So I’ve talked a bit about my CabinCon prep for the Walking Dead minis game (All Out War) by Mantic Games but I got the chance to put the whole thing together and play two epic sessions. The first session is below.
disclaimer: The Walking Dead: All Out War game has not been released as of this post. All miniatures, scenery, and components are either mocked up or proxies from other games.
As has been tradition since the first CabinCon, a group of friends head down to the local restaurant Pancho and Lefty’s for a chance to get out of the cabin and stretch their legs.
The friends all take a seat at a large table on the side of the open restaurant. Before the server can even take a drink order everyone sees a flash pass quickly by the restaurant front window followed by an explosion that rumbles the walls.
The group jumps up and starts to run through various emotional reactions, some running to the window to see what is going on, while others cower in the corner taking cover from an unseen threat.
Eventually some brave souls venture outside only to find carnage and mayhem have taken over the town of Grand Lake.
We find that the source of the explosion was the fiery wreck that once was our main mode of transportation, Reese’s Xterra.
Unfortunately, the fire and explosion brought some unwelcome guests… The Walking Dead.
Things start to get interesting as the Dead are now breaking into the back of the restaurant.
This forces our heroes into the street with only the most rudimentary weapons. Don, the local Police Officer is a good shot but years of training to fire at center mass is hard to ignore. Don is making a lot of noise and attracting more hungry dead.
The team starts to converge around the only intact vehicle in sight and start to make their stand.
Just when the heroes had scoured the area for a way to start the truck, a man stumbles out of the adjacent building. He is wounded and being chased by several Walkers.
Too quickly, he falls and the heroes cannot save him. Don is finally overwhelmed and pulled down by the undead and consumed.
In the wounded man’s hand are a set of Chevy keys. The heroes distract the walkers and grab the keys to make a run for the truck. They are able to get in and get it started but the Walkers surround the vehicle.
Unfortunately, one friend had gone to check out the other side of the lot and was making a stand with newfound friend, Vincent “blade-y hands” and didn’t realize the party was over.
The heroes knock over the slow dead and make a bee-line to their comrade and newfound friend and drive off to the closest safe haven they know- the Cabin.
VICTORY for now…
The guys had a lot of fun with the new Walking Dead: All Out Wars rules and I found the system to be extremely flexible. I ran it (and warned the players) that I would likely treat it more like an RPG and push/pull the events for maximum effect. In this way, I would take a back seat to the decisions since I new how a lot of the scenario would play out and just ran around to help.
We were obviously playing the game under the “Solo” rules and I expanded it to a co-operative level with each player controlling their own avatar. I didn’t worry too much about the NPCs and only really played them for story effect (to be eaten or cause “Mayhem”- the game’s way of escalating the dangerous encounters in the game and the main way the heroes can lose).
For each player’s avatar stats, I made a private quiz to find out a little more about each attendee and suit a 30 point character to match as close as possible within the limits of the system. Then I created the personal standees after getting some “action shots” of the guys with various weapons. This really got the guys interested and had them feel that something was on the line as they played the game.
To help further immerse the group, I made some crude papercraft buildings loosely representing the restaurant we frequent and the surrounding area. Google Earth came in handy as it made for a passable paper playmat with the street and parking lot outside. This also helped keep the guys interested as the game environment slowly evolved as the game progressed. We started in the restaurant map and it could have easily stayed inside there for the whole game if I wanted but I knew I wanted this to feel somewhat like an RPG with exploration elements and unknown events triggering somewhat logically.
Speaking of events, the game comes with a deck of random events that trigger at the end of each round and working in special events that I randomly placed in the deck, made for a very organic story that developed. The main “end scenario” event was placed in a random set of the last 6 event cards so even I didn’t know how far along we had to survive before we could leave and end the scenario.
I designed the little scenario to be a one-off in case people thought it was fun but not worth going through again the next night. Lucky for me, everyone loved it and wanted more so I had the “part 2” as an optional continuation of the story. Again, the rules really open this up for players as it deals with achievement and advancement in between the scenarios. Before the next scenario, I had the guys “level up” their character and based on how well we did during Part 1, we received time to search the Cabin for weapons, arm up and prepare for what was coming up in Part 2.