rules, "only weapons dealing 3 or more damage can kill this monster" (p6), or "only a 3 damage weapon will kill an Abomination" (p13). Of course, there are no 3 damage weapons. None. The rules aren't meant to be tongue-in-cheek (like Munchkin's or Space Alert's) - this is just confused and confusing writing.

Rules
The rulebook should be read and viewed by game designers everywhere. It's classic and terrific - as an example of how not to do game rules. There is no index. Cards reference an "end phase" to the player's turn - whereas the rulebook not only lacks this phase, but in fact has no phases at all during the player turns. The opening defines "useful terms", including "Actor: A survivor or zombie" that .. literally never make another appearance in the manual.

The rulebook repeatedly fails to provide accurate information - shortly after spelling out the number of characters per game (4-6), the rules state "if there are more Survivors than [the three pieces of starting equipment]..." (emphasis mine). Awkward constructions such as "ignore the walls between two Zones" (if there's a doorway connecting them) are the norm rather than the exception. Examples reference concepts and terms that are never expanded upon, such as needing "four actions to move, or an assistance from another Survivor" - perhaps a reference to the 'Born Leader' skill (except that its use simply provides an extra action, and would have had to be done in advance, so is inapplicable to the example I'm quoting from) or maybe just noting that another survivor could help clear the tile of zombies first.. but again it would be too late for such help in the quoted example.

Further vagaries, like 'Getting In Or Out Of A Car' being a specific action, listed literally right next to the section on searching cars - which states "You can search inside a car in a street zone with no Zombies". Two readings exist, of course.. "search inside a car [while standing in] a street zone.." and "search [while inside] a car [which itself resides in] a street zone..". We're directed to further rules in the "Car chapter". If this is to be taken as truth, then the rulebook is a 33 chapter affair. If not, there happens to be a cars subsection in the Combat chapter, which repeats two further times that changing seats costs an action.

Many terms are undefined. Searching instructs you to pick, not draw, a card from the Equipment deck. Elsewhere, the rules specifically state to randomly assign cards or draw cards until you find a specific type. Rules instruct that cards are to be discarded, but not what to do when there are no more cards to draw - presumably, the discards are used again, which makes the penalty (?) of discarding during searching a police car moot. At other times (Matching Set p16 rules) the instructions explicitly state to search for a weapon and then reshuffle the deck, making the distinction clearly apparent without clarifying why it exists.

In play, terms like "+1 to dice roll: Combat" and "+1 die: Combat" are easily confused.

Further confusion - "unused equipment" (p4) goes in the 3 "reserve" slots (labeled as such on the card), and that "only two equipped and ready to use at any given point of time". This is reinforced by the verbosity on the 'ammo' cards which go to great lengths to reinforce that it merely has to be in your inventory to take effect. As written, the other usable items (namely the flashlight, but also the goalie mask and even the scope) are not "ready to use" if they're "unused" and "in reserve" - but this violates common sense. In that case, however, why the verbosity on the ammo card allowing such a use?

Now, imagine those cards completely overlapping, such that only the equipped weapons are readable at any time, and slippery, and sitting on top of the character card - which has a plastic xp slider that's difficult to move without picking up the card - and you end up being further irritated by bad design.

Tiles
For all the description of having configurable, modular tiles, you would be surprised to find that there are only 9, and that they have heavy duplication among them. A more balanced assortment of tiles would have made some actual variation in gameplay possible.

5B/4B, 5C/4C, 5D/4D, 5E/4E, 5F/7B
All the '5' tiles are identical, functionally speaking. Arranged with the building on the bottom edge, each of them has a manhole on the right center, and each of them has 2 rooms in the building. Even the position of the door in the wall is identical. There's no reason for this - at a minimum, some of them could have been one large room inside instead of two small rooms. The manholes, again, could of course be different. 7B is special, being the solitary one-room-utility-shed that makes an appearance in most of the scenarios. The other 4 reverse sides, though, are nearly all identical. All 4 depict the same room layout, with a manhole on the right center. Of the four, there are only 2 layouts - one with the longer, 3-exit room at the bottom, the other with it at the top.

6C/2C, and 6B/2B
2b and 2c are identical, right down to the manhole layout. The room graphics are the same, not even rotated or moved about. Sure, the colors are at least changed (well, not in the bathroom!) and the bloodstains are different - but even that leaves the uncomfortable artifact of having blood on the bed but missing the trail that seems to belong (and that's present on the other). At a minimum, details like the manholes and door layout (why do all room always connect to all adjacent rooms, ALWAYS?) could have been different between tiles to provide some functional differentiation.

1B/3B, and 1C/3C
3c and 3b are literally identical, pixel for pixel, without so much as a recolored item - except for the inclusion of a yellow car door on 3c (and of course the text). 1c and 1b, the reverse sides, are also functionally identical. And I do mean identical - same manhole layout, same doors, same geometry. These at least have the positions of the kitchen and bedroom swapped (and their palettes changed) and the livingroom background mirrored so they aren't quite as egregious as their obverse sides.

The bizarre arrangement of tile letters makes setup more tedious than it needs to be. There are no A's. There are two 1's, 2's, 3's, and 6's, but four 4's and 5's, and a single '7'. I guess this is to hide that there are actually only 7 tile illustrations available. It still seems like 1-9 A/B would have been far more straightforward for setup, since you would at least know what the reverse was without having to look.

And it's not just the tiles themselves that are confusing - for example, in the setup for scenario 2, a door is placed exactly in line with a pedestrian crossing. To which zone is it supposed to connect? And why must every interior zone always connect to any tiles placed adjacent to them? I've certainly never seen a mechanic's-slash-office-slash-apartment, but they appear in more than one scenario. These problems would have been easy to solve by changing interior walls to .. walls, and using doors between them, but since they include so few door chips it's not even possible to close them off internally without running out of external doors.

Cards
A small handful of zombie cards look the same as the rest of the cards, with the grid of colored bars and silhouettes in addition to worthless flavortext occupying 90% the space on the card. However, a small manhole icon, no larger than a pencil eraser, grey-on-grey in color, denotes that this card behaves completely differently and does not spawn zombies in the designated zone. These cards are rare enough that it's quite easy to miss them. Instructions exist next to the small icon, but on all other cards this same space has similar text that is mostly the identical flavor text: "IT'S TIME TO KICK SOME BUTT!". I called the other flavor text (which itself occupies more than 2/3 of the card in total) worthless, since out of the 42-card deck, 37 are an identical "AAAAAH! / UH-OH / WORSE / BAD" - with the few that have 0 spawning in blue using "PHEW!" swapped for "BAD".

Scenarios
This game seems to have undergone no smoothing of difficulty. The designer's notes claim "ten scenarios of growing difficulty and intensity." After the brief tutorial, scenario 1 is already developing a reputation as a 4-hour monster that is difficult to beat, while scenario 2 is already being houseruled to fix the fact that it's brokenly easy and can be completed in under 30 minutes. The later scenarios are no better; our group made six independent attempts at scenario 9, with a variety of characters and strategies - and yet every play felt identical, with death coming instantly and unavoidably from an 'extra activation' card. The scenarios themselves are poorly written - scenario 9, for example, instructs that to win, "at least" a certain number of survivors must escape, "4 survivors (1 player), 5 survivors (2 players), or 6 survivors (3 players). The word they were looking for was 'all'. All the survivors must escape. It's that simple. There is no 'at least' about it - it's a scenario for 1-3 players where you start with one per player and find exactly 3 more. Further bad rule writing is still present here. Contrast scenarios which instruct you to 'reveal' all tokens vs those that have you 'take' all tokens, along with the 'activate or take an objective' that's possible as an action in the earlier rules, or the use of objective tokens that are "not an objective" as an objective that can be taken for 5 xp. Or consider scenario 4, where the designers use "once you have reached x, place characters on an empty y" to mean "objective 1: do x, objective 2: go to y and clear it out".


Overall, the game is spoiled by .. well, the game. The record-setting kickstarter merely shows again that hype trumps substance.
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Sebastian Beck
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Very interesting to read. Up for now I will wait to buy the game. I have to read more reviews!
 
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Adam Garcia Smith
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Very interesting review. Looking at your profile it seems your very first one and your first game ever rated. It would be great and helpful to understand better which are the kind of games you love and which not... or some more reviews because you are a very talented writer. It is always useful to understand the tastes of the reviewers!
Overall, I don't agree with your review, but you have some points on the rulebook (the lack of index and some confusion).
I think you are completely missing the point in your critics on the zombie cards, the noise system (did you really play the game? I doubt it) and what you write on the tiles seems more a lecture rather than a review.
Your review also lacks an analysis of your game experience (how many times did you play? how many players? which scenarios?), I hope you can complete your review soon to help us to better segment it!
Thanks
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seb seb2
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tofof wrote:

In play, terms like "+1 to dice roll: Combat" and "+1 die: Combat" are easily confused.


really?
"+1 to dice roll" and "+1 die" are confused?

how is that possible?
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Bryan Watson
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Farmington
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Whether or not others agree with your opinion, your review was truly an entertaining read. I'm always interested in the vitriol with which negative honest opinion is likely to be met. Often lost in the string of diatribes is the fact that your hard earned dollars did not reward you with a satisfying play experience.

I watched this Kickstarter drama unfold and admittedly was intrigued. However, I have the luxury of being late to the gaming hobby. Therefore, I have many other proven commodities available to pursue rather than gambling on the brand new hotness (oh but how tempting!!!).

Thanks for the effort in writing the review. Gaming can be a cruel mistress.
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Jake Rose
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Quote:
The opening defines "useful terms", including "Actor: A survivor or zombie" that .. literally never make another appearance in the manual.



At least the PDF version uses 'Actor' in the movement section and in a call out box in the ranged combat section.

Maybe the print version is different though. Mine has not arrived yet so I can't check.

Quote:
Equipment suffers from similar balance options that ruin what appear to be usable strategies.


This whole paragraph confuses me. The opening sentence may better read as "I couldn't figure out strategies to use the various weapons". It almost seems like you are upset there is a difference between ranged and close combat weapons and that you wanted all weapons to be equal.

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David Reeves
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Thank you for the candid review. I feel for you, brother, 'cause it's not such a good feeling to plunk down big bucks on a game and feel kinda deceived in what you actually received. Hopefully you can use the nice minis or re-sell the game.

For the reasons you listed, I did not support Zombicide, and backed Zpocalypse instead.
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Kostas K.
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jakecarol wrote:
At least the PDF version uses 'Actor' in the movement section and in a call out box in the ranged combat section.

Maybe the print version is different though. Mine has not arrived yet so I can't check.


Or maybe the print version doesn't have a "search" function like the pdf, so that the reviewer could find the other two obscure mentions of the term "Actor".
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Aaron Rainey
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You know, despite the fact that this is a "negative" review I really enjoyed. The weird thing is, I almost completely agree with every single point made by the poster.

Specific points I agree with:

*The heroes are completely unbalanced and the "start with X" skills are horrible. Action economy is the single greatest asset in this entire game and you have heroes that start with free actions versus heroes that start with skills that can be replicated by searching a couple times. There's not even a comparison.

*Melee is horrible compared with just about any ranged weapon. Except for the chainsaw, which is awesome.

*Wanda/Amy are ridiculous

*Mission 01 is a beast. A friend and I just beat it after the third try. It took hours. I will actually be disappointed if the other missions are not as difficult.

*Really easy to miss sewer cards. I wish these cards had colored borders or something catchy to set them apart from the others.

*Rulebook can be a big jumbly mess sometimes.

*Abomination can be underwhelming. I like the idea of him instantly killing heroes and being able to smash open doors.

*The fact that molotovs are so hard to put together makes Dave even more important to have on the team. He's has pretty good skills already and once you finally do get the Gas+Bottles, being able to get two molotovs is almost a must.

One important thing I do not agree with:
*Runners: I think runners are absolutely dangerous. They make the sniper rifle a must have item to be able to weed them out before they get close. The threat of getting a reactivation means that a group of 3-4 runners get easily surprise a group of heroes and kill them if you aren't careful.


And for those of you still reading, here's the weird thing. I agree with all the negative things and still love the game and think it's a blast to play. I got in on the Abomination level and absolutely feel like I got way more than my money's worth. I enjoy the simple gameplay and the uncomplicated rules. I feel like I could teach some of my "non-gamer" friends how to play this game in about 10 minutes.

All in all though I think that was a fair and well-thought-out review. Thumbs up from someone who loves the game.
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Andrew Wodzianski
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Interesting review Brian!
With limited play experience, I agree on some of your observations and disagree with others.
For context; I've only played Zombicide 4x. The tutorial (solo), and scenario three times (w/ wife, and twice solo). I'm looking forward to introducing the game to my group, but I want to have a handle on the mechanics/gameplay beforehand.
Agreed:
- RULES. The rulebook needs revision. When I first read the PDF document online, it was awkward. But in real time, when attempting to find clarification - it's super awkward. However, I will offer that the back page Rules Summary is bloody fantastic. Another BGG poster mentioned that this document alone can get you through a majority of the game, and I agree. I've copied it 6 times in anticipation of game night.
- TILES. They look slick and handsome and stylized to every zombie trope. But you're right! They're practically identical! Missed opportunity.
- SCENARIOS. While I've only played the first scenario and tutorial, it appears to me that they are not progressively difficult or challenging. Just different. Some may be broken, but I have yet to encounter this. It's only troubling because they were billed as increasingly tense.
- CARDS. I think the size is fine and actually prefer them over a larger variant. The game is too darn big to begin with, so a smaller footprint here and there is appreciated. I will agree however that it's sucks when having to move the zombie kill marker and the inventory cards go every which way but loose. Card titles are a bit goofy, but I'm not offended. I'm offended by my poor threat management when I pull one of those 'activation' cards, but that's my issue...
Disagreed:
- ZOMBIES. The Abomination is a lurking threat, and has to be managed. My only disappointment in the character is one of expectation. He looks like the Tank from L4D, so I anticipated a faster, deadlier foe. That's my fault for presuming. Instead, he's tough to kill, and that alone makes him a concern for every player/actor. When the Abomination is on the board, I either have to be lucky with gas & bottle searches or use Josh to lure the Abom around and around. The fact that no weapon dealing a damage of 3 is available is fine by me. FFG loves to tease their additional rules/expansions/characters, and we know CMON is delivering again in April. I'm willing to bet a heavy weapon will be included.
- CHARACTERS. I gotta disagree with you on this one. The characters' differences are subtle, but those differences are important. Personally, I find Amy to be far more versatile than Wanda. Wanda's movement ability is in the gutter once zombies have swarmed the board. Josh rocks w/ slippery, but so does Ned w/ his search skill.

Still, what a neat review from a different perspective. I may feel differently after a few more plays, but for the time being - the game's twitches aren't a deal breaker. Much of my lingering concerns could be completely resolved with a revised rulebook PDF. I look forward to the additional characters and zombie versions this spring (and a new weapon card!). Maybe the Zombicide App will be killer (pun?).

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Andrew Wodzianski
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Aaron,
I dig your post too!

"Abomination can be underwhelming. I like the idea of him instantly killing heroes and being able to smash open doors."

I've read a few suggestions on tweaking the Abom., but with mixed feelings. Instant kill just seems too cruel, but I really like the door busting! May have to try this variant.
 
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Jonathan Ramundi
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LordHellfury wrote:
tofof wrote:
Overall, the game is spoiled by .. well, the game. The record-setting kickstarter merely shows again that hype trumps substance.

I backed Sedition wars, but that doesn't mean I thought the lack of a rulebook available to help me decide my purchase was a professional move by CMoN or McVey.

Hype made them their money, not the quality of their rules.
I'm with you on that one.

Didn't back Zombicide, but did back SE. Really hoping I didn't make an expensive mistake.
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Kevin Outlaw
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The Wing Warrior - learn more at www.facebook.com/thelegendriders
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Callador wrote:

Your review also lacks an analysis of your game experience (how many times did you play? how many players? which scenarios?), I hope you can complete your review soon to help us to better segment it!
Thanks


Why do you need him to tell you how many times he played, when you have already said in the previous paragraph that you doubt he has played at all? Would you believe him?

I know he has made at least 6 attempts on scenario 9 (got that from the last paragraph of the review), so I would assume he has played a few more times than that (intro scenarios).

I lost interest in this game when they started churning out loads of "special" characters based on movie characters during the kickstarter project. I got the impression that the game was all style over substance, and I predicted the rules would be "woolly."

I am now reading all the reviews to see if I need to re-evaluate. At the moment, I don't think I do. This was a good read.
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Eric Brosius
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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I don't know anything about the game but the name, but I wasn't expecting fine play balance from a game named Zombicide!
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Scott Hill
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Someone pick Brian's teddy up - he appears to have dropped in from his pram.

Anyway, to address a couple of points directly - character and weapon balance - it sounds to me, from what you've written, that you want the different characters and weapons to be essentially identical, if not from the start, then within the yellow or orange danger levels (in the case of the characters).

Whilst this would be one way to make them 'balanced', they'd also be incredibly boring. I've yet to play enough to figure out if there's one 'must have' and/or one 'never play' character in there, but I don't think so. The characters each have different strengths and weaknesses and the key is to use them as a team such that the strength of team is greater than the sum of it's parts.

And this, I think, is the main point you're missing about the game - it's cooperative - the aim is not go find the weapon, or combo, that does the most damage, and use it to kill as many zombies as possible - the aim is to work as a team to overcome the present threat using the tools you have available, whilst achieving the defined mission objectives.
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Bwian, just
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LordHellfury wrote:
Hype made them their money, not the quality of their rules.

I suspect fancy miniatures made them their money, not the quality of their hype.
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Michael Kefauver
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With my experience so far, I have to agree with the reviewer here.

Just because it's a thematic game doesn't mean the balance has to suck, and it doesn't mean that the rules HAVE to be a mess. A lot of important rules are relegated to end-of-paragraph passive language, like the rule where you spawn zombies in a building after cracking open the door; it's mentioned once, at the end of the rules section about opening doors, and never mentioned again.

And even the theme falls apart; why is it that if I drive a car into my friend's area to pick them up I have a 50/50 shot of hurting them? An area is the size of a 2 lane city road plus sidewalks, so how are all these characters such bad drivers that when driving down a city block they have a coin-flip chance of running down their allies, even if there are no zombies in the area? Why do my bullets always hit my friends first, no matter what? I can shoot a pistol into a room with 40 zombies and one human, and my bullets will zoom in and around the zombies, ricocheting off wall and floor until it sinks into my buddy's chest and leaves the zombies totally unscathed.

Killing zombies attracts more zombies? Why? Why doesn't noise attract more zombies? Do they have an undead, revenge-driven hive mind? Why do buildings magically have more zombies inside them if I open them after I've killed 6 zombies? Why is it tactically sound to rush around a city, opening all the doors and then killing the zombies later so tougher ones don't pop into existence inside the building if we opened the doors later?

Good for you, OP, for taking a stand against the hype. It's good to hear dissenting opinions.
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Aaron Rainey
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I'm not going to lie. I may have been slightly swayed by the amazing miniatures.

I think that much like Last Night on Earth, this game comes with enough pieces and modularity right out of the box that even if you don't like the game you have all of the pieces to easily make or change what you don't enjoy about the game.
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Jake Rose
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Nessmk2 wrote:
A lot of important rules are relegated to end-of-paragraph passive language, like the rule where you spawn zombies in a building after cracking open the door; it's mentioned once, at the end of the rules section about opening doors, and never mentioned again.


Just out of curiosity, how many times do you need a rule to be repeated in a rulebook for you to be happy with the number of occurences of that rule? Since it is obviously more than once, would you prefer the multiple instances to be one after the other or spread out throughout the book?

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Doug Herring
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zanetheinsane wrote:
You know, despite the fact that this is a "negative" review I really enjoyed. The weird thing is, I almost completely agree with every single point made by the poster.

Specific points I agree with:

*The heroes are completely unbalanced and the "start with X" skills are horrible. Action economy is the single greatest asset in this entire game and you have heroes that start with free actions versus heroes that start with skills that can be replicated by searching a couple times. There's not even a comparison.

*Melee is horrible compared with just about any ranged weapon. Except for the chainsaw, which is awesome.

*Wanda/Amy are ridiculous

*Mission 01 is a beast. A friend and I just beat it after the third try. It took hours. I will actually be disappointed if the other missions are not as difficult.

*Really easy to miss sewer cards. I wish these cards had colored borders or something catchy to set them apart from the others.

*Rulebook can be a big jumbly mess sometimes.

*Abomination can be underwhelming. I like the idea of him instantly killing heroes and being able to smash open doors.

*The fact that molotovs are so hard to put together makes Dave even more important to have on the team. He's has pretty good skills already and once you finally do get the Gas+Bottles, being able to get two molotovs is almost a must.

One important thing I do not agree with:
*Runners: I think runners are absolutely dangerous. They make the sniper rifle a must have item to be able to weed them out before they get close. The threat of getting a reactivation means that a group of 3-4 runners get easily surprise a group of heroes and kill them if you aren't careful.


And for those of you still reading, here's the weird thing. I agree with all the negative things and still love the game and think it's a blast to play. I got in on the Abomination level and absolutely feel like I got way more than my money's worth. I enjoy the simple gameplay and the uncomplicated rules. I feel like I could teach some of my "non-gamer" friends how to play this game in about 10 minutes.

All in all though I think that was a fair and well-thought-out review. Thumbs up from someone who loves the game.


So I have a few plays in now and pretty much agree with Aaron. I actually agree with many of the points in the initial review here even. I guess after thinking about it some I came to the conclusion, much like Aaron did, that it does not matter. The game is fun. The lack of balance actually makes it feel more like a zombie survival b-movie game. Mission 01 is brutally hard and to me, that was fun too, though my son took having El Cholo die a little harder than I thought he would

I think the game is actually a blast but I like a WIDE variety of games. I also think Trajan is a blast, which is about as deep and balanced as you can get. One of my all time favorite games is Dominent Species yet I LOVE Last Night on Earth, Fortune and Glory, and a Touch of Evil which often feel imbalanced.

All I care about is that I had fun and regardless of the (perhaps intentional) imbalance issues Zombiecide is FUN.
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First off, thanks for taking the time to write your review. I totally disagree with your conclusions, but some of your points are certainly valid.

All I can say is that I love this game. I love it because it is a simple, fun, fast playing, completely ridiculous, exciting, and challenging game. Does it in anyway "simulate" a "real" zombie conflict? Nope. But I really like it, quirks and all.

In many ways it reminds me of another game I very much enjoy, Heroscape. Great theme, cool minis, 3D terrain, and very simplistic rules that provide fun gameplay. People who love it, really love it and people who don't like it, really don't like it. I suspect we will see the same reaction with Zombicide.

I'm sorry that you were disappointed by the game. Hopefully you can sell it and recover most of your money. For me, the game is exactly what I had hoped for, except taking a little longer to play play some of the larger scenarios. But since I enjoy so much, I don't mind.

Edit: Regarding the rulebook. When the game arrived I opened and organized everything. Later that night, my son and I opened the box, pulled out all the stuff, read through the rules (I had read them once online about three weeks previous), and were playing the tutorial scenario within about 10 minutes. I did have to look up a couple things, but for the most part I found the game to be very intuitive (at least once you knew the quirks, like killing your friends first with guns). Yes, an index would have been nice (I created one and posted it in the rules forum by the way), but this is hardly a difficult game to figure out. Not a great rulebook, but certainly not the worst I've ever read.
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jbbnbsmith wrote:


All I can say is that I love this game. I love it because it is a simple, fun, fast playing, completely ridiculous, exciting, and challenging game. Does it in anyway "simulate" a "real" zombie conflict? Nope. But I really like it, quirks and all.


Heheh, I love this line. I have heard people say this before but can never find a real zombie conflict in the history books to reference too in comparion

Just ribbin ya.
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This is a really excellent review, thanks to the OP for writing it.

This game caught my eye because of the theme and the promise of the mechanics (the zombie ai, the leveling system, the noise etc) but I was apprehensive about the scenarios and tiles and balance issues.

The OP has thoroughly eviscerated any pretension that this game may have had to good design, so good work. The identical tiles and redundant weapons should be particularly embarrassing to the developers - not to mention the apparently random passages of the rulebook that don't even come into play.

This review has clarified everything that I had been suspicious of leading up to Zombicide's release, that's awesome, so thanks again!
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Having played the game a few times (and being in charge of reading the rule book), there is definitely a lot to agree with in this review.

- I completely agree that the rulebook is not the best.
- The slippery cards are really annoying to deal with.
- The lack of consistency with the rules and wording is really annoying.

However, I do find that the game still has a very strong fun-factor (so far after 5+ games played).

I can live with some characters being better than others. We solve this by assigning players at random in our games. Which can lead to harder scenarios, etc.

If you are ok with playing and losing a few games... the lack of balance (especially in the card draws) can lead to some really fun moments (if you survive).

I suppose it really depends on your gaming personality.

If your mentality is only to win the game... and losing makes for a bad experience, then there are definitely obvious paths, players, and cards to shoot for. If your mentality is to play with whatever cards and situations you are dealt, and are ok with having to restart after a loss, there is definitely fun to be found here.

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jakecarol wrote:
Nessmk2 wrote:
A lot of important rules are relegated to end-of-paragraph passive language, like the rule where you spawn zombies in a building after cracking open the door; it's mentioned once, at the end of the rules section about opening doors, and never mentioned again.


Just out of curiosity, how many times do you need a rule to be repeated in a rulebook for you to be happy with the number of occurences of that rule? Since it is obviously more than once, would you prefer the multiple instances to be one after the other or spread out throughout the book?



No need for snark. It's an important rule mentioned at the end of a paragraph about what is for the most part a common sense rule (You need a door-opening item to open a door). It's not mentioned in the spawning zombies section, the play summary, nor does it get a callout anywhere else in the rules. The fact that tiles are numbered gets a callout, the fact that survivor sheets are double sided gets a callout. The turn summary says "Open a door: Special Equipment or Skill Required." But mentions nothing about spawning zombies for the first time a building is opened.

It never even says what you do if you draw a manhole card for the spawn in the room or what happens if a building has been re-sealed with Lock it Down and then re-opened. Common sense dictates nothing changes, but common sense also says that I can stop a car in a city block sized area without having a 50-50 shot at running over one guy somewhere in that area, and that if a zombie gets to a 2-way intersection that is equidistant from two survivors, the zombie would not make like an amoeba and split into two identical zombies to better pursue both groups.

I've read at least one rules question on here where someone missed that vital rule, so it's obviously possible to miss it.
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