I think it’s safe to say that The Walking Dead is one of the hottest properties in the world right now. We’ve got video games (some good, some bad), comics, TV shows, board games, and now, thanks to Cryptozoic, a card game – and I suspect there’re probably plushies and action figures somewhere, too (Yes, there are – Ed).
With four basic card images, there’s nothing abhorrently graphic about what you’ll be seeing whilst playing The Walking Dead, which is thankful, as the rulebook is overly complicated and you’ll probably have a headache before you even get a chance to actually play it, so seeing gruesome imagery won’t help.
You see, part of the problem is that once you’ve worked out how the game plays, you’ll wonder why something so simple needed to be muddied by an attempt to stay “in the fiction” for the rule book.
The basics are as follows:
Each card (1-114) has a number on it, and a number of bullets
You deal 15 cards to each player
Place four cards from the deck into a row
Players take it in turns to select two cards from their 15 and the lowest goes first
But right there, we’re moving into confusing territory again, as there are also six “hero cards” in the deck, which serve (for the most part) as nothing more than avatars, unless any particular player chooses to play their hero card, which means they get to go first. That is, of course, unless two players play a hero card simultaneously, whereby the lower number still goes first.
The number on the cards must be placed next to one of the four rows, in ascending order. Well, unless you don’t have a higher numbered card, that is, whereby that card must go next to the highest numbered card already laid on the table. Are you confused yet? You should be.
Fundamentally, the key is to build the rows up to five cards long, then the person playing the sixth card takes the five cards and adds them to a new “score” hand, separate to your original 15-card hand. Once you’ve all run out of cards, you count the number of bullets within your score card and the highest amount of “shots” wins.
And that’s it, really. Save for an alternate method of play, as the mode described above is “Hero mode”, you see. “Survival mode” is similarly confusing at first, too. Without meaning to sound like a newcomer to tabletop gaming, it does feel like this would be aimed at the more casual audience, and in that respect it’s just not getting through.
Apparently it’s all based on a game called 6 Nimmt!, and having not played that one, I can’t comment on it. But the muddied terminology in the rule book makes things needlessly complex to any newcomer who jumps in because of the obvious The Walking Dead tie-in factor. With each game taking 20-30 minutes, it’s not a terrible way to pass time, but at best, it’s a shallow tie-in.
VERDICT: I’m not sad that I tried the card game of The Walking Dead, and once the rules are understood, it’s not a bad way to pass a spare 20 minutes. At a reasonably low price, you could do a worse than having a look at The Walking Dead Card Game, but just understand it’s a re-skinned variant on another card game, and I’d advise looking up a YouTube tutorial rather than even bothering with the included rule book. It sounds like those after some physical The Walking Dead action would be better suited taking a look at the board game, also from Cryptozoic. If you like the sound of the actual game itself, I’d say you’d probably be better served tracking down 6 Nimmt! itself, as this is one for the die-hard The Walking Dead fans only, simply because it’s hard to believe that most card-game fanatics won’t see through this game.