- Awesome take on a common theme
- Really great mechanisms
- Great components
- Way too many expansions
Zombicide: Black Plague is an American-style game, through and through. As a twist to the typical, and over-done zombie theme, the zombie plague is happening in a fantasy middle age setting. As one of the survivors of the zombie plague, you’ll have to slay zombies and work your way through a series of scenarios that grow more difficult as you continue playing.
True to most CMON games, Zombicide: Black Plague comes with a huge collection of detailed miniatures and high quality components. You’ll also find a plethora of expansions and upgrades for components, few of which I’d say are necessary. This game is still being supported, and we can expect to see the Green Horde coming soon.
Zombicide: Black Plague’s Best Points
I love American-style games (sometimes called Ameritrash or Amerithrash, depending on your preference). Zombicide: Black Plague is a perfect example of that style of game. It’s heavy on theme and has lots of fiddly pieces. This is a fully cooperative game and that alone makes it worth trying for me. The artwork is incredible, if grisly. All of those things are great, but they aren’t what really sets this game apart.
When you first open the box, you’ll notice that the components are well packaged and snug in the box. While most CMON games are well packed, they aren’t always easy to re-pack once you’ve gotten the pieces out to play. This game is different. All of the miniatures are stored in individually molded slots with a graphical guide as to which zombie models go in which slot. Additionally, they’re stored in a separate box, which closes and packs up like a dream. Everything fits like a glove (until you get any expansions, that is). As a game organization nut, that matters a lot to me.
More importantly, the game plays well. The survivors that come in the base box are well-balanced and have a lot of versatility. The actions you’re allowed to take and the reasons for them make a lot of sense, and I love that the game becomes more difficult as your characters get better during the course of each scenario. It ensures that the game is always tense. Despite that tension, the game always still feels possible to beat. That balance is an exceptionally hard thing to do with a good cooperative game, and Zombicide: Black Plague manages it well.
Zombicide: Black Plague’s Worst Points
No matter that I love this game, Zombicide: Black Plague isn’t without its warts. Most notably, moving figures often becomes unwieldy, especially later in the scenarios. Massive waves of zombies are cool to fight, and they really evoke the theme. They do, however, make it hard to move pieces on the board and distinguish which pieces go in which spaces. Implementing a rule to manage that would have been wise. A house rule we have considered is that any time a space would have more miniatures than can stand upright in that space, enough zombies move from that space to make room for the new ones. It’d follow the same rules as regular movement, and the same order of precedence for zombie activation. It may not work for you, but it’s a consideration that may help.
The experience markers also tend to either be too loose or too tight. That creates problems when trying to move them the tiny amounts usually required. I tend to either bump the player-board and send the marker skittering in a random direction, or to have to force the marker to move and have it jump too far. I don’t know that there is a really great solution for this problem. All things considered, it’s a really minor issue.
Expansions & Extras
Now, one of the best things about Zombicide: Black Plague is that the expansion content for this game is awesome…and prolific. Without any doubt, the expansion content is of the same high quality as the base game. Most of the time, you’ll open the box to great miniatures, cool new characters and abilities, and terrifying new zombies.
Additionally, the mobile app streamlined some aspects of gameplay, notably the character boards, equipment, and zombie decks. It’s well designed, if not bug free, and is available for iOS and Android
That being said, there are simply too many little expansions. I love Wolfsburg, and getting Hero Box 1 and the Notorious Plagued Characters is great. Even some of the upgraded components are really nice to have. The problem comes when CMON offers what feels like a hundred artist-boxes that add only a few heroes each and no new mechanics of any kind. It feels like a money grab, and for those of us on a budget, not feasible. Additionally, as much as Kickstarter Exclusive content can be really cool, it makes the people who found out about a Kickstarter late, or who have to save up to buy games feel ignored. I’d love to get all the content released in the Kickstarter campaign, but I have a game budget that the Kickstarter timing doesn’t often accommodate.
Once you buy expansion content, you’ll find that the nice organized box that used to hold all the components so well is no longer adequate. That’s not unexpected. Unfortunately, because I’m an organization nut, I like to have all the expansion content fit neatly into one box (if it is at all possible). With Zombicide: Black Plague, it simply isn’t. With expansions pre-planned, I believe CMON could easily have adjusted the game components in expansions or in the core game to allow for better organization. It’s nitpicky, I know, but it’s something I care about.
Buy Zombicide: Black Plague
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