The Walking Dead: The Board Game (Z-Man Games)

The first installment of The Walking Dead week looks at the most original of the Walking Dead board games out there, simply titled The Walking Dead: The Board Game.

The aim of the game is relatively straightforward. You take control of one of the main characters from the early parts of the series: Rick, Glenn, Shane, Tyreese, Andrea or Dale. You have to take your character, along with any number of followers (you start with one) and scout out three locations on the playing board from a possible four: three public locations and one private location. Each location has a list of criteria you need to meet and each character has a special ability to help your team along the way. Achieve this before anyone else on the board and you’re crowned the overall winner.

The game does its best to throw you off. Each time you try to collect resources (petrol, food or ammo) you have to pick up an encounter card. Using the abilities indicated on your party’s individual cards, you may have to try to fend off a zombie attack, trick your rival players into giving you a boost or roll the dice and see if you meet a specific criteria. The results of winning can be hugely varied. Sometimes it simply means you survive, other times you pick up a new follower (probably the most effective way to win).

Each time you move your character you leave behind a zombie token with a mystery number underneath. This is the number of zombies you must kill if you are to pass through that space in future. This doesn’t sound too bad, but if you have a key public location that is being surrounded by players, these tokens rapidly build up. Furthermore, if you are in desperate times you may choose to use one of your ammo resources and fire a machine gun into the zombie battle you are facing. This allows you to roll an extra dice but means there’s a 50% chance you will be fully surrounded by zombies. As you can guess, the more people playing the game, the faster the board fills up with zombie tokens. It makes for an interesting game.

The design of the game is beautiful and ties in perfectly with the style of the comic book. The character design might not appear familiar to those who only watch the TV series, but those who prefer the comic book will be delighted at the great job they’ve done here.

One drawback is the lack of storage inside the box. You’re going to need to buy these small plastic resealable bags. If you don’t you can add five minutes of setting-up time each time you play to overcome the fact all your counters and tokens are now jumbled up.

Another flaw is that the game rules aren’t explicitly clear, meaning the FAQ section of their website is full of answers to questions you’ve probably been asking after as little as one game. This could have been avoided by having a little more clarity in the user guide, a simple task for a relatively simple game.

Overall, this is a fantastic purchase for fans of the series, especially if you have a large group of friends who all love board games.

The Walking Dead: The Board Game is available to purchase now.

The Walking Dead Week at Cinema Etc.

This week sees the start of the new spin-off/prequel/companion series to The Walking Dead. Titled Fear The Walking Dead, it gets its UK premiere on Monday 31st August on the new BT-exclusive channel AMC. At first it may seem like a bit of a cash-in on the main show’s popularity, but I’m not so sure. There have been endless tie-ins to the comic (yes, the TV series is really just a tie-in to the comic) that have been great successes. I’m dedicating this week to revealing the best places to go to get your Walking Dead fix. First up? The Walking Dead board game.

The Dice Cup Café, Nottingham – Hall of Fame

Well, I always knew I’d make it into the Hall of Fame somewhere. It has finally happened. Admittedly I was hoping for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but The Dice Café in Nottingham is a close second.

The café isn’t actually open yet but it will be soon. It will be a central Nottingham café with a a huge selection of board games available to play whilst you eat and drink. Sounds right up my street. Here’s the link. See if you can find me then check out the café. It’s not too late to pledge!!

Competing in the Settlers of Catan Regional Heat, 03/05/2015

On Sunday I spent the day at Thirsty Meeples for a Settlers of Catan tournament. If that opening sentence has confused you, then I apologise. But I’ll explain.

Thirsty Meeples is an excellent café in Oxford centre, which specialises in board games. It’s a little bit like a board game library, only you can’t take the games away with you. You pay a small fee and can rent any games you want for the whole day. And they have plenty. 100s. It’s an immersive experience. The selection they have tends to pander to the modern board gamer, with plenty of German-style board and card games, gateway games and the like. So whilst they have the likes of Operation and Monopoly on offer, they also have five versions of Ticket To Ride, all the versions of Carcassone you can imagine and many, many copies of Settlers of Catan.

It is this last point that was critical to the surging popularity in these kinds of games in recent years. More than any other game, Catan (or Settlers if you prefer) has become the go-to game to introduce friends to a whole new world gaming. Designed by Klaus Teuber 1995, the basic game involves up to four players who each represent a settler on the resource-laden island of Catan. Players place settlements from the start, and these provide the ability to gain resources based on the roll of two dice. These can in turn be used to buy more settlements, cities (which double the resources gained), roads or development cards. The ultimate goal is to get to ten victory points before anyone, with points handed out for a number of different achievements (one for settlements, two for cities, two for the longest road, etc.) I’ve perhaps not explained it very well, but its simplicity led to it being taken up at a hugely rapid rate and it is now the leading light in getting people into these kinds of games.


So it is for this reason that there is now a National Settlers of Catan tournament, with regional heats held in 12 different locations, one of which being Thirsty Meeples. It was a worthy excuse to make the long journey over from the East Midlands to check it out.


The tournament was set up so that you received 5 points for a win and 2 points for a second-place finish. There were 11 players, each playing 3 games in the round robins. After these games, the four players with the most points were pitted against one-another in a single game to determine who the heat winner was.

I won zero games and came runner up in two, though one of them was a joint runner-up position so I only amassed three points in total. I was out, but thankfully my wife was having a much better day. She managed two wins in three games, landing her 10 tournament points and a place in the final. Unfortunately, she didn’t win, but it was closely fought and she left with her head held high.

It was a fantastic day and we also found time to play a number of other games. We ended up buying Love Letter, Splendor and Star Wars: The Card Game, having either played them or had them recommended to us.

We’ll be back next year to see if we can go one step further and reach the national finals