I’m finally getting around to writing about Bloodborne the Card Game by Cool Mini or Not, even though I’ve been playing this one for a minute.
If you know me in real life, then you already know I’m a huge video gamer, and that Bloodborne is a favorite of mine. However, even though I’m into both video games and tabletop games, there are very, very few instances when I think there should ever be a crossover between these two things. For the most part, video game-to-tabletop game crossovers are just a giant mess. The experience is totally different, characters or themes seem pigeon-holed in, the gameplay of the tabletop version makes no sense when compared to the gameplay of the video game, etc, etc, etc. Bloodborne the Card Game, however, gets it right. And it’s so good.
What makes Bloodborne work is two things. 1) it’s actually a good game. This should be expected, given it was designed by Eric Lang and published by CMON, but it also just manages to be a really fun semi co-operative game that takes under an hour. Players are given the role of one of the Hunters – sort of pseudo vampire warriors who battle their way through the city of Yarnham to unravel its mysteries and defeat the big bad. Players work together to do this, however, there is an element of PvP in that players are trying to come out on top. Players simultaneously select their actions in secret. This means you could just go all out and try to smash the bad guy. But a much more winning strategy is to think of what your opponents are going to do, and fit your action in with that so you score the most Blood Echoes (victory points) while making sure they take as much of the brunt of the monster’s attack as possible. And, hey, if your cannon happens to injure your fellow Hunters, then maybe they shouldn’t have been in the way, am I right? Bloodborne the Card Game handles its PvP within the co-operative nature of the game very, very well, and it’s really the most interesting part. What’s truly remarkable, however, is the fact that the game manages to clock in at under an hour, putting it within the “filler game” category, in my book. You can get a couple friends together and play it in-between commercial breaks while you’re watching your favorite show together, play it between dinner and cocktails, or throw down the gauntlet several times in one night, if you so desire.
Bloodborne the Card Game is also successful because 2) it manages to remain surprisingly faithful to its source material of the Playstation 4 game. This is not only evident in the artwork and the great-looking components, but also in the gameplay. Bloodborne and it’s spiritual siblings, the Dark Souls series, are all about risk-taking and pressing your luck (Bloodborne to a greater extent). The video game is notoriously difficult by today’s standards, and there aren’t many “save points” for you to keep your progress. When you die, your character really suffers… and you as the player have to go alllll the way back to killing those same nasty monsters that did you in. The game does reward risk-taking, however, as the chief way to heal your character’s health bar is by quickly inflicting damage right after you’ve taken it.
This sort of risk-reward schema is translated into the tabletop game beautifully by adding in a press-your-luck mechanic. Bloodborne the Card Game unfolds — as many tabletop games do — over several rounds. Each round is represented by fighting a single enemy. Players have the option to bow out of the fight, however, by returning to “The Hunter’s Dream” – a sort of safe haven where players can bank the victory points they’ve earned so far. However, doing so means you don’t get to participate in the fight, and could potentially miss out on precious Blood Echoes. The punishment for dying in the card game seems less severe than in the video game, but that’s all for the best. Bloodborne the Card Game handles its own consequences very well – it’s fun without being too punishing.
Apparently, Eric Lang tweeted earlier this year that he’s working on an expansion, and I am beyond stoked. Take all my money. My body is ready.
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,