I really enjoy hidden movement games. This all goes back to Scotland Yard and my board game origin story. Scotland Yard was something I played with as a child and it is the game that helped me find the hobby in 2002. These games usually don’t top my list of favorite games, but they almost always provide a tense and thrilling experience. So Fury of Dracula has been at the top of my “To Try” list and I finally got the opportunity.
Briefly, Fury of Dracula is a game in which one player takes on the role of Dracula while the other players take on the roles of various people hunting him. As Dracula moves across Europe he leaves a trail behind in the form of location cards for the hunters to (eventually) find. The hunters are trying to kill Dracula while Dracula is trying to increase his influence across Europe in different ways. If Dracula gets 13 influence points before he dies, he wins. If the hunters manage to kill him, they win. Simple enough
Fury of Dracula really feels like a cat-and-mouse chase. Or, a hunter-and-vampire chase
WHAT I LIKED
- The trail mechanism – this really made the game feel like a chase, like we were tracking Dracula across Europe. It also gave Dracula a way to interact with the hunters or make progress if the encounters matured (came off the track).
When we got on the trail the game tension really ramped up.
- Even when the hunters were on the trail there were ways for Dracula to disappear again. Catching him was not a foregone conclusion.
- Dracula’s location deck – I like how this constrained him and made him really plan out where he moved. He could not backtrack until he was able to get cards back somehow. And when he did get cards back it offered him a layer of stealth because all of a sudden the hunters could not rule out certain spaces anymore.
- Day vs night supply action – I really liked that at night we drew from the bottom of the event card deck. This gave a great Dracula flavor to the game and some tension in decision making.
- The theming of the game was great – the mechanisms really played into the feeling of hunting Dracula. The artwork was great. Very high production values.
- The one action per day/night helped turns go quickly.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
- The game’s tension and pacing seemed unbalanced. The beginning felt like the hunters were just stumbling around in the dark. Then, when they finally found the trail (after about an hour) the game tension was off the charts. I suppose this allowed the beginning of the game to be preparation for the hunters but I really did not like the blind wandering. the hunters actually never stumbled on Dracula’s trail, instead, they drew an event card that finally revealed a card in the trail that got them on the right track.
- The combat mechanism – there was no way to anticipate what card the other player would play so there was no strategy to speak of. Either you hit or you missed. Maybe understanding the symbols better might help. Or seeing more of the item deck.
- We seemed to be caught in a stalemate – the hunters would do damage, then Dracula would mature an encounter and heal that damage. We cut the game off at 4 hours since we all had to work the next morning.
The combat seemed to have no real strategy to it. Just randomly playing cards.
I liked Fury of Dracula. I would have liked it more had the pacing of the game we played been better. The length of the game and the fact that I already have two great hidden movement games (Scotland Yard and Specter Ops) means that Fury of Dracula does not have a place in my collection. Yet. After I am out of the young kids phase of life I could see myself picking this up.
The trail mechanism and the tension it produced was the highlight for me. It really drove the game and gave it a ticking bomb feel. The production of the game was fantastic if a bit fiddly – a typical Fantasy Flight Game. Fortunately, I know several people who own the game so I will be playing it again.
BARRIERS TO ENTRY
- Like any FFG game, this one has a lot of rules and exceptions to those rules. This means that learning the game isn’t too bad for an experienced gamer, but mastering the nuance of the rules is difficult and probably won’t happen in your first play.
- The long play time will keep new or casual gamers away.