I know I do a Wednesday Walking Dead update but Mantic’s Blog is dedicating a whole week to Walking Dead: All Out War so go check it out for previews on the Wave 4 releases and hopefully some “beyond Wave 4” news. Wave 4 isn’t the only thing getting showcased this week as I have version 1.0 of my first AI enemy for Walking Dead ready for use:

Please note: I do not own the rights to these images as they are Mantic Game’s card art and Image and Skybound’s Walking Dead IP.  These are only intended for home and personal use.

AI enemies beyond the current two official Walker variants have been talked about since the game’s release but I haven’t seen many options out there. I did create a walker variant of my own, the Lurker, but this time I wanted to go with a more challenging option.

The main goal in this static AI option is to create something that is easy implement, provide a unique challenge, and is simple to use and understand. I’ve played several games that have more complicated AI and those are fun but I feel like that isn’t the solo experience needed for Walking Dead: All Out War.

One of the biggest oddities with the solo experience is the lack of firearm use.  Guns are a major component of the Walking Dead universe but without meaningful enemies, using a gun and dealing with its subsequent Mayhem result is usually a good way to lose your solo games.  You can mitigate the Mayhem by grabbing attachment items like silencers and suppressors but it gets expensive and hard to put in any of the pre-built lists for the solo scenarios.  So, in a world of just shambling melee-centric walkers, hard-hitting melee weapons are your best bet. To combat this, I wanted to introduce a simple new enemy that will create a ranged threat that solo players will need to consider when building lists. The Sniper enemy is one such threat.

As you can see in the custom card at the top, the layout is taken from the existing Walker card but expands on that excellent layout.  The enemy has a point cost just like walkers so you can create an “enemies” pool out of the same points you normally would when pulling the appropriate amount of walkers.  For ease of use, this Sniper takes the place of four walkers in a normal game.

Next we have a Nerve value.  For me, this is a placeholder for future effects and while I don’t have a fully fleshed concept of what to do exactly when non-walker enemies fail their nerve, I wanted it in there for future exploration.  To punt, I just set the Sniper to High Nerve so that they won’t panic.  I’ve also expanded on the combat stats, again for future development, but it illustrates the main purpose of the enemy: to shoot you.  Depending on where and how you set up your game, the Sniper may need to defend itself or participate in melee.  Melee is a bit out of the scope of this enemy’s use but can be developed further.

The instruction text at the bottom is the meat of the enemy, telling you what it will do every turn (it’s the most basic AI out there and arguably not even AI).  In essence, this Sniper is going to do what snipers do best, pick off stray enemies at range.  For simplicity, the Sniper will only take one action per round so don’t get hung up on things like taking a “rifle” action or whatever. It only cares about shooting the closest survivor so just like dumb walkers, it can be fooled into taking bad shots.  Just as the card shows, it also generates Mayhem every shoot action like any gun will. And that is really it.

But wait! How do you get the Sniper in your game? I have two recommendations for that.  One is you treat it like an enemy in your walker pool, adding its points to the existing walkers until you match your survivor team’s points and then place the Sniper somewhere logically in your scenario.  Maybe on top of a car as far from your survivors as possible.  Maybe on top of a building.  Or maybe you want the Sniper just hanging out on the ground somewhere behind some barricades.  I would rule that the Sniper is considered a survivor for the purposes of Walker attraction and attacking so if you place the Sniper where Walkers can easily get to her, she will likely be a lot easier to deal with.

Alternatively, you can use this handy Event Card I made.  In this case, you wouldn’t start the Sniper on your board or scenario, but rather, shuffle this card into your event deck and have the random chance of it showing up mid-game.  I’ve designed the event card to work in almost any scenario as the model is considered off the board for the purposes of Walkers and melee and is just there to cause chaos.

So… how does it play? Well, I started to run a quick demo to test things out and it ended up turning into a full game.  For illustration purposes, I have the session report below.  We start at the point when the Sniper randomly showed up in my event deck.  I seeded the Sniper Event Card in my deck randomly in the top five cards. It was pulled during round four and this was midway through round five.

I’m running through Miles Behind Us scenario 2 again with a custom team of Rick (with hatchet), Morgan, and Glenn (team A), and Duane and Carl (Team B).  Glenn has been badass and making every one of his “silent running” checks.  He was able to get into contact with Carl and Duane to get them involved while Rick and Morgan stayed behind to manage threat (hardcore mode where Hold Your Nerve is two full actions).

Then Drunk Dale showed up in the upper left corner and didn’t recognize his own friends so he pot shots an exposed Morgan.  He hits hard, ripping Morgan for 4 damage right off the bat and escalating my Threat mitigation. Dale rolls an ammo check and passes.

Morgan takes cover behind the car and Rick searches the car before the walkers close in.  I cheated in this scenario to test out the interaction and pulled the “old gun” supply card out to be the first search result (as I didn’t have a gun in the starting set up). Rick now has a gun to combat Drunk Dale, now perched upon the RV that also serves as the survivors escape plan.  Jerk.

Drunk Dale fires and scores two damage on Rick and doesn’t trigger an ammo roll.

The kids decide to run up to Glenn and double team a walker while Rick runs up to the next piece of cover and takes a shot at Dale.

Only through his natural shooting ability is Rick able to get a wound in on Drunk Dale.  Unfortunately, this pulls a lot of walkers to Rick.  Drunk Dale takes another shot at the end of the Action phase and is locked on target, severing Rick for three more damage.  Things are getting desperate as Drunk Dale apparently brought only two things up to the top of that roof, beer and extra clips of ammo (succeeds on ammo roll again). Compassion and binoculars were left behind.

The only saving grace in this shooting escapade is Drunk Dale is yo-yoing the walkers back and forth. Threat is getting dangerously close to High, which will force the kids to start panicking. The kids see an opening and run up to engage the walkers one-on-one.  Hopefully they’ll survive Drunk Dale’s rampage (or get lucky and a walker will take the hit for them).  Rick has other ideas and fires the crap gun again.

Rick is able to put Drunk Dale down and move around the truck.  Glenn and Morgan try to manage threat and succeed.

The Event card draws several walkers in on Rick and only by standing close to Carl do the Grimes boys fend off their walkers.  Duane needs no assistance and barehanded, rips his walker a new face.

At this point, we get Rick, Glenn, Duane, and Carl off to safety.  Whew! That was intense.

And close. Good thing we all made it.

oh. yeah. Sorry Morgan…

So there you have it. It turned out to be quite a game and the most shooting I’ve seen in a solo scenario.  Feel free to use this variant in any way you see fit.  Expand it, break it, mod it, go nuts.  Let me know if you have any feedback below or if anything is unclear.

To prep the cards, I print them out at 100% size and cut them down using the print dielines.   Next I stick them in a sleeve with a spare walker card for backing (or event card).  I sleeve my event cards (since I run the solo deck and it has that annoying “solo” printing on the back of the card) so adding this new custom event card is easy.

For those of you looking for a more customized experience, I also made up a Sniper version where you can attach any specific gun you want.  Want to see Sniper with the Arctic Sniper Gun in play and AP Ammo? Go even more nuts!

More specifically, this card lets you attach a specific ranged weapon to the Sniper (adding the points of the weapon and attachments to the enemy’s cost).  This may make for some easier or harder encounters depending on how you equip her and where you place her on the board.  You can also break the rules and give her unlimited use of “one use” items.  Want a crazy grenade lobbing disaster “Sniper”? Have fun!

But wait! There’s more…. no. This post is long enough. The rumbling of a hungry Pit will have to wait until later this evening.  Sorry ol’ buddy.