This weekend myself and my constant gaming companion Dave got Zombicice 2nd Edition to the table. With a dozen or so plays of the original under our belts we were excited to see what this new edition of the game would bring.
We decided to start at the beginning, with Mission 1 - City Blocks. It quickly became clear that this (and each of the first 10 missions included with 2nd Edition) was a reimplementation of a mission in the original game.
However, unlike the first edition version which produced a tight and tense atmosphere of fear, this play was something entirely different. In the second edition you begin the game with incrementally better equipment. The early game of the original was full of turns where players passed the best equipment back and forth so nobody had to use the pan except in the most extreme of circumstances. This slight boost of power is enough to kickstart the game and to cut down the play time, but at the expense of removing some of the turn angst as you search for new gear, always in fear of finding a solitary walker.
However the developers didn’t stop there. Every tile, including the starting room, has pimpweapon crate containing an exciting and powerful weapon. Meaning from the get go you are slaughtering zombies like a boss. Most turns we were clearing the board, never really fearful that the horde would overwhelm us. We were no longer simply surviving, we were winning.
The intent of the power creep is to give people more of those epic turns where you slaughter 20 walkers while dual wielding chainsaws. Of course, the reason those turns were so memorable in first edition was because they were rare occurrences, they were epic actions, born of desperation and crafted through two hours of searching and prepping and upgrading. When they become the norm, they become average, they become mundane and the game loses some of its luster.
It also serves to make Zombicide less distinct from its spinoffs. In Invader you are playing heavily armed and armoured marines, it makes sense that you are mowing down xenos left, right and centre, but in Zombicide you are playing as office workers and diner waitresses, the game should be about tense one on one fights where the outcome isn’t certain, where only a handful of walkers can tip the balance.
There are some good changes though. The game is marginally faster to set up, targeting priority has been fixed, along with the splitting rule. Spawning is faster too, with fewer spawns and no more manhole spawns, meaning the game is quicker overall with less maintenance. Your survivors special skills are now printed in full on the back of your character card too meaning you won’t need to keep referring to the rulebook for clarifications.
One thing I wish they had fixed though is the abominations. We had one spawn on turn 1 and spent the majority of the game simply moving away from it until we found a Molotov cocktail to kill it. This just makes the abominations feel impotent. Sure they look cool and imposing but they just act like a sticky roadblock. In Invader they would spawn mold creating new spawn zones and forcing you to confront them and take them out, they felt like a genuine threat, rather than just something to hide from.
Beyond that the game feels the same. It has better minis in more dynamic poses for the most part but the changes really are minor and are all in service of creating a shorter play experience which was not necessarily something I was looking for from Zombicide. This is of course all just first impressions, hopefully amping up the difficulty with the addition of more enemy types and the removal of the easier spawn cards will help counteract the power creep and give us that tougher, more epic experience back.
Have you played both editions of Zombicide? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.