“Resident Evil: The Deck Building Game” all brand and no bang

I’m not much of a video game player, but I will freely admit that I like “Resident Evil”.  There is nothing quite like popping off zombies, especially on systems such as the Wii which brings back the fun of ‘duck hunt’ again, now just with infinitely cooler targets (and no laughing dog!).  So when a friend pointed out that Resident Evil had released a deck building game, I was rather excited.

I love deck building games.  It’s probably my favorite new mechanic to emerge in the last few years.  It brings all the fun of a magic draft together with the cost effectiveness of a board game.  Love it!

So after checking out the website, watching demo videos, and generally drooling for days, I broke down and splurged by running off to my local game store and picking up a copy.  With the crinkling cellophane in hand, I unwrapped the treasure and dug into the rules.

Several of the monster cards that come with the game.

The art that they chose is stunning.  It’s all beautiful screen shots from the games, and this adds a nostalgic fun.  “Oooo… the licker!  I remember facing him!  It took me seven times before I was able to kill him by…  You get the picture.  Being a stickler for components, I noticed more than a couple things that kinda ticked me off.

Firstly, the cards are very cheap.  It’s a card game, there isn’t any other special components to drive up their price.  They didn’t even give you the tokens you need to keep track of your life or turns.  And yet, they couldn’t seem to find it in their hearts to give you decent cards. They are exceptionally thin, and bend so easy they are nearly impractical for play.

The back of the manual is shown on the left. Note all the tiny print with numbers. Major pain in the rear end.

Secondly, they were not at all kind to the person in the household that has to put the game away.  Instead of giving you a cardboard insert for the box that labels all thirty of the little slots, they simply numbered them.  Then to put the game away properly (and thus be able to set up the next game with any sort of efficiency), they expect you to reference back and forth to the back of the manual which tells you which slots the cards are suppose to go in.  This causes much hate to rise up in me.

Component problems aside, from the demos of how the game played online, I was still excited.  I called over my gaming buddy that evening to give it a test drive with me.  It was a touch on the late side, but I didn’t have to get up the next morning, and the box said a game only lasts about 45 minutes.

… two hours later…

Long before we ever hit the condition that caused the game to end, killing the biggest monster in the deck, I was “over it”.  A few unwise choices early on had left me crippled most of the game.  Add that to the fact that the game just would never end, and needless to say, I was more than a touch disappointed with my purchase.

My gaming buddy and I agreed though, maybe it just doesn’t play well with two players.  Not to mention we had played it on story mode, and there was still mercenary mode to try out too.  We would give this another shot.

The next time we played was a couple days later.  I had now assembled a group of four, including myself and the gaming buddy from before.  This time we had more people and we would try Mercenary mode.  This mode was on a turn limit, rather then being forced to kill the big baddy. This time it wouldn’t take two hours, right?  Well, that’s true, it didn’t take two hours.  Instead it only took about 15 minutes.  There was no satisfaction to the game play.  Once again, I was left terribly unsatisfied.

Ok, determined to give this game a fair shot, we tried story mode again but with all four people.  Maybe that is the key to success here!  Nope, wrong again.  It still took about two hours.  The big baddy ended up being the very last monster to die.  We were all very much over it now.

One of many characters you can play as during the game.

I was so disappointed.  It was another deck building game, in a really cool theme, combining elements that we love from Dominion, with some of the neater aspects of Ascension, and yet… failure.  Really the game seems to lack polish.  If only they would have playtested it a bit more, surely they would have seen the error of their ways and been able to tweak it accordingly.

This clear lack of playtesting reminds me of another game company that I despise and has thankfully gone the way of the dodo:  Eagle games.  They to put out games with really neat themes and no follow through.

So all said and done, I don’t think I would waste my money on this game.  The game designers seemed to focus too much on the pretty pictures and theme (which is admittedly what drew me in), and didn’t spend even half as much time making it play well.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 at 9:17 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Deck Building Games, Resource Management Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

98 Comments

  1. parkrrrr says:

    Eagle Games, publishers of Brass, Carson City, and Through the Ages? Their website doesn’t seem to think they’re extinct.

    Of those three, I’ve only played Carson City, but it didn’t seem particularly badly done. In fact, it’s one of my favorite worker placement games. The other two are ranked in the top 10 on BGG, so someone must like them.

  2. P3ppers says:

    Interesting. It is in fact the same Eagle Games that put out Bootleggers, and they do seem to still exist. I was under the (apparently false) impression they had gone under, as was Null, apparently. Perhaps some of their games are better, but the ones that we had played in the past (such as Bootleggers) tended to be good concepts with very poor follow through.

  3. Yep, I had talked to a guy at Gen Con 2009 who had a bunch of Eagle Games that they were selling for cheap. They told me that Eagle had gone under and they had bought out some of thier clearanced stock. Given that I hadn’t seen anything new by Eagle games since then, I was inclined to believe it to be true. I apologize for the miss information to all of my readers.

    I’ve never played Carson City, I may have to pick it up just to see what a decent Eagle game looks like. Both Bootleggers and Sid Meyer’s Civilization come immediately to mind when I think of Eagle Games, and both were atrocious. They each had really promising mechanics and interesting themes, but with horrific follow through that screamed “We didn’t play test this!”.

  4. John says:

    15 minutes for Mercenary mode with 4 people? Clearly you did something wrong. My 2-player Mercenary modes take longer than that.

    I’ve been avidly playing this game since it was released, and I can tell you that they’ve extensively play-tested it. Some things need polishing, yes, but every time I play, I realize more and more how their thought process for the game mechanics or card functions was really spot-on.

    Also, what bad decision early on could you have possibly done to cripple your entire game from then on? Unless you completely shattered away your deck, started attacking with just a knife, and end up permanently dying, I can’t imagine what could make your game irreversibly ruined.

    I understand criticizing something makes it an easier article to write, and sometimes more interesting to read, but try playing the game more than a couple of times (and correctly, for that matter) before calling it a dud.

  5. I would like to think that I take great care when I play test each of my games prior to writing a review of it. Some games receive great reviews, others not so much, and then many of them get that grey in between. Regardless of the outcome, I certainly make sure I am playing the game correctly, and never write an article to one extreme or another simply because it is “easier”.

    We played this game approximately 5 times before I sat down to write this article. I also get feedback from the groups that I play with, and when possible, play with different people to get more opinions. Given all of that, I heard many of the things I stated over and over again: It doesn’t seem balanced, the games are far too long or far too quick, it seems to be lacking “something”.

    I’m happy that you enjoy the game, everyone has different tastes. However, as the title of this blog implies, these are “One Gamers Opinions”.

  6. Bruno says:

    Can anybody tell me the entire list of cards because I live in Brazil and have only seen this game on the internet, so me and my friend are going to make paper versions of the cards to see if we like it, but the only content page I found was the one on this webpage and it´s too small, thanks for anybody who tries.

  7. Hi Bruno! Happy to help with a card listing. You are on your own for what each of the cards do though, as I don’t want to get in any trouble with Bandai. Here is a link to a copy of the card listing, this time much larger. You should be able to zoom in on it and see the text nice and clear.

    http://www.gameparadisestore.com/Images/ResidentEvilCardListing.jpg

    Have fun!

  8. parkrrrr says:

    Going back in time a little bit to correct my own misconception: it appears that perhaps Eagle did go under, but was re-animated by FRED. So we might both be right.

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