Zombicide: Invader is a tough one for me. I love Zombicide, if you've been reading my stuff at all then you know that by now. It doesn't come close to competing with the tense brilliance of games like Food Chain Magnate, Inis and Coimbra, but it's my favorite game in the genre of "I just want to have fun". That being said, I avoided the series entirely out of a complete lack of interest all the way through Green Horde. It was only a little over a year ago that I finally tried Black Plague for the first time and have since grown to love the series.
Which brings me to Invader. 3 games in now, and I'm uncertain how I feel so far. On the one hand, the minis are amazing, the map is striking, and the basics are the same. On the other hand, most of the changes feel like steps sideways or even backwards, although I do recognize that some of my cons might be pros for others.
So what am I talking about exactly? Let's start with the lack of Zombies spawning when you open a door. While it does speed up game time, and it removes the need to run around opening the doors while on blue level...but at the cost of the fun of "what the hell is going to be in this room". It's something that needed to be planned around, and was fun to boot. "Oh look, 4 wolves are behind that door and I have 1 action left." Crazy....but fun. I dislike the sentry robot that moves around with you...it tends to be easy to get and is a good weapon to use...eliminating a certain amount of stress of "how the hell will we deal with this mob". I wish there was some sort of restriction, or real challenge to getting it....make the players feel they earned the vengeance they are about to inflict. I don't mind the stationary gun as much as it tends to be more limited in what it can do...not nearly as much of a game breaker. I'm also really not a fan of the focused fire rules. When I first heard about it, I assumed that focused fire meant some sort of mechanic where multiple people attacking at once, could hurt an abomination, and I am heavily debating houseruling them as such. Instead focused fire just means rolling multiple hits with one attack. It removes the tenseness of what the hell are you going to do when that Abomination shows up? The counter to this is that Abominations show up far more frequently and are far more dangerous when they do, thanks to the mold they leave behind. But if I wanted more zombies, all the other zombies are there for that...the Abominations specifically exist to make the gameplay harder and not just mowing them down.
So what do I like? Well the robots are cool as long as getting them would be harder. I love the mold mechanic and how as the game progresses it gets to the point where you genuinely debate the merits of searching vs what you'l spawn. I like how the tanks protect even the workers, so that you really have to find a way to deal with them asap.I love the theme, I like the inside vs outside mechanics, and the ability to open and close doors to affect line of sight and zombie movement accordingly. There's enough here that I really want to enjoy, and I plan on playing with more Abominations and more rules from the expansions before I make any changes or decisions about keeping. Plus my kids seem to prefer this one so far, which makes getting rid of it a hard sell.
Overall I still love Zombicide but I feel invader is a step sideways at best. I want cooler weapons, better mechanics over streamlined mechanics, and more of the Zombie beat em up, but with strategy, that I've come to love.