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Dead by Daylight board game announced, hits Kickstarter next month - here’s how it plays

Collector’s Edition includes miniature hooks to hang survivors on.

A Dead by Daylight board game has been announced, ahead of a planned Kickstarter next month and release later this year - and Dicebreaker has seen it in action.

The board game adaptation of the popular multiplayer survival-horror video game, in which one player’s killer stalks the others’ survivors as they attempt to restart a series of generators and escape, is in the works from Level 99 Games. The tabletop publisher has previously brought indie video game Shovel Knight and arcade fighter Street Fighter to its card fighting series Exceed.

Dead by Daylight: The Board Game follows the one-versus-many format of the video game. Two to four people control survivors - seven characters from the video game are included in the base game, with 17 in the expanded Collector’s Edition - while one player takes on the role of the killer chasing them. No solo or full cooperative mode will be included, Level 99 told Dicebreaker.

Each survivor has a unique ability to help them survive, with a recommended loadout printed on each player board. As in the video game, players can fully customise their characters’ perks using tokens in an advanced version of the rules.

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The killers also reflect their unique abilities in the video game, from foes able to inhibit survivors’ movement to those able to throw survivors around the board. Six will be in the standard version of the game, with an additional ten in the Collector’s Edition - including all of the characters up to the All-Kill DLC released for Dead by Daylight last March.

“We spend a lot of time working on each of the powers to get them right,” designer D. Brad Talton told Dicebreaker. “They're very unique, and they change the game quite a lot. If your killer has a ranged attack, like Huntress or Deathslinger, it definitely changes the way that survivors are going to play around that. For example, the Trapper has his bear traps, and he can put those in these spaces between rooms. Every time a survivor uses that path, they have to roll. If they fail, they get stuck there and wounded. And the trap doesn't go away. So you can really lock down the board.”

Level 99 confirmed to Dicebreaker that no licensed characters will make an appearance in the board game; the video game has seen the inclusion of figures from movies such as Halloween’s Michael Myers and A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Kreuger, as well as video games in the form of Silent Hill’s Pyramid Head and Resident Evil’s Jill, Claire, Leon and Chris.

Multiple maps from the video game will be included in the board game’s box - the MacMillan Estate and Autohaven Wreckers in the standard release, with an additional two maps in the Collector’s Edition. Each has a different layout of locations for players to move between, represented by spaces on the board. Players move between the locations by playing movement cards at the start of the turn representing different movement speeds, from risky sprinting to a stealthier crouch. Some spaces begin blocked by breakable walls, which are opened up after the killer smashes through them, creating new routes for survivors. Others only allow movement in a single direction, representing drops and jumps.

“We had originally planned a few more [maps],” Talton revealed. “But ultimately we felt like it was better to do a smaller number of maps that players can be familiar with. Because the killers and the survivors you choose are where most of the variety in the game comes from.”

The survivors each take their turn before the killer, who must anticipate the survivors’ movements but has a greater number of movement actions to make up for chasing the bigger group. Both survivors and killers must play a movement card on their turn.

“If they don't move, they can't interact. If you try to stay in your same space, you don't get to use the props in that space again,” Talton explained. “We want to keep everybody on the run all the time. That was something that's not technically mirrored in the video game, but it's something that makes for a really good board game experience.”

Each location contains a selection of ‘props’, tiles that are revealed by players upon entering a location. Props can include items used to help hide or fend off the killer, such as lockers and survival tools, along with pallets to hinder the killer’s movement and crows to grant additional movement. Props in the objective category progress the survivors towards victory, including generators and the final exit door. The killer also reveals props, and can damage or destroy them - such as kicking generators - to aid their own position.

Survivors must roll dice to restart generators, replacing the timing-based minigame in the video game. On a failed roll of 1 (replaced by a skull), the six-sided dice grant the killer blood points, which are used to perform more powerful abilities and perform extra actions. Four generators must be successfully restarted to allow the survivors to escape and win.

“Unlike the video game, the survivors win or lose together,” Talton said. “We experimented with that a lot - about giving them separate win-loss conditions. But for various reasons, we decided that it had to be a shared victory for the survivors. Because with the video game, you have a lot of meta conditions even when you die as a survivor. You have a lot of incentives; you can make progress in the archives, you can make progress in your own personal daily routine, you get a lot of blood points. There's a lot of flavours of victory in the video game. In the board game, you win or you lose.”

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The killer must catch and sacrifice survivors to achieve victory, interacting with survivors in their space to wound them - a second wound results in capture. As in the video game, the killer must carry caught survivors to a hook, with every hooked survivor granting a victory point at the end of the turn. In place of the chance to wiggle free while caught in the video game, survivors must roll dice based on the distance to the closest hook, granting them the opportunity to escape before they’re hooked.

While hooked survivors can be rescued by their companions, like the video game, Dead by Daylight: The Board Game will not feature permanent player elimination or death. Instead, players simply miss a turn while hooked, waiting to be rescued by their allies.

“It's not something you want to do; it feels bad, and it's bad for the team,” Talton said. “So you definitely want to dodge the killer where you can.”

The Dead by Daylight board game will launch a Kickstarter on March 29th, offering a standard edition for $49.99 and a Collector’s Edition for twice that price, featuring the full roster of maps, survivors and killers. Both versions will include miniatures of the survivors and killers, with the Collector’s Edition adding miniature generators and hooks - with holes in the back of the survivor figures to allow them to be literally placed onto the hooks.

Dead by Daylight: The Board Game is expected to release in October 2022, ahead of Halloween. A retail version of the game will hit stores at the same time.

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