Custom Gaming: Zombicide – Marvel’s Avengers

There came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat: the undead.

This is the world of Marvel Zombicide.

The biggest question we got as soon as we finished Zombicide: Gotham City was one we were expecting: when are you doing Marvel? Tom and I thought about it for a while, but it wasn’t until more information about Season 3 came to light that we finally felt like maybe – just maybe – this could actually work. And we got to work designing, concepting and playtesting our newest project: Marvel Zombicide.

First was figuring out what heroes we wanted for Marvel Zombicide. While our general rule of “no metas” still stands, you’ll see that we’ve been able to create some fun dynamic characters that are wholly unique, but don’t destroy the core experience of Zombicide. Using the Marvel Cinematic Universe as our guide, we developed our core roster, and threw in a few others. Because what would Marvel be without a web-head and a savage Canadian?  While we’re almost certainly missing someone’s favorite hero (we know the omission of the Fantastic Four is particularly glaring – but that is an all-or-nothing team), we also made the choice to focus solely on heroes.

Captain America

With Captain America, we wanted to keep two core aspects of his character in tact: his shield and his natural leadership. So to start, is his vibranium shield.

The shield gives Cap three different abilities: he gains Tough, a melee attack and a ranged attack. The shield can be used to bash a single opponent – or bounce of two of them for a single fight.

The rest of Captain America’s abilities are all abilities we’ve seen before in the game. Born Leader allows him to inspire with extra actions, while his free combat and free move actions stem from the super soldier serum.

Reaper: Combat – Use this skill when assigning hits while resolving a Combat Action. One of these hits can freely kill an additional identical Zombie in the same Zone. Only one single Zombie can be killed per Action when using this skill.

Shove – The Survivor can use this skill for free, once during each of his turns. Select a Zone at Range 1 from your Survivor. All Zombies standing in the Survivor’s Zone are pushed to the selected zone. This is not a movement. Both Zones need to share a clear path: a Zombie can’t cross barricades, Fences, or walls. Shove can’t be used by Survivors in a Car.

Reaper: Combat gives Cap an edge when bouncing his shield around (or if he upgrades to new weapons). His other ability Shove is about him overcoming any odds and bashing with his shield.

Iron Man

Iron Man has one big caveat around his character: this is Tony Stark cobbling together armor as he goes. He isn’t jumping into battle with a Mark 42 or something, he’s building what he can, while he can. So don’t think of Iron Man as wielding a pistol, think of it as him augmenting his repulsor with a pistol level attack.

Point Blank – When Firing at range 0, the Survivor chooses freely the targets of his Ranged Combat Actions and can kill any type of zombies (Including Berserker Zombies). His Ranged weapons still need to inflict enough Damage to kill his target.

Point Blank puts Iron Man in a strong ranged support role for the Avengers. At the orange level, Iron Man can either build up his armor or boosts his suit with Jarvis coming online in the form of Lucky.

Lucky – The Survivor can re-roll once all the dice of each Action he takes. The new result takes the place of the previous one. This Skill stacks with the effects of other Skills (“1 re-roll per turn”, for example) and Equipment that allows re-rolls.

Tough – The Survivor ignores the first Attack he receives from a single Zombie every Zombies’ Phase.

At red, Iron Man really gets his suit going with a new skill from Season 3 – Full Auto. Read it and weep (if you’re a zombie):

Full auto – When resolving a Ranged Action, the Survivor can replace the Dice value of the Ranged weapon(s) he uses by the number of Actors standing in the targeted Zone (including other Survivors and the Survivor himself). Skills affecting the dice value, like +1 die: Ranged, still apply.

Roll 6: +1 die Ranged -You may roll an additional die for each “6” rolled on a Ranged attack. Keep on rolling additional dice as long as you keep getting “6”. Game effects that allow re-rolls (the “1 re-roll per turn” Skill or the “Plenty of ammo” Equipment card, for example) must be used before rolling any additional dice for this Skill.

If that isn’t enough, Tony can also make the most of chaining together attacks (or go crazy in Ultra Red) with Roll 6 or get his armor online with repulsors boosts in the form of a free move action.

Spider-Man

I know, we said no metas – but this is just the beginning. Spider-Man took some thinking on how to make an interesting character (and without stretching the rules too far).

Stick Around used to be our custom ability Bola hold, but we found a way to change it slightly and work in more cases. In this case, it’s Spidey’s webbing that allows him to control crowds.

Stick around – Once per turn as a free action, the survivor can use this skill targeting a zombie within 0-1 zone to which he has line of sight. The targeted zombie’s total activations are reduced by 1 for this turn. The zombie grants Point blank to all ranged attacks.

So Spidey can stop a walker or fatty in it’s tracks, or at least slow down a runner or dog, and point blank makes it a truly tactical ability that pairs well with other Survivors.

+1 zone per move and Slippery at orange give Spider-Man the ability to websling or boost his ability to sneak around. But red is where the story really sold me:

Super strength – Consider the Damage value of Melee weapons used by the Survivor to be 3.

Destiny –  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.

Lifesaver – The Survivor can use this Skill for free, once during each of his turns. Select a Zone containing at least one Zombie at Range 1 from your Survivor. All friendly Survivors in the selected Zone can be dragged to your Survivor’s Zone without penalty. This is not a Movement. A Survivor can decline the rescue and stay in the selected Zone if his controller wants to. Both Zones need to share a clear path: a Survivor can’t cross barricades, fences, or walls. Lifesaver can’t be used by a Survivor in a car or in an observation tower, nor can it be used to drag Survivors out of a car or an observation tower.

I love this combination of abilities because of how well it defines Spider-Man as a character. Super strength evokes the classic scene in Amazing Spider-Man #33 where Peter discovers the limits of his strength. Destiny is a beautiful way to execute his spider-sense. And Lifesaver is so perfect to representing him thwipping someone to safety, it’s almost silly.

Black Widow

Black Widow is mostly a reskin of Elsa, the cat burglar, in Toxic City Mall. We gave her Lucky over 2 zones per move to make her a little different. But hey, balancing 10 characters isn’t easy!

Hawkeye

Hawkeye is another reskin, but this time coming from Green Arrow in our Gotham Series. The big change to him is the reveal of the Bow in Season 3 as an actual weapon which we mocked up.

This new Bow makes some changes to Hawkeye as a ranged character – but I especially like the idea that he could, with a very lucky shot, take down an Abomination. The rest of his abilities are designed with him being a ranged character. Here’s the rules text for the rest of his abilities:

1 re-roll per turn – Once per turn, you can re-roll all the dice related to the resolution of an Action made by the Survivor. The new result takes the place of the previous one. This Skill stacks with the effects of Equipment that allow re-rolls.

Trick shot – When the Survivor is equipped with Dual Ranged weapons, he can aim at targets in different Zones with each weapon in the same Action.

Sniper – The Survivor may freely choose the targets of all his Ranged Combat Actions.

+1 Damage: [Ranged] – The Survivor gets a +1 Damage bonus with the specified type of Action.

Wolverine

Our second meta is Wolverine! Like Spider-Man, we wanted a Wolverine who would be the best at what he does… but there’s a learning curve on killing zombies where many of Wolverine’s prior skills might not transfer over 100%. It takes time to get back to your prime in the zombie apocalypse!

First up are his Claws. This special piece of equipment essentially gives Wolverine a pair of machetes up front – that also can be equipped for free… but he can’t drop them.

The orange level allows Wolverine’s healing factor to kick in (zombie bites don’t heal quite right at first) with Regneration or boost his attacks with Blitz.

Blitz – Each time your Survivor kills the last Zombie of a Zone, he gets 1 free Move Action to use immediately.

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

Red is where Wolverine really embraces destroying the undead with three abilities that keep his focus on melee. Roll 6 allows him to chain attacks, while Bloodlust: Melee gives him the feral frenzy we know and love. Finally Toxic Immunity is essential in some missions. But the combination of Blitz and Bloodlust means Wolverine will sprint ahead and leave a trail of bodies in his wake. It’s awesome.

Roll 6: +1 die Melee – You may roll an additional die for each “6” rolled on a Melee attack. Keep on rolling additional dice as long as you keep getting “6”. Game effects that allow re-rolls (the “1 re-roll per turn” Skill, for example) must be used before rolling any additional dice for this Skill.

Toxic Immunity – The Survivor is immune to Toxic Blood Spray.

Bloodlust: Melee – Spend one Action with the Survivor: He moves up to two Zones to a Zone containing at least one Zombie. He then benefits of a free Melee Combat Action.

Quicksilver

Quicksilver is the kind of character that seems impossible to make work in this game… and we honestly thought we were only going to do 8 heroes before we unlocked this miracle. With super speed, we gave Quicksilver +1 free move action three times across the board. He can zip along if needed (and in Ultra Red he’ll cover half the map in one turn). If he needs to slow down and focus on avoiding threats, Slippery has him covered. Blitz allows him to finish an enemy and effectively get a move combat action – while +1 zone per move allows him to move double time. It’s simple, but it works.

Just be careful in objective collecting missions since Quicksilver can gather them all up a little too quickly!

Slippery – The Survivor does not spend extra Actions when he performs a Move Action through a Zone where there are Zombies.

Blitz – Each time your Survivor kills the last Zombie of a Zone, he gets 1 free Move Action to use immediately.

+1 Zone per move – The Survivor can move through one extra Zone each time he performs a Move Action. This Skill stacks with other effects benefitting Move Actions.

Scarlet Witch

Our original design for Scarlet Witch was a little too lucky (literally). But her reality and luck warping powers were the focus from the beginning. So we packed Wanda up with every ability to give you a slight edge, most of the time. We’re not entirely sure what she does when she hits Ultra Red the final time… I think she just wins. Or depowers all Mutants.

1 re-roll per turn – Once per turn, you can re-roll all the dice related to the resolution of an Action made by the Survivor. The new result takes the place of the previous one. This Skill stacks with the effects of Equipment that allow re-rolls.

Destiny – 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.

Matching set! – When a Survivor performs a Search Action and draws a weapon card with the Dual symbol, he can immediately take a second card of the same type from the Equipment deck. Shuffle the deck afterward.

Lucky – The Survivor can re-roll once all the dice of each Action he takes. The new result takes the place of the previous one. This Skill stacks with the effects of other Skills (“1 re-roll per turn”, for example) and Equipment that allows re-rolls.

Distributor – Using this skill alters the spawn step during the Zombies’ Phase. When Resolving the spawn step during zombies’ phase, draw as many Zombie cards as there are Spawn Zones. Assign each of them freely to a spawn Zone, then Spawn Zombies Indicated.

Trick shot – When the Survivor is equipped with Dual Ranged weapons, he can aim at targets in different Zones with each weapon in the same Action.

Thor

Thor went through far too many iterations before we finally settling on a non-transforming Asgardian. This is cinematic universe Thor and we wanted his card to tell his story. This makes Thor unique though: he only has one Orange ability – Power of Thor.

Power of Thor – When the survivor gains this ability, he gets Mjolnir in his inventory and can rearrange his inventory as a free action.

Mjolnir is like the ultra red weapons in Toxic City Mall, but cranked up to 11. Thor’s mighty hammer has several unique attributes. First, only Thor can use it. Second, the dice and damage it deals are equal to Thor’s color level. Since Thor gets Mjolnir at orange, that gives him 3 dice and 3 damage. In Ultra Red though… Mjolnir can go up to 12 dice when fully maxed out. Finally, it can be used as both a ranged or melee attack without penalty.

At red, Thor is ready for battle with a bunch of abilities focusing on beating down the undead.

Bloodlust: Combat – Spend one Action with the Survivor: He moves up to two Zones to a Zone containing at least one Zombie. He then benefits of a free Combat Action.

+1 die: Combat – The Survivor’s weapons roll an extra die in Combat (Melee or Ranged). Dual weapons gain a die each, for a total of +2 dice per Dual Combat Action.

Hulk

Hulk is our final hero and went through more versions than Thor. And Hulk is unlike any other character in Zombicide. This isn’t a mistake on his card, Hulk permanently has HULK SMASH! equipped all the time and will never use another weapon (mostly because we couldn’t get Car Fists to work). He can search, he can carry, but any weapons will break in his hands. Here are Hulk Smash! rules:

Hulk smash! – Survivor starts with game with HULK SMASH! equipped and cannot equip any other items for the game. In the event that the survivor dies, place an Abomination on his space.

Yes, you read that right, Hulk turns into an Abomination. The rest of Hulk is about making him crush hordes of undead with some new abilities from Season 3.

Jump – The Survivor can use this Skill once during each Activation. The Survivor spends one Action: He moves two Zones into a Zone to which he has Line of Sight. Movement related Skills (like +1 Zone per Move Action or Slippery) are ignored, but Movement penalties (like having Zombies in the starting Zone) apply. Ignore all Actors, barricades, and holes in the intervening Zone (see the Angry Neighbors expansion). Any obstacles other than Actors, barricades, and holes in the intervening Zone prevent the use of this Skill.

Super strength – Consider the Damage value of Melee weapons used by the Survivor to be 3.

Barbarian – When resolving a Melee Action, the Survivor can replace the Dice value of the Melee weapon(s) he uses by the number of Actors standing in his Zone (including other Survivors and himself). Skills affecting the dice value, like +1 die: Melee, still apply.

Toxic Immunity – The Survivor is immune to Toxic Blood Spray.

And those are our Avengers for Marvel Zombicide. We would love to know what you think of them and have spent a fair amount of time playtesting them before releasing them into the wild. Need minis? We recommend tracking down some Heroclix of the respective characters. They’re in scale and already painted.

All of these characters are trademarks of Marvel Comics. Zombicide is copyright Guillotine Games. Castles and Cooks makes no claims of ownership of any these characters or designs beyond entertainment purposes.