You know a game is old when I was actually still in high school when it came out.
The classic deduction game, Fury of Dracula, originally came out in 1987.
Now in its 4th edition and a game that many people love, it’s only natural that it would finally get an app version.
What is the game?
Up to 4 players are trying to hunt down Dracula (played by a 5th player) in a frantic search across all of Europe. Nobody knows where he is…unless you stumble upon his trail.
Let’s take a look at the game (briefly) and then the app.
(Note: the App is only 2-player at most, with one player being the hunters and the other player being Dracula. Solo play is either you as hunters or you as Dracula, all against the AI)
Players take the roles of four vampire hunters (no, not Sam & Dean): Mina Harker, Van Helsing, Lord Goldaming, and Dr. John Seward. They begin scattered around Europe (either in specific locations or you can set it up so that each player can choose where they start).
Dracula then chooses a hideout location.
Then the chase is on!
On the Day part of your turn, you can do one of a number of actions, which includes moving around Europe from city to city. You can move by coach (one space away) or by train if you have the tickets. You can even enter a sea zone if you’re in a port.
You can also get a train ticket, search your current city for signs of Dracula, or supply and get some items or events, or rest and heal some damage.
After everybody has gone, Dusk falls and you can do another action. However, you can’t move. Otherwise, you can do the same actions: get a ticket or resupply (or pass, which is always an option), rest etc.
Moving from city to city by carriage means you can only move along the red lines and move one space.
Train movement, on the other hand, requires a ticket and you can move multiple spaces along the white or yellow lines instead.
This can come in handy if you need to get somewhere quickly (and the rail lines are going your way!)
You can also move into sea zones, but you can only Pass at Dusk if you’re at sea.
Once each player has done their Dusk action, Dracula gets to move a space, filling the row of cards at the top of the screen with another city card that’s adjacent to where he already is. It could also be a sea zone, which is a blue card and causes him to take 2 points of damage when he moves from land (1 point if he goes from sea zone to sea zone)
This can greatly help the hunters, though not until you have a bit of an idea of where he is.
If a hunter moves onto a city that’s on the trail, Dracula reveals the card and any encounter card that’s there too.
That could be another vampire, or some other obstacle.
If a card would ever be displaced off of the trail by the new one, it matures and any encounter happens. This is helpful, though not as helpful because that means Dracula’s 6 spaces away!
When players supply, they draw cards that could either be event cards, items, or perhaps even a card for Dracula. If the last one, Dracula follows the directions on the card, either playing it immediately or holding on to it.
Otherwise, players can hold 3 events and 3 items. Any more and they must discard. (Dr. Steward can hold 4 of each). They can also hold 2 train tickets.
Each hunter has a special ability that will help them along the way. Steward’s was mentioned above. Lord Godalming can get 2 tickets instead of one when he does the train ticket action.
What happens when you land on Dracula’s space, or perhaps are faced with a vampire encounter card?
Players have some basic combat cards along with any combat items that they have in their hands. Each card will cancel a certain type of Dracula card. If it’s not cancelled, then Dracula’s card takes effect first and then the hunter’s card does. Once a card is used, it can’t be used in the next round of combat.
You are trying to bring their health down to zero. If you do that with a regular vampire, they are defeated. If you do that with Dracula, you win the game!
Before I continue, I should note that while the game does have synchronous online play, I have only played it solo against the Dracula AI and as Dracula against the AI hunters.
I’ve never played the game on the table, though it does sound interesting (even though I’m not very good at deduction games).
The game itself is ok. Players are trying to coordinate their hunt and try to figure out where Dracula is before he has had enough time to increase his influence to 13.
I do like how Dracula’s trail is done with the location cards as he moves from city to city (or sea zone).
It can be quite thrilling when you move a hunter and suddenly one of the location cards gets flipped.
The Hunt is on!!!
I had trouble understanding the game at first (even with the tutorial), so my first games were pretty bad. Then I started really getting it, between looking at the rulebook and getting some experience on the app, and now it’s almost too easy.
Future games may change that idea, or maybe Nomad will add additional levels of AI.
So the game isn’t really my cup of tea, but it is enjoyable.
How is the app?
The app is excellent, even if I’m not a big fan of the game itself.
The tutorial does a decent job of teaching you the basics of the game, though playing around with it or looking at the rules would be a good thing to do too. It’s not a perfect tutorial.
The tutorial is actually better for Dracula than it is for the hunters.
According to Nomad Games in an update that went live just before this review is scheduled to, there will be more tutorials as well as addressing some other issues mentioned below, so check it out!
The game was originally delayed from it’s October release because it wasn’t ready yet. Kudos to Nomad for doing that, especially because I would guess this was supposed to be a Halloween game (the mood certainly fits!)
Even with the delay, there have been a couple of major bugs that have had to be fixed (one has been fixed and one is scheduled to be fixed next week).
Otherwise, I haven’t noticed anything major wrong with the app, which is really nice to see.
The graphics are really well done, though very dark (I guess that fits the game, though, right?). I like the busts of each figure and how they move around the board (though sometimes the cities can be hard to click if there is too much going on around them).
It’s easy to tell if a city is a large city, small city, a seaport (blue instead of green).
There can be the occasional confusion when you are forced to reveal cards and then do something with them.
The game will pop up with the cards that you are revealing, and you can page through them. You then have to hit the “X” at the top right of the pop-up. The game will then pop up a screen that will let you “submit” the card you want to play.
It’s not always obvious that “X” is the right thing to click.
That’s a minor UI issue, though and doesn’t really affect the game too much.
I also like how the game will pop up an event that can change actions during the Day before the turn actually begins. For example, Speedy Telegraph will let players play in any order on that turn.
If somebody has Speedy Telegraph, for example, it always pops up and asks if you want to use it. This is one of the cases where hitting the “X” isn’t obvious and it would have been nice to just have a “No” button instead.
Combat is also really interesting, though it takes a bit to figure out exactly what you’re doing (and it doesn’t appear to be covered in the tutorial).
Basically it’s a kind of bluffing game where hunters are trying to match symbols with Dracula’s card. If they do, then Dracula’s card has no effect. If they don’t, it does and can be quite damaging!
The hunters do have an “Escape” card if they do get ambushed by Dracula when they have limited equipment and/or health. Dracula will get one last shot in, but then the combat ends and they can run.
I found the combat pretty cool and the graphics are great! I love how, as the characters/vampires get damaged, they get bloodier and bloodier, actually looking like they’re on Death’s door (or Undeath’s door, anyway).
Fury of Dracula has both local games and online multiplayer, though the online multiplayer is synchronous only against one other player. That does kind of make sense, considering how much back and forth there can be, both between investigators as well as cards that can interrupt your turn.
I’ve only played it solo, and my feeling is that this game almost needs to be played by two players.
The game against the AI, with the player controlling all the hunters, is fine but gets a bit dull after a while.
As for playing Dracula, I’ve only played a couple of games against AI hunters but the AI is, let’s just say, suspect.
In one game, I had an Ally card that let me do one point of damage to a hunter unless they revealed a specific card. I kept on doing a point of damage to Van Helsing because he obviously wasn’t drawing the card he needed.
He stayed in the same city for most of the game, healing during the day (occasionally at Dusk too) and drawing cards at Dusk. I didn’t have to worry about him at all. The other hunters never really made a serious effort to corral me. It was pretty easy to get around them.
If you have the time and inclination, I could see how the game could be quite fun as long as you can communicate over Discord or something like that.
Sadly, that doesn’t really include me so Fury of Dracula is not a game that I will be going to very often.
If you like deduction games, though, and you either have somebody to play with online or don’t mind a bit of solo deduction, Fury of Dracula is an excellent example of it.
Nomad Games has once again created a great app.
I just wish it were for a game I enjoyed more.
Fury of Dracula is available on Steam for $22.79 CDN (I don’t know what that translates to in US$) and is currently 20% off (for another day or so).
Many thanks to Nomad Games for providing a copy of this game.