Vampires. No, not the glitter-covered, day-walking, googly-eyed, Mary Sue variety. I’m talking about the real, primal fear-inducing, remorseless, and shadowless God-cursed aristocratic overlords that make you turn around every time you hear some noise while walking home alone at night. Yes, you know what I’m talking about. The original ones, from the old babushka stories, from the Old country. And, what we have here is the legend himself, Count Von D. It doesn’t get more Dracula than this.
In my Fury of Dracula review, I will tell you all you need to know about the now-classic Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) board game and why you might end up loving it as I did. So, dear reader, come, come. I bid you welcome. Renfield will take your bags.
|Playing time:||120 to 180 minutes|
|Number of players:||2 to 5|
|Genre:||Cooperative, Horror, Adventure, Deduction|
|Publisher:||Fantasy Flight Games|
- Easy to learn
- Gorgeous art style and cool mechanics
- Thematic and tense atmosphere offers a unique and exciting gaming experience
- Game length may not appeal to casual gamers
- The original game has been out of print for a while now
- The game experience depends a lot on the Dracula player
Fury of Dracula: Game Overview
London, 1890. The evil Count Dracula is trying to spread his vampiric corruption throughout the Old World. Luckily for us, four brave souls spoiled his evil plans, and killed Dracula… or so they thought. That was eight years ago. Now The Count is back, and he’s out for blood… literally.
So, you might ask yourself what is Fury of Dracula? This is a cooperative one vs. many hidden movement game in which the players take the roles of now-famous characters from Bram Stoker’s Dracula book like Lady Harker (Mina Harker), Lord Godalming (Arthur Holmwood), Dr. John Seward, Van Helsing, and of course Dracula himself. Each of them has a unique and flavourful ability they add to the game ( e.g. Mina can “sense” if Dracula is hiding near her location, because of the blood bond/bite he had on her, the good doctor can recover double health, etc.).
If you feel like entering the world of Bram Stoker’s Dracula has been something you would enjoy and it sounds like fun, then this game is just for you. The game strongly resembles a mash-up of the Scotland Yard by Ravensburger and Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) Eldritch Horror. Only, instead of hunting for Mr. X. or stopping an ancient evil, you’ll be embroiled in an elaborate game of gothic hide-and-seek horror. If this sort of game is something that may interest you, check out my review of a game inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s work.
The board game splits players into two teams: there are The hunters and there is “team” Dracula. The hunters roam through 19th-century Europe trying to hunt down Dracula, while the Count hides, plotting and setting up traps for his wannabe pursuers, all the while biding his time and watching them stumble through the dark. Depending on the number of players, each person can choose to play more than one hunter, but there is only ever one Drac, of course.
This itself is great because one of the players gets to be the titular baddie, a mechanic I didn’t get to see that often at the time. The scheming play of Dracula is something I absolutely loved. To have a more complete Fury of Dracula game experience, and for the game to truly shine, it’s crucial to have a skilled player in the role of Dracula. This can significantly enhance the excitement of the game and make it more tense and cutthroat.
So now that the teams have been picked, it’s time for you to hunt or scheme your way to victory.
The Hunters Become the Hunted (Or Do They?) – How To Play Fury of Dracula
Don’t take out your stakes and holy water just yet! Before you do any vampire slaying, you need to set up the board first. Yeesh, aren’t you a bloodthirsty lot? Ok, so has everyone been assigned roles? No? Do it. Prepare all the card decks, and tokens, and place the hunters on the board.
Setting Up the Players
Fury of Dracula board game’s basic rules have suggested cities for your four vampire hunters to start in, but you can place them wherever you want. After all, it’s your hunt. When all the hunters are on the board, then it’s time for the Dracula player to set Dracula up. Hidden from the other players, of course.
He secretly searches his location card deck for the card matching the location where he wishes to start. Then, he places that card face-down on a track. If a player enters his current location or one from his trail, he has to reveal it, thus giving clues about where he’s hiding. Also, Dracula cannot choose a sea zone, Castle Dracula, or a city that a hunter occupies as his starting location.
One cool thing is that Dracula gets his own little map, which is quite handy. It helps with bluffing and not accidentally letting your eyes give away your location to the hunters.
Fury of Dracula games are played in rounds, with each round consisting of a hunter phase and a Dracula phase. Rounds continue until either the hunters or Dracula fulfill their objectives.
The hunter phase is divided into two parts: day and night, during which hunters perform one action. The day phase is used for moving. It allows hunters to move one or more spaces on the world map via roads, rails, or sea.
In the night phase, players can:
- Supply – lets you draw both an item and event card, in the case of big cities, or just an event card in the case of small cities.
- Reserve a Ticket – gets you a train ticket, and lets you move as many spaces as is indicated on the value of the ticket.
- Rest – recover health for your avatars.
- Trade – trade possessions with another hunter if they are in the same city.
- Special Action – resolve either an effect from an event card in a player’s hand or an ability from their character sheet.
- Search – reveal Dracula’s hidden encounter cards at that location.
Once all the hunters have completed their night action, the Dracula Phase begins.
After each hunter has finished performing a night action the Dracula Phase begins. Dracula must move; he doesn’t have the option of staying in one spot, and he can only do so by road or sea. This is a nice touch, just like in the book, as he can’t use railroads and can’t cross his own trail. Remember that he moves by placing location cards face-down on Dracula’s trail, shifting all previous cards one slot further.
He also places an encounter card face-down on the location (unless his position is currently revealed or he is at sea). Another thing to remember is that the sea location cards have different card backs, which makes moving by sea dangerous as it may alert the hunters and the water can damage poor old Drac.
Hand Limit and Despair Token
The hand limit for each of the hunters is split into three cards for both item and event cards, and you can see it on their character sheet. Dracula has a hand limit of four event cards, which are also visible on his character sheet.
The hunt for undead nobility can be grueling and tedious at times. Note that the passing of every week results in the addition of a despair token to the despair track. This will increase the power of certain abilities that Dracula has access to, so I advise hunters to act fast and move quickly to prevent Dracula from gaining a deadly advantage.
In the Fury of Dracula board game, combat begins if the hunters and Dracula occupy the same space. This happens during the dusk and dawn phases, which follow each day and night phase respectively. Every player in combat picks one combat card from their hand and simultaneously reveals it. Dracula has five of them, and the hunters have three. They are resolved in a “rock, paper, scissors” manner, with each card having a symbol on it representing certain kinds of attacks and counterattacks.
This can be a little tricky for new players, who don’t know what to expect. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it really quickly. Dracula is stronger during the night, so it would be smart for hunters if they could fight as a group, attack during the day, and acquire additional items for their fight against the Lord of the Night.
Oh, and yeah…players are allowed to communicate and exchange information about their cards in the game freely. Buttttt… all communication must be open and in the presence of Dracula. If hunters exchange their cards, they must also show those cards to Dracula. The only exception to this is if the hunters use the trading action. Buahahahaaaaa…foolish mortals, no secret is safe from the Transylvanian terror (except when engaging in the glorious art of bartering, for some reason).
The hunters in the Fury of Dracula game aim to kill Dracula (get 15 damage tokens on his sheet), while Dracula wins when he advances the influence track to 13 by creating new vampires or defeating the hunters (giving the Dracula player a few more options when playing against multiple hunters).
Legacy – Wizkids Fury of Dracula
The first game of The Fury of Dracula was published by Games Workshop in 1987. Since then, FFG released an updated version in 2006 called Fury of Dracula and a third edition in 2015 by the same name.
Unfortunately, the third edition of Fury of Dracula went out of print as The Games Workshop license ended and for some time copies of it were going on eBay for truly obnoxiously high prices. Don’t despair, though – Wizkids came to save the day in 2019! Their Fury of Dracula 4th edition is more like the re-released FFG version of the game, with slightly bigger cards and pre-painted figurines. But most of all, new generations had a chance to buy and enjoy playing Fury again. Yay!
Darkness Over the Old World – Final Thoughts
Ok, I’m gonna say it… I’m very, very biased when it comes to this game, and this review shows it, but that doesn’t mean the game doesn’t have what I consider a universal appeal. This was perhaps one of the first games I played with my friends when it was released, back when I honestly didn’t even know there were so many new games out there and that board games were making a major comeback. Shame on me, I know. I was always a big Warhammer fan, but I haven’t played regular board games that much, except the ones you played on holidays as a kid.
Then Fury came and sank its teeth in me and I haven’t been the same ever since. I enjoyed playing as a team and going vampire hunting, not knowing if Dracula was right next to me or not. I enjoyed evading capture and devising well-laid traps for others to fall into when playing as Dracula, all the while cursing my luck when I was discovered like some Scooby Doo villain. The Fury of Dracula gameplay is simply put enthralling (snicker), and the game has something for everyone.
As stated in the FFG’s Fury of Dracula rules booklet, the game is playable in two to three hours. This, of course, does not mean that it can’t be finished earlier. After all, since it’s a one vs. many game, if the player playing Dracula isn’t lucky or careful enough, you can “count” on meeting the wrong end of the stake real quick.
Since February 28th, 2017, FFG has announced that it will not offer any Games Workshop titles for sale due to their licensing term coming to an end. Luckily, a new deal in 2019 between WizKids and Games Workshop had WizKids confirm that it will reprint the at-moment out-of-print hidden movement game Fury of Dracula (4th ed.), only for them to lose the license themselves in 2020.
There is a digital edition available for those that unfortunately didn’t manage to get their copy on time if you like that sort of thing. As for the 5th ed, all we can do is hope and keep our fangs crossed that someone is willing to raise this fan-favorite classic from the dead.
Play as if your unlife depends on it because it really does! As I mentioned in the Fury of Dracula review, get to know the game before playing Dracula. Try to avoid combat, especially where there is a group of hunters together and if the despair rating is low. You can kill Mina easily if she is alone. Use Claw and Wolf form. Misdirect and keep the hunters guessing, stick to the coast, raise some vamps, and don’t forget to laugh maniacally on occasion.