This is from Mantic games, and allows players to field larger crews than they can in Mantic’s The Walking Dead: All out War.
While still using the same figures and terrain.
The only main material difference between The Walking Dead: Call to Arms and The Walking Dead: All out War being the need for a new set of survivor cards for Call to Arms.
So what did The Walking Dead: Call to Arms play like?
Different is the short answer
It still has the interactive turns, where one player activates one of their survivors and then the other player does the same.
It still has the mayhem and noise mechanic to get walkers moving towards you should you make noise by running or create mayhem by opening up with your pump action shotgun.
It still has objective markers which you need to scavenge and collect for victory points.
But what it doesn’t have is a lot of the chaos and unpredictability of The Walking Dead: All Out War.
Gone are the event cards.
Gone is the threat level.
Gone is the items/supply deck you draw on when scavenging.
In comes a lot of synergy between survivors, an ability to have some control over what the walkers will do (or at least predict what they will do), and with both of those, Call to Arms delivers a more tactical miniatures skirmish game.
And one that has easier rules.
It is also a dynamic that players of skirmish games from Frostgrave to Warcry to Malifaux will recognise.
But with zombies. Lots of zombies. Or, if you prefer, walkers.
Was it as fun as All Out War?
That’s not so easy to answer.
This was very much a learning game. So there was a lot of looking through the book, discussing the rules, and missing opportunities to use the skills of the characters to their best.
However, from that view point I think it is a fun game, but in a different way to The Walking Dead: All out War.
All out War tells you a story with every action. A rambling chaotic story, in which you are trying to stay on target as much as possible.
Call to Arms tells a different story – one of how your plan comes into effect when dealing with the Walkers and how that sets you up to deal with the other player’s crew.
As such the story is more predictable, more understandable, and more down to the players tactical skills.
The fun therefore comes from getting your plan to work, rather than how you react to the chaos around you.
I guess they are different sides to the same coin, but the difference is there and it is a fun one to explore.
So, is A Call to Arms a different game?
Yes. I guess it is.
Mantic promote it as PvP game set in the Walking Dead universe, and it is that.
In the way you play it, it is closer to Frostgrave, with the competing gangs and the wandering monsters, than it is to All out War. IMO.
And that is its appeal, as with minimum investment, if you already have a collection of All out War miniatures, you can play Call to Arms.
In essence, you’re getting two games in one.
Something which FFG could have done with Star Wars Legion and Imperial Assault, but didn’t.
So, much kudos and praise to Mantic for taking that route (and tripling the appeal with the cross over of models from The “Here’s Negan!” board game).
It could also be argued that by being like other skirmish games, it loses some of its appeal.
I’d agree with that, in comparison to All out War, which to my mind is unique in the gaming market.
However, the ease of getting into it, if you have All out War, and the the Walking Dead theme, give the game enough of difference to make it worth picking up.
What happened in your game?
We played the first scenario – breakthrough. Which sees the two crews attempt to cross the table, lengthways, to get off the opposite end of the table (actually into the last 5″ of the table).
Victory points are gained by getting into your end zone and by picking up objective tokens (supplies) on the way.
As we were learning both the game and our crews, we pretty much had two seperate games for the first half, as we each moved forward and battled the Zeds.
It wasn’t until the last two turns (of five) that we got into conflict.
That saw the Governor take down Rick, and then his crew took our Carl.
However, with his special ability of a backpack. Which granted him two victory points per supply token, rather than just one. Glenn, working for the Atlanta crew, scored enough victory points to give Atlanta a 6 -2 win over Woodbury.
As said, it told a story. But one that was more in control than that we would have gotten in All out War.
The rulebook could have done with an edit, as it was not easy to find details.
And, nowhere that I could find, does it state what the defence and attack of a walker are.
Pretty basic stuff, which is inferred in the rulebook, but not stated.
I have since learnt that the information is on the FAQ/QR sheet on Mantic’s website. But it still beggars belief that the rulebook got through proofing without someone spotting that.
Also, while I upgraded my game tokens from the card that comes in the All out War starter box, to acrylic and plastic replacements. I wish I’d hung onto the cardboard ones, as you need to mark up each walker as it activates, and I don’t have enough tokens.
Will you play it again?
It has an appeal, is a different game to All out War, and is worth exploring.
And, it’s the Walking Dead.
The Combined Arms Podcast did a great write up comparing and contrasting All out War and Call to Arms.
Find it here.