Arena Review: Zombicide Season 1 Survivor & Zombivor Add-Ons – Claudia, Ivy, Marvin & Eva

When Zombicide was on Kickstarter the first time, they offered special, optional add-on characters. There were only four in total, which is relatively tame compared to the 17 that got released for Season 2. But here’s where things get weird. The original add-on characters all dove into the deepest part of the copyright infringement pool and were able to come out unharmed. Not everyone here survived in quite the same way.

Two of the figures got changed from the original prototypes, which are fine by me since I knew I was buying them based on prototypes, not finished products. Ivy and Claudia emerged unscathed, but Marvin and Eva underwent some visual modifications.

From a post on Kickstarter, we were told this:

At Miramax’s request, Guillotine Games made some modifications to the costumes for Eva and Marvin – if you ordered them and don’t like what you got, we’ll be happy to take them back, just drop us an email.

For me, the changes weren’t much. Marvin looks a bit less like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. His hair is bigger, his tie is missing and he has a beard – that’s it for changes. Sure, the card shows him in a brown suit but a coat of paint makes him any color I want him to be! Eva was changed about the same amount. Her original design as the Bride from Kill Bill got shot down and her new figure is well disguised… by her wearing a jacket and a hat.

Each add-on comes packaged in its own box, which seems excessive to me, and includes two figures: a human and a zombivor version of each character. Two level trackers are included along with a double-sided character card.

Zombivors introduce three changes to characters, giving the game some extra depth.

  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.

Resurrection mode serves two purposes: making the game easier and making the game much harder. It makes it easier since you can come back from the dead, but the difficulty comes in when you’re expected to die… at least once.

First up is Claudia. This chainsaw wielding girl is terrifying to look at. We’re still debating over who she is actually… the hair makes us think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but the image on the box makes us think Gail from Sin City or Vasquez in Aliens from the neck down. Her figure sculpt looks great though and is cast in maroon plastic. The Zombivor version of her actually looks the least zombie-like since she is carrying Uzis just fine…

+1 to dice roll: Melee +1 Action +1 free Move Action +1 die: Combat
Low profile +1 free Combat Action

Claudia is a melee fighter that is begging to get a hold of a weapon that takes some extra effort to hit with. Tossing her a baseball bat makes her kill walkers with ease and early game, she’s perfect to pass the pan to. Of course, later in the game, +1 to dice roll: Melee becomes much better when she’s making the most of her chainsaw.

A free move action gives her a better chance at running into battle, but Low profile is easily becoming one of my new favorite abilities. 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.

At the red level, Claudia keeps the combat moving by either taking more dice, a free action or slippery. All of these abilities do limit Claudia to a strict melee character, but come Prison Outbreak, that might make her a top choice.

Zombivor Claudia
+1 to dice roll: Melee +1 free Melee Action Low profile +1 die: Combat
Toxic immunity +1 to dice roll: Combat

Zombivor Claudia really isn’t that different – except instead of being made for Prison Outbreak, she seems to be made for Toxic City Mall! Her melee focus remains, but at orange she can take either Low profile again or Toxic Immunity. Until Season 2 comes out, Toxic Immunity is useless though since this doesn’t happen:

The Survivor is immune to Toxic Blood Spray.

At red though, Zombivor Claudia sheds her melee limitations and becomes a combat specialist. It’s a nice change, especially in Ultra Red mode, but often feels like too little, too late.

Next up is Eva! Now a cross between the Bride and Jill Valentine from Resident Evil (how else do you explain the hat?), Eva is cast in a slightly different shade of yellow from Dave the Geek. Her two sculpts feature her brandishing a machine gun while the zombivor is dragging a katana along the floor. More importantly, if you really want her to look like the Bride, you can easily sand off the hat and paint over the jacket.

+1 to dice roll: Ranged +1 Action +1 free Combat Action +1 die: Ranged
Gunslinger +1 free Move Action

Eva takes an unexpected twist with her skills. Instead of being a sword combatant, she’s a ranged based character that makes her the mirror of Claudia. Starting off with +1 to dice roll: Ranged makes her incredible with the pistol early on, and terrifying with machine guns late game. At Orange level, she can either fire her guns more or pick up the ability Gunslinger:

The Survivor treats all Ranged weapons as if they had the Dual symbol.

Yes, that means she can dual wield shotguns. The final level really mirrors Claudia once more with +1 die: Ranged, a free Move Action or taking slippery. Eva definitely feels like a character for Toxic City Mall and not Prison Outbreak.

Zombivor Eva
+1 to dice roll: Ranged +1 free Ranged Action Gunslinger +1 Damage: Ranged
Regeneration +1 die: Ranged

Zombivor Eva doesn’t really make any sense. Her figure is dragging a katana but all of her abilities are ranged based – all of them! She starts with +1 to dice roll: Ranged, and at yellow gets a free Ranged Action! Her orange abilities are Gunslinger again or Regeneration, which while awesome, really only benefits melee characters. Here’s why:

At the end of each game turn, discard all wounds the Survivor received. Regeneration doesn’t work if the Survivor has been eliminated.

At red, Zombivor Eva gets +1 Damage: Ranged, +1 die: Ranged or Slippery. Yeah, it’s awesome she can kill an Abomination with a shotgun; the whole thing just feels slightly off to me, like she underwent some drastic last minute editing. Don’t get me wrong, I love her as a character, it is just weird that she’s sculpted with a sword.

Marvin is the man who clearly isn’t Samuel L. Jackson. Cast in dark blue plastic (so if you don’t paint, he won’t look anything like Doug), Marvin is an interesting character that introduces three new abilities.

Destiny +1 Action Lucky +1 free Combat action
Taunt +1 to dice roll: Combat
Born Leader

Marvin kicks off with the ability Destiny, and here is what it does:

The Survivor can use this Skill once per turn when he reveals an Equipment card he drew. Discard that card and draw another Equipment card.

Early game, this is better than a free search! Find canned food? Try again. Unexpected zombie? Try again! It keeps the early game moving without being overpowered since it can still bomb at times. Yellow is standard with +1 Action, but orange brings two abilities.

Lucky is incredible since it effectively gives you a free re-roll each action. It’s a nice shift and helps give Marvin the feeling of being blessed in some way (or maybe we’ve been playing too much Arkham Horror). Taunt is a new ability that I absolutely love:

The Survivor can use this Skill for free, once during each of his turns. Select a Zone your Survivor can see. All Zombies standing in the selected Zone immediately gain an extra activation: they try to reach the taunting Survivor by all means available. Taunted Zombies ignore all other Survivors: they do not attack them and cross the Zone they stand in if needed to reach the taunting Survivor.

Yes, it overrides Zombie line of sight! These abilities give Marvin this incredible controller feel that few other characters in Zombicide have. At red though, Marvin starts to step up again. The free Combat Action is handy, while +1 to dice roll: Combat – when combined with Lucky, make it so he rarely misses. But if you want to keep Marvin in the back, give him Born leader so he can lend actions to other party members.

Zombivor Marvin
Destiny +1 free Ranged Action Lucky +1 to dice roll: Combat
Zombie link Born leader
Low profile

Zombivor Marvin is more of the same, but with some interesting tweaks. He keeps Destiny, gets +1 Ranged Action at yellow and orange takes away Taunt which is a shame. Instead, he gets Lucky again and 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.

I’m not crazy about Zombie link right now since it just gives you around 4 extra actions at random. This might change with the expansions, but for now, Taunt is much cooler. At red, Marvin can either improve his combat with +1 to dice roll: Combat, continue being a leader with Born leader or hide in plain sight thanks to Low profile.

The final add-on figure is Angelina Jolie from Mr. And Mrs. Smith as Ivy. A nice black dress and a rifle over the shoulder tell you everything you need to know about this character. Her two figures are cast in red, almost identical to Ned in the original game, which could become an issue unpainted. Zombivor Ivy is clutching a heart, it’s gross but awesome.

Sniper +1 Action +1 free Ranged Action 1 re-roll per turn
+1 die: Combat +1 free Combat Action
+1 to dice roll: Combat

Thanks to the figure, it’s pretty obvious that Ivy is a ranged character. Her starting skill is Sniper, which makes her amazing early game as she can cover anyone who gets a little unlucky. When teamed up with Phil, she can quickly take down forces. Her yellow skill is standard, but her orange level is where Ivy gets interesting.

At orange, Ivy can pick between +1 die: Combat or +1 free Ranged Action. While the figure normally is ranged focused, having the option of going melee is nice. Plus there are times when an extra combat is better than an extra die, and vice versa. At red, Ivy goes full battle with either 1 re-roll per turn, +1 free Combat Action or +1 to dice roll: Combat. All of these are useful and give her some flexibility.

Zombivor  Ivy
Sniper +1 free Ranged Action +1 die: Combat 1 re-roll per turn
Rotten +1 to dice roll: Combat
Zombie link

Zombivor Ivy is more of the same, with a strong focus on ranged attacks. She keeps Sniper and gets a free Ranged Action at yellow. Her orange skills give her +1 die: Combat which is nice, or she can gain the ability 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 neat, but really depends on the mission. At red, Zombivor Ivy has 1 re-roll per turn, +1 to dice roll: Combat or Zombie Link. I’m not a huge fan of the link, but a free re-roll or extra dice are always solid abilities – and that is exactly how Ivy feels as a whole: solid. Her emphasis on Ranged is nice, but the flexibility of going melee is available in a pinch meaning she won’t get sidelined when Prison Outbreak is released.

Of the four optional add-on survivors, they are somewhat of a mixed bag. Each character is unique, but at the end of the day, I don’t see Claudia or Eva getting much regular play at my table. Marvin is a truly unique feeling character which I really enjoy and Ivy is an exceptional ranged fighter. Between these eight new figures and the other Kickstarter Exclusives, they help breathe some extra life into this game which we had done with Gotham City Zombicide.

But if you didn’t get these figures, don’t try and hunt them down. Print off copies of the player cards at home, grab some random minis and use those instead because they are not worth the prices they are going for on the secondary market.

Great looking figures and world class sculpts
New abilities add depth
Marvin feels truly unique

Kickstarter exclusive only
Eva and Claudia are boring
Copyright infringement isn’t fun for anyone
Not sure these feel like $40 of material…