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The Walking Dead: The Board Game
Z-Man Games

11/17/11



The Walking Dead comic series gets a tie-in designer board game that is oddly reminiscent of the light cycle scene in Tron. Weird.

Z-Man Games (Agricola, Pandemic) cashes in on the popularity of the AMC adaptation of the Robert Kirkman epic with a box full of cardboard chits. Two to six players control characters and allies from the comic and compete against one another to find a hiding space from the creeping doom around them. Characters can excel in Scavenging, Fighting or Heroism as represented by a pool of colored dice. You roll and combine these dice (with those provided by allies) to determine the outcome of various encounters you have while trying to amass supplies of Gas, Food and Ammo. These resources power various functions of the game. Gas allows your crew to move across the hexagonal board more rapidly, food can be used to recover from wounds and ammo will grant you extra dice in zombie encounters.

Of course guns tend to make loud noises, and noises attract more zombies.

But avoiding zombies is patently hopeless in The Walking Dead. Every space you exit leaves a train of shambling corpses, which eventually chokes player maneuverability. You can blast through a line of walkers, and often must, in order to reach a potential safe spot. But in reality this game is a race through a bog to scout out three locations while you leave your fellow players to rot. You can nudge along this race to the bottom when encounters require you to rely on the decisions of your competitors. A fight with zombies over gas may state that upon completion your friends get to choose which ally you had to sacrifice to get away. This incorporation of player choice is refreshingly out of place with the otherwise banal slog of the gameplay.

Sure, zombies are neato, but The Walking Dead has some glaring issues. It is relatively easy to get unexpectedly knocked out of the game and wait around for an hour while your friends trudge forward. There is woefully little choice presented in your group and ability make-up and, as with many dice games, encounter results are capricious. This compounded by a strong competitive mechanic often results in a rousing round of screw-the-leader, which is straight up not fun for an hour-or-longer game. C —Glenn Given






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