The Walking Dead Board Game: The Best Defense is a game by Matt Hyra, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players will be taking on the role of one of the survivors from the Walking Dead. They will be working together to defend key locations from Walkers and other dangers. They will have to keep an eye on the resource decks for each place and keep them safe. If they are able to survive through 12 rounds, they will be declared the winners.
To begin, players take turns choosing a survivor. They are given the character card, pawn and a base to place the pawn in. The 4 location tiles are mixed up and then placed randomly in a 2 x 2 grid face up. A card from each of the resource decks are randomly mixed up together and then one is placed on each of the four locations. This is where each resource deck will be placed. The card is returned to each specific deck and shuffled thoroughly before being placed on the previously drawn spot. Each of the different types of tokens should be placed into separate piles near the board. The event cards are shuffled together and placed face down near the board. Each player rolls the black die and places that many walker tokens on the closest location to their corner of the board. Player will then roll one white die with the highest roll being awarded with the Badge of Leadership. That player is now the leader for the first round. Each player is given 2 allies, 2 food and 5 hit points. These tokens are placed on the appropriate places of their character card. Each player draws one equipment card from the deck. If a ranged weapon is drawn they are given the corresponding amount of ammo tokens listed as the “start of game load” on the card. These tokens are placed on the equipment card. The round tracker token is placed on round 1 of the round tracking tile which is placed near the board. A mode and difficulty level is chosen and play now begins.
In this review, I will mainly be discussing the hardcore mode with beginner difficulty. In this way, if a survivor dies all players lose the game. However, players are able to place all their event cards face up for everyone to see. This allows for communication between players to plan for each encounter.
The game is played over 12 rounds. Each round the leader will take their turn followed by each of the non-leader players, afterwards a few end of round procedures take place. Before each round, players should discuss strategy. The leader reads their character’s leader ability and each player is dealt 2 event cards. The leader’s then takes their turn consisting of 4 steps. First they must move each survivor beginning with their own character. Character pawns may be moved to one adjacent location or kept where they are. They can’t be moved diagonally. The leader may then draw one card from the resource deck of their current location. This step is always optional. Afterwards, they may trade or give one item to a survivor at the same location that they are at. The leader must then play both of their event cards in the order of their choosing. Play then passes to the next player.
The remaining players take their turns which consists of 4 steps as well. First the player must decide if they want to defy the leader. To do this, the player must discard 1 food and move to an adjacent location. At this difficulty, that won’t really be used that often, if at all, since everything is discussed before any movements are made. After this step, the player may then draw a card from their character’s current location’s resource deck. Once again, this step is optional. They may then trade or give an item to a player that’s character shares their location. Finally, they must choose one of their event cards to play and then discard both cards.
Once all the players have completed their turns, they must fight walkers in their same location. They must choose a weapon that they wish to use, removing 1 ammo from the card of any ranged weapons they choose. Only one weapon may be used. The player checks the weapon card for how many dice are rolled. They then roll the dice and add any modifiers. Walkers are killed for every 5 points. Players at the same location are able to combine their dice rolls while melee weapons can not be combined.
When combat is completed for all the characters, the end of round procedures happen. Every walker that is still on the board deals 1 damage. Survivors are dealt damage first, dividing damage between characters as players see fit. If there are no survivors there, the walker deals damage to the resource deck of that location. If there are no more cards to discard from the resource deck, the players lose. If a player’s character dies in this difficulty level, the players lose. Characters are then able to heal if they have less than 4 hit points by discarding 1 food to heal 1 point. The round tracker is then advanced by one space. If it reaches the “You Win” space, the game is over and the player’s have won. Otherwise, the badge of leadership is passed to the next player and a new round begins. If the players are able to last the 12 rounds without losing due to character death or lack of resources to discard, they win.
The game comes with some really great looking pieces. The character cards are quite large and are made of thick cardboard. Each one has a really beautiful looking photo of the character from the show. The locations are even larger but are made the same way with iconic photos from the show as well. The different resources and event cards are all really great quality. They also have beautiful photos on them as well. It should be noted that there are also ulterior motive cards included as well. I didn’t cover these but they are for advanced players to use and are explained under the variants section of the rules. There are character pawns for each character as well that are made of thick cardboard. These use the same picture from the character card. They fit snugly inside the plastic bases that are included with the game. One thing is that there aren’t enough bases for each of the characters so you have to put them in and take them out each time you play, that is unless you choose to use the same 4 characters all the time. The Badge of leadership is a thick cardboard token that looks like Rick’s badge from the show. This is a really cool addition. The dice are really nice as well. The white dice are normal dice while the black one only has numbers from 1-3 on it. Certain cards will have you roll this dice for different things like walkers or ammo. Speaking of ammo, the tokens used for health, ammo, food and allies are thick cardboard. They each are specific shapes, for instance the food token is a pentagon while the health tokens are octagons. Interesting. I kind of wish these had been better designed. They aren’t bad, I just think they could have been a little better. For instance, the food could have looked like a can of food and been shaped like one. The ammo could have been bullet shaped. Not bad, just could have been better. The final tokens are the walkers. The image on these is a bit unclear and kinda weird looking. Needless to say, I’m thankful to have a copy of Zombies! that I no longer play to scavenge the plastic zombie minis from. Anyway, as you can see the game is really well designed and looks great. There are just a few minor points that could have been done better.
8 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is really well written and looks quite nice. There are lots of great pictures and examples throughout the book. Each of the card types are thoroughly explained in detail. The rules detail out several different ways to play from standard and hardcore mode to beginner and expert difficulty. There is a great game play example that has great photos. This consists of several pages of information. The rules also have variants that include the use of the Ulterior Motives cards. These provide a bit of conflict to the game. They are only of importance if the players lose. If a player completed their ulterior motive, they can at least claim a partial victory. There are also variants for one leader and for the leader playing last. For solo players, there are also rules provided for solo play. There’s even a quick reference guide on the back cover with step by step instructions on playing. Overall, the book is well written and laid out excellently. I had no problems reading through the book at all.
9 out of 10
I really enjoy this game. As a fan of all things zombie, especially the Walking Dead, It’s quite good. I love the tension every time that walkers start popping up on the board. There are some real decions that have to be made as well, like should I draw that resource card or will that be the card that dooms me because I’ve drawn too many cards already. Determining where to place characters to minimize the damage and maximize the benefits is a major factor of this game. I will admit, there are times when it’s very easy to just run right through 12 rounds with very few problems. You just really have to make sure and get those cards shuffled up just right so that doesn’t happen, otherwise you might feel a little bit underwhelmed with the game. That’s the luck factor coming in though and there’s not much you can do about it. Luck of the draw from the cards, luck of the rolls, these you can’t control. You can control your actions though and that’s where things can get a bit tense, especially if you play in some of the harder modes and difficulties that involve no discussion between players. The solo game isn’t bad but at times it feels a bit meatless. For the best results I suggest at least 3-4 players. In any event, as I mentioned earlier I love the Walking Dead so this game really works for me. I’d imagine that non-fans might not be as interested in the game as I am. Either way, it’s still a good game that doesn’t take that long to play.
9 out of 10
The Walking Dead Board Game: The Best Defense is a light weight co-operative game based on the Walking Dead TV show. The game isn’t that long and can be played in about 40 minutes. All of the artwork for the game is taken from the Walking Dead TV show and it looks great. I love the selection of characters that are available to play. The only complaints I have are on the tokens. I really wish these had been more like the items they represented instead of the odd shapes that were designed. I also wish that the walker tokens had been miniatures instead. It would have added another dimension to the game and been a bit more intimidating in my opinion. Still, this are only minor complaints and nothing that can’t be replaced or dealt with. The game does have a fair amount of luck to it but the choices that are made can help a bit with that. There is a good bit of strategy involved in the game mostly to minimize the dangers. The game levels up quite well with the use of several different modes and difficulties. There are lots of great variants as well. Fans of the Walking Dead or zombies should really enjoy this game. It’s not as deep or thought provoking as some of the other zombie games out there but it’s still a really good game. Me and my zombie loving family loved this one. It’s definitely one of the best looking and most fun Walking Dead game I’ve played so far.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cryptozoic Entertainment at their site.