Bloodborne: The Board Game will challenge you with monsters and mysteries in the gothic world of this classic video game
Total Game Play: 45 to 75 minutes
Designer(s): Michael Shinall & Eric M. Lang
Artist(s): Arnaud Boudoiron, Henning Ludvigsen, Aragorn Marks, Mike McVey, Edgar Ramos
Publisher: CMON GAMES
Bloodborne is a classic video game from FromSoft that has been around for the last five years. Many have praised Bloodborne for being a gothic masterpiece, so the powers that be decided to turn it into a board game! We bought this game for the miniatures. I mean, they are absolutely fantastic miniatures. If you just want to see the mini I would recommend jumping over to my original post on the game. But, to my delight, the minis are not the only part of the game! This game is intense and engaging, and I am constantly looking forward to my next session.
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This is a general overview to provide context for the review, not an in-depth how to play. Some rules may be glossed over or missing.
Bloodborne: The Board game is made for one to four players. The game is fully cooperative with your and the other players join together to discover and complete the story.
I played Bloodborne: The board game at three players because apparently that’s the hardest difficulty and all games should be played on hard mode. Just kidding… Anyway, Bloodborne: The board game is a game with a story to tell and it unfolds depending on your actions. You can open different routes and options based on your decisions.
In each round, every player will take a turn before the time tracker moves forward. Turns are taken in any order. This allows players to switch when they take their actions. But everyone does have to play before the end of the round.
For a game with a ton of miniatures, it surprised me to see that there was little set up. The first thing you’ll need to do is pick which scenario you want to play. The base box comes with four scenarios which can be broken down into even smaller subsections. The scenario will help dictate the monsters you face as well as the required tiles need for the game.
The most important part of set up is choosing your character. Who will you be, Hunter? The base game comes with four different hunter types but there are more options available from the expansions. If you want to true to the video game Bloodborne experience, then I would recommend downloading the Campaign guide from Board Game Geek. It shows the exact order for unlocking characters and scenarios.
A player will have a hand of 3 cards to work with during their turn. They can then use these cards to do the following actions:
- Move – your character can move up to two spaces across the board.
- Interact – your character can pick up treasure or interact with special tile abilities
- Transform – your weapon will have two sides. This action allows you to flip over your weapon.
- Go to the Hunters Dream
You can discards cards to take the move, interact, transform, or go to the Hunters Dream. Cards used to attack will trigger combat and I’ll delve more into this process in the concept section below. Cards discard for use will not trigger any of the special text on the card unless the card specifically states it. After a Hunter has finished taking their turn, the monsters on the board get a chance to attack. Any monster in the same or adjacent tiles to the active Hunter will close in. If the monster ends on the same space as the Hunter, they will initiate a combat phase.
Combat is probably the most confusing step in the whole game. Combat consists of four phases:
|1||Select Attack Card||To attack the monster, a card must be placed into an empty slot on your hunter’s weapons. The special effects listed on the card will now trigger.|
|2||Enemy Attack||The top card of the enemy attack deck will be revealed to show if they do a basic, special, or ability attack|
|3||Dodge||If you have a dodge card in your hand, and an open slot on your weapon with a faster or similar speed than the monsters attack, you can play that card to dodge. All special effects on the card will trigger. You cannot dodge with the same card you used to attack.|
|4||Resolve Attacks||Resolve both Hunter and Monster attacks. If either side is slain before their attack speed, the attack of the slain creature will not happen.|
A hunter will automatically go to the Hunters dream when slain. You will earn Blood Echoes if you slay a monster. Blood echoes are used to upgrade your deck. If you go to the Hunters dream by dying, you will lose all of your Blood Echos.
Concept: The Hunters Dream
The Hunters Dream is a home base of sorts (just like in the video game!) The Hunters Dream allows you to reset your heath and spend Blood echoes on card upgrades! Card upgrades will allow you to remove one card in your deck for one in the display. Using Blood Echoes to replace cards is a core of the game that helps you, as a hunter, increase your power over the course of the scenarios.
There are two ways to end the game: completing the main mission or reaching the end of the time track. The time track increases at the end of every round and whenever any hunter goes to the Hunters Dream. You have to face the consequences of being slain. Every time the time track hits a red space, monsters will respawn with their health reset. The time tracker gives that feeling of intensity and balance.
Who Will Like it?
If you like Bloodborne the video game, then you will like Bloodborne: The board game. This adaptation stays faithful to the original. It’s a fun campaign game as well with expanding options and decision, similar to Arkham Horror 3rd Edition.
What I Think
Bloodborne: the board game was a pleasant surprise. I anticipated getting bored with the mechanics and being unengaged by the story. We purchased the game for the miniatures after all. But it packed a punch and came out swinging.
What did I like?
One of the biggest concerns I have with campaign games is that monsters can often feel static. Their actions are repetitive. Bloodborne manages to avert this by having each creature have three actions, two different sides, and three potential speeds that they can attack at. The speed component of combat is brilliant because there are no guarantees and it keeps you on your toes or hoping for just the right monster action.
Another aspect of Bloodborne that works very well is dying. Campaign games usually don’t handle characters deaths well. Character deaths and character elimination are almost always intertwined. Bloodborne subverts this through the Hunters dream and the time tracker. It’s still gives the players a negative consequence for dying but doesn’t stop the game for anyone. While dying may lead to failing a scenario – I love that you keep all upgrades received during the game. It mimics video game grinding very well.
What didn’t I like?
While I love the miniatures, they are giant. Some miniatures have a base the size of a space on the tile. This can leave the board feeling a little crowded especially if everything coalesces in one location.
The other issue I noticed is that the boss characters seem a little too overpowered. The times fighting against the first Boss felt hopeless considering their abilities to hit hard and regain heath on each reset. But maybe this will even out further into the game so I am reserving judgement for now.
Bloodborne: the board game is a great campaign game to play if you like to fight monsters and solve puzzles. The swings of good turns can feel incredibly powerful while bad turns can be frustrating. I will advise you: be prepared to lose, because it’ll happen. And that’s okay.
Rulebook/Learning the Game
This rulebook isn’t great. Some of the verbiage is inconsistent and can cause contradictions. Luckily, there are resources online that can help clear up any confusion. But that does require some work. Learning the game was fairly simple but the combat system took the longest time to get used to. After playing a card, it feels natural to discard it but that’s just not the way of this game.
On our very first play, we made some pretty severe mistakes. Mainly we forgot when events triggered and didn’t move the story forward when we really needed to. We were far too caught up in one mini-boss to notice anything else happening on the board. So we ended up restarting. The second first time around was much better. While there was still some hiccups in play here or there, we have a great time.
After the first play, I became hyper-vigilant about events triggering. I tried to focus on the main mission. There is very little time to explore the side missions. In my opinion, the main mission should always be front and center but I can help feel like I’m missing out on content.
Bloodborne is a really engaging and fun campaign game. It makes me excited to explore the depths of the macabre world. I think this style of game is more in my wheelhouse than I would like to admit. I am definitely looking forward to playing more scenarios and testing the longevity of the game.
*See my rating scale Here