For those who are not familiar with any of the Resident Evil video game series, the whole concept sounds like something you don’t want to mess with. Arming yourself with various and sundry weapons to fight zombies? Sounds like a horror movie gone crazy.
I certainly thought this way about the video games, and wasn’t too enthused about playing a deck building game based on the same mythos. Horror and killing stuff really isn’t my bag in movies or video games either one, so when my boyfriend (a major Resident Evil fan) asked if I would like to try the deck-building game, I expected it to be not much fun.
Boy, was I proved wrong! In the Resident Evil DBG, like many other deck building games such as Ascension and Dominion, the long-term strategy is the winning strategy, which means lots of fun happy times for gamers like me who like to play for the long-term gain rather than the short-term strike.
To Begin The Game
All players in the Resident Evil DBG start out with a character card of your choice (more about those later) and the same 10 cards in their decks:
7 ammunition/gold cards, worth 10 ammo and 10 gold each, used for powering your weapons and purchasing upgraded items and ammo
2 combat knives, each of which can deal 5 damage and doesn’t require any ammo
1 handgun, which requires 20 ammo to work and which can deal 10 damage
From this original 10-card deck, you draw 5 cards and begin your turn. On your turn, you may buy 1 resource from the rows of resources laid out on the table, play 1 action, and explore the Mansion 1 time if you choose. Once your turn is over, you take all the cards you’ve played this turn and place them in the graveyard (your used cards), and draw 5 new cards to prepare for your next turn.
Wait, What’s the Mansion?
The Mansion is familiar to those who have played the Resident Evil video games, but in the context of the game, it’s simply another deck of cards on the table. When you want to “explore the Mansion”, you must have a weapon (like the Combat Knife, the Handgun, or other sundry upgrades to these items) in your hand, as well as enough ammo to power it. You then declare you’re going to explore, and then turn over the top card of the Mansion deck. Whatever Infected zombie creature is revealed, your weapons must deal it enough damage to defeat it in one hit, otherwise the Infected creature deals your character damage and then goes back under the deck.
Say, if you explored the mansion with two Combat Knives and a Handgun. You’re able to do 20 damage, because each Combat Knife does 5 damage, and the Handgun does 10. All the weapons you play combine together for total damage, unless otherwise specified on the card or the character.
If a Male Zombie shows up as the top card, you’re in luck, because it has 20 health and will be defeated with your combined 20 damage. You then get 1 decoration for having defeated it.
However, if the top card is a Licker instead, you’re out of luck–it has 40 health, and will not be defeated by two Combat Knives and a Handgun combined. You will instead take 30 damage from the undefeated Licker, which will then go under the Mansion deck to be rediscovered later. (Be careful–you can end up taking enough damage from undefeated monsters to actually kill your character!)
Different enemies have varying levels of decorations–some give you 2, 3, or 4 decorations if you defeat them, and the two strongest monsters in the Mansion (Nemesis T-Type and Uroboros Aheri) give you 5 and 8 decorations, respectively. Whenever Uroboros Aheri is successfully defeated, the game ends, and everybody counts up decorations–the highest total wins.
Fans of Resident Evil games will recognize the various characters included in each box of Resident Evil:DBG. Familiar faces like Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield are there, alongside others like Jack Krauser, Sheva Alomar, and Ada Wong (my personal favorite).
Some characters have weapon specialties–you’ll want to give Jill all the Grenades she can carry, for instance, while Sheva makes magic with Rifles and Krauser is a beast with Knives.
Each character in the original DBG has two abilities that activate when they have gained a certain number of decorations. At Level 1, the character can use the first ability listed on their card; at Level 2, they can use both abilities.
The reason Ada Wong (at left) is my favorite is because of her Level 1 ability, which allows her to “peek” at the top card to see if it’s something she can defeat with her current damage total. Ada can put the “peeked” card on the bottom of the Mansion instead of trying to defeat it, and she can then go for the second-from-the-top card instead. (This is great for moving Uroboros Aheri out of the way when I don’t have 90 damage to defeat his 90 health, because with my luck, I’m ALWAYS drawing the boss. XD)
Another important point to remember: each character also has a set amount of health. Some characters can survive a 70-point hit by Uroboros and live to tell about it next turn. Unfortunately, Ada and several other characters only have 70 health to begin with, so they have to be played more carefully. No haphazard reckless exploring the mansion for them!
Look through each of the character cards and see which ones fit your playstyle. Since I’m horribly unlucky in my Mansion draws, Ada’s ability suits me well. But you may find that another character is your favorite!
Game Modes and Resources
You can play Resident Evil: DBG several ways–a list of possible scenarios follows.
- “First-Timer:” helps you get used to the game mechanics, basic and fun
- “Mercenaries:” timed game, with various mini-scenarios to act out
- “Versus:” where instead of fighting the zombies, you try to defeat the other players!
- “Custom:” you and your fellow players choose resources to purchase, and play much like First-Timer
There are many, many different resources you can use to build your perfect streamlined deck in the game, such as upgraded weapons, healing herbs, and cards that let you get weapons back, trade out items, draw more cards, etc. Each game mode has its own set variety of resource cards–in First-Timer, for instance, there are some cards in the box that aren’t even allowed on the table, whereas in Versus mode, you’d make copious use of those cards.
My Personal Strategies
After several times of playing the game, I generally know what some of my first purchases are going to be. Purchasing upgraded ammunition cards is the first order of business–trading out all those 10s for 20s and eventually 30s will help power bigger weapons and will help you pay for those bigger weapons, too. Also, purchasing cards that help you clean out the cards you no longer need is very important. (Once you’ve purchased bigger and better weapons, you’ll want to get rid of the Handguns and Knives unless your chosen character has a specialty with them, for instance.)
The Six Shooter is kind of an upgrade from the Handgun, is it not?
Action cards such as Shattered Memories, Ominous Battle, and Item Management (no image) are great support cards for early- to mid-game deck thinning and streamlining. Other helpful Actions include Reload (get a weapon back from your graveyard, get 2 actions), Umbrella Corporation (draw 2 cards, put 1 card from your hand back on top of your deck, get one more Action to play), and Escape from the Dead City (draw 1 card, get 2 actions).
I generally don’t explore the Mansion for about half of the game–most of the first half of the game is getting my deck streamlined, and I usually avoid getting damaged by too-strong monsters until I’m ready to take them on.
However, by not exploring the Mansion, I sometimes miss out on the two most epic weapons in the game, which are actually hidden in the Mansion. Sometimes, you’ll Explore and come across one of these babies as the top card:
The Gatling Gun can be filled with any amount of ammo for equal amount of damage; the Rocket Launcher deals a flat 90 damage for 0 ammo investment.
For me, I’m not willing to risk Ada on the possibility of getting one of these weapons, so I play carefully. If the other players get the Gatling Gun or the Rocket Launcher, that’s great for them–I am simply more comfortable using tried-and-true (and safe) methods to last through the game. I don’t know if this playstyle would work for everyone, but it’s won me most of the games I’ve played so far!
To Find Out More
Unfortunately, the official game website has been closed because Bandai is no longer publishing RE:DBG as of 2013. But you can still find information through the RE:DBG page on the Resident Evil Wikia. Also, BoardGameGeek’s page on this game is a great resource as well, and I used it heavily while writing this article.