One of the many games that Cool Mini or Not released at Gen Con. After a few months, it’s finally getting its retail release.
This is based on the Playstation video game Bloodborne. I have never heard of it or played it, but asking my middle school students about it, they quickly informed me of how awesome it was. But would this make a good transition to a tabletop game? Well, it does have Eric Lang, designer of Blood Rage, on board. Hmmmmm. Is it good? Let’s find out!
BLOODBORNE: THE CARD GAME (2016) designed by Eric Lang; Published by Cool Mini or Not – For 3-5 players and takes about 30-60 minutes to play.
I’m not sure if the premise of this game is anything like the video game, but the story here is that players are monster hunters entering a chalice dungeon supposedly working together to kill all the monsters, collecting blood echoes along the way. But the players really aren’t working with each other as they can steal blood echoes from one another and even cause their rivals to take damage. Only one hunter will escape the dungeon, and it will be the one with the most blood echoes.
The game is played over several rounds (at least 11). During which, players will simultaneously pick an action card. A monster will attack all players, after that, players will deal damage to the monster (and sometimes to each other), collecting blood echoes.
That’s the basic premise, but there is definitely more to it than that.
Each player will start the game with 5 starter cards (2 Melee Weapon cards, 1 Ranged Weapon card, a Transform card, and a Hunter’s Dream card). The weapon cards are pretty weak since they’re starters, but there will be plenty of opportunities to get better cards later. Each player begins with 8 health on their dial.
There will be 10 monsters in the monster deck (7 monsters and 3 bosses) that the players must defeat.
There will also be one Final Boss monster that will be revealed at the start of the game (which will have some kind of special rule that will take place throughout the whole game), but can only be defeated once the entire monster deck has been gone through.
Collecting blood echoes is how you win the game. Whoever has the most at the end will win. However, if a player dies (and it will happen….. a lot!) they lose all of their blood echoes at the top of their game board. There is a way to bank your blood echoes so that they will be safe, and that’s by playing the Hunter’s Dream card at the beginning of the round, instead of playing a weapon card.
When you play this card, you will bank all of your collected blood echoes from the top of your board by moving them to the banked blood echoes section at the bottom of your player board. Then you will be able to choose a card from the 5 face up upgrade cards.
A game round will go like this:
- Choose & play action cards – Players will simultaneously choose and reveal an action card.
- Transform weapons – which means if you played a transform card, you get to choose a melee or ranged weapon from your hand after seeing what everyone else played.
- Resolve instant effects – If any card has an instant effect, resolve now.
- Monster attacks – There are 3 different colored dice. Roll the die that matches the colored symbol on that monster card. This will damage all heroes, unless they played the Hunter’s Dream card, in which that player will only take half the damage dealt (there are also other cards that allow a player to avoid damage).
- Hunters Attacks – Beginning with the start player, hunters will deal damage to the monster, collecting as many blood echoes equal to the damage they dealt.
- Monster Escapes – If a monster wasn’t defeated, that monster will be discarded. If the monster was defeated, then each player that dealt damage will get a trophy.
- There is a trophy track on each player’s board, and three different types of trophies. Simply move up on the trophy track according to the symbol on the monster card. Also, if it’s a boss monster, then the monster won’t escape and will remain until it is defeated. Some monsters may take a couple of rounds to destroy.
- The Hunter’s Dream – This is the phase in which each player that played The Hunter’s Dream card will regenerate to full health and choose an upgrade card. This is also the only way to reclaim your action cards, as you don’t get them back after you play them. If you have more than 7 cards, you must discard down to 7.
- End of Round – Discard your action cards you played into your discard pile, change first player, and reveal the next monster, unless it was a boss monster you didn’t defeat.
Also, when a player dies, they will go back to full health, lose all blood echoes at the top of their board, and then they can choose an upgrade during the Hunter’s Dream phase. However, they do NOT get their action cards back. The ONLY way to get you cards back is by playing the Hunter’s Dream card.
That’s about it. Players will count all of their blood echoes from both sections on their board, plus count any trophies they acquired on their trophy track. Player with the most blood echoes is the winner, and escapes the dungeon, while everyone else is stuck their forever. haha!
This almost sounds like that this could be a huge miniatures dungeon crawl game. I think it could have been. But I do like that this is a smaller game that is easy to travel with. It still has the feel of a dungeon crawl, but you’re just using cards.
I enjoy the dark, twisted theme here. The artwork (which is probably taken from the video game) is wicked. I enjoy how each monster looked. I could definitely get into the theme here.
I also really enjoyed the game play. I like games that have players choose cards simultaneously. I also like that you kind of know what cards other players may have in their hand, so there are some interesting decisions to make here. It’s not a complete random fest.
But speaking of which, sometimes because of the dice rolls, a monster can wipe out every player in one turn. It’s happened a few times. This actually didn’t bother me though, as we all laughed about it. It just felt like it was part of the dark theme.
There aren’t really many components here, but I really liked the blood echo tokens. They have a nice sheen to them, and the player dials were cool too.
Going back to the game play, I really liked figuring out when to play that Hunter’s Dream card. To me, that was the real meat of the game. In order to win the game, you need better weapons. In order to get better weapons, you need to play your Hunter’s Dream card. But obviously, you can’t play it every round because you need to battle monsters and collect their blood echoes, since that’s how you win the game. So I loved that aspect.
I also liked the amount of player interaction here. Players are constantly going to be turning on each other to save their own skin. That was an aspect that I found really fun, that had each player getting into the game.
What keeps this game from being great is the variability. I don’t feel like this game really has it. After one or two games, you’ve pretty much seen every card and there won’t be many surprises. I wish the game would come with at least twice as many Bosses and monsters.
My other fairly large complaint is that I didn’t really like some of the final boss abilities. I felt some changed the game too much to the point where it wasn’t enjoyable for some. For example, there is one boss that makes it so that if you die twice during the game, you are eliminated. So that means it’s possible for a player to be out after the second or third round. And I know it’s possible, because it happened to me! It was disappointing, because I LIKE the game and I wanted to keep playing. That boss just left a sour taste in my mouth. I understand why that Boss is in there, because it forces players to be more strategic, but sometimes you just can’t prevent yourself from dying. There are also other final bosses that prolong the game by adding more monsters to the dungeon. It doesn’t make the game more complex, just longer.
However, you can choose which boss you play with so you don’t have to have that kind of negative experience. But that’s where I go back to the issue of replayablility….. if I took the final bosses I don’t like out, then there will only be 2 different ones (there’s only 5 in the box).
I actually like the game and how it plays. I just don’t like some of the monster’s abilities. The actual game play is solid and fun. So in the box, there is a good game here. I just remove the stuff I don’t like, which makes the game not have that much variety, unfortunately. I couldn’t play this game every day, but once in a while, it could be fun.
Now, with all of that said, I brought this to my middle school board game club that I run, and it went over extremely well. My students LOVED it and asked where and when they could pick up a copy!
I do think that there is an audience for this game. And I also think it IS a good design. But in order for me to say this is a GREAT game, they would have to come out with an expansion with more weapons and Final Bosses with better abilities. I like it. I just want MORE.
If you like the dark theme, dungeon crawls, push-your-luck, take-that games, then you might want to check this one out. Cool Mini or Not continues to put out good product.