Saturday the journey up to the mighty metropolis that is Ashford to seek out the 'Dark Templar' and introduce him to the intricacies of Zombicide. Having survived the storm of the previous night there was a pang of guilt as I waved farewell to the ‘Saintly Mrs. Awdry’ surrounded, as she was, with buckets of water and soaked towels*, but this soon dissipated as today was a games day!
*it would appear ‘Awdry Towers’ had sprung a leak!
With the requisite parts of the original Zombicide, along with the Toxic Mall extension, all carefully packed off I went in search of a game or two. Mike was the perfect host and after a quick sneak peak of the new man cave and armed with a cup of tea we settled down to a quick tutorial. It is important to stress that I am still relatively new to this game and that I am not a Zombicide purist, insomuch that I have a tendency to mix things together and interpret the rules for the benefit of the games as opposed to the letter of the law – so to speak. This was to become evident as the day progressed, but with our first tentative steps it was very much the blind leading the blind! After successfully completing what seemed like a suspiciously easy scenario, due to the fact that I had completely overlooked the rule about movement when faced with a zombie, we went for a more advanced set up.
'City Blocks', ranked as a Hard scenario saw us required to collect all the objective tokens along with at least one Canned Food card, one Rice card and at least one Water card before one member of the team, equipped with said provisions, escapes off the edge of the board.
For the uninitiated, I should point out that Zombicide is a collaborative game where the players have to work together in order to achieve their goals. All seemed straight forward enough, buoyed as we were with our earlier success, but fate has a habit of dealing you a duff card, or two! My first room search had left Wanda, fearlessly brandishing two frying pans, surely things would get better?
Well the answer to my question was a resounding 'No!' with the arrival of the Abomination so early in the game.
Things got even worse when Wanda faced with dispatching a single walker to end the survivors' phase threw a one - the dull metallic thud of a frying pan missing everything but the wall behind the solitary walker's head, meant that she started the next phase with a wound!
As the game progressed, fate seemed to shine a little brighter on our rollerskating waitress as she picked up some serious weaponry in the shape of a meat cleaver and an automatic shotgun.* Now armed to the teeth Wanda was to become our vanguard, but sadly this tactic came to an abrupt end…
*I warned you I wasn't a purist as these weapons should not have been available, oh well!
Opting for search on her final move Wanda discovers a zombie under a pile of rags, already wounded the result is unavoidable - and I was so looking forward to unleashing that automatic shotgun!
It was fair to say that I wasn't having all the bad luck, with Mike's hapless Sheriff Phil opting to fire into a crowd of walkers only to miss with every shot!
What followed was an heroic, but ultimately flawed stand off as Amy and Phil fought back to back trying to buy Doug some precious time as the hordes of shambling dead surrounded them...
It was to prove a futile move and the game was abandoned in favour of lunch!
Our enthusiasm renewed, due in no small way to the restorative power of tea and sausage sandwiches, we vowed to avenge the losses of the previous game by returning to the scenario with a new cast and a clear plan of action. Mike was running Raoul and Elsa, whilst I set out with Josh and Ned. It seemed that the bad luck of the previous game was continuing to haunt me in this as my two characters found themselves accompanied by the abomination in far too tight a spot! With two actions remaining Josh was weighing up the option of leaving Ned to fend for himself when an inspired search turned up…
… the Concrete Saw, in one swift move Josh fired up the beast first time and despatched the lumbering mass that blocked their way. Now seemingly unstoppable Ned, armed with matching .44 Magnums and Josh with his shotgun and the truly awesome concrete saw, opened another set of rooms before taking up a holding role in the street.
The plan was a simple one, draw the hoards of undead towards them, buying valuable time for the others to collect the provisions and make a break for the exit point - yes we abandoned the objective tokens at this stage, but in the interest of the game you understand! Although they went down fighting with the bodies of their victims starting to pile high around them, Josh and Ned succeeded in drawing shuffling mass of reanimated corpses to one side of the board, making enough noise to literally raise the dead. Meanwhile on the other side of the board...
Mike had managed to unearth enough provisions to prepare a veritable banquet, but now had to find a way for Elsa to escape the whole length of the board. What followed was a truly cinematic moment as the hoard descended on Raoul's position; they shuffled the entire length of the board as Elsa quietly waited, having garnered enough experience points to claim 'slippery' as a skill.
As Raoul emptied his sawed off shotgun in the swarming mass for the last time, the sound of the shots slowly faded as Elsa broke cover.
Although she didn't have it all her own way, the exit was eventually reached and so our session for the day came to an end. A hugely enjoyable day, I am always impressed at how well this game works and throughout the day Mike and I were already mulling over possible custom scenarios - a St. Trinians field trip for example. With so much more to explore within the Zombicide world, I think it is fair to say that we are both looking forward to the next encounter.