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Subject: How do I stop Dracula from running out the clock at sea? rss

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Kilo Force
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I am looking for ideas for how to stop Dracula from running out the clock at sea.

To me the answer is combat at sea, but there are questions as to whether it is legal to initiate combat while at sea. (my argument for combat at sea)

There is also 1 hero ally card that could help, which causes Dracula to take 2 damage per sea space. That would be very helpful, assuming the heroes can find this particular event card, and assuming Dracula doesn't have one of the "remove hero ally" cards.


My thought is if Dracula can make it to the 3rd week with at nearly 9 health left, he is unstoppable.

kiloforce wrote:
The mathematically obvious winning move for Dracula is to run the clock out by jumping into the sea at the beginning of the 3rd week of the game:
• At the start of the 3rd week (2 of 3 despair tokens) (or could even start this a few days earlier in the 2nd week)
• Assuming Dracula has at least 9 health remaining (can be adjusted for fewer health, with more walking required)
• • Probably start this move with heal at Castle Dracula, then run to sea, or play the Dracula Power card for healing, if you have any damage.
• Jump out at sea on one side of the map (furthest east or furthest north)
• Run clock down by circumnavigating the continent from furthest sea all the way around to furthest sea (1 Black Sea -> 2 Ionian Sea -> 3 Tyrrhenian Sea -> 4 Mediterranean Sea -> 5 South Atlantic -> 6 North Atlantic -> 7 English Channel -> 8 North Sea, or in reverse)
• Take the 9 damage (8 sea locations and 1 for entering the sea)
• This will push the week to the 4rd and final week, with 3 of 3 despair tokens, which causes 3 influence each time Dracula moves!
• Walk 3 spaces for an instant win. (first Despair influence was out at sea)


Thoughts?
 
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T France
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Well, for one thing, he takes 2 damage when moving from a Port to a Sea Zone...
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Titeman wrote:
Well, for one thing, he takes 2 damage when moving from a Port to a Sea Zone...


I already took that consideration into account:

kiloforce wrote:
Take the 9 damage (8 sea locations and 1 for entering the sea)
 
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Abdiel Xordium
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kiloforce wrote:
My thought is if Dracula can make it to the 3rd week with at nearly 9 health left, he is unstoppable.

It seems to me the main trick is to make sure Dracula doesn't have 9 health so late in the game.

Most games we play the Hunters are able to corner Dracula by the end of the second week. If they are well equipped they can knock him down to five or fewer hit points without much problem.

From there on out the hunters have to keep the pressure on.
 
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abdiel wrote:
Most games we play the Hunters are able to corner Dracula by the end of the second week. If they are well equipped they can knock him down to five or fewer hit points without much problem.

From there on out the hunters have to keep the pressure on.


How are you cornering Dracula within the first two weeks? With no Despair token, or only 1, why is Dracula not running away from combat more (Pride limitation)? Are you using Dracula's Power Cards? Why isn't Dracula using Wolf Form to sneak past the net? I believe we have had to wait until Wolf Form was locked in play before we could corner Dracula for serious punishment, which tends to be by the 3rd week. Maybe we should stop playing with Dracula's power cards? :-(
 
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If you're anticipating that Dracula will attempt to go to sea around that point in the game and that he will initiate that journey at a port connecting to the North Sea (Amsterdam, Hamburg or, less likely, Edinburgh) or - perhaps more likely because of a Castle Dracula pitstop - the Black Sea (Constanta or Varna) wouldn't that help direct your search strategy?

Sure he could pivot and either stay inland or go to sea and take a journey that doesn't quite allow him to run the clock down, but he should have a harder time effectively doing what you described if you anticipate it and respond accordingly.

Similarly, he still has to make landfall at some point to be able to place the city/Hide location cards to trigger The Fury of Dracula and you'll have time to prepare a welcoming party for him ... noting that he'll have damaged himself down to a fairly risky level of remaining health.

I get that it is a potential strategy for Dracula to take and that it can be viable, but the hunters do have options.

Perhaps the best thing to do is discuss it before playing and have a gentleman's agreement for the Dracula player not to do it. Not because it's inherently unfair, but because it's arguably anticlimactic and unfun.
 
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Abdiel Xordium
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I don't claim to be the best player in the world, but based on my experience the hunters should have at least one major confrontation with Dracula before he gets two despair tokens.

Dracula can't run away from combat if you stop him with crucifixes, rifles, etc. One hit with rifle/holy bullets takes out a third of his hit points. All it takes is one good combat round to really put the hurt on him.

If you've set up your net properly, it takes into account wolf form. And the sooner he uses it, the sooner has has to survive without it while it's in his trail. FoD is a poker game. Use past information to predict where he's going to be.

If the hunters can't figure out how to win I would definitely forgo using the advanced rules like power cards and rumor tokens until they can.
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Randal Divinski
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Combat at sea is definitely not allowed by the rules. There are several good discussions on the forum of variants to make it harder for Dracula to use the "Pirate Dracula" tactic to win. The simplest may be turning off the Fury of Dracula ability if there are more than 3 sea locations on his trail. This gives the hunters a last chance to confront him when he lands.
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To clarify, the best options are to destroy Dracula very early (seems unlikely when Power Cards are in play), a gentleman's agreement to not do this, or play with a game variant?
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Randal Divinski
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kiloforce wrote:
To clarify, the best options are to destroy Dracula very early (seems unlikely when Power Cards are in play), a gentleman's agreement to not do this, or play with a game variant?
Yes, if by "destroy... very early" you mean do significant damage to Dracula within the first two weeks and/or dispose of maturing vampires: going to sea requires successfully maturing vampires as well as a healthy Dracula, as no encounter cards are placed while at sea.

There is one other factor: the hunter's Rufus Smith ally, who causes Dracula to take TWO DAMAGE per turn while at sea instead of ONE. If the hunters can deploy him (and keep him in play), that can cripple this strategy.
 
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Also make sure that Dracula isn't gaining influence from his 3 despair token ability while at sea. That ability only works when placing a city location.
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Jon Hook
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lightbenderfm wrote:
Also make sure that Dracula isn't gaining influence from his 3 despair token ability while at sea. That ability only works when placing a city location.

Yes. So much this. Dracula cannot "run out the clock" while at sea. His "Fury of Dracula" ability does not work that way. He must move to a city/town location during the fourth week to gain three influence. The only thing Dracula gains at sea is damage.

The next time your opponent attempts that tactic, laugh as he dies a horrible bubbly death.
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JonHook wrote:
lightbenderfm wrote:
Also make sure that Dracula isn't gaining influence from his 3 despair token ability while at sea. That ability only works when placing a city location.

Yes. So much this. Dracula cannot "run out the clock" while at sea. His "Fury of Dracula" ability does not work that way. He must move to a city/town location during the fourth week to gain three influence. The only thing Dracula gains at sea is damage.

The next time your opponent attempts that tactic, laugh as he dies a horrible bubbly death.
You are trivializing the problem. If Dracula starts Week 3 with 5+ Influence and 3- damage and a vampire set to mature, it's close to a lock. Going to sea for six days is 7 damage. Landing via Wolf Form makes it all but impossible for the hunters to force immediate combat. That landing give +3 influence, a second move +3 more. That will be game over most of the time.

The FoD ability is meant to end the game quickly if it drags out to week 4. The go-to-sea tactic in effect, pushes the FoD ability back to Week 3. Hunters have to play with a sense of urgency to block the start of Week 3 victory condition. If they don't and Dracula goes to sea, just call the game at that point.
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rulebook wrote:
Sea. If a hunter is in a sea zone that is a hideout, Dracula does not reveal that location card.


How do the hunters keep Dracula from jumping in and out of the sea for the whole game, starting with round 1? Even if all of the hunters jumped into the sea, as the sea locations are not revealed, the hunters have no real method of following Dracula.

With the "Heal" Power Card, Dracula can jump into the sea, swim a few oceans, jump out, Heal, jump right back in, swim a few more, maybe have to walk a few more spots until the Heal card falls off the table, or put a Mature Dracula card right before it to clear off spots 4, 5, 6 even sooner. Throw in the Wolf form card to skip a port location too, just for good measure.

1. Sea
2. Sea
3. Wolf Form (skip port)
4. Vampire
5. Heal
6. Back to sea as they fall off the table, maybe even doubling back.

Rinse and repeat.
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kiloforce wrote:
With the "Heal" Power Card, Dracula can jump into the sea, swim a few oceans, jump out, Heal, jump right back in, swim a few more.. Throw in the Wolf form card to skip a port location too, just for good measure.


Power Cards really should be limited to 1 use per game.
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kiloforce wrote:
How do the hunters keep Dracula from jumping in and out of the sea for the whole game, starting with round 1? Even if all of the hunters jumped into the sea, as the sea locations are not revealed, the hunters have no real method of following Dracula.


Dracula will lose with that strategy.
1) He cannot place encounters on sea spaces, so no vampires will mature.
2) It costs two life to go to sea (+1 a turn after) so short trips are costly.
3) Moving on to Dracula's location is not necessary to find his trail. Since Dracula is not laying encounters, hunters can stock up on events, and find the trail that way.
4) Once the hunter find any space on the trail, the short sea trips it will be easy to narrow down Dracula's location to 1-3 spots.
5) When Dracula makes port he cannot go back to sea by that port (as the sea location is still on the trail). This puts his back to the wall if the hunters deduce his landing zone.
 
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I appreciate your optimism, but I am still not seeing a happy solution. Considering I had the sea tactic played against me so effectively, and the more I look at it, the more I could have improved on it, the less hopeful I become.


randiv wrote:
1) He cannot place encounters on sea spaces, so no vampires will mature.

Half of the steps are short trips on land where Dracula can certainly drop vampires along the way. And even when he is not, he is running down the clock. Either way, win win.

Quote:
2) It costs two life to go to sea (+1 a turn after) so short trips are costly.

Just costly enough to be healed completely by the Healing Power Card. Which means it is not costly at all.

Quote:
3) Moving on to Dracula's location is not necessary to find his trail. Since Dracula is not laying encounters, hunters can stock up on events, and find the trail that way.

Dracula is certainly dropping encounters 50% of the time with this strategy.

Quote:
4) Once the hunter find any space on the trail, the short sea trips it will be easy to narrow down Dracula's location to 1-3 spots.

Short sea trips? The Heroes are pretty disabled while on the sea, only able to move one sea location at a time, no night time action, and Dracula could sail right by you and you wouldn't even know it.


Quote:
5) When Dracula makes port he cannot go back to sea by that port (as the sea location is still on the trail). This puts his back to the wall if the hunters deduce his landing zone.

I agree that going back to the sea location isn't probably the best option, but depending on where the hunters are looking, it could be pretty strong:
1) Adriatic Sea -> 2) Venice -> 3) Florence -> 4) Rome -> 5) Naples -> 6) Bari -> 7 Adriatic

More likely, with two very easy seas to get to: (depending on if hunters can figure out, AND get to Dracula within a reasonable time, could drag it out easily)
1) Adriatic Sea -> 2) Venice -> 3) Genoa -> 4) jump into Tyrrhenian sea OR -> 4) Marseilles -> Mediterranean sea
 
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Let me give you the example of the depressing scenario for the hunters, that I found myself in, that prompted this whole discussion:

We (Hunters) had the Ally card that made it so sea travel was expensive for Dracula. That should have solved this right? Well, Dracula had the card that removed our ally card. And then jumped to sea.

I knew *exactly* where Dracula was, and had a hand of complete destruction waiting for him. So, I jumped into the sea right behind him, thinking I would follow him and attack him. Then we were reminded that Dracula's Sea locations are NOT revealed, and combat does not occur at sea. Extremely frustrating as I was pretty sure hunters would have won if I would have just been able to engage Dracula in combat.

So Dracula had jumped into the Tyrrhanian sea, and then moved 1 sea location, did Dracula go to Mediterranean or Ionian? Dracula moves 1 more sea location, now Dracula could be in the South Atlantic, Adriatic or Black Sea. That spans the *entire* continent. Which region should the hunters even head towards?

Let's assume they have the event card that allows them to find out the 3rd hideout location. That gives Dracula 2 full turns, before a real hideout makes it to the 3rd position to reveal, to either start heading for the next sea (if the Hunters randomly guessed correctly), or if the hunters went the completely wrong direction, just start burning land to retrieve the sea locations, while the Hunters frantically try to restart their search.

That is when we called the game.
 
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kiloforce wrote:
Quote:
4) Once the hunter find any space on the trail, the short sea trips it will be easy to narrow down Dracula's location to 1-3 spots.

Short sea trips? The Heroes are pretty disabled while on the sea, only able to move one sea location at a time, no night time action, and Dracula could sail right by you and you wouldn't even know it.

Unless you believe Dracula is traveling between Europe and the UK, the hunters should not be trying to follow him by ship. That's what rail tickets are for -- to get there ahead of him, block the landing.

Here's another variant I have suggested that might work for your group: require Dracula to write down his destination port on departure. When he lands, that slip of paper is placed with the (port) location card and revealed any time the location is. If Dracula cannot react to hunter movements while at sea (which thematically makes sense) that limits the effectiveness of the tactic.
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randiv wrote:
Here's another variant I have suggested that might work for your group: require Dracula to write down his destination port on departure. When he lands, that slip of paper is placed with the (port) location card and revealed any time the location is. If Dracula cannot react to hunter movements while at sea (which thematically makes sense) that limits the effectiveness of the tactic.


That is a very interesting solution
 
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Martin S
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kiloforce wrote:
kiloforce wrote:
With the "Heal" Power Card, Dracula can jump into the sea, swim a few oceans, jump out, Heal, jump right back in, swim a few more.. Throw in the Wolf form card to skip a port location too, just for good measure.


Power Cards really should be limited to 1 use per game.


I play it this way. Initially by mistake but I like it thematically and practically.
 
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kiloforce wrote:
rulebook wrote:
Sea. If a hunter is in a sea zone that is a hideout, Dracula does not reveal that location card.


How do the hunters keep Dracula from jumping in and out of the sea for the whole game, starting with round 1? Even if all of the hunters jumped into the sea, as the sea locations are not revealed, the hunters have no real method of following Dracula.

With the "Heal" Power Card, Dracula can jump into the sea, swim a few oceans, jump out, Heal, jump right back in, swim a few more, maybe have to walk a few more spots until the Heal card falls off the table, or put a Mature Dracula card right before it to clear off spots 4, 5, 6 even sooner. Throw in the Wolf form card to skip a port location too, just for good measure.

1. Sea
2. Sea
3. Wolf Form (skip port)
4. Vampire
5. Heal
6. Back to sea as they fall off the table, maybe even doubling back.

Rinse and repeat.


Two thoughts to this:

1) Wolf Form also deals one damage to Dracula when he uses it. This means with each such a cycle you described he takes 4 damage and heals only 3. If Rufus Smith is in play that will be 5 damage. It doesn't sound much but two damage is the average result of a successful combat turn. So Dracula gave a free extra combat turn to the Hunters when they met him. And yes, Dracula can remove allies with Devilish Power. But the Hunters can resurrect the removed ally with Surprising Return. It is dependent on the luck of draw of course, but both parties have their fair chance to meddle with the others.

2) One weakness of this strategy is that Dracula will only draw one new encounter card during such a cycle. If he does not have any Vampires in his starting hand than there will be quite difficult for him to get one. He can only make the clock going on, and getting weaker and weaker during this process. It might pay off in the end but mainly gambles on the Hunters' inability to find him. If Dracula is found, he will be in a tough spot.
 
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randiv wrote:
Here's another variant I have suggested that might work for your group: require Dracula to write down his destination port on departure. When he lands, that slip of paper is placed with the (port) location card and revealed any time the location is. If Dracula cannot react to hunter movements while at sea (which thematically makes sense) that limits the effectiveness of the tactic.

a) does this mean Dracula is required to land at his intended destination?
b) if he is allowed to change his mind and land elsewhere, is there a penalty for him when the hunters enter that port to find that the slip of paper doesn't match?
c) is it okay if the location is off by one because of wolf form? (either he decided to skip past his original intended destination, or he originally planned to use wolf upon disembarking then changed his mind)
 
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keckles wrote:
randiv wrote:
Here's another variant I have suggested that might work for your group: require Dracula to write down his destination port on departure. When he lands, that slip of paper is placed with the (port) location card and revealed any time the location is. If Dracula cannot react to hunter movements while at sea (which thematically makes sense) that limits the effectiveness of the tactic.

a) does this mean Dracula is required to land at his intended destination?
b) if he is allowed to change his mind and land elsewhere, is there a penalty for him when the hunters enter that port to find that the slip of paper doesn't match?
c) is it okay if the location is off by one because of wolf form? (either he decided to skip past his original intended destination, or he originally planned to use wolf upon disembarking then changed his mind)

Great questions. Here's my thoughts, but as it is a variant, other choices are possible:
a) YES, that's the idea. His destination is locked in (in the sense that landing elsewhere triggers the Dracula Errors penalty).
b) Not landing at the preselected destination should be penalized according to the "Dracula Errors" section of the RR. It would trigger when Dracula makes landfall at another port. Dracula may be prevented from landing as intended due to Consecrated Ground, or some other effect. (I would allow Dracula to choose to land elsewhere, at the cost of the Dracula Error penalty.)
c) I would allow Wolf Form if Dracula passes through the preselected destination. Put the paper with the Wolf Form card -- it must be an adjacent port.

The variant prevents Dracula from responding to Hunter moves while at sea. It presumes that Dracula books passage on a commercial vessel that follows a shipping route. That can only be changed at the cost of slaughtering the crew and wrecking the ship -- that is represented by the Dracula Error penalty. (As written, the rules seem to suggest that the vessel is piloted by Dracula's minions, who will change course on demand.)
 
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randiv wrote:

.
.
.
The variant prevents Dracula from responding to Hunter moves while at sea. It presumes that Dracula books passage on a commercial vessel that follows a shipping route. That can only be changed at the cost of slaughtering the crew and wrecking the ship -- that is represented by the Dracula Error penalty. (As written, the rules seem to suggest that the vessel is piloted by Dracula's minions, who will change course on demand.)


Thematically it should work the other way around. The Hunters using commercial vessels with a pre-determined port of destination, while Dracula is quite fine with boarding a ship, murdering the crew than using his powers to control wind and storms to propel his ship to any directions he wants at any time. This is how he arrived to England in the novel in the first place...
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