The zombies are back! Back in Medieval times that is. Now it’s up to a rag tag group of Elves, Dwarves, Men and Women to send them back from whence they came.
Fundamentally the game hasn’t changed all that much from the original version. But if you’re not familiar with that, here’s a quick rundown.
Players get 3 actions to perform each turn – move, search (if in a searchable area), open doors, trade items and attacking. Some characters have special abilities that might give them an extra move each turn or the option to search without using an action point. Performing any action uses 1 action point. Those are your basic actions.
You then need to work together with the other players to combat the endless waves of zombies hunting you down whilst trying to complete your objective – which is specific to each scenario you pick.
So what’s new with Zombicide Black Plague?
Well, you get 65 zombie miniatures including the Abomination and the newly added Necromancer (more on him later). 6 brand new survivors, game tiles, zombie cards, equipment cards and new survivor dashboard – which is one of the best improvements made. The dashboard – made of plastic, allows you to have much better control on your inventory without it sliding all over the old cardboard pieces.
Within all of this there is a quite a lot of new items. Obviously you’re going to have a whole new set of weapons both ranged and melee – Swords, Axes, Crossbows. As well as the new weapons you can also have spells. Some spells work in the same way as a ranged attack, but there are some that offer up additional effects such as healing.
You also have the addition of armour that you can now equip to help you defend yourself from zombies. What it allows is for you to roll a dice to and if you roll the value shown on the armour or higher you can deflect a zombie hit and not take damage.
As well as changes to items there are also new areas on the map to interact with in the form of vaults. They work in the same way as doors – open then with a melee weapon, you can then enter them and depending on what the scenario allows you can search in the vault to gain special weapons and you can travel through the vault to another location on the map.
Finally we have the aforementioned Necromancer – a new enemy type that brings a slight twist to the gameplay and something extra for you to think about. He can spawn from the zombie cards drawn at the end of the rounds like the abomination. When he spawns he brings with him a zombie spawn point which you then resolve as you would a normal spawn point immediately. What he then does it try to escape the map via the nearest spawn point (not the one in the same zone he starts). If he escapes the point zombie point he spawned becomes permanent, but if you manage to kill him you get to remove a zombie spawn point of your choice from the map.
Thankfully he is fairly easy to kill – he has the same hit value as a normal zombie. But should you fail to keep on top of him and he manages to get the total number of spawns up to six and then escapes the map, you lose.
I’d like to think that it hasn’t been made a lot easier with the addition of armour and spells that can heal players, but it did kind of feel that way. I will mention though that during one of our games we did get pretty lucky with dice rolls and I also had one of the special weapons from the vault which can quite easily deal with large numbers of zombies if you have the rolls going your way. So maybe if we weren’t so lucky with our rolls it would’ve been harder. Having said that, with it feeling easier I don’t think it diminished the overall satisfaction of winning, or the general gameplay. It still felt challenging and rewarding to play through. It was still just as enjoyable as the original if not a little more – this could partly be down to the fact that the medieval/fantasy setting is really cool.
One thing we did notice about it that felt a little odd was that the zones seem a little smaller then the other Zombicide games and it can quickly give you the feeling of being very crammed in to a space. This might have been intentional to help create a more claustrophobic feel to the game and I certainly felt that as it would regularly feel like zombies were right on top of you and were posing a threat at all times.
As I’ve already said I am a big fan of Zombicide already and I think the Black Plague has made the overall experience a better one. This is definitely a game that will be sticking around in my rotation for a long time! In a way it’s more of the same, but if you’re a fan of the Zombicide franchise then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. There is enough that has changed to make it feel new but all while keeping the core of the game familiar. Heck, if you’re new to Zombicide then it’s a great game to start with!