The Resident Evil Deck Building Game Review

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?


DC Comics Deck Building Game Review

My group has been playing the relatively new DC Comics Deck Building Game over the last few weeks. I’m a huge fan of Dominion, of course, so I was thrilled when my buddy John bought me a copy of the DC Comics Deck Building Game for Christmas. Even though I TRY to keep my ear to the ground, I’m not always up to date on the latest in card games, and I didn’t even know that a game of this sort existed with a focus on comic books. In fact, I didn’t quite realize that Dominion had spawned a hugely-popular genre of card games.

Players take on the roles of the major heroes of the DC Universe–Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. In fact, the game features the latest line-up of DC’s flagship superhero team, the Justice League. There are 7 superheroes available to play.

You start off with nothing but punches and vulnerabilities, but as the game moves along, you gain new superpowers, equipment, heroes, villains, and locations. You can use these cards to achieve more impressive combos and defeat more powerful villains.

Your goal is to achieve the most victory points. All of the cards (with the exception of the Weakness cards) are worth victory points; there is no distinction between victory cards and the other cards. This is a major difference between this game and Dominion, where victory cards are usually useless until it’s time to count up the scores. Unfortunately, it also seems to result in more of a luck-based game than Dominion, which is largely dependent on your strategy.

Each superhero has a special ability. For example, if you’re playing the Flash, you always get to go first in the game. Also, any time you play a card that allows you to draw an extra card, you get to draw a bonus card. Another example is Cyborg, who gets +1 Power any time he has an equipment card in play, and who gets to draw an additional card any time he has a superpower card in play.

These special abilities are neat, and the game seems balanced. I didn’t notice that any of the characters’ special abilities made them unbeatable. In fact, for the most part, the special abilities of the superheroes just add a little bit of flavor to the game. I think it would be quite possible to win easily without ever using your superhero’s special ability, just because there’s so much luck involved in the game.

Each player starts with a deck of 10 cards, consisting of 7 punch cards and 3 vulnerability cards. You’ll notice that this is very similar to the starting deck you get in Dominion, which consists of 7 coppers and 3 estates.

The game board consists of a main deck, a line-up, and 3 stacks: kicks, weaknesses, and super-villains. The line-up consists of 5 cards that are drawn at random–this is another big difference from Dominion, in which the lineup consists of a limited number of set cards. The cards in the main deck and the line-up each have a power cost, an amount of power they lend the player when they’re used, and a victory point value. Most cards have some kind of special ability, too.

The kick cards in the stack are just like punches, only more powerful. Punches only give you +1 power each, but kicks give you +2 power each. The kicks have no special abilities, though–the other cards in the lineup will almost always have some special gimmick, like the ability to destroy a card, draw a card, or force players to discard cards.

The weakness cards are comparable to curses in Dominion. They subtract one victory point each at the end of the game, but worse, they clog up your hands with useless cards.

The final of the 3 stacks is the super-villains stack. These cards are treated just like the other cards in the line-up, but all of them cost more to defeat. They also (with the exception of Ra’s A Ghul) each have a “first appearance” attack that affects all the players when they become the top card of the deck.

Players can buy as many cards from the line-up as they have power to buy; there are no limits to the number of buy actions a player can take. In fact, the players can also play any cards in their 5 card hand. There are no limits to actions, either

The game ends immediately when all the supervillains are defeated, or when a player is unable to refill the line-up. Everyone counts their scores and compares them to see who won.

The DC Comics Deck Building Game also has some variant rules in the back, and you can control (to an extent) how long or short a game is going to be by deciding in advance how many supervillains to use.

As far as production values goes, it’s hard to complain about this game. The artwork is nice–modern, but nice. I’m not a fan of the New 52 version of the DC Universe, but the market for a retro DC Comics card game probably isn’t very large, so I understand the choice they’ve made here.

I’ve already mentioned that I prefer Dominion to the DC Comics Deck Building Game because strategy plays a greater role in the former. You might be someone who enjoys more of a random card game, and if you are, then this is probably the perfect game for you. I’d describe this as a beer-and-pretzels card game. It’s easy to learn, easy to play, and you’ve got a fair chance of winning even if you’re playing with other, more experienced players. I also thought the price was reasonable. If you like DC Comics and card games, then this one is worth a try, for sure.

World of Warcraft Card Game Review

The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game (known among fans as WoW TCG) is a collectible card game based on Blizzard Entertainment’s ridiculously popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft. The card game was announced by Upper Deck Entertainment on August 18, 2005, and first released on October 25, 2006. The game is still in print, a testament to the popularity of the World of Warcraft series and to the quality of the card game.

During the World of Warcraft card game, players can compete head-to-head or cooperatively against bosses, on raids similar to the type found in the popular online game. Raiding cooperatively with another player against WoW bosses like Onyxia and Ragnaros sets this card game apart from most others, in which cooperative play is not a possibility. In 2010, Cryptozoic Entertainment acquired the game’s license from Upper Deck and started releasing their own expansions and card sets, keeping the game alive. As of this writing, at least one more expansion is planned, the Timewalkers: War of the Ancients expansion, set to be released in October of 2012.

How the Game is Played

Each player in the game uses a specific hero card and a backup deck made up of allies and other cards. There are cards for special weapons, abilities, different types of armor and items, and special quest cards as well. Some booster packs also contain legendary Some cards are specially-marked “rare” or “loot” cards, which connects the card game to the WoW online game, giving the card’s bearer a special virtual prize for their online character.

In the head-to-head version of the game, each player starts with one hero, and then plays support cards to make that hero stronger or add characters to that hero’s party. The goal is to damage your opponent to the point that his health hits zero, at which point you win the game.

In the raid, or cooperative version of the WoW card game, special WoW Raid Decks can be used to perform attacks on bosses, where players compete together against a common enemy. This makes this particular CCG more like a tabletop role-playing game, because Raids require a Raid Master to control the game as well as between 3 and 5 players cooperating to defeat their foe.

To date, 19 expansions and deck sets have been released, with another scheduled for release in a few months. That just goes to show you how intense WoW fan’s love of the game is. The card game has been popular, though not as massively popular as the online version, which to date has over 10 million subscription accounts. Still, 20 expansions and supplemental packs shows how much of a following this card game has.

Tournaments & Championships

Multiple tourney events exist for the WoW card game; more proof of the huge cult following the game has gained. Between special Darkmoon Faire events, which are like mini-WoW conventions based around played the card game, and national and international WoW card game tournament events, there is lots of competitive action to be found for this deck-building fantasy game.

To date, five world champions have been named, none of which have repeated. The game’s action is based on variety and deck-building, which is probably why there are no dominant players, as you see with other popular card competition games, such as Magic: The Gathering. Because new decks and new cards are constantly being released, players have to stay on top of their game, constantly adjusting their strategy and deck style to make room for new playing styles. If you are a WoW player or fan, or just a card game player that likes strategy-based, competitive and collectible card games, check out Cryptozoic Entertainment’s World of Warcraft card game.

Fluxx Card Game Review

In the Fluxx card game, the rules change throughout the entirety of the competition. Touting itself as “The Card Game with Ever-Changing Rules”, the people at Looney Labs cannot be accused of false advertisement. Each new gaming session is going to be completely different. From one moment to the next, the object of the game might change. Conflict resolution might change. Everything’s in flux, which is why they call it what they do.

Card Deck and Rules

The Fluxx Card Deck has 100 cards in it. This includes cards for Basic Rules (1), a Meta Rule (1), Keepers (19), Creepers (4), Actions (22), Goals (29), and New Rules (24). Each of these introduces a new element to the proceedings. When the new rule cards are introduced, if a contradiction occurs, the newest new rule overrules the older rules–if that makes sense.

Action Plays

Action is a one-time event and then discarded. These can cause major disruptions to gameplay or have almost no effect at all. They also might require another action to take place.

Keepers and Creepers

Playing a keeper is usually a good idea, because most winning goals tend to involve keepers. Creeper cards are just the opposite; they keep you from winning. Luckily only four of these exist.

Goals and Strategies

A goal is the condition for winning. Each time a new goal gets throw into the middle of the table, players have to figure out a new way to win the game. With nearly 30% of the deck made up of goals, you can imagine what this does to strategy.

Now that you know what makes up this gaming environment, let’s talk about how to play.

How to Play Fluxx

The quick-play version begins real simply. You put the Basic Rules card in the center of the table. Then you shuffle the deck and deal 3 of the other 99 cards to each of the players. Choose someone to start and begin play.

Because most cards have rules on them already, you really don’t have to read through a complicated rulebook to get started. That’s my junior theory about the amazing popularity of Fluxx. Many players tune out during the rules-reading portion of game night. While they think about the ballgame or what they’re going to do at work tomorrow or how fun it will be playing Plants vs. Zombies on their iPad later tonight, someone drones on about the rules. Then you start playing and half the people at the table don’t know what they’re doing. The first run-through is a disaster and people don’t want to play again.

In Fluxx, all that’s eliminated by having people read the rules as they play their first game.

Gameplay – On Your Turn

When it’s your turn, you’ll do four things, though optional actions may be allowed by new rules, keepers, and other random events along the way. When these actions are called for, they can be performed at any time during your turn. Here’s the sequence of play.

1. Draw cards up to the required number.
2. Play any cards required.
3. Discard down to your Hand limit (if required).
4. Comply with the current Keeper Limit (if required).

That’s the sequence a turn takes. Everything moves along at a brisk pace, so nobody you play this crazy game with should have trouble following along. In effect, all you have to do is follow the instructions on the cards themselves to play Fluxx. If that’s not enough, the “Frequently Asked Questions” sections of the rulebook should suffice.

Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQ section of the rulebook has 23 different specific questions which have been commonly asked of the designers since the people at Looney Labs first released the game back in 1997. Have any rules lawyers consult the FAQ if need be, but unless you have a particularly difficult gamer in your midst, few problems should occur.

Expansions and Variations

Fluxx has been a popular release, so it’s spawned quite a few variants and variations. Most of these fall into the category of sequel instead of expansion, so it’s a little bit like all the new versions of Munchkin or Chez Geek from Steve Jackson Games.

Below are the versions to look for:

  • Oz – Set in the Wizard of Oz setting.
  • Star – A little bit Star Wars, a little bit Star Trek.
  • Pirate – Arrh!
  • Zombie – The Zombie apocalypse with new rules every turn.
  • Martian – Aliens come to conquer the Earth, but are confused by all the new rules.
  • Monty Python – Heavily influenced by the Holy Grail film, but can be any Monty Python humor.
  • EcoFluxx – For all those tree huggers out there, learn about ecology while playing.
  • Family Version – Every families can have fun with this the wholesome version of Fluxx.

More Games from Looney Labs

Though Fluxx is the most popular product developed by Looney Labs, it’s by no means the only one. You can enjoy a domino-like challenge called Sevens Dragons, strategy for kids named Aquarius, the award-winning Time Travel Card Game, a title which is good for parties like “Are You The Traitor?”, or the Back to the Future Card Game. I’m not sure what Looney Pyramids are, but the company claims you can play hundreds of really cool games with them. I’m note sure if that’s a joke or not, but I’m intrigued. Still, I’d suggest people new to the company begin with basic version.

A Game of Thrones Card Game Review

Based on the popular A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin, “A Game of Thrones” collectible card game, better known by its fans as AGoT, is produced by Fantasy Flight Games. Though the novel series has received a huge boost recently from the popular television series A Game of Thronesthis card game was first released in 2002, long before the TV series was even conceived. Thus, the card game has gotten a big boost in publicity, as has George R. R. Martin’s series of books.

In the card game version of Martin’s universe, players take on the role of the leader of one of the “great houses” of the fictional fantasy world of Westeros. The purpose of the game is to take control of King’s Landing and the Iron Throne. Along the way, the game’s players attack each other with their military forces, use intrigue and spying, and (like characters in the books and the TV show) are forced to make bold choices and power plays to gain support of the game’s non-player characters.

There are many card types in the game, including military forces, alliance-building cards, cards that help you create an “agenda” (essentially changing the rules of the game), world event cards, and plenty of character and location cards representing recognizable features from George R. R. Martin’s popular A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series. The card game was designed to include sudden changes in momentum and player fortune, much like the story arc in Martin’s series.

A Game of Thrones CCG has won two Origins awards: one in 2002 for Best Trading Card Game and one in 2003 for Best Card Game Expansion. The game has changed many times in its decade of existence, including a recent conversion to what Fantasy Flight calls a Living Card Game, rather than a Collectible Card Game as it was originally designed. If you’re unfamiliar with what exactly a Living Card Game is, basically A Game of Thrones now uses fixed packs rather than random collectible cards, focusing more on multiplayer “Melee” rounds rather than head-to-head jousts.

Deck Building

The game is unique in that each player has to use two decks: a 7-card plot deck and a larger deck of between 40 and 60 cards made up of characters cards, attachment cards, location cards, and special game events. The game uses a draw deck as well as a discard pile and a dead pile for characters or locations that are killed or in some other way destroyed.

How to Win A Game of Thrones

The game ends when any player gains 15 power tokens between their House card and character cards that are in play, however the game includes lots of extra cards and events that alter the total number of power tokens it takes to win. Players earn these power tokens by succeeding in challenges against their opponent, but because of the nature of the universe the game is based on, there are also cards in the various expansion packs that let a player earn power tokens for his House card or characters in other ways besides challenges and military attacks.

Tournament Play

A Game of Thrones, like most card games that gain any sort of following, is played tournament-style, under special tournament rules put together by Fantasy Flight Games. These tourneys have taken place every year since 2003, a year after the game appeared. New decks and cards are still being introduced, as Fantasy Flight Games does their best to take advantage of the new popularity of the books, thanks to the popular TV show that airs on the HBO network.

Players Cory Faherty and Tzu-Mainn Chen have both won multiple titles and are considered the top A Game of Thrones players in the world, though thanks to changes in the game, converted from a CCG to a Living Card Game, the field appears to be wide-open. The new playing style means that players used to the old version of the game have to evolve and adapt their decks and playing styles and face a new pool of opponents.