I’m as shocked at the next guy that two different board games would be released under the now growing franchise of The Walking Dead. One based on the Image Comic and another on the AMC TV series. I recently had the opportunity to play both of them back to back.
Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead Board Game
Since everything has started with the comic book I will start with that. Here’s the basic rundown. Created by Z-Man Games it plays 1-6 players. Each player picks a survivor and receives one companion to start with (each character, survivor and companion, has some sort of specialty to them). The goal of the game is to gain three locations on the map. There are only certain locations you can gain at any given time so it is not an all out free-for-all. As you move toward each location a zombie token gets placed on the spaces that you have left. This symbolizes that the zombies are following you. If you land on a zombie you have to fight the number listed on the token. On your way to the locations you can land on spaces that will give you supplies (which obviously aids you throughout the game). Upon doing so you need to pick up an encounter card. Encounter cards appear to be mostly zombie attacks, but sometimes they aren’t. When you land on a location you must do what the location card asks. Usually, this also ends up being encounter cards, but sometimes it can be giving up supplies. When you need to battle zombies you roll the appropriate number of dice as are listed on your survivors cards. If you don’t take all of the zombies out then you take a hit of exhaustion and when a character gets three then they are dead. First player to gain three locations wins or if all the players die then everyone loses. (There are obviously more rules to this game, but this is the basic idea.)
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Created by Cryptozoic 1-4 players can play either every man for themselves or on two teams (survivor vs. zombie). The rules are a little simpler in this game. The objective is basically the same as the previous one. You are trying to gain three safehouses. The only difference is that in this version the safehouses are on four corners of a much smaller board. You choose a character from the show (once again each one has some unique advantage). Everyone starts in the middle and rolls to move in any direction (the board has a similar set up as trivial pursuit, but with less spaces). You start with a hand of cards which help you along the way. Most spaces end with drawing an encounter card which you once again have to roll to win. The only difference between the two games in this respect is the fact that you can decrease the number you need to reach by playing cards from your hand. Once you die in this game you become a zombie and start attacking the other players until it’s two survivors and two zombies where the next person to die is out of the game entirely. This game also has the chance of ending with everyone losing. You win by getting back to the safe zone where you started with three safehouses.
Which Would I Choose?
I only played each game once, so my opinion might change after multiple tries. The Z-Man Games version based on the comic book is a really good game for more veteran board game players. There’s a lot of room for strategy, but it can be a pretty difficult game. When I played I developed the incorrect strategy from the get go and was killed on my first turn (I was a bit greedy and tried to grab too many supplies at once). For more of the everyday player I would suggest the Cryptozoic version based on the AMC show. It’s a little easier to explain and a little more straight forward. Both are incredibly enjoyable with games lasting under an hour, so you can actually play a couple of games without feeling exhausted. This will be a great way to get ready for the second half of the season which will be starting on February 12th. (By the way if you are not caught up do NOT go to the official website. Only major spoilers await.)