Its a classic now given a fresh coat of cool.
Great theme and mechanics all wrapped up in a cracking game.
You're first couple of games will be long. Be prepared for a full evenings entertainment.
Those rules, although its not terribly complex there is an awful lot of grey areas and potential for stumbles, be prepared.
Fury of Dracula shares much with its fanged protagonist/antagonist it has an eternally youthful demeanour and just when you think its dead, up it pops again with renewed fury and vigour.
Originally rising back in the eighties from Games Workshops crypt it was a unique concept meshing theme and mechanics to excellent effect which probably accounts for its longevity.
Four players fill the shoes of fearless vampire hunters and gallivant across Europe trying to sniff out the Counts trail played with due malevolence by the fifth player. What makes this so much scrumptious fun compared to similar games like Letters from Whitechapel is the fact that Dracula can fight back leading to the question who is actually chasing whom.
This features a coffin full of mechanics the one against the many, hidden movement and deduction all lavished with a gothic horror theme. What’s not to love.
This being Fantasy Flights second go around with the licence finally having seen sense to unearth it again for the clamouring masses, the question is, was it worth the wait, or has old Drac got a bit long in the tooth?
This reissue follows a similar vein (huh) as the recent FFG output, a new less is more approach of streamlined rules and mechanics edging away from its early days of big impenetrable beasts while retaining that lavish FFG sheen. We’re still in gloriously trashy Ameritrash territory complete with an enormous sexy board, lashings of thematic cards and the now requisite minis. But with a streamlined rule set with an eye to making this something that you can get on with without requiring a forty-minute presentation and countless revisits to a wordy and baffling manual.
And as I’ve brought up the subject of rules lets tackle that particular vampire bat flitting about the study. Recently FFG has taken to issuing their games with two manuals. One containing all the basics to get you rolling in a faster time with a second reference guide detailing the nitty gritty bits and clarifying anything not entirely clear from the shorter lets get playing book. In principle, it’s a great idea but they still seem to develop the occasional wobble with this rules writing business. Fury’s problem is not so much poorly written rules as pea soup like fogginess you’d expect to find clogging the cobbled streets of its setting. The reference guide presented as your Oracle more often resembles a kindly but very confused librarian.
So the game. Taking Stokers novel as a jumping off point, this is a sequel presuming that the dastardly Count survived that encounter and is looking for some satisfying ‘Old Testament’ payback, with none of those biblical trappings obviously as he has that whole crucifix thing going on.
All of the Counts movement is hidden from the hunters as he sneaks about by playing cards matching a map location on top of each he loads an Encounter Card these hideouts sit on this conveyor belt of misery slowly chugging along till they drop off the end triggering a mature effect.
These encounters come in two flavours either vampires that are essentially sleeper agents that if left to mature will add points to an influence track representing Dracula’s slow dastardly corruption and mastery of the area, if this ever reaches 13, then he wins. The others supply bonuses or effect the hunters either slowing them down or messing with their shit, the rule of thumb is that the Hunters don’t want these things maturing.
What these cards represent is a boobytrapped breadcrumb trail back to where Dracula is hiding, whenever a hunter finishes a move on one of these hideouts it’s flipped giving a clue as to where he’s been. And if it’s still loaded with an Encounter Card then a hunter as an action can search it, that is of course if Dracula hasn’t triggered it first to ambush the poor sucker.
This card play is where Dracula aside from deciding where next to skulk has to do the most mental gymnastics. The vampires are his overall goal but it’s not a simple case of loading the line with them if one successfully matures aside from the corruption bonus they also clear hideouts preceding it on the trail and those removed cards effects are lost. These vampires do have another purpose if they successfully ambush a hunter then they don’t just sit there but can actively attack and stay on the trail until staked, thematically is a nice touch and also means it adds a delectable level of foreboding for the hunters whenever they uncover a new nest.
The hunters turn is split into two actions one during the day and another at night. This being set before sat nav, iPhones or flashlights the only safe time to travel is during the day otherwise they can, rest and regain health, play or draw cards, search sites or reserve tickets that allow them to move using the railways spread across the board. Each hunter also has some unique abilities that count as an action when used, these either benefit just that hunter or even others when sharing spaces.
The day and night phases of the game add an interesting wrinkle if the hunters manage to seek out and fight Dracula these encounters take place at night when the Count is strongest likewise he can attack them but only during the dawn at his weakest. Combat is resolved via a hand of cards and works similar to rock paper scissors with combatants playing a card with symbols which potentially cancel each other out, and you’d be wise to as these are loaded with brutal abilities and combo’s. Dracula’s cards are affected by when the attack is taking place with some increasing in power during the night while others are useless at dawn. It’s a lean thematic and efficient clutter free system that avoids the game crawling to a halt whenever these battles occur.
If you’ve heard about Fury in hushed whispers, then I can assure you that if you’re a fan of this style of play, then this is the Mac Daddy there’s a reason this has seen multiple printings over the past 30 years.
While I cheated with Letters from Whitechapel I was always secretly thinking about the Count and now my one true love is back in my life I’m afraid old Jack doesn’t get my calls anymore.
It does come with an inescapably long playtime this is an evening’s entertainment all of our games have run north of three hours with experienced players you could trim that but this is never going to be something done with much change from two hours. Personally, it doesn’t bother me, this is one of those games that I like to savour while we’re playing, but it’s certainly worth noting.
The biggest stumble for many will be those rules, there are many subtle nuances to playing and timings especially around the day and night phases with the best will in the world you’re guaranteed a couple of wobbles on your first play. Making sure you understand how that and the combat timings work and you’ll reduce visits back to that reference guide.
At this point, I’m hard-wired to love the game just purely on the nostalgic glow it gives me. Having sunk many hours playing it growing up personally, I find the option to be welcomed back into its dark embrace for a couple of hours like slipping on a comfy pair of slippers.