Game Essentials: The Fury of Dracula

The Game Essentials series aims to highlight our favorite games in different genres. These games make the best of their setting and mechanics to create an immersive and exciting game experience.

As the sun sets on the Carpathian Mountains, the famed Castle Dracula sits empty. Some years have passed since his foray into England, and through defeat he has become so furious as to abandon his homeland. With his supernatural powers and great reserves of wealth, he seeks revenge on those the defeated him, creating an army of vampires along the way.

Fury of Dracula was originally published by Games Workshop but in the past couple of years has seen a rebirth in the form of a new edition published by Fantasy Flight Games. The game is a sort of race game, pitting four players against one who has the challenge of playing as Dracula. The game is set in the years following Bram Stoker’s famed novel, and Dracula has returned to exact revenge by creating an army of vampires, or by killing the four players. The players can only win by defeating Dracula in combat, once and for all, before he can fulfill his plans.

The game itself is fairly asymmetrical, which is to be expected when it’s Dracula versus a group of humans. The protagonists are Lord Godalming, Dr Seward, Abraham van Helsing, and Mina Harker. Each has their own unique ability that assists them through the journeys ahead. Godalming, for example, has access to vast sums of wealth and can use this monetary clout to occasionally speed his way on the railways through Europe. One particularly interesting character ability is that Mina has a permanent bite applied to her. Dracula can occasionally manipulate Mina through the use of this link, but with a bit of resolve, the Mina player can turn the tables and actually ascertain Dracula’s current location, which is typically hidden from the players.

Due to the nature of the game, the four hunters must be used in every game, which makes this an ideal five player excursion. Indeed, having four minds to puzzle through the challenges and the chases is practically essential when dealing with Dracula.

Dracula has a number of powers at his disposal in the form of minions, traps he can set, and vast array of supernatural abilities at night. Dracula moves from turn to turn by secretly selecting a location from a deck of cards and putting it face down. This leaves a trail of sorts which the players try to find in order to track him down. Typically Dracula goes through great pains to keep his trail hidden, unless he has a a particularly vicious gambit up his sleeve. All the while day changes to night and back again. Dracula is strongest at night, able to use his most powerful abilities while on the board as well as in combat. With each passing night Dracula’s goal gets closer to being fulfilled.

Thanks to the constantly changing time of day and the limited time to the game, the tension is always high and the action fresh. The rules are a little convoluted at first, but in all aren’t too bad, which is another reason why this game is an essential. The emphasis on cooperative play for the hunters lends a positive atmosphere despite the tension that the game creates. I definitely recommend the Dracula player being the one who is most well versed in the game, as they are in a position where they can easily explain rules without hampering their chance of victory.

This game might not be for everyone, and unfortunately zombies and vampires have become quite overdone over the past couple of years. Don’t let that turn you away though. This game strikes a great balance between competitive and cooperative play, creating a great sense of tension while also respecting its source material. If you fancy something fitting for the season though this quite a treat and can set the stage for later adventures in this month of HORROR.

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