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Fury of Dracula (third/fourth edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Dracula - the mists of grand strategy rss

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Play: Players play a hidden movement game of hunters vs. Dracula format, where they are trying to hunt down Dracula. Technically it plays from 2-5, however at less than 5 players then other players simply take the spot of the missing character, controlling them. Probably plays best at three, I see each hunter controlling two pawns as being the most satisfying. Playtime is around three hours.

Components: You get four miniatures for the four hunters that are reasonably well produced. You also get a Dracula Miniature, although this is mostly pointless, it does look cool. You get a handful of cardboard chits, and some cards. The art is really thematically successful - easily the best part of this edition. It drips with Gothic horror, with its moments of humor (like Mina slugging Dracula in the face as he tries to mesmerize her). The tones are muted and dulled - no bright colors - which fits with the theme.

Gameplay: Hmmm... where to begin. Scottland Yard is a mad race against time to capture a thief, as they try to evade you for the requisite time. It's simple, fun, and exciting. Letters from Whitechapel is, in contrast, a tense struggle as a madman executes an inscrutable plot, with you feeling the pain as each step is completed. In contrast, Fury of Dracula is a set of drunks hiding from each other in a cluttered bar, with the crash of falling tableware and shattered pint glasses giving the proper three stooges accompaniment to the proceedings.

That's the only thing I can think of because unlike other hidden movement games, in this one you will catch Dracula. A lot. You'll probably catch him three or four times in a successful game, maybe more. See when you catch Dracula you get to play a little Rock/Paper/Scissors/Lizard/Spock minigame. The hunters get 3-6 cards (3 fixed, up to 3 variable) and Dracula gets a hand of five out of a possible 15. Then you play cards, and if one gets countered that happens, if it doesn't then some damage gets handed out, and eventually Dracula will escape as a bat, which will let him move three spaces and the chase is on again.

Of course Dracula gets to spew out a wonderful array of ridiculous traps on his path. Every time he moves he puts down a booby trap of some sort, that he can set off on the hunters. So you can be cornering Dracula... and suddenly a swarm of bats pop up, drag you away, and make you lose your next turn. Cue Yakety Sax as the "monster hunters" end up feeling like the keystone cops.

Which is not to say that Dracula doesn't get to feel his fair share of this. Dracula can be a plotting mastermind, watching his enemies blunder past his trail... when a card pops up that says "reveal the third location on your trail" and suddenly they know where you are within a two space radius. And the next player gets one that lets them pick two cities, and he plonks his finger down on one of the ones in the nicely narrowed window and... well, guess they know where you are. And the saxophone starts playing as Dracula grabs his cape and makes a dash for it.

The game can devolve into straight Munchkin. The hunters play a card that screws Dracula (doing 5 damage for free instead of having combat) so Dracula plays a card that counters it. Dracula sets up a bite in combat, just for someone to plop down the "no thx" card. The hunters have Dracula caught in their web... lol jk storms and roadblocks. Dracula has made a cunning escape... the hunters have really fast horses! (unless they pull the wrong random token, then the horses run off)

It does create the illusion of a grand strategic struggle, but I have had three plays of third edition (and countless of second) and let me say - 2nd edition wore it on its sleeve. You rolled dice to see what would happen, and it was random and tilting and kinda bad, but in a fun way.

FFG has pared it down, making something that feels like a strategy game, a real battle of wits... but with so many catchup mechanisms and impossible-to-anticipate random chance cards that no one falls too far behind. It is indeed a tense struggle - but only because everyone gets so many opportunities to avoid punishment for mistakes that the game will end up in more-or-less the same spot at the same time with competent play.

Verdict: If you want a strategy game, avoid this like the plague. If you're content with the illusion of strategy while you laugh with your friends at your fortune, or bemoan your fate, cue up the Yakity Sax. My money? This is going to be an out-of-print unobtainable game once again, and once again when people do track it down and play it their reaction is going to be an overwhelming "that's it?!?"

No number scores because I don't like them, but I recommend skip. If you want strategy there's much deeper, if you want to laugh with your friends there's much shorter. At least Mysterium doesn't have two different 15 page rulebooks.

Edit: Apparently there's a fairly major rules ambiguity as to whether the hunters can attack Dracula at sea or not. In previous editions Dracula could spend lots of time at sea to run out the clock, effectively turning the climatic moments of the game into a silly boating affair. With the new "Storms" event it gets even easier for Dracula to prevent hunters from following him in the sea. We figured this was a balanced way to pay homage to the previous editions - give an event that lets Dracula be perfectly safe at sea (he can move into storms, hunters cannot) while still allowing hunters to fight him. If hunters truly can't fight Dracula at sea, that is... unfortunate.

In either case, you're apparently dealing with rulebooks that aren't proofread properly, so take that into consideration before buying.
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Chris G
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I think the fact that this doesn't qualify as a strategy game for you tells us everything we need to know about you as a reviewer and who ought to disregard this review because they aren't THAT kind of gamer. The "not a real strategy game" line of hardcore euro gamers is frankly pretty tired by now.
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chg21012 wrote:
I think the fact that this doesn't qualify as a strategy game for you tells us everything we need to know about you as a reviewer and who ought to disregard this review because they aren't THAT kind of gamer. The "not a real strategy game" line of hardcore euro gamers is frankly pretty tired by now.


I think the reviewer has a valid point.

FoD is a rather long game considering it's primarily played for the (rather fantastic) mood experience and not for the strategy. I would love it even more, if playing time could be shortened by an hour or so.
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Jeffery Hudson
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This review makes me wonder how many games the reviewer has played. I've played FoD3rd several times and each time feels different. In my first two games the hunters never caught up and fought Dracula...he always managed to slip from their grasp. The next game had one round of combat and the last one i played had several. The game also plays differently depending on who is playing Dracula...as we all have our own play styles.

But to be fair, opinion on this game is spit in my group. I and my wife really enjoy it and find it to be a satisfying hidden movement/deduction game wrapped in a fantastic theme with a (usually) thrilling conclusion. My sister didn't care for how strong Dracula is in this edition and prefers 2nd. My best friend despises this game and we are not allowed to speak it's name in his presence. :)

The Reviewer has some valid criticisms, but i feel he's a bit harsh with the 'stumbling, three stooges" critique. Nor would I say run from this game. I find it to be along the same lines as "House on Haunted Hill", it can be swingy and each game can be very different, but I enjoy playing it despite its swingy nature or length. It also makes a dang fine Halloween game.

But then i also wrote my own review singing its praise, so i could be a tad bias. :)
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chg21012 wrote:
I think the fact that this doesn't qualify as a strategy game for you tells us everything we need to know about you as a reviewer and who ought to disregard this review because they aren't THAT kind of gamer. The "not a real strategy game" line of hardcore euro gamers is frankly pretty tired by now.


I don't mind people having criticisms of my review, but in this case I'm more than a little annoyed at this blatant (and incorrect) stereotyping. My favorite worker placement game is Argent: The Consortium, and I like Cyclades more than Kemet simply because of the increased player interaction. And yes, Dominion is my favorite game and I'm very good at it. I'm a bit of an omnivore.

I do have a bias towards games that let you strategically interact with the game, and prefer my more luck-based affairs to be co-op (then you can laugh and cry about your fortune with the rest of the table). And that's how I reviewed it. On a strategic level I think it falls short, as far as theme goes (art, etc.) I think it's pretty strong, although the three hour playtime is, to me, a tad long for what you're getting.

@Jeffrey: Played three games, watched another two being played while I was at other tables. Not the broadest experience, but I feel like I have a handle on what's possible. I'm fairly certain a coordinated group of hunters will always corner Dracula at least once if they play properly -
- there's just too many ways to find out enough information to know where he is, and Dracula's movement options are not so good as to be able to indefinitely evade since 3E no longer makes the sea Dracula's "safe space" (a change that damages the theme a bit, but which is a welcome change from 2E where I remember one particularly annoying run where Dracula burned an enormous amount of time off our clock futzing around at sea while we effectively knew where he was and couldn't do a single thing about it).
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Edward B.
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This is an odd review because I find myself agreeing with some of the general sentiment but not coming to the same conclusion at all.

I would also suggest people looking for a "strategy" game to look elsewhere, but I didn't know this game ever presented itself as a strategy game.

I also find it a bit long, but I find it much more enjoyable than Scotland Yard or Letters of Whitechapel. Both of those games are pretty boring. I'd never suggest either at the table. Fury of Dracula provides more tension and fun for me because of the well executed theme and the back and forth that you seemed not to like.

The card play is a little less random than described in the review. Especially after a few plays, you will know the cards that the other side has at their disposal and the possible counters, etc., they can play. It's not grand strategy, but it's a far cry from Munchkin.
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Jeffery Hudson
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@amberdragon: three plays and two watches are good enough for me. You've formed a good opinion.

The problem I'm having is that I'm stuck thinking 2nd edition was the better game but 3rd edition was the far bett er theme....better enough that I wouldn't want to play 2nd again. So, I'm stuck in this no mans land...while not a problem for me, it is for my group so we only play it once or twice a year and then I listen to everyone complain about it. :)

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it, but I can't say you've not given it a fair shake.
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Nick Storm
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Theme 9/10 - VERY few games capture the theme as well a FOD and this is coming from someone who loves letters from whitechapel!

Ease of play rules
6/10 - a lot going on and you have to play this game at least 4-6 times to get a good grasp of the rules and combat ect. The fact that there is a 'lot going on' bespeaks of potential....wait for it...STRATEGY

length of play 7/10 - 3 solid hours with a competent Dracula, less with expert players and less with 2 people controlled 2 hunters each. A 5 player game with invested parties all around is excellent though.

Strategy scale 7/10 - A nice solid game with great mechanics and very good potential strategy for both hunters and hunter.

Simply a must own game for me and my group.

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ppayes wrote:
Ease of play rules[/b] 6/10 - a lot going on and you have to play this game at least 4-6 times to get a good grasp of the rules and combat ect. The fact that there is a 'lot going on' bespeaks of potential....wait for it...STRATEGY


Again I'm not going to say my opinion is canon, but I'd just like to address this. Lots of things going on does not equal lots of potential for strategy. Go is a game with just about nothing going on (a whole two mechanics and two ways to score VP) and very deep strategy. Talisman is a game with a bunch of things going on especially if you add expansions, and yet I'd say - and I hope most would agree with me - that Craps has about as much strategy as Talisman. Same with Arkham Horror - many things happen, but your ability to influence the outcome is hard to say (although again my tolerance for this will always be higher in cooperative games).

Strategy comes when you have the ability to form long-term plans, anticipate your opponents' actions, and map out a path to victory. Cards that say "reveal a location" or "check these cities" to me clearly detract from strategy. If you've already worked out the location revealed you should be doing well - but if you're not, the game gives you a catchup mechanism that gives you the same information as if you were. If Dracula screws up and gets caught early he can easily Escape as Bat in the second round of combat (something none of the starting cards stop) to get 3 spaces of movement - four with wolf form. The Dracula's pride mechanic is clearly to allow Dracula players that mess up a form of "get out of jail free" card but then slowly reduce his ability to use it without significant punishment (as he can't use it before the third, then fourth, then finally fifth round). Again it ratchets tension, making it very hard for Dracula to be caught and killed early on (although I'm sure some new players will still manage to die despite hand holding) but then dialing back his ability to escape as the hunters get on the ropes to create the dramatic "photo finish" the game longs for.

The rumor tokens is the same deal. Even if the hunters are managing vampires very well they give Dracula the ability to suddenly shoot up the VP and forces the hunters to double back and deal with the rumored spots rather than saying "ah fuck it, I don't care if a vampire pops, lets just go kill Dracula". It's very much forcing a narrative flow on the game.

As I said there's many huge improvements on second edition. The removal of "lets roll dice to see what card happens" is always going to be a positive. The ability to actually go fight Dracula at sea is nice. Changing out the two cards that let Dracula literally move anywhere (removing everything resembling strategy if they're drawn) is great. The number and strength of cards that just more-or-less told you Dracula's location directly is greatly reduced, and no longer feels quite as mindless as Newspaper Reports.

There's just so many decisions made that actively replace strategy with a more scripted narrative that I can't endorse it.
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Jeffery Hudson
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Strang, I've found the time to be in the same ball park. I'd still not start it unless I had 5 hours to devote to it. While I'd probably play in less time, I've had games of 2nd and 3rd take that long.
 
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Collection Account wrote:
It is originally a GW game afterall.

This!
I've been playing FoD since 1987 when as 11-year-olds we'd stay up all night taking turns trying out new strategies as the count. Obvious as a GW the strategies were always just starting points for a thematic ride that was led more by cards and dice. 3rd is significantly less arbitrary (those Newspaper Reports in 1st edition!! Jeez) but still doesn't fall far from the tree.
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Randal Divinski
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AmberDragon wrote:
The ability to actually go fight Dracula at sea is nice.
This is not possible in Third Edition...
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randiv wrote:
AmberDragon wrote:
The ability to actually go fight Dracula at sea is nice.
This is not possible in Third Edition...


Yes, it is. If you check the rules reference you'll find under Combat "Combat occurs when Dracula is on the same space..."

You even find rules for what happens when you play an "Escape as Bat" card while on a sea space (you have to move two spaces overland, your first space must be a port).
 
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Andy Burgess
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My rules reference for the third edition does not agree.
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Mark L
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AmberDragon wrote:
randiv wrote:
AmberDragon wrote:
The ability to actually go fight Dracula at sea is nice.
This is not possible in Third Edition...


Yes, it is. If you check the rules reference you'll find under Combat "Combat occurs when Dracula is on the same space..."

But in the Learn to Play it says whenever a hunter is in the same city. I know the rules reference is meant to have priority, but it wouldn't be the first time it was wrong and the Learn to Play was right. Besides, why would they deliberately use almost the same phrasing but one crucially different word? I'm sure that's just an oversight in the Rules Reference, especially because under "Sea" it says:
Quote:
If a hunter is in a sea zone that is a hideout, Dracula does not
reveal that location card.
In that case, how will the hunter even know that they are in the same location? If Dracula must tell them, why does it say not to reveal it?

AmberDragon wrote:
You even find rules for what happens when you play an "Escape as Bat" card while on a sea space (you have to move two spaces overland, your first space must be a port).

I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Wolf Form.
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AmberDragon wrote:
randiv wrote:
AmberDragon wrote:
The ability to actually go fight Dracula at sea is nice.
This is not possible in Third Edition...


Yes, it is. If you check the rules reference you'll find under Combat "Combat occurs when Dracula is on the same space..."

You even find rules for what happens when you play an "Escape as Bat" card while on a sea space (you have to move two spaces overland, your first space must be a port).


The rules are bad. The Learn to play book specifies that Dracula has to be in the same city as the hunter. The RR does say location, but I don't see that as contradicting the more precise wording of the LtP.

Even if you take the RR as meaning that combat can take place at sea, the chances of it happening would be remote as sea zones are not revealed when hunters move into them and combat can only take place if Dracula's location is revealed and the only way that I can think of to reveal Dracula's current sea location is by play of the Local Rumours event, which is to be played immediately so can't be planned for.

I can't find any rule for the play of Escape as Bat at sea, I think you are referring to the rule for playing Wolf Form in that situation.
 
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Oh, well knock a few points off my score then, both for having pathetic rules (per usual FFG) and not fixing another one of the huge mistakes of previous editions when they cleaned up the other sea shit.

If Dracula can really spend most of the last week boating around once again, and gets the storm cards to just make "impassible zones" so the hunters can't even follow him... yeah, that's the sort of stuff that makes this game not very strategic, because the only answer as to why "Dracula the boat captain" isn't a good strategy is "theme".
 
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Jeffery Hudson
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AmberDragon wrote:
Oh, well knock a few points off my score then, both for having pathetic rules (per usual FFG) and not fixing another one of the huge mistakes of previous editions when they cleaned up the other sea shit.

If Dracula can really spend most of the last week boating around once again, and gets the storm cards to just make "impassible zones" so the hunters can't even follow him... yeah, that's the sort of stuff that makes this game not very strategic, because the only answer as to why "Dracula the boat captain" isn't a good strategy is "theme".


Sea shit is hardly your fault. :)

 
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Chris G
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AmberDragon wrote:
Oh, well knock a few points off my score then, both for having pathetic rules (per usual FFG) and not fixing another one of the huge mistakes of previous editions when they cleaned up the other sea shit.


Again, this kind of talk discredits the theoretically valid observations you're making.

Here's the bottom line: you're trying to frame this game as a disappointing rendition of something it is not trying to be. Your expectations for this game and tastes in gaming practically assured that you wouldn't like it.

Oh and you can still be an omnivore and talk about games in a pretentious fashion that suggests pure strategy is the only valid option for truly superior games.
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Chris C
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AmberDragon wrote:
Oh, well knock a few points off my score then, both for having pathetic rules (per usual FFG) and not fixing another one of the huge mistakes of previous editions when they cleaned up the other sea shit.

If Dracula can really spend most of the last week boating around once again, and gets the storm cards to just make "impassible zones" so the hunters can't even follow him... yeah, that's the sort of stuff that makes this game not very strategic, because the only answer as to why "Dracula the boat captain" isn't a good strategy is "theme".



I just have a quick comment,


This makes me wonder if the game was played correctly. Dracula takes damage for going out to sea and each turn being out at sea. Based on your comment makes it sound like there is no negative effect for Dracula being out at sea and can just hide at sea.

Other than that, it was a good review.
 
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Jeffery Hudson
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It's called the Pirate Dracula strategy and pretty much comes down to if Drac can go the first two weeks without serious damage and has racked up some nice points, he can just go to sea the last week, take the damage but run out the 'clock'. He makes landfall back once his 'Fury of Dracula' ability activates and he has to avoid death for a few rounds (if that) to win.

One of the threads that talks about it is here.
 
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Chris C
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Thanks Jeff. I've never had an instance of that issue happening in FoD.
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Jeffery Hudson
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Your welcome.

It's not 'difficult' to do, but it does require Dracula play a really good game. If the hunters can catch up to him and do some damage within that two weeks, or keep his VP's down then it's no longer a valid strategy to use that game.
 
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Randal Divinski
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Pirate Dracula is more likely to be an issue if you use the advanced rules (abilities and rumor tokens).
 
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Jeffery Hudson
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Why would we not use the Advanced Rules? ;) That's where all the fun is.

Though, i'm still torn on Rumor Tokens...
 
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