Monday, October 31, 2022

Zombicide Invader - Andrei

The Black Squad has been fun to paint thus far.  I painted Andrei and Maria at the same time since there are fairly few similar steps for each and I thought I'd save some time on dispensing and mixing the paint.  Painting two at the same time, but I wouldn't want to go for three as it is nice to see a figure 'done' in an evening and a half rather than three.

Taunt and Shove can be a powerful combination.  Shove is one of my favorite skills even though it doesn't come up extremely frequently, it can really prevent a loss due to some unfortunate circumstances.  Oddly, Andrei is decked out with a power fist according to the game art, but there is no sign of it on the miniature.  I compromised and gave him a red fist...

Paints used on this model:
Next up on the workbench:

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Zombicide Invader - Maria

Finishing Maria means the Black Squad is half done being painted.  

Although she has the 'ho-hum' starting skill of "Combat Reflexes", she does have the orange potential of Enhanced Senses as well as a free ranged action at red.  Looks like she is fairly balanced and can choose a melee build or ranged.  

Combat Reflexes may be helpful on occasion, but I've found those occasions to be very rare indeed.  The opportunity arises so infrequently that I often forget it is there and miss using it even when it does come up.

Paints used on this model:

Next up on the workbench:

Friday, October 28, 2022

Zombicide Invader - Kyle

 Kyle makes the 3rd Character with the starting skill of Enhanced Senses that I've painted thus far.  It is an excellent skill to have given that most of the maps are full of rooms and severely limit the effectiveness of the longer-ranged weapons.  Kyle is definitely ranged-weapon-oriented and can really wreak havoc with the +1 to dice roll at orange and free ranged action at red.

Kyle is a very neat-looking mini (what mini doesn't look neat hauling around an enormous minigun) and was enjoyable to paint.  

Paints used on this model:

Next up on the workbench:

     Hm...forgot to take a picture before I started Maria...  Here is a grayscale after the cape had been started.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Zombicide Invader - Xenium Burger Testing


In the continued effort to strike the balance of challenge and excitement, another round of the Xenium Burger scenario was played.  Overall we had a great time, but due to the 'luck of the draw', we didn't see any Abominations until several turns into the game.  Things play out quite differently when 'big blue' shows up during the first draw of the spawn card.  All versions of Zombicide suffer from varying difficulty depending on the order of spawn (and search) cards drawn so it probably isn't reasonable to try to solve that problem and still use randomized decks.

The title picture of this post shows what should have been nearly the last turn of the game.  Umkos, however, found a way to up the challenge and turned back to face the Juggernaut Abomination.  My favorite photo of the game is Kyle 'tapping on the glass' to taunt the poor Juggernaut and his Worker entourage.

Umkos was a bit surprised at the speed of the Juggernaut and an extra activation put it in the same zone as the unsuspecting alien.  He quickly realized he did not actually have any way to stop the beast. 
Fortunately, Kyle still had a canister attached to his Pyre Minigun and with Jean looking on to make sure everyone was accounted for, was able to dispatch it without further issue.  

This detour resulted in another half hour tacked on to the end of the game due to being in 'Red' and both spawn points near the exit still being active.  It was a lot of fun and definitely provided some additional touch-and-go moments as the group finally made its way to the exit.

I had added back in the lower-numbered spawn cards which could be part of the reason for the slow start-up with spawning.  I've removed 5 of the lower-numbered worker spawns as well as one of each of the lowest-number cards for Tanks and Hunters.  Hopefully, that tweak will up the chances of an ideally balanced game.

After playing a solo game and finding zero energy cells in the entire game, I also enriched the item deck with 5 additional energy cells pulled from the Dark Side deck.  The SMG card was also removed as nobody really wants to find more 'starting equipment'...

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Zombicide Invader - Seeker Workers (part 2)


Wait...these guys again??  

Yes, more of them this time.  Turns out that adding the Seeker Workers and their full set of spawn cards to the deck cranks up the difficulty significantly.  Unfortunately, it cranks it up by increasing the frequency of 'Abomination Rampages'.  Since there are only 8 Seeker Worker models in the Xeno Extras package, the entire supply can be exhausted in two draws of Seeker Worker cards.  This causes not only the Seeker Workers on the board to activate again, but also all of the Abominations to get another activation.

While a healthy fear of getting too close to an abomination at the end of the player phase is a good thing, it is quite a bummer to get taken out by an abomination that started 3 zones away after its initial move.  Well, this happens quite frequently with a set of 12 abomination cards and the 11 Seeker Worker cards replacing the 11 lower-numbered original spawn cards.

I tried just removing about half of the Seeker Worker cards which did help, but it prevented the primary use of the Seeker Workers as they activated rarely and there were still only two groups of them.  To strike a balance, I'm hoping that adding an additional 8 models and staying with about half of the Seeker Worker cards will provide increased challenge, allow the Seekers to work like they should, and prevent excessive Abmonation Rampages from spoiling an otherwise exciting game. 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Zombicide Invader - Jean


Starting off the Black Squad, Captain Jean.  

Overall I'm fairly happy with how Jean turned out.  His face gave me some issues as I got a little out of practice.  The physical details of his mouth are a bit messed up which didn't help matters any.

Comparing the artwork to the model, it looks like I could have used a bit of a warmer black (dark gray) to come closer to matching, but it is close enough.

Paints used on this model:

Next up on the workbench:

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Zombicide Invader - XN35 "Crawley" Bot

Adding to the arsenal, the XN35 "Crawley" Bot has some strong firepower.  In my quest to make the game more of a challenge, I'll likely not use this bot in-game for a while, but it was good practice for the upcoming 'Black Squad' armor.

This has been the most simple paint scheme of the models I've painted thus far for Invader as the limited color palette shows below.  I was on the fence about keeping the clear rod that held the model to the base, but after scratching it with an Exacto knife while attempting to remove the masking tape I had to protect it from the primer, I decided to chop it off.  A side-cutter made quick work of it and after a bit of sanding, you can't tell the rod was ever there.  Even though the legs have fairly small contact points, I think/hope the super glue will be enough to keep the four legs fastened to the base.

The factory glued one of the guns on at a bit of an upward angle which I initially wasn't overly impressed with.  I could have cut it and adjusted it, but it definitely looks like it is within the normal operating angle of the machine so I left it.  Perhaps it is aiming at a close-range Abomination's head.  

I'm curious as to what the four non-leg appendages are imagined to be used for by the designer.  Given this machine has no melee attack, I don't expect they are geared toward combat.  Looks neat anyway. ;) 

Paints used on this model:

Next up on the workbench:

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Zombicide Invader - How to lose (or at least make it more challenging)


Hey, look!  First-round Juggernaut spawn!

One complaint about Zombicide Invader that I have seen on YouTube videos, message boards, and social media is that it is too easy.  Generally winning all the time really doesn't bother me at all as long as there is at least some point in the game that makes me think and it feels like we might not make it.  I do, however, agree that when playing using a cautious strategy and optimized actions this game can be boring for some players - especially when playing with 6.  By the time the 5th-6th player's turn comes around, there often isn't anything left to kill.  

These are the tips that have led to a nearly undefeated record (at least until putting into effect the changes discussed later):

  • Stay together
    • Never leave a character alone in a Zone at the end of the player phase
    • Don't even split into two teams of multiple characters unless the scenario requires it
  • Stay in 'blue' as long as possible
    • Prefer to waste an action rather than shoot that extra Xeno to push you to yellow
    • Spread out the experience and keep everyone close in experience to avoid one character leveling up early and leaving everyone else with 3 actions
  • Avoid Abominations rather than killing them unless necessary
    • They suck up valuable firepower and will just spawn again anyway
    • The 'reward' of 5xp pushes characters up in experience quickly which will cause more problems later
  • Search just enough to get something better than the starting weapons
    • Mold spawns initiated by a search card can make things get out of hand quickly
  • Complete the objectives as soon as possible and get out
    • While it is important to keep the xeno numbers in check to avoid extra Abomination activations, it is more risky to fall behind and play additional rounds that result in more spawns
Following the rules above with the base set of Invader (plus the Kickstarter extra xenos to add a few more Workers, Hunters, Tanks, and Spoiler), the probability of winning this game is very high.  
We've got a situation here.

To up the challenge a bit, I've been adjusting various knobs to find a better balance.  These are the differences that have made things difficult...potentially very difficult depending on the spawn draw and search results.  In fact, we're currently 0-3 on Scenario 7 - Xenium Burger.  

Set up the spawn deck:
  • Remove 11 of the lower-number spawn cards
  • Add 11 Seeker Worker cards
  • Remove 6 of the 12 Spoiler Abomination cards
  • Add 6 Juggernaut Abomination cards
Choose some lower-powered options:
  • Use only 4 characters
  • Use the Falchion Turret
  • Use the Peacekeeper Bot
Change some rules:
  • Characters start with 6 experience
    • This prevents sandbagging to stay in blue and adds more Xenos earlier in the game
  • Everyone is required to search in only Security Zones
    • It is too easy to search and the rule of who can search where really just doesn't make sense (as already discussed in my House Rule post)

The deck changes alone may be enough to provide a significantly more challenging game.  The Seeker Workers themselves are not really that big of a problem to deal with combat-wise as they are just like any other worker.  Their extra activations when another Seeker card really isn't a huge issue either if you follow the 'Stay together' tip above.  The real problem with them is that there are so few of them (8 in the KS Civilian Extras).  Within two spawns you could be out of them and from then on, additional Abominations start spawning as well as extra Abomination activations.  

The hoard prepares to enter the airlock

Frankly, I won't use this spawn deck configuration again with only 8 Seeker Worker models.  It just brings in too much unpredictability and is a recipe for an Abomination rampage.  The two options I see to bring some balance back in would be to remove half of the Seeker cards from the spawn deck or acquire additional Seeker Worker models.

I do like the Juggernaut (the model is really neat) as it puts the fear of an abomination back into the game as concentrated fire is not an option to deal with it.  The 50/50 split of Spoilers and Juggernaughts seemed to work fairly well, but will need some more plays to see if it could be better.

So we played 3 games in one night to win Xenium Burger and lost after 4 rounds the first time due to a Juggernaut rampage initiated by running out of Seekers.  The second game started off just as the first with the Juggernaut spawning at the closest spawn to the starting zone, but was lost due to a rampaging Spoiler destroying one of our objectives.  That rampage was again due to running out of Seekers and an extra Abomination card draw.  In the second game, we lasted 5-6 rounds.  The third game lasted several more rounds than the first two, but again was lost by a rampaging Juggernaut in combination with a Seeker that moved two zones and attacked thanks to 3 back-to-back Seeker cards drawn.  It could have been prevented had we stuck with Tip 1 "Stay together" as one character was left alone in one zone behind the rest of the group.  
Jared looks back as Lt Graham is consumed by Xenos

Some of the tweaks to make Invader more challenging can be done with the base game alone.  Obviously, the lesser-powered bot/turret would be used, using 4 characters instead of 6, and removing cards 1-25 are all in the rules as recommendations and do help.  However, I think the Juggernaut really adds another dimension to the game and is available in the Black Ops expansion which can still be purchased on Amazon.  As of today, the extras including the Seeker Workers, Xenomoths, and Flingers can still be found on eBay and The Game Steward.  Of course, they have one less in stock now as I decided to snag another set of them...  I see they also have the full Kickstarter Soldier Pledge which contains both Black Ops and all the extras - and a plethora of additional characters.  If you enjoy Invader and have just the core box and find it too easy, I recommend you get some of the extras mentioned here to really make this game shine.  

End of the 3rd attempt with 'enhanced difficulty'.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Zombicide Invader - Meteor Sentry Gun

Bigger baddies require bigger guns.  

This gun reduces the difficulty of the game as it counters the 3-damage-no-concentrated-fire threat introduced by the Juggernaut Abomination.  I'm sure this gun will make its in-game appearance at some point, but for now, it is being used as a test subject to practice the "dark gray" paint scheme of the Black Ops characters.

Paints used on this model:

Next up on the workbench: