I saw a user on Boardgamegeek talk about only going with the Prelude to Woodbury expansion to start his collection in The Walking Dead: All Out War and never picking up the Core Set. I think this is perfectly doable but like in most things, there will be tradeoffs and balances to this approach.
I decided to research more into this and find out exactly what you’ll be missing if you go this route and what do you gain.
First things first, however; not picking up the Core Set (CS) and only buying the Prelude to Woodbury (P2W) expansion is only viable if you are running your games as solo or co-op experiences. As will be evident soon, you will be missing some critical items to run true competitive games or attempt tournament/league play.
Let’s start out by looking at the Core Set (taken from Mantic’s TWD contents file):
In addition to the items listed above, the Core Set comes with six survivor figures and twelve walkers. At $50 MSRP, this entry point is a great value.
Now that we have our starting place for comparison, let’s look at the Prelude to Woodbury (P2W) set:
In addition to the items listed above, the set comes with one survivor and five walkers. This set can cheat a little bit with the walkers as they also include four “Captured Walker Counters.” If you’re not needing these counters for a scenario, they can proxy for more walkers on the board.
At $40 MSRP, this entry point is cheaper but for most players it won’t be worth the savings if they plan on continuing their collection. It does work as a great demo set to initiate new players and if cost is the most important consideration when dipping your toe into this game, then the P2W set is a fine place to start.
Let’s say that last statement describes you but you want to know what you might be missing. First off, you’re getting less than half the models of the Core Set. If you plan on just playing around with the P2W contents and the narrative campaign it has, the loss in model count is not a big deal. The campaign in the rules only uses the contents of this expansion so you won’t be short anything in this box. So even though you don’t get as many models and half the terrain templates, it shouldn’t matter.
What will hurt if you’re moving on to play any competitive games are several rules interactions like building a survivor group and some nuanced situations in melee and shooting that won’t or will rarely exist in solo play. Your event deck and supply deck cards won’t be complete so you’ll need to use your opponents when you play.
You’ll also be missing a paper game mat from the core set. This may be an issue as three of the six scenarios in Days Gone Bye use that mat. These mats will be sold separately in a deluxe quality (likely neoprene) so you can always pick one up later. Otherwise, the game mats are strictly decorative. You can always measure out a play space 20″ x 20″ and set up the scenery as shown. Given that this is a miniatures game, a lot players will ditch the paper mat anyway and create their own version.
If you are planning to expand your game, however, starting with the starter and moving on to the Days Gone Bye expansion is going to be your best option, even if playing solo. The P2W set, at that point, is nice to have for more walkers and the extra dice, etc but not necessary.