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

Subject: Accelerating the game: Escalation Variants rss

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Fajeth Fajethsson
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Bielefeld
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I finally had the chance to play the game (as Dracula). While we had obviously some false strategies/rule errors something became very clear from the first game (and I read through multiple reviews/forum posts, so I know we are not alone on this): The game is a bit too long.

Our first game (3 players) took 5 hours. I know, we can be at least an hour faster if we know rules and general strategies and have no little 3 year old running around while I try to make my move.

But it's not the length per sé. I love A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, and that game takes even more time. But in that game you don't really notice the time passing for the first 4 hours.

In this game, however, you do after 2 hours. And that is because things get repetitive and a bit frustrating (more so for the hunters). Also, while dracula can feel the progress towards his win, the hunters can not (even if you are constantly on his trail). Because Dracula can heal up, vanish and do his dracula things. The rewards for the hunters are very little, killing vampires is required but most of the time costly and has little to gain in return.

So I thought how to accelerate things after the first few weeks to make things more exciting the longer the game goes.

These are the draft rules I came up with. I need to test them in my next game, but I'd like to hear the thoughts of more experienced players. Note: I will mostly play with beginners, so while some of these changes might sound overpowered to you experts, they might be perfectly reasonable for first-/ or second-timers.



- Every time a hunter kills a vampire, Dracula loses 1 maximum health. He can not recover this wound.
- Beginning with the second week, every monday morning (when the desparation-token gets added), the hunters gain a rumour token if they don't have any. The hunters can use this token to get a double-length day time once a week. They have to decide to use the token after Minas (or the 4th hunter on that day) move to cycle again through their daytime-actions. This should allow them to either find back the trail/drac himself or gang up on dracula if they (roughly) know his position. Combat occures after the double-daytime normaly at dawn. This is super powerful, but also exciting and something the hunters can look forward to if they feel they are really behind.
- To compensate this power and also accelerate the dracula game, drac. get's one additional influence for every despair, if they mature a vampire.
- In addition, the fury of dracula skill now reads: Double the amount of bonus-influence you get during combats against the hunters. That means, you get twice the amount of influence via cards/vampire-effects and also 2+(3*2) = 8 influence if you kill a hunter. So basicly, you should be able to win, if you kill a hunter in combat during the 4th week. This way, pirate drac isn't really an option anymore, the game still ends quick once you get Fury, there is an option for an climatic end and Drac can still go to sea if he needs to.
- If you play with rumour tokens, Drac can only have up to 3. Also he doesn't start with a rumour, but get's one token every week beginning with the second week (so at the same time when the hunters get their token)


What do you think?

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Randal Divinski
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I agree that the main obstacle to getting FoD to the table is the time it takes. 5 hours for a new group is very common. I have written elsewhere how hunters need to play with a sense of urgency (turn efficiency) to keep the game from bogging down. (The difference between a 1 minute or 2 minute average hunter turn can translate into 1-2 hours of overall game length.)

To keep control of game length, I have suggested that each week of game time correspond to one hour of real time. After an hour, you lop off whatever days of the week you haven't gotten to yet. (E.g. skip Saturday and Sunday, and go right to Monday.) (You might stop the clock for Dracula's turn and combat.)

I quick (off the cuff) consideration of your suggestions:
Fajeth wrote:
- Every time a hunter kills a vampire, Dracula loses 1 maximum health. He can not recover this wound.
This is interesting, and worth experimenting with. It has a subtle impact on the game, rewards hunters for finding and dealing with the trail, and adds a risk for Dracula putting down vampire encounters. My understanding is that this is always reducing Dracula's maximum health only, and not his actual health (unless he is at maximum health at that moment).
Fajeth wrote:
- Beginning with the second week, every monday morning (when the desparation-token gets added), the hunters gain a rumour token if they don't have any. The hunters can use this token to get a double-length day time once a week. They have to decide to use the token after Minas (or the 4th hunter on that day) move to cycle again through their daytime-actions.
This seems way overpowered to me. It might work fine in situations where the hunters have completely lost the trail, but if they are at all close, this could easily decide the game.

I would suggest the token be used to as an extra (info-related) event card: e.g., Hired Scouts, Newspaper Reports, Follow the Money. A hunter would need to use an action to do it. The possible effects would be, respectively: check two locations or reveal the third space on the trail (whether land or sea). That certainly gives the hunters a leg up, but is not as overpowered. Maybe a weaker version of those cards: reveal any 1 location or the 4th space on the trail.

Fajeth wrote:
The fury of dracula skill now reads: Double the amount of bonus-influence you get during combats against the hunters.
As is, the Fury skill is meant to be a game clock, to keep the game from going on endlessly. This change might work in a situation where Dracula can win that turn with 1 hunter kill, but if he is too weak or too far from victory he might be forced to just evade endlessly.
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Fajeth Fajethsson
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Thank you for your input A real time clock and "jump to next week" is interesting but does punish the hunters. Maybe good for more experienced groups but not first/second timers I guess? Will keep that in mind.

yea the max health loss doesn't damage Dracula directly, but can kill him if he's already severly wounded (however: Drac can somewhat calculate that risk before and might be able to heal/plan for the case of a dead vampire)


Interesting hint on the endless evade. Will keep that in mind but would still try to see if that can make some epic end-fights.


I agree that the double day action might be a bit strong. Your idea with the hint is good, but in my recent game, the group was constantly on my trail (I screwed up in the first week) but still felt they wouldn't ever be able to catch me. So it was not so much about the information but more about the ability to catch me. Maybe that was due to their inexperience and my good play - I don't know. Maybe the rumor could be used as in: Either reveal a card on the 4th or lower track or double the day for just one hunter. That could be interesting and is flexible enough for any frustrating scenario there is.
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Paul P.
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Fury of Dracula is one of my 2 favorite games (the other being Game of Thrones Board Game as well). Our games usually last between 2 and 3 hours. I did start playing with a very experienced FoD player so they did help to avoid any 5 hour game sessions so I can understand wanting to alter it to cut down on play time.

This isn't the type of game that works at 5 hours (unlike something like TI4), but I would say give the game a few chances before making any major rule alterations. The rules are actually pretty well balanced.

Also Dracula can dictate the pace of the game. If it feels as if the game is dragging on, Dracula can just start to attack hunters. While Dracula's best path to victory is to evade, I've won by getting a majority of my influence points from combat (9 of the 13 from combat). It's a risky strategy, but if the players are getting burned out, combat is a good way to potentially shorten the game in an exciting way.
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Matavos
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I've played Fury of Dracula three times, but none of the games were played to completion. We stopped playing each game at around the four-hour mark. It simply got too late in two cases and the other session was at my FLGS during open game night - which only lasts four hours. Note: I played with a different group each time, but I'm familiar with the rules and it doesn't take long to get the hunters up to speed.

I'll give my thoughts on each of your proposed rules, but take them with a grain of salt since I have yet to see all three despair tokens on the board.

Quote:
- Every time a hunter kills a vampire, Dracula loses 1 maximum health. He can not recover this wound.
I like this idea. Killing vampires is the surest way to extend the game but your suggestion mitigates this by making Dracula lose HP. It also gives the hunters a sense of progress.

Quote:
- Beginning with the second week, every monday morning (when the desparation-token gets added), the hunters gain a rumour token if they don't have any. The hunters can use this token to get a double-length day time once a week. They have to decide to use the token after Minas (or the 4th hunter on that day) move to cycle again through their daytime-actions. This should allow them to either find back the trail/drac himself or gang up on dracula if they (roughly) know his position. Combat occures after the double-daytime normaly at dawn. This is super powerful, but also exciting and something the hunters can look forward to if they feel they are really behind.
Note: your sentence "Combat occurs after the double-daytime normally at dawn" should read "at dusk."

Two event cards already accomplish something similar (Long Night and Renewed Vigor), but I like the concept of giving the hunters a rumor token. Instead of giving them a token once per week, however, I think they should only take matured rumor tokens that would otherwise would be removed from the game. Since rumor tokens only mature on a vampire, the most they could ever get would be 2 (two matured rumor tokens result in 12-14 influence). The hunters could use the token at dawn or dusk to place the three Heavenly Host tokens. Normal Heavenly Host rules apply. However, if the placement would prevent Dracula from making a legal move, the tokens are removed immediately instead of at dawn (affected location and encounter cards must still be revealed).

Although not as powerful as your suggestion, this is still a major bonus to the hunters and won't swing the balance too far.

Quote:
- To compensate this power and also accelerate the dracula game, drac. get's one additional influence for every despair, if they mature a vampire.
Probably not necessary since two matured vampires with rumor tokens should be enough to end the game anyway.

Quote:
- In addition, the fury of dracula skill now reads: Double the amount of bonus-influence you get during combats against the hunters. That means, you get twice the amount of influence via cards/vampire-effects and also 2+(3*2) = 8 influence if you kill a hunter. So basicly, you should be able to win, if you kill a hunter in combat during the 4th week. This way, pirate drac isn't really an option anymore, the game still ends quick once you get Fury, there is an option for an climatic end and Drac can still go to sea if he needs to.
I don't like this one. The despair tokens already give Dracula a bonus for defeating hunters. You get two influence in week 1, three influence in week 2, four influence in week 3, and five influence in week 4. So - by doubling the amount of influence you get using the Fury of Dracula skill, you would actually get 10 influence.

The existing Fury of Dracula rule should already bring the game to a quick close (unless entering the week at zero influence). Also - the recently updated Rules Reference in the BGG files states: "Once all three despair tokens are on the board, the track advances by three each time Dracula places a city location or “Hide” on the trail." Since, influence cannot be gained while at sea or at Castle Dracula, Pirate Dracula is not a viable option.

Quote:
- If you play with rumour tokens, Drac can only have up to 3. Also he doesn't start with a rumour, but get's one token every week beginning with the second week (so at the same time when the hunters get their token)
This won't have the desired effect of speeding up the game.

Since event cards help drive the action, I have an additional suggestion to prevent hunters from trying to starve Dracula of cards:
- If a hunter chooses to "pass" at night, Dracula draws one event card from the bottom of the deck. Any hunter cards drawn this way are discarded face-down.



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Fajeth Fajethsson
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Thanks to both of you!

@Paul:

I have no doubt that this game is balanced and smooth, I just like to change the pace of it. Right now, the first week is exciting, building up the tension, the second (if you find Draculas trail or even himself) is fantastic and then, from there on it goes down and at the end of the third week (at least my) hunters only wanted to end this somehow ...

@Matt:
Sorry, I got confused with the words "dusk"/"dawn"

I know that some event cards do the same; my inspiration came from this.
I like your idea that the rumor goes to the hunters after dracula gained something from it, but I designed it so that you could use or not use the tokens (remember, all new-comers so I like to help the hunters more and not so much Dracula who I felt was fine in the first game)

The double would be only the bonus influence. So the base 2 would remain the same. I could also see a double base influence working. So with 3 despair: 4 + 3 = 7 (instead of my 2 + (3*2) = 8). Even with sea not gaining influence, you can easily go to sea for several rounds to lose the hunters and make the last points with a few steps on land. I know it's suppose to be the game ender - and I like that - but it feels more frustrating for the hunters. If they'd lose in an epic fight, where they at least had the chance to win, even if behind, that would be a good finish.

The change on rumour tokens is not about speeding up but about limiting frustration for the hunters and also to keep the rules simple (both get their tokens at the same time). Again this change is probably not needed with experienced hunters.


Thank you for your input. I will continue to brainstorm on this (I am glad that you all liked the max-health lost). I will report back once I got the chance to play the changes. Feel free to continue feedback/suggestions to not only make the game end faster but also to make the weeks feel different and more exciting instead of annoying/frustrating (for the hunters. I feel the game has a good pace for Dracula throughout the game)
 
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Chris Merritt
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DC_Cowboy wrote:

The existing Fury of Dracula rule should already bring the game to a quick close (unless entering the week at zero influence). Also - the recently updated Rules Reference in the BGG files states: "Once all three despair tokens are on the board, the track advances by three each time Dracula places a city location or “Hide” on the trail." Since, influence cannot be gained while at sea or at Castle Dracula, Pirate Dracula is not a viable option.
This is not really changed from before. And you are misunderstanding the Pirate Dracula complaints. No one was arguing that Dracula got the Fury ability when moving at sea, the strategy of Pirate Dracula is to go to sea for most or all of Week 3, then make landfall (3 influence right there) and end the game in a move or two. While at sea the Hunters cannot engage in combat and it only costs Dracula 7-8 health, so if he's been doing well for the first part of the game, he'll likely have enough health to manage it. If he's managed just a single maturation of a vampire with a rumor token, he only needs to make landfall and then move twice. So it's still a valid (though boring) strategy.
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Matavos
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COMaestro wrote:
DC_Cowboy wrote:

The existing Fury of Dracula rule should already bring the game to a quick close (unless entering the week at zero influence). Also - the recently updated Rules Reference in the BGG files states: "Once all three despair tokens are on the board, the track advances by three each time Dracula places a city location or “Hide” on the trail." Since, influence cannot be gained while at sea or at Castle Dracula, Pirate Dracula is not a viable option.
This is not really changed from before. And you are misunderstanding the Pirate Dracula complaints. No one was arguing that Dracula got the Fury ability when moving at sea, the strategy of Pirate Dracula is to go to sea for most or all of Week 3, then make landfall (3 influence right there) and end the game in a move or two. While at sea the Hunters cannot engage in combat and it only costs Dracula 7-8 health, so if he's been doing well for the first part of the game, he'll likely have enough health to manage it. If he's managed just a single maturation of a vampire with a rumor token, he only needs to make landfall and then move twice. So it's still a valid (though boring) strategy.
Yeah, I Figured that out. Not sure where the confusion came from (probably something I read somewhere in the forums), but thanks.
 
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Jeffery Hudson
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how in the world to you play this constantly in 2-3 hours? The only sub three hour game I played was a Dracula blowout where everything just came together perfectly. That still took 2.5 hours to play.

I think the game works great at 5 hours. The problem with lag is if the hunters feel they are just marking time until they lose and the game is over. If the hunters are really feeling that way they need to churn the event deck and get more events flowing so they have more opportunities to swing the game in their favor. If they say all that will do is insure a drac victory point out they already feel he has one. They have nothing to lose.

My last game the hunters won because i told them, in all honesty and to my detrement, that if they really felt I had already one they needed churn the event deck, get more events in play and hope they get lucky enough to draw an even that swings the game toward them. They did and they were lucky enough to swing the game to a victory at the last possible minute. AND we all had a great time with it. It revitalized the hunters during that 'lag' period and we had a great 6 hour game because of it. The hunters can't be to conservative in their efforts. If they are the game lags and no one has fun. Supplying and night and getting more events, ANY events help revitalize the game and in the long run only really help the hunters. Yeah, it gives Drac some great surprises but over the length of the game the hunters are better of because of it.
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