Custom Gaming: Zombicide: Gotham City Villains

People seemed to enjoy our first attempt at customizing Zombicide to include The Dark Knight himself, but truthfully, we always had bigger plans (much bigger plans). After extensive testing, at least four rounds of revisions, and plenty of character impersonations we present: Zombicide: Gotham City. In this installment we cover the Villains of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, who look to capitalize on the anarchy of the zombie apocalypse.

First a note, this is Zombicide: Gotham City, not super hero, or DC, or even just Batman. The reason is that we didn’t want any meta humans involved. So you won’t see us putting together survivor versions of Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, or even Green Lantern. We still wanted the characters to be grounded in reality as much as possible. That being said, Gotham City and the Rogues Gallery lend themselves to tons of fantastic character options, starting with the clown prince of crime, The Joker.

The Joker

If there’s one man who would truly “enjoy” the zombie apocalypse, it would probably be the clown prince of crime. Of every character that we’ve designed, The Joker is by far the most unique. Five of his seven abilities are custom creations, because like Batman himself, there’s just no one else quite like the Joker. Case in point, his first ability:

Level 1: Wonderful Toys

The Joker is a genius…of sorts. Particularly when it comes to creating amazing gadgets of destruction out of common everyday items. So it just feels right that Joker would know how to make a weapon out of anything. Wonderful Toys lets him do just that. Once per turn,instead of searching, Joker can discard any two cards, then reveal the top cards of the inventory deck until a weapon is found. Ignore Ahhh! cards and discard all non-weapons revealed. This ability can be done in street.

In practice, it’s ridiculous, amazing, and completely Joker-esque that he would combine a pan and a can of food to “create” a chainsaw. There’s also a nice risk/reward to using the ability, since the Joker could potentially  have to discard important non-weapon cards like gasoline, glass bottles, ammo, or scopes only to draw a pan or crowbar (speaking of crowbars, we thought it would be in poor taste to give him a +3 to rolls when attacking with a crowbar).

Level 2: +1 Action

This is the standard level 2 ability and for play and balance purposes, we are reluctant to modify it.

Level 3: Slippery or Joker Gas

Joker has a habit of slipping away in a crowd or just barely avoiding capture, so Slippery makes a lot of sense. He also has a talent for using his own personal brand of aerosal to put a smile on he faces of Gotham’s citizens. Well, we don’t think the undead can smile, but Joker’s found a way to influence the shambling hordes nonetheless.

When using Joker Gas, once per turn as an action, target a zone adjacent to the Joker. All zombies in that zone move in the direction of your choice this turn, if possible. So, Joker can’t command a group of zombies in the corner of a map to walk toward the corner, and thus not move.

Level 4: Super Sanity or Killing Joke or Last Laugh

Joker’s abilities thus far have been fun and different, but at the red danger level things get really interesting and further reflect the flavor of the character. Joker has always had a high pain threshold, and with Super Sanity he can endure zombie wounds better than others. With this power, wounds do not cause the Joker to lose items or hand slots, however two wounds will still kill him.

Since Joker has so many abilities that aren’t about attacks, his combat usefulness isn’t great. So we gave him Killing Joke, which lets him, once per turn, as a free action, automatically kill one walker or runner up to one zone away. And just to cement the Joker’s insanity we decided that the Joker couldn’t just die, he’d have to go out with a bang. With Last Laugh, when Joker dies, he drops a Molotov cocktail in his zone. Yes, that does hit any allies in the zone with him.

In our play-tests Joker really feels and plays differently than everyone else. He can still deal out damage, but he really shines with inventory management and trying to get that perfect weapon to turn the tide of the scenario. Also, having a moment where Batman had to give Joker a shotgun was beyond surreal. “Really Bats, you should probably re-think the whole no guns thing, HAHAHAHAHA.”

Harley Quinn

Batman has Robin, and the Joker has Harley Quinn. The crazy, former psychiatrist will follow the Joker anywhere, even if that anywhere involves the undead horde. Like Robin, Harley is perfectly capable and relies on agility to avoid zombies and get in position to attack.

Level 1: Slippery

Harley starts with the ability to slip past zombies, excellent flavor for her acrobatic talents.

Level 2: +1 Action

Level 3: Free Combat Action or Two Zones Per Move

Despite her mental imbalance, Harley’s always shown herself to be the Joker’s most capable and versatile henchman (henchwoman?), so giving players the choice between a Free Combat Action or Two Zones Per Move seemed to fall right in line with that flavor.

Level 4: Trick Shot or Hammer Time or Medic

At the highest danger level we really wanted to give Harley some fun abilities, and play up the circus element of her character. Trick Shot seemed like the perfect ability for a harlequin, letting her target two different zones when dual wielding ranged weapons.

Then we created a custom ability that calls back to Harley’s comically over-sized hammer (where does she store that thing?) called Hammer Time, which is essentially a super pan. Once per turn, as an action, Harley may attack every zombie in her zone or an adjacent one. She rolls an attack for each zombie and on a six, deals one damage.

Finally we gave her Medic because even if she’s not that kind of doctor, someone has to be around to treat Joker’s wounds after Batman punches him in face…again.

Ra’s al Ghul

One of the most dangerous villains in the Rogues Gallery, Ra’s al Ghul has waged epic battles with Batman. The chance to face the undead hordes provides a new challenge for the Demon, and his respect for Batman means he’d probably be willing to call a truce and help out.

Level 1: Starts with Katana

Another character that just wouldn’t feel right without the proper weapon. Ra’s starts with a katana, a sophisticated and gentlemanly weapon suited to his style.

Level 2: +1 Action

Level 3: Tough or Free Combat Action

Ra’s has shown himself to be one of Batman’s most formidable and Tough villains. His tactical mind and military prowess also mean that Ra’s might decide on taking a Free Combat Action.

Level 4: Swordmaster or +1 Die Combat or Comic Book Death

Swordmaster is an extra ability from the Zombicide rulebook, and fits perfectly with Ra’s affinity for dueling and melee combat. It allows him to treat all melee weapons as if they had the dual symbol (yes…dual chainsaws is possible). Giving Ra’s +1 die to combat let’s Ra’s focus on melee but make enough extra attacks to be effective at handling mobs, even with a Katana.

Finally, what would Ra’s be without his Lazerus Pit? Just another crazy guy with cool hair and a sword, that’s what. With Comic Book Death the first time the survivor would die, respawn back at the starting zone with full health, and any starting equipment per the character card. Retain your current XP level and any abilities. Why didn’t we just call it “Lazerus Pit”? Well, let’s just say there’s another member of the Rogues Gallery with a penchant for extending her life. All nine of them…

Two-Face

Once one of the shining beacons of justice and order in Gotham, Harvey Dent has had an incredible fall from grace. Yet, even the undead aren’t beyond justice, and while he might not seem all that special, Two-Face’s duality leads to some interesting ability choices

Level 1: Starts two pistols

Simple enough to give Two-Face his weapons of choice.

Level 2: +1 Action

Level 3: Free Move Action or Free Combat Action

Two-Face could go either way, and augment his actions with either a Free Move Action or Free Combat Action. Tough choice, but if you can’t decide which way to go, just flip a coin.

Level 4: Ambidextrous or Coin Flip or Dual Personality

Tons of great choices for Two-Face at the highest danger level. Ambidextrous lets him treat all weapons as if they had the dual symbol. Coin Flip is a custom ability that plays off of Two Face’s tendency to make all his decisions via the flip of a coin. Once per turn, as a free action, roll a d6. On a result of 1-3 gain an extra action this turn, 4-6 lose an action this turn. It’s the definition of risk versus reward, but in Two-Face’s own words, it’s fair.

Last but not least, Dent’s Dual Personality literally takes over, allowing him to dual wield any two weapons so long as each has the dual wield symbol. So for example, he could dual wield a machete and a sub-machine gun or combine the sub-machine with a sawed off shotgun and fire them simultaneously. At the ultra-red level, Two Face could combine this with Ambidextrous, which would let him dual wield any combination of weapons, leading to amazing combos like: chainsaw & sub-machine gun, rifle & shotgun, or katana & fire axe, just to name a few.

The last item you need to really make these characters work is a figure. Unlike the Ninja Turtles, the DC Heroclix work perfectly for getting a prepainted Batman figure, or other Gotham character, in your Zombicide world! Plus, they are cheap online if you don’t care about stats.

The Joker, Harley Quinn, Ra’s Al Ghul, and Two-Face are trademarks of DC Comics. Zombicide is copyright Guillotine Games. Castles and Cooks makes no claims of ownership of these characters or designs beyond entertainment purposes.

For the amazing artwork, check out Phil Cho and Terry Huddleston and of course, Arkham Asylum & Arkham City.