Friday, 28 October 2016

Playing 'Fury of Dracula'

I'm slowly making some progress on my current projects, but it's all desperately slow. On the other hand, in the meantime I'm managing to have a decent gaming rate! Well, at least higher than usual. My latest experience has been the Fury of Dracula boardgame, which has proved quite a pleasant surprise. I guess this is the closest I can get for the incoming Halloween...

Don't judge a game by its cover. Seriously
This is the third edition of the game. I honestly didn't know of the previous two, so I came with no expectations. OK, first of all, the minis. My pal (the owner of the game and regular gameboard adversary), knowing of my usual rantings about playing with unpainted pieces of plastic, acted in a gentlemany way and provided me the minis in advance so I could have them painted for the game. Ahhh, much better...

20mm bendy plastic
From left to right, Abraham Van Helsing, Mina Harker, Count Dracula, Lord Godalming and John Seward. They of course aren't wargame quality standard, but more than pretty decent for this kind of board game. Easy to paint with no fuss to be made. OK, now we're good, we have met some minimum requirements. Now we can play.

Let's start with the basics. One player plays Dracula, trying to spread terror all over old Europe while avoiding to get caught. The daring hunters (up to four players) will have to follow his track and discover where the vampire hides, in order to fight and defeat him for good. This is the display:

Beers and stuff not included
We were two hunter players, so we had two characters each. Dracula starts the game on an unknown location. Each turn the characters will be able to perform different actions, like moving from a town to another by road, purchasing a train ticket, travelling by train if they have such ticket (covering larger distances), resting to recover harm points, supplying or searching for useful hints of the vampire's whereabouts.
The turn is divided into day and night shift. During the night the hunters cannot travel (for the night is dark and full of terrors). So we start monday morning and will conduct the hunt during the whole week. Time runs and it's for Dracula's profit. His goal will be spreading terror and avoiding the hunters. He can get 'influence points' by the Encounter cards (we'll get to that later) or defeating the hunters... if they ever get to catch him!

Each hunter starts in a different city. Dracula is hidden
Each turn Dracula moves. He places a card of the town in which he is and then an Encounter card on top of that. The town cards will be displaced accordingly through the trail as he moves.

The hunters of course don't know where Dracula is. But if any of them ends their turn in a town in which Dracula has been (of course, if the town card is in the trail), the vampire player will have to reveal it. From that, the hunters would have to wonder where can he be now ('He was there three turns ago, so now he can be here, there or there...' That kind of stuff). So this is some kind of elaborate cat and mouse game. Only that the mouse is an evil being from beyond the grave that can end your life and eventually turn you into the unlife of vampires. You know.

John Seward travels to Spain, mina Harker takes a ship to Britain, Van Helsing wanders through central Europe and Arthur Holmwood tries it in the vicinity of Castle Dracula
At the beginning they find nothing. No tracks of the vampire. Mina gets delayed as misterious winds refrain the ship for arriving to Scotland. The others don't have much better luck on their routes through Europe. But on Wednesday, John Seward finds something! Count Dracula begun his misdeeds in Alicante, in the Spanish Mediterranean coast!

Seriously, Dracula? Spain? Haven't you heard about the garlic and the sun?
The strategy becomes clear. Everyone must travel as fast as they can and entrap the vampire. As that was two days ago, he cannot be beyond southern France. The hunters must block all the ways!

In fact, Dr. Seward has an unpleasant encounter at Toulouse:

Finally! A combat! Combats are resolved by using cards. Each hunter has three actions (punch, dodge, escape) and any weapons he is equipped with (if the hunter has performed a supply action and succeeded).

'Punch', 'Dodge', 'Escape' and 'Rifle' in Spanish. Yup, we fought in Spanish. You should try it one day
Anyway, instead of fighting, Seward uses a special card he got when supplying.

Instead of solving the combat, the vampire gets 5 damage points. So does the hunter
Dracula escapes as mist! Wooosh!
The hunters win if they inflict the vampire 15 damage points. Dr. Seward is injured, but he can recover faster than the other huntes (as per his own special rules), so in the end it was worth of it.

Now all the roads are blocked. We know Dracula is entrapped with the garlic
Oh but he sails!
You see, the sea card is different. We know that Dracula has slipped into a ship in a port town. We get to assume that he went to Barcelona and now he is somewhere in the Mediterranean. From that he can get to a number of ports, or keep travelling to another sea area. Anyway, each turn he spends at sea, he will suffer additional damage.
In the meantime, a week comes to an end. Monday again. A Despair token is placed:

If three tokens are placed, the Fury of Dracula will be unleashed. Bad shit, you know. Besides, Dracula's 'influence track' is now set on 4. If it gets to 13, the vampire will win
OK, so... where can Dracula possibly be? We all hunters assume he'll travel to a port...
But he doesn't! He's still on a ship, on a different sea area!
Either he's gone through Gibraltar to the Atlantic Ocean, either he's moving through the Tyrrhenian Sea towards Italy
 The hunters assume that Dracula will try to make an escape through Italy, where his track can be more easily lost, so they all begin to travel. Only Mina stays at Santander, just in case.

In fact...

Time for another fight! As said earlier, the hunter cards are 'punch', 'dodge' and 'escape'. All the cards have certain icons, those will be the ones deciding the fight.

Mina tries to dodge Dracula, but he mesmerizes her!
John Seward comes to the rescue, while the others run!
Van Helsing triggers a trap! Dracula left a vampire in Barcelona
The next couple of turns were just a desperate fight. Cards flew all over, acting and counteracting. Dracula finally escaped, overwhelmed by the hunters and badly injured.

Agh, lost his track again!
Both hunters are injured too, but they cannot afford to lose the track. Inquiring, the vampire is spotted in Nantes.

On the run! He's revealed again
Lord Godalming arrives by train and attacks at Le Havre
Count Dracula tries to mesmerize him, but he uses a heavenly host, which denies the vampire's attack and inflicts the creature four damage points

14 out of 15 damage points!!
The fight goes on. Finally, Lord Godalming prevails:

Dracula is defeated!!
Pretty sure the novel didn't go this way at all
Well, it was quite a tense game! The hunt dynamics are superb. The hunters have to wander all over Europe to find the trail, and then they have to work out where can Dracula be, based on where he was some days ago. It's totally cool. In our game Dracula was unlucky to have been discovered so early, that put the hunters on the track. Had he not been spotted, he could have been travelling all over the board confusing the hunters for days and days. The encounter cards system is quite interesting too, as you can trigger a trap any moment, but that's the price to locate the vampire! Thrill, thrill everywhere!

I haven't said it yet, but the characters are well designed, with traits taken from the novel, so they all add quite an unique approach to the game. The cooperative aspect between them is also a great win of the game, the players having to compensate each other. The supply cards also add some depth. For gaming purposes it's not the same supplying by day or by night, from time to time you can get a nasty surprise. The time counter is amazingly designed too, quite atmospherical.

Combat is also different. No dice, just strategy, trying to guess what card your opponent will play, what has he discarded, what weapons do the hunters have... Pretty interesting, yet simple.

On the whole it's an enormously exciting game, a must for anyone fond of Dracula and the gothic terror theme. There is much more apart from what I've told here, but I suggest you to discover and give the game a try, totally recommended. You may dare to hunt Dracula for the incoming Halloween...


  1. Sounds like lots of fun. Scotland Yard on spooky steroids!

    1. Hahaha, kind of it :D Terribly fun, seriously!

  2. Beautiful work on those miniatures, Suber! I love the lighting effect on Lord Goddammit.
    Fury of Dracula is one of my favourite board-games, period, hands down. As you've noted, it almost always provides an exciting game that mirrors the flavour (and sometimes even the events) of the source material.
    My only complaint is that I think the 2nd edition (which I know you haven't played) is slightly better than the 3rd edition: the map is a little bigger and the play is a little more streamlined. If you ever get a chance to play the 2nd ed., I'd love to know what you think.

    1. Really? I honestly didn't know of the game, it's been a pleasant surprise. Hmm, what you say sounds interesting, I may make some inquiries...

  3. Replies
    1. It was! Besides, the possibilities of it are so great that you will never have two identical games. Really enjoyable.

  4. Lovely figures, great report! I've played this once and look forwards to doing so again!

    1. Thanks! I enjoyed it a lot, tremendously fun, I hope to play it again too!

  5. Sounds like a cracking game! Nice job on the painting front too dude, kudos on the OSL ;-)

    1. Thank you! BTW, I didn't say, but this is one of those FFG/GW games affected by their breakup, so it will soon OOP rather soon! Fly, you fools!

  6. Excellent looking game! awesome painted minis too!

  7. I wonder if any of you playing the game were prone to saying "Blah, blah, blah ..." ala Hotel Transylvania. :) The game does look very interesting but that could just be the great batrep you write :)

    1. :D :D We need to replay the game just to do that! :D
      The game was quite thrilling, and it could have been even more than that hadn't we discovered Dracula so early. Really cool game!