Greetings all, thanks for taking some time to check out my review of Resident Evil: Deck Building Game. I will review each component of the game, in broken down paragraphs and then give my over all opinion on the game.
This game consists truly of Cards and Cards only. So the review of components will be brief but as detailed as possible. Since this is a deck building game, the game only requires cards in order to function.
The art work on the cards are excellent, either taken directly from the video game that it is based on, or concept art that was utilized in making the creatures and characters found in the series. The background of each card and boarders fit the theme and feel dark and creepy, just as it should with Resident Evil.
The card stock that was chosen to print on leaves much to be desired.
In a deck building game, a lot of shuffling takes place, in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the game your deck could be shuffled as much as 10 to 15 times. The cardstock is very flimsy, and for the amount of shuffling being done, it was a rather large disappointment. This is only compounded when it comes time to store the game after playing.
The insert that comes with the game has numbered slots so that you can place cards of like items in the slot, so that set up next time you play is much easier. The problem with this is that the slots are not deep enough to give the cards enough support, so the cards naturally lean to the side when stored in this insert. The problem? The card stock is so flimsy that after roughly 15 hours of storage, the next time I opened the box to play all the cards had warped to whatever side they rested in during storage.
This was quite a large problem as this caused what essentially became, “Playing with marked cards” as a few of my play group pointed out, some of the cards had significantly warped more than others or at odd angles which allowed players to, in essence, know when a tough creature was awaiting to be encountered at the top of the mansion deck (the deck that holds the creatures the players must defeat).
This is essentially fixed by utilizing stiffer card sleeves, or by not placing the cards in the provided insert.
The rulebook is colour, and graphics of creatures and characters from the games appear as great atmospheric flavour while reading over the rules. That being said, I would have loved having a pad with some Resident Evil Logo or detail on it that I could utilize for the health tracking. Something about grabbing my little spiral notepad and having to track health on my blue lined paper just didn’t feel Evil enough or go with the atmosphere (personal pet peeve of mine is a game that requires you to keep track of something and then does not provide any way of doing so).
EASE OF PLAY
The game play is very user friendly. Players have 3 main abilities per turn, 1 Explore, 1 Buy, and 1 Action. Along with these abilities, players may use “Item” cards to heal themselves at any time during their turn. Each of these abilities also can be done in any order, and the rule book provides detailed explanation of what each ability covers. Lets dive into a little deeper example of a single Turn for a player, playing Story mode. (Several modes are available; Story Mode, Mercenary mode and Versus Mode.)
Players draw 5 initial cards after selecting their character, these cards in story mode consist of 7 small ammo cards, 2 combat knives, and 1 handgun. These cards become shuffled into a “Inventory” deck.
The player places down cards they wish to use on their turn, Ammo Cards give Ammunition for guns, and gold to purchase more cards from a community pool of new weapons, items, actions, and better ammo cards, which the player will add to his Discard pile. The discard pile is later recycled to become the NEW inventory deck, once the player makes it through the previous inventory deck. Action cards can add an array of different options, as well as allowing the player more gold to use for purchases, more ammo to use for guns, drawing more cards for that turn, using more than 1 action, ect.
So we have placed our initial cards that we wish to use, let’s say in this case, we placed three small ammo, a handgun and a single combat knife this turn. The small ammo gives us 10 Bullets and 10 Gold per card played, so we have a total of 30 Bullets and 30 Gold this turn.
The Handgun requires 20 bullets to use and deals 10 damage, so we have the required amount. The Knife requires 0 bullets and deals 5 damage, which is free damage essentially.
At this point we can use our abilities this turn. 1 Action, 1 Buy, 1 Explore.
We have no action cards in our hand, so we can’t play “1 Action” so we lose that. Lets buy another handgun for 20 gold. I state to other players my intention, and pick up a Handgun from the community card pool, and place it in my discard pile, to await shuffling it into my Inventory. That is my “1 Buy” even though I have 10 gold left over, I only have the ability to buy 1 item, because I only have “1 Buy” per turn. Some action cards will give a +1 Buy so then I would be able to split my gold up, and make 2 separate purchases. I then choose to use “1 Explore” and flip the top card of the Mansion (Read: Creature) deck over. I reveal a super powerful iconic Resident Evil creature, The Hunter. The Hunter has 40 Health and deals 30 damage, my 15 damage doesn’t stand a chance against The Hunters 40 health, so it hits me for 30 damage off my total health (different depending on the character selected) and any abilities The Hunter has, activate at this time. In this case, the Hunter makes me trash 2 cards in my discard pile (Trashing means putting them back into their respective place in the Community Pool). So my Handgun I just bought goes right back to the community pool… I should have bought AFTER I explored… Shame on me, toss it up to experience!! The Hunter, which was not killed, goes to the bottom of the Mansion Deck, to await his opportunity to strike again!
My 3 ammo, handgun, and combat knife now all go to my discard pile,
since I am now ending my turn, and I draw another 5 cards to wait for my turn to come. When your Inventory Deck is empty, you reshuffle the Discard Pile, and that becomes your new Inventory.
The game ends in Story Mode when Uroboros Aheri is defeated (the main monster of the Resident Evil 5 Video game). Players then total up their Decorations they earned for killing monsters, the player with the most, wins the game.
The combat here is done very well for a card game. It has enough excitement and disappointment that keeps you enjoying it for a while.
I often found myself having ammo for only 2 weapons, but I had 3 in my hand, so I had to select how to utilize my hand the best way possible, taking into account each weapons bonus’ and flaws. It should be noted that combat is not the focal point of this type of game however, and that building a kick ass deck is the true thrill of the game. Crushing our favorite Resident Evil creatures is just the added bonus of having put together an awesome deck.
The initial outlook on the game may seem simple minded, however, this game offers a lot of strategy. The game has several complex mechanisms in place, going on behind the scenes that players will not figure out until a few plays. Certain cards won’t seem valuable, and then once you get through a few games, you then see immense value to those cards that once held none. Do you grab a lot of cards, to deny your opponent those cards, but risk over saturating your own deck and not pulling the exact cards you want? Or do you keep your own deck small, with the cards that will allow you to get into the Mansion and get some quick fast kills while the other players are working on buying and building a large deck. It’s those choices that make for some deep though, and some intense strategy.
The game is also simple enough for the casual gamer to enjoy putting together “For Fun” deck and just having a good time with like minded gamers.
I would kick myself later if I did not compare this to a great classic game, Chess. The best player will be the one who can visualize 5 to 10 turns ahead. What cards do I want to pop up once my inventory deck is recycled, and how do I want to saturate my deck.
One of the draw backs I did start to run into during my 30th or so play through is that eventually a player begins to realize that certain characters just make some cards work more than others, and if they get a hold of a combo of cards, let alone are allowed to build the deck that brings out their strength unchallenged, the game becomes just a quick race to killing monsters. An example of this: Jill Valentine makes Explosive weapons more powerful and doesn’t trash them. In this case if Jill is allowed to monopolize the Explosive items market, and then unsaturated herself of other weapons, she can devastate the field. This is certainly only going to happen to gamers who really take the time to analyze the cards and pre-plan your course of action, but it is worth mentioning. Once again, the Seasoned player in this game does have a huge advantage.
The depth and tactics displayed in Resident Evil: Deck Building Game is its strong point. Some of my favorite moments in playing came from spending my gold just to snag a weapon I knew the guy next to me wanted, sure it may not help me much, but knowing his deck got a little weaker due to my sneaky purchase just added to the fun.
The game advises it should take around the 45 minute mark to play. The first few games took well over an hour and a half, while each player was reading the cards and figuring out plans and tactics. After a while the time does come down, but finishing a game in under 45 minutes only happened a few times during my extensive playing of the game, even with only two players. The game doesn’t make it feel long though, which is important to note. You are constantly thinking, or watching to see what the other player is going to draw from the Mansion deck, and trying to either block another player’s purchase or build up your own deck, so the time goes by pretty quick.
I have been a huge fanboy of the Resident Evil franchise since the first one came out, so I naturally looked at this game with wide eyes and love in my heart. I wasn’t disappointed by the game play at all, and enjoyed each play of this great Deck Building Game. That being said, the cardstock quality cannot be overlooked – it simply was horrific. A game that specifically ships with nothing but cards could have invested in some heavier card stock. Shuffling and storing the cards have already started to take its toll on my set, before I could throw them all into some sturdier card sleeves, which shouldn’t be required. I love the combat, I love the characters and the flavor of the art work. I truly enjoyed the strategy aspect of the game, and would recommend this to anyone that’s up for a neat card game, based on the game that set the survival horror genre apart so many years ago. I will enjoy playing this game with my playgroup for a long while, or at least until my cards warp to the point of being unplayable…
Thanks for reading!