Fear is an interesting thing. Some people are terrified of heights, some of enclosed spaces, some of needles. It affects us differently and some fears seem irrational to outsiders looking in. Some genius at Capcom noticed this and considered what the most common irrational fear was and decided to slap it into the Resident Evil 2 original video game. And now, Steamforged Games have lovingly hosted it within Resident Evil 2: The Board Game as a mini boss expansion in Murder from Above!
The Murder from Above Expansion looks at your fears of flying annoyances and throws them straight at you. Like I said, fear is interesting... You might brave zombies and the likes, but a moth can send some people into a full-blown panic!
Naturally, like with anything big and nasty, the Giant Moth mini boss is going to be an unavoidable obstacle within the game. Don't let the term 'mini-boss' fool you though, this thing will cause you major problems! The play style in Scenario 7A is already complicated enough, and this creepy-crawly isn't going to make things any easier. It can poison you, it will attack at every opportunity it gets, and it's relentless. The room it begins in doesn't do you any favours either, being open and large enough for the Giant Moth to dart around and cause chaos. It will cause you problems and no doubt KO a character or two, but it's far too iconic to miss out from the game!
The Giant Moth can seem like one of the most misplaced, unexplained and, at the same time, terrifying encounters in the Resident Evil universe. However, within the video game franchise, it is wholly recognised as one of the most memorable boss encounters. The folk at Umbrella were kind enough to stick the T-Virus into more than just people and dogs, and when they did their aim was to make Bio Organic Weapons (BOWs) to sell in mass produce.
The Giant Moth mini-boss is an escaped failure of those experiments that has grown and mutated to unimaginable proportions. But failure doesn't mean useless; it's poisonous, deadly, and hungry... and you've got to get through its nest! The addition of this monstrosity is key in the reflecting the true theme of the video game counterpart and it will cause as many problems as it did in the game!
The zombie crow enemies added into the Murder from Above Expansion are equally as dangerous. Like so many nasties added through expansions, these enemies only spawn on tension deck cards. This means you can't preempt their location or attacks, which in the heat of the moment can cause a lot of problems! Luckily, only one red tension card spawns them, unluckily their special attack spawns more! Your blessing is that they don't move, but at the same time they can't be pushed. It's hard to say how troublesome these enemies are... It's all very situational, but generally speaking, your situation is probably pretty bleak (this is Resident Evil 2: The Board Game after all!).
Important Play Considerations!
This particular expansion is an odd one; the campaign play with this mini-boss is wildly different to the free choice play. When we played it as part of a free choice scenario, the tension cards we drew actually worked in our favour and caused the Giant Moth to leave its room and enter a long corridor. This meant we could pummel it with grenade rounds for an easy kill. This is not true to the Resident Evil game style.
On top of that, we had full ammo from the free choice set-up. If you are going to include it in a free play scenario, I'd seriously recommend you don't allow it to leave its spawn room. In the campaign however, the Giant Moth is far more intimidating as you'll be going in half prepared and suffering from everything you've previously experienced, as was intended!
Component Quality and Replay-ability
The models for both the Giant Moth and crow enemies are fantastic. I'd even go as far as to say they're better quality than the models from the core game, and they're pretty spot on already! The consideration for the mechanics behind both new enemies is well thought out, with neither being in a hurry to kill you but at the same time both being a constant threat.
The crow enemies in particular add a tonne of reply-ability in terms of players developing their own scenarios, as they spawn on tension cards in the main game but could just as easily be included in a custom set up. Combine that with the extra mini-boss and you've got way more opportunity to play!
Engagement and Player Interaction
The crow enemies are relentless and will amp players' engagement up; if you've had one spawn, it only takes a special attack tension card for more to appear. And don't forget, ink ribbons reset the tension deck so that original spawn card will be on its way back again!
The player interaction for the mini-boss is a different story... As far as the engagement goes, yours should be on point (if you're in the campaign). The game still requires a tremendous amount of focus and consideration as to what your co-survivors are doing and how well they're surviving. This boss's forte is poison, and you'll be lacking blue herbs in the scenario he rocks up in. That being said, scenario 7A is a split scenario, meaning until players in the first spawn have unlocked the doors, they can't communicate with the players in second spawn. This means you've really got to keep an eye on everyone else and ensure that you're focused on the task at hand. That bug-eyed creep will kill your chances of winning if you dawdle.
Final Thoughts on the Murder from Above Expansion
The Murder from Above Expansion was clearly made for the fans; an inclusion of the iconic encounters to truly reflect the video game feel. Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is already a great reflection of its video game counterpart, but this expansion really captures some of those more iconic moments within the story!
I can guarantee that during their first play of the original, no one in their right mind entered that computer room expecting to be crushed by that poison spitting, winged beast, and I doubt any game will capture that blind panic like the Giant Moth encounter.