Roll The List #34: Head to Head – Ryan vs Cait


Head to Head Underrated Horror Table Top Game

This week we have a bunch of roll the lists. These are the first two Cait and Ryan going head to head in an epic battle for supremacy. Who will convince our audience of the best underrated table top horror game! *Ding Ding*

Ryan’s Take

 

When it Comes to Survivor Horror Tabletop Games,

The Walking Dead is “The Best Defense”

 

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This is my first Roll the List and I’m very excited to deliver my take on this one. For this particular Roll
the List, I am featuring The Walking Dead: The Best Defense for my choice as the best table top survivor
horror game. What particularly stands out about this game to me is the uniqueness it has. In most
tabletop games, you are competing against the others who are playing. Many of the games involve
gameplay that requires you to be destructive to those who are vying for either the end of the board, the
most spoils, or to simply stay along the longest.

 

The Walking Dead: The Best Defense is a completely co-operative game, in which you and your friends
must make it through 12 grueling rounds of zombie infested stages. Being familiar with the comic books
and the series definitely helps you enjoy this game but is certainly not required to understand it or to
have a great time. You can play solo or with up to as many as four players. Each participant can choose
between one of the six iconic characters from the series. What’s pretty cool about each character is
they have their distinctive traits which adds a different dynamic to the game. Some allow you to heal
characters more often, some allow you to get more supplies.
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There is a lot up to chance in this game and, more often the not, the chance is really brutal. Scenario
cards will play out based on what’s happening on the board. Usually they are completely circumstantial.
Like, “if you are at the prison, get an ammo card. If you are not at the prison roll the 1-3 die to place
that many zombies in the prison.” There’s no real way to anticipate when these cards will come up but
they almost always rely on you being in a certain place on the map.

 

In addition to the randomness and situational aspects of the game, it is really challenging. It’s very rare
for you to find a weapon right off the bat. They are scarce and very ineffective in thwarting off zombies.
Excuse me, “walkers”, we don’t use the “z” word in this mythos. If you don’t have a weapon, you are
effectively screwed. You have to run away or hope you find a weapon (and accompanying ammo).
You can only be attacked five times before dying. Think of this way, if 3 walkers are in an area, you will
die in two turns (and you have to make it through 12 turns to win). Additionally, there are so many
cards in each section of the map and though those cards will help you (with allies, food, weapons, and
ammo), once they are completely depleted, the game is lost. This means choosing how much of what
you use is very integral to your success.

 

How difficult is this game? Well, I’ve never won the game and I’ve played it about seven times. I keep
going back for more and I find the challenge a very important aspect in this game.

 

The Walking Dead: The Best Defense is competing against a game called Nevermore. Nevermore is a
card drafting game that has some unique properties. You either try to kill off your opponents or stack
up on victory points. Keep in mind that like most card drafting games I’ve come up across, this is not a
deck builder. This game deals heavily on chance as well as your strategy in which you choose to
perform.

 

I haven’t had the opportunity to play this game, but I did take the time to familiarize myself with the
mechanics. It seems interesting in the respect that you are able to use Raven cards to kill off other cards
and to pull Shadow Magick cards (which do some pretty devastating things). I found it unique that the
order of operations in the game changes with each play. Each action is resolved randomly and it can
strongly affect the decisions you make. I also like that when you die, you can still play. Many games
involve friends going off to do other things while they wait for the game to end and then you have to
run all over the house to find them to start the next round! This keeps them in check.

 

As fun as Nevermore sounds, I think that The Walking Dead: The Best Defense offers a better gameplay.
I enjoy it because it is co-operative, because there is no winner unless you make it to the end, and that it
is challenging. All of these factors are heavy hitters for me and I think it makes for a stronger choice.
Don’t get me wrong, though, Imma still play that Nevermore game.

 

Cait’s Take

This week in Roll the List, Ryan and I will be going head to head over the most underrated horror tabletop game. There are so many fantastic horror tabletop games out there so this is a difficult pick but since we are going underrated, I will be arguing that Nevermore is the most underrated over Ryan’s pick of The Walking Dead Board Game: The Best Defense. Nevermore is a drafting style card game based on Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven and pits players against each other in a bid to see who can survive the longest as defeated players are turned into murderous Ravens. In contrast, The Walking Dead Board Game has players taking on the roles of characters from the show to co-operatively defend areas from the zombie invasion in order to survive. As I will show in this article, Nevermore is the more underrated of the two.

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The main point that makes Nevermore a more underrated game than The Walking Dead Board Game is the theme. The Walking Dead Board Game has one of the most popular themes in horror literature and games: zombies. For some reason, everybody loves the shamblers and even someone who’s never played a board game before can take a look at a shelf and instantly recognize the Walking Dead brand and setting. In contrast, Nevermore takes Poe’s most famous poem, The Raven, and gives it a new twist. Poe is a master of dark, understated horror and the dread of knowing that any of the other players could reduce you to a Raven whose only goal is to peck out the eyes and still beating heart of the other players makes Nevermore a highly addictive game. The only way to save yourself from the Ravens is to win the game before they can kill you. And yet, how many people are familiar enough with Poe’s poem to be able to pick out Nevermore as a horror game? Certainly far fewer than those who would recognize The Walking Dead. In terms of theme, Nevermore isn’t cashing in on an already incredibly popular monster (not to mention television show and graphic novel series) but rather crafting an intense game from an old horror classic.

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Gameplay is another area that sets Nevermore apart from The Walking Dead as a horror game. Many of the most popular horror tabletop games give players the solace of co-operative play. As characters from the show working together to fight off the zombie hordes, The Walking Dead Board Game certainly fits into this category. Nevermore however does not. There is no comfort taken from the abilities of your fellow players and the fact that everyone else wants you dead, even if they have to accomplish this fact with beak and claws, makes Nevermore a more tense and competitive game. Nevermore relies on hate drafting and the use of white and black magic to ensure that you survive the game while your companions are transformed into nasty scavengers. This kind of gameplay is unusual in a horror game and therefore contributes to Nevermore’s underrated style.

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Since we’re arguing over the most underrated game, we ultimately have to rely on the popularity of the two games. Both the Walking Dead Board Game and Nevermore are games that have not shown up on the best of the horror genre lists so either could be labeled as underrated. On Board Game Geek, the arbiter of all board games or so I’m told, the rating on these games is nearly identical. So what sets them apart? One relies on the immense popularity of popular culture’s current favorite monster and the other on a classic horror poem. The Walking Dead Board Game relies on a brand that is familiar to the vast majority of consumers and therefore Nevermore is the more underrated, and thanks to brutally competitive gameplay, the more subtly horror-inducing of the two.

 

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