After something of a hectic week, I managed to get down to Dueling Grounds last night for a biggish game of Zombicide. While there have been a pile of appealing Kickstarters that have come and gone without my participation, this is, I think, the one I regret not jumping on. The game is crazy fun, I like the genre, and the figures are nice enough to be worth painting.
|Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Campbell, Wand the Roller-waitress, Sheldon, Angela Landsbury, and Jason Stathem. The Zombies don't stand a chance.|
ChrisB, one of our group's resident painters, bought into the game in a big way, and has done a tremendous job painting up his figures. For starters, each of the zombies is unique, and there's a couple hundred of them. He was kind enough to cart down his stuff last night for a big multiplayer game, and brought along some of the newer survivor models from the second "season" of the game, including the one on which I'd claimed dibs, namely Angela Landsbury . . . with a flamethrower.
We played a fairly straightforward scenario, in which we had to a) survive, and b) pick up 5 objectives scattered across the map. Things got interesting early when we spawned an Abomination (gigantic super-zombie, the biggest threat in the game) in the first building we entered. The really fun part is at this point, none of us had access to a weapon that could kill it (Angela needed gas to fuel her thrower).
|No worries, they said. There's only one card in the deck that'll pop an Abomination, they said.|
This lead to fairly entertaining game of "taunt the giant beastie" through the rooms of the abandoned building we were searching.
|Run away, they said.|
Each turn, zombies on the table move towards the nearest target, either the closest player in line of sight, or the largest concentration of noise (which players generate, you guessed it, by doing noisy things). This actually allows for some tactical cooperation, as players draw threats away from team-members.
|Get around behind him.|
Lacking either the means to fight, or a means of opening an entry way, Angela spent the early stages of the game staying the hell out of the way until her team-mates could open things up a little. Of course, the big zombie's little friends were drawing closer all the time (each turn, new zombies spawn semi-randomly on pre-determined points around the table).
|Angela's in the street, waiting for a door to open.|
|A-bomb is getting close!|
At which point, she ran inside, and started looking for gas.
|In we go, my dearies.|
This, unfortunately, meant that she ended up split off from the majority of the group. You know that bit in the zombie movie, where one character wanders off, and isn't seem for most of the rest of the movie? And all the rest of the characters figure the wanderer's dead? Yeah, pretty much exactly like that.
On the plus side, the bunch of yahoos now out in the street made more than enough ruckus to draw the Abomination out of the building, along with several friends, leaving Angela free to search through the post-Apocalyptic wreckage for a bit of gasoline.
|No gasoline in here.|
While there was little in the way of combustibles to be found, Angela did turn up a shotgun (probably the best generic shooting weapon in the game), a katana (ditto, but for melee), and plenty of ammo for the shotgun (i.e., re-rolls), which would play an entertaining role later in the game. Meanwhile, having cleared the second building, her erstwhile companions were preparing to press on.
|Slow, but scary.|
Unfortunately, Angela's path to her friends was blocked by an encroaching wave of zombies. Whatever was out intrepid investigator going to do?
Why, unload with her shotgun, of course!
|Maybe not . . .|
While Angela enjoyed the scavenging process, punctuated by the occasional bit of brisk target practice, the gang were having problems of their own.
|The scooby gang and friends.|
While the gang continued to run from the Abomination, Angela kept running into friends of her own.
|It's always nice to talk to young people.|
|Lots of young people.|
|Lots and lots of young people. The newly undead can be considered "young", right?|
As it turns out, however, she's a dab hand with a scattergun. As you kill zombies, and gain objectives, character experience grows through multiple levels. Each level adds new abilities (over the course of the game, Angela gained an extra action, the ability to heal herself or other characters, and the ability to use ranged weapons in melee). However, the highest level achieved by any player also determines the threat level of the game; the higher the level, the more zombies spawn, and the more threatening the zombies that spawn. Angela was becoming a one-woman wrecking crew, but also raising the stakes for the entire game.
The reason for the sudden surge of friends was that in the process of the turn's spawn, we drew a card giving all walker zombies a free move. This both crowded the zombies into the game's first swarms, it also spelled the end of Chuck Norris, who'd boldly scouted ahead of the main group. The scenario went something like:
"Are you sure he'll be okay on his own?"
"Sure, he's Chuck Norris!"
30 seconds later . . . .
"Oh, my God! Chuck Norris is dead!"
Wanda, the roller-skating waitress, got caught by the Abomination, and it didn't end well for her, either.
|He's also a bad tipper.|
All was not lost, however. Invoking the sacred principle of "my game, my rules", ChrisB decreed that all players with dead characters could reincarnate, and the Scooby gang discovered Steven Seagal and Machete in a back room.
|Have sharp things, will travel.|
Meanwhile, Bruce Campbell and Sheldon Cooper both found gasoline, and the latter quickly made himself a pair of molotov cocktails. Angela Landbury continued to blow the (un)living hell out the zombie pack, while working her way through the first building.
|Is this what the young people call "a rave"?|
|Lovely day for a walk.|
The Scoobies regrouped, and prepared for the somewhat dangerous task of "crossing the street".
|Look both ways . . .|
Sheldon stepped out in the street, facing down a swarm . . .
|. . . watch for on-coming threats.|
. . . and one molotov cocktail later, cleared the road.
|Sheldon. Killing with science.|
Not that there weren't more where they came from.
|The scenic view.|
It was at this point that Angela caught up to the group, shotgun in hand, strapped with bandoliers, and toting a katana, caked in the blood of the living dead.
|Hello boys, did you miss me?|
Not past time, either, as the boys were going to need all the help they could get.
|Still a long way to go.|
We were well into the 3rd, "orange" threat level at this point, and everyone was pretty well tooled. While there were plenty of "Z"'s on the table, we were also pretty adept at clearing them out.
|ChrisB has had George Romero, and some of the other early Zombie masters, autograph one of the game's tiles for him.|
The risk at this stage of the game is drawing one of the Zombie "extra turn" cards, or running out of a particular type when they spawn (which has the same effect), particularly when they swarm in large numbers. This put an end to Sheldon, when he decided to abandon the group to their fate (we were surrounded by swarms of zombies) and skip out to an empty square. On the zombie's turn, an extra move card was drawn, and Sheldon went down under a pile of gnawing revenants. Another problem is when multiples of the larger class of zombies (fatties, abominations) gather into a group.
|Do you like camping?|
Unless, of course, Bruce Campbell has given Angela Landsbury some gasoline, and a clear shot.
|Because I enjoy a good cook-out.|
|Arson, she wrote.|
Even with the second abomination out of the way, things got a little hairy for a while.
|Still more friends.|
But multiple shotguns plus multiple chainsaws can do wonders, and soon we were down to one objective to go. All we had to do was fight our way through the entire board. On a red threat level.
|Thinning the herd.|
Which we proceeded to do.
|Progress was slow, but steady.|
|Almost there . . .|
It was Steven Seagal who took the final objective.
|And Steven Seagal gets his first hit in years.|
We can't really claim to have won this one, given the player recycling, but it sure was fun. One of the things I love about the game it that it does a terrific job of rewarding smart play, while still leaving an element of unpredictability; you can influence events, but not control them. We had some terrific cinematic moments, some moments of absolute hilarity, and a grand time overall; something I've yet to not have when playing the game.
Season 3 is slated to launch soonish, presumably on Kickstarter. I suspect I'll be hard-pressed to pass on it this time. Big thanks to Cbag for bringing his toys. You should check out his Zombicide and other stuff at his blog. Some gorgeous work.