Item Management, Item Schmanagement!


Picture credit: Resident Evil Wikia
For players of the Resident Evil deck building game, Item Management is generally considered an “oldie but goodie,” since it was part of the original Core Set.

Item Management lets you Trash out one Ammo card from your hand and get an upgraded one in your Discard pile to replace it. You can upgrade from a 10-Ammo card to a 20, from a 20 to a Treasure card (provides only 30 gold), or from a 20 to a 30, or from a Treasure to a 30.

It’s one of the only cards that deals specifically with upgrading your Ammo/Gold supply, which is the primary concern for players–once you get your Ammo/Gold in place, you are set up well enough to buy the Actions and Weapons you need to Explore the Mansion safely.

However, there is more to using this card in your strategy than would be apparent at first read. Here are the pros and cons of Item Management:

Pros

  • Does a fair job of automating the upgrading-Ammo process
  • Doesn’t Trash out of your deck upon use, so you use it as often as you need it

Cons

  • Uses up your one default Action per turn
  • Does not interact well with Buying Ammo at the same time you’re Upgrading–you can end up flooding your Inventory with Ammo, like giving an engine too much gas
  • Slows down other Buying action because you have to Trash out Ammo from your hand to use it, leaving you poorer the turn you use it

Item Management Op-Ed: It’s Not as Effective as Other Methods

I have never been able to get Item Management to work well for me. It does not upgrade Ammo as fast as, say, using your regular one-Buy-a-turn and Shattered Memories or Quirk of Fate together; with those cards, you can buy one upgraded Ammo while Trashing out one or two lower-Ammo cards. This thins your Inventory and gets you better Ammo totals per card.

Item Management also does not work as well as using Ominous Battle, which Trashes out one card from your hand after it draws you 3 cards and gives you 10 Gold, nor does it work better than Parting Ways, which Trashes out one card from your hand and Gains you another that costs up to 20 Gold more. Parting Ways, however, is best used for Weapons, since Ammo cards exceed the cost limitations (most Ammo cards upgrade by increments of 30 rather than 20).

From what I can tell, Item Management requires two things to work: one, you must keep a consistently small Inventory, and two, you actually do have to Buy a bit of upgraded Ammo here and there. If you keep trying to change out 10s for 20s instead of 20s for Treasure or 20s for 30s, you’ll be stuck at low Ammo and Gold totals long after the other players are set up. (Trust me, I’ve played plenty a game like that! Frustrating–you’re basically stuck in Neutral for half the game.)

I don’t like the card much because it makes me play on a tightrope of buying JUST ENOUGH Ammo without buying too much. I never know when to stop, and it really screws with my gameplay. But my boyfriend loves Item Management and wouldn’t be without it–somehow, he makes it work. I think it’s the small Inventory size and careful Buys that do it for him.

Why Use It?

This is what I’ve been wondering–with Shattered Memories, Quirk of Fate, Ominous Battle, and Parting Ways available, why bother with Item Management at all?

Possible Ways to Make it Work

All I can see that’s good about Item Management is that you automatically upgrade your Ammo with one Action, rather than doing an Action to Trash out a card and then Buying another one. But it must be handled very carefully, as I noted earlier.

It also works better if you can Buy two Item Managements for your Inventory–having only one in your Inventory simply does not come up often enough to be solely responsible for your Ammo upgrading.

The way I see it, use Item Management if you have a way to do an Action-replenishing Action first (like Reload, Umbrella Corporation, or even Parting Ways/Quirk of Fate if you have to). Then, you aren’t shortchanging yourself on Actions, and you can help yourself out a little bit with card draw, weapon replacement, and/or Inventory-thinning.

Summary

Item Management is not my favorite card, personally, but there are ways you can still use it in the game–players can and do make effective strategies with it. Try it and see if you can master this more difficult of Actions in your next Resident Evil DBG session!

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