by Sebastian Haley, Creative Director
Hello everyone! Over 100 backers and $20,000+ in just a few days! That’s a good start, considering we didn’t even make any of our big announcements yet or get any love from the media this weekend. Thanks for your support, the team is super stoked that so many people are excited about Z.!
We did have one article go up: http://www.nfamousgamers.com/column/arcee/z-kickstarter-looks-fun-game-support
Glad to see I’m not the only one who works on weekends. :)
Okay, it’s late so I won’t do schtick all night. Without further ado: Zombies!
(And if you missed it yesterday, this update breaks down the basics of playing as Survivors.)
Zombies don’t use supplies like survivors do. Instead, they gain “Aggro” each turn -- the idea being that the longer you’re in the same area making noise and fighting against zombies, the more you’ll attract.
Each zombie turn, the aggro counter goes up one, and that acts as the resources from which you can summon units and lay down traps or instants. Unlike supplies, the Aggro refills after each turn, so if you’re on turn 7, you’ll have 7/7 Aggro to spend.
There are ways to both temporarily or permanently boost Aggro, and you can also boost the rate at which the counter increases. When survivors use certain cards like attacking with a particularly loud and powerful weapon (grenade, minigun, etc.), that usually increases Aggro as well.
Weak meatshield zombies are easy to spam early on, but they can be taken out without much effort. The trick is to pile them up and overwhelm the survivors, since each unit can (usually) only attack once per turn.
There are some unique zombies with special abilities, though. Here’s two examples:
A zombie that got itself tangled in a barbed wire barricade. It can’t move or attack, but has high HP and if a survivor uses a melee attack on it, they will also get tangled and sustain -50 damage each turn until the zombie is killed.
This unit is slightly more powerful than generic zombies but just as cheap to summon. The trade-off is that it drops a sword weapon card when killed. Luckily, only certain survivors can efficiently use a sword.
The Horde is a special zombie unit unlike any other unit in the game. It starts out with moderate power (roughly equivalent to three generic zombies in order to simulate a “small crowd”), but that can be increased exponentially in a number of ways.
The most common way is to sacrifice other units in order to have The Horde absorb their stats (HP and ATK). The idea being that those units joined the small crowd and made it bigger and more dangerous. The Horde does not gain any special abilities from units it absorbs, but the increase to health and attack can be more than substantial enough, especially if you sacrifice a Hero.
Loud weapons and explosions or traps/events like car alarms can also add to The Horde’s power. Sometimes the survivor player has no choice over the matter, and sometimes they have to decide whether it’s worth shooting their minigun or rocket launcher or whatever. Of course, if there is no Horde card in play, there’s no risk at all.
The Horde is also immune to a lot of negative effects or cards that would normally affect a single zombie unit. For instance, you can’t handcuff The Horde to another zombie -- it just doesn’t make sense, so you can’t do it.
The downside to The Horde is that it can sometimes be destroyed or heavily crippled with a single trap, instant, or when facing off against a Hero or two. It also requires a bit of effort to build up The Horde, so if you sacrificed a bunch of units and then lose The Horde, you’re probably going to be in trouble.
You can only have one The Horde in play at a time.... usually. ;)
Zombie heroes, like their Survivor counterparts, come packing boosted HP and ATK, plus a slew of special abilities. Perhaps they can infect survivors, gain an extra attack after a successful kill, etc. The Bride, my favorite concept character in the entire game (so far), can instantly turn a survivor if she kills them with a single attack (assuming they had max HP).
Zombie Heroes are also some of the more unique zombie characters in the game, and we’ll hopefully be showing off a few cool ones before the Kickstarter comes to a close (they take a lot more effort to make than survivors do).
Zombies wouldn’t be much good if they couldn’t infect survivors, right? So of course you can do that. Right now only certain cards and units cause infection, but we’re still toying with the possibilities.
Currently, an infected unit has two full turns before they “turn” and become controlled by the zombie player. This adds an entirely new dimension to the game, as both the survivor and zombie player have to decide how to handle that situation.
If the zombie player wants that card to turn, they have to risk going two more turns where that unit can still attack them. Playing an instant like “The Calm Before the Storm” will prevent both sides from being able to attack, so that’s a good way to bide time while the infection goes through.
If the survivor doesn’t want that card to turn, they can decide to attack it with one of own their units (something zombies can’t do except for in extremely rare cases). One card that’s a lot of fun to play is the “Dark Secret” instant, where a survivor unit is secretly infected (the survivor player isn’t notified). So at the end of two turns, oops, he/she’s a zombie now!
When they do turn, the zombie player usually gains a generic unit in their place and the original card goes to the survivor player’s graveyard. Some survivors will have zombie versions (similar to Whitney/Zombie Whitney), and there are ways to turn units into those more powerful versions instead of a generic. This is especially useful when infecting heroes.
Turning the survivors against each other is a very rewarding and evil gameplay mechanic. :)
Whether you’re a fan of Call of Duty or not (or The Grid, if you’re old-school!), Killstreaks were a good idea when Infinity Ward first implemented them. I’m a firm believer that players should be rewarded for being good at something, not punished like you would be in Mario Kart, for instance.
Killstreaks in Z. are less about being a bad-ass lone wolf and more about adding an extra layer of strategy to each match. Killstreaks are one of the only card types that can be played face-down, meaning the survivor player won’t know what Killstreak is in place until you start earning kill rewards. The Killstreak you choose should support the type of deck you have, so if your main strategy is infection, you’d probably want to put the Outbreak Killstreak in play as soon as possible:
- 3 kills: Put two generic zombies into play for each unit in the survivor player’s graveyard.
- 6 kills: Infection time is halved.
- 9 kills: Sacrifice Outbreak to instantly turn any survivor unit.
There are also Killstreaks that only grant a single reward, usually at a very high kill count (at least 10). But the reward is very powerful, and can shift the tide of the battle if the zombie player can achieve it. One example would be the Apocalypse Killstreak, where after 10 kills The Horde will automatically double in power each turn (200HP/ATK, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc.). This would be a good time for the survivor player to use a trap or instant that limits The Horde’s growth, otherwise....
Two other important rules about Killstreaks:
- Kills are not counted until a Killstreak card is in play.
- Your kill count can be broken, but not by losing a zombie card (unlike Modern Warfare, for example, where a death would reset your killstreak).
We’ll actually do an entire post on Killstreaks down the road, in case you’re interested to hear more about them and see some of the other Killstreaks we’re currently playtesting.
Traps and Instants are the only cards that work exactly the same for both survivors and zombies. Traps are always played face-down, and activate whenever the other player triggers their requirements. Because zombies don’t get to use weapons or items, a lot of their “special attacks” come from traps and instants.
- Backfire - When a survivor unit uses a gun weapon, it backfires, killing them and removing the weapon from play.
- Shock and Awe - When two or more survivors are killed in a single turn, all other survivors are stunned for their next turn.
- Bloodlust - When a zombie unit kills a survivor unit, that zombie can attack again during the same turn.
- Scathed - When a survivor kills a zombie, this card causes that survivor unit to become infected.
You guys probably get how Instants work now, so I’ll just list a few of my favorites. ;)
- One Lone Zombie - Use this card to trigger any placed survivor trap.
- Resurrection - Put a survivor unit in the graveyard into play as a generic zombie.
- Twisted Ankle - Target a survivor unit. That unit cannot act for 2 turns.
- Car Alarm - For 3 turns, the Aggro counter is increased by 2 each turn.
- Dark Secret - Target a survivor unit. That unit is now infected. The survivor player is not alerted to the infection.
The Horde, the ability to infect, and Killstreaks are the three most unique and important aspects of playing as the zombies. Survivors get a lot of cool toys to play with and things to do, but that can also be their downfall. Without having to worry about supplies or equipping and reloading weapons or choosing between searching and attacking each turn, zombies are a much more focused and offensive faction than survivors.
But the method in which you choose to deliver death comes in multiple flavors, and we’ll go over that in tomorrow’s Starter Decks post.
NOTE: All card designs are NOT final.
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