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Zombicide

 

I've gathered my recommendations about running demonstration games for the Zombicide Season 1 boardgame from Guillotine Games & CoolMiniOrNot.

Before you read further, I recommend you to read: Running game demos - Guidelines

When running a demo it's important to give some closure to the players and also to let them play until the time runs out. To give them the feeling of success, I recommend you let them go through their first game without losing characters, otherwise they might be discouraged to continue playing. It's up to a gamemaster to run the game and I recommend the following rules.

I usually use 2 or 4 Street tiles, depending on game space, and as I usually set the game up while explaining the rules and demonstating the basics, I create the scenery randomly instead of sticking to established scenerios, because the rulebook is usually in the hands of the players - a few doors here and there, and objectives in hard to reach spaces, and they are ready to go.

Focus of the game - Zombicide Season 1

  • Cooperative play: The players should help each other, it's one of the things that differentiate Zombicide from other zombie games. Don't be tempted to let players fight against players.
  • Different abilities: The players should get different characters with different abilities. This way the players will have to consider the abilities of the others, and rely on each other. If you run out of player miniatures or characters to use in the game, get some minis from other games and make up some rules for them from the rulebook.
  • Go for the objective: The players have to complete the objectives, they don't need to kill every single zombie on the board. If you see they try to go on a killing spree, try to steer them back to the objective of the scenario.

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Optional rules for demonstration games - Zombicide Season 1

Try to make the players last as long as you can, while still make them feel they are in constant danger. I usually give 2 characters for every player, so they will have a chance to play even after one of their characters gets killed.

There are cases when I run the whole game as a game master, and spawn zombies for the players, draw the cards, advance the experience, and so on.

Other times however I have other tables or a whole convention to organise, so I teach the players the rules, play a few turns with them, and then let them play the game alone, checking every table once in a while. For these occassions it's easier to make use of the Lazy zombies, Always in the Blue, No advancement, Sewer zombies spawn everywhere.

Losing equipment instead of wounds: When wounded, instead of getting a wound and a discarding an equipment, players only lose the equipment, and receive the wound only when they can't discard equipment cards. Until someone runs out of equipment cards, they won't die. Advantage: This way there is still a feeling of loss but the game doesn't end.

Zombies roll for combat: In the oriinal rules the zombies wound automatically. To make them weaker, the zombies only wound on a roll of 4+. Advantage: There's a chance that a character survives attacks from several zombies at once.

Single objectives: There should be only 1 objective in the game. That way if the players reach it, you can close the game if it's time. However, if they would like to continue, put a second one on the board. Also, young players seem to prefer single objectives so they do not need to decide what to do. During games it occured several times that the players tried to reach the objectives on their own, and - of course - died. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also put another street tile on the table, and put the new objective there, so they could explore a new place.

Commando squad: Instead of using the random equipment, every survivor starts with a pistol (1 dice, 4+, 1 damage)  and a crowbar (1 dice, 4+, 1 damage). I use this with the Weak Fatties rule, so they won't need 2 damage weapons, but if you use the original rules, you could add the Fire Axe to one of the players. Advantage: It's easy to remember the target number - it's 4+ with every weapon. Every player has the same tactical options and that's good for beginners. It gives more firepower to the starting group, that makes it easier for them to survive.

Lazy zombies: Instead of drawing cards while running in the Blue level, every spawning zone generates 1 Walker. This speeds up the game, the players already have their characters to care for, so they don't need the burden of the spawning cards. Also, it won't really make a difference whether you use the deck or generate the 1 walker. When they reach the Yellow level, they got used to the basic rules, so you can introduce the randomness of zombie generation. If you are running the game as a game master, you can take over the spawning, and ignore this option. Advantage: The players don't have to spend time drawing spawning card. (Although explaining it is easy.)

Weak Fatties: In the original rules the Fatties need a 2 damage hit to kill. To make them easier to kill, if they receive 2 damage during a single attack (double weapons, chainsaw, submachine gun), they can be killed. If more players spend their actions together to fight the Fatty, and roll enough damage, I also allow the kill. Advantage: It gives every player a chance to kill the Fatties even without special equipment.

Always in the Blue: Instead of advancing the difficulty, always stay in the blue level while checking for zombie spawning. Advantage: This will make zombie spawning more predictable and less deadly. The players don't have to take care of difficulty, and always check the bottom of spawning cards.

No advancement: Instead of advancing experience, the players stay the same during the game. The games are fast enough anyway not to make a difference. I usually use this rule, when I don't have splace for the players sheets on the playing area. Advantage: The players don't have to take care of experience. (Although explaining it is easy.)

No Abomination: Instead of an Abomination, spawn a Fatty. The Abomination already looks like a Fatty on the spawning card, so the players won't know the difference. Advantage: This will allow the players a chance to win the game even without Molotov coctails.

Lonely Fatty: Instead of spawning two Walkers with the Fatty, spawn a single Fatty. The walkers are not on the card anyway, so the players won't know the difference. Advantage: Killing the Fatty will be hard enough for beginners, even without the bonus Walkers.

Sewer zombies spawn everywhere: Instead of checking where are the active zones, spawn a zombie from every sewer. I use this rule on 2 or 4 tile games. If you are running the game as a game master, you can take over the spawning, and ignore this option. Advantage: The players don't have to take care of the active zones of sewer zombies. You don't have to explain the sewer rules.

 

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Scenarios for demonstration games - Zombicide Season 1

Scenario #10 made easy: This scenario has a small playing area that is still big enough to provide enough game time for a multiplayer demonstration. Reaching an objective can be quick, so the players will feel succesful even if they only have a couple of minutes to try to game. New players could join their place easily, and it's easy to see the map through, they don't have to understand what happened before.

  • Put the zombie spawn zones in the corners in the 4 corners. Advantage: It's easier for the players to finish the game, because it takes more time for the zombies to reach them.
  • Put the starting zone in the middle of the board edge instead of the corner. Advantage: The players can reach the first two objective easily, so it gives them an easy success in the beginning.
  • I use all four objectives instead of the single objective I usually use for beginner scenarios, but this seems to work.

Demo scenario v1

This one is the hardest of the easy scenarios. There is only one door on the upper left building, so they don't have options. Also, the right bottom spawn zone will get zombies on their back, so they have to hurry from the starting position.

Demo scenario v2

 

There is an extra door on the upper left building, so they can enter from two sides.

Demo scenario v3

The bottom right spawn zone is channeled into the middle, so they have some extra time in their starting area. Also, due to the position of the doors, they can take two objectives in the first round if they are lucky.

Demo scenario v4

The bottom left tile is rotated, so the sewer entrance is not in front of the door. This will make it safer to open the door. Also, the sewer is on the edge of the playing area, so any zombies spawned there will be far away from the players.

Demo scenario v5

There is two entrance to the bottom left building, allowing players to enter from either side.

Options to make this easier

  • The objectives are medikits. The players can use them to heal wounds.

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Scripted play for demonstration games - Zombicide Season 1

Zombie spawn deck: Prepare the first 10 cards, the second 10 cards, then add the rest.

  • First 10 cards: 3x empty, 5x 1 Walker, 2x 2 Walker
  • Second 10 cards: 2x empty, 3x 1 Walker, 2x 2 Walker, 1x Fatty, 1x Sewer Walker

Search deck: Prepare the first 10 cards, then add the rest.

  • First 10 cards: 1x Aaargh!, 1x Chainsaw, 1x Sub MG, 1x Flashlight, 1x Pistol Ammo, 1x Shotgun Ammo, 1x Pistol, 1x Gasoline, 1x Bottle

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Buying the product

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What do you think of my guidelines about running Zombicide demos? What are your experiences? Do you have further ideas? Tell us in the comments!

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