Reviews

The Walking Dead Risk: A Plague Shambles Across the Classic Game of World Domination!

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The Walking Dead RISK, based on Robert Kirkman’s comics was released last fall, and playing it feels eerily similar to reading the graphic novels. There are times that the player feels genuine fear and dread as the play moves along. If you love Risk, you will find this to be a new and incredibly challenging take on the classic game of world domination. Only this time the world is much smaller, and the stakes much higher. Also, there are Zombies…

Luke Byers is Creative Director for USAopoly, and is one of the minds behind the design of The Walking Dead Risk. He is an admitted fan of All things having to do with The Walking Dead. When asked about that also what the most difficult thing about designing the game, he says:

Am I a fan? Yes. Period (not sure if you are supposed to type the word period or if the punctuation of the period emphasizes the emphatic nature of the statement by itself?Point being, emphatically yes). And as game mechanics were concerned, our team worked to identify a map layout that would fit within the Walking Dead world nicely (as the core “World” map made no sense whatsoever from a thematic standpoint). A circular map that proved to support this the best, as we really wanted it to be loosely based on a map of the areas most identified in the series. We knew that an actual map of the surrounding areas of Atlanta would not work from a game play standpoint. We were very conscience to give the “impression” of it, while taking a few liberties so the game would play fun and not just look good. This is normally the biggest challenge when it come to designing versions of RISK, as balance is essential for a good game experience and making sure the map is changed to a unique environment wherever possible or whenever it makes sense.

Secondly, from a visual design standpoint our team was also tasked with making a large portion of the art as we didn’t have access to original Charlie Adler art for the game. This afforded the team an opportunity to create, as closely as possible, art that resembled art seen in the comics and graphic novels. This took many revisions and changes in direction so that we were sure to be as true to the license as possible. But we feel we got very close and Skybound was very pleased with the final product.

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Remember that jolt of excitement you got every time your turn came around because you’d count up your territories, turn in cards and try to sweep across the continent laying waste to your enemies? You can kiss that feeling goodbye, and in its place is a sense of foreboding, because at the beginning of each turn, there is a Walker outbreak. Also, of EXTREME importance is the need to remember to fortify ALL TERRITORIES. In the past, as long as you fortified entrances in and out of your territories, and amass armies to defend the passes, you could at least stand your ground.

This, clearly, is no longer the case. Before every players turn the zombies attack, and there is no rhyme or reason to where the pop up. The territories that are attacked are determined by drawing cards. To add insult to injury, if the Walkers take you out, a roll of the dice determines whether or not you come back as a Walker, so not only do they kill you, but they can also add your soldiers to their ranks of the undead. Needless to say, you have to strategize like crazy!

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This is Luke’s favorite part of the game. One could almost say he takes a perverse pleasure in putting the player through the trauma of frequent walker attacks…

I love the way you can’t really hunker down anywhere, because even if you are not being threatened by your fellow survivor opponents, walkers can show up in any territory… at every turn. It’s as though you are walking along and minding you own business and then, BOOM, all of a sudden from and from out of nowhere, comes a walkers outbreak to ruin your “foolproof strategies”. This is definitely not your dad’s version of RISK.

Just like in classic RISK, if during your turn you capture an army, you are able to collect an object that down the road you are able to exchange for more armies. In the classic game, this is a card displaying either a soldier, a horse mounted soldier or a cannon. In the Walking Dead RISK you collect ammo crates. These are small coins that on their flip side have either one or two bullets. The more bullets you collect, the more players you gain.

This game is fun to play, and lets you feel, if only for a moment, that you are a part of Robert Kirkman’s post-apocalyptic world. You fight to survive. Just like the hit television show of the same name says, “Fight the dead, fear the living.” It’s a world that no sane person would ever want to visit, but USAopoly’s The Walking Dead RISK is so much fun, that we are crazy enough to go back again and again…

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When he is asked what he would say to anyone getting ready to play this game for the first time, Mr. Byers has this to say:

First, build up as much trust as you can with your fellow survivors, ‘cause you’re gonna need it. Second, do not trust any of your fellow survivors ‘cause that ain’t gonna trust you. And third, don’t die but know that more than likely you’re already dead. Oh, and of course have fun… now that I think of it that should probably be first but the other stuff’s real important too…

Many thanks to Luke Byers and the fine folks at USAopoly for their help with this story! Visit their website at www.usaopoly.com. The Walking Dead RISK is available at comic shops and hobby stores everywhere, so shamble out there in your best Walker fashion and buy it. What, too scared to brave the hordes of the undead? You’re in luck, because you can go to www.comicshoplocator.com and locate retailers all over the nation with the game. Want a good tip? Compare Prices. Different retailer and websites have different prices, and some may even offer free shipping!

About the author

Tim Piland

Timothy Piland is a classically trained tenor and opera singer. He was born and raised in the Springfield, Mo. Area.

He has performed Roles for Springfield Little Theater, Vandivort Theater, Springfield Regional Opera and Mobile Opera. He has also worked for the Puccini Festival, and the Kansas City Lyric Opera.

In his performing career he has performed roles in: Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Man of La Mancha, Die Fledermouse, La Fanciulla del West, Gianni Schicchi and many other shows.

In 2007, he toured the United Kingdom with the Church of the Incarnation out of Dallas, Texas. This included a week long engagement at Westminster Abbey, as well as a 9 day engagement at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In 2009 he originated the role of the Priest in "Frankenstein, Monster" by Le Wlhelm at the Gilloiz Theater.

He appeared onstage as Rupert Giles for, "A Class Act productions," in their ongoing presentation of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: A Reader’s Theatre Parody, from March 2010-July 2013.

In November 2011, he made his directoral debut, directing "Star Trek Live Onstage: The Trouble with Tribbles," also for "A Class Act." He went on to direct 14 of the next 17 episodes of that live stage show.

Each Christmas you can also catch him at the historic Pythian Castle where he performs in a, "Night of the Dueling Santas," a Christmas dinner show of his own writing. He has been the Ghost Tour Guide for the castle since 2010.

He has been featured on The Discovery Channel, SYFY Channel, The History Channel, NPR.

He is the founder of Harvest Moon Productions and oversees events ranging from concerts to straight plays. He is currently writing a book called "Ghostly Tales From Pythian Castle," which hopefully will see production at some point in 2014.

In 2013 he was cast as Dr. Howard Lagrasse in the 5 episode silent Horror web series SHADOW BOUND, for Arcane Productions. Most recently he was cast in a role in the feature film EVERYTHING, for Parallax Studio.

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