After trying the DC Comics Deck Building Game, I decided to buy some more deck building games to see what else is out there. I enjoy Dominion tremendously, and I even enjoyed the DC Comics game, even though I didn’t like it as well as I like Dominion. So I made a trip to a game store this weekend and bought three new games, one of which was the Resident Evil Deck Building Game.
I should mention that I am a big fan of the zombie movie genre, and I also loved the various video games in the Resident Evil franchise, so I might have been predisposed to like this game a little extra just because of my interests. On the other hand, I had no problem distinguishing between the greatness that is Dominion compared with the relative mediocrity of the DC game, and I’ve been into comic books, especially DC comic books, since I was 7 or 8 years old.
The production value of this game is excellent, but I have one quibble. I’m not young, and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Still, I don’t think anyone has such great eyesight that reading the rulebook for this game is going to be an easy or pleasant experience. For one thing, it’s a tiny book, but for another, it also uses and extremely tiny font. Some of the text is in a lower contrast color with the background, and I literally had to ask one of my nieces to read some of the rules to me because I just plain couldn’t make out the text for myself. The artwork on the cards is great, though.
Like the DC game, Resident Evil requires you to randomly select a character to play, and your character has a couple of special powers. The characters, like Ada Wong, will be familiar to anyone who has played through the video games. One aspect of this game that I enjoyed was the Health score for each character and the leveling up aspects. It added a touch of RPG-like fun to the game, and it was entirely welcome. Characters start at level 0 but once they defeat a couple of infected, the level up fairly quickly. Each character’s special abilities were interesting and fun to play, too.
The rules for the basic game have a “Story” mode and a “Mercenaries” mode. We only played the “Story” mode, but it was a lot of fun. The mechanics of the game are quite similar to the mechanics of other games of this genre, but the combat had a few nice wrinkles that distinguished it from other deck building games I’ve played. For example, you have ammunition cards as well as various firearm cards, and in order to use certain firearms, you must have enough ammo for that card. Generally speaking, the more damage a weapon does, the more ammo you need. Some weapons, like the combat knives, don’t need any ammo at all.
On each turn, a player gets a single action to take, a single buy action to take, and a single explore action to take. The player can take these actions in any order they like, and they can also use items. Using an item doesn’t cost an action. Certain action cards allow the players to gain additional actions, buys, and cards.
The winner of the game is the person who receives the most “decorations”, which is Resident Evil speak for victory points. Each infected that you fight and destroy becomes attached to your character’s card, and at the end of the game, you count up and compare your totals. The number of decorations you have also determines your level.
Combat takes place during your mansion exploration phase. You don’t have to explore the mansion if you don’t think you have enough firepower, but if you do choose to explore, you usually face a monster from the top of the mansion deck. Each monster has a health score and a damage score. If the total amount of damage your weapons deal are equal to or greater than the infected’s health, you defeat him. If not, then the creature lashes out at you before retreating back into the mansion. This requires a little bit of bookkeeping on the part of the players, because they have to track how many hit points they have.
If you run completely out of health, you lose a turn, then you get back into the game, but your maximum health is reduced by 20. If your maximum health ever reaches 0, you’re out of the game. This didn’t happen to any of our players either time we played.
The game ends when the boss monster is defeated. He’s shuffled randomly into the mansion deck.
The Resident Evil Deck Building Game does a fine job of emulating the video game it’s based on. If you hated the video games for whatever reason, then you probably won’t find much to like here, either. On the other hand, if you like this genre in general and that video game in particular, you’ll find a lot to enjoy about the Resident Evil Deck Building Game.
Also, this game requires less strategy than Dominion, but more strategy than the DC Comics Deck Building Game. At some point in the future, I might invest in the expansions, but there are still several scenarios in the rulebook that I haven’t tried yet. I’d say that this game has excellent replay value. It’s a good value for the money, but the audience for it is somewhat limited by its theme.
One last thing–the box says that the game is for ages 13+, but I played with my 11 year old niece, and she had no trouble with the rules at all. I think it’s possible that the age range is based more on the type of content the game represents than how difficult the game is to play.
Have you played the Resident Evil Deck Building Game? If so, what did you think?