Fury of Dracula is a game of cat and mouse. Just, imagine the mouse is a bat. And the cat is, erm… Ozzy Osbourne? Creep into the shadows and read on for our Fury of Dracula review!
Brief Overview of Fury of Dracula
Dracula, controlled by one player, secretly darts and dodges throughout Europe, laying traps, creating new vampires, and wreaking havoc in their wake. The Hunters must explore the map, looking for signs of the count’s whereabouts while dealing with the evil he’s left behind and collecting tools and weapons for when the battle comes.
If the Hunters can’t find and defeat Dracula in time, then the whole of Europe will come under his demonic influence, and the game will be lost. All fangs to you.
Unboxing Fury of Dracula
When unboxing Fury of Dracula, social convention requires you to make a creaking sound like a coffin being pried open. Once you have done so, you’ll find inside:
- 1 Game Board
- 1 Rules Reference
- 5 Character Sheets
- 5 Plastic Figures
- 75 Event Cards
- 70 Location Cards
- 28 Encounter Cards
- 72 tokens/markers
- 38 Item Cards
- 12 Hunter Combat Cards
- 13 Dracula Combat Cards
- 5 Power Cards
- 4 Hunter Reference Cards
- 1 Reference Map
Speaking of the board, I do love a good map. And boy is this a nice map. From London to Marseilles, Florence or Sarajevo, it’s well-detailed and will no doubt bring back many a gap year memory for anyone that’s been interrailing across the continent. And sure, it’s gloomy, but the dark colors, gothic font, and intricate detail all fit brilliantly into the theme.
The cards themselves are wonderfully illustrated, too, including the character reference sheets that nicely bring each one to life.
You’ll see the miniatures included are all unpainted, however, they’re well produced. Bear in mind that, if you’re not a fan of painting your own miniatures, it could be worth getting yourself a copy of the fourth edition instead, which is basically the same as the third edition, but comes with pre-painted miniatures.
How to Play Fury of Dracula
To begin, open up the large map board and put the influence marker on space ‘0’ of the influence track and the time marker on ‘Monday’.
Choose someone to play Dracula, sit them on the side of the board with ‘The Trail’ – six spaces to keep track of Dracula’s last six movements – and give them the smaller reference map. The other players are Hunters. Everyone should then take their corresponding miniature and reference card. If you’re playing with fewer than five players, give the leftover Hunter characters to other players.
Dracula should now draw five encounter cards to form their starting hand.
Finally, place all characters in their starting positions: Lord Godalming in Constanta; Dr. John Seward in Marseilles; Mina Harker in Brussels; and Van Helsing in Amsterdam. Dracula secretly chooses where they start, placing the relevant location card face-down on the first space of The Trail, and their miniature nearby.
The Hunters now work together to explore the map and track down Dracula. They’ll pick up items along the way to help in their final battle, and also come across other vampires they must defeat – or risk being bitten themselves. To win, they must deal 15 damage to Dracula.
Dracula, on the other hand, secretly travels through Europe, creating new vampires and aiming to increase his influence on space 13 on the track before getting defeated. He has time on his side, as the longer the game goes on, the easier it is for him to build influence.
The Hunters get to act first. Each player gets two actions, which they can use to move around the map, attempt to find items by resolving an event card, trade items with other players in the same city, and perform various other special actions.
Be careful, though, you might stumble across Dracula or one of his traps along the way!
On Dracula’s turn, he chooses where he wants to move to and places its location card face-down on the trail. After his first turn, he first moves all other location cards one space down the track to make room for the new one.
He will then choose an encounter card from his hand to put on the new location, representing some kind of dastardly act he did there to thwart the hunters, such as creating new vampires or setting traps. These can also result in the count earning more Influence.
Like the Hunters, Dracula can move by sea. However, these location cards are marked with different colored backs, so it will tip off the Hunters that he is seaborne should he decide to get his feet wet.
If at the end of the Hunters’ turn they are at a location that is on Dracula’s trail, then Dracula flips over that location card. He can then choose to ambush the Hunters by activating an encounter card, or he may decide not to, as encounter cards that reach the end of the trail can ‘mature’ and grant special bonuses.
Hunters also have the option of activating an encounter card as one of their actions. Once an encounter card has been resolved, it is then discarded and cannot mature.
Revealing Dracula and Combat
If at the end of the Hunters’ turn they are in the same location as Dracula, then combat occurs. This takes place by characters playing cards into the combat area in rounds – using weapons like garlic, or guns – causing damage and effects to one another. This is the Hunters’ opportunity to cause 15 damage to Dracula before combat ends. If they don’t do so in six rounds, Dracula escapes to fight another day.
Similarly, Dracula can also kill the Hunters off and score Influence points. As time goes on, the number of influence points on offer will increase.
You may also have to fight one of Dracula’s other vampires. In this instance, the same rules are followed.
Ending The Game
The Hunters chase Dracula around the board and, if they can inflict 15 damage onto him during battle, they win.
However, if they fail to do so before Dracula reaches the end of the Influence Track – or Dracula kills each of the Hunters – then Dracula wins.
Your First Game of Fury of Dracula
Day and Night
The Hunters’ turn is split into two sections: Day and Night. Each player takes their first action in the day and their second action at night. Note that they can only move during the day.
There are rules about the different types of movement Hunters can make. For one action, you could move freely to an adjacent city. Alternatively, if you have a ticket, you can take the railway further afield. To acquire a train ticket, you must reserve one by spending an action. There are other types of transport you can find throughout the game, too, such as horses.
Dracula, though, cannot move by train. He prefers a more traditional mode of transport.
To find an item, a player uses the ‘supply’ action and then turns over an event card. During the day phase, if the event card has a Dracula icon on it then they’re not allowed to keep the item card. In the evening, if it has a Dracula icon on it, then they must give the item to Dracula.
Talking Between Players
As a co-operative game, it’s imperative that the hunters talk to one another to form a strategy. However, Dracula is always there, sitting opposite to you, and taking it all in – like a bat on the wall.
This is part of the game, so play along. You are not allowed to hide any of your strategizing from Dracula, such as showing people cards out of their line of vision. The only exception is when you trade an item as an action. This can be done in secret.
Pros & Cons
- Exciting cat and mouse chase
- Lots of variance in strategy
- Rich vampiric theme
- Takes a while to play
Fury of Dracula is a long but enticing game of cat and mouse. With 70 locations on the map, it won’t be easy or quick. But, as the Hunters gradually close in on Dracula, and while Dracula slowly tightens his grip on the continent, the tension in the room will become palpable.
The combat element adds a lot to the gameplay, too, despite only comprising a small percentage of it. The occasional skirmishes feel a lot like a Hollywood budget adventure film, in which you fly from location to location to location, before zeroing in on claustrophobic individual fight scenes. Combat sees players try to one-up the other with their combat cards, and can be a source of some great drama, as well.
The many rules and actions you can take may seem complicated, but it’s actually very quick to learn. In many ways, it felt a lot like Pandemic. The movement and trading rules are about the same, as is the team-based strategy building where each of you plans out each other’s moves several turns in advance.
Of course, one big difference to Pandemic is that this time, your opponent can hear your plans! I was concerned initially that the “all v one” nature of Fury of Dracula might make it a little alienating for the “one” – especially considering games can often last several hours. But the fact that the rules state that all discussion must be audible to everybody meant the Hunters gave up on trying to be coy, and instead just spoke completely openly. When playing Dracula, this meant I never felt cut off socially during play.
Finally, I loved how interwoven the vampiric theme is into every aspect of the game and mechanics. There might be a lot of rules to follow, but they all tie in with the theme and have ‘a reason’.
From Dracula being much more powerful at night, to him being able to listen in to the Hunters’ plotting, through to it only being safe enough for Hunters to move during the day. And the components are all brilliant, too.
Fury of Dracula Review (TL;DR)
Fury of Dracula is a cooperative game of cat and mouse, in which a team of Hunters try to track down and defeat Dracula before he gains too much influence over Europe.
It’s theme-rich, strategy-heavy, and culminates in some high-stakes (pardon the pun) combat sessions that make for a seriously dramatic finish.
Playing Fury of Dracula is like living out your own vampire movie. The chase across Europe is dramatic and decadent, the building suspense will get your heart racing, while the combat is occasional but fierce. Most of all, though, every minute of play is building to that one final, glorious fight scene. The only difference is that you’re much less likely to have a happy ending.
This is all thanks to the smooth mechanics, which are thoroughly thought-through, but not overly complex. And the balance of card management and strategy does well to keep things fresh.
Ringing in at 2-3 hours long, it will take some time to play, but the fun you’ll have will make it worth it. Besides, that’s only a few minutes in vampire years.
Have you tried Fury of Dracula? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this deliciously gothic horror board game — drop a comment below!
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