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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. (And that's very likely for beginners.)

Others, who run Zombicide demos, recommend using card decks that are programmed to come up with the right cards, so players won't have extreme experiences, but I usually don't have time to reorganise cards between games, and if the players who already stand by me, see that I organise cards, they would see that I "cheat" anyway. So I usually use some house rules to make their game easier. As it's a cooperative game, they can change their own rules even during game, without hurting an opponent.

Especially for young players, I run the whole game as a game master, and spawn zombies for the players, draw the cards, advance the experience, and so on, so the kids only need to pay attention to their own characters.

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 objective: There should be only one objective in the game every time. When the the players reach that, you can close the game if it's time to leave or to change the demo group. However, if there's still time and the same team would like to continue, put another objective on the board, and come up with some narrative. Advantage: Young players seem to prefer single objectives so they do not need to decide what to do. During regular games with multiple objectives it occured several times that the players tried to reach different 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 single 2-damage hit to kill. To make them easier to kill, if they receive two 1-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. As experience tracking is an interesting point of Zombicide, and it'very easy to explain, I only 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. The playing area takes less space.

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.

  • Use 3 tiles that prevents free zombie movement, like the ones shown on the map. Put the zombie spawn zones in the four corners. This will allow some time for the players to act before the zombies start to see them. Advantage: It's easier for the players to finish the game, because it takes more time for the zombies to reach them.
  • The bottom left tile and spawn zone is there so the players could play hide and seek with the zombies, but still need to be aware of possible zombie spawning. Advantage: It teaches players how can they use line of sight.
  • 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. When they reach the first one, I can still end the game by announcing something interesting. The players never complained for being announced as winners.

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 bottom right tile makes sure the zombies will spawn near their starting zone, so they have to hurry from that position to avoid them.

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 these demo games easier

  • The objectives are medikits. The players can use them to heal wounds. They look like red crosses anyway. Advantage: They can survive longer.
  • Add a police car in the central zone. It doesn't work, but it can be searched. Advantage: The players learn how to use police cards for searching. They can access weapons easier.
  • The players only search for one of the objectives, but they don't know where it is. Use a facedown blue as the real objective, the rest is red objective. When they find the blue objective, they win. For example, they are looking for antibiotics for an injured friend. They know where can they find medical equipment, but they need antibiotics to cure him. This option also works with the "objectives are medikits". Advantage: The players learn how the hidden objective system works. They can end the game sooner if they are lucky.

Options to make these demo games harder

  • Add an Exit zone on one of the middle zones that's not the Entry zone. The easiest place would be the zone that's on the other side of the Entry zone. To make it more difficult, choose one of the other two zones. Difficulty: It's not enough to find the objectives, they need to survive until leaving through the Exit zone. Advantage: The players learn that it's important to exit the area.

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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 (shuffle them): 3x empty, 5x 1 Walker, 2x 2 Walker
  • Second 10 cards (shuffle them): 2x empty, 3x 1 Walker, 2x 2 Walker, 1x Fatty, 1x Sewer Walker
  • The rest (shuffle them)

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

  • First 10 cards (shuffle them): 1x Aaargh!, 1x Chainsaw, 1x Sub MG, 1x Flashlight, 1x Pistol Ammo, 1x Shotgun Ammo, 1x Pistol, 1x Gasoline, 1x Bottle
  • The rest (shuffle them)

Reasons for the Search deck:

  • Aargh!: Teaches them there might be dangers when they search.
  • Chainsaw, Sub MG: Teaches them how awesome these weapons can be.
  • Flashlight: Teaches them there are flashlights that help them search the zones.
  • Pistol Ammo, Shotgun Ammo: Teaches them they can use ammo. Also, helps them survive.
  • Gasoline, Bottle: Teaches them they can build Molotov.

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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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