Welcome to the Game Night Blog Carnival for May! You can get more information about the carnival at the main Game Night site.
This month, I’ve been participating in the May of the Dead blog carnival, so I wanted to pick an undead-themed board game to write about for Game Night. I stopped by one of the local game stores, looked at a few options, and ended up buying a copy of the Resident Evil: Alliance. I’ve enjoyed both Ascension and Thunderstone quite a bit, so I figured trying another deck-building game would be fun.
Alliance is a standalone expansion for the original Resident Evil deck-building game. It comes with everything that you need to play games with 1-4 players. In addition to the base set and Alliance there are also two non-standalone expansions, Nightmare and Outbreak, that can be used with either the base set or the Alliance set.
The game itself has many similarities to Thunderstone. During setup, you select a number of weapon and action cards that are always available for purchase. Some of these are basic resources that are available in every game, such as ammunition and basic weapons, while others will only be available in certain game setups. There is also a deck of infected monsters and special events called the Mansion.
On your turn, you can play one action, explore the mansion, and buy one card. I like this setup better than Thunderstone where you need to choose between combat and shopping since it allows each player to do a little more on his or her turn. Action cards can also be used to give you extra actions, buys, or explores in a given turn.
One major difference from other deck-building games that I’ve played is that each player controls a character card. Your character has a set amount of life and special abilities that can be unlocked by defeating the zombies. This character damage track allows for players to lose by having their characters killed rather than just failing to have the most points at the end of the game which really helps to stress the survival aspect of the source material. The character cards are drawn from the various Resident Evil video games and include people such as Chris Redfield and Billy Coen. One thing I was disappointed with was the gender balance of the characters (8 men and 2 women) especially since the video games in the series almost all feature the choice between a female or a male protagonist.
When you explore, you reveal the first card from the top of the Mansion deck. If the card is an event, you do whatever it says, but if it is an infected creature than you need to fight it. In a combat, you need to allocate ammunition to the weapon cards that you have and deal damage equal to or greater than the health of the monster you’re fighting. If you can’t do that, then the monster deals damage to your character and is added back to the bottom of the deck. Defeating monsters earns points which are used to determine the winner at the end of the game. Exploring the mansion tends to be quite dangerous because defeating many of the infected in the deck will require a hand with multiple weapons.
The game ends when a player kills Albert Wesker, the game’s most powerful infected creature, in combat. At that point, the player with the most points wins the game. Because the Albert Wesker card is just shuffled in with the other 34 cards of the Mansion deck, this seems like it could lead to very random game lengths. In a solo game I played, Albert Wesker ended up being drawn early, but I didn’t have enough firepower to take him down so he ended up back on the bottom of the deck.
The game includes several different game modes. In addition to the standard story mode, the rulebook contains a more competitive variant known as Mercenary mode and a Partner mode where each player controls two characters rather than just one. There are also guidelines for scaling the game’s difficulty including a “professional mode” that requires players to explore each turn to really stress the survival horror aspect.
Overall, I think this game would be best for someone who is a fan of the Resident Evil video games. I’ve only ever played the first 2 video games, so I don’t have much connection to either the characters or the various types of infected. That said, the game was fun to play and the survival aspect is a nice twist for a deck-building game.
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