Since it was first announced, there has been a huge buzz around The Walking Dead: All Out War. Mantic Games, the guys behind Kings of War and Deadball – among others, are bringing The Walking Dead to the tabletop in a new way, and it looks incredible.
A miniature board game that’ll evolve into a skirmish game with the twist of players taking it in turns to control zombies sounds like the perfect The Walking Dead game. Add in that it’s going from the original comics and not the TV show, you’ve got what is definitely going to be a genre changer.
Over a dented tin of beans we swapped for an old jumper, we got talking with Adam Levine from Mantic.
n3rdabl3: Hi Adam, could you tell us a little about your role in your upcoming game, The Walking Dead: All Out War, for our lovely readers?
Adam: I came to work with Mantic a few months ago specifically to work on ‘All Out War.’ I am heading up all marketing efforts for the company, but am focusing right now on TWD:AOW. My goal is to get the game out there, show everyone how amazing it is, and make it a huge success.
n3: Great stuff. Now. First things first, how would you describe All Out War to those who haven’t heard anything about it yet?
A: All Out War is a fast-paced, head to head action game that drops players right in the middle of the drama and mayhem from the comics, where the characters are always on edge, on the defensive, fending off attacks from walkers and other scavengers. Certain aspects of the game really speak to the tension that spills off the pages of the comics, as well as the chaotic nature of the post-apocalyptic setting created by Robert Kirkman.
n3: To look a bit further under the surface, are we looking at a miniatures board game or a skirmish war game? The lines are blurring more and more lately, is everything coming in one box or are we getting a skirmish wargame where players build their own armies?
A: We are really looking at something that starts out as one and becomes the other. The core game has been designed to be as accessible as possible, and uses some board game style mechanics such as the event deck and threat tracker. However, it does introduce some more typical war game elements such as free movement and constructing a force with points. As the range expands, it will go in a more co-op direction, using pre-constructed forces to form narrative scenarios. The range will also expand with many more characters and resources to build your own custom force to play skirmish-style games.
n3: When playing, will players be going for a straight head to head deathmatch or will you be launching with some sort of mission/campaign system?
A: The standard scenario in the rulebook is a race for supplies – a head to head game where the Survivors must collect as many supply counters as possible before the Threat Tracker reaches maximum. Inevitably players will have to fight each other to gain the advantage. Expansions will also feature narrative scenarios, and the results of one will affect the next. Future expansions like “Miles Behind Us” will have a more generic campaign system, but can be used whichever way you decide to play.
n3: How does combat work in All Out War? Is it different attacking other humans to attacking zombies?
A: Combat is achieved using opposed dice rolls. Characters can improve their chances with equipment that will add dice to their roll, and there are also three different types of dice that get progressively stronger. The main difference between fighting Survivors and walkers is that walkers have the weakest dice rolls. However, when they outnumber a Survivor they become much more dangerous, and there is the added risk of getting bitten that can hinder a Survivor for the rest of the game. Survivors, though, have more weapons at their disposal, which often make them more deadly.
n3: Now, with The Walking Dead, the first thing everyone thinks of is zombies. How will the zombies work in All Out War?
A: Walkers are controlled using a set of Event cards – each turn a card is drawn that tells the players how many walkers to move and where. They are can be moved alternately by the players on their turn, so players must decide whether to move a walker into their opponent’s path or move one away from their own. Event cards get more dangerous as the game goes on due to the rising threat, and walkers will move automatically towards any source of noise – running, firing weapons, car alarms going off, etc – so players must decide when to stay quiet vs when it’s safe to risk a noise.
n3: What was the inspiration for the zombies being non player controlled?
A: For All Out War we wanted the unpredictable nature of a post-apocalypse that’s filled with walkers to be translated into the game. We wanted players to always feel uneasy about when and where an attack might strike. Rather than leaving the actions solely up to the opponents, we felt that making them an AI would make the danger feel more random and chaotic. At the same time, we wanted players to feel more in control of the human characters– battling other human antagonists– because ultimately that’s what the comic books are about.
n3: With such a big licence, it’s pretty likely that a lot of first time Tabletop players will be picking up All Out War, have you developed the game with accessibility for these newcomers in mind?
A: Yes – the boxed game contains everything you need to play – it’s not like a traditional war game where you need your own dice, a tape measure, scenery etc – all of that is in the box. We have also kept the core mechanics and simple and intuitive as possible. We want this to be something even a casual fan of The Walking Dead can pick up and play. Any complexity comes from the player, and the tactics they will decide to use to avoid the walkers, and in the special rules for some of the characters, but these are all on their cards which will be in front of you when you play for easy reference.
n3: On the flip side, what is there in All Out War for seasoned gamers?
A: Veteran gamers will be attracted to the tactical play required that is unique from most other games. The AI controlled walkers make the game a bit different from a typical game of this type, and the two Survivor groups must try and stay alive whilst using the walkers to their advantage – drawing them away from the supplies and into the enemy Survivors. It will be provide a new experience for even a seasoned player, balancing their own needs, and the movements of the AI-controlled walkers, against the desire to hinder their opponent.
For those who want a deeper experience, the first two expansions contain rules for creating your own characters and playing campaigns, so players can strive to advance their group to be the best of the best.
n3: There is a huge history to look back on with The Walking Dead, when is the game taking place within the story?
A: Each wave of releases is headed up by an expansion that plays out a part of the story, and the rest of the wave fills in the rest of the characters from that part of the timeline. The first four waves that we have created will focus on the Atlanta Camp where it all began, Hershel’s Farm, the Prison, and Woodbury. From there we want to move on to the Hunters, Alexandria, Hilltop, the Kingdom, and beyond.
n3: Thanks for your time today, it’s been a pleasure.
As a huge fan of The Walking Dead comics, board games and skirmish war games I pretty much couldn’t be happier. Speaking to Adam proves that Mantic haven’t just grabbed the license to print out some Christmas bait, these guys clearly know the source material and are going to do it justice.
Not only that, but this game is going to get the proper support it deserves. Not only have expansions been planned, they’ve already been planned in waves. All Out War is going to be something special, keep your eyes peeled for our review and another interview with Adam closer to launch.