Resident Evil

SFG Vault: Return of the Giant Alligator | Designer Diary

The stars have aligned and the SFG Vault has opened! Inside lurks a sewer-dwelling specimen the likes of which have rarely been seen — and, this time, it’s green.

Available only until the Vault closes on April 28 at 23:59 BST, the Giant Alligator is an enemy with serious bite. 

Think you can handle it? Let’s find out…

Return of the Giant Alligator in Resident Evil 2: The Board Game

by Sherwin Matthews, Lead Designer for the Resident Evil board games

Well, Survivors… here’s an article I didn’t expect to find myself writing. 

After all, it’s been a long while since I last ventured onto the streets of Raccoon City with Leon and Claire. In fact, last I was here, I was accompanied by Jill Valentine, and more concerned about a creature named Nemesis.

But, that’s another story entirely.

Resident Evil 2: The Board Game was a special game, and a fantastic introduction not only to tabletop games for a lot of our community, but to Kickstarter itself. During the campaign back in 2017, we were humbled by the incredible support from our backers, and spent hours chatting to you all about your favourite characters and enemies from the game.

Hit F5 to Praise the Moth, if you were there. You know who you are.

One such enemy was the Giant Alligator. A monster so large, it competed for biggest creature in the board game, and simply couldn’t fit into any of the other expansions. And just like the other expansions, the Giant Alligator saw a lot of interest from backers, especially once the pledge manager opened.

But the Giant Alligator was a little more special than most. Because we knew that retail stores, traditionally more interested in core games, wouldn’t be too interested in our favourite sewer-dwelling reptile, it became a Kickstarter Exclusive. 

In the years that followed, much like all alleged sewer alligators, the Giant Alligator became a legend in the community. Not everyone that backed the Kickstarter had added the alligator to their pledge; and we’ve seen multiple print runs of Resident Evil 2: The Board Game, and plenty of newcomers to tabletop survival horror since then. 

‘Where can I get the Giant Alligator expansion?’ fast became the most-asked question in the Facebook group and on our socials, and it still comes up on our Discord

Well, today I’m delighted to tell you we’re going to give you an answer. Because —  with an itchy tasty groan, and rush of fetid sewer air — the door to the Steamforged vault has finally creaked open, and the Giant Alligator is, for a short while, available within.

And, for fun… in scaly, reptilian green, no less.

If you’re unfamiliar with this expansion, don’t worry — in fact, read on. Chynna-Blue and the rest of the marketing team were insistent I roll up my sleeves and give you one final Resident Evil 2: The Board Game developer diary, and I must admit — I’ve been looking forward to writing this immensely — it’s good to be back where it all started. 

So, without further ado, let’s dust off those chess plugs and stone animal plates, and step once more into a world of darkness beneath the city streets…

Designing the Giant Alligator Expansion

Creating a Giant Alligator expansion presented an interesting early challenge. 

In the original video game, the fearsome beast was immune to small arms fire, and easily capable of tearing the player limb from limb — but it also was only present for a short sequence, where the player either had to solve the combat puzzle of how to defeat it, or direct so much high-power firepower at the creature it was driven off.

 The board game is a different story. When it came to the tabletop, I felt strongly that  a monster like this one deserved a lot more table time, and should offer a much more integrated experience for the players. 

And, of course, a good deal more tension and danger.

To that end, in addition to the Giant Alligator itself, the expansion comes with two exclusive, full-length scenarios built around the fight with the creature. One for the standard playthrough of the game, and the other for the B-Files playthrough. 

In both, a single character — either you, or one of your unfortunate teammates — will find themselves trapped in an enclosed set of tunnels with the creature, while the others elsewhere race to either open up an escape route, or, in the B-Files playthrough, find a way to defeat the relentless monster once and for all.

As you can see from the example above, these scenarios take the classic Resident Evil themes of isolation and trepidation, and turn them up to eleven via a healthy shot of urgency and time pressure. 

And there’s more. Unlike usual gameplay, the players in the marshalling yard and sewers have no way of resetting the tension deck themselves — there are no ink ribbons or typewriters to do so. 

Instead, the deck is reset by the It’s Beginning to Flood… and Rising Waters tension cards, which represent pipes bursting and water rushing into the Garbage Dump as the Giant Alligator smashes its way around in pursuit of their trapped ally. 

And speaking of said ally…

Whilst the player trapped with the Giant Alligator doesn’t need to concern themselves with drawing tension cards, they do have to contend with the Giant Alligator itself. And just like the video game, this is a foe they can’t kill. 

The best the player in the garbage dump can hope for is to stun the beast for a precious few seconds before retreating as far as possible in the limited space With each turn that passes, the player must make  the difficult decision of whether to use their precious and dwindling ammunition, or to simply run and make some space.

That’s the broad scope of the scenario, but there are a few additional discussion points here, which I introduced to keep players talking around the table. 

The first are the unique tension deck cards for the scenario. 

The red cards we’ve already covered to some extent; they offer precious time to the players in the main areas, chasing around in search of a way to rescue their imperilled friend. But for that same individual, they’re actually pretty bad. 

Not only do they represent water flooding into the garbage dump, and reducing their character’s agency, but the Giant Alligator also reacts, becoming faster and gaining more powerful attacks.

The expansion’s amber cards are just as bad. The players in the main area can breathe a sigh of relief when they see one of these cards, as they don’t have any long lasting effect… but for their poor trapped ally, the Giant Alligator gets to resolve a behaviour card, lending a dramatic sense of unpredictability.

But that’s not all.

Encounter tables during these scenarios are unlike any other in the game. When the players get some results, they have to choose which area will be affected. Will you choose to keep the player in the garbage dump as safe as possible, but put the characters in the main area — a space no less claustrophobic than a darkened sewer — in danger? 

Or will you keep those characters safe so they can move about unobstructed, but risk the enraged alligator tearing your stranded friend to pieces?

The choice is yours, and I definitely recommend you discuss the best tactical option for the team each time!

What’s in the Box?

To immerse you in the murky gloom of the damp sewers, the expansion includes a set of double-sided tiles featuring unique sewer artwork. These tiles can be used not only in these scenarios, but to further customise and deepen your experience in the rest of the sewers before and after.

Some of these feature my favourite (read ‘grim and foreboding’; I’m a cheerful soul) artwork from the series. 

And, for those of you wondering, we’ll be brightening them up a touch for this print run (even if they are from the dingy and bleak abandoned depths).

This expansion also includes the aforementioned tension cards, boss reference and behaviour cards, locked door, and unique item cards for creating the scenarios contained within, as well as a full-colour rulebook.

And with that all said, I’ll wish you happy hunting, and the best of luck, survivors. You’re going to need it — these scenarios are some of the toughest in the entire game series.

And for me? 

Like Mr Raccoon said in REmake 2, Sherwin out!

How to Get the Giant Alligator

If this designer diary whet your appetite for some Giant Alligator action, you’re in luck:

The SFG Vault is open right now, where you can pre-order this out-of-print expansion either as an individual item or as part of a discounted bundle.

The Resident Evil 2 ultimate bundle includes the Green Giant Alligator Vault exclusive, the limited edition Sherry Birkin set, the Resident Evil 2 board game core box, the B-Files Expansion, the Kickstarter Exclusive Sculpts Expansion, and the Survival Horror Expansion for just $250.05 (21% discount). To apply the bundle discount, just add all the items to your cart and enter the code TVRE2UB at checkout. 

Order now before the Vault snaps shut on April 28.