Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dracula is FURIOUS!

Like its title character, Fury of Dracula is a game prone to death and resurrection. It's been released in three different editions over 28 years, with each edition offering substantial changes to the game's structure and rules as well as its graphic design. We played the second edition once or twice, but most of our experience is with the third edition (released in 2015), so we'll look at it on its own merits, rather than comparing it to the earlier versions of the game.

It's a "one against many" game like Mansions of Madness or Middle-Earth Quest, but rather than one player commanding the forces of darkness against a group of hero players, here the Dracula player is on the defensive, attempting to hide his location for as long as possible while he matures nests of vampires throughout Europe. The hero players, taking the roles of characters from the original Dracula novel, need to balance their efforts between finding Dracula himself, and rooting out his hidden lairs.

Since there are four heroes (regardless of the number of players), it would seem that they have the advantage, but that definitely isn't the case. They will still need to apply a good deal of thought and strategy to finding Dracula in the time available. The game's clock is ticking in the form of Dracula's influence track, which increases when vampire nests aren't found and destroyed. Game rounds are represented by days on a calendar, and if Dracula isn't found after three weeks, the influence track starts advancing much faster until the world is plunged into darkness.

It's a neat game that really captures the tension, for both the Dracula and hero players, with Dracula often narrowly eluding discovery, and the heroes desperately scrambling to find him in time.

The third edition, published in 2015 by Fantasy Flight Games, boasts updated graphic design and illustration as well as streamlined rules. The design is very well done, keeping with FFG's house style but adapting it to the gothic horror theme. The rules are fairly smooth and elegant, with a straightforward turn structure that makes for quick turns, adding to the game's sense of tension and urgency.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) A complex but elegant game that gives players a lot of strategic decisions to make, and evokes the gothic horror theme very well.

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