October 9, 2014

11/7/2014

I’m a bit behind in my session reports, so I’ll try to catch up.  Alex hosted game night, as Liz wasn’t working Friday night, which meant she could play or at least hang out with the rest of us.  Also in attendance— Jon-boy, M., Kelly, and my wife and son who left around the time we actually started playing.  The game was Fury of Dracula.  I claimed “it’s my birthday, it’s my game, you were Dracula last tiiiiiime,” and played the Count.  Alex/Liz swapped out playing Lord Godalming, Jon was Dr. Seward, M—with T on her lap at first— played Van Helsing, and Kelly played the often ill-fated Mina Harker.

The hunters spread out across Europe, but they conspicuously left the British Isles vacant, allowing me to utilize that initial gambit.  I began in Edinburgh, and was able to work my way South across all of the cities in England before reaching Plymouth.  The hunters had no idea where I was, but Jon began to have some thoughts of checking out the U.K.  The hunters were a bit disco-ordinated at first.  I’m fairly certain they inadvertently crossed one another’s paths at least once or twice in the initial rounds of the game, costing them valuable time.  Also, they did not employ the “starvation” strategy of not drawing Event Cards, that has come be popular in our group.  This allowed me to gather a full hand of advantageous cards (mostly Traps) rather early.  It also allowed for me to stump the hunters.

Just as I was contemplating taking to sea from Plymouth, Fortune smiled upon me.  Kelly/Mina drew the dreaded Evasion card, allowing me to pick up and go to any city on the board.  Seeing the large gap in Eastern Europe, and knowing that the hunters had previously been to numerous cities there and would probably not wish to return so soon, I decided to drop down there.  I believe it was Budapest.  Meanwhile, I had Jon/Seward stuck in fog in London as my Vampire was about to mature, and it was now the second day.  Before long, I had 3 Vampire points, and was well on my way to victory.  The hunters still had no idea where I was.

The hunters debated over using Newspaper Reports to find the oldest card in my trail.  Kelly raised an excellent point, as the hunters had not been keeping close track of exactly when the Evasion occurred.  Kelly observed that if they did not time it right, the Newspaper Reports would merely show a location in England before my trail “broke.”  I was impressed by her reasoning, and a little nervous that she might be on to me.  Alas, M shouted the newcomer down, the the hunters did exactly as I’d hoped and revealed the oldest card in my trail… which was still in England.  Jon worked his way up the isle but was unable to find my vampire before she popped.  Meanwhile, I tried to figure out a way to cross Europe and give Mina, currently in France, a bite during my next nighttime turn.  It was difficult to do, and I contemplated using Wolf Form and explored various routes, but then the hunters decided to move Mina back to Paris, which was well within striking distance for me now.  I attacked at midnight, feeling certain that I would win against the lightly armed Mina.

Jon had an amazing moment of opportunism.  He played a card that allowed any hunter to immediately escape a combat.  I was stymied.  Moreover, the hunters now knew exactly where I was.  I would have to scramble and make a tough decision on how to run out the next few turns.  Luckily for me, I had another Vampire to pop.  With daybreak approaching, I was ensured a win the next turn.  As the group decided to move Mina a mere stone’s throw away from our encounter location, I decided to go for the active route to victory.  I followed Mina to the adjacent city and went in for the kill during the small hours.

Mina had only Sacred Bullets to defend herself.  She did play Garlic, but as I had the advantage during nighttime and was hoping to bite her, not escape, that did not worry me.  I played Bite versus her Bullets, pointing out that a winning roll would give me the victory, as daybreak would give me my last VP.  I rolled…

6!

I bit Mina, defeating her, and giving me a total of 7 VP’s, one more than I needed to secure victory.

I think the game went over well with everyone.  Fury of Dracula, with all its fiddliness, is quite accessible in concept.  It can be a bit difficult to balance play with new players, as with the experienced player taking the role of Dracula does not really allow for helping the newbies along without giving away the Count’s strategies.  Kelly played very well, and had several moments of insight.  Unfortunately, she was shouted down by M several times.  I do enjoy playing Dracula in these scenarios, as it is quite fun to watch the hunters talk themselves out of the winning plays.  I think it would be quite advantageous for new players to take a peek through the decks before play, particularly the combat items, as this can be crucial in their tactical planning.  At the same time, an overly complex explanation at the start can confuse what is at its hard a simple game to understand.  Kelly did want to jump right in after quick rules explanation.  The party was also hurt by Liz and Alex switching out roles to take care of kids’ bedtimes, and M left just before the last turn of the game, with Liz taking over.  If all of the hunters aren’t on their game and paying close attention, it can be easier for Drac to slip through their nets.

The game is a long one, but I did try hard to keep it interesting.  My initial goal was to take the battle to the hunters, in fact, but I couldn’t find a way to get to Mina from my starting place in England.  I wasn’t going to just give the game away by starting too close to the hunters, but I had hoped for some more combat early on.  Still, I’m happy with how I played, and I’ll take the victory.

Vleh!

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