Danger, luck, risk, and the desperation of survival are all traits that can be found in the long-running franchise, The Walking Dead. The franchise, which originally started as a graphic novel in 2003 by Robert Kirkman, exploded in popularity with the creation of a long-running series on AMC. The series, which is currently in its eighth season, lead to the creation of a series of video games from Telltale Games, as well as mobile games such as The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land.
Now, Mantic Games has brought the zombie-infested post-apocalypse into the board game arena with The Walking Dead: All Out War. At PAX Unplugged, I had the opportunity to go one-on-one with a creator of the game, which was my very first time playing a board game of this type.
Greatly inspired by both the show and the original graphic novel works, The Walking Dead: All Out War takes the sheer carnage and desperation of the franchise and translates it into a PvP board game, where players battle zombies, as well as each other, for survival. Using miniatures, dice, and cards, the ultimate objective is to secure supplies in the middle of the board, while avoiding zombies.
Despite its name, stealth is paramount in All Out War. When rolling their movement dice, players can choose to run or sneak their way to their target. Sneaking maintains a low profile at the cost of distance, while running covers more ground but makes noise to attract zombies. Players can also roll a chance to vault over obstacles, such as cars. However, this is a desperate game of survival, meaning that encounters with zombies are inevitable.
When encountering a zombie, players can roll red dice to give them a fighting chance. Each character wields a different weapon. As established within the lore, close-range weapons are silent, while guns emit a lot of noise. Rolling a die with an exclamation point yields a critical hit, but it is possible for attacks to cancel each other out. Players can receive damage, and eventually, turn into zombies themselves.
Finally, event cards are consistently drawn, changing the parameters of the zombies, and making the game constantly unpredictable. Every action raises the alert level of the environment. If the alert level gets too high, the game automatically concludes as the area becomes far too unsafe. One card that was drawn was bloodlust, which gave each zombie a sudden urge to move long distances to acquire the player’s figures.
In an instant, I and my opponent were both surrounded. As I was armed with a hatchet, I received damage but managed to eliminate one zombie, while my opponent more efficiently dispatched opponents. However, another card had him completely surrounded and allowed me to obtain supplies, as well as a victory token. After a thirty-minute gameplay session, where both of us battled for survival, I had come out on top with a score of 3-2.
My time with The Walking Dead: All Out War was fantastic. The elements of survival, risk, and chance were all present, as well as adapting the effects of your decisions. There was a constant sense of anticipation as to what would happen next, as the events constantly changed and the positions of the zombies were always a lingering threat.
Make sure to check out the game for your self on the website!