Learning Curve: the Walking Dead first plays

Hi all and welcome back to learning curve!  This week I’ve been feverishly figuring out the rules and strategies behind the Walking Dead ‘All Out War’ from Mantic Games.

Many of you will have seen John’s unboxing of the Kickstarter exclusive late last week and will have been pretty impressed by the amount of stuff involved and the quality of the figures and everything in the box.  If you didn’t then you’ve missed out and should have a butchers at it here.

I’m not going to go over old ground, instead I’m going to discuss the rules and whether or not I think this is actually a good game or not.

the-walking-dead-game-1Having played through the starter scenarios a few times both solo and against my loving )(and ever patient) wife I think it’s fair to say that this is a fast paced and fun game.  The tension really ramps up quickly and occasionally you’ll have things just not go your way but that’s life in the wake of the zombie apocalypse I guess!  I haven’t looked in depth at constructing a team but my initial thoughts on the game are that it’s about positioning and timing.

Getting your crew in the right place so that any noise or mayhem that might attract walkers does so into vehicles and barriers rather than your dudes faces is pretty key.  In fact drawing walkers towards the enemy team is a pretty crafty way of swamping them.  Timing because moving characters in the right order and firing weapons at the correct point in the turn can give you an edge.  An example of that would be using two close-combat guys to draw nearby walkers before firing with your pistol toting mayhem causing leader (that’s Rick btw) to limit his exposure to the instant herd that will head in his direction.

In our play through things started very well for me leading Derek, Patrick and Sandra to grab four early objectives and quietly dispatch a couple of walkers.  Rick and Carl moved together since they make a great team and picked up an early supply card with Carl that meant Rick couldn’t run out of bullets…

It quickly became apparent that the only way Rick and Carl could win was by killing the other team so that’s what they did.  Hunting down Patrick and making sure he wasn’t coming back with a 9mm round to the face.  Sandra was next on the list but she slipped away as the walkers started to catch up with everyone.  By now all of Rick’s general noisiness had raised the threat level significantly and when the Pandemonium card was revealed poor old Derek was swamped by zombies, Rick fought his way clear and shot Sandra for the win with the last action of the game.  Just going to show that it’s not what you know but how prepared to be a killer you are, just like in the TV show and graphic novels.

All in all I think this is a really good game (my one concern might be scaling since in large games you’d have more survivors than walkers occasionally?) that ratchets up the tension and makes every activation feel like a tense affair whether you’re sneaking past a group of the undead or trying to raise merry-hell and attract more.  Quickly building to a crashing finale the game is fun and simple without being completely brain dead with regards to tactical movement!  I can’t wait to start building teams and playing with painted figures in more complicated scenarios and little campaigns!  Good work Mantic! -Mark

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