Arena Review: Zombicide Set #1 Survivors and Zombi’vors

It’s crazy to think that Zombicide hasn’t even been out for a full year. The first Kickstarter ended just over a year ago and the Season 2 Kickstarter was insane to say the least. But as the original stretch goals mounted and add-ons continued Guillotine Games and Cool Mini or Not realized they wouldn’t be able to send everyone everything at once. So instead they sent out a second package of survivors.

First up is the set that everyone who backed the Abomination package on Kickstarter got: Set #1 Survivors and Zombi’vors. This package is compact (though assembled oddly – the back is upside down) and comfortably holds three new survivors, six zombivors (yeah, we’re dropping the apostrophe already), seven double-sided character cards and seven level trackers.

The three survivors were the last three stretch goals in the original campaign: Chaz, The Cardboard Tube Samurai and Troy. Like most of the Zombicide characters, these figures skirt the line between parody and gross copyright infringement. Cardboard Tube Samurai was made to honor Gabe and Tycho of Penny-Arcade for supporting the game.

Chaz is Chuck Norris through and through. The figure is cast in white (which makes priming it for painting a bit awkward) and is posed with two pistols ready to go. The Cardboard Tube Samurai is Gabe in all his feudal Japan glory and cast in aquamarine. Troy is Ash from Evil Dead – not Pokémon, sorry kids and cast in black. All of the figures are exceptionally sculpted and look great. Troy especially benefits from some learning since Phil was cast in a shade of dark gray that matched the zombies a little too well.

The remaining six figures are a whole new type of player character being introduced in Season 2 of Zombicide: Zombivors! These are the heroes you know and love… but undead. While still grasping to shards of their humanity, they make some changes to the game.

  1. Zombivors are only killed after taking 5 wounds, not 2.
  2. Zombivors do not all get a standard +1 Action at the Yellow Danger Level.
  3. They introduce a new optional game mode: Resurrection Mode.

These figures offer new kinds of roles in the game and generally work well for being tanks early game by swallowing up wounds, but lack the versatility in a larger game. The change at the Yellow Level is an interesting one that takes some getting used to since up until now, the yellow level has always been the same!

Resurrection Mode is a great option for two reasons. First, it can be used to speed up the game. If you die, you come back the next round as your character’s zombivor version. This is great for new players or unlucky draws and will prevent someone from feeling like they’ve been cheated. It also allows for much more extreme versions of missions where death, at least once, is inevitable.

The six zombivors are cast in the same colors as their original figures. El Cholo, Dave the Geek and Nick include brand new cards with both their survivor side and zombivor side. For season 1 survivors, Toxic City Mall includes their zombivor figures and cards.

While new figures are neat, new cards are much more exciting!

Chaz
+1 Free Melee Action +1 Action +1 free Melee Action +1 Damage: Melee
+1 to dice roll: Melee +1 free Melee Action
Born Leader

According to the official blog, Chaz also has the option of starting at the Red Danger level, but that is never mentioned anywhere else! But right away, Chaz offers some interesting abilities in a somewhat hilarious way. If you so desire, Chaz can end up taking seven melee actions in a single turn! It’s hilarious and a real shame there isn’t a “Fists” equipment card. If you don’t want to go the route of most attacks, taking +1 to dice roll: Melee and +1 Damage: Melee allow Chaz to go toe-to-toe with the biggest threats in the game as well. Born Leader is a nice touch too if for some reason he isn’t quite the powerhouse you want him to be.

Zombivor Chaz
+1 Free Melee Action +1 Free Melee Action +1 to dice roll: Melee +1 die: Combat
Is that all you’ve got? +1 free Melee Action
Born Leader

The undead version of Chaz is more of the same and really loves hand to hand combat. But what really makes Zombivor Chaz terrifying is the ability “Is that all you’ve got?” Here’s the rule for it:

You can use this Skill any time the Survivor is about to get Wounded cards. Discard one Equipment card in your Survivor’s inventory for each Wound he’s about to receive. Negate a Wounded card per discarded Equipment card.

Combined with zombivors having five wound capacity as well means Zombivor Chaz can run into battle and never, ever leave.

The Cardboard Tube Samurai
Starts with a Katana +1 Action +1 free Melee Action +1 Damage with Katana
Slippery +1 die: Combat
Low profile

The Cardboard Tube Samurai feels a lot like the Leonardo card we originally designed a long time ago. While it would have been nice if the Tube of Civilization had been made into an actual equipment card, giving him a katana is a nice work around. The choice of free Melee Action or Slippery allows him to be either a brawler or selective with his targets.

The red zone though is where he gets very interesting. +1 Damage with Katana allows him to slice through Fatties, but not Abominations, while +1 Die: Combat makes him able to cut through dozens of undead in a single turn. The last ability, Low Profile, is defined as:

The Survivor can’t be targeted by allied Ranged Attacks and can’t be hit by car attacks. Ignore him when shooting in or driving through the Zone he stands in. Weapons that kill everything in the targeted Zone, like the Molotov, still kill him.

So in a single move, Guillotine Game has recognized that their order of attacks is odd, but now avoiding is much more powerful.

Zombivor CTS
Starts with a Katana +1 free Melee Action Slippery +1 die: Combat
Toxic Immunity Low profile
Super strength

The undead version of CTS (which I obviously have to paint like the Undead CTS) is awesome. He has two new abilities, but one of them, Toxic Immunity, is currently useless until Season 2 is released. It reads:

The Survivor is immune to Toxic Blood Spray.

But the other ability, Super Strength isn’t useless at all:

The Damage value of Melee weapons used by the survivor is 3.

I love this! Again, it is pretty much what I wanted to do with Leonardo. Being able to kill an Abomination with a baseball bat or Katana just feels right, even if the name seems weird.

The final new character is Troy! Ash from Evil Dead (minus the chainsaw hand) and he’s much more versatile than Chaz, allowing him to go either melee, range or all purpose.

Troy
Starts with a Sawed-off +1 Action +1 to dice roll: Combat +1 free Melee Action
Tough +1 free Ranged Action
Webbing

Troy starts off with his Boomstick in a perfect little flavor nod. Giving him an extra die at yellow to combat turns the Sawed-off into an insanely effective attack. Tough is nice for covering those awkward misses, since it allows you to ignore the first damage each turn from zombies.

The red level is where Troy feels the most interesting though, especially with what is known about the upcoming expansion. Melee is perfect against Berserkers, while Ranged is for Toxic zombies. The final ability, Webbing, is actually the same as our Utility Belt that we gave Batman (and now I guess Spider-Man has to be made…):

All equipment in the Survivor’s inventory is considered in hand.

Zombivor Troy
Starts with a Sawed-off +1 free Ranged Action +1 to dice roll: Combat +1 free Melee Action
Zombie link Rotten
Webbing

Undead Troy really should have started with a Chainsaw, but that’s besides the point. Making the character into a Melee one just feels… weird. The combination of Zombie link and Rotten is okay, but the fact that he can’t get the free Melee Action and Webbing (unless you’re playing Ultra Red) makes the zombie version of this hero less interesting than I would like. Late game, he can be awesome as he shoots down some and melees the rest of a horde, but it takes a lot of effort to get to that point.

The final three figures are zombivor versions of the first three promotional survivors that came out with the original shipment. All three of them have been given newly issued cards that include both the survivor and zombivor cards.

Zombivor Dave
2 cocktails are better than 1 +1 free Search Action 1 re-roll per turn +1 to dice roll: Ranged
Rotten Lucky
Zombie link

The original version of Dave was an odd character that never seemed to work quite the way I wanted – unless he was focusing solely on searching and building. His secondary nature as a ranged attacked is still present, but the undead version of this geek has some new tricks, including Rotten.

At the end of his turn, if the Survivor has not taken a Combat Action, driven a car and has no produced a Noise token, place a Rotten token next to his base. As long as he has this token, he is totally ignored by any and all types of Zombies (except Zombivors) and is not considered a Noise token. Zombies don’t attack him and will even walk past him. The Survivor loses his Rotten token if he takes any Combat Action or makes noise. Even with the Rotten token, the Survivor still has to spend extra Actions to move out of a Zone crowded with Zombies.

Rotten is a neat ability and in some situations can allow for interesting game play. The fact that you still have the normal movement penalties prevents this from being overpowered in missions where you just need to get from Point A to Point B.

Lucky is a nice piece of “extra” ammo in a pinch, but feels odd on a zombie. The final ability is Zombie link.

The Survivor plays an extra turn each time an extra activation card is drawn in the Zombie pile. He plays before the extra-activated zombies. If several Survivors benefit from this skill at the same time, the players choose their activation order.

Zombie Link is another ability that is hard to judge. The original deck only contains 4 Activation cards, but depending on what Season 2 contains, this could become a very interesting ability. Currently, it is a nice shield against double activations but sadly does nothing against multiple activations due to a zombie shortage.

Zombivor Nick
Tough +1 free Ranged Action +1 die: Combat Born leader
Rotten Low profile
Ninja

Undead Nick isn’t quite the combat master his living version is, but he’s oddly stealthy. Tough is great, Rotten is interesting but being able to pick between Low profile and Ninja means he will sneak up on zombies and put them out of their misery before they even know what hit him. Oh, and he’s inspirational. I like that.

Zombivor El Cholo
Starts with 2 Machetes +1 free Melee Action +1 die: Melee +1 free Combat Action
Collector: Fatties +1 to dice roll: Combat
Super strength

El Cholo was the character who always seemed like he had the most potential due to his starting weapons, but always fell a touch short. He’s still combat focused, which he needs to be, but now has some new abilities to help him along the way, including Collector:[Zombie Type].

The survivor doubles the experience gained each time he kills a Zombie of the specified type.

Collector is interesting, but feels a little odd since Fatties are still only 1 XP – two when this is activated. But it feels like a too little too late ability in the field of battle. More dice and more combat is great and gives those fun discussions over odds and dice, while Super strength is yet another way for El Cholo to take down Abominations with his machetes. It’s probably the least of a new feel for all the characters.

This is just scratching the surface of the new Survivors and Zombivors, but as I’m rapidly approaching 2000 words, I’m calling it quits for now. These undead and living heroes add some extra spice to the game at the right time. If you don’t have them, don’t worry too much – PDFs of the cards will soon become available allowing you to play with them.

Pros
Incredible sculpts
New rules, new characters
Brings new undead life to the game

Cons
What am I to do with the old cards?
Ability definitions need to be looked up online
Some abilities don’t work with season 1