Survivors

by Josh Wigler

After more than 100 issues of death and despair at every turn, "The Walking Dead" fans are used to twists and turns by now. But two new teaser images surrounding the Image Comics and Skybound zombie series have even the deepest-cut readers scratching their heads.

The official "Walking Dead" website has launched two new pages, one called "Hilltop," the other called "Survivors." The "Hilltop" image features a blood-stained hammer, with the word "Hilltop" and a hammer and anvil emblem embedded in the hammer-head. The "Survivors" image features a a green jacket with a patch that says "Survivors," and an insignia of a one-eyed, cowboy hat-wearing skull with a rifle and katana blade acting as crossbones.

Whaaaaaaaat is happening here?

Both teasers promise more information at this week's coming Image Expo. While we're waiting for official answers, we're mulling over some theories of our own. Read them after the break.

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At Toy Fair, Diamond Select released a horde of little plastic walkers and more from its new line based on Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" comic.

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Titan Magazines and Skybound are set to release the groaning, drooling, shuttering mass of zombified dead into your local bookstores, comic shops and convenience stores with The Walking Dead, The Official Magazine. The magazine will cover everything from the Dead universe--from the comics, to the TV show, to the video games, to the anything--if it's Dead and Walking, they've got it.
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Photo Credit: Playboy

"I never should have tried to make it home that day..."

On Friday, March 16, exclusively in the April issue of the legendary and much beloved Playboy Magazine we'll get our first peek into the secret origin of  The Walking Dead's elusive Michonne! The tale is written by Dead creator Robert Kirkman and drawn by series regular Charlie Adlard. About the reveal, Kirkman said, “I'm thrilled to share The Walking Dead with the magazine’s readers, especially such an important story like the origin of Michonne.”

The comic will be available on both newsstands and digitally at i.Playboy.com!

Read on for the full press release: Read More...

We've covered the situation regarding two competing The Walking Dead licensed board games debuting this year, and have even taken an in-depth look at the TV-focused offering from Cryptozoic Entertainment. Today, however, it is time to look at the comic book version from Z-Man Games.

While the game is not scheduled to hit store shelves until August, a limited number of first-print copies will be available each day at San Diego Comic-Con at the Skybound Booth, Booth # 2729. Each copy will be specially stickered for this initial release.

The Walking Dead: The Board Game is a 1-6 player experience that stays true to the look and feel of the comic book. The first and most obvious way it goes about this is by embracing the black and white color scheme. While not completely devoid of color, the game's style is a bit jarring for the average gamer. However, for fans of the comic, it is a spot-on design choice. Many of these components were shoed off in an interview of at BoardGameGeek last week, and as someone who has read much of The Walking Dead''s run, I can attest that the game has great visual appeal.

Charlie Adlard, the artist who draws The Walking Dead, has contributed eight original pieces of artwork to this game. Below is an exclusive look at this art, a brand new look at Rick's escape from the hospital during the opening story arc of the comic series:

But enough about the look of the game. How does it play? The integration of theme and gameplay here accomplished goal number 1 for almost any game: the game's mechanics encourage player actions that are in line with the subject matter and theme. This is what separates rich gaming experiences from abstract strategy, and where the label "pasted-on theme" is applied to games which fail in the endeavor.

The central conflict is the survival of humans in a world of limited resources where you are not sure who can be trusted. Zombies are the background threat, not the focus. The path to victory lies in strategically moving groups of players around the zombies to avoid direct conflict, and sparingly using firearms to get out of the toughest situations (loud noises do attract the horde, after all). We spoke with game designer Keith Tralins about the challenge of creating a unique game that would both honor the source material and stand out from other zombie games on the market. He had the following to say:

Our approach to the game was really focused on creating an experience based on “The Walking Dead.” It’s Robert Kirkman’s world, and this is a chance to play in his world, with his rules. It’s actually about finding a safe haven from the zombies, and just like in the book, the key to winning is in avoiding the zombies. And I think that’s where this game both fits in and is different. You can’t escape the zombies; they’re everywhere. You’re probably going to have to throw down with them. But if you do, you want it to be quick, you want to win with no injuries, and you want to get out of there. The last thing you want to do is start blasting away, calling attention to yourself. Just like in the book…they’re usually only fighting zombies to defend themselves, get to where they have to go, or secure a location.

The goal of the game is to be the first player to scout several different locations on the board. These are determined before the game begins, and are chosen from a selection of twelve different locations including the campsite, Wiltshire Estates, and many Atlanta-based buildings. The locations span all of the different settings seen in the comic's first 12 issues, so don't worry, you won't have to go to the CDC!

Players can accomplish their goals as part of groups, or they can break out on their own in search of a solo victory. This act of splitting off actually takes place at the start other player's turns, where they would normally be expecting to control your character as part of the group and benefit from your added strength. Instead, they'll be surprisingly short-handed as you go off on your own. This blend of co-op and multiple "traitor" mechanics is one of the major reasons that The Walking Dead is a board game worth keeping an eye on.

For those who simply cannot wait to see more of this game, there will be previews of the cards posted to the official The Walking Dead board game product page next week.

Stranger things have happened, but in the span of one week, two companies have announced board games based on The Walking Dead. Cryptozoic Entertainment will produce a game based around the television show, while Z-Man Games will create their own version based on the comic book series. The similarities don't end with the related source material, though. Both games are set to retail at $40 and will be released in the late summer, most likely September.

Little much else is known about either game besides a few short paragraphs and a promotional image from each publisher.  From looking at the player counts, Cryptozoic supports 1-4 players while Z-Man supports 1-6. Both have only confirmed Rick, Shane, and Andrea as playable characters, but the important information here is the number 1. This likely means that both games will be co-op in nature since they can be played solo. This is especially important for Cryptozoic, which states:

Should you fall to the hungry horde of walkers, the game doesn't end. When a player dies and becomes a walker, they leave the world of the living behind and seek out the remaining survivors. Spring surprise attacks on the living, cause the walkers to frenzy, or contaminate the survivor’s supplies. Put the bite on your former friends and they’ll join you in your pursuit of the living.

Having players turn against each other in anything but a co-op game would be difficult to balance, otherwise zombified players would enter a kingmaker role.

As for other small details, the television version from Cryptozoic looks to be a roll-and-move game where players can visit all of the Atlanta-themed locales from the show, but no images of the Z-Man games version's board have been released. The Z-Man version is confirmed to be scenario-based and will play out favorite scenes from the comic books, so perhaps a modular board is in order?

The television version of this game may even prove to be a cathartic experience for fans of the comic book series, as they can take characters the show is dragging its feet on killing off and feed them to the zombies. We'll be following up with both companies to provide closer looks at these games here at MTV Geek, so stick around.

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Hope the title character of writer Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner’s Witch Doctor never has to pay you a visit—because it usually means you’ve got a bad case of the supernatural horror plaguing you. Seifert describes the new 4-issue miniseries, coming this June from Image’s Skybound imprint, as a “horror medical drama,” featuring the exploits of former medical doctor turned practitioner of the black arts, Victor Morrow, who is tasked with curing the supernatural ills—the possessed, the zombies, the vampires—of the world.

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