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As Seen at SDCC 2019: The Walking Dead: Something to Fear

The Walking Dead Something to Fear Box

The Walking Dead: Something to Fear from Skybound Games

Typically created through a virus or reanimation of some sort, zombies are not something to trifle with. As many horror fans already know, encounters with these cannibalistic creatures are not always a success. Hordes, packs, and even solitary zombies often prove catastrophic to both groups and individuals who are just trying to survive. In The Walking Dead: Something to Fear from Skybound Games this is no different. The game blends set collection with group survival so even if an individual player scores a bunch of points, it doesn’t mean they survive the mob of zombies to enjoy their victory! The zombies are coming – are you ready?

The Walking Dead: Something to Fear Cards

Even if I chose to only watch the show or to only read the comics, I would easily recognize these characters. I love that the illustration, though unique to the artist, is similar enough to be recognizable to fans of the franchise.

Set in the world created by Robert Kirkman and featuring some of his iconic characters, The Walking Dead: Something to Fear is a 2-6 player card game that was designed by Lizzy and Derek Funkhouser. This husband and wife team not only design board games (including the 2018 release of Mechanisms), but also have a board game channel: The Board Game Spotlight. Art for the game was provided by Justin Chan, who has also worked on other games such as Plaid Hat GamesVideo Game High School and Plan B GamesCentury: Golem Edition. I’m very happy to say that Chan has not only done an excellent job of recreating the likenesses of familiar characters such as Negan, Rick, and Carl but seems to have blended the resemblances of these characters from both their comic book appearances and their portrayals on the AMC television show. Regardless of if this was intentional or not, I feel this will make the game appeal to a wider audience as not all fans of the show have read the comics and vice versa.

The Walking Dead: Something to Fear 2-player Set Up

An example 2 player set-up
(All photos of Skybound Games product were taken and edited by KristaG)

For the most part, The Walking Dead: Something to Fear is playable right out of the box with very little setup. The game itself is made up of 2 types of decks: Character Decks and Encounter Decks. There are 6 sets of Character cards, which are easily identifiable by either the color or the number of dots on the card backs. The 9-card sets all contain the same cards featuring characters such as Michonne, Maggie, and Jesus among others. Each player takes a deck of their choice, shuffles it, and places it face-down in front of them. The cards used for the Encounter deck are determined by the number of players. To discern which cards to use, players simply need to consult the numbers printed on the backs of the Encounter cards – if the numbers match the player count, the cards are added to the deck! Once the Encounter deck has been constructed, it is placed face down in the center of the play area. Encounter cards are then revealed equal to the number of players plus 1 and placed next to the Encounter Deck (Note: there should be enough space left in the play area for the eventual “mob”). The Tie Breaker Card is given to the player that most recently read a comic book. Any unused cards are returned to the box, all players draw their opening hand of 3 cards, and the game is ready to begin.

The Walking Dead: Something to Fear End Game Mob

Adding up the total damage of the Mob at the end of the game, we all lost this encounter so the zombies won.

Each game of The Walking Dead: Something to Fear is made up of 9 quick rounds of play. During a round, players will simultaneously choose one of the Character cards from their hand and reveal it. Cards are resolved in order starting with the highest numbered card unless a card says otherwise. Once all “upon reveal” effects are completed, players take their turn according to player order securing cards. Cards are typically secured from the Encounter row, but can also be taken from another player or even the Mob depending on what Character cards were played. It is important to note that the Encounter row is not refilled until the end of each round so turn order can sometimes play a huge role in player strategy. As cards are secured, they are placed in a player’s Stash to be scored at the end of the game. While most Encounter cards are worth points, there are also some that cause individual player damage so be wary of picking these up! Any remaining cards in the Encounter row are viewed as having “escaped” the encounter and are moved to join the ever-growing Mob. Once this is done, the cleanup phase of the round begins. All played Character cards are discarded, players refill their hands up to 3 cards unless their Character decks are empty, and the Encounter row is refilled from the Encounter deck. After the 9th round, all Character cards should have been played and it is time to see if everyone survived to try to reap their spoils. First, the Mob attacks. If their attack value totals more than 20 points of damage, everyone dies and no one wins. If their attack is less than 20, but players have enough personal damage to push it to 20, said players died and any survivors live on to tally up their points. Once all surviving players have added up their points, the player with the most points wins.

The Walking Dead: Something to Fear is a game that I feel needs to be played at higher player counts. Though it scales wonderfully to accommodate a variety of group sizes, the game becomes easily predictable after a few plays with groups of 2 or 3. This is because everyone has the same 9 cards so it is easy to remember who has already played what and determine what moves are left to be made. That being said, The Walking Dead: Something to Fear is a unique take on card mechanics and I really enjoyed having to create strategies that balanced group survival with trying to score points for the end of the game. I feel this is a great game gateway game to play with fans of the show and/or comics who are looking for a quick Walking Dead experience or want to get in several games in a single sitting. While attending San Diego Comic Con 2019, I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Derek Funkhouser at the Skybound booth, which is where I received a copy of the game. I didn’t know it then, but this encounter would spark a few nights of Internet research and game store visits as I learned more about some of Skybound Games’ other releases. I have since added several to my collection including The Grimm Forest and The Grimm Masquerade due to my love of most things fairy tale. All of these titles are currently available online and in stores and have been a welcome addition to my collection.

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