A non digital board game in the days of online games and mobile demon slayage – how’s this going to work out?However – as true fans of the Walking Dead comic book series we kind of liked the idea and were eager to play this survival adventure ourselves. During our first turn we already dicovered this otherwise great game’s most problematic flaw: Its instructions and cards made a very special use of the English language. Even with an extensive knowledge of this beautiful language we more than once met a dead end, simply not knowing how to proceed or what exactly was the task or consequence at hand. No wonder the game is a little problematic for regular German Walking Dead fans – and probably even for some English players, too.
And yet. Those who are determined NOT to succumb to certain language barrieres and jump into it, will simply fall in love with the Walking Dead Board Game – as soon as the first round is over.It is more than obvious that the game’s developers have put a lot of thought into working out their gamplay – thereby transferring the comic book universe of The Walking Dead onto the board in a perfect fashion.
The great look and beautifully designed game items like the board iteslf, the game cards, tokens, and masterly sketched game characters, all Charlie Adlard style, add up to create a feeling of „yeah – let’s go for it“. I’m pretty sure we didn’t play our first round at all according to the rules, but we still had a lot of fun. It really wasn’t too important. On the contrary: The game is about creating a kind of reality – and in reality rules can change according to circumstances. This is in fact the game’s whole point. As long as all players agree, changed rules won’t really affect gameplay in a negative way. And if so – it still could be intresting.
The board itself represents the zombie infested area surrounding the city of Atlanta. The alveolar pattern provides the spaces on which to move the leading characters across the board. You may move a maximum of three spaces – or less – into the direction of your choice. In doing so, you will collect resources by facing a number of quests – mostly defined by the game’s encounter cards. Just like in the comic book, there are only a few safe entrance points into Atlanta. This is another great example for the developer’s success to reconstruct the original story.
Anyone who tries to get into the city will soon find out that zombies are literally mushrooming there. In the Walking Dead Board Game, too Atlanta is not the place for a long and cosy stay.But where do these nasty little buggers spring from? Well, Z-Man Games obviously has put a lot of thought into that question as well, and have come up with a simple but effective solution. Each player inevitably produces a long trail of zombies: When moving off of a space you will have to place a zombie token on it. This way the board continually fills up with walkers. The use of the black ammo kill dice – will even multiply this effect. And of course there is no reason why zombie tokens shouldn’t pile up on a space! Thus you may find yourself surrounded by the undead in no time. Very often a player’s recent decision will cause this effect – so it is always up to you, in a way.
The game creates a certain feeling of responsibility for a group or towards other players and even fictional followers – and puts it to the test.During gameplay you will collect a number of followers – who influence the team through their various abilities. Some are very strong, some are rather weak. All of the 23 following characters and 6 leaders are kind of pre-outlined by the comic book series. So your idea of a certain person will already exist when you take him or her on your team – and this creates a peculiar effect: You will quickly form a personal relationship towards your group or individuals that will influence your decision making. Very often according to the principle of reasonability. A strong character like Otis will probably have to put up with much more negative consequences than – say – a kid.
Anyone who has to leave little Sophia back on a space because of strategy, and doesn’t feel bad about it, really is a dick. This of course might happen because of an encounter card or by messing up a task.
Interactivity among players is also part of the game.Some encounter cards will tell you to plead with other players, to get them to perform a special action. They could be asked to put a certain amount fatigue on their team or give up some of their resources to other players. Anyone is completely free to decide for themselves. Teamplay might pay out – or not. Just like in real life. Players can also team up and thus create a bigger, more powerful group. This might add an interesting dynamic to the game: Who will be the leader? Will others accept your decisions –and vice versa? When and why is it time to split up again?
Any player who first scouts three safe locations, officially wins the game. Still players might agree to change this goal entirely, making the game harder or easier to accomplish. You might even change a few rules to that effect. It is the freedom to apply these little changes, supported by the basic rules that will make the Walking Dead Board Game so attractive and probably even more tantalising. Players might decide to play until there are no more locations to scout – or dictate a certain path or story. It’s really all up to the individuals playing.
One thing is obvious: The Walking Dead Board Game is a brilliant mix of strategy and role playing game, that really focuses more on teamplay and less on winning. The different players' personalities will always affect the events on the board. A new type of player will most certainly bring a completely new aspect to the game.