Not content with the results of the Hunt, or perhaps desperate for more of the forbidden knowledge many seek, the Hunters crave more. The Blood Moon still hangs high, and the Hunt must go on. For some, the need to spill blood and vanquish beasts drives them mad. Others are driven to seek challenge in deeper locations, including the hidden depths beneath Old Yharnam. Once home to the ancient race of Pthumerians, those who were thought to commune with Old Ones, the Chalice Dungeons are now all that remain there. Treasures and trophies await, alongside unspeakable horrors and terrifying beasts. The Chalice Dungeon expansion adds a new host of opportunities and challenges to Bloodborne The Board Game, and takes around 60 minutes to play.
The Chalice Dungeon expansion for Bloodborne The Board Game works as an alternative style of play for the core game. It runs a similar system of exploration and combat, but without an overarching story. No campaign and a more streamlined style of play. You enter, complete a single objective, then take on the boss. The gameplay's core mechanics are the same for players as they would be in the core game, with players running Hunters the same way they would in a campaign. This objective doesn't change for any Chalice Dungeon experience, but whole system works with any enemies, bosses or Hunters chosen from any module or expansion. What's more, is that this expansion includes five bosses unique to the video game's Chalice Dungeons and unavailable to any other expansions. There's even scope for a competitive mode.
To play this expansion, players choose Hunters and enemies to use in the Hunt. It runs over the course of one play, with no real follow up. However, nothing is so simple. Players can choose up to three Offerings to use in the Hunt. These modify the players' experience by applying challenging modifiers for players to take on. Players can remove these in the Hunt by discarding consumable items in the Dream. Doing so removes the Offering's effect and grants players three free upgrades to their deck. Before any Hunt begins, the arena tile should be put aside ready for the boss, and a tile deck should be constructed based on player numbers. This will always include the two arena gate levers, the arena gate, and random tiles based on the number of players.
The other new danger players must traverse are the dungeon's many traps. These range from ambushes to dart traps and are avoidable with the right cards. Anytime a Hunter lays a new tile through movement, they must also resolve a trap card. The majority of these are nothing and have no effect, but some can be quite vicious and even have long-lasting effects for players to contend with.
This expansion hosts no campaigns and is an opportunity for players to create their own scenarios. This means any three enemies can be added to the game, with unlimited capacity for mixing and matching. Moreover, the idea is that players choose a boss at random from their available pool, adding an element of randomness to the game. The objective for players is to explore Chalice Dungeonand find the two arena gate levers. Interacting with these two opens the arena gate and enables players access to the arena. Entering the arena begins the showdown with the boss, chosen at random. Defeating the boss before the Hunt track expires is a Hunter win. Having the Hunt Track reach the end before the boss is defeated is a loss.
How It Handles?
The Chalice Dungeon expansion offers a new experience to Bloodborne The Board Game. It has less commitment attached to it due to the lack of a campaign but is equally binge-worthy. You set up, choose your varieties of enemies, the boss (if you have a hankering for something specific), and your Hunters. Set up accordingly and then, boom, the Hunt is on!
Tell Me What's Your Flavour...
This expansion gives so much scope for freedom. Any enemies. Whichever boss. A plethora of Hunters to throw into the bowels of the dungeon, too. It's an all you can eat buffet of replayability! What's more impressive is how some of the smaller expansions to the core game provide more tiles for this expansion. It's an expansion that'll keep getting fed into. Whether that's through more enemy models, or through the other extras.
Chalice Dungeon includes a fair few nasties and bosses to use. You've got the hideously gargantuan Fluorescent Flowers, the Hunting Dogs covered in blades, and the Keeper of the Old Lords returns as a regular enemy too. These models are grotesquely detailed and are a painters dream. Many iconic bosses from the dungeon itself make an unwelcomed return to torture you, and they are as tough as you remember! I have got a few unpleasant experiences with the Beast Possessed Soul and Undead Giant. And that's just to name a few!
What surprises me about Bloodborne The Board Game is how true to form it is with its lack of difficulty settings. Like any Soulsborne video game, it's a case of entering a world and contending with its innards. Too hard? Tough luck. However, this expansion gives the opportunity for some scalable difficulty. Certain enemies, combinations of enemies and even combinations of Hunters mixed in can make or break a run. On the other hand, you could pump the difficulty to 11 by adding a real set of nasties.
Many Hands Make Light Work
The core game of Bloodborne The Board Game can become messy with two many Hunters, if disorganised. Things need to happen in specific orders, what with insight missions and activating events on certain tiles. And the clock counting down against you adding an extra need to hustle. It can be a bit much without proper teamwork. Here, however, it works. By having a single objective to complete, there's lots of scope to split up and utilise the space. There's no convoluted chronology to the mission. Just two levers, a gate and a boss. You crack the levers, get to the gate, and pound the boss to within an inch of their life. Easy, right?
Using a few Hunters is a surefire way to get into the boss area quicker, but also means the boss's health is a bit more pumped. That said, taking on this objective as a singular Hunter doesn't leave for a promising outcome. It's a big task when put into perspective. There's too many tiles, too many enemies and too many variables for one line Hunter to take on. Add a boss onto the end of that and it's either going to be a tight win or an obvious loss. If you're going for solo experiences with this one, I'd always run two Hunters.
Is It Really Collateral?
For a game centred on cooperation, communication and working together, for it to be true to form it needed a competitive element. An opportunity for players to compete, fight and ruin one another's chances to win. Luckily, this game contains covers for players chock full of the rules for competitive play. This enables players to hide their motives, weapon's conditions and items. Secrecy is paramount if you're intent on wrecking someone's chances of winning! Of course, the competitive edge is only going to be for certain fans. Something about a cooperative game becoming bloodthirsty is uncomfortable for some. It becomes less about the Hunt and more about ruining someone else's day. But hey, whatever you're in to!
If you're enjoying Bloodborne the Board Game as much as I am, then the Chalice Dungeon expansion is, in my opinion, an essential addition to the core game. It unlocks infinite play and a more streamlined experience. The focus is removed from a story and put onto a boss to take on. A straightforward activity centred on cooperation and engaging in custom scenario. The competitive extra playstyle is available to those who fancy a more competitive edge. Adding in more enemies and bosses is never a bad thing, but since this expansion integrates all past (and future) content, it's a sure-fire hit!