It’s October, time for all things creepy, crawly, and cadaverous, so what could be better than a board game that pits you as a struggling survivor in a zombie infested world. The Walking Dead: The Board Game is based on the comic series of the same name. Things get tricky here to, because there is also a TV show, which has a board game based on it as well, The Walking Dead Board Game. Confusing, isn’t it? The one you want to play is the first one, the one from Z-Man games. If you want a little bit of fun, then I suggest you avoid the second one from Cryptozoic. So, now that I have you thoroughly confused and twisted around, let’s talk game.
The Walking Dead: The Board Game isn’t quite all I had hoped it would be, but the amount of hype surrounding the comic and television series may have had something to do with that. The Game doesn’t quite capture the true gritty and brutal feel of the comic, but it tries, and in some instances it succeeds. The game is heavily lucked based, so if you are looking for a hard core Euro game which relies solely upon figuring out the optimal mathematical equation to guarantee victory, you’re gonna be disappointed. If you don’t mind slinging around loads of dice (and what real gamer doesn’t?), then this could be right up your alley.
At the start of the game, each player will chose a character out of the six available, then a follower as well. These determine how well you will do when faced with challenges in the game. The object of the game is to be the first player to scout out three locations on the game map. This is much easier said than done. There are plenty of challenges to overcome, and mountains of zombies soon fill the board. The placement of zombies is one of the things I really enjoyed about this game. Every time a character moves, a zombie token is added to the space they just left. It doesn’t take long in a 4 or 5 player game for the board to quickly fill up with the zombie hordes. Sometimes you can avoid the zombies, but quite often you are gonna have to fight your way through them.
I have found that games with fewer than 4 players can be a bit easy, as characters move about the map and collect more and more followers, almost always ensuring successful encounters with the undead just because of the sheer number of dice that get rolled. So far, I have found the best results come from a 4-5 player game. There are also optional rules for playing cooperatively and a solo version. The co-op game just seems ridiculously easy, and we plowed through the game without any threat of losing. I think the game needs a little bit of fidgeting to get it to where each different group of players will want it, but it has a lot of promise and looks easily expandable.
Let’s take a look at what comes in the box. The cards are nothing special, perhaps even a shade thin, though there is a huge pile of them, 90 Encounter cards, 26 Locations, 23 Followers, and 6 Characters. The board is nice and thick, plenty durable for all the zombie fighting that is gonna happen on it. It also is up to snuff when it comes to dealing with the weight of the 216 Zombie Tokens that come with the game. We didn’t use all of them yet, but we easily had over 150 on the board in our 5 player game. I would have really liked something a little better for the Character tokens, the cardboard cutouts on a cardboard stand seem rather cheap, though I appreciate the use of the artwork in the style of the comic series.
Overall, the game was fun, but only when you have the right number of players. I’m not sure how often this will hit my table, but we all still enjoyed it. Let’s see how it stacks up on the d20 scale of value. Each game can score a max of 5 in each of the four categories, Components, Rules, Replay, and Cost, the higher the number, the better.
Components 3 I’d like to go higher on this, but the thin cards and flimsy character tokens annoy me.
Rules 4 The rules are pretty straightforward the game teaches easily in about 5 minutes.
Replay 3 As much as I enjoy killing zombies, I see the game getting repetitive quite rapidly. This will probably hit the table once a month or so.
Cost 4 With a retail price of about $42 it isn’t cost prohibitive. Yes, the components suffered a bit, but you still get a lot in the box. (Editor’s Note: You can find it at Amazon.com for $26.99).
So we end up with a d20 score of 14. Not too shabby, but still far enough from a crit hit.