Fury of Dracula by Wizkids Review

Theme and What is it?

Based on the famous novel by Bram Stoker, Dracula has come back 8 years later to take control of Europe by creating a kingdom of Vampires. One player plays the role of Dracula while the other players take on the roles of the Hunters, Van Helsing, Dr. John Seward, Lord Godalming, and Mina Harker, to crack down on his location to defeat him. The Hunters must use deduction and clever tracking to locate Dracula’s trail. If they become successful, they must then defeat Dracula before his influence rises to his max and wins the game. Can these Hunters save Europe or will the Fury of Dracula consume Europe?

Fury of Dracula is not a new game. It should be familiar to gamers. The game has been around since 1987 and originally published by Games Workshop. They sold the rights to Fantasy Flight games in 2005 for the second edition. Later in 2015, FFG made the third edition which featured new artwork and changed the mechanics while keeping the theme and originality intact. Most know the game has been out of print for a while. Wizkids has now released the fourth edition. I will base my review on this edition.

Gameplay Mechanics

SETUP

Unfold game board and place in the center of the play area, place the influence marker on space “0” and place the time marker on the yellow Monday space.

Now players should assign roles. The game is for 2-5 players. Players should use all the Hunter characters no matter how many players. So, for example, if playing with three players, one player will be Dracula, and each other player will control two Hunter characters. Dracula should sit on the end next to the trail on the board.

Then, prepare the decks. The Hunters have an item card deck and an event card deck which includes both Hunter and Dracula event cards. The Hunters also have basic combat cards which are all face up by type.

Dracula has three decks: Encounter, Combat, and Locations

Place all tokens near the board. The ticket tokens are face down and hidden. Place the rest in piles in no particular order.

WIN CONDITIONS

Dracula wins the game if he advances his influence to space “13”.

The Hunters win the game if Dracula has 15 damage on his character sheet.

GAMEPLAY

There are two phases:

Hunter Phase:

  1. Dawn (Day Combat if Dracula is in a location with a Hunter)
  2. Day (1 action – can only move during the day)
  3. Dusk (Night Combat if Dracula is in a location with a Hunter)
  4. Night (1 action)

Dracula Phase:

  1. Movement Step – Dracula moves the location cards one step to the right and plays a new location card where he moves to. Dracula can move by sea but takes damage when doing so.
  2. Encounter Step – May play an encounter card on top of the current location card.

Players can take one of the following actions during day and night but can only move during the day:

  1. Move – The Hunter can move one space by road or use a ticket token to move by railway. If they are in a port, they can move out to sea and if already out to sea, can move from sea to sea.
  2. Supply – If in a large city, the Hunter can draw an item card and place it into their hand. If they are in a small city, they cannot draw an item card. Then, they draw an event card. If it is day, the Hunter draws from the top of the event deck. If the card is a Dracula card, it is discarded. If it is a Hunter event card, the Hunter draws it into their hand. If it is night, the Hunter must draw the event card from the bottom of the event deck and if it is a Dracula event, the Dracula player takes it into their hand.
  3. Rest – The Hunter recovers one damage.
  4. Trade – Hunters can perform a trade action with one another if they are both in the same city. They can trade item cards and ticket tokens but not event cards.
  5. Reserve a Ticket – The Hunter takes a ticket token from the face-down pile.
  6. Search – Hunters can try to reveal encounter cards on the trail.
  7. Special Action – The Hunter can use an effect from a card or an ability from a character sheet.

Each Hunter’s initiative is the number on their character sheet. Each Hunter plays a day action and then a night action and then Dracula performs each step of his phase.

That really is all to the game. It is a complex game of cat and mouse. Combat only happens whenever Dracula is in a location with a Hunter and this must eventually happen to defeat Dracula.

Combat is simple. Each player plays a combat card simultaneously. These cards can cancel each other, etc.

Initial Impressions

When I picked up the box, I knew this would be a beast of a game. The artwork is amazing and hooked me to jump in and read the rules. I knew this would be what my group refers to as an “epic” game. For our group, epic games are those that last over 3 hours. We plan to play these in advance instead of on a whim. The box suggests 2-3 hours. I would plan for longer. On initial glance of the rules, it looked straightforward. The group and I have been looking forward to playing this game for a while so I was eager to get it to the table.

Game Build Quality

The components are all top-notch. The painted miniatures are one difference from the third and fourth editions. These are a nice touch. Those that enjoy painting miniatures may frown upon this a little. I am one of both. I enjoy painting miniatures but also thrilled that I don’t have to for this one! The cards are well made and have a linen finish. They have updated the rules to include clarifications found when the third edition was released. I found the rules easy to follow and grasp. We did not run into a lot of rule questions when playing. The player boards are thick cardboard. My only complaint is that there is not a hidden screen for the Dracula player. It is not 100% needed but would have made things a little easier. Our Dracula player just selected his location cards from underneath the table.

Artistic Direction

From what I can tell, there is no change to the artwork from the third and fourth edition. The artwork is eye-catching. The style fits the thematic era of the game. This creates an immersive experience when playing.

Fun Factor

Fury of Dracula can be fun. The game of cat and mouse within a board game makes for a great social gaming experience. This game can vary in length depending on how well the Dracula player makes his movements. There can be moments where it drags a little and can frustrate players but not too bad. Once Dracula’s trail is located, it becomes a great game of deduction. If you have read any of my reviews, you know I love deduction. In Fury of Dracula, it takes the deduction even further. 

Age Range & Weight

This game has a lot going on. There is a lot of strategic thinking and guessing. The deduction is not always easy. The age suggestion is fourteen and older and I can stand by this. Also, because of the varying length of the game, younger audiences would get bored waiting for something exciting to take place.

Conclusions

My group and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves while playing. We took several turns before finally finding one of Dracula’s locations. This happened to be the starting location which only helped a minuscule amount but created a lot of laughter. There were so many places Dracula could have run off to from that location it made us laugh even more. It was even worse when he almost reset his cards by removing the last three locations on the board. I was thinking the game highly favored Dracula’s way when he made a break for sea and we could narrow it down and play a card that aided us in pinpointing his location. It took several turns from there but we caught him twice and defeated him.

We have played Letters from Whitechapel a few times and although it is similar, Fury of Dracula is much different. The objectives are slightly different for each side. I like the mechanics of Dracula’s movement better. I like the balance of each side’s event cards and Dracula only getting them if the Hunters risk drawing from the bottom of the deck at night. This is an interesting mechanic.

If you enjoy hidden movement games like Scotland Yard or Letters from Whitechapel, this should be an instant hit for you and even more so if you prefer the Dracula theme. This one will be high on our shelf! A big thanks to Wizkids for reviving this game from retirement so many others can experience it.