Zombies. There bloomin' everywhere these days.
But, if you're partial to a bit of zombie action, you can't go far wrong with the undisputed daddy of zombie games, Zombicide.
So (for now), let's cut the jibba jabba, grab a chainsaw and unbox 'Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak'... layer by blood soaked layer...
|Off with his lid...|
|The white boxes have the minis in... More on those in a minute|
|... And their Zombivor versions|
|The return of the Pimp Mobile, the Love Bug (top left) and what looks to be the General Lee ;) (top right)|
|9 x double sided game boards...|
|... With great artwork...|
|... And a nod to 'Hellfest'|
|Finally! The minis...|
|Joshua The Protector|
|Watts the Family Man|
|Grindlock the Headbanger|
|Shannon the Soldier|
|Trays of tasty zombies...|
|... Fatty and Runners|
|Inside the Rule Book|
|Mission # 1...|
|...and Mission # 7|
Now we've had a look through the game contents, what's the overall impression?
As with previous Zombicide installments, Prison Outbreak sees Guillotine Games continuing to maintain high production standards. I'm a big fan of the art aesthetic and the overall consistency across both print and playing pieces, really gives this game a rich and edgy character.
The card-stock on the boards and tokens looks to be of good quality, although only time will tell if any warping is to occur (let's hope not). The playing cards - of which there are a lot - are of the 'mini American board game' variety and whilst this particular card size can at times be a little fiddly to handle, the game only requires you to shuffle them up at the beginning and draw thereafter. Otherwise, the cards are crisp and cleanly printed.
The Survivor ID cards themselves are a little on the thin side and a minor reservation is that through continued use, you could see the Experience Trackers taking a toll on the edges of the card. Lastly, the all important dice are of a good solid quality. I hate it when a board game does everything right, only to throw in some cheap plastic nuggets you wouldn't even taint your tub of 'spare' dice with...
Prison Outbreak comes with a total of 90 minis. This includes 6 new Survivors and their 'Zombivor' counterparts, allowing players to resurrect their characters and carry on the fight even after zombies have munched them in the neck...
The zombies themselves are all very characterful and now include 'Berserker' zombies who are immune to ranged weapons and will need to be taken down up close and personal. As always, the 'Fatties' and 'Berserker' zombies really stand out as excellent sculpts. Overall the quality of the minis is very good and given the time and the patience (that's a lot of zombies!), would look fantastic painted up.
Rules & Gameplay:
First up, I've yet to have opportunity to play 'Prison Outbreak', so won't be in a position at this time to comment on how this edition develops or improves upon my previous games of Zombicide. I'll certainly be interested to see how the new Berserker Zombies perform. I'll also be keen to see how new board interactions, such as the switches, change the pace of the game from the original.
The good thing about the Zombicide series is that they are fairly accessible for new or inexperienced gamers. Seasoned players can manage the more complex elements of the rules, primarily concerned with zombie movement etc., whilst allowing new players to concentrate on having fun bashing zombie skulls.
The rules book itself is clear and well laid out, with excellent illustrations throughout. This edition includes 11 new missions of varying difficulty, providing the players with a nice story arc. Players can also find additional missions to download via the Guillotine Games website.
Fully laden, the box is one heavy sucker and is reminiscent of the modern wave of 'packed to the gunnels' board games we now see, such as Super Dungeon Explore and Descent... You certainly get a lot of bang for your buck. But admittedly, you'll be shelling out about £70 quid for your investment. In this regard, you'll probably be looking to get this game some reasonable 'air time' amongst your gaming buddies ;)
As previously mentioned, this game does have great production values and is an attractive prospect when all laid out on the table top. The rules themselves are fairly straight forward and do lend themselves well to introducing new gamers into the hobby. The jury's out on whether or not 'Prison Outbreak' has manged to really progress the tried and tested Zombicide format (or if it even needed to). But it will be interesting to see in which direction Guillotine Games take the series in the future.
Support and expansion wise, there are a large number of options in the way of game tile and additional mini sets (I like the look of the 'Dog Companions', to keep my Survivors company...). Beyond the extra missions mentioned earlier, the Guillotine Games website also carries quite a bit of additional downloadable content. Here you can find new rules, item and weapon cards and blank Survivor ID cards, with which to create your own survivors of the apocalypse. On this subject, there is also a free and rather excellent Survivor Companion app available for tracking your survivor progress via your phone or tablet.
In summary, 'Prison Outbreak' is a winner and a welcome addition to the Zombicide family. Zombie games aren't everyone's cup of tea and it does feel that they're everywhere in the hobby these days. But I think it's fair to say that the Zombicide series is the most visually impressive and most thrilling in terms of zombie smashing action. And in this regard, it's a solid addition to any keen gamer's collection.
Until next time :)