So I first saw Fury of Dracula when watching the popular YouTube series TableTop presented by Wil Wheaton, after watching their play-through I knew I wanted to play the game myself and went out into internet land to find myself a copy but with it being out of print and having been featured on their show there was nothing to be found for a reasonable price.
So I did what any other longing geek would do, I went to my friendly local game café and played it there instead, not an ideal solution but that held my fix for a while...
Thankfully WiZK!DS acquired the rights to the game and have now published the 4th edition reprinting of this really fun game. So without further ado, it's time to talk about...
About the game - Fury of Dracula
Players: 2-5 Ages: 14+ Game Time: 120-180 mins
Fury of Dracula (ok this will get boring... we'll call it FoD going forward) is a game for 2 -5 players where one player will control Dracula and the other will collectively control the four hunter characters. The box advertises that it is suitable for aged 14 and up and this feels like a reasonable assessment given some of the complexity and deduction required. However, I'm sure a mature 12-year-old would also cope just fine.
I love that the game remains balanced no matter how many players you have for your game session.
The play time... ah the first problem with this game. The playtime for FoD can vary drastically depending on how long it takes the hunters to catch up with Dracula. If they find him quickly you can get a game in under the hour-mark after a quick beating of your pointy fanged nemesis. However, if Dracula remains hidden until the game's automatic end-game rules kick in then you are easily looking at 4+ hours to get the game played out in full.
Functionally FoD 4th edition is the same as the 3rd edition but incorporates much of the errata and FAQs into the rules. Another nice feature is the pre-painted miniatures as another improvement from the 3rd edition.
FoD is a hidden movement chase game where Bram Stoker's famous hunters (Lord Godalming, Dr Seward, Van Helsing, and Mina Harker) need to find and kill Dracula before he gains too much influence across Europe.
Each turn the hunters choose a day and night action before Dracula moves on to the next city leaving behind an encounter. The encounters, if matured, will help Dracula; the hunters will need to resolve these encounters before they help Dracula achieve his nefarious goals, but the hunters should beware as they could be dangerous traps instead!
When the hunters do finally catch up with Dracula they will fight him and if they kill him, win the game. However, when they don't find the trail in time and Dracula manages to get enough influence, he will win instead.
Team-ups by the hunters are very effective.
The game does have a mechanic in favour of Dracula. After three weeks in-game time, every move Dracula makes gives him more influence, which ultimately limits the play time. While the overall balance is perhaps slightly in favour of Dracula as a result of this, he is very beatable too and is an interesting challenge for the hunters. This is especially evident if you manage to get a team-up when fighting Dracula where he can be beaten quite easily.
I love the production quality of FoD, there is loads of character in the game and I love the pre-painted miniatures. I just wish they had made that final effort for it to be just perfect as there are little things that bug me:
The first is that the hand limits as printed on the hunter cards have been printed incorrectly in some printings, while it is a known issue and the rules are clear it is such a simple error it makes you lose some trust in the rest of the game.
Second for me is card backs, one of the key features of the game is to have a hidden draw from the event deck and hidden drafting of combat cards. However, in this printing the cards have enough difference in their backing that it can often be apparent beforehand which type of card it is you are going to draw, which takes a lot of the suspense out of the game.
Lastly, I just wish they had thought about the box. It's a common complaint from me: companies just produce a load of components and have a large box with a single section in the middle for them all to sit in. It doesn't take that much more effort to provide separate compartments, and especially at this price point it's just a little disappointing.
Summary - Fury of Dracula
I love that the game remains balanced no matter how many players you have for your game session, something is very important for me as I often play games as 2-player with my wife.
The game is very replayable especially across different groups, as there are many random features. Also with the variety of powers that Dracula can employ across the large board there are many strategies that can be employed. Even with our 20+ games I still find new ways to play.
While I think it is restricted to a certain print run of the game I was a little disappointed in the final production value due to silly mistakes but overall it looks great and has a lot of character built in.
Overall I do love playing Fury of Dracula and will often find any excuse to get it out of the game cupboard, but I'm always conscious of the play time; you need to set aside a good amount of time to be sure of playing a game through in full. If you like hidden movement games and have the time for longer game sessions then this could be a good purchase for you, but at £50+ is pricey compared to similarly sized games.
From your friendly DoaLG rules lawyer
George E Ohh