Zombicide is well known in the tabletop world. First released in 2012 it has since received a huge amount of content expansions, including taking it from its modern-day setting to the dark ages with Black Plague and even into space with Invader. Night of the Living Dead is also well known as a classic, if not 'the' classic zombie movie, released in 1968 it also received several sequels and inspired an entire genre of movies. A merging of the 2 franchises seems an obvious combination, but rather than being merely a NotLD skin over Zombicide, Night of the Living Dead: A Zombicide Game surprised us with its capture of theme and source material.
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Night of the Living Dead: A Zombicide Game has the same core gameplay as other Zombicide games, but players with previous Zombicide experience may notice a slower pace of game, which works very well in capturing the theme of the movie.
For players who haven't experienced Zombicide before, NotLD: AZG is a cooperative board game where players take on the role of the 6 survivors and either work through each mission in a campaign that follows the flow of the movie or tackle individual missions in one-off games. The core rules for Zombicide are incredibly simple, and the AI for the zombies works very well.
Each turn, survivors get 3 actions, which they can use to move, search for weapons and equipment, attack zombies, or build a barricade. Then the zombies activate and either attack a survivor if they're in the same zone or move towards the survivors if they're not in the same zone.
There are 4 types of zombies in NotLD. Regular walkers, which only take 1 damage to remove, Fatty's, who take 2 damage to remove, Breakers, who can take down the barriers that the survivors put up, letting the other zombies in, and Relatives who deliver such a shock to the survivors with their appearance, that they dramatically change the effectiveness of the survivors.
This shock is reflected with the Mode mechanic. In the early stages of the game, survivors usually start the game in Romero Mode where they are simply survivors, trying to do just that, and get through the night. They're not super effective at taking zombies out, but with some luck can do it. During the missions, survivors can upgrade to Zombicide mode, which gives them enhanced abilities for taking out the undead.
The ability to change into Zombicide mode depends on the scenario and usually revolves around a survivor passing a piece of equipment to another survivor, building trust between them. The arrival of the relative zombies automatically flip back any survivors in Zombicide mode, to Romero mode, reflecting the jarring shock of seeing someone they know as the undead.
Along with the mechanical change, there's also a physical change when survivors change modes. Each survivor card is double-sided, with the black and white art reflecting Romero mode and the color side the enhanced Zombicide mode. Each survivor also has 2 miniatures, 1 for each mode, with the upgrade to Zombicide mode miniatures being physically represented by the more aggressive stance of the character.
Everything about NotLD: AZG feels directed towards polished, straight-forward gameplay, letting you focus on what's really important, which is having fun, and messing up zombies. The rules and mechanics flow well, and the equipment cards and character boards are clear and well presented, giving you access to all the information you need quickly. Playing through the scenarios in order is a great experience, and while the weakness of the characters in Romero mode slows the pace of the game down, the game benefits from it. If you want a faster-paced game with your hero cutting through swathes of the undead, then Zombicide has 3 different settings for that. NotLD: AZG offers a more claustrophobic experience. You have to earn your kills and games can be tight.
The Bottom Line
Night of the Living Dead: A Zombicide Game feels very different from the other Zombicide games. The same straight-forward mechanics and component quality are there, but the survivors are less powerful and require building up, and can still be hampered by the appearance of the relatives. Playing through the scenarios in order is a fantastic experience, and anyone looking to recreate the movie, or simply looking for a new way to play Zombicide will enjoy this.
Get This Game If:
- You love everything Zombicide.
- You're a Romero super-fan.
- You want a different pace and feel to zombie games.
Avoid This Game If:
- You want to smash through zombies without breaking a sweat.
- You don't like zombie games.
The copy of Night of the Living Dead: A Zombicide Game used to produce this review was provided by Asmodee UK.