2020 Update: This post was published during or shortly after the Kickstarter campaign on July 30, 2018, and may contain out-of-date assets and mechanics. To see the final version, check out Resident Evil 2: The Board Game
Undoubtedly one of the most enigmatic characters to ever grace the world of Resident Evil™, most players are still guessing about Ada Wong’s unknown agenda to this day. It doesn’t matter how many appearances she makes throughout the series, it seems whenever Ada appears the mystery only deepens.
Although the first time we encountered Ada in person was during Resident Evil™ 2, astute players were already familiar with her from the original videogame in the series. Mentioned in a diary entry as an Umbrella researcher’s girlfriend, Ada’s name was used as a password by her lovelorn partner before his untimely demise.
When Leon first encounters Ada, she tells him she’s looking for clues about her boyfriend’s whereabouts – a point later refuted by Annette Birkin, who accuses Ada of being a spy sent to retrieve the G-Virus. Despite the question of where her loyalties lie, Ada proves to be a stalwart ally for Leon throughout their escape from Raccoon City. After the pair escape the RPD building, she saves his life when he is shot, accompanying him through the sewers and marshalling yard until she is grievously wounded by William Birkin. And when Ada does show her true colours and turns her gun on Leon, she can’t pull the trigger.
In the end, with Ada apparently killed by the T-00 Tyrant, Leon says a tearful goodbye and is forced to leave her body behind as he flees from the underground laboratory. But appearances can be deceptive, and Ada isn’t quite done. She returns one last time to throw Leon a lifeline in his struggle against the T-103 Tyrant, before disappearing into the darkness once more…
You Know What this is About. Hand Over the G-Virus!
As one of our core characters, we definitely wanted Ada to be one of the more straightforward and simple to use survivors in Resident Evil™ 2: The Board Game. For a little while though, she almost brought a completely new mechanic into the game – namely, a hidden traitor system, where one player would have a different agenda to the rest of the group.
Whilst this was an interesting take in early testing, we soon found it was an extra layer of complication which was better streamlined out of the game. More often than not, it was nearly impossible for the traitor to win when pitted against not only the other survivors, but also a horde of bloodthirsty monsters. When we compensated for this and upped the traitor’s power level? It suddenly became difficult for anyone but the traitor to win.
Ultimately, we dropped the idea. Although thematic, it was extremely disruptive to the core game experience, and didn’t really add enough to justify its inclusion versus the extra difficulty for casual players. Besides anything else, it didn’t really feel as much fun as the whole group working together, and that was before the weird situations where strange characters wound up as the traitor (Sherry, anyone?).
Despite this, heading back to the defining elements of the Ada character, we knew we definitely needed to focus on her shadowy agenda and past. The ability ‘Intrigue’ came shortly thereafter, and never left her card once. In its first iteration the rule allowed Ada to draw three cards from the tension deck, discard one, and return the others. This rule proved to be a nuisance however. In early tests, Ada was using the ability every turn to mill the deck until no dangerous encounters were left at all.
Our revision stuck around for most of development, after a little finetuning. This version of Intrigue was usable once per scenario and allowed Ada to draw five cards from the deck, discarding any number of them. A supercharged version of her previous ability, Intrigue suddenly became a powerful late game tool for players as they reached the end of the deck.
It still wasn’t quite right though. Playtesters often reported they felt like the ability was wasted when they drew five green cards, and we tended to agree with them. What we wanted was a user-friendly ability which guaranteed the removal of a dangerous event and didn’t run the risk of being wasted. We eventually settled on what became the final incarnation of Intrigue, which is deceptively simple. Once per scenario, Ada may use Intrigue to discard any card which is drawn from the tension deck without resolving the effect. It certainly sounds straightforward, but don’t let that fool you - the trick is knowing when to use it. Too soon, and you’ll find yourself out of luck later during the scenario. Leave it too long and you might fail altogether. The choice is yours.
Of course, we didn’t want that to be the only unique rule Ada brought to the tabletop. Her second ability is a reference to a conversation she shares with Leon, lambasting his companion after she abandons the poor guy one too many times. ‘Reckless’ represents Ada’s penchant for the unpredictable and allows her to jump the turn order after any character ends their activation - including her own, for a sneaky double activation! Intensely situational but extremely flexible, this allows Ada to perform several roles for the group. She is ideally suited to dashing for the typewriter to reset the tension deck when it gets low; she is also at home armed with a bowgun, firing into groups of enemies which have suddenly spawned next to one of her allies, or closing a nearby door to prevent a horde of enemies breaking in.
Playing as Ada is a subtle experience, with abilities which aren’t too obvious on paper but actually provide powerful support elements. Having her on the team certainly makes life considerably easier for the survivors, that’s for sure!