Marvel Zombies Design Diary #3: Zombie Traits

I want to experience it firsthand. I want to know what it feels like to be turned!” – Reed Richard, Earth 2149

One of the trickiest elements in adapting Zombicide into the Marvel Zombies setting is the nature of its Super Heroes. In Zombicide you take on the role of the every-man, utilizing whatever scavenged supplies and weapons you can to survive. Here, we are dealing with specific Super Heroes, each with a specific arsenal and iconic skillset. So, how do you keep the “search and procure” themes of the original Zombicide while staying true to the nature of Marvel Zombies?

Michael Shinall here, co-designer of Marvel Zombies: A Zombicide Game, and that question is exactly what we’re going to dive into today.

We’re going to start by briefly speaking about how the Search system worked in the original Zombicide, for those just coming into the franchise. Then, we’ll look into how we’ve modified it for this version of the system. In Zombicide, Survivors have access to a special Action known as Searching. This is the primary way you find useful Items for your Survivor: new weapons, protective gear, etc., etc. It’s one of the core mechanics of the game and brings much excitement to the table as you never know what you will find. A chainsaw? A frying pan? A bag of rice? It could be anything! That element of discovery is one that attracts many to the system. Unfortunately, that logic stops working when you apply it to Super Heroes like Doctor Strange or Scarlet Witch, who aren’t going to randomly come across a weapon and start firing.

The solution to this was twofold. First, each Super Hero has their own Attack. You won’t find random Weapons through the game. The second, and the focus of our talk, is the existence of Zombie Traits. Mechanically, these function very similarly to how you’d Search in the core Zombicide game. During your Turn, you can spend an Action to tap into your undead nature and draw an Zombie Trait. Your character is limited to holding two of these at any time, but you can swap them out if you gain more.

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