Zero Hour is not about super-heroes. The heroes of the game are ordinary people lucky enough to be unaffected by the virus, and motivated enough to band together against the impossible. Firemen, farmers, soldiers, mechanics, gamblers, reporters, and thieves are all among the potential saviors of humanity, and it’s the skills they’ve spent their lifetime perfecting that could save the day. These skills come in many forms throughout the game, such as manipulating various dice and resources, gaining Health (or avoiding Health loss), assisting with Research, and breaking into Secured locations.
Your team will want all of these abilities in their quest to stop the Mastermind behind the Z-B13 virus. Choose your team wisely to ensure you have a balance of skills, or go all-in on a particular strategy.
Each survivor has a health rating of 2-5 which determines how much physical and psychological harm they can take before they become unconscious. Each survivor also has 2-3 abilities to assist them on their journey:
- Some abilities, such as Amy’s Locally Sourced, are one-time abilities that occur at the start of the game. However, most abilities are available to the survivors throughout the game.
- Many survivor abilities are powered by tokens. When Amy chooses to use her Plentiful Harvest ability, the player removes one token from this ability on the character sheet, then Amy takes the action described on the sheet. If there are no tokens remaining for this ability, Amy cannot use it, so she’ll need to have a plan for when she wants and needs to use this ability over the course of the game.
- Most abilities occur only on that survivor’s turn. Other survivors act more in a Support role, where their abilities can be activated on other survivor’s turns as well. Lisa’s Vanguard ability allows her to sacrifice her health during another player’s turn, which can make the difference between discovering critical intel and being forced to flee the city.
- Finally, some abilities can be re-charged, usually by being the survivor who clears the final location in a city. Jack’s Search and Rescue ability, which lets him avoid hazardous locations in the city, is strong but has only one token. When Jack clears the final location in a city, he gains a token for Search and Rescue — if there’s already a token there he gets nothing, but if it’s empty the ability refreshes. The chance for this benefit must be weighed against the risk of waiting to clear the city on Jack’s turn... and what happens if he fails.
The survivors are wonderfully illustrated by Matias Tapia, best known for his fantasy work for D&D 4th Ed. and his concept work on the video-games Borderlands 2 and Battleborn.
On Tuesday, we will see why these abilities are so useful as we prepare to enter… The City.