Cardboard Children: Combining Two Green Herb Cards

By Robert Florence on June 17th, 2012 at 10:00 am.


Hello youse.

I’ve got some lovely stuff lined up for the months ahead, including some early looks at new releases. I’m confident I’ll be early out of the gate with things like Descent 2nd Edition and even City of Horror, the second edition of my darling Mall of Horror. OH YEAH. With the future schedule pretty much filled, I want to make sure that over the next few weeks I get the chance to tell you about lots of good stuff that I haven’t had the chance to cover in depth. I’ll quickly cover a few of these today.

So let’s begin!

FIRST – THE NEWS

The only news that matters this week…

The rules to Descent 2nd Edition are now AVAILABLE TO ALL. Take a look!

I have a question. Is it only weird people like me who read rulebooks in advance? Do you read them? If you do take a look, let me know what you think. There’s a lot in here I’m excited about, but I have a few concerns that will only be addressed when I get the game on the table. Can. Not. Wait.

RESIDENT EVIL: THE DECK BUILDING GAME

Dominion’s good, isn’t it? Are you familiar with Dominion? It’s a deck building game, where you assemble a deck of cards that will help you generate victory points. It’s a lovely design, and people who drink wine love it, but is almost entirely themeless. It just feels like playing with cards, and acting upon some text, and that’s fine. I’m not being down on it. I like it. It’s also been hugely influential, with games like Nightfall and Core Worlds and Thunderstone following in its wake. And a lot of shitty games too.

In fact, wait a minute. I’m going further here. I want to put this message out there – THAT’S ENOUGH DECK BUILDING GAMES NOW, THANKS. Everybody knows that a hit creates a thousand imitators, but this is starting to feel like a MILLION imitators. There is nothing that crushes my spirit more than hearing the title of an upcoming game, thinking “That sounds great!” and then finding out that it is a fucking deck building game. Stop it.

EXPLORE THE DARKEST REGIONS OF SPACE IN A GAME OF SCIENCE AND MILITARY MIGHT by choosing cards to put into your deck and shuffling a lot.

Stop it.

BATTLE ALONGSIDE EARTH’S MIGHTIEST SUPERHEROES AND DESTROY THE VILE PLANS OF THE WORLD’S MOST EVIL VILLAINS by mechanically building a deck of cards and not interacting with anybody else and really feeling it and thinking to yourself “I might as well be sitting here on my own, shuffling a Top Trumps deck for three hours.”

Stop it.

Well, anyway, all of this brings me to Resident Evil: The Deck Building Game. It borrows a lot from Dominion. A whole lot. But it also comes with a lot of theme, and a much more exciting way of capturing victory points. Instead of just buying the victory points and putting them into your deck, you build up your hand strength and then explore a Mansion Deck. When I say “hand strength” and “Mansion Deck” I really mean “Shitload Of Weaponry And Bombs” and “Scary Resident Evil Mansion Full Of Problems”. If you kill the enemies on the cards you turn over from the Mansion Deck, then you claim them as victory points. If you don’t kill them, they hit back at you. You can lose health and everything. You can die. YOU DIED.

I like this game a lot. I’m a Resident Evil fan, though, so I get a real kick out of combining two Green Herb cards to regain health. That thrills me. Finding a First Aid Spray makes me quiver. Shooting a Licker with a shotgun makes my Southern Nose wet.

The risk/reward element of the Mansion Deck is a buzz, because it’s always fun to see your opponents pushing too far and getting their legs eaten and cards stolen by a Hunter. There’s just something really tasty about getting to choose whether or not you’re exploring the mansion. It’s always fun to say “I’m going in.”

“But you have one gun, no ammo, two knives.”

“I’m going in.”

Everybody looking at you like you’re crazy. Like you’re some crazy, sexy kid. Beautiful.

The enemies are all pretty sweet. They vary in difficulty from “You Lucky Bastard” to “Haha! YOU DIED! Wait, what, he hits US too?!” One of the bad guys, a Gatling Gun Zombie guy, uses your own ammo against you. If you go into the mansion with a lot of ammo, which you often do, this guy will tear you up like a Kickstarter promise. It’s crazy. There’s some real chaos in this game.

And chaos is great! Don’t forget that Cosmic Encounter, which could be the greatest board game of all time, is all about controlling chaos. In RE: The DBG, you can easily turn over a card that ruins your night. YOU DIED. You can mess with the other players. When you throw a grenade (one-use cards) they take health from the enemy AND the players that are on either side of you. If you’re Jill Valentine, you can unlock a power that puts used grenades back into your deck. You can become a death-dealing maniac, blowing up everything around you. That’s brilliant. If you’re Albert Wesker, you can force people to explore the mansion. You can order them to draw from that scary deck when they might have no chance of surviving an encounter. Wesker’s a dick. That’s beautiful.

I think you should try it, even if you already have Dominion. It’s a trashier game, and isn’t even close to being as mechanically sound, but I find it far more fun. It’s a deck builder for video gamers and people who like to laugh. But I dunno, maybe you’re happy just buying cards that say “VILLAGE” and “MARKET” on them, with no opportunity to fire any rocket launchers.

HEY, THAT’S MY FISH!

I bought Hey, That’s My Fish for my 5 year old daughter. It is now played almost exclusively by adults. It fucking ROCKS. Here’s the deal – you have a team of little penguins. You lay out a bunch of hex-shaped tiles, and these all have fish on them. Some tiles have one fish, some two, and some three. Then you start moving your penguins in straight lines across the hexes. When you move, you claim the tile your penguin started on, creating an impassable hole in the ice. And when a penguin can’t move, it’s out of the game. The team with the most fish wins.

Everybody has the same experience with this game. “Is this all we do? We just move these OH MY GOD THIS ROCKS!”

It just ROCKS. My daughter likes it a lot, but I love it. It’s such a simple game, but feels super-strategic. You’re claiming fish, blocking opponents, fencing off segments of the board – it ROCKS. Can you tell that I love it? And it’s only about a tenner or something, too. Essential stuff. I couldn’t (Polar) Bear to be without it. CLASSIC JOKE!

(I really hate when people say something “rocks”. But it does.)

THE RESISTANCE

The Resistance is another really simple and really straightforward game. The players are resistance fighters carrying out missions to bring down an evil regime. The current British government, for example. Secretly, though, there are Imperial Tory Spies in the team trying to sabotage those missions and bring the resistance down. The game is quite similar to Werewolf/Mafia in that it’s all about manipulation and table talk.

The game’s box is tiny. Some cards and some wooden chips. That’s it. This game is all about you and your annoying mouth.

If you’re a bad guy, you want to seem squeaky clean so that you get voted onto the mission teams, and then you need to carefully choose the right time to sabotage those missions. It’s like being David Cameron during an election campaign. Keeping suspicion away from you and your allies is what it’s all about. A good spy will be casting suspicion on everyone else, by shouting all the time.

“IT’S YOU!”

“IT’S HIM!”

“IT’S NOT ME!!!”

If you’re one of the resistance, you will become an absolute paranoid wreck and you’ll be shouting at people all the time.

“IT’S YOU!”

“IT’S HIM!”

“IT’S NOT ME!!!”

The game is quite similar to Battlestar Galactica too, but it’s far shorter and has far less fiddly things going on and less photos of surgically enhanced American actors. I think I probably prefer Battlestar Galactica, but The Resistance will play in about half an hour every time, and that kind of game is always a good game to have. So, yeah. Try it! You’ll shout a lot! Great fun.

NEXT WEEK

I think that next week, all going well, I’ll be telling you about the brand new release of the classic Fortress America. Here’s an official Fantasy Flight promo video to make you feel faint and need a lie down and so on.

See you next time! Stay dicey! (Awful.)

, .

49 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    CheesyJelly says:

    I bought The Resistance last week and have been introducing friends to it since. I’m a huge fan of Mafia/Werewolf, so it was an instant hit. It’s worth mentioning that the newer decks have a kind of expansion inside, which contains some more cards with special rules. These cards basically let/force you to potentially reveal more information to the group, or give the spies more chances to confuse everything in complicated ways. It’s hard to explain without an essay about the rules, but it introduces so much more complexity and excitement, and stops the game feeling like a Mafia-clone.

    • gwathdring says:

      I played a proxy of The Resistance and it went down pretty well … but I’m having trouble justifying a purchase. I haven’t had the right opportunity to try the proxy version again yet. I just really don’t like the idea of paying $15 for a game I can knock out in five minutes with some index cards.

      • ArthurBarnhouse says:

        The cards are very nice and $15 isn’t that much really.

        • gwathdring says:

          They do look quite lovely, I’ll give you that. And $15 isn’t that much in general … but it is a lot relatively speaking both in terms of what you get for it and in terms of what I could get instead for the same amount. I’m all for buying games more for the rules and ideas than the components, but when the ideas are quite this simple I can’t justify it to myself. I would never buy Poker, for example. I’ll buy a deck of cards I can use to play 10s if not hundreds of different games, but I wouldn’t by the rules to Poker even if it were a proprietary game.

          Even if I want to avoid piracy, I can easily knock up something very similar, with a different theme and its own set of thematic rules that plays just as well.

          • Weevil says:

            Because of course… its really easy to design a game this fluid, simple and intuitive, Indie Boards and Cards (not a big publisher at all) just knocked it out in 5 minutes with no play testing at all.

            Seriously BUY THE FREAKING GAME. You are why we cant have nice things.

          • TsunamiWombat says:

            I see what your saying but blaming a consumer for wanting maximum value is also why we can’t have nice things. It all comes down to a persons individual concept of value. For some people, good art direction and production is enough, others want bits and bobs and plastic thingys goddamnit

          • gwathdring says:

            @Weevil

            I think you should make slower judgements there, bub. For me? Designing this kind of light, pick-up-and-play party game isn’t especially hard. On the other hand I’ve been trying for years to design my own miniatures rule system and no one who’s tried it (myself included) enjoys it at all. I just can’t make it click.

            But this sort of game just clicks for me. I understand what makes it work and what doesn’t and how to make the idea my own while keeping it simple. Also don’t make more out of The Resistance than it is: it’s a clever re-skinning of the most basic hidden-role formula, a party game that’s been around for ages both due to word of mouth and various print games of a similar ilk. Just because it’s simple doesn’t make it less clever or fun. And just because it’s clever or fun doesn’t mean it’s worth my money. I’m not telling other people not to buy it either, so calm down and try to be a little more polite.

            I respect designers, I respect the indie community, and the only reason I proxied up the game in the first place was because it seemed so simple that I wanted to be extra sure it was special before I bought it. I played it, enjoyed it, but didn’t find it special enough and I haven’t played the proxy copy (which, again, is just index cards) since the first time. It isn’t that I need shiny things, either. Components get me paying attention, but they’ve never made me buy a game as I always put play first.

            Finally, you have plenty of nice things. The industry is healthy, thriving, and I’ve spent a good deal of my money assisting in keeping it so.

            P.S. The five minutes comment was not to insinuate the game takes that long to design. Just that it’s such an easy to implement idea once it has been designed. It’s so simple, that there’s not especially much design to it in the first place no matter how well playtested or how much time and love went into the idea.

  2. dubatc says:

    I am so looking forward to ‘city of horror’ as I missed out on ‘mall of horror’,never got excited by dominion or its clones. Got to be picky about what games I purchase these days. Rab I have to thank you for helping me get into this hobby, played cosmic encounter with 4 friends last night and we nearly died from laughter,what fun can be had on a night with some cardboard and friends.
    Great to have you back on RPS, best thing on the site. Looking forward to all the good stuff to come.

  3. Red_Avatar says:

    Is it me or does Resident Evil not come with booster packs? Deck building games with “booster packs” are horrible, I’m sorry. I don’t want a game that is the equivalent of F2P online games, where spending enough money will nearly always lead to you having a better chance at winning and where actual strategy takes a back-seat to how much money you spend. They’re money pits, let’s face it. You can’t criticize the F2P “pay to win” mentality and then condone deck building games if you ask me.

    • Lilliput King says:

      That’s not what a deck-building game is!

      Possibly you’re thinking of collectible card games like Magic?

    • Jay says:

      Deck builders are, in my mind at least, CCGs done right. Removing the collecting mechanic enforces the need for strong balance in the core systems, and games are more likely to come down to player skill rather than wallet size/depth of addiction. Sure, it’s a little annoying there’s so many of them, but it’s a sight better than everything being CCGs a few years back. At least now you can spend your thirty quid or whatever and have a game good to go.

      • malkav11 says:

        The “Living Card Game” setup Fantasy Flight uses with games like Warhammer: Invasion and Call of Cthulhu et al would be doing CCGs right, imho. Deck builders like Dominion scratch some of the same itch, but they basically make gameplay out of card drafting. LCGs keep all of the gameplay focused on actual play and leave the deck construction ahead of time, but they completely eliminate random card distribution and collectibility so that it’s easy to get the cards you need for the deck you want to build and you don’t have to spend zillions of dollars keeping up.

    • HisMastersVoice says:

      Yeah, because MtG Pro Tours are always won by the guy with the fattest wallet.

      • Nezuji says:

        Assuming a sarcastic tone to your post, I suppose that the obvious retort would be, “Please point out any MtG Pro Tour champion who has spent less than the cost of a boutique non-collectable card game in the course of playing the game.” Even though you may share the same ceiling with the other heavily-invested players, that doesn’t make it any closer to the floor.

        • HisMastersVoice says:

          I was responding the the claim the skill somehow takes a back seat how much a player can spend on the game. Which is not true, unless we’re talking about FNM casual play. Yes, decks cost money. In high level play, it’s still the most skilled player that wins.

      • Jay says:

        Looking back on that, I could’ve phrased it a little better. I didn’t mean that buying your way to victory was a sure thing, just that in deck-builders it isn’t a factor at all, hence a more level playing field.

        I just don’t see a case where the trad CCG mechanic is preferable. Yes, at higher levels of play it’s absolutely a game of skill, but largely because these people have invested so much money in their decks that cash advantage ceases to be an issue.

  4. Easy says:

    I totally read the rules in advance, it’s not just you. Ah, Descent 2nd ed, I lust for you.

    Oh, I wish they’d called it Fortress America: Ameritrash!* Looks like a shiny game, looking forward to your review.

    *or maybe be FA:FY!

    • gwathdring says:

      I do as well. I read rules to help me make purchasing decisions as well. I’m something of a rules-junkie. It’s the engineer in me; I want to take the game apart, and put it back together so it runs more smoothly. I can usually tell about how a game feels just by reading the rules, and while I still try to play-test and watch reviews and read sessions reports, I have yet to be let down by a rule-book assessment.

      Fortunately I was never infected by the Rules Lawyer virus and have not been quarantined away from pleasant company.

  5. gschmidl says:

    Read the Descent 2E rules, am totally sticking with 1E. All the fun was surgically removed and the game got turned into D&D 4.5

  6. Uthred says:

    That Resident Evil game seems awkward to get in the UK and getting it from the states at least doubles the price

    • Prime says:

      Awkward to get? Not really. You just have to know where to look. Try and find a dedicated board game shop, something I never suspected even existed until a few weeks ago. My local one is Static Games in Glasgow. They have lots of the Resident Evil sets in stock and usually have many more of the American titles in stock – last time I was in there they took delivery of a copy of Mage Knight that my poor girlfriend had to get shipped across from the US.

      http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/static-games-glasgow

      Failing that -> Amazon. You’ll probably be surprised at how much you can find on there. Many of the brick-and-mortar specialists have listings on it.

      Happy hunting!

      • Uthred says:

        Thanks for the suggestion, I’d checked Leisuregames and was surprised they didnt have it and Amazon only have a rather highly priced version of the basic set

        • BennyGee says:

          Leisure Games don’t have any copies as it’s now unavailable from the main UK distributor and have sold all their stock. Any copies in other UK shops are old(er) stock that hasn’t sold yet.

      • ramirezfm says:

        This Resident Evil game looks nice ( and yes, I am a RE fan ), but is just impossible to get and I am trying for a few months now. The only place is US Amazon for some highly over the top price. If anyone can find in somewhere in EU please do post the link to the shop.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Morph says:

    Totally love Hey That’s My Fish! Plus it’s fun to say.

  8. President Weasel says:

    Rather good column this week, with a couple of games I’ve played (which always gives me a pleasant feeling of connection, even though it’s entirely unjustified) and one I’d never heard of but am now intrigued by (the Resident Evil game). I’m glad Cardboard Children is back.

  9. fauxC says:

    I’m disappointed we haven’t had a rabid rightwing comment denouncing RPS as pinko commie bastards for attacking the Tories and gnashing teeth at the very idea that people who like games might also express opinions about the world outside.Get on with it, I’m bored!

    Also: another great column, as usual. Any chance of a few more pictures next time?

  10. Gothnak says:

    I should probably sort out selling my huge collections of Descent 1st Edition…

    • Boozebeard says:

      You know there are going to be conversion kits to transfer many of the monsters and heroes from first edition to second?

    • gwathdring says:

      Also from what I’ve read and heard they are quite different games. Lots of core ideas in common, but different enough that they can perhaps coexist in many collections.

  11. Reapy says:

    Looking forward to reading the rules. Through extreme effort i got descent about 2 years ago and assembled people to learn and play. While i liked the theme a ton, i hated combat, i often had to roll the dice then take a minute to optimize the attack and see what happened. I strongly prefer to do that before the roll. Anyway will be a bit before i can justify d2 but if they fix that up, will be all over it.

  12. OrangyTang says:

    That Resident Evil game sounds good – I do love the deck building mechanic in Seven Wonders and Thunderstone, but their common failing is theres not enough interaction between players, and it can feel like you’re all playing separate games only to meet up at the end to compare scores.

    Seven Wonders does have quite a bit of interaction with neighboring civs, but it’s all really passive. Trading in particular would be nice to have a bit more Settlers-like batering (although I can see how that would break other bits of the game) and actual talking rather than just thinking about future passive interactions.

    It feels like no-ones really cracked this problem in deck building games yet, hopefully when someone does we’ll see a bit more variety come out of it.

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      Seven wonders doesn’t really feel like a deck building game in any real sense. You aren’t purchasing cards and the actions and number of turns are preset. And I’m surprised to see someone say there Isn’t a lot of interaction in seven wonders. You have to pass your cards to the person next to you. Since you are competing with that person for military points and are probably also trying to block high value green and blue cards from getting to them (depending on the strategy they are using) it becomes very important when you build a wonder to block a card.

      If you feel like there isn’t enough player interaction in seven wonders your going to be disappointed with resident evil. It has more interaction than thunderstone but not a ton more

  13. Synesthesia says:

    Ah, ive been trying to find a single copy of a used mall of horror for the past year, with no luck. Im sad to see the art seems to have gone down quite a few notches in quality, those polaroid cards were a thing of beauty.
    Lets hope they wise up before release, which i doubt. Anyone wishing to part with their copy of mall of horror 1 and ship it to argentina?

  14. ProtoMan says:

    You should play cardfight vanguard. Where the people are nicer.
    Where the people are nicer.
    Seriously, play cardfight vanguard.

  15. bongosabbath says:

    Resident Evil: The DBG feels extremely broken. The manual is horribly written as well. For the price, it’s simply not worth it, in my opinion. Unless you have a group of friends who are sadistic and enjoy the nuances of broken tabletop games. Then, uh, have at it.

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      What feels broken about it? I’ve played it and it works quite well. Admittedly I’ve bought one expansion which helps quite a bit. My biggest complaint is that they made straight up the worst box I’ve ever bought.

    • Uthred says:

      “Feels broken” ? So its mechanically sound but doesnt feel it or it isnt mechanically sound but you dont have any actual evidence other than a feeling?

      • bongosabbath says:

        It’s mechanically sound, but, at least to me, feels very simple… I guess I’m used to more complicated tabletop RPG’s and when I play a deck building game, I can’t help but feel like bits and bobs are missing that would make the experience more complete.

      • Premium User Badge

        ohnoabear says:

        I don’t own the game, so I don’t have it in front of me, but I remember it having some pretty substantial balance issues.

        Each player chooses a different character to play as (one of the main characters from the fiction), who have different play bonuses and stats. Some of the characters are powerful enough that they have a clear advantage over other characters. Also, some characters have abilities that affect or are powered by other players, so their abilities are correspondingly less powerful in a 2-player game than a 3-player game.

        Also, the distribution of Mansion cards can mean a big difference in how the game plays out. At any point in the game, you can draw an incredibly powerful monster that you won’t have a hope of defeating until the end game, or an equally powerful weapon. It can be incredibly frustrating to draw a boss monster on your first time grabbing a Mansion card, especially if you’re the kind of person who’s turned off randomness to begin with.

        Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed the game. But that’s because it feels like a shambles, the kind of thing that wasn’t well-designed or honed through continuous playtesting, but wriggled free from the game designer’s clutches prematurely and went on an mad rampage before landing in a local game shop. It succeeds by virtue of its ridiculousness (from its incomprehensible, typo-ridden manual on down), not its design.

  16. JBantha says:

    When I used to buy table games I did rules in advance.

  17. Shandrakor says:

    FORTRESS AMERICA!!

    To repeat: FORTRESS AMERICA!!

    That was both my fondest gaming memory and the game that was well-nigh impossible to track down. I own Axis & Allies and played tons of Shogun in college, but that’s the holy grail. Joy!

    • Charupa says:

      Agreed, I seem to remember last time it was out twenty something years ago that it was advertised everywhere, but incredibly hard to get. Going to get it this time, I hope that its not terrible….

  18. cassus says:

    Board games.. I love them, but they require friends. I hope more board games end up on the computors or the tablety thingies eventually. Had a blast playing Ascension when that was popular-ish a while back. That game is the prime example as to why tablets really do board/card games well. Neuroshima Hex as well, even though I only played VS the AI in that game (multiplayer added now? right?)

    Anyways, my fav board/card games are: 7 Wonders, Eminent Domain, Warhammer: Invasion, San Juan, Catan and I’m getting into Pandemic more and more, that game seems amazing. Coop is always fun.