For Those Who Were Crucified: The Walking Dead – All Out War

Author: Tom Chippendale

Unless you have been living feral under the docks exchanging favours for pennies then you have surely heard of The Walking Dead. From its humble debut as a graphic novel to the hit TV show, Rick Grimes and his ragtag crew have lodged themselves into the populations brain like a makeshift shiv into the mushy noggin of so many zombies.

I like The Walking Dead. I like the comics and I like the shows and as soon as I saw the Mantic games Kickstarter for The Walking Dead: All Out War I popped a little boner. Not a big enough boner to back it mind you but a big enough one to hope it did well and I could pick up a copy at my local games shop at some point. Luckily 3700+ people who are functioning members of society saw fit to pledge $685,853 of a $50,000 goal and while not the ludicrous amounts of money you see flying around on Kickstarter it was still more than enough to make my dreams of having a decent table top experience of The Walking Dead come to life.

Now here’s where the road splits a little. On the right, we have The Walking Dead TV show, Daryl Dixon is sitting on his motorbike whittling something phallic and winking at you whilst on the left we have a mound of graphic novels with a sweaty neckbeard explaining every single difference between the books and the TV show to no one in particular. With a sigh and a little call me hand sign to Daryl we are pottering off down the graphic novel route. Mantic games partnered up with Skybound who own the franchise to the comic book story of The Walking Dead. Once you get over the fact that some characters are different the general story arc is the same. Rick is still punching everyone, Carl still deserves a punch, they go to Atlanta, the farm, the prison but for now we are going to focus on the groups Atlanta exploits as this is where the first part of The Walking Dead: All Out War is set.

I’m going to concentrate on the core set as this is going to be the entry point for most gamers. The box itself is pretty well put together but for me the best part was the size. At 11 square inches it’s smaller than a medium pizza, I can chuck it in my bag and take  it with me to wherever my gaming group is. Content wise you get the usual rule book and quick start booklet, cards and dice in their little baggies, a decent selection of 18 models and my favourite bit the double-sided tokens that are weirdly therapeutic to pop out of their sheet.

For those of you that get excited about cards and inventory management then get ready to spaff all over your wipe clean card covers because this bad boy comes with 4 different sets of cards. You have the large character cards, a selection of equipment cards, a set of supply cards and a stack of event cards. Whilst the game suggests a 20-square inch gaming area you’re going to need to double that just to get all the cards on the table. Every character card has slots for 4 items along its edges and a space below for inventory, times this by 4 or 5 per side when playing larger games and soon enough you might as well be playing Magic the Gathering.

The core set comes with 2D card scenery and Loot markers which does make this game have more of a board game feel. Personally, the cardboard scenery is very well presented and does come in handy for saving space but if I’m painting tiny zombies you can fucking bet I’m painting the ruined cars and barricades that Mantic released as an upgrade set. Included is a double-sided paper play matt which honestly you might as well laminate it as soon as possible as even unfolding it for the first time will crack the print straight away. Mantic have caught onto this complain though and released Neoprene gaming mats but as a wargamer in general I was pumped to start working on a board of my own.

As for the models one grievance I heard was the lack of realism in the models but the sculpts are based on the comic artwork of Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard so that opinion can get in the bin. Sculpt wise they look like the comic characters even some of the zombies get a cameo like the mohawk GBH shirt walker from the graphic novels so what more do you want. One thing I will say is the plastic they are moulded in (Polyurethane says my casting mate) is a bit soft. Good for models not snapping during transport but I’ve had to bend arms and gun barrels back into place more than once.

While everything has ticked the right boxes with me so far, it’s time to dig into the gameplay where great ideas go to die. The Rulebook at a whopping 40 pages is for once not a massive ball ache to read through. Roughly 20 of those pages contain actual rules and the rest is a basic two player scenario, reference sheets, advanced rules and pretty pictures. Overall the rules are easy as hell and if you are familiar with war gaming you’ll pick it up the turn sequence pretty fast.

Action phase: Leg it about and shoot shit.
Event Phase: Walkers leg it about a bit then you draw an event card to see what mad shit is going on in your miniature world.
Melee Phase: Everyone forms an orderly queue to punch the shit out of each other.
End phase: Pretty much maintenance time, check on walkers to see if they want to get up or not, check if anyone is bitten, check if the scenario conditions have been met yet and most importantly which doesn’t appear in the rulebook for some reason is think up insults and threats to berate your opponent with before the start of the next round.

The walkers act like scenery that’ll kick your head in. On their own you can easily walk past them. It’s when they group up that the tension really sets in and you realise you’ve been paying too much attention to what your opponent is doing and not enough on how many and slowly been wandering after you. This is where the walkers attacks start to make you sweat. One walker in combat gets one red dice the most basic attack dice in the game however if a second walker wanders into that combat then the outnumbered bonus comes into play, a second walker adds 2 more dice to the pool a third adds 3 more to a total of 6. Once this happens unless the walkers roll terribly you can be pretty sure you’re getting torn to pieces and your sweet meats nibbled on.

The addition of a threat tracker is a nice touch to the game. Gunshots, fighting and general events will raise the threat. Each character has a level of nerve equal to how much of a wimp they are, as soon as the threat passes their nerve characteristic you must roll a panic dice to see how much they have lost their shit at seeing the undead prancing around them. There are 5 unique outcomes on this 6 sided dice I won’t go into all of them but its more than likely your character will either decide to leg it in the opposite direction to whatever’s spooked them, Wail like a child or go all Rambo and get a melee boost. The rules on a whole are damn simple. How simple you ask? Well they ain’t Age of Sigmar simple but I ran three people who don’t play wargames through a game in a loud pub after a few too many beers glancing at the reference sheet every now and then. There are optional rules for scenery and in the current expansion additional rules have been added for creating custom characters, scenario themed game mechanics and points based gang building.

Overall I am into this game. The setting and style is spot on and the small skirmish play style is easy to pick up whenever you feel like a quick game. Mantic uses the tag line ‘How will you survive’ turns out in the games I’ve played it’s mainly been how can I fuck over my friends, dodge the undead and escape with the last remaining tin of a beans on earth. With Mantic steadily releasing expansions I’m pretty sure they will continue to get my money. I strongly suggest picking up the Core Set and seeing how you feel first hand and its cheap as chips anyway in classic Mantic fashion.

 

4 thoughts on “For Those Who Were Crucified: The Walking Dead – All Out War

  1. I fucking love WD:AOW the 50/50 dice is genius, as any decision can be taken into account, which has lead me to ask opponents questions like these: “Dude shields i climb to the top of this pylon, blank i fall off and roll for damage or have half movement?” and “(next turn) dude if i roll a shield can i make like tango and cash and slide down the wires to that building?, if i roll blank i land within melee distance of the walkers and drop all loot, or same as last time?”

    Its gameplay is wide open for hacking to what ever twisted ends you can come up, tank mode is my favourite ive come up with so far, if you get the car alarm event and you have a tank on the table (as terrain), then you can activate tank mode by rolling a shield, at which point the “alarm” has gone off on the tank!, the alarm in this case is its gunner freaking out and taking a shot in a random direction, direction gained by noting threat level and flicking the threat tracker needle, will hit first thing in line of site with 3 white dice, with the bang attracting walkers within a reasonable distance, with 3 walkers entering from the closest edge to the tank until the alarm is silenced, fucking anarchy

    You can also arm a seven year old little girl with a shotgun (50/50 dice says so)
    as well as playing it like GTA, in so much you can spend as much if not more time titting about with its gameplay and playing 50/50 dice with what makes sense in your surroundings, as playing any of the official scenarios.
    It also scales easily to accommodate 3 or 4 players if you have all the goodies from the stretch goal filled kickstarter edition.Its also been popular with both my board game only and war game only mates which is good, as its core rules are very quick to pick up, as it is pretty much a hybrid war board game.

    • I’ll definetly expand on that little black die in my next All Out War review. As a descision dice it adds way more theatrics to the game. It’s he reason poor old Allen staggered and fell off a water tower into the circle pit of zombies waiting at the bottom.

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