If someone once told you, “In space no-one can hear you scream”, someone lied! In the cold, desolate reaches of the delta quadrant the PK-L7 mining colony, once a thriving community and research centre, has gone dark. Vivian could see her own breath in the air as she and Cole took cover behind a stack of crates in the level 8 cargo bay. A scratching sound fills the eerie silence, the sound of sharpened talons on the steel deckplate. The raspy sliver of tentacle upon tentacle as the cephalopod-like xenos moved through the bay, their tentacles pawing at the air as if they were using them to smell.
Suddenly the lead xeno stopped moving, its head swiveling round to look directly at Cole and Vivian’s hiding place. “They know.” Vivian whispered. The creature opened its maw and let loose a feral shriek. An explosion shook the cargo bay as the great steel doors blew inwards. Standing there, dressed head to toe in power armour were the members of White Squadron, weapons cocked and loaded… “Anyone call for the cavalry?” Jared taunted through his comms device before the marines opened fire on the xeno horde…
9 Double-Sided Game Tiles
6 Survivor Dashboards and ID Cards
6 Survivor Colored Bases
As usual, with a CMON project, this is a great big box full of stuff and everything looks good. If I had any complaints about the components it would be the dice are very generic and my boards have a slight amount of warping so they don't always sit flat on the table.
The boards are composed of quite a few small areas which gives a cool look but can mean that it’s difficult to place all the models in the rooms when you need to. For example, the starting heroes and the bot will not all fit in the starting location for the tutorial mission. Talking of the tutorial mission, this is a great learning mission, enough meat to show you the game without being overly complex.
The rulebook is pretty comprehensive, although I certainly missed a few rules (like remote control objective tokens) so you might need to read through it a couple of times even if you are familiar with the Zombicide franchise.
Not only does the game come in a big box but it also takes up a massive amount of table space. The tutorial mission uses four tiles and six survivors and fits comfortably on my table, however some of the later missions use 9 tiles which leaves very little space for all the other components and overhangs the edges in a precarious fashion.
The miniatures, as usual with a CMON project are plastic and nicely detailed and they paint up well as you can see throughout this review.
A Brief Overview
Zombicide Invader is a mission based miniature skirmish game. The missions have a wide variety from getting across the board, collecting objectives, or killing the xenos.
Each turn all the survivors will activate once, taking 3 actions such as moving, attacking, collecting items, searching or using a special skill. After all the survivors have activated the Xenos will then move prioritising survivors they can see and if they can’t see they will move towards the loudest area on the board. If they are already in a space with a survivor they will attack doing a single wound.
After that a spawn card is drawn for each spawn zone on the board bringing more and more xenos into play. The game will continue in this way until either the mission is achieved or lost. Most missions will be lost if any survivor is killed.
Many of you will be interested to know how Invader differs from Zombicide and it does in a few ways that make it a different experience to play.
No Locked Doors
In Invader you control the base, you aren’t breaking into buildings and being ambushed, you know where the tide of Xenos is coming from and generally you want to go in the opposite direction. You can also spend actions to close doors and use this as a way to hold up the Xeno advance.
Unlike in previous versions of zombicide, Invader allows you to pool your dice against an individual foe, meaning you can, if you’re lucky, take down the massive abominations with just a simple submachine gun. To balance that the Abomination spawns far more often and moves more often too.
The primary foe, the Abomination, spawns areas called Mold. These areas act as special mold spawn zones which can be very very bad when a card spawns xenos in each mold zone. Every time the Abomination moves it lays down mold meaning there are more and more of these special spawn zones on the map. In addition, should two spawn tiles be connected via an unbroken line of mold the survivors instantly lose.
There is no player elimination in Invader, if a survivor dies the whole team loses.
Bots & Sentry Guns
Invader adds NPCs which can be controlled by survivors with the right skill or remote control token. The bot can move and fight with the survivors while the gun remains stationary. Both can be extremely useful for a mission, but can also be sacrificed to save a survivor in the same zone.
Civilians, Soldiers and other cosmetic differences
Invader has two classes of survivor, Soldiers are tougher but can only search in security areas. Civilians are weaker but unencumbered by additional restrictions. The game also introduces interior and exterior zones which require O2 tanks and restrict weapon types to energy weapons only. There's a whole bunch of new keywords for abilities as you might expect, including the ability to control the Bots and Sentry Guns.
There’s an obvious question you need to answer when talking about a game with heritage this one has, do I need to own it if I own Zombicide? The two games are certainly different, but in many ways they are also the same.
In Zombicide you are merely a human, perhaps a postal worker or waitress, you’ve learned to survive but if you take risks you will be killed. In Invader you might play as an elite soldier, decked out in power armour and armed with a prototype laser gun, not only are you tougher, but you can take the fight to the xenos and win.
In Zombicide there can be a puzzle element to your turn, trying to make sure you end in a safe position, making sure you don’t get too amped up and raise the difficulty for everyone else. In Invader you don’t need to worry quite so much. I’ve played missions with a survivor sitting alone guarding a spawn point and simply killing everything that appeared. I’ve had survivors break off from the main group to accomplish solo objectives, or split the teams to cover more ground.
Invader feels more like a game in which you can take the fight to the enemy and win… at least for a little while.
On the negative side, the missions don’t feel all that different, mostly the missions are just collect objective tokens and escape with maybe a few minor tweaks here and there. I certainly don’t feel this needs to be played as a ten episode campaign, just pick a mission and kill stuff, you’re not going to miss out on “the story”.
With the introduction of concentrated fire the big threats in the game, the Tanks and Abominations are easier to deal with, but they are more numerous to counteract this, but being able to take out these massive xenos does make you feel more heroic. With Zombicide you were always running away from the abomination, here I’ll often run towards it to stop it spreading mold.
There are plenty of positive changes to the game, including changing the friendly fire and splitting rules which players disliked in the original, but I think it all really comes down to theme when everything is said and done. Do you want to play in a walking dead-esque world of everyday heroes sneaking through a post-apocalyptic wasteland or do you want to be space marines mowing down an alien horde with futuristic weapons and a robot sidekick?
If you want a zombicide title Invader is a good one, it adds a bit more depth and few more rules, but overall makes you feel like a hero, rather than just a survivor. If however you want to have the new updated rules but like your apocalypse a bit more George A Romero, then you might want to wait for Zombicide 2nd Edition coming out later this year.