Custom Gaming: Zombicide: Arkham Asylum Allies

When we debuted Zombicide: Gotham City that was merely the beginning of our quest to the marry the world of Batman with the incredible zombie survival game Zombicide. With the second season of Zombicide on its way though, we decided to take advantage of some of the new abilities to further flesh out the roster. First up, the Allies of Gotham who will unite to help the Bat overcome the zombie menace and take on the inmates of Arkham Asylum.

As a reminder, this is Zombicide: Arkham Asylum, not Super Hero Zombicide, DC, or even just Batman. The reason is that most meta humans make things messy when they get involved. So you won’t see us putting together survivor versions of Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, or even Green Lantern any time soon. We still wanted the characters to be grounded in reality as much as possible. And while we originally said that we probably weren’t going to create him, we begin with the first Robin – Dick Grayson – stepping out from the shadows as Nightwing.

Zombicide: Gotham City Season 1
Heroes: Batman, Robin, Catwoman & Green Arrow
Villains: Joker, Harley Quinn, Ra’s al Ghul & Two-Face

Nightwing

The problem with Nightwing, and the reason we initially shied away from including him, is that he’s basically half-Robin and half-Batman. While that can make for an interesting comic character, it presents a redundancy problem when it comes to Zombicide. Luckily some new abilities released for Season 2 helped us tap into Dick Grayson’s unique personality and skills that separate him from Bruce and the various boy wonders – starting with his penchant for talking.

Level 1: Taunt

Nightwing likes to talk, like all the time. Especially when he’s busy putting a beat down on you. He’ll crack jokes, make fun of you and generally let you know just how bad you are at fighting. While wise cracks aren’t going discourage the undead, it can make for a great distraction. Using Taunt – The Survivor can, for free, once per turn, select a Zone the Survivor can see. All Zombies standing in the selected Zone immediately gain an extra activation: they try to reach the taunting Survivor. Taunted Zombies ignore all other Survivors: they do not attack them and even pass through the zones of other survivors to reaching the source of the taunting.

Level 2: +1 Action

The standard ability, we kept this constant both for players and the fact that changing it has become a staple of the zombivors in Season 2 of Zombicide.

Level 3: +1 Free combat action or Blitz

Though he’s no longer wearing the red and green tights of Robin, Grayson is still one of the most agile and acrobatic characters in the DC universe. Yet, with a little more age and experience, he’s also become a better fighter and when the two get put together the results are devestating. You can capitalize on his fight prowess with either a free combat action or you can play up the agility with Blitz– Each time your Survivor kills the last zombie of a zone, he gets 1 free Move Action to use immediately.

Level 4: Webbing or Low Profile or Lifesaver

No matter what Grayson tries to do, he’ll never truly separate himself from Batman. The years of training and mentoring formed the basis for his skills as Nightwing and with the undead now threatening Gotham, he might fall back on that early training more than ever. At the final level, we decided to give players the option of further enhancing Nightwing’s movement, or give him some support abilities.

Webbing replaces the utility belt, and counts all inventory items as being in hand. Low Profile removes the threat of allies shooting Nightwing or running him over with a car (and gives us something other than Slippery). Finally Lifesaver allows you to choose one adjacent zone with survivors and at least one zombie in it. For free, once per turn, you can pull all survivors into your zone. This doesn’t count as movement, a survivor can decline being moved, and the movement cannot be across barriers, through walls, etc. It works similar to our grappling gun ability and was an auto-include.

Barbara Gordon 

That is not a typo – this is Barbara Gordon. The daughter of Commissioner Gordon inhabits a unique place (along with Dick Grayson) in the Bat mythos. She is well known as two different personas: Batgirl, member of The Bat Family, and Oracle, the information expert that Barbara became after Joker paralyzed her. Both personas show Barbara exercising some incredible abilities, so we decided to let you choose how she plays. That kind of versatility will be greatly desired when Gotham comes under attack from the undead.

Level 1: Destiny

Barbara has always been willing to dig for the truth. As the inquisitive Batgirl, she took after her father when it came to finding clues. As Oracle, she made all information her information. Destiny allows the character to discard the first card found when searching, and replacing it with the next card. It’s simple but makes her very useful when you’re looking for that last can of gasoline or a weapon to finish someone’s set.

Level 2: +1 Action

Still standard, so there isn’t much of a reason to mess with what works.

Level 3: Distributor or +1 free move action

This is where we wanted there to be a split between Oracle Barbara and Batgirl Barbara. If you prefer Batgirl, take the free move action and really start getting around the board. Or you can channel Oracle with the new ability Distributor. During the spawn phase, draw as many zombie cards as there are spawn zones. Decide how to assign each card, and spawn the zombies accordingly. It’s the perfect ability to match the flavor of what Oracle was all about.

Level 4: Low Profile or Lifesaver or Sidekick

Like Nightwing, Barbara’s time with Bruce means that all members of the Bat Family are going to have a bit of shared training, which comes through in the red tier. With Low Profile, she can avoid getting run over by cars or shot by allies. Lifesaver gives her the grappling gun-like ability to grab other survivors and pull them to safety, a great ability if combined with Barbara’s extra move action.

Finally, we were looking to flesh out some flavor for Barbara and her role in the Bat Family. The Sidekick ability allows Barbara to use the equipment of other survivors without having to spend an action trading. When standing in the same zone as another survivor(s), you can choose to use their weapons(s) in hand as if they were in your own. You may not use their cards in reserve or other abilities. You also may not combine dual wielding weapons across characters. This ability only works in one direction, Barbara can use other survivor’s equipment, but other survivors would need to trade to use Barbara’s.

Since Sidekick is a little complicated, here is an  example. Barbara and Nick are in the same zone. Barbara has two sub-machine guns and Nick has a shotgun with shotgun ammo. On his first two actions Barbara uses her uzis. On her third action, she invokes Sidekick and uses Nick’s shotgun, but misses. Barbara cannot use the shotgun ammo to re-roll the attack, since the ammo is not in Barbara’s reserve.

Black Canary

Though she might appear to be a strange addition at first, Black Canary is a perfect fit for Zombicide: Arkham Asylum. She has a connection with Batgirl through the Birds of Prey, is a member, and one-time chairperson of the Justice League and Ollie appeared in our first season. While her combat abilities and tactical knowledge will be helpful in holding back the undead, her famed “Canary Cry” caused a lot of debate during design.

Level 1: +1 Free Melee Action

Black Canary is a hand-to-hand combat master, rivaling even the Dark Knight himself. Her melee prowess allows her to take on small groups of zombies alone, so much so that she gets a free melee action.

Level 2: +1 Action

Level 3: +1 Roll: Melee or Loud

Continuing her specialization as a melee fighter, you can choose to add +1 Roll: Melee or you can call on her Canary Cry. While the ability does skirt our “no metas” rule a bit, Canary is generally apprehensive about using it in all but the most necessary of circumstances (plus, Jesse would argue that her Canary Cry proably wouldn’t be that effective against the undead – just loud). The ability also won’t have the same effect on the undead, so instead it just allows her to become Loud. Once per turn this allows Canary to make her zone the loudest space on the board, and lasts until her next turn. This gives her some crowd control and further allows her to execute tactics, and lets face it, no one is yelling louder.

Level 4: Two Zones per move or Born Leader or Reaper: Melee

At the highest level, we wanted to accentuate all of Canary’s abilities, which means focusing on her speed, fighting ability and leadership skills. Getting her to red will let you craft Canary into whatever type of survivor is necessary at the moment. You can match up some of her extra fighting ability with more movement – and two zones per move. Or you can play it as she found her motorcycle and can now travel twice as fast.

Born Leader allows Canary, on her turn, to give one free action to another survivor which must be used during that survivor’s next turn or be lost. A great representation of her time as leader of the JLA.

Finally, you can turn her melee skills up to eleven with Reaper: Melee. When assigning hits in a combat action, one hit can freely kill an additional zombie of the same type, in the same zone.

Red Hood

Jason Todd as Red Hood will be right at home in the zombie apocalypse. He’s never had an issue with killing, opting for the mantra “let the punishment fit the crime.” When the zombies invade Gotham, Red Hood might most fit to survive, so long as he can keep finding ammo.

Level 1: Starts with Evil Twins

The defining characteristic of Red Hood, apart from the helmet, are his two pistols and the fact that he’s not afraid to use them. Seeing as the pistols are pretty special, and he’s an expert with them, we start Red Hood with the Evil Twins – two pistols that function in one hand, setting him up as the ultimate ranged option.

Level 2: +1 Action

Level 3: Lucky or +1 Free ranged action

Jason Todd came back from the dead (with a little help), so you’d think he’s got a little luck on his side (and “Can’t use crowbars” was deemed in poor taste). With Lucky – he can re-roll all of the dice of each action that he takes. Sort of like carrying around his own box of ammo, but this ability stacks with equipment. If you’re already feeling lucky, you can simply give Red Hood another free ranged action.

Level 4: Point  Blank or +1 die ranged or +1 roll ranged

At the red level, Red Hood’s ranged abilities go off the charts,making him the point man for crowd control. Using Point Blank, the survivor can freely choose his targets when attacking with ranged weapons in his own zone as if it were a melee attack. This also allows him to kill berserkers. You can also pump up his accuracy with +1 roll ranged or ignore accuracy for extra targets with +1 die ranged.

With this setup, you really don’t have much choice, but to make Red Hood a ranged weapon specialist. However, he can be devastating if he gets the right combination (hello dual sub-machine guns), but remains equally as effective with lesser weapons like pistols.

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 pre-painted Batman figure, or other Gotham character, in your Zombicide world! Plus, they are cheap online if you don’t care about stats.

Next up, the Inmates of Arkham.

Zombicide: Gotham City Season 1
Heroes: Batman, Robin, Catwoman & Green Arrow
Villains: Joker, Harley Quinn, Ra’s al Ghul & Two-Face

Nightwing, Barbara Gordon, Black Canary, and Red Hood 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 Heder Silva De Lima.