Amid the hustle of hordes of cosplayers and comic book fans spilling into the Anaheim Convention Center for the first day of WonderCon on Friday, March 24 to pick up exclusive merchandise, get in the front rows of panel discussions or to get books and artwork signed by their favorite artists, there was a bit of calm as small groups hit up the CMON booth in the center of all the action to play tabletop games.
With all of the colorful costumes and the sights and sounds of a bustling convention surrounding them, WonderCon attendees were able to hunker down and play the new Marvel Zombies: A Zombicide Game.
“We love it,” said Geoff Skinner, senior vice president of U.S. operations at CMON as he stood inside the large booth and guests played games around him. “We were able to come back to WonderCon for the first time last year since the pandemic. We had the Marvel United game that had just come out and until then we hadn’t been interacting one-on-one with people and by far the most rewarding thing was seeing like a 10-year-old come play for the first time. It was fun to watch them take the time to learn and these games have a ton of strategy and they can pretend to be their favorite characters, too. Watching people come, sit down, play and try it out and later say that it was one of their favorite things of the convention; that’s one of my favorite things from these weekends.”
Travis Phelops teaches people to play Marvel Zombies at the CMON booth during WomnderCon in Anaheim, CA, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Visitors to the CMON booth learn to play Marvel Zombies at during WomnderCon in Anaheim, CA, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Marvel Zombies at the CMON booth during WomnderCon in Anaheim, CA, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Louis Barna learns how to play Marvel Zombies at the CMON booth during WomnderCon in Anaheim, CA, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Marvel Zombies is the company’s latest game and is based on the five-issue limited series of graphic novels published in 2005-2006 that were written by “The Walking Dead” graphic novel series creator Robert Kirkman along with art by Sean Phillips and covers by Arthur Suydam.
CMON, which has released dozens of these types of games, used a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $500,000 to create the new tabletop game. They were stunned when in just 16 days they received more than $9 million in pledges with more than 28,500 backers earlier this year. The basic version of the game is available now at most retailers for about $34.99, however expanded and deluxe packs that were available to those that participated in the Kickstarter campaign started at $130, but included additional pawns, which were hand-sculpted and put into molds instead of being 3-D printed, and limited edition character pawns. Those more exclusive sets will be shipped soon and are expected to be fully out to all the Kickstarter backers by June.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Skinner said. “We couldn’t be more grateful for the fans that came out to support us. We had such a big first day; within the first three hours we did $3 million and it broke all of our internal records and we weren’t prepared for that. We hoped people would come out and like it, but just the amount that came, it was tough to keep up.”
Skinner said the interest in tabletop and board games has steadily increased since the early ’00s.
“Before the pandemic, I knew more people than ever that had game nights,” he said. “That could have been Cards Against Humanity, Zombicide or Catan, which is really popular and influential. But I think the match that was placed on the gasoline came when people were at home because of the pandemic and they were in their pods or with their families and they didn’t want to sit around inside. Even with as much binge-worthy TV as there was, you can only watch so much TV. It wasn’t just the uptick in the amount of people playing games again, it was also the acceptance of different types of games and people looking for different experiences.”
Those who attended WonderCon were among the first to be able to see all the exclusive pieces to the Marvel Zombies game, which in the more exclusive versions is for up to six players. Skinner said the game designers took cues directly from the comic book series, but there are a few things that set this game apart from similar games on the market.
“We made the zombies our playable characters as opposed to our normal Zombicide,” he said. “In most other games, you’re a survivor and trying to outrun, gun down or feed the zombies in some way. In this, you are zombie Hulk and you are zombie Iron Man. You’re playing against other heroes who have not been zombified and Spider-Man can swing in and try to defeat you and the non-zombie heroes can be your nemesis. You try to stave off hunger because in the comics, the whole point was every time they ate, they’d revert to normal and regret what they did, but they’d get real hungry again and they couldn’t help it.”
The game is mission based and there are multiple objectives available in the included booklet where you have to find ways to flee waves of SHIELD agents that are coming for you or you have to eat a hero, Skinner explains.
“It offers a lot of different game play depending on the mission you want to play so a lot of times you can sit down at the table and play something you’ve never played before out of the same box,” he added.
CMON also had two other games for fans to try out including new board games based on Scooby-Doo! and Stranger Things. These games were also available to guests in the the general gaming area of the convention, which featured dozens of new tabletop games.
When: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, March 25; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, March 26
Where: Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim
Tickets: Badges are $35-$55 for adults; $18-$23 for kids ages 13-17, seniors ages 60 and older and active military at comic-con.org/wca.
This article originally appeared on https://www.dailynews.com/2023/03/24/marvel-zombies-comes-to-life-in-a-tabletop-game-at-wondercon/