William Birkin Stage Four | Resident Evil™ 2: The Board Game

Last Monday we introduced you guys to the G-Mutant, our not-so-friendly tutorial boss in Resident Evil™ 2: The Board Game. If you missed out, don’t worry – you can catch up here.

As promised, this time around we’re back to William Birkin, and ready to answer a question we’ve heard from a couple of you over the last few weeks… why do we keep referring to Birkin Stage Three as the final boss in the core game playthrough?

Uncontrollable Mutations

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As we’ve discussed before, in addition to scaling the difficulty and behaviour of Birkin bosses based on the previous iteration, our design team also had to consider where each boss appeared in the game. For Birkin Stage Four this took on a whole new dimension – canonically, Birkin Stage Four doesn’t actually begin any scenario in play!

When we first discussed how we were going to bring the world of Resident Evil™ 2: The Board Game to life, our team faced a tricky decision regarding how best to represent the final battle of the A campaign playthrough. Birkin Stage Four is the true boss as experienced in the game, but our team was concerned we’d be diluting what could be a powerful experience, selling poor Birkin Stage Three short if we kept it the same. Due to production constraints, we’d also have to reduce the overall number of enemies in the base game to include Birkin Stage Four, due to the size of the model.

Our solution was to keep Birkin Stage Four as part of a separate expansion, which later became the Malformations of G release. This gave us two advantages. Firstly, we were able to develop Birkin Stage Three in all of his destructive glory. Secondly, we were able to create an experience which would offer replayability for returning and veteran players.

Although each of the expansions for Resident Evil™ 2: The Board Game are designed to enhance player experience and introduce new challenges, this is perhaps most evident with Malformations of G. With the exception of Birkin Stage Five (more on him next week!), each Birkin boss is an addition to an existing scenario for players to overcome. In the case of Birkin Stage Four, the boss replaces Birkin Stage Three halfway through the boss fight during Scenario 8A, after the monster’s health dial is first reduced to 0.

And just for your reference, before we get into his rules, our team definitely recommend you try the core game without Birkin Stage Four to begin with. This guy will be a serious challenge, even for veterans!

I’ve Read The Rules, I Kno- Wait, What’s an Impact Attack?

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Birkin Stage Four’s reference card is deceptively simple at first glance. The beast has 25 hit points, and a move of 1, which feels a little slow for such a mobile enemy. It only features a single rule, named Unstoppable – but what a rule it is!

Unstoppable means that every time an attack is made against Birkin Stage Four, the boss moves towards the active character. That on its own might not sound so bad. After all, being in an adjacent square to a boss isn’t great, but it won’t get you killed unless you forget to move away, right?

Perhaps it’s time to look at the additional rules for massive-based models before we continue…

Models with massive bases are so big, they take up multiple squares – namely, four at a time. When a model with a massive base moves towards a character, it will always attempt to enter the square that character occupies. If a model with a massive base is placed in the same square as a character, that character suffers a collision attack, and is pushed out of the way.

Birkin Stage Four’s collision attack only inflicts a low amount of damage, but is extremely hard to avoid, representing the pace of the creature bounding around in pursuit. What’s worse is this is without doubt the most mobile enemy in the game, featuring plenty of cards which allow it to make double moves, or even leap into the air and pounce on an unsuspecting survivor.

Sound nasty? It is. And we haven’t even told you about the behaviour card attacks it can make. Rest assured, with names like Rending Claws and Savage Bite, they’re none too friendly.

Players have to be extremely careful when facing Birkin Stage Four. It’s entirely possible if players don’t communicate very well when moving around the limited space they have, the boss can easily hit every single one of them with an impact attack in a single activation, before stopping to really put out the hurt with a behaviour card attack.

As you’ve no doubt come to expect by now, this boss encounter feels like a real test of your skill, and definitely fits the role of the final boss. For some of our design team, this is actually the hardest challenge in the game… for others? Well, stay tuned. We still have one more malformation to go…