The Walking Dead: Something To Fear Card Game
Survive nine waves of walkers and brutal villains while collecting supplies, weapons and taking encounters head on in the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead Something to Fear Card Game is a simultaneous action selection and set-collection game for 2-6 players from Skybound Games. Designed by Derek & Lizzy Funkhouser, with art by Justin Chan, it is suitable for ages 12+ and plays in under 45 minutes.
Shuffle the Encounter deck and place it face-down within reach of all players. Next to the deck create the Encounter row by revealing encounter cards equal to the number of players plus one. Leave enough space to the left of the Encounter deck to the Mob area. Give each player a character deck to shuffle and place face-down in-front of them. Each player draws a starting hand of three cards from their own deck. Give the tie breaker card to who most recently read a comic book.
Players have a set of identical Character cards numbered one through nine, each with a special ability. The number determines the order players will take turns activating their ability, from highest to lowest. You can normally play each Character only once, unless you recover one from the the discard pile.
Encounter cards represent enemies and situations that you must overcome each round to survive. Your goal is to collect specific sets of Encounters by securing them and placing them face-up in front of you to form your Stash, where they will score you points at game end. Encounter cards that you do not secure become part of the Mob and can damage the group at game end.
Each round in Something to Fear consist of four steps, starting with Selecting and Revealing Characters. Players select one character card from their hands to play. All players reveal their chosen card simultaneously.
Encounters with the enemy
Next, players will have Encounters with the enemy, taking turns in play order as determined by their character card. On a player’s turn they may activate their character’s ability and perform the action. For example, Ezekiel’s ability states: “Secure a card. You may choose a card in your Stash and a card in another player’s Stash then swap those cards.” Andrea’s ability is: “You may secure a card from the Mob, or from the Encounter row.”
Character abilities are optional and a player can just secure an encounter card instead. Cards with an “on reveal” ability execute immediately before others in descending number order.
Acquiring Encounter cards is the core of this game. You’ll want to collect cards that gel well together. Negan will net 40 points if you can successfully acquire three of him. On the other hand, The Governor scores best if you have only one.
Remaining enemies return to the mob
Once all players have completed their abilities, any remaining Encounter row cards escape to the Mob. Move them to area reserved for the Mob, opposite the encounter deck.
Clean up is quick. Players discard their used Character card to a personal discard pile, then draw a new Character card to refill their hand, if possible. Lastly, reveal Encounter cards to create a new Encounter row.
End Game Scoring
At the end of nine rounds, it’s time for end-game scoring. First the mob attacks. Sum all the Mob Damage on Encounter cards left in the mob. All players take that amount of damage. Then take individual damage from the personal damage marked on cards in your stash. If your total is over 20, you perish and most likely become a zombie! If you survived, score victory points as indicated by cards in your stash.
The Walking Dead: Something to Fear Card Game is refreshing entry into the zombie game genre. Being a long-time fan of The Walking Dead, I was excited to play this because it combined The Walking Dead universe with set collection: a union of two things I really enjoy.
The game play fits lock and step with the theme. Character abilities lead to interesting decisions and critical timing. Carefully play the higher numbered cards so you can acquire what you need, but it’s never guaranteed. Cards like Carl’s (reverses turn order) or Eugene (shuffle and reveal a card from your discard pile) can disrupt the wisest plans. Surprises do happen in the zombie apocalypse.
The fun kicks in when you try to foil your opponents’ survival plans by stealing or switching cards they possess. Stuck with an unwanted card? Use Ezekiel’s ability to secure a card, then choose a card in your Stash and a card in another player’s Stash to swap.]
You have lots of options when it comes to collecting encounter cards, and strategies will often morph over the course of the game. Control of the Governor and Negan are always a popular due to their high scoring. Going all in on Supply cards has paid off a few times; flying low under the radar while other players duke it out. Players will also tend to gravitate towards the Saviors cards as safe bet: a set of three is worth 32 points.
The Looming Threat
The looming threat of damage isn’t as menacing as I would have thought it would have been. I recall mob damage as high as 12-15, but nothing we ever stressed about. Maybe because players are always vying for zombie horde domination – or perhaps players sub-consciously watched out for it. It never really became a point for discussion as it does in other co-op games.
If Something to Fear gets an expansion, I’d love to see the Mob become more of critical threat forcing players to work together. There is so much story to work with, I’d love to see characters like Hershel Greene and Morgan Jones join the ranks, along with brutal encounters with Whisperers leaders Alpha and Beta.
Fans of the comics will notice a slight departure from the gritty black and white art style to a full color treatment that’s a little tamer for a wider audience. The game’s age rating (12+) is appropriate due to the theme and artwork depicting zombies and weapons.
All Hunky Dunky?
Indeed it is all hunky dunky, Eugene! I really enjoyed The Walking Dead Something to Fear and would recommend it as a entertaining set collection game with a dash of co-op survival sprinkled in. This could easily have been a popular mass market IP game, but the designers made it a gamer’s game with a very cool play order mechanism. Something to Fear is straightforward to learn and teach. It was a hit with fellow Walking Dead heads I played with. An occasional Eugene or Negan quote thrown in by players always adds for great atmosphere.
The game has the right amount of take-that and player interaction. Negan would approve of this style of game. You can certainty recover from the hits too. The Walking Dead: Something to Fear Card Game is one I’d definitely break out at a game night with the right audience. At just $20, it’s a great addition to a Walking Dead head’s library. Find it on Amazon or ask for it at your local game store.
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The Family Gamers received a copy of The Walking Dead: Something to Fear Card Game from Skybound Games for this review.
The Walking Dead Something To Fear Card Game
Number of Players: 2-6
Age Range: 12+
Playtime: 20-45 minutes