Resident Evil: The Board Game is coming to Kickstarter this October 26 and, with it, our first tabletop exploration of the infamous Spencer Mansion!
Last time, we took a look at what makes this Kickstarter our first open world campaign, and how your choices can change the results when it comes to advanced characters.
But you aren’t the only ones making character choices. Before we could bring this to the tabletop, we had to decide which four S.T.A.R.S. would be the [S.T.A.R.]ter characters.
So, let’s hand over to Sherwin for a peek behind the curtain of board game design...
Breathing Life into the Board Game Characters
By Sherwin Matthews
Welcome, all, to another article on Resident Evil: The Board Game! My heartfelt thanks to you for stopping by.
Writing updates and blogs is always one of my favourite activities in the run up to the campaign, as well as speaking with people after they go live (usually in the Facebook group).
Before you even set foot inside the mansion, you’ll need to choose whose boots you’re going to fill. Yes, today we’re talking about player characters!
Selecting the Core Game’s Player Characters
Unlike the previous two Resident Evil board games, which featured a mix of playable characters from a variety of backgrounds, the player characters in Resident Evil: The Board Game are all drawn from a unique police division — the Special Tactics and Rescue Service, or S.T.A.R.S., for short.
The men and women of this division are the elite, far from some of the civilians you’ve encountered before. And some of the Resident Evil world’s most popular figures, each one brings their own specialisation to the table (and a wealth of character, besides).
Before we could start designing the player characters for Resident Evil: The Board Game, though, we needed to decide which four S.T.A.R.S. from the video game would make the cut.
Sounds straightforward? Truthfully, it wasn’t.
Sure, Jill and Chris were obvious. But if your only Resident Evil experience was playing as Chris, then you’d find yourself asking who Barry Burton was.
Likewise, if you’ve never played as everyone’s favourite boulder-punching police officer (that’s Chris Redfield, for the non-RE players among you), you’d wonder why we included a member of Bravo team in the mix.
Then we have Albert Wesker — present at the start of both character’s campaigns, but probably not the right choice because… well, Wesker.
In the end, we landed on Jill, Chris, Barry, and Rebecca as our starting characters. But fear not, if your favourite didn’t make the cut! We also added in a couple of non-playable characters in the form of dedicated support characters, too, such as Brad Vickers, and Richard Aiken.
What’s a support character, you ask? More on that in a future post...
Designing S.T.A.R.S. Characters for the Tabletop
Once we’d chosen the player characters, we had to design them for the board game.
To begin with, we compiled everything we knew about them. Their background, their appearances across the franchise, and even their appearances in cutscenes.
From this, we began to build a picture of the role each character would have on the tabletop, and to figure out ways of making them feel as close to their video game counterparts as we could manage.
Let’s take a look at Rebecca Chambers, for example:
Is That You, Rebecca?
Our team has several levers and dials that we can adjust when creating characters, and each has to be balanced around the others.
As much fun as an insanely overpowered Barry Burton would be, for example, watching everyone fight over using him really wouldn’t be a good experience!
To see how we adjusted those levers for Rebecca, let’s start at the top of her card:
Moving to the right from her name plate, the first score is Rebecca’s evade score. This represents how agile she is, directly informing her ability to dodge enemies. Rebecca is pretty average here, giving her a decent chance to dodge a lone zombie, but struggling a little more against a Hunter or a pair of undead foes…
Next up is her inventory size, which is once again the standard size shared by most characters — in this instance, six.
Rebecca shouldn’t have to worry too much about space, but she’s no Jill Valentine either.
The final icon on the top row is brand new to the series — how many kerosene tokens the character can have. As a character that specialises in handling chemicals, Rebecca’s slightly above average here, meaning she can dispose of a few more corpses than most of her comrades before needing to refill her canteen.
And the kerosene tokens aren’t the only thing separating Rebecca from the other S.T.A.R.S. On the far left, we can see Rebecca’s starting items: a Handgun and two First-Aid Sprays.
As the S.T.A.R.S. medic, she’s the first tabletop Resident Evil character to not to begin with a knife, and also the first with multiple First-Aid Sprays.
Rebecca’s role is further underscored by her special rules, which every character has.
Medical Supplies is a nod to her expertise, and also the supply room, where she spends a large section of the video game treating her teammates’ wounds.
Mechanically, it makes Rebecca an extremely capable healer — doubling the effect of green herbs, and ensuring that most times she uses a First-Aid Spray, the recipient will return to full health.
Field Medic pushes this identity even more, allowing Rebecca a free action each turn to heal with, ramping up her action economy when she’s operating in line with her primary function in the team.
Rebecca’s special rules and starting loadout ensures she’s supremely efficient in terms of both speed and quality of her healing, and the strongest Resident Evil healer we’ve seen to date — but her extra kerosene allocation and average stats also make her a versatile utility character, capable of working on her own as well as part of a team.
And that’s before you consider her piano playing skills…
So, Which Character Will You Play As?
And if you aren’t already, go follow the campaign on Kickstarter now.