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Fury of Dracula (Third/Fourth Edition)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Thoughts after first game (from a FoD newbie) rss

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Edward B.
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I had the chance to play a three-player game of Fury of Dracula recently. This was the first time anyone had played any incaranation of the game. I had read the rules the night before, but we had to reference them fairly frequently. Partly because I hadn’t read through them thoroughly enough and partly because there were omissions in the rulebook, or rules that I did not think were made clear.

Me, “Martin,” and “Michael” decided to roll dice to see who controlled Dracula, with Martin taking the role of the evil count. I took Van Helsing and Lord Galdramadingdong (whose name I could never pronounce correctly), with Michael taking Mina and Dr. John.

Set up and rules explanation took about as long as I expect for a game of this depth and length. It wasn’t excessive, but neither was it particularly fast.

Myself and Michael scoured Europe for Dracula. We focused our search on the areas around Germany, France and Spain, although we also ventured into northern Italy and into the eastern territories just west of Castle Dracula. Despite making frequent use of Mina’s ability to sense Dracula’s presence, we found absolutely nothing for a week.

Although somewhat frustrating, this was also somewhat fun as we discussed where Dracula could possibly be hiding. At one point, I was absolutely certain (wrongly) that Dracula must have traveled around the northern coasts of Spain and France as it appeared this was the only course of action he could have taken with what he had discovered thus far.

Dracula matured a vampire with a rumor token on it, bumping his influence up to 7 right away – over halfway to a victory!

We finally got a lucky break. Dracula had just moved onto sea for the first time. And we happened to have an event card that forced Dracula to reveal a sea location, which in this case also revealed Dracula himself… in the Adriatic Sea! Through some deductive reasoning, we were able to determine that the only place Dracula could have came from was Valona, meaning that he had only two ports to move to - both in Italy.

Mina was at sea near England at this point, but all other hunters were near the vicinity. Yes!!! We would finally corner the count!

And then Dracula played another sea card… why did I not see this coming? But I didn’t.

Unsure of where he would go (west or back east), we split up with Van Helsing and Lord Godalming turning east and Dr. John and Mina to the west. Godalming was a bit farther away than Van Helsing and was not there when he finally encountered a hideout of Dracula’s - which was on the next to last track. Thanks to an event card, the hunters were able to travel at night, which is when Van Helsing came across Dracula's trail.

Dracula chose not to reveal the encounter, which led us to believe it was a vampire. And, indeed, it was. Van Helsing foolishly spent his next day action supplying in hopes of getting a good event card to defeat the vampire or possibly Dracula. So when he searched and found the undead creature, it was night.

The old man had a garlic necklace and a knife. Alas, because of the vampire's heightened powers of the night, he smacked aside Van Helsing's weapon aside like it was a child's toy (discarding it), clawed the old man's face and then escaped into the night! Van Helsing had wounded the creature severely (one life left), but there was not enough time. The next Dracula phase, the vampire slid off the track and matured, bringing Dracula's influence to 10.

Dracula played a card attempting to stymie Lord Godalming from utilizing the rail system, but it was canceled by a Good Luck event card. Still, the aristocrat was trailing behind Van Helsing, who trudged forward in an attempt to ensure the count would not escape.

Van Helsing arrived at Constanta on the eastern coast, only to have Dracula play a Wild Horses event, redirecting Van Helsing to nearby Varna... where Dracula was waiting and revealed himself!

Not only that, but the count had a hideout with an encounter in the location. Rats poured forth from the streets, harrying Van Helsing before the count attacked him.

Van Helsing was once again ill prepared, with only a Holy Communion card (the one that deals a whopping 4 damage but is then discarded). Dracula hissed in fury as his undead flesh burned from the holy attack, but the old man was injured from fighting Dracula's minion earlier and was no match. He attempted to escape once, but was stopped. He turned to fight with his fists but fell to Dracula's evil might and unnatural strength.

Me and the other hunter were disheartened, but both agreed we kind of wanted to play again to kick the crap out of Dracula and teach him a lesson. But that game was a bit long to play back to back sessions and we didn’t have the time.


What I liked

I liked hunting for Dracula. Despite have a difficult time coming across his trail, it felt like we were devising a plan and trekking across Europe after an evil presence.

I liked the variety in hunter abilities. Each one had something unique to contribute.

I liked the combat. The cards produce a nice flow and it felt like the battles told their own little stories within the game.

I liked the map and art.

I liked the pace of the game with the day and night cycles. The Dracula player mentioned that it seemed like our hunter turns took forever sometimes. And I think that will always be there to some degree as the hunters have more to consider and to do than Dracula. However, I could see that once you get the game down, it should move at a good pace with perhaps some lengthier turns when the hunters try to devise a strategy.

I liked the theme. This game felt like we were hunting for Dracula and fighting vampires across old Europe. It was just cool.

What I didn’t like

Rules clarity.

There are already several threads on here about ambiguities with the rules. There are people defending them and attacking them. My personal experience, as a new player, was that the rules are confusing in several places and not particularly clear.

*Most* of the rules are contained within the two rulebooks. After I read through them several more times back to cover, I had most of my questions answered. However, one major rule is not made clear at all in the book – that vampire encounters do mature even after they’ve been used as an ambush. In fact, the rules seem to imply that this is not the case as it does explicitly state that if an encounter card is used as an ambush then its matured effect may not be used.

The rulebook also doesn’t spell out whether hunters can discard item cards and draw new ones or not.

The rulebook isn’t so bad that you can’t play the game. It could just be a lot better. I’d rate it a 6 or 7 out of 10. Like I said, it's hard to find some information. It lacks clarity on some rulings and a few pieces of information just are not there.

Aside from the rules, the Dracula player mentioned that he often had to wait a fairly long time for us hunters to take our turns, whereas his turns went by fairly quick and that this was aggravating at times. I can see this being a negative factor, depending on the players.

Some may enjoy the idea of setting back and watching hunters flounder and devise plans while others may just want them to get on with it so they can take their turn.

Things I’m considering

From the one game we played, it appears that Dracula had the upper hand. He has several ways to gain influence and, indeed, has only to run out the clock. The hunters only have one way to win: defeat Dracula.

Although I can definitely see how the hunters should start the game spreading out and then come back together to defeat Dracula. I could tell from the few combats we had that Dracula is going to have problems going up against two or more well equipped hunters – especially in day time.

The dawn/dusk turns confused me a bit at first, but they are essentially there only to mark when combat occurs with Dracula. That’s it. And for that, they work pretty good. Although it may not make much sense why hunters would go after Dracula at night or vice versa, it does work in a game sense in that the aggressor will be disadvantaged. Hunters can mitigate this by being well prepared and ganging up on Dracula. Dracula can mitigate this by choosing to attack lone and weakened hunters.

The game length *may* stop me from bringing it to the table in the future. I’m not sure. I’ve only played one game, so right now I’m wanting to try it out more, which is good. I think it took us a little over three hours or so with setup and looking up rules, which isn't too bad. I don't think this game will outstay its welcome at two to three hours.
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Brian Morris
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One thing after two plays I want for the game is a good rules reference sheet. For example there are a good number of things that advance Dracula's influence. However what those are are spread through the rulebook.

In terms of playing Dracula there can be a bit of downtime when you have new players as hunters especially. My solution is to taunt them. Remember, you're evil so act the part. devil
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John Gant
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Fun review Ed. Thanks!

--JokerRulez
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Mark Turner
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NeedsNewDice wrote:

However, one major rule is not made clear at all in the book – that vampire encounters do mature even after they’ve been used as an ambush. In fact, the rules seem to imply that this is not the case as it does explicitly state that if an encounter card is used as an ambush then its matured effect may not be used.
Given this, how do we know that they do mature? Was it an FFG clarification? (I remember people saying this, but can't find the reference).

cheers

M
 
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Randal Divinski
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MrMT wrote:
NeedsNewDice wrote:

However, one major rule is not made clear at all in the book – that vampire encounters do mature even after they’ve been used as an ambush. In fact, the rules seem to imply that this is not the case as it does explicitly state that if an encounter card is used as an ambush then its matured effect may not be used.
Given this, how do we know that they do mature? Was it an FFG clarification? (I remember people saying this, but can't find the reference).
Two things are conflated here. When any encounter is used to AMBUSH, the mature effect is ignored. Most encounters other than vampires are discarded at that point. But the rules are very clear that the vampire, if it survives combat, persists. While not in ambush mode, it can then be matured like any other encounter.
 
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Randal Divinski
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This is a very nice session report and review. You told the story of your game, and did a great job explaining what worked and didn't work for your group.

Two things in particular stuck out. First, your impression of the combat system: "The cards produce a nice flow and it felt like the battles told their own little stories within the game." That is a great description of a game system working properly, and from what I have seen, one area where 3rd edition has improved upon what came before.

Something else you said is a bit more troubling: "I liked the pace of the game with the day and night cycles. The Dracula player mentioned that it seemed like our hunter turns took forever sometimes."

I think the 3E turn structure is another improvement over the 2E, and it seems to work for you.

The Dracula boredom factor -- and overall game length -- however are much more worrying. This was a problem with 2E as well. The first game can really drag, not only from a rules point of view, but from the process of the players developing a coherent strategy. A second game with the same players would almost certainly go smoother, but as you say, it's too long to replay immediately. So there is a danger that this great game won't hit the table again.

What can be done? I have a few ideas.

1) It's really important for one player to have done a LOT of homework to understand the mechanics and keep things moving. Moreover, for a group's first game, that player should be Dracula -- not because Dracula is harder to play, but because he can do the rules helping during the hunter turn.

2) To keep the game moving, the hunters have to be very economical with their time. Hunters should not wait for their turn to start figuring out their moves -- they need to be working that through while the other hunters are moving. (With 2 hunter players it would probably work best for game flow if one player took hunter 1 and 3, and the other took 2 and 4.) For the good of the game, they should play with a sense of urgency, and try to move quickly. The hunters as a group should take responsibility for keeping the hunter turn overall as brief as possible.

3) I've had the thought that perhaps it would possible to design a game scenario that could be played in 30 minutes as an introduction. It would be a "game in progress" set up to demonstrate all the key concepts over the first turn, and then have the group play two more turns open-ended, to get the feel of it, then terminate it and start a real game. (Or maybe this is just a training video that someone makes that players watch before their first game.)

Perhaps others have ideas for getting this game off to a good start? It's biggest weakness perhaps in that this won't happen on its own.
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Mark Turner
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randiv wrote:
MrMT wrote:
NeedsNewDice wrote:

However, one major rule is not made clear at all in the book – that vampire encounters do mature even after they’ve been used as an ambush. In fact, the rules seem to imply that this is not the case as it does explicitly state that if an encounter card is used as an ambush then its matured effect may not be used.
Given this, how do we know that they do mature? Was it an FFG clarification? (I remember people saying this, but can't find the reference).
Two things are conflated here. When any encounter is used to AMBUSH, the mature effect is ignored. Most encounters other than vampires are discarded at that point. But the rules are very clear that the vampire, if it survives combat, persists. While not in ambush mode, it can then be matured like any other encounter.
Wait... So if a vampire ambushed it can't mature, but if it had non-ambush combat, it can? Is this how you're interpreting the rules?
 
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Álvaro González
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No, I think you got this wrong. Randiv has described the problem suitably.

Most of the encounters, when revealed, are discarded. Vampire encounters work differently. The Dracula player may either choose to ambush the hunter with the vampire encounter, or he may choose to let the vampire be still. If the Dracula player decides not to ambush and the hunter doesn't disturb the Vampire, the encounter will eventually mature and...¡Boom! Terror spreads and Dracula gains influence and nears the end of the game.

In the case that the Dracula player ambushes with that vampire encounter, or the hunter investigates the encounter and finds the dormant vampire, then a fight ensues. If that vampire is not defeated, it will progress down the trail until maduration, with the same result as above.

Thematically it makes sense. It is therefore the duty of any good hunter to hunt down and destroy any vampire they may find. It is a great irresponsibility to let a vampire live on and grow. If they let a vampire grow powerful (mature), then great calamities will take place. In a sense, the whole game is the process of maduration of Dracula itself. If the hunters don't kill Dracula and they let the Fury of Dracula unfold, his presence becomes so powerful that the whole world falls under his influence.
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Mark Turner
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aerofosfo wrote:

No, I think you got this wrong. Randiv has described the problem suitably.

Most of the encounters, when revealed, are discarded. Vampire encounters work differently. The Dracula player may either choose to ambush the hunter with the vampire encounter, or he may choose to let the vampire be still. If the Dracula player decides not to ambush and the hunter doesn't disturb the Vampire, the encounter will eventually mature and...¡Boom! Terror spreads and Dracula gains influence and nears the end of the game.

In the case that the Dracula player ambushes with that vampire encounter, or the hunter investigates the encounter and finds the dormant vampire, then a fight ensues. If that vampire is not defeated, it will progress down the trail until maduration, with the same result as above.
Great... This is how I understood it.

It would be ridiculous to differentiate between vampires that did or didn't ambush.
 
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Edward B.
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MrMT wrote:


Wait... So if a vampire ambushed it can't mature, but if it had non-ambush combat, it can? Is this how you're interpreting the rules?
That is how I interpreted it originally because the rulebook doesn't specify otherwise.
 
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