Marvel Zombies Design Diary #5: To The Rescue! Hero Mode Explained.

Super Heroes! Michael Shinall here, co-designer of Marvel Zombies: A Zombicide Game, and today, we are here to talk about an exciting feature of the game: Super Hero Mode! One of the most heavily-asked topics since the announcement of the game has been, “Can I play as (non-infected) Super Heroes?” and the answer to that is a resounding “Yes!” So, for those of you out there who prefer to save the day rather than devour it, this is for you!

Super Hero mode comprises the primary gameplay of the X-Men: Resistance Core Box, the sister-box to Undead Avengers. In this box, you will get all the components needed to play in Super Hero Mode, ranging from the enemies (Multiple Man Walkers! Reaver Brutes! Hellfire Club Runners! And more!) to the Player-Character, Non-Zombie Super Heroes as well.

Before we get into the specifics of gameplay, another important thing to note is that each Core Box also contains the materials to allow the Super Heroes/Zombie Heroes to be played in their alternate modes, eg, the contents of both boxes come with Spawn Cards and Player Cards for each Super/Zombie Hero. Note: you’ll still need the respective Core Box to play each mode (Undead Avengers for Zombie Mode, X-Men: Resistance for Hero Mode).

Alright, let’s talk about game mechanics!


While the Super Heroes in Zombie Mode are driven by their hunger, in Super Hero Mode, a similar mechanism is Power. Think of these as sister-systems. They function very similarly, but similar doesn’t mean one is a copy of the other! With Hunger, it’s a steady track that increases the longer the Zombie Heroes go without Devouring someone. It’s a push-your-luck style system, meaning every time you make an Attack or go without Devouring for too long, you’re running the risk of becoming Ravenous and losing control of your character. Power, meanwhile, is more of a resource-management system. At the start of each Round, each Super Hero gains 1 Power and can gain additional Power in other various ways (such as the Power Up! Action or Rescuing Bystanders). Each Super Hero can have a maximum of 4 Power at any time.

What is Power used for? Well, many various Skills and Abilities require Power to be spent to activate, but probably the most common use of Power is gaining additional Attack Dice. Whenever a Super Hero performs an Attack, they can spend any amount of Power to gain that many additional dice. So, for example, Wolverine’s Adamantine Claws Attack, which usually rolls three dice, can potentially be boosted to a staggering seven dice, should he spend a total of four Power to do so. This is particularly useful (and needed!) when encountering the various Zombie Heroes that will spawn, as you need to deal them enough Hits equal to their Toughness via a single attack to take them down!

This means that Power is a resource you’ll need to carefully manage as the game goes on, as you never want to be caught surrounded by a horde of the undead and find yourself exhausted with zero Power! Know when to find a spot to safely take a moment to Power Up, then get back in the fight!


Bystanders function differently in Hero Mode as well. That’s not surprising, as you are no longer attempting to Devour them, but Rescue them!

Bystanders in Hero Mode will attempt to move towards Super Heroes, avoiding the zombie hordes as they do so. Rescuing them (by performing the Rescue Action when no enemies are present) will reward you with their Bystander Card, granting you a unique Skill to utilize while you have them. Another difference between Rescuing a Bystander and Devouring one is that, while as a zombie Devouring a Bystander is a means of reducing your hunger, in Hero Mode, Rescuing them rewards you with full Power. That’s right! You immediately fill your Power to its max, making strategic timing of Rescuing Bystanders an important factor in the game!

And while there are a couple other surprises, one final aspect to discuss is, well, that a Bystander can be used as a… Let’s call it a “heroic sacrifice,” should the situation become dire. If your Super Hero would ever suffer a Wound but currently has a Bystander with them, the Bystander can heroically jump in the way, taking the Wound at the cost of their own life! This is, of course, a dire blow to the Super Heroes, but the world of Marvel Zombies is not kind.

Speaking of Bystander being Devoured… Don’t think you can be selfishly and ignore them. The undead hordes are attracted to them just as any other source of food, and should they reach them, they will typically make quick work of them. And if a Bystander ends up being Devoured by zombies, it signals a failure for the Super Heroes. No, it doesn’t mean you lose the game, but it does cause all Super Heroes to lose 1 Power and discard a Heroic Trait if they have one. You’re a Super Hero! Your job is to SAVE PEOPLE!


Zombicide veterans are well accustomed to the traditional Walker, Brutes, Runners, and Abominations from Zombicides past, but since we’re dealing with the world of Marvel Zombies, there are some unique twists here.

Replacing the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents from Undead Avengers are various zombie-types in X-Men: Resistance, all fitting with the Marvel universe.

Walkers are represented by a zombified Multiple Man, who aside from presenting a huge threat in raw numbers, also has the ability to multiply their existing numbers on the board!

Brutes, the heavy hitters of the horde, are now Reavers, which feature a devastating Overdrive Spawn Card that can cause them to go on the warpath!

Hellfire Club Soldiers take on the role of Runners, with all the devastation associated with that classic type.

Finally, just as Super Heroes replaced Abominations in Undead Avengers, when playing Hero Mode, you’ll have to contend with the recently-departed Zombie Heroes, each featuring their own unique Skill and Toughness.

There are other exciting features to explore in Hero Mode, but this should give you a taste of things to come. The world might be overtaken by zombies, but there is still a chance we can recover from this!


Marvel Zombies: A Zombicide Game is coming to Kickstarter on January 18th! Be on the lookout for your favorite Super Hero or supporting character when the game finally launches! Sign up here to be notified on launch:

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Marvel Zombies Design Diary #5: To The Rescue! Hero Mode Explained.

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