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Subject: Review after first play rss

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April Bolin Stoner
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Cary
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Review: Fury of Dracula

I played this game for the first time on February 19, 2006. It had been available at our local game shop for less than 24 hours before my friend Craig picked up a copy. (This is typical. He buys lots of cool games before I even see them!) Since Craig had played it already on the day he purchased it, he was Dracula. We started with three players, with a fourth person joining in about 2/3s of the way through the game.

First, major bias warning: I love vampire themes. I read books, watch movies, have been part of the Masquerade role playing for some time, and even enjoy Dawn Under (mostly for the vampire theme), in spite of it being basically a memory game (which I suck at). I also like deduction games. I don’t typically like combat aspects of games (role playing being an exception), I typically do not like games that take too long (more than 3 hours), and though I don’t dislike cooperative games, I’d usually rather play something where I am competing with others.

First Impressions:
I was taken with the quality and detail of the components. A previous reviewer lamented the lack of artwork on the cards, but that’s not something I generally care too much about. The miniatures were easy to distinguish to me, but one of my fellow players kept confusing his (Lord Godalming) with mine (Van Helsing). This lead to at least turns where he moved my piece instead of his, causing some confusion. The mechanics were pretty simple to grasp, especially since I’ve played (and really liked) Scotland Yard.

About characters: I played Van Helsing mostly because he was the character with whom I was most familiar. After one playing, I think I like his ability to still take cards after encounters and extra life’s blood the best. Still, Mina’s ability to take an extra card and Dr. Seward’s ability to hold on to an extra card make them a powerful team, if the persons playing these hunters can stay close together. Lord Godalming’s ability to reroll would have been more powerful if he had been brought into combat more often, but every time he had an encounter, it seemed to be bats (which incapacitated him). I am sure that as we learn more about the hunters, these abilities will become much more useful.

Dracula: It seems to me that the person playing Dracula needs to be exceptionally good and careful not to make a single misstep. Even with our naiveté about this game, we still managed to win. We didn’t even sweat too much until the very end. I’ve been told that the three games played locally have all ended with Dracula dead. This doesn’t bode well for unexpected outcomes. One of the best aspects of Shadows of Camelot is that the game is evenly balanced with good and evil and both sides have a good chance of winning. I want to play a few more times before I deem this one unbalanced, but after an initial playing, it did seem to be that way.

About searching and traveling: initially we were pretty clueless about how to figure out where Dracula was. We were just bumbling about, desperately trying to find a city Dracula had visited. We didn’t really get the event cards we needed to help us out and at first it seemed like Dracula was going to romp through unscathed. It probably didn’t help that most of the event cards that were for Dracula seemed to be in the first part of the deck. I would recommend that the hunters really move through the event deck. In spite of the fact that you’re helping Dracula, you are helping yourself more. There are some nice cards to help you figure out his position, and unless you get lucky, it’s probably going to take one of those cards to find him the first time. I found it difficult to see the rail lines in some cases. They are either white or yellow and the map colors are close enough to make it difficult to see in some cases. I kept thinking I could take a train only to discover that I wasn’t in a city with a rail line. Traveling by sea is tough – you pretty much give up your entire turn to do this. It’s not too pretty for Dracula either (he loses life’s blood).

About combat: The combat in this game was something I was dreading. I spent several turns avoiding combat, but once I found myself unable to avoid any longer, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that combat was actually quite fun here. I typically hate combat because with any dice, I usually role ones and twos. I probably enjoyed the combat here at least in part because the guy playing Dracula is the only person I know who consistently rolls worse than me. (See Age of Renaissance session report from 2-11-06 for a great example). Still the cards to play, the combat system, and the event cards to assist with combat were all well done and fun to play.

Things I didn’t like:
The light colors used for the rail lines were difficult for me to see. Taking the event cards from the bottom of the deck took some getting used to. I don’t like this, but I can’t figure out another way around it short of a card dispenser. I’m also concerned that the game may be unbalanced against Dracula, which would leave us pretty board after a few plays. I hope that as we learn more about this game, folks will learn how to use Dracula’s powers to keep the game challenging.

Things I liked:
As you might expect after learning of my love of vampire themes, the game theme was my favorite part of this. Combined with the fact that this was a deduction game, I really liked this game in spite of the fact that it had combat, was cooperative, and took a lot longer to play than I like. The cards were fun to get and play. One of the nicest things to consider is that players who might have to drop out or show up late can still play without messing the game up at all. (A Shadows game at Thanksgiving last year was thrown by a player having to leave halfway through the game).

Overall I enjoyed this game and am looking forward to a second play.






 
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Matthew Cary
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aprilbolin wrote:
I’m also concerned that the game may be unbalanced against Dracula, which would leave us pretty board after a few plays. I hope that as we learn more about this game, folks will learn how to use Dracula’s powers to keep the game challenging.


Dracula isn't that much tougher than a well equipped hunter backed with saved event cards. And it is 4 against 1. Agressive Draculas are Stake fodder.

That being said, in Playtests Dracula managed a good win percentage. The key is to stay away from the Hunters, mature Vampires, and do your best to play mind games with them via you trail. Use wolf form to skip a space so they think you went a different direction (Cause there should be an encounter here if he went this way) or follow around 2 spaces behind a hunter (I've already looked in Paris, he isn't there.)
Let lightning, minions, and the dreaded undead Quincy wear the hunters down before you descend.

This is a game where Dracula can't afford as many mistakes as the hunters and his playing style really sets the tone of the game. Right now we are seeing a bunch of reviews based on first plays. I would argue that until you have seen Dracula's powers in use a few times you probably won't make the best use of them.
 
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John W
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I had quite the opposite experience after first play:
While I also love the theme (my wife even moreso), I seriously can not imagine how a Dracula player can possible lose this game if he is trying to win.

Between the repeatable abuse of the Wolf Form, his ability to be multiple steps ahead of the hunters, him almost always having multiple routes avaiable to him that the hunters must continually do process-of-elimination on, him having more cards to bring to bear than any one hunter (which gives him an overwhelming advantage over 1 Hunter), and his ability to always escape with the Mist Form, I see no way that the Hunters shouls win this game, other than incompetence, or extreme luck that they can somehow dictate to Dracula that they catch up to him during the day.
Of course, they can't do that, since if they hold off from attacking Dracula at night, he can slip away from them.
It seemed the only thing going for the Hunters was they could take the rails and make ground.

Of course, whenever they do so, they aren't gonna be following his trail, which not only helps mature events, but it makes it harder to track Dracula down again....
 
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April Bolin Stoner
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Cary
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I've only played four player games, but it is my understanding that even if there are less than four people to play hunters, all four hunters are supposed to be used...

April
 
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Alex Rockwell
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reapersaurus wrote:
Between the repeatable abuse of the Wolf Form, his ability to be multiple steps ahead of the hunters, him almost always having multiple routes avaiable to him that the hunters must continually do process-of-elimination on, him having more cards to bring to bear than any one hunter (which gives him an overwhelming advantage over 1 Hunter), and his ability to always escape with the Mist Form, I see no way that the Hunters shouls win this game, other than incompetence, or extreme luck that they can somehow dictate to Dracula that they catch up to him during the day.


How about revealing him with hypnosis, teleporting onto him with resolve, during the day, and preventing his flight with things like stormy seas and consecrated grouond markers (plus Drac's own trail).

You cant always get out with mist form, because you cant use it in the day.

For example:
1) Dracula gets revealed somehow.
2) Hunter teleports onto him.
3) Hunter uses an event to counter the protective encounter.
4) In the game I played, Hunter reduces dracula from 13 to 3 in one combat before Drac escapes (Hunter played +1 combat card and had dogs).
5) Hunters play stormy seas to prevent Drac's sea escape and long day to keep it day so Dracula cant get out with wolf form.
 
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