The Walking Dead: All Out War has been an impressive release. It’s one of the few zombie table top games that really gets the formula right; it utilizes its Walkers as dynamic terrain to keep the atmosphere tense and battlefield claustrophobic. The best part is that this system is just getting started.
The first wave of All Out War expansions is loosely focused around Atlanta and the encampment on the outskirts. Palling around with Morgan, the introduction of Laurie and Glen, and the gripping arc of Shane are all here. There’s substantial meat to grind and narrative hooks to latch onto.
From a story perspective, the only oddity is the introduction of the Governor in the Prelude to Woodbury solo starter box. This offers an alternative to the core set and allows you to take a nibble before committing to the buffet. The price is solid and playing around with a pre-maniac Gov’ who we can somewhat sympathize with is enticing.
The scenarios here are pretty simple introductory stuff for the most part. There is one final encounter where you’re beating down Walkers and tossing them into a truck headed back to Woodbury. It’s a dark turn of events as you see the soon-to-be villain begin to crack. In terms of game-play, this solo scenario brings it, offering repeated play and interesting challenges. It’s very different than the engagements spread across the other products.
This can be a worthwhile entry into All Out War but it does have minimized utility as you only get a portion of the rules and a few miniatures. It is nice expansion material as you can throw the Governor into your skirmishes and utilize the extra dice and cards. Unfortunately, a manufacturing mistake resulted in the range ruler being a fraction of an inch shorter than the one in the core set diminishing its utility, but that’s the only gaff in an otherwise solid product.
Days Gone Bye [sic] is the real gem of the first wave. This is a robust expansion set featuring standout characters like Dale and Donna, alongside new equipment, custom events, and even additional terrain. We get advanced rules for trees, tents, and the spread of fire. It layers on additional rules in a clever way, introducing them slowly through the course of play.
The largest boon is the offering of a narrative campaign. Days Gone Bye hits us with six linked scenarios that work through the Atlanta camp story in the comics. The first five are solid solo or cooperative experiences, while the climax is a competitive head to head bout. It starts off with Rick, Morgan and Duane scavenging firearms from the Sheriff station and it ends at the showdown with Shane in the woods. The in between is solid and there’s a sense of forward momentum as results in one scenario may affect the next.
Mantic Games offering directed context to the experience of play was a necessity for this game to take the next step. These missions are all varied and interesting and will have you yearning for more like a Walker with an empty belly. It’s satisfying and the compartmentalized arc of story is paced wonderfully.
The only downside to Days Gone Bye is the nudge towards purchasing additional boosters. The expansion scenarios will often call for characters which you can only acquire by picking up separate packs, such as Morgan and Shane. This can come across as a bite to the throat but it does manage to keep the price of the expansion reasonable. It’s also not a forced requirement as the scenarios offer alternative point totals you can utilize to build your own groups. Yes, you won’t be following the comic’s narrative strictly, but you have the benefit of experimenting with a “what if?” angle.
Once the game has given you that burning infection and you want to dive in completely, you will want to grab some of those boosters. They contain a couple of miniatures, new equipment cards, and character stats. You can mix them in right away when building groups and add variety to play. Each character is handled rather well as they exemplify their traits and personality from the source material. Running around the map on horseback with Rick is pretty damn awesome.
The Walking Dead: All Out War is a phenomenal miniatures game that has a bright future. If the scenario quality of Days Gone Bye is any indication for what’s to come, then even giving up a limb to Rick’s hatchet won’t remove the smile from my face.
Have you played The Walking Dead: All Out War? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Image Credits: Mantic Games
In addition to Geek & Sundry, Charlie Theel writes for Miniature Market’s The Review Corner and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. You can find him on twitter @CharlieTheel