Fans of the Resident Evil 2 video game will have strong memories of the tense escape from zombie-infested Racoon City. This tabletop version more than lives up to it, with surprises lurking behind every corner.
So, whether or not you’ve played as Leon S. Kennedy or Claire Redfield before, get ready for a heated couple of hours. Read the full Resident Evil 2: The Board Game Review
Brief Overview of Resident Evil 2: The Board Game
Sticking closely to the storyline of its video game predecessor, fans will recognize plenty of the items and enemies you’ll find yourself in combat with along the way. Similarly, staying very much on-brand, the focus here is more on strategy, evasion and, survival than all-out zombie slaying. This is not a game for the faint-hearted.
Versions & Expansions
There are several expansions to the core game, largely introducing new Scenarios or characters (and therefore miniatures!). These include:
Resident Evil 2: B-Files Expansion
This adds six additional Scenarios and a bunch of news cards for the Tension, item and weapon decks. There are also a few new characters, including the notorious Mr. X from the original video game.Resident Evil 2: B-Files Expansion
Resident Evil 2: Malformations of G – B-Files Expansion
A smaller expansion than its predecessor, this adds two new bosses to the game and the Birkin Stage One and Birkin Stage Five Scenarios.Resident Evil 2: Malformations of G - B-Files Expansion
Resident Evil 2: 4th Survivor Expansion
Introducing another batch of old favorites from the original, this expansion includes Tofu and Agent HUNK and four new Scenarios.Resident Evil 2: 4th Survivor Expansion
Resident Evil 2: Survival Horror Expansion
This is the one expansion to mix things up a bit in terms of gameplay. Alongside a bunch of new characters and regular Scenarios, there’s also a new game mode and the option of introducing player-vs-player characters.Resident Evil 2: Survival Horror Expansion
Unboxing Resident Evil 2: The Board Game
Fans of the game won’t be surprised to find that there’s very little color when you open the box. Instead, it’s more of a black hole. Here’s what’s in there:
- 4 character miniatures
- 2 boss miniatures
- 18 enemy miniatures
- 26 map tiles
- 20 doors
- 4 stairwells
- 3 typewriters
- 1 item box
- 10 corpses
- 4 short walls
- 2 long walls
- 34 tokens/markers (12 wound, 14 item, 8 sustained effect, 6 health track, 6 ink ribbons, 1 side pack, )
- 155 cards
- 4 health tracks
- 11 dials
- 6 dice
- Scenario booklet
The miniatures are a strong aspect of the game’s components. Coming in three sizes, they’re designed to fit onto the squares on each tile. The larger boss miniatures, especially, I think are very imposing. As they get smaller the wow-factors wears off a little, but they’re still of decent quality.
The cardboard pieces, on the other hand, are a big let down. The tiles are really thin, and the lack of sturdiness is noticeable during play. A few jolted movements and the tiles will become jumbled, along with the walls and doors on top of them.
What’s more, while this is supposed to be a game that takes place predominantly in the shadows, the artwork on the tiles is simply too dark. You can barely make out what’s on there. I don’t think it would have changed the experience at all to brighten them up slightly – it’s hard to set the scene using a thematic backdrop when you can’t even see it.
This is especially a problem with the door and wall pieces. Doors are flipped over depending on whether or not they’re open or closed, so it can be a little frustrating having to really strain to see what state they’re in. Similarly, walls are just long thin pieces of black cardboard and get lost on the dark background of the tiles. I much prefer a game where you can take a sweeping view of the game area and instantly know what’s what.
How to Play Resident Evil 2: The Board Game
To begin with, players choose the Scenario they want to play. This dictates the objective and layout of the map, and it’s recommended that you play through the Scenarios in the order of the Scenario booklet.
Players also select the character they want to play. Each character has various characteristics that affect how they move and fight, including the size of their inventory, how many attack dice they can roll, the weapons they can use and other special abilities.
Winning and Losing the Game
To win the game, players must complete the objective in the Scenario Brief. For example, in Scenario 1A the aim is to get all the players successfully to the Police Department building.
If, before achieving the objective, a character’s health reaches zero and there are no items left in the game that can resuscitate them, then it’s game over for the whole team. Similarly, players can also run out of time. If the Tension Deck is depleted to zero, this means the zombies have overrun the city and the players lose.
Players take turns in clockwise order. A turn is made up of three phases:
Players can make up to four actions in this phase. They can be any of the following, in any order, any number of times:
- Open/close a door
- Search (remove an item token from the square and take an item card from the deck)
- Trade (exchange items with another player on your square)
- Use item
When making an attack, your character needs to have line-of-sight with the target – IE. no walls or doors can be blocking its way. It must also be within the range of the chosen weapon and you should have enough ammunition.
To attack, roll the attack dice (the number of which is determined by your character stats). If any of the dice show a gunshot symbol, then your attack was successful and you can deal the damage and any other effects on the weapon card. If you didn’t roll any gunshot symbols then, sorry, you missed.
This is the enemy’s opportunity to attack you, and it happens on your own turn! An enemy must either be on your tile or on a tile linked by an open door to react. The enemy in range and with the highest Threat Level will get the opportunity to attack you. Enemies that are not in range react by moving towards you.
When an enemy attacks, its success depends on you making an Evade Roll using the number of dice shown on your Character Reference Card. if you roll an evade symbol, the attack misses. If you don’t roll any evade symbols, it deals damage.
Finally, a player must take a card from the Tension Deck and resolve it. They come in three colors – green, amber and red – representing how threatening they are. Green are relatively simple. Amber isn’t a direct threat, but you will have to make some kind of decision. Red, on the other hand, is a direct danger that must be dealt with straight away.
Out Of Sequence Reactions
An added element to consider when choosing your actions are the Out Of Sequence reactions enemies can make, often in response to all the noise you’re creating while carrying them out.
For example, searching a room for an item will attract attention and will mean all enemies in range move one square closer to you. Or, if you choose to attack an enemy on your square if it fails they’re guaranteed an attack against you in response.
Exploring the Map
How the tiles are laid out is determined by which Scenario you choose to play. To begin with, the tiles are unexplored, however, when a character enters a tile they will only then find out what is awaiting them in there.
Each tile has a different difficulty rating and rules for when they’re being explored. However, quite how bad the situation is going to be is determined by a roll of the Encounter Die. The lower the number, the more monsters or unfortunate events you’re likely to find there.
Progressing Through the Game and Scenarios
As you work your way through the game and Scenarios, you’ll come up against lots of different types of enemy, including bosses. These are much stronger than your standard enemies and are very tough to kill.
There’s also a wide range of other features that will appear throughout the game to mix things up and create new challenges. These tend to be introduced as you complete Scenarios, so as not to pile on too many concepts all at once.
Your First Game of Resident Evil 2: The Board Game
Steamforged Games have done a great job with the rulebook and first two Scenarios to make getting to grips with this game simple. The first Scenario, in particular, is more of a walkthrough of the game than a challenge. So I strongly recommend playing this through in order.
On a similar note, when you first open the game, the manufacturers have ordered the cards specifically for the first Scenario. So, make sure to avoid mixing them up before you begin.
Also, be aware that, while the Scenario overview will show you the layout the tiles need to be in, you don’t need to choose the tiles with the right artwork. Instead, you just need to make sure they’re the right size and shape. While it certainly looks better using the tiles with the correct artwork – and by all means, feel free to – it can get a bit frustrating taking the time to find them. After all, if you’d wanted to do a jigsaw puzzle, then that’s what you’d have bought.
Pros & Cons
- Creates real tension
- Co-operative and solo play
- Adds new elements as you progress
- Good walkthrough, so it’s not overwhelming
- Components a little unloved
First things first, Resident Evil 2: The Board Game isn’t just a gimmicky game designed to milk off the success of the rest of the franchise. This is a genuinely exciting co-op adventure that had me on tenterhooks many times throughout. Much like in the videogames, the experience often revolved around evasion, exploration, and tactical in-out maneuvers, rather than all-out combat. In this way, it set Resident Evil 2: The Board Game apart from many other co-op tile-based games, which regularly rely heavily on fighting to provide the juicy action.
The risk/reward element of the Out Of Sequence Reactions, in particular, helped keep this game captivating. Each and every action you take has to be considered and valuable because the likelihood is that you’re going to attract some kind of unwanted attention in the process. Is it really worth making the dash to reach that item and risk the situation spiraling out of control?
I liked, too, the way the developers introduce new mechanics and features as you progress through the game. This makes it very easy to follow and understand – especially with the walkthrough/induction missions – but also prevents it from getting repetitive. The way it’s designed also means it is very easy to add in even more pieces to the game, which they have rightly done with the addition of several expansions.
If playing co-op, the teamwork element is a big part of the experience, as well. You won’t be able to win without effectively working together to clear rooms and draw in enemies. Similarly, characters start on different parts of the map, stranded and alone. The high stakes and camaraderie that this creates as you look to link up were really enjoyable.
Not to worry if you’ve not got a team, though. The solo-play version of the game is well-adapted and just as fun.
On the flip side, as discussed above, one big drawback is the component quality, which didn’t live up to the standards of the gameplay itself. The miniatures were pretty cool, but the flimsy card and dingy artwork meant the game didn’t feel like it quite got the love it deserved when in production.
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is a brilliant co-operative game, whether or not you’re a fan of the video game series. Somehow, Steamforged Games have managed to capture the tension and edginess of the original franchise and skilfully whittle it down into a table-top dungeon-crawler.
The game components could use a little more love, but that doesn’t detract too much from an engrossing game experience,
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is a tense affair. Patience and a cool head will be key as you and your teamwork your way from tile to tile towards your objective. If you like games that hinge on decision-making and risk-taking, rather than stat-building or relentless battle, then you’ll likely take real pleasure this.
Fans of Resident Evil 2 certainly won’t be disappointed. Along with sticking to the same characters and setting, there’s plenty of other parts of the game that are cut straight out of the original video game, such as ink ribbons and typewriters. Thankfully, these don’t feel crowbarred in.
But this isn’t just for the existing fans. Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is a great game in its own right and I think could even win round new people to the franchise. I had never played the video game before myself, but I still had just as much fun as my friends who had.
The components are the only disappointing aspect. Considering the rather expensive asking price, you’d perhaps expect a little more for your money on this front.
But that doesn’t take away from what an enjoyable experience it is. It took over 20 years to release a board game version of Resident Evil 2. I say it was worth the wait.
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