Archive for the ‘Fantasy & Sci-Fi’ Category

A Dark Souls and a Bloodborne review in one week? We must be gluttons for punishment.

Bloodborne: The Card Game is based on the Chalice Dungeons in the video game — the ever-changing labyrinths and tombs carved out by the Great Ones beneath the fallen city of Yharnam, where horrifying creatures reside.

In general, Bloodborne is a game about risk management with inventory management and tactics. You start with a hand of basic weapons, which you get to upgrade to improve your fighting combos and capabilities.

Each turn, one monster chosen at random attacks players, who fight back as a team, with everyone playing a card from their hand simultaneously to attempt to kill the monster. Players collect blood from the monster, assuming it dies, based on how much damage they dealt. Monsters can fight back with exploding dice that can potentially deal infinite damage.

Players can fight as long as they want, but if they die in combat, they lose their progress. Players can opt out of fighting to bank their blood and save it permanently. Collected blood counts as victory points.

I’ve become a big fan of card games recently, with my two main favourites being Legendary and FFG’s Lord of the Rings LCG. I was pleased to discover that the Bloodborne card game took on parts of each that I really love. It has the constantly expanding and upgrading your deck that underpins all of the Legendary systems, as well being hard as fucking nails, a la the LOTR:LCG.

Components wise, CMON are as on form as ever. The plastic and card tokens are superb, and the artwork is brilliant throughout. The cards are look like they should be hard wearing, but as with all deck-builders, you’ll probably want to invest in some sleeves if you see this getting heavy rotation in your group.

I also loved how fluid and fast moving the gameplay is once you get a couple of turns under your belt. Also, the number of monsters and boss monsters means that there should be plenty of replayability. Recommended for both fans of deck builders and the video game.

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Dark Souls is a fantastic series of videogame action RPGs that rewards patience and skill in the face of overwhelming odds and a crushing difficulty.  The series is universally praised and has led to other games trying to imitate its magic, but they have never been able to truly better it.  So can the board game of Dark Souls match the games brilliance?  Well in short, yes and no:

In terms of the look and feel of the game and its mechanics, it captures the feel of the game to a tee.  Firstly, the quality of the models and models are superb, the card quality is nice and thick, the stat cards work brilliantly and the artwork captures the dark and gothic ambience, whilst not intruding too much on keeping the cards and counters clear and concise.  The Boss and Mini Boss monsters absolutely tower over your heroes and whilst some may argue more detail could have gone into them, I personally feel they are great as they capture the look of the iconic monsters without making them too messy.

In terms of gameplay, you and your team of heroes have to travel through a randomly generated area using tiles (your choice) until you fight your way to a fog gate where you will then either fight a mini boss, or if you have already defeated the mini boss, you fight the main boss (and the mini boss at the same time if you so choose).  On your journey to the boss, you have to face different encounters in each of the room which can contain monsters, traps, treasure and the like.  The monsters are controlled by a simple yet affective AI on their card so you know how a monster will react.  Like the game, this encourages to learn the pattern of attack of the monsters in each room, as you progress.  If you wish to level up you have to return to the Bonfire space at the beginning to increase your stats, buy new cards and replenish your health and Estus Flask (Healing Potion for those who haven’t played the games).  However doing so resets the board and you have to fight through the same area again (just like the games).

This, for the game, is both a blessing and a curse.  For the pros, it captures the feel of the game, teaches you and your team to cooperate well to get through the dungeon and deal with the monsters by mastering how to effectively deal with the AI and also assists with grinding areas to get the best gear and experience to deal with the more difficult later rooms and the boss fights.  The boss fights are also excellent as you have a bigger area to fight in, and the mastering of a bosses attack pattern and weak spots adds a lot more strategy and depth to the game that is sadly absent in the main part of the game.  The boss fights are definitely the highlight of the game by far.

However the downsides are heavily dependent on the type of gamer you are.  If you love grinding and farming gear to become so powerful your mere minty breath kills monsters, then you will have no problem with the main part of the game.  However, as the encounters do not change this can lead to repetition setting in, and whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my play through of the game, I am worried that multiple play throughs will lead to this repetition being the games’ undoing after extended play.  On the other side of it, whilst the videogame rewards the player with patience, skill and finesse, the fact combat is heavily based on dice rolls and your gear can lead to some encounters either being a breeze and too easy, or being too hard as bad luck can still defeat your strategy.  Whilst I personally love me some chaos in games and a little luck, this may deter some people from returning to the game if they found it either too easy or too hard, and the fact that if one member of your party dies you all have to return to the bonfire, that bad luck can feel very frustrating.

As I said though, these downsides very much depend on the type of gamer you are, and as they are thematic to the source material, it is not something I can really hate on aside from that it is more noticeable in a board game format.  Aside from this, the only gripes I have with the board game otherwise is that the campaign at the back of the manual feels tacked on. I didn’t see how the game differed massively from you choosing your own bosses and encounters to the suggested campaigns, aside from that it covered individual games. Also,the manual could have been laid out better with a more convenient reference card as there were a few times I had to trawl through the manual to check a rule that was hiding in a paragraph somewhere.  If the information was in a handy reference or summary I feel I would not have to have done this as often.  However, these are minor gripes and do not detract from the main enjoyment of the game.

So does Dark Souls: The Board Game capture the feel of the videogames?  The game plays and feels like Dark Souls and cleverly transfers the majority of the games mechanics to the board, and if you are a fan of the series and don’t mind the gripes I mentioned, then crack it open and Prepare to Die.  Just don’t expect a perfect experience.

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Blake Harmer is a regular contributor to The Crazy Train and The Gamescast at emotionally14.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @fucksakeblake, but there’s no real point in doing so.

Time to put on that lucky hat, grab something sharp or shooty, and make for the RV as we take a delve into Wave Two of Mantic’s The Walking Dead comics tie-in! Taking the same shape as the last set of releases, Wave Two consists of the Miles Behind Us expansion box and a selection of booster boxes. I’ll also be giving you a run down of the additional extras available to support the main products in this range.

The expansion box contains the usual mix of game components: map, scenery counters, lovely hard plastic miniatures, various cards, and marker tokens. The map once again comes with a check sheet on the reverse to tick off your collection as you buy it, although there’s a “Scott” mini on there that doesn’t seem to be available anywhere…?

As we’re keeping in graphic novel order, we’ve reached Hershel’s farm in the story continuity. Characters in the box are Hershel, Billy, Otis and Patricia (plus two new walkers), all names and faces that should be familiar to readers of the comics. The play mat and scenery are all themed to support the scenario, giving you hay bales, fences, a tractor and the barn. Oh yes, THE barn. 

There are lots of interesting cards in this box too. The farm theme seems to suit this game! Event cards include “Escaped Livestock”, as unseen cattle panic and create NOISE, drawing walkers away, and the very excellent “Grim Recognition” card, where a survivor spots a loved one amongst the hordes of the dead, causing them to panic in their next activation! If you can get that one in against an opponent with a high nerve value (and therefore will not usually panic), it could give you a huge boost. Equally, supply and equipment cards provide farming-themed fun: Horse Pills, Tranquiliser Gun, Cattle Prod, a lasso. a scythe, and animal catcher poles like the ones used in Day of the Dead… I love it when they sneak in a nod to the Romero movies!

So what’s in the rulebook this time around? The only new rules are for fires and “Burning” tokens, which if you already have “Days Gone By” you will already own! New scenery pieces are covered for the Advanced Scenery rules, and there are new keywords/rules for “Collapse” and “Smoking”, adding more options for table tactics. 

Another narrative campaign makes up the bulk of the book, this time taking the story from the escape from the Atlanta camp site to Hershel’s farm and beyond. On the way we meet Tyreese and his family, leave Wiltshire Estates (ALL DEAD DO NOT ENTER), find the farm, encounter the barn (comic and TV fans alike will know where that one is going!), and head out for supplies. A nice touch is advice in the first scenario on how to link your game from the previous expansion to create an ongoing campaign. Even if you’re not playing the campaign it’s still worth looking through the individual chapters, as there are a number of scenario-specific rules which could easily be transplanted into your own games


The end of the book contains rules for running a campaign in the AOW world. This takes the form of an extended tournament, with multiple players choosing a group and pitting them against each other, keeping the same roster each time, with adjustments for injured and dying survivors, experience points and supplies. There’s even an underdog system to equalise a large difference in points. Previously I would have said that the survivor card based system couldn’t support upgrades and campaigns, but I’m pleased to say it looks very much like this will work! XP and the underdog rules rely on adding red dice to characters and trading in two dice for a single higher value one. (red-white-blue) You can also increase nerve via dice trades, and supplies are converted to points between games to buy new survivors and equipment. All this is recorded on roster cards, available as a free download.

This wave of booster boxes is a bit of an odd bunch. Four of them contain characters from this part of the story, and characters we’ve been wating for: Glenn, Tyreese, Julie and Chris, and the rest of the Greene family, Maggie, Arnold and Lacey. The other two contain Ezekiel and Shiva, and Negan… Now I’m as pleased as the next man to have a really challenging bad guy enter the game (and believe me, Negan is a beast!), but this does slightly spoil the continuity of the series that has worked so well so far. Obviously, it pays to include a really popular character from the TV series while he’s making the headlines, but as far as the comics go Negan was the 100th issue shocker, which makes it around graphic novel seventeen… Ezekiel turned up a little while after. All the models are great though, a good mix of dynamic poses, all beautifully sculpted. I shouldn’t complain too hard! Also available in a “show exclusive” booster are Lee and Clementine, who (if like me you had no idea) are the lead characters from the Walking Dead computer game. These have been sold at gaming shows and conventions all round the country, and seem to be proving popular. It certainly makes sense for the “non-TV” remit to include other canon characters, and could be interesting for the future of the game.

It has to be said that Mantic are really supporting this game well. Apart from the main releases there are a raft of extras and deluxe components to choose from to enhance your Walking Dead experience. We’ve already talked about the quality of the scenery booster, and there are a number of additional pieces to buy now, including the farm terrain from Wave 2, and an MDF RV! For those wanting a higher quality of components there are plastic templates and markers, and neoprene gaming maps to replace all of the currrent paper ones. If you are a newcomer to the game (where have you been!?!?), there are now deluxe and collectors editions of the main box with loads of extras, including exclusive minis! With spare dice, cards and walkers, plus a paint set available, this game can get as big as you want.

This is another set of high quality releases added to the already impressive All Out War catalogue. With each new rulebook, small steps are taken to ensuring this is the only undead survival game you will ever need. Just as the genre appeared to have gasped its last foetid breath! It seems to be a scale-able game, you can create your own characters, give them experience points, and play a campaign. It works in multiple settings, and you can tweak the difficulty by drafting cards in and out. As I write this, Wave 3 is hitting the shops, and covers the discovery of the prison. It will be interesting to see where the game goes from there, as Book 4 doesn’t really add any new characters (except Michonne, who is in Wave 3), and takes place mostly in the prison. Maybe skipping to Book 5 and Woodbury would be better? We’ll see. Personally I would like to see Mantic’s scenery department have a go at producing trees and foliage cheaply, as there is nowhere currently doing so. Also, I can see a comprehensive rulebook, possibly a hard back, being a good idea in the near future. As long as they keep the standard high, I’ll be happy!


I’m off to start my AOW painting project, see you at Wave 3!

David Mustill

The Brick Fury Boys Are Back, and this time they’re chatting about which powers have been buffed, nerfed or changed by the new rules update:


Well, here we are again with another boxed campaign for Imperial Assault – the ideal RPG for Star Wars fans who want to shoot and fight stuff rather than worrying about motivation and character building, and the ideal skirmish minis game for Star Wars fans who want to have a bit of a story behind what they’re shooting (at least until Legion comes out). This time we’re heading to the “Heart of the Empire” Coruscant! 

What does this mean in real terms? Well, it’s a bunch of new minis, a bunch of new floor sections, over a hundred new cards, and a brand new branching campaign. So, how is it?

The minis are of the standard we’ve come to expect from Imperial Assault, with all the good and bad that entails. They look good with a minimum of cleaning and are relatively easy to paint, although hardened miniature gamers and painters will probably be disappointed with the lack of detail or their relative cartoonishness. For my part, this doesn’t matter anymore. The miniatures all look consistent when placed next to each other, and look good on the tabletop; that really is all that matters when playing a game like this.  


The AT-PT looks nice and big on the tabletop, although following in the wake of the truly stunning Rancor figure in the Jabba’s Palace set, it doesn’t quite match the same “wow” factor of the last release. That’s not to say that it doesn’t look good in its own right, though, because it looks great.  

The board sections have excellent artwork, all looking suitably Coruscanty, although a lot darker than we remember them from the prequel trilogy. This works for me, as – not only has there been another twenty years of pollution – but we’ve also had twenty years of “The Dark Times”. This isn’t the central hub of the Galactic Senate. This is the Imperial capital.  

The only complaint comes that – as usual – all the minis you really want to play with (Darth Maul, Emperor Palpatine, Ahsoka Tano) are all sold separately, and you’ve just got proxy pogs to play with in the game. For may part, I’d rather the base retail price was a little higher and I got everything all in one box, but that’s one of those things where there’s no pleasing everyone.  

FIGURES SOLD SEPARATELY


 Conspicuous by their absence. Speaking of getting everything all in one box, if you haven’t yet thought about storage solutions for your Imperial Assault collection, then now is the time to start. Seriously, I can barely get the lid on now, and all my minis are already in a other boxes. It’s just board sections and cards in there.  

Is Heart of the Empire an essential purchase? No, there’s nothing game changing in here. Is it a highly desirable one? Absolutely. Lots of great new toys, and a fun city campaign.  

The boys are back, to test out the new starter set!

And here’s the gameplay footage!


If there’s one thing all tabletop games need more of, it’s Wookiees. Can you imagine Mansions of Madness, but on Kashyyyk? Berserkers of Catan anyone? Hell, even Scrabble should make it an acceptable word if you ask me.

Equally as brilliant is the fact that the “Auzituck” Wookiee Gunship has come to X-Wing, and it’s brought a mixed bag of goodies with it. Physically, the Auzituck is a nice, small-based model, brimming with guns and engines. The paintwork is as good as normal, with some really cool tribal designs over the body.

In game terms, the Auzituck has three attack dice and and only one one defence, but with six hull and three shields, it isn’t going to fall apart quickly. This is helped by its choice of actions. As well as being able to Focus, it’s the first non-Epic ship to be able to perform the Reinforce action. When a ship reinforces either the front of back of itself, when attacked from that angle, it can add an extra evade result to its dice roll. Unlike an Evade token though, it doesn’t spend the token, and can re-use it each time it is attacked.

As well as this new function, it also boasts a 180 degree auxiliary firing arc, formerly only seen on the YV-666, making this the first small-based ship to boast such a wide attack arc.


This huge attack range is useful, as the ship has no way of turning in a hurry, the dial is fine, but features no k-turns, or any other type of “flips”. In terms of upgrades, the Gunship has two Crew slots, with three of the four available pilots able to take an Elite Pilot Talent.  As I just mentioned, the Auzituck comes with four pilots, two of them Unique. From the bottom up, “Kashyyyk Defender” is a 24 point, PS1 generic pilot. “Wookiee Liberator” is the PS3, 26 point version, which also comes with an EPT slot.
Lowhhrick is the unique PS5 pilot and his ability is causing a stir: “When another friendly ship at Range 1 is defending, you may spend 1 reinforce token. If you do, the defender adds 1 evade result.”

On it’s own, it’s a handy little trick, but it’s found a home in a frustrating little squadron called “Fair Ship Rebels 2.0” (At least that’s the “proper” name, a lot of players aren’t calling it anything so polite). Consisting of Lowhhrick, Biggs Darklighter, Captain Rex and Jess Pava, the list’s ability to share and negate incoming damage is almost unparalleled, as well as doing things like taking away the opponent’s attack dice. These types of builds come and go, and I always feel that you should just play whatever you want, this included, but I’ve played against this squad twice now, and neither game was a fun time. I can’t imagine that using it is much fun either.

Wullffwarro, on the other hand, is my type of pilot. The PS7 Wookie Gladiator gets an extra attack dice if he has no shields and at least one damage card, making him a dangerous ship to leave half alive. At thirty points, he’ll definitely give you some bang for your buck, even if he goes bang.


In terms of upgrades, this expansion comes with six, three of which are new to this pack. “Selflessness” is part of the previously mentioned FSR puzzle. A 1 point EPT, you may discard the upgrade when a friendly ship at range 1 is defending. If you do, your ship may absorb all of the uncanceled hits. “Wookiee Commandos” is a 1 point crew upgrade that takes two crew slots, and allows you to re-roll any Focus results whilst attacking. “Breech Specialist” costs one point and is another crew upgrade. It’s wording is quite intricate, so I’ll include the entire text: “When you are dealt a faceup Damage card, you may spend 1 reinforce token to flip it facedown (without resolving its effect). If you do, until the end of the round, when you are dealt a faceup Damage card, flip it facedown (without resolving its effect).”

It’s like Chewbacca’s pilot ability, which is nice and thematic. 

So, the Auzituck had found itself in one meta-level squad already, and that actually may hurt it. If it gets seen as “that ship from that squad”, it may not get used as much as its quality probably warrants. That said, I’ve seen two Gunships loaded with Tactitians teamed up with Braylen Stramm in a super-stressbot team that looks quite fun. I’m pretty sure Wullffwarro could make a good “glory in death” squad member, someone just needs to find the right recipe. 
Personally I like the ship, it’s fun to play with, and it looks good on the table.

One forward and focus until I lose the will to live/10

—-

Ömer Ibrahim is a regular contributor to Suppressing Fire and you can check out his modelling work on Facebook and Instagram.


Back in December, I – like so many of us – sat in the cinema watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and being absolutely blown away by the way that the universe we all know and love was being presented in a totally different light.  It was dark, grounded, and (for the most part) lacking in The Force and lightsabers.  The climactic scene of the battle of Scarif had me engrossed in a way that a massive space battle hasn’t since The Battle of Endor.  Sure the Battle of Naboo and the Battle of Geonosis looked great, but they didn’t have the emotional hook that Scarif and Endor had.  

Watching the Battle of Scarif filled me with the desire to throw a game of Armada on the table.  


Now, as I’m sure some of you remember, there’s a really great moment in that battle where we see the Hammerhead Corvettes in action for the first time, crashing into a Star Destroyer, pushing it into the side of another Star Destroyer.  Now, here they are, ready to wreak their own brand of havoc on the tabletop.  So, how do they fare?  Do we have melee combat in Armada?

The models are back on form.  While they originally appeared in Star Wars: Rebels, they’ve been given an appearance closer to how they look in Rogue One.  I think this is a good creative decision, as most of the ships (except in instances where they have only appeared in Rebels or The Clone Wars) have a “movie” look to them.  The scale seems fine (with the usually leeway we give to Armada’s scale), and they look good on the tabletop.  So, what else do we get with them?


Well, just for starters there’s the option to have Princess Leia leading your fleet!  We’ve seen her before as a supporting officer, but this is her first appearance as a commander, a role she’s undeniable suited to.  For fans of Rebels and The Clone Wars, there’s also not the option to throw Honda in on the side of the Rebellion.  Hondo’s ability is based around buffing your own orders, and bamboozling the enemy’s chain of command.  A nice thematic ability for the pirate king.

Another of my favourite cards included has to be the boarding engineers.  I love boarding actions in any game, and basically the way these guys work is that if you can get up close to another ship, they leap aboard and let you flip facedown damage to face up.  A simple, yet suitably thematic way of replicating a devastating boarding action on the tabletop, without getting bogged down in minutiae and dice rolls.  

Similarly, the external racks are a wonderful addition.  The Rebellion has gradually acquired some big guns as the game has gone along, but nothing to compare with the Imperial Class Star Destroyer.  The external racks tweak that slightly, allowing you a one-shot additional two black dice attack.  Pretty punchy for a small ship.


Brad, this is all very interesting.  I can hear you cry.  But we wanna do the ramming thing.  Tell us how the ramming thing works.  

Okay, the ramming thing.  Sorry to break it to you, but you can’t just go ramming these boys into the enemy like it’s Thunder Road.  The ramming ability is unique to a ship name (“Garel’s Honour”), and basically it means that when you overlap an enemy ship, they take face up rather than facedown damage.  Yep, that’s it.  

I’m in two minds as to whether I like that or not.  I mean, the attack tactics they used at the Battle of Scarif were built on desperation and a spur of the moment attack.  It wasn’t something that the ships were actually built to the able to do, so why should every Hammerhead in the Star Wars universe decide to do it.  On the other…to get gamey…every player fielding these is going to want to do it.

I guess just go in knowing that’s not what they’re built to do.  For me, this pack is totally worth it just for the Princess Leia and boarding engineer cards.  The Boarding Engineers are just so much fun, and Princess Leia may not be the most powerful commander in the game, but, well, to me, she is royalty.  


Alien and Predator are two universes that have been aching for a decent tabletop game for so long. The Leading Edge Aliens game from the eighties is easily one of my favourite games ever, and I absolutely love the Legendary Encounters versions for both monsters.  Prodos’ AVP: The Hunt Begins (in its first edition, at least) is a game I had a love hate relationship with from the start.  

Okay, so for this review, I’m not going to talk about Prodos Games, how they completely messed up their Kickstarter for the game leaving several backers without their base sets nearly two years after the game first hit shop shelves (some backers still don’t have them), the debacle with the supposedly faithful first version of the dropship, the complaints people had with the poorly mixed resin in the first batch of figures, or any of the other myriad problems people have with them, and instead look at the game itself.


So, let’s assume Prodos are a bunch of okay dudes, and that you’ve just seen this game on the shelf, you’re a fan of Alien, Predator and or AVP, and you want to know whether or not the game is worth buying.  The answer is, a little annoyingly, yes, it absolutely is.  

All the complaints I had about the first edition of this game have been completely resolved by this second version.  The holes in the combat system that previously you could drive a Colonial Marines APC through have been completely patched, leaving a combat system that is – while perhaps a little over complex by modern standards – perfectly good at reflecting corridor fighting between the three factions.  It’s also completely rectified the stupid errors that snuck in (like the Aliens being susceptible to their own acid blood splatter; seriously, what was that about?). 

The points build system now actually makes sense, as a quick glance at the first edition rule book would show you that the forces contained in the starter set were, in fact, completely unbalanced.  Lastly, the Predator Smart-Disc has been given a proper Nerfing, which is great, because that thing was ridiculously overpowered.  


So, the game is set about the USS Theseus, a ship that is being used by the Predators as a spawning ground for Aliens for them to hunt, and then some Colonial Marines show up, and the shit hits the fan.  It’s a contrived set-up, but no-one really cares about the story for a frag-fest, and you can always come up with your own background if you want.  It doesn’t change anything on the tabletop.  

In terms of components, the rule book – while still far from perfect – is light years ahead of the first edition, so I can’t not be satisfied with it.  Errors are corrected, stats are fixed, and you can (usually) find what you’re looking for while you’re playing.  Some goofs and ambiguities exist, but nothing that you can’t house rule, or find an answer to on the superb online fandom the game has, especially on Facebook.  


The board sections I’m not so sold on. The original were grim and dark, much lie the colony in Aliens. These are a lot brighter, which is partly a good thing, as the originals were sometimes a little too dark, but the upshot is that they look a little more comic book like by comparison.  
The minis are bloody superb. All single cast, so there’s no assembly required, and super easy to paint. As a bonus, the scenic bases they’re mounted on are simply excellent.


Players use the starting forces, or points build a force of either Aliens, Predators or Marines, set the map up, find out what their missions are, and then set to it.  The game, once you get it underway, is very fast paced, with players taking it turns to activate one model and acting with them, before passing onto the the next player.  In terms of action and pacing, it’s much like something like Heroclix, and fans of that game would be likely to enjoy this one, too.  

AVP: The Hunt Begins is a weird one, because in terms of complexity, it’s easily up there with a proper wargame, such as Warhammer 40,000.  The options available to you are just as varied, for sure, and it’s a game you can really sink your teeth into it.  Want to build a campaign?  You can.  Want a one off rumble with some Predators against an AI Alien force.  You can do that.  You can make this an RPG or a frag-fest.  The extra minis available are superb, too, and who isn’t going to want to bolster their force with an Alien Queen or a Power Loader?

Ultimately, if you been holding off until now, or want to upgrade your first edition set to its full potential, this is the game you want.

The first expansion set for All Out War feels like a bit of a backward step. It is a little unusual in that you don’t need a copy of the main box in order to play it, but the rulebook included is almost a carbon copy of the “Read this first” quick start rules that come with the core set. Looks like a cash-in at first, as this is the only way to get a “Governer” character for the game, but in the context of the comics theme that Mantic have implemented so well it makes perfect sense! What I hadn’t realised until recently was that the release schedule for AOW is based around graphic novel order, which makes this set a prequel of sorts, being as it is based around the two prequel novels, “The Road to Woodbury” and “Rise of the Governer”.


The solo rule set takes the form of a step-by-step introduction to playing AOW. Over the course of three scenarios, rules are gradually added in to ease a beginner into the game, starting with no guns and limited actions and leading up to nearly the full rule system. The box includes full sets of event, equipment and supply cards (themed for a solo game), dice, templates, scenery and range ruler, counters, 5 walkers and reference card, and a Brian Blake model and survivor card.


“Hang on,” I hear you cry, “But surely the Governer’s name is Philip Blake…?” 

This is true. And also not true. If you haven’t read the novels, I suggest you start there, as the scenarios are based on the pre-Governer days of Brian Blake contained within these very accessible tomes. (The stories are actually quite good, even if the concept of the walkers in the books leaves a little to be desired) The game doesn’t give away any spoilers, and doesn’t require you to read the books, but it adds to the flavour if you have. 


The first scenario starts with a very basic setup, a defined 10″ square (I used some of my Battle Systems clip-together card terrain for this), three walkers, three supply counters and Brian. The event deck is slightly limited, as is the supply deck (guns are removed) by the presence of a walker symbol in the top right corner, exactly like the quick start rules in the core box. In fact this is the same scenario as the first one in that book, but with one character instead of two. The rules introduce us to the basic turn sequence and key concepts (NOISE, threat, and walker movement), as well as the melee combat system, and basic actions.It’s a pretty straight forward gear-grab, with pretty limited options, and barring some horrendous dice rolls you should breeze through this one. You start with no equipment, so your first face-off with a walker is pretty daunting, but once you pick up a weapon from the supply deck you begin to feel a little safer. My first pick up was a tire iron (one extra white dice in combat – nice!) and it was pretty easy going from there. If you’re careful you can reach a supply counter without getting grabbed by one of the dead, but some of the event cards force them towards you so it’s unlikely. With a low threat level and small playing area, this scenario is over pretty quickly. So it’s on to part two.


Scenario 2 widens the play area to 15″ square (time to re-clip that terrain…), and adds scenery, the rest of the supply cards (the gun and ammo), and rules for shooting, MAYHEM and the “Hold Nerve” action. Once again, it’s a grab the supplies and run game, but this time you start with a weapon and there are five supply counters to collect. I was expecting to breeze through this one too, but a couple of dodgy dice rolls (where the hell are the head shots when you need them!?) left me constantly trying to get away from walkers, which dragged the game out over a few extra turns until the threat maxed out. You lose!!!! Tougher than it looked, the relentless rise of the threat level is a killer mechanic. It goes up when MAYHEM is caused, usually through gunfire, when there are models engaged in melee at the start of the melee phase, and via the event cards. The only way to bring it down is to Hold Nerve, which takes an action and reduces threat by one on a 50-50 dice roll! Certainly puts the player up against it! So let’s see how part three goes.


Scenario Three uses the same play area size and game components, and adds rules for equipment slots, the make NOISE action, and being bitten! But at least this time you get to go tooled up with a full set of equipment: Gun, knife, leather jacket and bandages. During this game Brian has to capture four walkers and bundle them onto his truck, rules for which are supplied as scenario-specific. After set-up and a couple of turns, during which I had captured two walkers and unceremoniously dumped them into the waiting vehicle, I began to think this one would be a push-over. 

Oh no. 

Another few turns in, with walkers piling into the game via the event cards, the threat level rocketing, and dragging a struggling walker halfway round the playing area to avoid the shambling onslaught, I was bitten! I got a third walker in the truck, but time, walkers and infection overcame me, and the threat maxed out again. Game over.


Overall it was a reasonable experience. The third scenario was interesting with it’s capture not kill idea, and it’s good to get “The Governor” as a character, even if he is a shadow of the madman to come. And the five walkers included are all original, so no doubles yet! But there are plenty of niggles. While the rules build up over time, they never get to the complete rule set found in the core set, and even at the end still feel like a beginner set. I had to refer to the main rules for a clarification at one point, something I wouldn’t expect to do with a stand alone box. Where there is a standard set of dice added you are supplied with a panic dice which there are no rules for here. The “Solo” event deck is mainly a re-worded pack with one different card. The supply deck is a half size pack with one different weapon, and has “keywords” included, which again have no rules in this box. For me, it really needed to include a few more differences.

 So would I recommend it? For an absolute beginner the gradual building of the rules works well. As in the main rule book it is well laid out, with plenty of tutorial side bars to explain what’s going on. But once you work through it you will want to get the main box anyway to play with the complete rules. If you already own the core set it will feel like a step back, rather than a separate entity, as you will have a near carbon copy of the rules. It might be best to look at it as a large booster pack with the extra accessories to keep as spares as well as the miniatures. But it’s going to feel a little pricey on that front.

As an aside, I’d like to say R.I.P. George A. Romero, without whom (despite his opinion of The Walking Dead!) none of this would have existed.

Officially in mourning. 

David Mustill