Monday, 22 June 2015

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game

To be clear, this is the US import, not the UK
version. TARDIS cookie jar, racks of CDs
and Andrew not included.
On Friday night, we introduced a new board game to the repertoire, in the form of a version of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer board game sufficiently old that it treated Tara as a minor support character and only went up to Season 4. Props though, because it was in sweet condition given age and usage; that's some quality game manufacturing.

In the spirit of the infamously difficult Army of Darkness board game, one player controls the baddies (determined by Season,) the others the heroes (Buffy, Willow, Xander and Oz.) Each hero has their own tray, a long card strip with spaces to place cards representing Help (allies), Weapons (most of which seem to be wooden objects which allow an insta-kill staking attempt,) Artifacts and Research (mostly spells, but also sewer maps allowing fast transit.) Characters are moved around the board by rolling dice, which are pretty standard six-siders, but with the 1 on one and the 6 on the other marked with a moon which progresses the oddest time track ever (I can't find a decent-sized close up, but it basically runs from the new moon to the full moon, then back through the waning phases until sunrise.)

The villain player rolls a die to see how many of the master and minion monsters can move in their turn. Characters move and then take an action, which can be searching for artifacts (one in each corner of the board,) drawing a regular card (in appropriately marked spaces,) or trying to smack the person next to you if they aren't on your side.

Each character has their own strength and weaknesses, which are not balanced (purposely; in a four player game, one player controls Xander and Willow.) Heroes (apart from Oz) can be sired as vampires (mechanically, this functions as the equivalent of the heroes stake option, and requires a specific villain card) and, if sired, re-ensouled with the appropriate spell. Buffy is tough, Willow has lots of magic dice, Xander... is basically likable, since it isn't Season 6 yet, and Oz is fundamentally indestructible. He's only an uber-badass during the full moon phase, but there aren't many monsters to match him (pretty much Veruca the bad werewolf, I think,) and every time he switches form in either direction, he basically heals all his damage. He also can't be one-shotted with the 'Sire' card; he's badass as all get out.

This character tray shows that a) other editions had more playable characters, and b) Giles is a fucking badass.
We actually had a surprisingly good game, beating the Mayor without losing a single character (although things looked very bad for Xander, who was saved by hitting the victory conditions from near certain death at Faith's hands.) We also didn't take out any of the minions, going straight for the Box of Gavrok (or as the card mistakenly insists, Garvok.)

There is a UK version which is a sort of double-blind Cluedo*, which is one of the weirdest concepts for a Buffy licensed game I can think of.

* Or Clue, for Americans.