The Walking Dead rose from the comic book world to stalk our TV screens, cellphones and our video game libraries, and now it looks like not even our home tabletops are safe from the undead menace. Soon, you'll be able to enact the zombie apocalypse from the comfort of your living room or basement, with a new miniature-based The Walking Dead tabletop wargame.
The upcoming #TheWalkingDead board game is being produced by Mantic Games. The UK-based publisher already has considerable pedigree, with its founders being ex-Games Workshop staff from the company's heyday. Mantic Games distinguished itself by making fantasy and sci-fi tabletop wargames that channel the spirit of classic Warhammer gameplay and now they're taking on the world of The Walking Dead comics with their new release The Walking Dead: All Out War.
It's Dead Simple
With The Walking Dead: All Out War, Mantic is hoping to expand beyond their core playerbase of hardcore wargamers and reach out into a wider audience. The game is designed to be accessible to casual players who might not be familiar with tabletop games.
Instead of the the typical heavyweight tome of lore that wargames usually ship with, All Out War comes with two rulebooks: one introductory volume that teaches the basic gameplay through quick, simple scenarios, and another that details the more complex aspects of the game, which can be introduced once the players have grasped the fundamentals.
The miniatures also come pre-assembled, so there's no klutzing around with glue and craft knives required to get started—the game can be run smoothly straight out of the box. It even comes with a set of custom dice to make gameplay quick and easy.
A Skirmish Game With Extra Bite
Players familiar with classic GW skirmish games like Necromunda or Mordheim will easily recognize the kind of small-scale battle mechanics that The Walking Dead: All Out War employs. You and your opponent assemble and control small warbands of survivors which are pitted against each other in a struggle for resources. Fans of The Walking Dead will recognize this as a key theme of the series—the most sinister danger of the zombie apocalypse are in fact other survivors. But don't get the wrong idea—the Walkers are a clear, present and escalating danger.
The game begins with a number of Walkers on the table, with more and more shambling horrors emerging as the game progresses. Move one of your models too close to a Walker and it will immediately attack. There's a noise mechanic triggered by fast movement or shooting, which can draw the attention of nearby Walkers, causing them to swarm in the direction of the incautious survivor.
A single zombie isn't too tough but in numbers they're exceedingly dangerous, and they tend to dog-pile unwary survivors and rip them to shreds. They aren't just a passive environmental hazard though. Even though players command teams of survivors, certain event cards can be drawn in-game that lets move zombies around the battlefield, using them tactically against their rivals. Canny players will also learn to intentionally generate noise to lure groups of them to certain areas.
Here's how the event phase works in The Walking Dead: All Out War:
Survival Horror On The Tabletop
All Out War brings a sense of tension and creeping dead to the genre. There's a threat level tracker, which increases as the battle intensifies, determining the effects of event cards, with more dramatic and dangerous events happening at higher threat levels. New Walkers arrive in greater numbers. Zombies you thought you'd put down for good rise to kill again.
As the threat level rises, your gang's focus shifts from completing scenario objectives and outwitting your rivals to simply surviving as the board is swarmed by Walkers. It's going to take copious amounts of skill (and no small amount of luck) to reach your objectives with your team intact, and that makes for a tense, thrilling game.
With a winning combination of classic wargame mechanics and survival horror elements, All Out War could turn out to be the chocolate and peanut butter of tabletop gaming, and offer another way to explore the compelling universe of The Walking Dead. Could it breathe some fresh life into the long running zombie genre?
What's your favorite tabletop game? Comment below!