Board game review: Resident Evil Deck Building Game: Alliance

November 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm (Board games, Games) (, , , , , , )


This is a review of the Resident Evil Deck Building Game. Specifically, I’ll be talking about the Alliance stand-alone expansion since that’s the version my local comic book store erroneously ordered for me. It makes some modifications to the original set, most notably the addition of partner cards, which I will get into later.

Presentation

Unfortunately this game scores VERY low on this metric. The cards are printed off on horribly cheap card stock so I had to buy card covers for every card in the set just to avoid them being damaged by the storage box, much less actual use. The storage box attempts to provide storage for your cards in a similar way that the Dominion deck building game does. However, it is horrendously implemented. By default, it isn’t able to fit all of the cards in a way that doesn’t damage them. The point of the box is to hold all of your cards and keep each type of card separate, but the grooves meant to hold each type of card are all uniform. The problem is that the number of cards in each type is not uniform. All together, the card holder that comes with the box is worthless and I had to throw it out (I hate throwing out pieces that come with expensive games).

The art on the cards is fairly weak. It consists of what looks like screenshots of pre-rendered characters from the games. Unfortunately the quality of these 3D images is pretty low resolution, so they look awful.

Gameplay

The gameplay is very similar to Dominion (a more popular deck building game). You have a big variety of resource cards that you can purchase using gold to add to your deck. My complaint about how RE does it is that there are very few resources types that come with the set that you end up using almost all of them in every game. Not all of the items are useful either, and many require a certain number of players to be useful or effective. For a game that can be played solo, that does not bode well.

One of the other aspects of gameplay though, is that you explore a Mansion deck and fight monsters using your resource cards. This makes the game pretty fun, since you’re fighting the game instead of each other (although you’re still competing against each other for score). Some of the monsters and events are not balanced well though; you can end up running into the boss monster on turn one and have him kill you flat-out. Also, there are some resources that are under or overpowered, especially depending on what character you choose at the start of the game. These are somewhat minor issues though and they don’t stop you from playing the game.

The addition of partner cards means that you are much more powerful when you go to battle the mansion deck. Depending on your character combo, you can pretty much become indestructible. So depending on your play style and preference, this may or may not be a good thing.

Summary

While this review seemed fairly negative, this game is actually pretty fun. There is a nice selection of characters with a variety of abilities, and the mechanics of the whole game are closely coupled with the actual video game. For example, there is a survival mode similar to the one in Resident Evil 4. If you can get over the “cheap” feeling of the cards and some of the unbalanced cards, then you will have a blast. Fans of the series will recognize lots of things so they’d get even more enjoyment out of it. Overall, I’d suggest this game, but I’d also tag along a list of the issues with it.

 

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Board game review: Space Hulk: Death Angel. The Card Game

November 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm (Board games, Games) (, , , , , , , )


Here’s a kick-off to yet another sub-projects of mine. I plan on giving my impressions of a variety of board games I’ve been playing lately. Specifically I’ve been stockpiling card games. The first of these reviews stars Space Hulk: Death Angel. A Warhammer 40,000 card game by Fantasy Flight Games. This is a 1-6 player game where the players work together to battle aliens and complete their mission.

Presentation

At a first glance, this game is pretty well made. The cards and tokens are packed in a small box and the cardstock is good quality as well. I tend to buy plastic covers for my card games that have cheaply made cards, but I never had to do this with this game. The art on the cards is well done and there is a large variety of great content. Granted, you will see repeat art on the alien cards, but during play I’ve almost never stopped to look at them anyway since they tend to travel in packs. Also they’re aliens; as a human, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them anyway.

Gameplay

This is only the second card game I’ve owned and I’ll admit that I had expectations of the gameplay being closer to the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game (since I’m somewhat of a veteran of that game). Initially it was difficult trying to figure out the flow of the game, and some discrepancies and misunderstandings of the rules caused my group  to get butchered on our first play-through. That being said, once you figure things out there is a lot of combinations and strategies to keep the game interesting. There are six different combat teams that players use, each with different special abilities. Some of these range from being able to block out attacks to being able to wipe out whole swarms of aliens.

The Downside

There are two downsides of this game that I’ve hit; one of these being the fact that it is a dice-based game. There is only one die that players use for combat rolls, and a string of bad luck can wipe out a player from the game early-on, or kill their main heroes leaving a boring sidekick to use for combat. There are some mechanics that allow re-rolls, but it is disheartening to spend your sought-after support tokens just for a string of failed rolls.

The next problem is not so much of an obvious problem. It is a team game, and it takes a bit of planning for a group to craft their victory and avoid character deaths. With this in mind, one advanced player can end up guiding other less experienced players through the game without any input from them. This might not be an issue, and this isn’t exactly a game for board-gamers who get their fill from “Cranium”. However, being handed a die once or twice per turn can only remain interesting for so long.

Summary

Altogether, I had a blast with this game. I’d highly suggest it for anybody who is a fan of co-op card games or fans of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The quality of the game and its convenient box made it a favourite. Furthermore, additional expansions can be ordered from Fantasy Flight Games to keep the game fresh. Everything from new characters, to new location cards, to an alternate set of aliens are available. Be warned though, the expansions are print-to-order sets. This means that the cardstock is not the same as the original set. Since this is a cardgame where players do not maintain a “hand” of cards though, this is only a minimal annoyance.

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