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Subject: Not Enough Love for the Blood Suckers: Vampire Empire Review rss

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Austin Slade
United States
Gilbert
Arizona
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Snapshot

- 2 Players
- About 30 minutes
- Asymmetric
- Vampires!


Artwork and Components

- The artwork is beautiful. It just works with this game. I’m not an art connoisseur, but this artwork has a sort of gothic feel to it that really sets to mood for the game. Piotr Slaby, sir, thank you for a gorgeous game. Even the sun and moon card backs for each player’s deck is amazingly simplistic, yet beautifully intricate.
- The small changes on the back of the character cards does a lot for me. The whole idea behind the game is that the vampires have assimilated themselves among the humans. They don’t look any different, but when they reveal themselves – or are revealed – the extra splash of red really works.
- Sleeves. The sleeves work for their purpose. I’m glad they are included in the game because they are sort of necessary.
- Character Tokens. There are character tokens and attack/defense tokens. There are probably too many of the attack/defense tokens, but I guess I shouldn’t complain about that should I?
- Draw bag. It is only used at the beginning of the game. It works.


Gameplay

- The Vampire player draws three character tokens. Those characters are the vampires in the game. The Human player draws two character tokens. This leaves the Human player not knowing what 7 of the 9 characters are: living or dead?
- The 9 character cards are shuffled, and placed into a deck (“the city”). Three character cards are revealed to form “the castle”.
- Basically, players take turns taking different actions. The Vampire player is trying to throw off the Human player from the 3 vampire characters.
- Probably the most unique aspect of the game is the two different discard piles: the moat and the cellar. These are important because at the beginning of your turn, you may discard cards into either discard pile and draw to a hand limit of 8 cards. When you play cards, they are discarded into the moat, never to be used again. If a card is ever placed into the cellar, you get to come back to those cards later in the game. Both discard piles are face down, by the way.
- The Vampire player may reveal a vampire character. Why? (1) The Vampire player can win the game by having all three vampire characters revealed in the castle. (2) The Vampire player can now use vampire attack cards.
- After the Vampire player chooses to reveal a vampire character (or not), the Vampire player gets an action. Actions for the Vampire player consist of: (1) Hiding a character in the city, (2) Combat, or (3) Passing.
- After the Vampire player completes his action, it is now the Human player’s turn.
- The Human player may discard cards into either the moat or cellar and then draw back up to a hand of 8.
- Then the Human player gets to perform an action. Actions for the Human player consist of: (1) Using holy water, (2) Combat, or (3) Passing.


Brief explanation of each action

- Hiding a character in the city: The Vampire player plays 3 vampire combat cards. Then, the Vampire player can put any one of the characters that is currently in the castle on the bottom of the city deck.
- Using holy water: The Human player plays 2 holy water cards and asks the Vampire player about the identity of any character. The Vampire player must say whether the character is a vampire or not. BONUS: if the Human player correctly guesses a vampire, he can immediately attack the vampire (if the character is in the castle) by using the weaker holy water card.
- Combat: A little tricky to try and explain this one, but basically the Vampire player can pit any two characters against each other taking control of the attacking character (unless there is a revealed vampire in the castle, then the Vampire player must attack with that character). The Human player can only attack with a character that isn’t revealed as a vampire. In a nutshell, players attack by playing attack cards from their hands that have different values. Certain attack cards can only be played by certain “professions” (which are colored brown, purple and green). Additionally, there are the bonus attack/defense tokens which come into play during the first round of combat (out of two rounds). Whichever character has the highest total attack/defense score survives. If there is a tie, both characters live to see another day.
- Passing: Discard 2 cards into the moat and end turn.


Victory Conditions

- Vampire player: (1) Have all three vampire characters revealed and in the city or (2) eliminate all of the human characters.
- Human player: Eliminate all of the vampire characters.
- Either player: If both players run out of cards in their decks and hands, count scores based on surviving characters. Surviving human characters are worth 1 point, surviving vampire characters are worth 2 points.


What Could Have Been Better?

- Obviously, this is a highly subjective question. One thing I would have liked to see is more of an explanation of each of the cards. The rules came with an insert that listed each card for both the human player and the vampire player. I think a better use of the insert would have been how each of the cards work.
- The attack/defense cards. Maybe I’m overthinking this, but I think they could have added another layer of strategy to the game here. Each of the attack/defense cards are assigned a power indicated by the number in both the top left and top right corners. Why not make the cards a little more thematic and strategic by making the top left the attack value and the top right the defense value? For example, the Medallion has an attack and defense value of 1. Maybe assign the Medallion an attack value of 0 and a defense value of 2. Perhaps this was considered and limited the amount of choices a player could make due to the number of cards. In any event, I don’t have a major issue with the combat system.


My Two Cents

- I love this game. I don’t think it gets enough love. If you’re looking for a two-player asymmetrical game. I highly recommend this. I love that there is a good deal of bluffing involved. I feel like you don’t see bluffing used as a major mechanism in two-player games very often. However, regardless of the amount of bluffing, there are ways to mitigate bad poker faces via support cards and possibly by just straight up attacking the other side.
- Some of our favorite two-player games are 7 Ronin, Tides of Time and Race for the Galaxy (I know it plays more, but we only play it as a 2 player game because we think it’s best that way). Vampire Empire definitely has a different feel than any other two player game that we play. For that, I will keep on playing Vampire Empire and highly recommend it to others.
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Steve O'Grady
United States
Jacksonville
Alabama
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Agreed. It doesn't get the love it deserves. The game did not go over on my wife (a co-op gamer), but my son loved it (a strategy gamer who loves bluffing out his opponent).
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Mark Turner
United Kingdom
Farnham
Surrey
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Great game. I don't play it that much, but enjoy it when I do!
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bryden
United States
Stow
Ohio
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This was a great find for a very cheap price.

If you like Android Netrunner or want to try it without spending a lot of cash, find this little gem. It provides the same feel in about the same time. Awesome.
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