We’ve been waiting for the latest Zombicide game to be released ever since we played the original. Zombicide (later dubbed Zombicide Season 1) quickly became one of our favourite strategy games, with the amazing re-playability, brilliant miniatures, and unpredictable game play. Zombicide Black Plague is a reinvention of the original game, and again funded via Kickstarter.
Zombicide Black Plague takes the original game and puts it into a Medieval setting, and while much of the game play is the same, there are some new elements that have been added. To get an idea of the basic game play, survivors take their turns in sequence, and can perform a number of actions and special actions, dependant on their level. These can include moving, searching for equipment, breaking down doors, or combat. Once all survivors have taken their turn, it’s time for the zombies to make their move. Zombies already on the board advance towards your survivors, and additional zombies are spawned, with the number and severity of the zombies also being dependent on the player’s level.
Firstly, the tiles are amazing, very detailed, and superbly designed. The main difference here is that each individual square on the street locations is a ‘zone’, whereas road zones in Zombicide Season 1 could span a few squares, this makes us think that movement through the Black Plague quests would be slower, and more dangerous.
The miniatures have the same high quality as the original game, but there is one major change, the survivor’s dashboard. Rather than the cardboard survivor trackers from Season 1, Zombicide Black Plague provides us with fancy plastic dashboards, which neatly hold our equipment and track our progress, and this is very welcome edition to the game. (In fact, we wish they would issue survivor ID cards for the original game to fit into the new dashboard too.) Although, I do prefer the coloured survivors from Season 1 over the coloured bases, but I guess that this is just personal preference.
Before jumping straight into a co-operative game, I decided to do the tutorial quest solo, and test out the game as a single player. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, as often the best bit of a co-operative strategy game is working with your fellow team mates. Given the choice, I would still rather play with other people, but it’s a good way of getting to know the game mechanics, and is certainly a challenge.
My initial thoughts were that Zombicide Black Plague is more difficult that the original game, and the tutorial quest doesn’t even have the Abomination or Necromancers! My first game was over in just a few rounds, with luck not on my side, I drew spawn cards containing double spawns and fatties very early on. With only starter equipment to hand, my only character who could defeat the fatties had numerous unsuccessful rolls, and was quickly killed, with two more survivors lost in quick succession. With only three survivors left on the third round, a door about to be opened to a fatty, two fatties behind us, and no way of defeating them, I decided to chalk it down to experience and start again. My second attempt went much better, and despite being overwhelmed at the last minute, due to three double spawn cards being drawn into one room, I lost only one survivor while taking out the hoards with my last Dragon Bile & torch.
The main things I learnt during my solo outings for this game;
- Six survivors is A LOT to keep track of on your own, and while it’s nice to be able to play everyone in the order of your choice, it can be quite confusing trying to remember who has yet to take their turn.
- The luck of the cards can make or break your game, more heavily so than in Season 1. I’m not sure at this point if I like the double spawn cards. While I understand how they can make a game more interesting, drawing several in quick succession can quickly turn a game vastly in the zombies favour. While it’s nice to be presented with a challenge, having double spawn cards in conjunction with fatties on the first level does now make for an enjoyable game.
- I still can’t get the hang of using noise tokens, I think it’s fair to say that Zombicide games in my house will be pretty much ignoring this rule. I don’t think it would overly affect the results, as it’s rare we split up the survivors, and we’d rather play consistently without them than sometimes with, and sometimes without.
- The ranged combat rule is much better in Zombicide Black Plague, where instead of being forced to hit your fellow survivors first, you only hit them with missed dice rolls.
- Armour & shields! Great additions to the game, having the opportunity to survive a zombie attack is a very welcomed addition, especially as this version seems more difficult than the original, little things like this help keep the balance.