Zombicide Season 3: Going Competitive
Designer's note #23
While Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak and the Toxic City Mall expansion will be available soon, the Guillotine team has already begun working on Zombicide Season 3. New content, new rules, new survivors, many new features, skills, and missions are in the works to bring a different view on the Zombicide universe. Everything is in progress and subject to change, including the name. For now, we like to call it Rue Morgue.
You may have heard rumors about Zombicide going competitive. Well, it’s partially true. Zombicide Season 3 is still designed as a cooperative game, but it features an optional competitive mode that includes special rules and missions built with rival teams in mind.
Wait. Rival teams?
Let’s start from the beginning.
1) BROTHERS IN ARMS
Season 3 is set a couple of months after the initial zombie outbreak. Survivors are not just gifted or lucky people battling around in their formalwear, but seasoned warriors. Supplies are scarce, and most people aren’t newbies anymore. Most survivor teams have been together for some time and have come through several battles together. They are brothers in arms. Not all teams, however, share friendly feelings and good intentions toward each other. Rivalries can arise for many reasons.
Season 3 features more survivors than previous Seasons. For now, the number is twelve. This serves the double purpose of allowing even greater choice than before and letting players form solid survivor teams.
Until now, there was no real distinction between players and survivor characters. All players and all survivors they chose were designed as “a team”. Things work a little differently in Season 3. Now, several survivor teams, controlled by different player teams, can meet on the board. The key difference lies in distinguishing between players and their miniatures: two balanced teams with four survivors each can be controlled by three players. Players A and B control survivor team 1, and player C controls survivor team 2. In another game, ten players can get a single survivor each and form ten teams of one or a single giant team. As always with Zombicide, the concept here is flexibility in service of fun.
As you can see, the concept is not difficult to grasp, but it’s an important change in the Zombicide mindset, as different teams can enter the battle with friendly, neutral, or hostile attitudes to each other. What would you do if you and your best friend were sick and found in the final moment that there was only a single drug dose?
2) THE GAME HAS CHANGED (IF YOU WANT IT TO)
This new element has several impacts on the game.
First, there are Team Actions. Regardless of the cooperative or competitive mode, any team with two or more survivors can select Team Action cards at the beginning of the game and use one of them during one of its member’s activation. This affects several team members at once and allows them to immediately perform a single Action of a predefined type. It’s like a commando-type Action. One kicks in a door and all the others open fire together at the zombie horde on the other side. One survivor with the Taunt Skill lures the undead into a trap, and the rest of the team moves in simultaneously for the slaughter. Team Actions are simple to use but can drastically change your strategy.
Second, missions played in competitive mode define a winner: the team with the most experience at the end of the game takes it all (yes, you can survive and still lose!). This very simple rules change, along the fact that teams are not forced to cooperate anymore, can radically shift the mood among the players. Negotiation is more likely to occur, especially about weapon swaps. Getting good advice from another player may come at a price. Last, but not least in this aspect, noise becomes more important than ever. As teams are spread across the board, the noisiest one will attract the whole zombie population. Check your most efficient weapons among the silent ones you own, and look after the new ones Season 3 will introduce!
Third, the competitive mode greatly increases the (already big) replayability of Zombicide. Any previous mission can be played again in competitive mode and with Team Actions.
3) RIVALRY IN A ZOMBIE WORLD
As we are players too, we already know what came to your mind while reading the previous section: “team kill” and “treason”. Before grinning like mad and thinking about the best way to kill your brethren (or fearing the way your brethren can ruin your game), you may want to know a single, game changing fact: in competitive mode, zombies are not less dangerous. We deliberately made no changes to zombies for the competitive mode. The Zombicide world doesn’t change; the mood relies on the players’ choices alone. We call this the “c’est la vie” rule.
The zombie numbers even scale according to the survivor population set at the beginning of the game. You don’t have to change anything in the Zombicide material you already own, as it is resolved (as always) in a simple manner with common 6-sided dice and spawn zones. We’ll talk more about that in a future designers’ note.
All you have to know is that the zombies are impervious to petty concepts like “loyalty”, “teamwork”, or “treason”. They will chase and kill any survivor they find, no matter how good or bad their prey behaves. You decimated another team for the lulz, and now the zombies are about to overrun you? Too bad. Maybe you should have thought about the consequences before killing the other survivors—c’est la vie.
So, you may have agreed to get competitive at the beginning of the game, sworn your team would crush your rivals, and end up helping each other as the zombies are on your heels. All the while having a great playing time with your friends!
As a final note, please remember (and spread the word) that getting competitive is optional. You may run a Season 3 game and benefit from all its new features while playing in the same cooperative atmosphere as usual. Fun is the only rule.
Welcome to the world of Zombicide Season 3!