With the great success of the first three Seasons of Zombicide, the designers were looking to continue the brand. Throughout the years, they had been thinking about what Zombicide might look like in different settings. In the first three Seasons, they explored places like a prison, a mall, and a hospital. But what about different eras? What would it be like if a zombie plague happened in a medieval fantasy setting? How would Survivors fight back with those sorts of resources? Thus, the idea of Zombicide: Black Plague came about. As we continue our look back at the history of Zombicide, we head way, way, way back in time to a land of knights, dragons, and magic. Let’s take a look.
Thematically, Black Plague was more than just a move in terms of time and location. The zombie hordes in the original Seasons were a random force of chaos. As far as the population knew, they just showed up one day, with no greater scheme at play. However, in Black Plague, such was not the case. The zombie hordes weren’t just moving at random, searching for Survivors. They were a tool, an army for the nefarious Necromancers who unleashed them upon the world. For exactly what purpose, only they knew, but it changed the narrative from one of simply survival to one of trying to defeat agreater evil.
Mechanically, other things changed. Survivors went from having only two wounds to three. There was also armor around to potentially protect them from zombie attack. When wounded, Survivors didn’t lose equipment. This made it less a mere struggle for survival and more of heroics as Survivors could run into a fray and deal some real damage, confident of taking a few hits, but still coming out the other side (hopefully). The controversial ranged weapon attack rules were also revised, meaning that survivors were only hit if the attack missed. Fans of the original game welcomed this change and it drew in new players. Aesthetically, Black Plague also introduced the plastic dashboard holders, a vast improvement over the previous paper dashboards. Here, players could place their player card and keep track of their experience, equipment, and skills via sliders and little plastic pegs. These were a huge hit and would continue to be part of every future Zombicide game.
The Kickstarter for Zombicide: Black Plague outdid every other board game project at the time, once more giving the title of “most funded board game” to a Zombicide game. And, of course, with such success, there was bound to be more.
Green Horde took Zombicide and made it more epic. The Necromancers had spread their zombie plague into the orc lands, introducing a new type of zombie to the game. Orcs tended to travel in large groups, and thus brought the Horde mechanics to the game. Whenever a zombie orc spawned, it wouldadd another zombie to the Horde. Then, with a special spawn card, these massive mobs would invade the board. Suddenly, the Survivors had a green tidal wave of undead flesh headed their way. It was certainly something that required more firepower to deal with than a sword or bow and arrow.
The epic nature of Green Horde extended to the ways Survivors could attack zombies as well. That brings us to another new mechanic: siege weapons. Weapons like the Trebuchet and Ballista could be used to take out multiple zombies with a single attack at long distance. If the Survivors could manage to take control of these instruments of destruction, they would greatly improve their odds of making it out alive. With the fantasy setting, the designers were also able to spread their creative wings and really stretch what type of Abominations they could create. There were troll abominations, giant abominations, mutated monster abominations; even a bunny abomination and a unicorn abomination. But themost dangerous of them all were the dragons. There was a feral dragon as well as a zombie dragon from this set’s expansions that could suddenly swoop down and deal death to anything nearby. Good thing there’s siege weapons around.
Like those before it, Green Horde was also a massive success, becoming the highest grossing Zombicide game to date. Having gone back to the past with Black Plague and Green Horde, the designers once more thought about where Zombicide could be placed in time and in... space...
By Jason "Polar Bear" Koepp