Having played a ton of deck-builders, I have to say that the Resident Evil Deck Builder is my least preferred game of that sort. I have to admit I have only played this game once, but I’m not going to play it again so the review’s going to be a touch shorter than normal. It also focuses only on the ‘Story mode’ of the game.
Appearance: Resident Evil the Deck Building Game isn’t a bad looking game at all. The graphic’s come from the computer game, so artwork is very nice anime artwork. The rules can be slightly confusing – especially on the cards, but otherwise the cards are pretty good and good stock. However the rulebook is horrible – it’s confusing and they obviously didn’t check for mistprints since there’s quite a fe.
Rules / Ease of Learning: If you’ve played a deck builder, you’ll pick up the rules in Resident Evil relatively fast. There’s a little confusion (thanks to the horrible layout) about what the actions are and when they occur, but once you’ve worked it out, it’s pretty simple. Ammo is used as the equivalent of Gold for buying cards (and Ammunition for using your weapons); so you’ll be buying a lot of those, weapon cards and action cards. Like most deck builders, you have a series of cards that are laid out for use which can be randomised, and like Thunderstone you have a a separate ‘monster’ (aka Mansion) deck for doing battle in to gain points.
Gameplay: It’s in the actual gameplay that I have my major problems with Resident Evil. A random monster deck sounds interesting; but the problem is that the game penalises you for losing battles to monsters quite heavily. You lose 10 permanent hit points each time you die – which can mean you can die completely! So instead of ‘trying your luck’ in the mansion, you instead try to boost your strength by purchasing cards till you feel confident in going in regularly.
However, to get a good ‘deck’; you need higher grade Ammo and Weapon cards. The Action cards are useful; but can also slow your deck down. So for the first 30 – 40 minutes; players are just consistently purchasing cards from the pile instead of going into the mansion.
The game sort of gets ‘fun’ in the middle as your deck finally gets going – you generally have enough ammo and weapons to do damage to kill most of the monsters in the Mansion, so players start burning through the deck fast.
And then the end game comes along and it all slows down. To kill the Boss; you need to do 90 points of damage. Outside of getting very lucky or having one of the 2 major weapons; it’s nearly impossible to kill him. So players would draw their hand, look at the total damage and then either buy more cards or pass. Mostly, they’d pass. The end game literally took 30 minutes trying to finish the last 4 monsters. Remember – you didn’t want to go in if you didn’t have enough points since you’d take damage and ‘die’ again.
Worst, all this passing did nothing to ‘fix’ your deck. Unless you have the card that allows you to ‘discard’ cards from your deck (the one’s available were one use) and there are no rules for discarding cards like Thunderstone. So you’d have a ton of so-so weapons and ammunition that would clog up the deck.
Sure, some of my characters have special abilities – but they just don’t seem to make that much of a difference in actual gameplay for us. To activate the abilities, you’d have to kill enough monsters; but to do that you have to venture into the mansion with all the inherent risks.
Could this be fixed? Sure. If we had more control of who you fought (e.g. Thunderstone); it’d make the go faster. If you had no penalties for dieing; you’d be able to go faster. If you could ‘pass’ and discard a card, it’d go faster.
Conclusion : There’s literally nothing in Resident Evil that another deck builder hasn’t done better in my view. Want a dungeon crawler – get Thunderstone. Want something fast and simple to learn – get Ascension. Want a game with higher interaction – Arctic Scavengers or Heroes of Graxia. Just want an overall good deck-builder? Dominion.