Fury of Dracula – Become the Bat

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Normally the second Wednesday of every month is when we release our podcast, but due to scheduling problems the podcast will go up next Wednesday. Until then you’ll have to imagine my (Emmet) sexy voice while you read about my experiences playing a caring eastern European count who happens to have a taste for blood. We also chatted about Fury of Dracula on Episode 6 of the podcast if you want to check that out too.

Usually we’d put something like this in a “First Impressions” article, except I’ve played Fury of Dracula twice now (so second impressions?) but both times as Dracula. To me this means that I’ve only really played half the game so for now I’ll give my impressions of playing as Bitey McBiteFace, with a sister article to follow in the future about playing as one of the hunters.

Just a note, we’re playing the 3rd Edition of Fury of Dracula without the advanced rules.

Hide & Seek… & Then Murder

Fury of Dracula is a hidden movement game where four intrepid vampire hunters, lifted straight from the pages of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, ping pong around Europe in search of the elusive count. The game is actually set up as a sequel to Stoker’s novel, with the hunters trying to stop Dracula before he reclaims his power and hold over the lands. This flavour directly impacts on some of the characters, with Mina Harker for example always having the “Bitten” condition (which is bad) but also being able to tell if Dracula is in a particular region due to her ties to him (which is good!).

The game is split into a number of day and night phases that happen over the course of a few in-game weeks. The hunters spend the days moving by road, rail, or sea; stocking up on smelly garlic and pointed sticks; and searching for signs of Dracula. Dracula spends the day… well presumably hiding in his coffin – the Dracula player does nothing in this phase. At night the hunters can’t move but they can still go for a nighttime stroll to the shops or try to search for Dracula and his minions. When the hunters are done with both phases, Dracula comes out to play! Dracula spends his time moving unseen about Europe and seeding vampires at various locations in order to raise the Influence track by maturing them (having them roll off the end of the trail), or possibly stalking an isolated hunter in the hopes that hospitalising them will do the same.

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“My friend! You’re bleeding! Fear not, I shall plug the hole with my tongue.” Source: Fantasy Flight Games

Dracula’s position is obviously not shown on the board (that would be a very short game), instead he draws cards from a deck and places them face down on The Trail. When a hunter ends their turn in one of the locations on the trail, Dracula must flip that card. Since Dracula can only pick adjacent locations to move to (old man Dracs doesn’t trust the great iron worm), when this happens the hunters will know how many cities they are away from finding Dracula depending on the revealed card’s position on the trail. Dracula also generally doesn’t want to move by sea as, 1. He takes damage, and 2. The backs of the sea cards are a different colour and there are far less of them so the hunters will instantly be able to narrow down his location, particularly if they’ve revealed any locations on the trail.

What We Do In The Shadows

The instant you decide to play Dracula, you are immediately faced with a crucial decision: where to start. Do you start near a hunter to try to weaken them early? Do you start far away to keep safe and accumulate influence by maturing vampires? Do you start somewhere with a lot of roads in and out and lose that as a hub if something goes wrong?

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Fun game suggestion: Combine Fury of Dracula with Ticket to Ride so hunters can only use railways they own. Source: Fantasy Flight Games

In my first game as Dracula I started in central Europe, in Frankfurt. Frankfurt is almost smack dab in the middle of the board and is connected to a lot of cities so I thought by starting here I would give myself a lot of options and therefore be able to react to the hunters actions. Unfortunately by starting in Frankfurt I immediately limited my options when I moved to smaller, less connected cities nearby as most of these ran through Frankfurt – which I couldn’t go back to because the Frankfurt card was on the trail. I headed south through Nuremberg, then further on to Zurich, Milan, and deep into Italy. It was quite early on but I had already backed myself into a corner. The hunters had picked up my trail and were lurking around northern Italy so I decided to head out to sea and suffer the consequences.

As soon as I put down that blue sea card, the hunters knew I’d just left Italy, either through Rome or Naples. But it was ok, I’d lose them at sea. Though being at sea hurts Dracula it does open a lot of options to you as most sea spaces are connected to 2 or more port cities which can allow you to lose your pursuers. Next turn I moved from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, meaning I now had access to Marseille, Alicante, and Barcelona. One of the hunters was in Marseille so that was a no go, so Spain would be my destination. The next decision I made almost lost me the game.

I docked in Barcelona, not realising it wasn’t connected by road to Alicante.

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This is fine… No need to panic. (TouLOSE almost lives up to its name! Hyuck, hyuck…)

The hunters closed in on me as I became bottle-necked in Toulouse, and Dracula ended up facing off against 4 hunters at once (due to some clever use of actions by the hunters). Dracula barely survived and managed to turn into a bat and escape (with just 3 health remaining!), fleeing back across Europe. Again there was a crucial decision point: return to Castle Dracula to regain health, or double back and pick off one of the hunters hoping they would think I had fled to Castle Dracula. If I doubled back and got found out, I’d have no escape as my low health meant travelling by sea again wasn’t an option. So I played it safe and made the long trek to my home sweet home, dropping traps and diversions along the way.

In the end, after 4 hours of basically running, Dracula and Van Helsing faced off in a one on one fight to the death. There was only one health in the difference at the end of the game when a beaten and exhausted Count Dracula claimed the victory.

Yikes.

2, 2 Games of Dracula! Ah Ah Ah.

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There was no way I was getting through this article without The Count. Source: PBS

So we met up a second time to play Fury of Dracula, convinced we could cut down on the 4 hour playtime (we didn’t) and that I would play more aggressively as Dracula (I didn’t).

I decided to start in Madrid, with my nefarious plan being to seed a vampire there so that when I killed one of the hunters, they’d return there to the hospital and find themselves in a fight straight away.

Of course I completely forgot that you don’t place anything in one of your lairs on your first turn. Sigh. First thing I do is make a mistake. Off to a good start!

I think this immediately made me change my game plan to be just about hiding and maturing vampires. I went on a little tour of Spain, dotting vampires and traps all about the place, and eventually made my way up into France. But those pesky vampire hunters were on my trail again and when I made it to Nantes, every city it was attached to had a hunter in it. Crap. Looks like I’m heading out to sea again. But then one of the hunter players draws a Dracula card during their night time phase, and this card lets me take another turn immediately after finishing my current turn. This meant I could move into a city with a hunter and then straight away move out. I checked the rules multiple times and all I could find was that Dracula is revealed if he’s in the same city as a hunter at dawn or dusk (the transitional phases between the Day and Night phases). This is perfect! Because I’m taking a turn straight away after my turn, dawn doesn’t happen until I’ve taken both turns!

Delighted with myself and chuffed at the luck that saw me get that card, I skipped into Paris and then smugly moved to Brussels, and on to Cologne on my next turn.

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Foolish blind humans, I was under your nose the hole time!

I’m fully convinced this little sequence was what allowed me to win the game, and it felt great at the time. Pure excitement and tension. But then… but then…

Sigh. Yeah, I found a sneaky line of text later on in the game that says Dracula is revealed the moment he enters a city with a hunter. Damn it.

I felt like crap. I had scoured the rules to see if what I had done was allowed and couldn’t find anything, but it turned out I had inadvertently made an illegal move. I felt like I had robbed the hunters and it made for a hollow victory. It was alright in the end, no-one minded and understood it was only our second game and I was the only one who had read the rules, but it still felt unfair.

The rest of the game saw Dracula flee into Scotland, England, Ireland, then out to sea for the winning turn. We all had fun, and I guess we’ll know better for next time but I still felt a bit flat afterwards. Anyway, next time I’ll be the one hunting Dracula down and he won’t know what hit him!

Hunt or Be Hunted

So those were the two games of Fury of Dracula I’ve played. I think it’s a mark of a great game that I’m excited to sit down and play this again and that I’m actually desperate to try to play as Dracula again (aggressively this time!). But I am also looking forward to being on the other side of the table and feeling the adrenaline of closing in on the elusive count and working together to take down a much more powerful adversary. And we haven’t even seen Dracula use the advanced powers yet!

All in all I really like Fury of Dracula. The game has been around for a long time and seen 3 different editions so that’s not really surprising. If you are interested though, now is the time to buy. Fantasy Flight Games will no longer be selling it as their partnership with Games Workshop has ended, so soon the game of Fury of Dracula may be as hard to find as the count himself!

Matching Beer

For playing as Dracula I went with something as black as his heart – the Darkside IPA from Brú. I’ve become a fan of dark IPA’s as they feel like a nice blend of stout and IPA, so they’re easy to drink but still have a nice heft to them. It also leaves a nice kind of silky mouthfeel as you drink it. Unfortunately I don’t think Brú are brewing this at the moment, but if you’re in Ireland you might be able to track down a few stray bottles.

As another option (for those of you in the US), check out Founders Brewing’s Dark Penance, which is also a crackin’ beer.

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