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Subject: Is it an improvement on 2nd Edition? rss

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Richard Would
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This is the third edition of the game, and I have now played each edition.

Please also note that nearly all my plays of each edition have been two player, and with the same player. This may mean some of the aspects you would view differently with more players.

The first edition was very good for its time, and I was still playing the game until the release of the 2nd Edition. In fact until one weekend when we went back and played the 1st edition as someone was borrowing my 2nd Ed. Copy I did not realise what a good job they had done with 2nd edition and how improved it was, making the original slow and cumbersome.
The 3rd Edition does not do the same. It changes the flavour and flow of the game. Some people will prefer this, others will not. Sadly I fall in the do not camp.

(1) Day Night Structure

The game now has a set format of going through a week of play at a time, alternating day and night steps for the Hunters and then having a Dracula turn. This seems very ‘pasted on’ to me, although the same can certainly be said of the structure in 2nd Edition. Short of event cards you cannot travel at night (even by train) and so it tries to recreate the two phases by allowing the same number of actions but restricting when you can do the action. I did like the splitting of the phases though in that it is not quite as crippling for Mina to find Dracula as all the Hunters will get a night action to resolve before Dracula can move.

For combat Day or Night is determined by the following step after Dracula moves or you move on to Dracula. However what this means is Dracula, the Lord Of The Night, only ever volunteers to attack hunters during the day. Which seems illogical. It also means that when he decides to ambush with a vampire this will nearly always occur during day. So he has not trained these creatures of the night very well. Whilst the hunters are usually finding vampires at night. Not the smartest time to go crypt hunting.

(2) Train Movement

Train movement has changed in that you need to use an action to obtain tickets. On later turns you can use tickets to move an exact number of spaces as laid out on the ticket. Quite why it takes you so long to buy an open ticket is never explained, nor why they are always so explicit on where to and from.

This works a lot worse in my opinion. You sacrifice the risk of missing a turn for losing turns getting tickets and then having no rapid catchup ability by using repeated train movement. Some will like the more structured approach of knowing precisely how far you can go but both me and my playing partner felt that you all too often could not get a ticket that was any use anyway, causing further delays than just rolling delayed over papers. Big miss and worse for us.

(3) Combat

Probably the biggest change to the game is how combat works. The first big change is that you now only fight vampires. Agents simply cause wounds. Every vampire fights as Dracula but with less wounds, although not all Vampires will fight.

As covered above day or night is now determined by the phase you are in on the day/night track. Initiative no longer applies. Instead you both play a card and compare cards. Hunter cards can cancel vampire cards. If not the vampire card effect applies, which may cancel the Hunter card. Then if it is still there you resolve the effects on the Hunter card.
In addition many of the weapons have changed, with some no longer having an effect in combat. The combat system is also critical to the game as the only way for the Hunters to win is to reduce Dracula to zero blood, and this is easily most likely to occur as a result of combat.

I am on the fence as to combat. It has lost a lot of the excitement with the cards and the way that cards are drawn and applied. It seemed a very simple system in my mind to break down. But it also plays easier and is probably more intuitive for most players and less dice reliant. I do not like losing agent combat as the two different combat styles made for an interesting choice as to weapons for Hunters. I also am concerned that with a lot of plays the combat system here will get boring and predictable whilst the dice factor always kept that element of risk in there even when you knew something was a bad choice.

(4) Victory Conditions

The game is now much simpler to determine who wins. Mainly because after 21 days of play Dracula gains points every turn meaning a win is very close for him. And the Hunters simply have one condition, kill Dracula. In my mind this makes Draculas game way too easy. Avoid Hunters, put Vampires down. Win at some point. The Hunter movement restrictions make it harder to get hold of Dracula than previously. Vampires alone do a great job of whittling down the Hunters, and there seems to be a lot more of them in the encounter set than in previous editions. When you add in the wound effects from other encounters and you can expect to lose Hunters every game. In addition there is a new mechanism of Rumour Tokens. These add to the Influence you score (which is the win condition for Dracula) when you mature a vampire and can easily score you half your final goal in one move. The emphasis is all about engaging vampires and Dracula which some will feel is what the game is about, and does probably go more back to the roots of the 1st Edition. Although in that killing vampires was a win condition changer whilst here it simply holds off the eternal darkness.

Short of luck being on the Hunters side or poor play by Dracula I feel the game is a comfortable win for Dracula. This is not what I want in a game. I want both sides to have roughly an even chance of winning. When Dracula plays to dance around the Hunters and engage and encounter them the game is ok. But this is against how Dracula should play to win. And this is the biggest problem in this edition. Against a competently played Dracula the Hunters game can be boring and disenchanting.

(5) Other Points

As covered elsewhere the rulebook is poor. The referencing is not good enough, and having a Learn To Play document that teaches you the wrong way to play is just stupid. I am on the verge of giving up with FFG games with their recent rulebooks. There are a lot of good games out there so why waste my time with ones that are doing a poor job of producing their rules? Especially from such a big name, producing worse rulebooks than they did ten years ago is a poor showing. It also means I would not be surprised to find out I have got a rule or two wrong, which is annoying as it makes it more difficult to try and be objective about the game knowing that.

The board layout is also a bit irritating. The Dracula locations go down the short side of the board. But in my experience you would usually play long side facing the player meaning that you are usually stretching across the board every turn. And from a personal perspective the colours on the regions were difficult for me to tell what was what, which with a dark board and colourblindness prevalent in the gaming world may not only apply to me.

I did like the map changes. More water was interesting, as was the new land route in to France. I also liked the new powers on the Hunters and felt they generally worked ok in the game.

The event cards are different. They seem to have toned down the best (and simply removed Evasion) but some of the new ones are also very powerful. However on the downside having Hunter specific cards was a real negative. It was ok for Van Helsing as he could give them out easily, but neither of us liked this feature.

(6) So Final Thoughts….

So overall would I suggest getting it? If you have 2nd Edition, no. I think that is the better game. If you want a balanced game for both sides to have an equal chance, possibly not. Especially if the stronger player is Dracula. But other than that, maybe. It is still a good game, it just does not hold up to the previous edition and has some frustrations in there that may irritate you less if you have not played that one. Probably a try before you buy as you may well find you enjoy it.
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Scott Forster
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rwould wrote:
For combat Day or Night is determined by the day night track and no dice roll.


2nd edition was also determined by the day/night track, but the days and nights were 3 turns long. You may be confusing this with 1st edition?

rwould wrote:
However what this means is Dracula, the Lord Of The Night, only ever volunteers to attack hunters during the day. Which seems illogical. It also means that when he decides to ambush with a vampire this will nearly always occur during day. So he has not trained these creatures of the night very well. Whilst the hunters are usually finding vampires at night. Not the smartest time to go crypt hunting.


Dracula can get a night combat with Wild Horses or by maneuvering himself in front of a hunter and letting them come to him. Hunters could do something else at night and search during the day. Yes, the game does not hold your hand and say "you always get it the way you want" but forces you to be clever or make sacrifices. That should lead to more interesting decisions, I would think.

rwould wrote:
You sacrifice the risk of missing a turn for losing turns getting tickets and then having no rapid catchup ability by using repeated train movement.


Thatt "turn" is not equivalent, though. Hunters get twice as many "turns" as they got in previous editions. You move by day, get a train ticket by night. Don't like the ticket, move by road again during the day... no time lost vs 2nd Edition's 0 result, and a far sight better than the X.

rwould wrote:
And the Hunters simply have one condition, kill Dracula.


unchanged from 2nd Edition.

rwould wrote:
The emphasis is all about engaging vampires and Dracula which some will feel is what the game is about, and does probably go more back to the roots of the 1st Edition. Although in that killing vampires was a win condition


Again, you've wandered off into 1st edition differences.

rwould wrote:
Against a competently played Dracula the Hunters game can be boring and disenchanting.


This is why we stopped playing 2nd Edition. I'm not sure I see how it's worse in 3rd? At least the game seems to be over faster and we're not putting up with a positively Byzantine combat system.

rwould wrote:
As covered elsewhere the rulebook is poor. The referencing is not good enough, and having a Learn To Play document that teaches you the wrong way to play is just stupid.


With you 100% here. The rest of your rulebook rant I disagree with, as I quite like the LTP + RRG format, but that's neither here nor there.

Thanks for the review. Might be worth cleaning up the 1st edition bits, though.
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Jeffrey Speer
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I have the complete opposite reaction to this edition as you do - 2nd edition is poor compared to what the third edition accomplishes.

Hunter movement restrictions? What are you talking about? The ticket mechanism is cleaner, and more reliable. The only restriction is that there isn't the stupid teleport. If you think moving at night is a restriction, then I guess it is, because Dracula only moves once for every two Hunter actions.

I suspect that a lot of the bias is playing like the third is the second, where fighting Dracula will basically kill him.
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Richard Would
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Thanks for the reply Scott. Right on the first point. Will clarify the rest tomorrow as on an Ipad so a sod to type and quote on!
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Richard Would
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Kaworu17 wrote:
I have the complete opposite reaction to this edition as you do - 2nd edition is poor compared to what the third edition accomplishes.

Hunter movement restrictions? What are you talking about? The ticket mechanism is cleaner, and more reliable. The only restriction is that there isn't the stupid teleport. If you think moving at night is a restriction, then I guess it is, because Dracula only moves once for every two Hunter actions.

I suspect that a lot of the bias is playing like the third is the second, where fighting Dracula will basically kill him.

I liked Evasion. If you was stupid enough to keep taking cards when you had Dracula pinned then more fool you. I was a bit torn on the Sense of Emergency move as all too often the best strategy was to wait and kill Dracula as he was close to winning. But it did also provide an effective catchup mechanism and in my experience this edition fails in that regard due to the influence awarded so rapidly to Dracula.

More reliable and less regular as you lose actions anyway by having to draw tickets and you may still not be able to move by rail. Rail movement was a surprise element in both of the previous editions, Dracula actually has more control now especially if he has fooled the hunters and is some distance away it is a lot more difficult to close.

This edition is all about the combat and I do not think that holds up with the other mechanisms.

Out of interest how have your games gone? Have you found the same Dracula dominance?
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David Williams
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rwould wrote:
More reliable and less regular as you lose actions anyway by having to draw tickets and you may still not be able to move by rail.


I'm not sure I follow. Rail essentially seems to allow you to 'bank' your night action to use as a faster movement during the day. Even if you don't get a ticket you can use right away (e.g. white number only but you only have access to yellow railways) you don't lose it, just keep it for use later on or hand it to someone else who might use it.

And since it's a pool system you know the tickets will even out in the end - unlike the roll of a die, where there's never any guarantee a run of bad luck will end.

Seems to me the ticket system is more reliable. I'm not sure what you mean by 'less regular' as that seems contradictory to being more reliable. Regularity seems like an essential element of being reliable.
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Jo Bartok
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Seems FFG destroyed another game by badly streamlining it.
LTP and RRG sucks on SWIA already.
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ionas wrote:
Seems FFG destroyed another game by badly streamlining it.
LTP and RRG sucks on ShWIA already.


This new version just got a stunning review on Fortress Ameritrash, from a serious FoD player. I think you should let things settle out a bit before leaping to conclusions.

S.

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I have played 3 times and Dracula has won three times, however I am beginning to believe this is group think - fighting as a group of hunters before was cumbersome and not needed - now it seems more likely that you need to do it to win, which no one has tried. The one game I got into a group combat I was summarily damaged for more than half my health.

If by Dominance you mean winning when I only have 2 HP left, I don't think so.
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Mark Turner
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Sagrilarus wrote:

This new version just got a stunning review on Fortress Ameritrash, from a serious FoD player.


Link?
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MrMT wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:

This new version just got a stunning review on Fortress Ameritrash, from a serious FoD player.


Link?


http://fortressat.com/forum/35-mos-eisley-cantina/102081-wha...
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Richard Would
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ionas wrote:
Seems FFG destroyed another game by badly streamlining it.
LTP and RRG sucks on SWIA already.

I don't think it is destroyed. They have done some interesting things to some of the mechanisms which some players will prefer and others will not. In particular if die rolls frustrate you then you will probably prefer the newer edition. My main issue is the balance of the game which is why I will stick with the 2nd Edition.
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Richard Would
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Kaworu17 wrote:
I have played 3 times and Dracula has won three times, however I am beginning to believe this is group think - fighting as a group of hunters before was cumbersome and not needed - now it seems more likely that you need to do it to win, which no one has tried. The one game I got into a group combat I was summarily damaged for more than half my health.

If by Dominance you mean winning when I only have 2 HP left, I don't think so.

Most of my play is two player (four out of five have been two player games). I do think there is a bigger difference than ever now in this edition as group think is a bigger problem here than previously, in particular for the rules on combat as Dracula really struggles to fight against two hunters at the same time and as combat is forced it cannot be avoided as easily.

As for winning on 2 health a win is a win I view blood as a resource, as long as I end with 1 left I am ok.
 
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Orion3T wrote:

I'm not sure I follow. Rail essentially seems to allow you to 'bank' your night action to use as a faster movement during the day. Even if you don't get a ticket you can use right away (e.g. white number only but you only have access to yellow railways) you don't lose it, just keep it for use later on or hand it to someone else who might use it.

And since it's a pool system you know the tickets will even out in the end - unlike the roll of a die, where there's never any guarantee a run of bad luck will end.

Seems to me the ticket system is more reliable. I'm not sure what you mean by 'less regular' as that seems contradictory to being more reliable. Regularity seems like an essential element of being reliable.

You need to be drawing weapons and cards to be able to win. So the idea that you can just use your night action to get tickets and day action to travel leaves you no room to draw additional items.

I would also hazard a guess that more weapons/items are 'disposable' and so to get the ones you want and keep a regular supply you seem to be doing a lot of drawing. What is nice is that you no longer seem to have an easy choice of the best items to hold on to, although it may simply be I have not played enough to have evaluated that.

I will also concede it does produce an interesting balalncing act of when to take tickets. But both myself and my regular playing partner found this quite frustrating.
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Sagrilarus wrote:

This new version just got a stunning review on Fortress Ameritrash, from a serious FoD player. I think you should let things settle out a bit before leaping to conclusions.

S.


What qualifies as a 'serious' FoD player? Over 100 plays of the 2nd Edition, god knows how many of the 1st Edition in the 16 or so years before that, and five plays of the new edition in just over a week since its release? I apologise if that is not serious enough for you.
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Mark Turner
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rwould wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:

This new version just got a stunning review on Fortress Ameritrash, from a serious FoD player. I think you should let things settle out a bit before leaping to conclusions.

S.


What qualifies as a 'serious' FoD player? Over 100 plays of the 2nd Edition, god knows how many of the 1st Edition in the 16 or so years before that, and five plays of the new edition in just over a week since its release? I apologise if that is not serious enough for you.


Oh dear.

At this point of the discussion I think it's time to unsubscribe to this thread.
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MrMT wrote:
rwould wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:

This new version just got a stunning review on Fortress Ameritrash, from a serious FoD player. I think you should let things settle out a bit before leaping to conclusions.

S.


What qualifies as a 'serious' FoD player? Over 100 plays of the 2nd Edition, god knows how many of the 1st Edition in the 16 or so years before that, and five plays of the new edition in just over a week since its release? I apologise if that is not serious enough for you.


Oh dear.

At this point of the discussion I think it's time to unsubscribe to this thread.


Nah more like maybe the reviewer has very good reasons.
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Richard Would
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MrMT wrote:

Oh dear.

At this point of the discussion I think it's time to unsubscribe to this thread.

*waves*
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Very useful review, thanks Richard. I was 100% on picking this up, but all these reports of balance issues have seriously put me off. Plus, FFG seemed to have seriously amped up the price for this one. I know it contains a handful of miniatures but still seems like they're pushing it.
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skotothalamos wrote:

2nd edition was also determined by the day/night track, but the days and nights were 3 turns long. You may be confusing this with 1st edition?


Sorry, brain dead moment. Used to have real problems in about the 10th iteration of a minis game called DBM when I had no idea which version I was playing....
skotothalamos wrote:

Dracula can get a night combat with Wild Horses or by maneuvering himself in front of a hunter and letting them come to him. Hunters could do something else at night and search during the day. Yes, the game does not hold your hand and say "you always get it the way you want" but forces you to be clever or make sacrifices. That should lead to more interesting decisions, I would think.

So Dracula ‘attacks’ by relying upon the Hunter moving on to him. In a gameplay sense it works as you can also interact with an encounter. But in a logical sense it does not. Yes, Wild Horses can apply as can a few other event interactions but they are corner case and not the general rule.

The problem with things like this is you can live with it if you like the game, but it is the minor sort of point that irritates if you are not liking the game so much.

skotothalamos wrote:

Thatt "turn" is not equivalent, though. Hunters get twice as many "turns" as they got in previous editions. You move by day, get a train ticket by night. Don't like the ticket, move by road again during the day... no time lost vs 2nd Edition's 0 result, and a far sight better than the X.

You do not get twice as many turns though as previously you had a move and an action. There are now more actions available, and they use up more time. So to travel by rail you have to previously have used an action. To encounter an encounter card now requires an action. Two things that are extra on top of the previous turn sequence.
You have to also draw cards if you want to win. And you can draw a ticket which enables no rail travel (for example a white 1 in the east).
skotothalamos wrote:


rwould wrote:
And the Hunters simply have one condition, kill Dracula.


unchanged from 2nd Edition.

But there were a lot more tools and methods to enable killing Dracula. Primarily the Sense Of Emergency rules. But also Sister Agatha combined with how combat operated in 2nd Ed made it a lot easier to whittle wounds off Dracula, especially as forcing an engagement was easier I think (more games may prove me to be wrong on this as sadly I have not had enough plays to be certain).
skotothalamos wrote:


Again, you've wandered off into 1st edition differences.

Apologies, I had probably not been clear here. I was more referencing that I feel the importance of Vampires goes back more to the 1st Edition and the pivotal role they play in the game.
skotothalamos wrote:

This is why we stopped playing 2nd Edition. I'm not sure I see how it's worse in 3rd? At least the game seems to be over faster and we're not putting up with a positively Byzantine combat system.

I like the combat in 2nd Edition mostly. It provides almost a quick win for both sides (especially the Hunters!). With the right event cards Dracula could happily engage a Hunter and feel very confident of winning, and the Szgany in the East were a force to be reckoned with. It must also be said at least three quarters of my plays of 2nd Edition have been 2 player with the same player. That means you get used to what the other player thinks and gives a real psychological stage to the game when you know the other player so well. Maybe playing more in groups would have given me a different feel as to the dynamics.
skotothalamos wrote:

With you 100% here. The rest of your rulebook rant I disagree with, as I quite like the LTP + RRG format, but that's neither here nor there.
Thanks for the review. Might be worth cleaning up the 1st edition bits, though.

I am good at ranting, sorry! I would like the format if it was done properly but instead I find the way they present it very frustrating.
Thanks for your comments, I hope the clarifications above help explain some of my ramblings.
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rwould wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:
ionas wrote:
Seems FFG destroyed another game by badly streamlining it.
LTP and RRG sucks on ShWIA already.


This new version just got a stunning review on Fortress Ameritrash, from a serious FoD player. I think you should let things settle out a bit before leaping to conclusions.

S.


What qualifies as a 'serious' FoD player? Over 100 plays of the 2nd Edition, god knows how many of the 1st Edition in the 16 or so years before that, and five plays of the new edition in just over a week since its release? I apologise if that is not serious enough for you.


    Apology accepted. But I was just indicating that it may be a bit early to declare FFG a company that destroys board games. You were not the person I was rebutting.

             S.

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rwould wrote:
Orion3T wrote:

I'm not sure I follow. Rail essentially seems to allow you to 'bank' your night action to use as a faster movement during the day. Even if you don't get a ticket you can use right away (e.g. white number only but you only have access to yellow railways) you don't lose it, just keep it for use later on or hand it to someone else who might use it.

And since it's a pool system you know the tickets will even out in the end - unlike the roll of a die, where there's never any guarantee a run of bad luck will end.

Seems to me the ticket system is more reliable. I'm not sure what you mean by 'less regular' as that seems contradictory to being more reliable. Regularity seems like an essential element of being reliable.

You need to be drawing weapons and cards to be able to win. So the idea that you can just use your night action to get tickets and day action to travel leaves you no room to draw additional items.


I will point out I haven't played, I'm just discussing this so I can understand better how it works and why you didn't like this new feature, which I think every other reviewer I have seen has a applauded.

2 points. Firstly my point was the action is not wasted, unlike if you roll an X on the train die. If the action is precious then is it not even worse that not only did you not travel, but your probability of not travelling next turn is just as bad? The ticket system guarantees you cannot possibly get such a run of bad luck, because when you draw a ticket you cannot use, that ticket is removed from the pool, increasing the probability the next one you draw will be useful.

Second, while I appreiate what you're saying about the need to supply, it always costs an action to take a ticket - day or night makes no difference in that regard. And my impression is that generally searching and drawing encounters is safer during the day, making night actions more dangerous for the hunters. So it makes sense to 'bank' the night actions in order to save using your precious daytime actions for movement. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

So I still don't follow your reasoning. The worst case scenario is you take a ticket and you cannot use it yet and have increased your odds for getting a useful ticket next turn. What fraction of tickets only have one colour of number?

Quote:
I will also concede it does produce an interesting balalncing act of when to take tickets. But both myself and my regular playing partner found this quite frustrating.


Pending an answer to the above question regarding ticket distribution, would it be unreasonable to tentatively suggest you got unlucky? My impression is that most tickets allow travel on both lines, and the probability of not
 
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rwould wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:

This new version just got a stunning review on Fortress Ameritrash, from a serious FoD player. I think you should let things settle out a bit before leaping to conclusions.

S.


What qualifies as a 'serious' FoD player? Over 100 plays of the 2nd Edition, god knows how many of the 1st Edition in the 16 or so years before that, and five plays of the new edition in just over a week since its release? I apologise if that is not serious enough for you.


Seems to me you have taken this comment rather personally when it probably wasn't intended as such. The poster was merely emphasising that the reviewer he mentioned is a long term fan of the game. That doesn't even remotely imply you are not.
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Casualist
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Edmonton911 wrote:
I was 100% on picking this up, but all these reports of balance issues have seriously put me off. Plus, FFG seemed to have seriously amped up the price for this one.


I believe the balance is quite OK, furthermore, balance is tweakable by the use or neglect of the rumour tokens and power cards.

In the end hunter advantage vs Drac advantage will wildly depend on playing style of both parties. I suspect Mina tagged permanently together with a follower and using her Psychic Bond consistently will make picking up the Drac Track early in the game quite easy.

I have only made two plays, one Hunter vic and one Drac vic...
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Richard Would
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Hucknall
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Orion3T wrote:

scroll above to see the discussion

The tickets go back in to the pool and not into a discard pile and so they do not even out. By drawing a ticket that uses up an entire action so having a wasted ticket is not good. In particular I think more things cause Delays to occur which further reduces Hunter actions, and so losing an action on a draw that may be useless is the equivalent of a delay. I have to again emphasise how critical combat is, and how easily you burn cards in combat or on encounters, and so drawing more items is an important action. If not you can easily get killed by a normal vampire.

Also tickets can only be used to move the exact distance on the rail network and no less. So if you have a 2, you have to move 2 stations.
From in game play as well my experience is that you may want to move by train due to changes in what you know and be unable to as you have no ticket at that point. I tried one game of drawing up lots of tickets early to try to counter this. The result was I had plenty of tickets that I never could use effectively, and I had to discard tickets several times in an attempt to get better tickets. I have not looked at the distribution. I did also think before playing I would like the way it works, but it did not seem to work as well in practise as it appears on paper.

The only move at day part virtually forces the day/night selection into a move/other action for day/night. If you are not moving, you are not going to find Dracula and will lose. Because of the standardisation and removal of the power elements where you can get to as a Hunter is generally more predictable, and a part of that comes down to the predictability of rail travel. Out of all the games I think a 3 move occurred twice. The numbers are there, but more often than not you ended up using the yellow 2 rather than the 3. All of this helps contribute to my feeling that Dracula is heavily favoured in this edition.

Thanks for the questions, if you are having to ask things I probably have not explained my reasoning very well.


 
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