The Walking Dead All out War from Mantic games reveiw and unboxing

The Walking Dead.... one of my favourite TV shows, a great dark violent program showing how mankind tries to survive in the wake of a Zombie apocalypse, and the things some people will do to achieve that.  Now this is based on the original comic book series, rather then the TV show, which I admit I have never read, but there are plenty of characters to enjoy you will know from the TV show, so do not worry if you are in the same situation as me. 

Previously my only delve into the Walking Dead gaming was robert kirkmans walking dead board game from Zman Games which gives you a very different feel to this game, that is focused more on moving around a map and securing supplies, which is similar in theme, but here its zoomed right in! and its not only walkers you must face here, but rival gangs who are the same thing as you... to gather what they need to stay alive, and they are not averse to stopping you anyway they can.

I know Mantic fairly well from the excellent hybrid board and war game Mars Attacks, the futuristic sport game Dreadball Xtreme and the excellent tabletop miniature skirmish war game Deadzone V2.0.  the Mantic guys are no strangers to coming up with great miniatures, and great games to go with them.  The Walking Dead All out War is their latest one.

The Walking Dead: All Out War is a tactical head-to-head game set in the walker-strewn Georgia countryside, a survival miniatures game from Mantic Games based on the characters from the pages of the bestselling The Walking Dead comic series. Your group will be pitted against other groups in a bitter fight for supplies, but the Walkers react to your every move. In this game, everyone and everything is trying to kill you.
In more detail, each player controls their own group of survivors made up of popular characters from The Walking Dead storyline, such as Rick, Shane, Michonne and many more. Each survivor is represented by a finely-detailed plastic miniature, which can be painted in your color scheme of choice. It comes with a character card highlighting their game stats and unique abilities, and it can be upgraded with a selection of weapon and equipment cards.
The game is set around Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs, and contains a gaming mat and a selection of barricades, abandoned cars and supplies to give it that authentic The Walking Dead atmosphere. Your survivors move across the board using the measuring stick included with the game, and you use the terrain to block Walker routes, sneak up on opposing survivors, or raid enemy camps for supplies.
During the game, you fight a bitter battle for resources against a rival group of survivors – but be careful not to make too much noise as you'll draw the attention of the Walkers, which are controlled by an AI system developed specifically for this game. They attack anyone who comes within reach — and because they are AI-controlled, you can play the game solo.

 Its really nicely presented, in an Xwing style box with cut out so you can see the models inside to get a feel for them.
 on the back gives you all the information you need, 1-2 players... yes it can be played solo!!! thank you Mantic for that, you know how much I love solo games, and this plays excellently that way as well as 2 players let me tell you!.

Play time of 30-60 minutes seems about right, when you know what you are doing this game can whizz along, and ages 14 and up... well that may be the content matter, since Olivia was fine with it with only a little help.  Another touch I really enjoyed, small though it is, is the player count symbol, with a player wearing ricks sheriff hat, its a nice touch that has been on all the Mantic line, and its nice to see it continue.
you get a little contents overview on the back, and they have sure packed a while lot into a little box.

So... lets pop it open, and take a look..........

when you pop open the box you are met by a sea of models, all in their own individual moulded slot in the box to keep them safe, and no 2 sculpts are alike, even the zombies, every model is different with its own unique character. and everything has its own space in the box.
There are 3 different types of cards in the set, you have your character cards, the deck you work against, and supplies and equipment, all different sizes, and all with their own storage spot in the box again.  well is there more you ask? rule books etc? well yes.. lift up the plastic insert......
And you get this nicely sealed little packet of goodies......
 a rulebook, a learn to play booklet, two sheets of card tokens and a nice thick poster paper style fold out mat.
You get two "gangs" of survivors, Ricks group, which is Rick and Carl, and four survivros led by Derek.  Each card is clearly laid out showing you what type of custom dice you use for each test, and any special rules the character may have and their health, which you pop a token on to move around to reflect damage.  you can also see item slotsa, for hands, head, armour, and pack, not all characters have the same slots so take that into account when building your gang.  You can also equip items which have a cost, so you would pick a points total, and each build a gang to that number including the characters and gear for them.
The models are nice and detailed hard plastic, and single piece so no assembly is required, you can get playing this straight out of the box, well once you have punched out the tokens, and hopefully hecked out the rulebook a bit anyway.
The models will take paint nicely though of course it is not required if you do not want to.
You can a mix of the equipment (items you can pay for and equip before battle) and supplies, (thnigs you find from searching in game)  These could be good like bandages, or bad like a booby trap, or even a lurker zombie that may attack you..... best check that pile of  rags carefully!  These really add tot eh excitment of searching never quite sure what you may find, will it help you or cause all sorts of havoc?
The game includes custom dice, red, white and blue which go up in power, a yellow fear dice, and a black dice which is occasionly used for tests in game.  he dice have differnt hit numbers on them, and some have the exclamation mark which is a headhsot, as you know trhe only way of taking out a walker.
The zombie models are suitably nasty looking with wounds, and decay and missing or broken limbs on some of them, not the kind of beasties you want to meet in a group, though one on one they are usually easy prey when there is a herd of them you had best be very careful in game.
The mat is nice, though i would have prefereed a rubber mouse mat material, its an excellent starter item, and for the price of the box set you really can not complain too much, and when you add the punch out 2d terrain it really looks great.
Play involves a sequence of player action, such as run (but it makes noise so will draw the nearest walker in 10 inches to you), sneaking... shorter movement but quiet, shooting, searching, or perhaps some special actions.  Each character can take 2 actions before it alternates to the next player.  When everyone has moved there is  zombie AI, which is excellenly handled by the threat token, a large round dial you put over zombies, and if any human character is in it they go to attack them.  Of course using noise to your advantage helps here, luring walkers over to yor opponents models before sneaking off so they have to deal with them is sneaky and fun too.  Then you draw from the event deck and depending on your threat level on your dial different things could happen, from nothing, to a whole load of zombies moving or appearing.

Combat is handled with dice, taking the delta of the pips with the positive being the winner. What's distinctive is that there are different dice based upon the weapons and character thats using them, with bonuses for cover, and there's also the concept of a "headshot." If you get a headshot in addition to winning the pip-count, you remove the zombie from play. Otherwise, the zombie is knocked down and you must test in the end phase to see if he gets back up again or not.. A downside to a headshot when using a firearm is that you can run-out of bullets. It's a clever way to control and randomize the amount of ammo in your weapon, or perhaps its jammed, you can find ammo refills, but itr really makes you think carefully about just blazing away.  Though in melee you do not have to worry about your weapons breaking.

Another key action is searching, based on being adjacent to a search pile token, and then drawing from the search deck.

A nice feature of the event  deck is that players have an attribute of "nerve" which can influence the outcome of certain events and also creates the need for a nerve check when activating a model that can result in some detrimental effects such as running aimlessly into the street in fear, or creating noise by screaming, and this is determined by the yellow dice.

Melee combat gives you the option to defend or attack, both stats are listed on your character card. When you defend if you win, you won't do any damage but can push your enemy back, and this may be useful if you have a very weak fight stat but a good defense stat, just fend trhem off until you get some help, or can get out of the way. If you chose to attack, the winner does damage. Whoever loses the melee gets knocked back 1" which can also work to your advantage pushing them into enemies perhaps or just helpoing clearing a path.

To wrap up the turn, you roll to see if any of the knocked-down zombies come back and also check for any other end-of-turn effects (such as nerve).

 Im just about to go into a solo misison for 100pts, now, the amount of zombies you face is scaled depending on your point value, so thse more points, the more walekrs there are lurking around.  My goal was to get search 7 supplies and head back off the map from my starting point.
 Rick decided to open up with his 9mm pistol causing a head shot and beating the zombiess defence roll of 0, yes even the walekrs get to roll defence.  I did then have to check if i had run out of ammo, on a normal gun yes you do, but ricks 9mm has the special rule reliable, which gives a roll to see if i run out or not.   had to roll the custom black dice, on a blank it was empty, on the shield symbol it was ok.  Another thing firgin guns does is cause mayhem... this moves up your threat tracker (when it gets to the end its game over and you lose, but you can use an action to try to drop it) Mayhem causes all walkers in 10 to head towards you, perhaps bouncing off scenary, but it draws them in, as gunshots do in the show, and comic.
 You can see here how the event card tells you what to do dependant on what kind of threat you are in, mayhem increases the threat, and it does allso tick up each tuen, as the longet you are out in the wild the worse thgns can get.
 Luckily no one is in the walekrs kill zone so it just stays there doing walker things.... for now anyway.
 It would seem rick did not do too well in this melee, but he did win, and knock it over at least.
 Since it did not get back up the enxt turn he went and stomped it.... walkers on the floor do not need a headshot to be killed, just imagine yourself the kind of violence inflicted, it all adds to the story!
 Later on Rick totally destroys this walker in melee shredding it.
 Just when i thought things where going well, we had a good number of supplies, and the amount of walkers on the table had been dropped down, making it feel easy this happened..... 3 more walkers shuffled in, it was unexpected and made me have to rethink my game plan.
one more search token, and an escape, though each of my characters had taken some wounds, luckily enough not a bite.....

When a walker attacks and gets the headshot its bit you...  and thats bad, without treatment, (there are some items that let you amputate a limb to cure it, though you lose those item slots too) you will tick your health down, die, and come back as a walker as well.   LOVE it, its great mechancis, it feels right too, witht he darkness of the world, and seems really in character.  Walkers as i said before alone arent too much of a threat, but the more that are attacking you the more dice they get, so if you get mobbed, chances are you are going down, just make sure it happens to your opponent not you.

There are plenty of expansions planned too, adding campaigns, more scenarios, characters missions, and all sorts of goodies from the comic series and i for one am jolly excited about the future of this game!

So in final thoughts, Mantic have done an excellent job of caputring the theme, the art is excellent and straight from the comic book, the game plays beautifully, is well expained, and great fun with plenty of room for expansions, and more improtantly they have captured the theme, its not about sruvivors Vs walkers, its about doing anything to survive, and other humans are the greatest threat, with the walkers in the way... it really captures the story, that you are not just killing evrything that moves, you feel like you are scavenging to survive, and well.... you do what it takes, and if that involves luring a horde of walkers to eat your opposition, thats what you do. 

There are so many play styles you can use with it, and it is a good cross over of board game and miniature game, hopeing bringing in a mix from both camps and expanding the hobby, as the models are great straight from the box, but if you want more then paint them up!
RRP of £34.99 its excellent value for money so head on over to your local game store and grab it.
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