I've played Fury of Dracula twice so far, and I thought it was a fun (if long) game to play. Thought about posting my thoughts and impressoins about this interesting title.
The first game of this was actually the last game that was played at Dundracon 2011. After dropping my best friend off I returned to join some new friends in an ongoing game and took over for someone who was leaving (as mina). The room we were in closed, so we actually moved the board and eveything to a table and some chairs in a hall and continued to play the game till dark on Monday evening. At the end, we knew Dracula had traveled some water territories and made landfall but didn't know where in western europe. On a gamble I went to the south-most possible town on the Iberian peninsula and ran into Dracula there. We dropped a roadblock for dracula on Saragosa and our ally that hurts dracula on water was in play. Over the course of that game I was the only one to wound and eventually kill dracula (the irony!). One remarkable part of the endgame was when I started placing dice on the board in possible locations for where Dracula could be... something I intend to continue next time I'm a hunter
The next game was actually at my annual gaming group where I got to be dracula. Amidst dropping quotes from the Count in Sesamie street and mocking veggan Vampires, I lead the investigators on a merry chase across europe, but whenever I got into combat I would always be loosing (stupid dice!!). I was hampered by not putting out new vampires and it looked like it was going to be a long game by the time we were forced to wrap it up. In hindsight I should have used the summon minion call and not been so concerned with keeping Dracula in peak health.
I like the game, but strong marks against it are the format of the rules and the length of play. The daughter of the game's owner (who brought it to my group) whined about the manual and I have to agree with some of her complaints. Fortunately there are aids on BGG I intend to use if I ever get the game. The second issue might be better with a group that knows how to play the game, since there are some strategies that could have made the game quicker if I used them in hindsight. Dracula's only action to get closer to victory- putting out new vampires- depends mostly on the random one-tile-replacement happening once per turn. Had I done the minion call I probably could have had more vamps out, but once the investigators were on my tail it wasn't easy to have a vampire live long enough to mature. Even when one of the investigators found one during a night session they just waited until it was daylight and it simply died. Would have helped Dracula some if when it escaped, it had to be found again.
Expense is mostly the thing keeping me from buying a copy, and finding players to play with. Fortunately it can play as low as two players, and now that I have a wonderful gaming girlfriend that is no longer a problem
The Kola Peninsula? That's rather far north of the existing map. From your mention of Saragossa, I guess you mean the Iberian peninsula.
Another tactic for Dracula to use if he doesn't like his encounters is to put locations in the Catacombs: you get to put an encounter on a location when it goes in, so that means you can draw two per turn instead of just one. (Someone on the BGG forums pointed that one out to me.) But yes, Dracula's best chance to mature a New Vampire is in the early phase of the game -- once the Hunters have found him even once, it becomes almost impossible to do.
Yes, the Iberian peninsula. Because I'm a simple American I'm bound to mix those names up... unless they appear on a Risk board :\
Japag came up with some interesting edits to the game that might make play a little more different and fun, but I'm not sure if I can get my gaming group to use them. Having those special items as one-shots would be nice, instead of making them effectively immune to some events.