Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Resident Evil

The Game

Dominion started the deck-building game genre, where you build and customise your personal deck of cards as part the the game. There has been many other games using this deck-building mechanism after Dominion was published. Unfortunately for them I think they are often called Dominion clones, even though they add their own twists. I guess it's because Dominion is still a relatively new game. Resident Evil is the first other deck-building game that I've played.

I have written about Dominion before (and I think most people who read this blog have played it or at least know about it), so I'll just describe the differences. In Resident Evil you are humans exploring a zombie-infested house, and you kill zombies for points, the tougher ones being worth more points. The game ends once the big boss is killed.

In addition to the basic 1 Action and 1 Buy like in Dominion, you also have 1 (optional) Explore, where you may choose to flip over one location card. Often it's a zombie, and hopefully you have enough firepower in play this turn to defeat it. Else you get injured, or you may even get killed. Sometimes you get good stuff from exploring, like special weapons and event cards.

You start the game with these cards in your deck - 2 knives, 1 handgun, and some cheap ammo.

Treasures in Dominion are Ammunition in Resident Evil. Ammunition are dual-use. You can use the same card to both fire weapons and buy stuff on the same turn.

Weapons are a new thing. Most are some form of firearm and need sufficient Ammunition to operate, and deals a certain amount of damage. When you have Weapons in hand, you can just play them together with the required Ammunition when you need to fight a zombie. Naturally more powerful and more efficient weapons cost more to buy.

The cards that you can choose from for the particular scenario that we played. 7 weapon cards (grey edge), 1 item card (green edge) (and it's for healing), 3 ammo cards (red edge), 7 action cards (blue edge).

One big difference with Dominion is defeated zombies, i.e. victory points, aren't added to your deck and thus won't dilute it.

In summary, you try to build your deck to have good firepower, so that you can defeat as many and as valuable as possible zombies that you encounter. While doing this you need to stay alive. There is a race element in grabbing zombies.

The games comes with different scenarios and different ways to play, e.g. a player vs player mode. I've only played the basic mode.

The Play

Han, Allen and I did a 3-player game. We were all new to the game so at first we weren't sure what to buy or how to gauge whether it's risky to do an Explore. I applied the Dominion mantra of "when in doubt, buy silver". I kept buying the Silver-equivalent Ammunition. That worked out quite well. I didn't do much Exploration in the early game but after building up a strong arsenal, I killed many zombies. Almost every hand allowed me to Explore and kill zombies. The special ability of my character certainly helped too. Every turn I could remove a card from my deck and give it to someone else. So as I trimmed my deck to be more efficient, I also clogged up Han and Allen's decks with weak cards. I also used one of the Action cards to trim my deck (and dilute the others' decks).

This was my character. Top right corner is your starting health level. Text below are unique abilities, which are only effective after you have killed zombies worth a certain number of points.

I used a lot of one card which allowed me to chain actions and sometimes draw a lot of cards. The card was something like Village in Dominion. However we later realized we had played that card wrong. We neglected the special text, which asks you to return a card to your deck. So I had enjoyed an unfair advantage up to the point that we realized the error.

Both Han and Allen picked up some special weapons during Exploration. Han had a Gatling gun which dealt the same amount of damage as the Ammunition fed into it, unlike normal weapons which take a specific amount of Ammunition and deals a specific amount of damage.

Allen's deck somehow grew to be rather large and also ineffective. Despite some early kills, he later struggled.

When the big boss first appeared, it could not be defeated and went back to the bottom of the location deck. It even killed me. Thankfully with beginners' rules you come back to life (as a human, not zombie), just that you start with fewer life points and you lose one turn. Undefeated zombies go back to the location deck so as the deck runs out you know the remaining zombies are the tough ones.

We used glass beads to track damage. They don't come with the game. Defeated zombies were tucked under my character card. Top left - yellow herb which can be used for healing. Bottom left - special event card gained from exploring. It boosts my points if I kill more than one zombie in a turn. Right - card back.

Towards the end, it was a race to draw a powerful enough hand to be able to Explore and then kill the big boss. We knew we needed firepower of 90. If I could draw two Magnums and the required Ammunition that would give me firepower of 100. Eventually it was Han who managed to kill the boss using his Gatling gun. Although I had been leading most of the game, the big boss was worth a lot of points. We totaled our scores and I beat him by just one point. We did play some rules wrong, so the result might have been different if we had played right.

The Thoughts

Comparing base game to base game, and taking the different game modes of Resident Evil aside, I think Dominion has more variety and strategy. Resident Evil takes away the challenging aspect of managing gaining VP cards and the dilution it causes to your deck. It adds the tension of to-Explore-or-not, from turn to turn, and also from the overall story arc perspective, how early do you want to do it? How well prepared do you want to be before you start romping through the house? Will you miss all the good stuff if you go too late? Will you get yourself killed if you are not well prepared enough?

Resident Evil has a little role-playing. Your character affects how you play.

The game is more thematic than Dominion. I'm not sure how the other game modes play, or whether the game has expansions. At the moment it won't replace Dominion if I want to play a deck-building game, but that's mostly because I'm not a big fan of deck-building games in the first place. So I'm pretty content with Dominion. If you love deck-building games, then you may be interested in Resident Evil.


terrykok said...

can i know how to buy to malaysia? by ebay??

u r also a member for boardgamecafe, isnt it?

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

my friend who owned this game bought it from overseas. i'm not sure whether any local online retailers sell this.

yes, i'm a member at boardgamecafe.net. i sometimes join the friday gaming sessions (open to public) they organise at old town kopitiam cheras. but i'm just one of their friends and a customer, and i'm not involved in the business side of boardgamecafe.net.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

try www.boardgameprices.com to search for overseas websites that sell this game. in the past i have used timewellspent, bouldergames and germangames and have had good experiences with them. however note that if you buy from usa websites, they don't ship by sea and they only ship by air.

terrykok said...

but if i just buy one....the shipment very expensive....

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

yeah, shipping can be expensive if you only buy one game. if you buy in a bigger batch it's more worthwhile. or you can group together with friends. however you may get taxed by customs if you exceed a certain value. if not mistaken it is RM500 of value of goods, including shipping.