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The Walking Dead Board Game: The Best Defense» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Thoughts after 3 sessions of Best Defense rss

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Travis R. Chance
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Alright, so, caveat: I was inspired to write this for two reasons:

1.) There seems to be absolutely zero reviews/feedback for this game, and I myself was curious enough to take the plunge, so I figured I owed to those who also wanted more info on this release.

2.) I am a fan of the show (though weirdly not a fan at all of the zombie genre; enough with all these dang zombie games, seriously!!!).

Rather than go into the gratuitous ins and outs of the game, citing each and every rule (despite the fact no rule book has yet been posted here for some reason), I am just going to lay out the basics with the hopes that it's enough. Perhaps to list this as a 'review' is a misnomer of sorts, but, hey, no one else is grabbing the reins here!

COMPONENTS

As a person with a handful of Cryptozoic releases in my collection, I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box. The character cards are in fact sturdy, thick tiles. The location tiles and tokens are of like composition, and also conveniently shaped differently to help expedite transactions with resources and such (by this I mean, gain and lose: food, hit points, allies, and ammo). Even the insert is nice, with a weird pseudo-suede lining of sorts which fit the components nicely. Even the box itself is nice, sporting the Season 3 shot of Rick outside the prison, pistol raised. They even went the distance and included little baggies!!!

Only a couple minor quibbles: pretty cheap dice and relatively flimsy cards. The cards are almost auto-bowed a bit, but, as you are not really shuffling these much beyond the initial setup, and they do not reside in a player's hand, this isn't a massive issue. It is worth mentioning though, that if you sleeve this up, it won't be fitting snugly in the insert.

RULES

I found the rules to be very easy to navigate. I had only one question (which hopefully a Crypto staffer can answer here): do you reshuffle the event deck once it is depleted? I am assuming the answer is yes--hell, I may have even missed it. But, on the whole, it's an easy read with a nice comprehensive breakdown of some of the more complex cards in the back. No glaring grammar errors; examples are given in many instances, including a detailed sample turn. So, kudos here.

GAME PLAY

So, the game is pretty easy to play; it also has a few new angles for a game of this variety which def made it more enjoyable and took a step beyond being just a reason to fart out a game skinned with a preexisting IP.

Basically, players portray a character from the show, one of the rag tag survivors knee-deep in interpersonal drama/zombies. Each character has a unique leadership ability, which differentiates them when they are calling the shots. This is a nice, simple mechanic which helps to capture the characters in a single beat; nothing earth-shattering, but it certainly adds some dynamic to the game (my favorite is Daryl, who brings home the bacon literally each round by providing survivors without food a single food resource). Each player will start the game with:

*2 allies: these are used to increase your combat die roll by 1 pip

*2 food: these are used at the end of each turn to heal HP up to the max of 5 per survivor.

*5 HP: c'mon now.

*1 random piece of equipment drawn from the equipment resource deck. If you draw a ranged weapon, you get to automatically load that sucker up based of its 'start of game load.' If you draw a flashlight, be sad.

The game lasts 12 rounds, wherein survivors must protect the 25 card Resource decks for the 4 locations in the game. All of the locations are the same, except for the prison, which soaks 3 walker damage, as players start with an equipment, meaning that this deck is actually less than the starting 25. Each player draws 2 events, which are more often than not bad news. Now, while the leader gets to use his cool ability while in charge, he also has to resolve BOTH of said events, while the other survivors simply pick one of their events to resolve. This is also a nice little mechanic that layers well with the leadership ability.

The leader will dispatch the survivors as they deem fit, which other players may 'defy' by spending 1 food--a weird thematic disconnect to me: 'I'm sick of the Ricktatorship; me and my cheeseburger are going back to the farm!' By defying the leader, you can move to a different adjacent tile--the locations are in a 2x2 grid, wherein players can only move orthogonally. Why does this matter? Because, in the more difficult modes of the game table talk is limited, meaning, the leader could be moving you into harm's way, as they are unaware of your event cards... which are usually bad news (again).

On their turn, a player can draw from the resource deck (they are protecting!!!), which adds a cool little risk vs. reward element, as they are helping to deplete the deck by doing so, but often to an end that is necessary (like food/ammo). Players can also trade with one another if at the same location, which is obviously helpful. After this, they play said usually terrible event and resolve it.

After this, it's fighting time! If you were lucky enough to not wind up with a flashlight, roll your di(c)e; for every sum of 5, kill a single walker. If you have a ranged weapon, you can contribute to the group combat total, which can be used en masse to help out some with, say, a flashlight, who may be on the precipice of being mutilated by godless undead freaks.

Whatever walkers remain deal 1 point of damage to the survivor(s) at the same location (not to each, 1 point TOTAL per walker which can be distributed as desired). Since players have only 5 HP, things can get fatal quickly once the game ramps up... and the game ALWAYS ramps up at some point (usually right after you think: this game is too easy). If o survivor is there to suck up damage then the corresponding location deck mills 1 card for each walker unopposed.

Rinse, repeat for 12 rounds, and that's pretty much it. There are a few levels of difficulty which help to amp up the tension, as well as a variant for people who don't like strict co-op games where players have a hidden goal of sorts.

CONCLUSION

After a handful of plays, I can say with certainty that this game is much better than I thought. But, at the same time, I must acknowledge that I appreciate the game as something I can play with my wife (a non-gamer), my nephew (12 yrs old), and other non-uber gamer types. There is no deep strategy here; the game is simple: manage the locations as best you can without dying/losing. It's a light game where luck is a part of the whole. When I lost, I immediately wanted to play again. When I won, I immediately wanted to play as a different character and get a different weapon or piece of gear to see how it played. A big part of this is my love for the show. And as a fan, I can say this def captures a nice element of the story, the world, and the characters that should make other fans pleased.

Hope this helps!






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C Bazler
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Thanks! I've been waiting to hear more about this before trying it. Maybe I'll give it a go.
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Travis R. Chance
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I was gonna say this, but forgot in the above mini-review: the game has a sort of dumbed down BSG feel to it to a degree. Or, at least, that was my gut reaction as I played my third game. Not a direct parallel, but close enough that I feel confident making it.

I am glad this helped! Crypto, get games like this reviewed please! It helps up tremendously as consumers!
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Matt Hyra
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Yes, you reshuffle the Event deck if/when it runs out of cards.

Thanks for writing up the review. Glad you liked it!

Thanks,
Matt Hyra
Cryptozoic R&D
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Joe L.
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Action Phase wrote:
I was gonna say this, but forgot in the above mini-review: the game has a sort of dumbed down BSG feel to it to a degree. Or, at least, that was my gut reaction as I played my third game. Not a direct parallel, but close enough that I feel confident making it.

I am glad this helped! Crypto, get games like this reviewed please! It helps up tremendously as consumers!


Thanks for the review! Your "dumbed down BSG" assessment is pretty interesting. What do you feel is the optimal combo of difficulty levels for the best experience, including the One Leader and Leader Last variants?

The Ulterior Motives cards seem like a must.
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Tony
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Thanks for the review... Great to finally have some information. I'm still on the fence and will wait for a few more reviews (or until I get to try it myself) before I get it. But, this will definitely keep me coming back to see what folks are saying.
 
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Patrick Hussey
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What does BSG stand for?
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Bob
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crimsondynamo wrote:
What does BSG stand for?


Battlestar Galactica
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Mark Zeller
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Have only one 2-player playthrough, so I am still not sure about the game. As a fan of the comic and show, I am pleased with the overall theme and presentation. However, my 9 yr old and I were easily able to hold the deck resources and manage the zombie incursion through careful event selection (I think we played this wrong as we kept unused events and kept a hand of cards). Next play we will try for three or four at the table and use alterior motive gameplay.
 
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Stephen Williams
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Thanks for this review.

I just became aware of this new Walking Dead game over the weekend, so I was curious if it was any good. The Walking Dead has seen an uncommonly large number of board games (IMHO) and thus far none of them have really seemed worth buying.

This one sounds like it finally gets things right. Maybe it's not the most intricate game ever designed, but it sounds like it nails the "survival" theme fairly well. I also like the leadership mechanic, and the "expert" game sounds interesting.
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