Saturday, July 21, 2007

Vaht, I forgot two major rules?

Ben and I gathered at 10am for a rousing game of Fury of Dracula. The game itself was an exciting cat-and-mouse chase with Ben playing the hunters and myself playing the Count. About halfway through the game, Ben began to pick up my trail and embarking to sea seemed the best way to hide again, as Dracula cannot be encountered at sea and after spending a few moves sailing about, the range of ports for landing increases, making Dracula's trail somewhat difficult to pick up again. Shortly after going to sea, however, Ben's Stormy Seas card forced Dracula to seek shelter at a port and reveal where he had landed. With limited options, I landed on the Iberian peninsula. Its connection to the rest of Europe is a bottleneck which Ben's hunters would reach before I could, especially since it was daytime and my best evasion powers were unavailable until the sun set. As Ben closed in and cut off my escape routes across land, fog in Madrid slowed his pursuit long enough for me to hide in Cadiz until dusk. By the time he reached Cadiz, I had managed to just catch another ship and head out into open waters again, making an incredibly narrow escape.

I sailed through the Mediterranean, figuring to land far away in Eastern Europe where I could avoid capture until the passage of time gave me enough victory points to win the game. Ben, however, managed to fast-travel two of his hunters to my destination ports, which meant he would find me as soon as I set foot on land again. Frustrated, I managed to double back into the Adriatic Sea, finally landing in Venice and sneaking past the closing hunters to avoid capture until the end of the game.

Overall, it was an exciting game with great chase action. There was almost no combat, however, as I managed to elude capture (which, as Ben pointed out at the end, is kind of the point for the Dracula player). I had a great time and I think Ben did, too, and we both are looking forward to the next time we play this. It plays from two to five, with one person being Dracula and the remainder splitting control of the hunters (one person controls all four, two people control two each, and so on). Certainly, with one person playing all of the hunters, they all could share a joint strategy which shortened decision-making time and thus play time to a very manageable degree. I think we were both surprised by how well this plays with just two people, although I'm sure having a few more would be a different dynamic and fun all the same.

As I looked for a fitting Dracula picture to write up what was going to be an exciting session report, I saw a blurb of text that caught my eye discussing sea movement. Something had felt wrong about the way I had conducted my sea movement after escaping Cadiz, but with the rulebook being 30 pages, I couldn't find it at the time and wasn't even sure I had done anything incorrectly.

Mea culpa--I was right to have been suspicious. There were not one, but two major rule transgressions on my part that I discovered tonight when reviewing the rulebook.


Dracula cannot use any of his Powers while
at sea. He is weakened while crossing running
water and cannot call upon his most potent
abilities. This effectively restricts him from
backtracking or staying in place at sea. (p. 10)

Oops. You can't turn the boat around, even if you're Dracula. Once I reached Eastern Europe, I should have been forced to land, where Ben's hunters would have been waiting.


Timekeeping Phase:

This phase only occurs at the start of Dracula’s turn. If Dracula is currently located in a sea zone, nothing happens and Dracula proceeds to his Movement Phase. Otherwise, the Dracula player advances the Day/Night marker one space clockwise along the Day/Night track. (p. 7)

Oh, the shame. It's even in bold in the rulebook. Time should essentially stand still while Dracula is at sea to prevent him from sailing around to chew up time (which is a necessary rule--Ben observed as we played, "So, you can basically sail around until you win the game, right?" This prevents that). Both rules also act to discourage sea travel by Dracula in general, thus giving the Hunters more of a chance to find him. With this rule played correctly, one of the Hunters (but not both) would have had the power to fast-travel to Eastern Europe to meet Dracula as he landed (the other fast-travel power was only available with the dawning of the new day, which, played correctly, would not have occured). Despite this, Dracula would still have been found, since the cards tell when (but not where) Dracula lands, and when a Hunter would have been in one port and Dracula didn't show up, it would have been a simple matter to travel one road to the other port and give him a little welcome home gift (with a stake through the heart).

Argh. Still a very fun game--straightforward and exciting without a lot of extra side-mechanics to remember. The theme is a good one and fits well with the game for the most part, and the game doesn't have an obscene number of components like some of FFG's other games (cough cough Arkham Horror cough cough). I definitely want to play again. Playing according to the rules will be a good bonus. Sorry, Ben.

Near the end of the game, Steve and his son Jake showed up and broke out Steve's new copy of Nexus Ops while we finished. Steve won the first game against his son with his creepy crawly spiders hanging out on top of the monolith in the middle. After they finished, Ben and I joined in for a four-player Nexus Ops game. Jake claimed the monolith in the middle early and was never seriously challenged there. However, Ben skillfully manuevered around his strike force of spider fighters with their human meat shields, completing multiple secret missions and racking up victory points at a dizzying pace, usually by conducting at least two battles a turn. In the end, Ben claimed galactic domination with Jake coming in second. Steve and I moved a few pieces around as well but never got enough momentum to challenge the others.

We then broke out Citadels, which I had been wanting to try. I managed to lay down a few cheapie buildings to scoot out to an early lead. Ben gave me a bit of friendly advice as we played, stating that I might want to consider using the Warlord's special power to knock down a 1 gold cost building for free rather than skipping it as I had planned to do (since it was my first game and had already forgotten that one gold cost buildings were indeed free to destroy). Ben, of course, had the only one gold cost building at that time (and, knowing this, pointed at his own building grudgingly as he gave me the advice). So of course I thanked Ben graciously...and proceeded to knock down his one gold building to show my gratitude. From that point on, I managed to grab the Warlord and Bishop on most turns to prevent the same thing from happening to me and slowly built my way to victory. Again, this was the kind of light, quick, fantasy-themed filler game that I was hoping it would be, and it reminds me that I need to solicit suggestions for some other light games (Ave Caesar comes to mind) since I have mostly a glut of theme-heavy games requiring significant time commitments at this point and not a lot else.

We finished up with Ticket to Ride with the 1910 expansion (Chris' games still in cellophane = Chris' games still in cellophane - 1 -- yay!) Jake and I started claiming some short north-south routes early that we needed to complete our destination tickets--and it cost us. Ben and Steve collected cards...and collected...and collected. Then they both went to work claiming most of the 5 and 6 car east-west routes while Jake and I kept working on the shorter ones out of concern that those would be taken up by competitors if we waited. By the end, Steve completed multiple east coast and central US destination tickets with those high-scoring 5 and 6 car routes and claimed the win with something like 150 points. Ben joined the Atlantic and Pacific and came in a close second. Jake came in third and played very well, while I, despite claiming longest route network, came in a distant fourth. Next time, I think I'd definitely be less conservative and try to claim more destination tickets, as I came up woefully short in that area at the end of the game. Glad I got this one out on the table.

Overall, a great Saturday. Thanks to everyone who played!

Time to go look at my TI3 tutorial videos now.



At 11:30 PM, July 21, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Now that, Chris, was an awesome session report!

Don't worry, Chris! The first time through a heavy FFG game, I pretty much assume we're going to screw something up. I think you would have won anyway... it just might have taken a few more turns.

Nexus Ops... probably the best $15 game in my collection. Of course, I bought it when it was going for around $30...

Citadels... my lifetime-long losing streak continues. This game never fails to deliver fun. Still, something was missing without Michael being in the game.

TTR: We played the mega-game variant with all the 1910 stuff shuffled in. Very nice.

At 4:07 PM, July 22, 2007, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Fury of Dracula: I hate the "time stands still" rule, as it can only lengthen an already long game. Sometimes the sea is simply your only option. I would've discarded this rule and made the blood penalty more severe.

At 6:56 PM, July 22, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

With two players, I didn't find the game to be overly long at all. I think this is another one of those games where more players simply dilutes the fun.


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