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Subject: The Lady is a Vamp rss

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Keith M. Sandler
United States
Framingham
Massachusetts
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Session Report: 10/29/2011

Fury of Dracula

Keith (Dr. Seward, Mina Harker)
Erin (Count Dracula)
Alex (Lord Godalming, Van Helsing)

For our first game session at Alex’s new apartment, we opted to play Fury of Dracula in honour of Halloween. As it had been suggested that folks might be sick of me always playing the bad guy in “co-operative vs. 1” games, and as the game had disappointed Erin in our last several games together, we decided to let my wife have a go at playing the Count. This is one game in which I honestly have a great time playing either side, Dracula or hunters, and I have not had a chance to get this game to the table since painting the minis, so I was very excited to play. After a bit, well, a lot of explanation about Dracula’s movement rules, encounter tiles, victory conditions, and power cards, we got under way.

Alex chose Lord Godalming and Van Helsing as his characters, leaving me with Dr. Seward and Mina Harker. This gave us a nice back-and-forth style of play due to the characters always being played in the same order: Godalming, Seward, Van Helsing, and then Mina. I suggested that we start a hunter, particularly one other than Mina, in the British Isles, but neither Alex nor I wanted to commit a character to that area, so we hoped Erin wouldn’t try the “Ireland gambit.” Lord Godalming began near the center of the map while Dr. Seward explored the lands closer to Castle Dracula and Van Helsing sought for information on the Iberian peninsula. Mina started in southern Italy with the intention of rejoining her fellows in Europe before the dangerous night began.

It was a cold trail to begin with, until Dracula gave us a clue as to his whereabouts by taking to sea several turns in. At first we were puzzled, as the number of ports on the board was quite large, and we hadn’t narrowed the options down enough for our liking. Soon, however, it became clear. He must have begun in Eastern Europe, not far from his own castle. Sure enough, Dr. Seward discovered hints of Dracula’s movements. As he had already covered the port cities of Constanta and Varna, it seemed clear that the Prince of Darkness had headed south from Sofia in order to board a ship traveling through the Ionian Sea.

We suspected his plan might be to attack the vulnerable Mina in northern Italy come nightfall. Thankfully, Mrs. Harker had been using her shopping skills well in her trip through Italy, so she was well-armed, even if slightly wary of a night encounter with the enemy. The rest of the hunters converged near Venice where Mina had arrived. Sure enough, the Count made his appearance, timing his movement perfectly in order to take advantage of his full powers by night. Or had he?

A nice card play of “Long Day” by Van Helsing turned back the clock, so to speak. Yes, Dracula had descended on his prey, but it was daylight, and there would be no way for the beast to press his advantage. Moreover, Mina had another trick up her sleeve. She had expected the Count’s arrival and therefore gained a +1 to her die rolls for the duration of her engagement with the vampire. As a final advantage, she possessed the single greatest weapon for use against the walking undead, a stake. Switching between the stake and her trusty pistol, our heroine was able to hold off the Counts advances and press her own attacks, scoring several “kill” results against her foe before he managed to escape. Dracula had no powers over dice during the day, apparently, as he failed to defeat the lady for four or five consecutive rounds of combat before finally winning one and escaping in human form. (Small misplay here -- we had forgotten that the hunters had an ally in play which made it cost 2 blood each time Dracula attempted to play an Escape card. We didn’t remember for several turns after his successful escape with 5 blood remaining, so we allowed the game to continue with no ill will.)

Dracula had escaped his end for now, but the noose was tightening around him. All roads into and out of Venice were guarded (despite Van Helsing’s horrible luck catching trains). There was no escape. Or was there? As night fell, the Prince of Darkness assumed the form of a wolf and slipped through the hunters’ trap. Still, he couldn’t have travelled far. We spread out slowly, widening our net just enough to find a hint of our foe’s whereabouts. Eventually, we hit upon his trail, again, just as the beast was taking to sea. (This might have been a bad move for the count, as he was running desperately low on blood, but it was a brave attempt to escape his would-be destroyers.) Unfortunately, we heard rumours of a wave of vampirisim arising elsewhere in Europe. It seemed that our enemy had managed to create a progeny even in the midst of his guerrilla campaign on us. Our first night was coming to a close. Dracula was halfway to victory.

With a scan of the board, it seemed likely if not definite that the fiend had headed to the North Sea. While Dr. Seward came back from his position just over the East/West border, getting hotter on the trail, Lord Godalming and Mina Harker took to the Sea just after Dracula. From the North Sea, Dracula had plenty of options, many of them potentially bewildering to hunters, especially with the possibilities of his cutting around or in-between the British Isles or ducking into the Bay of Biscay, but we hunters had another trick up our sleeve. Dr. Seward used his London connections to track the Count’s money trail just after he made landfall. So... our enemy had put in to port somewhere off the Atlantic Ocean. We thought it unlikely that he would corner himself in at Ireland, so we sought to head him off at the only other possible ports: Cadiz and Lisbon. Van Helsing, still too senile to read a train schedule properly, took a long time in crossing Europe, but eventually all of our forces were in place, converging upon our enemy around Saragossa even as our second night was falling upon us.

The good doctor made his play, going pistol to pistol with a dangerous assassin. Seward’s speed and accuracy proved better than his opponent, and he found the dread count soon after. Dropping his spent pistol in favour of a more spiritual weapon, Seward drew his silver crucifix from his neck and presented it without fear at the beast. The ancient villain tried desperately to make eye contact with Seward, hoping to use his powers of mental manipulation on him. Seward was too versed in both occultism and in psychology, however, and he would not be taken in by the Count’s silky-smooth words and iron-cold gaze. (I rolled a “2” for Seward’s attack, but Erin could only manage to roll a “1!”) This was one staring contest that the vampire would not win. The sign of the cross was too much for the beast, at last, and he fell to the ground, melting into dust for good and giving the hunters, Alex and myself, the win!

This was a great session, and a valiant first play as Dracula by Erin. I was impressed by her presence of mind to play Hide and Wolf Form at the appropriate times. Alex and I did well to stay away from the Event deck when possible, severely limiting Erin’s abilities to elude us. As one of Erin’s fortes is a strong attention to details, this served us well, because she had already trounced us on several occasions with well-timed plays of the few cards we had allowed her.

I think that her original plan to attack Mina by night was a sound one, but Alex’s play of Long Day completely turned the tide. Erin did well with her escape, but traveling by sea at that point was very risky, as not only does it make it easier for hunters to track, but the blood cost would make that move extremely limiting to an already weakened Dracula. (We did accidentally make Dracula pay for disembarking, but this didn’t even make up for the blood he should have lost due to his “Escape” cards earlier in the game.) I think a better move for her would have been to use Feed and to head back towards Castle Dracula. She was clearly not drawing well from the encounter pool, as she had only been able to drop one new vampire throughout the entire game, so that may explain her desperation. Dracula is a tough role to play, especially for the first time, and despite the lack of advanced tactical knowledge such as how to best use and draw encounter tiles, Erin performed very well. Hopefully she enjoyed the experience enough to give it another go soon, as I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants another night of stalking and staking.

Vleh.

--kMs
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