There are many different factors that I find are important when it comes to purchasing a board game to add to my collection. Usually I will research a game, consider the cost, make sure I don’t have too many games with the same mechanic, and the last thing I look at is the theme. However, on Tabletop Day, while I was browsing games at 401 Games, I threw all of those factors out the window as my inner Scoobie Gang member that I thought I left in high school, picked up Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game (BVS:BG).
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game is not the first time that the slayer has found herself in a board game. In 2000, Hasbro released a similarly named game, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Game, and in 2001, Score tried to capitalize on the popularity of the TV show with a collectible card game, of which I still have a few sealed starters. BVS:BG is by far the best tabletop rendition of the hit television series to date.
In BVS:BG, players take the role of one of six cast members; Buffy, Xander, Spike, Willow, Angel, and Giles. Together, they work together to defeat the Monsters of the Week, finding clues to the location of the Big Bad, all while trying to prevent demons and vampires from killing townies. To defeat Monsters of the Week, and the Big Bad, players have to discard two items that are on the monster cards, and then draw an event card to check that the symbol on the bottom matches the symbol needed by the card.
We played two games, but the first game we messed up some rules that make the game easier for us, even though we still ended up losing. During the second game, I was Willow, Kim was Giles, Jon was Spike, and Will was Buffy. This combination seemed really powerful because Willow, Spike, and Buffy all have combat based special abilities, and Giles has an ability where he can draw four item cards and keep two, which helps cycle through the deck. We had no problems with the first two Monsters of the Week; Machida, who makes townies come closer to him every end of the round, and Kakistos, who makes any character wounded by it discard an item card. After we dispatched the first two, we then faced the Trio, and it took a few rounds to defeat them because every fight action any character completed made the trio move closer to them.
After defeating the Monsters of the Week, The Master revealed himself in the Hellmouth, and that is when it hit the fan. When the reveal of the Big Bad happened, we only had three townies on the Apocalypse Track, after the first round of fighting The Master, we had six townies and two wounds. The next round, we had an event card that made it so we couldn’t heal at the Summer’s Residence, and The Master used his special ability to spawn eight vampires across the board. Mixed with a bad event card draw, during the monster activation, they had themselves a townie snack and we lost the game, even though we had tried to fight The Master multiple times, but every time we drew the wrong symbol and failed.
What BVS:BG Did Right:
- Playing the game is exactly like watching a season of Buffy, with a monster of the week being an episode. and the Big Bad lurking in the background like the running story in a season.
- The art is wonderful, instead of using screenshots they created original art that really captures the characters.
What BVS:BG Could Have Done Better:
- We found the rule book difficult to follow, making us play a few rules wrong until we reread and played a second time, especially the monster activation phase.
- Some of the event cards seem too disruptive, such as making a location unavailable for an entire round.
- Due to having to discard both items needed to attempt a check to defeat the Big Bad, and the luck factor, the game can drag on if you don’t draw the right event card.
Overall, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Board Game is a fun game with a great theme (did I mention I love Buffy?), and most of the mechanics are solid. Our issue with the game was that the check mechanic (drawing an event card to check if the symbol at the bottom of the card matches what is needed), is far too random, and resulted in the game being drawn on. The game is a great introduction to co-operative games, and even though it seems like it would be near impossible to defeat the Big Bad, everyone had a good time playing. I would recommend anyone who enjoys co-op games or Buffy picks up this game and gives it a chance, especially at the reasonable MSRP.
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