Fury of Dracula

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Fury of Dracula

Post  DaveB on Wed 17 Feb 2016, 10:04

Soooooo Fury of Dracula

For anyone not aware of it, FoD is an asymmetrical "Hidden Movement" game where one player plays as Dracula while the others play four hunters that are trying to find and destroy him. If you're familiar with Specter Ops, Letters from Whitechapel or Scotland Yard - it's the same basic principle.

I played as Dracula and this was my first play. I'd also made a point of not looking at any of the cards or character sheets or anything like that in the hope of going in as cold as everyone else, so please bear that in mind as that will colour my perspective...

Firstly the design work of... well, everything was top notch (the exception of course being the box insert - this is an FFG game after all!) - the board, the cards, everything was really pretty. The geography... not so much.

As for the game itself - for Dracula, like any game of this type it was properly tense. I was found very quickly at the start which was not so great (my fault though).

I managed a cunning escape, and the game of cat and mouse was afoot!

The game is split into days, with a day phase and a night phase. After three weeks are complete Dracula "unlocks" his Fury ability which will allow him to increment the Influence Track by three every time he moves to a city. If he gets that track to thirteen it's game over for the hunters. So they need to kill him first.

Each day phase, the Hunters each take a turn (in a specified character order) then dusk happens (important for combat/certain card effects) then night phase which allows the Hunters to take another action (with the exception of moving) and THEN Dracula gets to move - he plays a card face down corresponding to the city he's moving to, and also plays an "encounter" card with it - these could be new vampires, or traps or other ambushes to trip up the hunters trying to find and follow his trail.

There is a trail of six cards (including the one most recently played). If a Hunter should land in a city in that list the card is revealed, so the Hunters know both that Dracula was there and also how recently. The corresponding Encounter card *may* be activated then or not, at Dracula's discretion.

If an Encounter card reaches the end of that trail it "Matures". Most of the Encounter cards have a nastier effect if this is the case - particularly the vampire cards. Hunters can force the reveal of this card with an action on that city if they chose and face the consequences.

Anyway, for the most part the game is great, although there are quite a few things to stay on top of (for example I consistently forgot to take advantage of my Ally ability). There are certain mechanics that are a bit of a faff, but I must admit given the design of the game I'm not sure I have any better ideas to implement them - although perhaps a screen for Dracula to hide his stuff behind wouldn't go amiss...

I hope one of the others will chime in on the experience of playing as a Hunter, but as Dracula this game definitely falls foul of the big weakness of the genre - the Dracula player has a *lot* of downtime as the Hunters plan and execute their moves (Dracula takes one action for every 8 of the Hunters).

I spent most of the game convinced I was screwed - I was never more than a couple of paces ahead of the hunters and took a couple of lickings along the way - but luckily I was just able to stay ahead of them long enough to gain my "Fury" ability - once that happened the game came to a conclusion very quickly - although it's worth noting at that point that I was pretty effectively cornered on the British Isles, and I doubt that I could have survived more than another couple of turns...

Anyway, was a fairly typical first game (so lots of debate over rules and querying the manuals for clarification etc) not to mention screwing things up here and there so the game played long - nearer four hours rather than the advertised 2-3. That will come down with experience, but also I do wonder if its worth applying a time limit on turns for the hunter side - more or less every game of this type I've played tends to run long as the hunter team debate their actions at great length (something I know *I* do when I play the hunter side). I don't want to be in a position of having to rush the hunters to do their thing but there are times I would like to reign in the debating time a bit (for the record last night wasn't too bad, it just reminded me of the last time I played a game like this which *was* bad Smile )

So, final thoughts: Lots to keep track of, Complicated and sometimes a little confusing rules, great design, dripping with atmosphere, really liked it and want to play again, soon Smile
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Re: Fury of Dracula

Post  JohnH on Wed 17 Feb 2016, 12:55

Great game.

You definitely need Dracula's special abilities and rumours in there though, not only does it even the playing field by giving Dracula more opportunity to confuse and confound the Hunters, but it also lets Dracula make better use of the downtime you mentioned as he will have a lot more to consider.

Hide let's him stay in 1 city and possibly trick the hunters into thinking he's moved [and is a really neat mechanic as the card gets placed on the trail and its back looks like a city card],
Wolf Form let's him move twice and even through hunters to escape a net,
Dark call lets him get more encounter cards with the possibility of vampires,
Feed lets him recover health,
and Misdirect allows him to break his trail.

Plus the rumour tokens will possibly force hunters to search a city and enhance the bluff/double bluff aspect of that part of the game).


Did Dracula get any points from maturing vampires or "killing" (hospitalising) hunters in your game, or was it all on getting to week 3 and racking up 3 per day?
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Re: Fury of Dracula

Post  DaveB on Wed 17 Feb 2016, 13:01

JohnH wrote:Did Dracula get any points from maturing vampires or "killing" (hospitalising) hunters in your game, or was it all on getting to week 3 and racking up 3 per day?

Managed to mature a single vampire. I was mostly playing a cagey game, only fought hunters twice, and only once by choice so none of them were hospitalised. I might have screwed up resolving a bite token and hence failed to increment the counter there but I'm not sure on that one.
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Re: Fury of Dracula

Post  Andy S on Wed 17 Feb 2016, 17:53

As I did with Trickerion, in the immediate aftermath of the game, I found myself feeling quite lukewarm about The Fury of Dracula.  But also like Trickerion, I found myself thinking about it a lot on the bus ride home, and throughout the day today - and I do believe that is a good sign.  My initial reaction of, "I don't really fancy playing that again any time soon." has, by now, morphed into, "When I play again, I need to try this, and this, and see how that works out."  That's not to say I want to play it again tomorrow or anything, but I'm certainly interested to play it again some time in the future.

Playing as a hunter was far less intense than it must have been playing as Dracula.  That feeling of being hunted down sounds, to me, unpleasant.  I don't think I would enjoy the game in that role. Kudos to Dave for stepping up and being willing to dive into that much more demanding role on his first playthrough of the game.

As a hunter, I didn't feel that stress, but I did often feel frustrated.  Throughout the hunt, our knowledge of Dracula's whereabouts was at one of three levels:

  1. we had no idea where he was (I include in this the times when we couldn't narrow it down beyond about 5+ possible locations, which is little better than having no idea at all)
  2. we had a rough idea where he was (i.e. we knew he was in one of 4 or fewer locations)
  3. we knew exactly where he was


In the case of level 1, I felt frustrated and had few tactical insights beyond, "I guess I'll go here and see what happens." That didn't feel fun to me, it felt too much like blind luck. However, if we'd been constantly working with knowledge from level 3, the game would be dull, and not remotely fun for Dave as Dracula. The game was most exciting and enjoyable when we were at level 2, when we could use deduction to conclude that Dracula had to be in one of only a few locations. Then it really did feel like a hunt. And because it seems relatively easy for Dracula to run away and quickly distance himself from the hunters even after they have confronted him, I don't think it would cause Dracula too many problems if he was caught more frequently.

If the game had been spent mostly with us, as hunters, with that second level of knowledge, I would have enjoyed it more. Unfortunately, I personally felt like the percentage split of the game was more like 75% level 1, 20% level 2, 5% level 3. With that in mind, I did feel like I was just fumbling about in the dark for much of the game, waiting until one of the hunters lucked out and stumbled into a city on the trail.

That said, I'm positive that these percentages don't sound at all accurate to Dave, as it must have often seemed to him that we were right on his tail. So my impressions might be colored by the fact that I was playing as a hunter. Furthermore, I have no idea how the game design could be tweaked to better ensure the hunters spend more time at that exciting 2nd level. And perhaps it was down to the fact that none of us had played before; with the hunters under the control of more experienced players, they might be able to keep closer tabs on Dracula.

I agree with Dave about the style of the game. The art is dark, fitting, and classy and I believe it will age well. I also like the trail mechanic. As a hunter, watching those location cards shift down a slot every turn, knowing that you need to find those earlier areas to deal with the encounter cards before they have a chance to mature, is enjoyable tense. I also thought the combat, although simple, worked well - it was quick and entertaining and evocative.

I wasn't as keen on the hunters' "abilities". Seward's increased hand limit and Godalming's extra train ticket seemed mostly superfluous and Van Helsing's ability to trade event cards was only useful once or twice. And poor Mina only really has one ability, although it is a very useful one. Seward's ability to heal 2 damage was certainly useful, although because the hunters were often splitting up to throw the net wider, none of his companions had a chance to benefit from it. Mechanically, the hunters felt very similar; I don't think I would have a particularly different experience if I played as a different character next time.

At four hours, the game was too long. I felt that there was too much luck involved for the hunters and too little diversity in the mechanisms to support a game of that length. However, I refuse to put the playtime down as a fault of the game, because I do believe it would have been closer to 2-3 hours if we hadn't all been new to it. And adding the rumors and other extra features would give more variety to things (although I am glad we did not do so for this first game, as Dracula seemed to have plenty of advantages as it was).

All in all, I wasn't completely smitten with The Fury of Dracula, but I'm keen to give it another go at some point. I think I would enjoy subsequent plays more, armed with foreknowledge of the experience. I do wish there was more action, generally more going on, and that the hunters felt more unique. But it's atmospheric and engaging (I was certainly never bored) and for all my declarations that Dave's Dracula trounced us, I can't deny that at the end of the game, it was a very close-run thing.

Thanks to Dave for bringing the game and to Dave, Paul, and Kathy for playing. And, Dave, please give my apologies to Mrs B for making you so late (I hope you weren't too long in the dog house).
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Re: Fury of Dracula

Post  DaveB on Wed 17 Feb 2016, 18:12

In my own personal post-game analysis I came to the conclusion that I was being too cautious to start with and should have been more aggressive in the early stages, and possibly not been so wary of combat in general which could have made things a bit more interesting all round. I think this is because the other games of this type that I've played in the past its *really* bad for the hunters to draw a bead on you (Specter Ops the Agent has only 4 HP and Letters from Whitechapel it's game over). Dracula has more options and is a lot more hardy, so in retrospect there would have been mileage in greater aggression.

Colonial Andy wrote:That said, I'm positive that these percentages don't sound at all accurate to Dave, as it must have often seemed to him that we were right on his tail.  So my impressions might be colored by the fact that I was playing as a hunter.

This is exactly right - there were probably only 2 periods where I genuinely felt you (as a team) had no reasonable clue where I was, but both times you figured it out fairly quickly (within a couple of turns each time) and for the most part you were much more on my tail that I liked - from my perspective the vast majority of the game was on level 2, with occasional forays into level 3 (although thankfully most of those times you knew exactly where I was but couldn't get to me)

Colonial Andy wrote:At four hours, the game was too long.  I felt that there was too much luck involved for the hunters and too little diversity in the mechanisms to support a game of that length.  However, I refuse to put the playtime down as a fault of the game, because I do believe it would have been closer to 2-3 hours if we hadn't all been new to it.  And adding the rumors and other extra features would give more variety to things (although I am glad we did not do so for this first game, as Dracula seemed to have plenty of advantages as it was).

I agree, at four hours the game was definitely wearing out it's welcome however I definitely agree that subsequent games would be a lot faster - I think if last night hadn't been our first crack at the game we'd have done it in about three hours if all else was equal.

Colonial Andy wrote:All in all, I wasn't completely smitten with The Fury of Dracula, but I'm keen to give it another go at some point.  I think I would enjoy subsequent plays more, armed with foreknowledge of the experience.  I do wish there was more action, generally more going on, and that the hunters felt more unique.  But it's atmospheric and engaging (I was certainly never bored) and for all my declarations that Dave's Dracula trounced us, I can't deny that at the end of the game, it was a very close-run thing.

I was definitely running out of steam at the end which was a consideration in my initial evaluation of the game (which was still quite positive) however further reflection has only reinforced the point - I really like the game and look forward to playing it again, with or without the advanced rules that we passed over this time. Having read up on them since, its sent my mind pondering interesting other strategies to try next time round - surely always a good sign!.

Colonial Andy wrote:Thanks to Dave for bringing the game and to Dave, Paul, and Kathy for playing.  And, Dave, please give my apologies to Mrs B for making you so late (I hope you weren't too long in the dog house).

No doghouse, cunningly arranged to be ill when I got home to get that pity vote... Smile
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Re: Fury of Dracula

Post  paulyg on Thu 18 Feb 2016, 08:31

I thought it was... ok but ultimately it didn't live up to my expectations (which were quite high).

The artwork is quite nice and the theme is fun but playing as a hunter felt like a bit of a slog at times. The action options are pretty limited (I've got my maximum amount of equipment and train tickets now, not much to do other than move slowly towards Dracula) and there were stretches where there was frustratingly little to do.

The trail is a nice idea, and I like the concept of the cards maturing, but we stopped pretty much everything maturing, weren't defeated in combat once and still lost. I think this was one of the big negatives for me - essentially Dracula can win by running the clock down and that doesn't make for a very exciting conclusion. If I played as Dracula and was intent on winning then this would probably be my strategy (fights are more of a risk). But I don't think it would be fun!

I'm not entirely sold on the combat mechanic, but at least it adds a bit of variety. It feels like there's quite a heavy luck element to what Dracula draws into his hand. We were actively trying to fight Dracula right from the start but only managed a couple of brief combats before escape.

In conclusion, I vastly prefer Specter Ops as a hidden movement game. I feel it packs a lot more tension and excitement into a much more compact game. Perhaps on a second play I'd find more to like in Fury of Dracula?
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Re: Fury of Dracula

Post  DaveB on Thu 18 Feb 2016, 08:37

PaulG wrote:In conclusion, I vastly prefer Specter Ops as a hidden movement game. I feel it packs a lot more tension and excitement into a much more compact game. Perhaps on a second play I'd find more to like in Fury of Dracula?

Funnily enough I was thinking I should try to get that back to the table soon - up for a rematch? Smile
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Re: Fury of Dracula

Post  paulyg on Thu 18 Feb 2016, 09:45

DaveB wrote:
PaulG wrote:In conclusion, I vastly prefer Specter Ops as a hidden movement game. I feel it packs a lot more tension and excitement into a much more compact game. Perhaps on a second play I'd find more to like in Fury of Dracula?

Funnily enough I was thinking I should try to get that back to the table soon - up for a rematch? Smile
Yeah, I'll certainly give it another go.
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