Friday 14 December 2018

Tabletop Gaming Review: The Walking Dead - All Out War (Wave 5)

So you made it safely out of Atlanta, met up with a group of survivors at a camp on the outskirts, made your way across country where you happened across the Greene farm, and found refuge in a prison before being rudely chased out of it by the inhabitants of Woodbury and their sadistic Governor... Surely there must be easier times ahead? No such luck. Sadly for you, you will learn to Fear The Hunters!

Once again we enter the world of The Walking Dead by Mantic Games, a tabletop skirmish game based on the comics rather than the television series (in case you haven't been paying attention). Wave 5 consists of another expansion box, entitled "Fear The Hunters", and four booster boxes containing character models and cards to bring your games to life. Like the last release the story takes a jump, from Volume 8, Made to Suffer, to the current Volume 11. The Hunters in question are a group of survivors turned by desperation to cannibalism, who survive in the comics by stalking and preying on the weak until they happen across Dale, Rick and the rest of the Atlanta group.

The first thing you notice about this release is that it is smaller. Only four boosters this time, and once you get into the expansion box the trend continues. Five survivors and no new walker miniatures greet you as you open the box, and there is a visible lack of terrain pieces. What we have is a campaign hex map, and a much larger selection of cards, including a full deck of events. Looking a little deeper reveals a whole new type of card, "Veteran Skills". These are the same size as the supplies and equipment cards, and can be paid for and added to characters like equipment.

Many of the supplies cards include a map icon which indicates that they are specialised to use with the campaign system, the overarching theme of this expansion. As well as the new survivors' profile cards there are three thematic ones for existing characters which update them to this point in the story, and some items to round them out. Rick Grimes' "Slowly Unravelling" and his telephone are pretty iconic for comics and TV fans alike! The back of the map has the regular Collector's Guide checklist, which includes the characters from the new "Here's Negan" boardgame, as they come with character cards for AOW as well.

As always the bulk of the rulebook is taken up with the ongoing narrative campaign, picking up where the last book left off and taking us through the encounters with the Hunters group. At the back however are the rules for map campaigns, the focus of the new rules and cards for this expansion. This is a fairly light campaign system for multiple players/factions where, in each round, game wins and draws earn the player a number of expansion tokens to place on the map adjacent to their current territory. Contested territories are then used to determine match-ups in subsequent rounds, with a random draw if no conflicts present themselves.

There are also rules for an underdog bonus if one group is much stronger than the other, and a list of special map locations to keep your games interesting. On the back page of the book is a multiplayer free-for-all scenario which throws three or more players into a pitched battle on a 40" x 40" (or all four AOW game boards) area! It's the basic supplies grab, but on a huge scale!

The miniatures in this wave are, as expected, of an excellent quality. In the expansion box are 5 Hunters, and the boosters fill out the story characters from the last few comics: Father Gabriel, Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, "Secret Assassin" Carl, Glenn and Maggie on horseback, and a Neutral, Jud. All are nicely thematic, Carl has his eye bandage and hat (as well as an AR15), Father Gabriel is suitably posed with his bible, and Rosita looks cool and deadly! Each booster comes with more veteran skill cards and a narrative type event card.

Overall there are positives and negatives to Wave 5. The hex map campaign is a great idea, and like this entire range has been kept simple yet entertaining! It's a nifty way of linking games together, and along with all the other expanded rules from previous releases makes the game feel fully rounded. But that is potentially a problem, as this feels almost like the whole thing has been wrapped up neatly to make way for something else... (Hellboy anyone?)

The miniatures are better than ever, with more details and really crisp sculpts on all the models! They have really refined their designs to come up with some of the best plastics on the market. But no walkers?! In any Wave 5 boxes? This almost feels rushed, and leads to the biggest drawback of this release. The boosters now have only two miniatures instead of three, for the same price. And the box set feels very light without the scenery pieces and the reduced model count.

Sure there is a whole new deck of cards, but it hardly feels like a substitute for figures in a models-based game. And yeah, I get that these days you're buying a "game component" rather than a minis box, but I can't help but feel the price point should have been reduced for this entire wave. Which is a shame because Mantic's main selling point has always been affordability, and this feels like a bit of a step toward GW territory.

As previously noted, it feels like the game has been rounded out, and it's hard to see where the game can go from here, apart from maybe some regular booster updates. The "Here's Negan" game (Not available for review here unfortunately) is a really good idea, but adding the characters to the Wave 5 collector chart looks like money grabbing, or at least the assumption that you will buy every release just because...

Not sure what the future plans are, but with the imminent HB game looming The Walking Dead could get lost in the shadow.

Now where did I put that bag of guns?

By day, David Mustill is a Human Workhorse for a chemical company. Naturally, every possible moment away from this existence is spent gaming and painting miniatures.

A steady diet of rock, metal, punk, comics, gaming, miniatures and genre movies has moulded David into a renaissance geek, for whom no gaming company or genre is too obscure, and no graphic novel is unreadable.

He is currently the Chairman of Milton Hundred Wargames Club, which affords him the privilege of running the Broadside Games Show. He will not let you down. Unless you're after selfies. He is rubbish at selfies...


  1. Nice review. It's all very odd. I keep hearing on the grapevine that the next step is All out War so we are going to see bigger size games perhaps?

  2. That could be cool! It would be a nice way to make more use of this increasingly large collection of models we've built up!