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Subject: Teaching Fury of Dracula rss

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Introduction
I've taught Fury of Dracula to quite a few groups, usually filled with new players. Generally, my teaching seems to have worked pretty well, so I thought I'd share my experiences explaining this game. I've found that this works well with my usual groups, but be sure to read my notes below before you try them.

Explainer Notes
This is about me and my theory of boardgaming and explaining. If you don't agree with me, you might not want to explain things my way.

1. Boardgaming is fun! Check out that "I love all games!" microbadge -- I really mean it! Boardgaming is a fun activity, so I try to encourage my players not to be too serious about it. If we screw up a rule, that's ok -- we'll fix it later. If someone breaks a rule, let them fix it. Don't bite the newbies (well, ok, go ahead if you're Dracula. But don't yell at them. Too much.)

2. I game with roleplayers and improvisers: Why does this matter? They're already used to cooperating, so I only have to say "you guys are cooperating against Dracula" and everyone's on the same page. You may need to take more time to talk to your players about cooperation.

3. Figure out details as you play: I prefer not to cover the meaning of every single card and every detail in the explanation. Rather, I give an overview and hit a few of the more important details. Doing it this way keeps things simpler, gives players the "big picture," and lets us start playing quickly. It also means that players may have to figure out what some event and item cards do during the game. But, because I am usually with the Hunters, we can manage that with no problem.

4. Text Conventions: Generally, normal text is what I say to players. Anything in italics are hints for the explainer, or something whose wording you should come up with yourself.

Setup and Player Arrangement
How to set things up before you start explaining.



1. Set up early: Have everything set up before the new players arrive, if possible. FoD has lots of special bits and cards, so you don't want to be futzing around trying to find the Basic Combat cards and the Holy Host tokens while everyone's sitting around waiting.

2. New players are hunters: I always put new players in the Hunters' roles. That way they can work together and help each other. If there is an experienced player available, I ask that person to be Dracula (not hard to do, usually, since it's a fun role), or as second preference I take Dracula myself. I prefer to be a hunter so that I can help players with specific cards as they come up. Frequently I take Mina, because her special powers are somewhat different from the rest. Make sure every player has and sees their "cheat card" for turn order and resolve points.

Explaining the Game
Once everything is set up and everyone is seated, here's what I say, and when I say it.

1. Our goal: We are a group of vampire hunters trying to hunt down and kill Dracula. We can work together and share information as much as we like. We win only by killing him -- and every time we kill him, he may not actually die, so we have to repeatedly kill him. (Show Dracula's blood sheet.) This is Dracula's health. If he ever gets down to zero blood, we win. But every time we "kill" him in a combat, we only clear one row of blood drops off of the sheet.



2. Dracula's goal: Dracula wins by moving his vampire track to 6. How this happens I will explain later.

3. Overall turn order: Every round, Dracula has his turn, then each of us has our turns in order. What Dracula does affects us directly, so I'll explain that first.

4. Dracula's basic turn: First, advance the day. Dracula is stronger at night, and weaker during the day. If the sundial goes to dawn, the vampire and resolve tracks advance (point them out). This gives us good stuff which we can use later, and gets Dracula closer to winning. Next, Dracula moves secretly. He can only move by roads, which means he can only move one city at a time. (Point out the solid lines on the board and an example of connected cities.) He places a face-down card which contains his new location on his track, and places an encounter token on it. These encounters are things we will have to deal with if we stop in that city. (Demonstrate movement with several location cards, showing how Dracula moves, slides over the old cards, places a card, and places an encounter on it.) The biggest part of this game is deducing where Dracula is based on the locations we discover in his trail.



5. Hunter's basic turn: Next, it's our turn. First, you may move to another city (Explain road and rail, and the rail die. Be sure to point out the difference between "0" and "X" and 2/3 in Eastern Europe. Then mention the sea and how you can move from sea zone to sea zone. I don't dwell on the sea too much at this point.) Once you move, check with Dracula to reveal if he has been there. If he has, he'll turn up that card on his trail, and you must deal with the encounter -- he'll tell you what to do. If not, then you can resupply, rest, or trade. (First explain resupplying: big cities vs. small cities, and items vs. events. Next explain the Event deck, drawing from the bottom, and how we must be careful about drawing. Use the "Evasion" card as an example of a card we DON'T want to draw when we're hot on Dracula's trail. Also point out that if you have an encounter, then your turn is done -- no resupplying! Finally, mention hand-size limits. Point out the basic combat cards and mention that they do not count against your hand limit. Next, explain resting briefly, and trading.)

6. Special things Dracula may have done: When Dracula moves, you may see (or not see) him use a few special cards that affect us. (Explain: sea moves, using the Hide card, and Wolf Form. I don't bother with Dark Call, etc. until we see them during the game). In addition, some of his encounters are especially nasty. (Explain maturing encounters, especially vampires, which give 2 points on Dracula's vampire track.) So, we must check out Dracula's trail, even if we know where he is already.



7. Winning, in detail: Here are details about Dracula winning. Dracula wins by moving his vampire track to 6. He advances it by 2 if he matures a vampire, and 1 for each dawn. In addition, if we move into a city where Dracula is, then he must immediately attack us. If he "kills" us, he moves the track up by 2. There is basically no way to move Dracula's track backwards -- there's one special Event card which we'll deal with if we get it. We win by taking Dracula's blood tokens all the way down to zero. Every time we "kill" him in combat, he clears one row of blood tokens. But, some of Dracula's special abilities also cost him blood, so he can weaken himself.

8. Combat: If we end up in a city with Dracula or one of his minions (which come from encounters), we must fight! I will explain this in detail when it actually happens. A few important items: you have a number of health, and Dracula or his minions can hurt you and reduce your health. If you go to zero, you are "defeated" -- not really dead, but you do have to spend a turn in the hospital and lose all your stuff. (Show the hospital). In addition, you might be bitten by Dracula. This lets him get bonuses against you, and you must always show one item and one event card for each bite. Too many bites, and you're defeated too! (Show Mina's bite.) There are several ways to prepare for combat. There are generally two types of item cards: minion-slaying and Dracula-slaying. Which are which should be fairly obvious (gosh, I wonder who a crucifix is good against?). Typically, you can be a good minion-slayer or a good Dracula-slayer, but not both: keep that in mind when deciding which item cards to keep. In addition, there are several useful event cards. (Explain: Advance Planning, Good Luck, and perhaps Escape Route. The rest can be dealt with as they're drawn.)

9. Introduce the Characters: Let's go around and look at our characters now -- introduce your character and their special ability. (I encourage people to play in character! As each player goes, make sure that their special ability is clear. Don't forget yourself.)



Let's Play!

Anything else (such as details of combat, allies, catacombs, etc.) I will handle as they come up. I also encourage all new players to share information about their cards as much as possible, so that everyone can see what is available and learn what cards do.

1. Starting Placement: First, we get to place our figurines on any city we like (except Castle Dracula or the Hospital). I suggest that we spread out a bit so that we can look for his trail. (If the Dracula player is experienced or sneaky, I may suggest that I start in the British Isles, to check for a sneaky Dracula start.)



2. Dracula Placement: Now Dracula has a sort of shortened turn, in which he can choose where to start. He doesn't get to place an encounter on this one location only.

3. We start: Now we get to have our turns... let's play!

Things I do not explain until they come up

1. Resolve: I mention that it does good stuff. Once we actually get resolve, there is a good chance that we've seen Newspaper Reports and Sense of Emergency, so it is easy to explain at that point.

2. Combat and Group Combat: When the first combat occurs, I step the player in question through the process, showing the other players as much as I can. Combat is much easier to see than it is to explain. Group combat happens fairly rarely, so I usually bring it up only if it looks like we might want to make use of it.

3. Catacombs: If these get used at all, I explain them when Dracula uses them. Basically: Don't go there!

4. Dracula's special powers: Other than Hide and Wolf Form, I usually leave these alone. We can see when he uses one, and I will explain it then.

5. Allies: These cards are mostly self-explanatory. When one comes up, I simply point out that we can keep this card out and it will give us a bonus.

6. Event and Item Cards: I usually show a few of these when I talk about them, just as examples. Otherwise, players can generally read them and understand them just fine. I handle questions as the cards are drawn. I also remind players at the beginning of combat that they can play Advance Planning, etc.

Wrap-up and credits

That's all, folks! Hope you like it. Any expansions / arguments are welcome in the comments.

This is expanded from this post, which I made in another Fury of Dracula thread.

Most of the photos in this article are not mine. I highly encourage you to go thumb them if you like them -- I found them very useful to illustrate my points.

Edit: Forgot bites. Whoops!
Edit: BGG is weird today. It has repeatedly cut off half of my article. Restoring.
Edit: Added Evasion card info as mentioned below.
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Zsolt Nagy
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Very nice writing, congrats on this! I only would add that when you are explaining the event deck the evasion card specifically should be mentioned for beginner hunters so they can better fathom the dangers of the event deck. Also, beginner players should start as hunters if it is possible.
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Nagypapi wrote:
Very nice writing, congrats on this! I only would add that when you are explaining the event deck the evasion card specifically should be mentioned for beginner hunters so they can better fathom the dangers of the event deck. Also, beginner players should start as hunters if it is possible.


Thanks!

I agree about Evasion, I just went back to add it as an example.
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Brett Payne
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Thanks, you did a great job. I am always the teacher for games and I take a similar approach. I cant stand having to learn from someone who gets sidetracked into strategy and one rare example of what could happen in the game.
 
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clover6534 wrote:
Thanks, you did a great job. I am always the teacher for games and I take a similar approach. I cant stand having to learn from someone who gets sidetracked into strategy and one rare example of what could happen in the game.

Thanks!

I absolutely agree -- unless you have a REALLY uptight gaming group, it's better to cover the big stuff, and learn as you go. Most people are OK with that.
 
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Thanks for this!
 
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