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Overview Fury of Dracula is a one against many cooperative deduction game in which the team are trying to find and defeat the one who i...

Fury of Dracula Third Edition Fury of Dracula Third Edition

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



Fury of Dracula is a one against many cooperative deduction game in which the team are trying to find and defeat the one who is playing Dracula.  To win, Dracula is attempting to prey on the weaker hunters and increase his influence throughout Europe.

The game is played out on a map board containing 70 locations in which Dracula can hideout and players can search and recover, amongst other things. The game has elements of deduction, bluffing and combat, all wrapped up in a deliciously-dark and thematic experience. 

You can watch my unboxing video of the Third Edition of Fury of Dracula from Wizkids below:


The game will be played over a series of rounds until either Dracula has been defeated/killed? (the players win) or he has achieved a total of 13 influence points (Dracula wins).  Players' primary method to defeat Dracula is through finding his current hideout, fighting and wounding him. Dracula can be quite vulnerable and will take significant damage when multiple hunters attack him. However, Dracula's influence comes from a variety of sources which also includes fighting hunters.  There is a delicate balance for both teams (the hunters and Dracula) to consider in this game.
Game ready to play
The game consists of a Hunter Phase and a Dracula Phase until the victory conditions have been met. During the Hunter Phase, players will all take a day action, and once the day is over, they will take a night action. Effectively each hunter has two turns in which to prepare for the Dracula phase, in which he simply moves to a new location. 

Every time Dracula moves, he places a new Location card i.e. where he's moved to, and an Encounter card onto his Trail. From the start of the game, the trail will grow from just 1 location to 6 locations indicating where Dracula has been and currently is. If the Hunters haven't found the first location placed it will slide off the board and the encounter card will 'mature'. A maturing vampire encounter card will cause Dracula's influence to increase by 2.  
'Learn to Play' book
Every time a hunter travels to a location which is on Dracula's trail, Dracula may immediately Ambush the hunter by revealing the Encounter card in that location.  This will discard the encounter card and prevent it from maturing later. If Dracula doesn't Ambush the players may surmise that it is a baby vampire and searching for it will prevent Dracula's influence increasing at a later date. However, Dracula has lots of opportunities to dupe the hunters in how he reacts to his trail being revealed. 

If the Hunters are ever in the same location as Dracula, they will have a combat round. Combat is resolved after the Hunter's Day actions have been completed and then again after Dracula's actions have been completed.  The timing of the combat rounds needs to be carefully considered for when players elect to supply, rest and move.
Three rounds of combat, Dr John Sewards combat card has been blocked by Dracula (matching icon) another combat round will begin.
Combat is resolved similarly by both sides; they take a certain amount of combat cards into their hands and reveal one card. If the icons on the revealed cards don't match then Dracula will perform his cards action, and then the hunter's action will resolve. If they match then only the hunter's card will resolve. Dracula will never stand toe-to-toe with a hunter for long though, eventually, he must escape from combat, unless he is going to defeat the hunter else he will lose the game

There are a myriad of extras rules that I could explain but this review would get far too long without actually reviewing the game.  The gameplay does suffer a little bit from a slow-burn at the beginning but once it gets going it is one of the most cinematic experiences I have ever had with a group of players playing a board game.  The tension inexorably ramps up to the endgame which, in my plays up to now, have always been very tense, due to the fact that Dracula or the Hunters had victory just within their grasp.
Where is he?
There is a fair bit of downtime for the Dracula player between his turns but as the Hunter players are openly discussing their plans it is not really downtime. In fact, it is a perfect opportunity to listen and goad the Hunters as they stumble around the board.  There is as much gameplay off the table whilst discussing plans as there is on the board. Many cooperatives have this feature but I have never played one in which I found myself pseudo-roleplaying my role just a little bit. That is a testament to the high-level of immersion that this game has.


The fourth edition is printed by WizKids and comes with painted miniatures which as far as I can tell is the only difference between the third and this version.  

Any time a Hunter takes a supply action, a card is drawn from the item deck. During a day supply action, this is from the top of the deck where players will see whether it is a Hunter card or not. If it is a night action the card is blind-drawn from the bottom of the deck. If it is not a Hunter card then the card will be given to Dracula and may also resolve immediately. There is an element of push-your-luck as well in this action and it keeps the Dracula player involved even more during the Hunters turns. However, in my copy, the backs of the two card-types have vastly different colours so we needed to keep the cards very neatly stacked to prevent the Hunters from seeing which card type was on the bottom. 
Should be the same colour
The rulebook comes in two parts, a Learn to Play and Rules Reference which I do like. I think you can get up and playing much quicker by having rulebooks like this. The Learn to Play is very nicely illustrated with a large number of examples included.  The reference book is just dense walls of text but it is perfect for looking up edge cases not covered by the rules.  I can't think of any time that a gameplay question wasn't resolved by either the learn to play (most commonly this) or the Rules Reference (mostly just for clarification).

The artwork throughout the game and all components are nicely thematic and if you're a fan of the original novel or the vampiric-genre then you should appreciate not only the artwork but the chosen Hunters and their special abilities. Van Helsing is included and he is the Hunter's primary damage dealer; Mina Harker is also a hunter but should rarely be in combat against Dracula but her special ability lets her work together i.e. in the same location as another hunter, to quickly whittle down the possible locations of Dracula.
Cards and Components

I also had a printing error on the player's boards regarding their hand size, but this is easily remembered.


The game can drag for the first few turns. This is when Dracula is still building the Trail and there is little for the Hunters to work with without an element of luck. What makes this game really shine is tension, which is largely absent for the first 20 minutes or so. There's still plenty of things for all players to be doing, i.e. collecting item cards, getting tickets, incubating vampire babies etc. but in the first game I played with a new group they almost bailed before it got going. They were glad they didn't/I forced them not to.

The game does stay on the table for a while. If both the Dracula and Hunter players are familiar with the game, it will probably take the full three hours with both teams finishing within one point or so of each other. If one side doesn't know what they're doing it will probably still take three hours but finish much earlier in game-play terms i.e. early on week 2 instead of week 3 or later but after three hours have elapsed.


There is a reason this game has had three reprints after the original release in 1987. It is an excellent game that combines many popular boardgame mechanics into a finely balanced gameplay experience that plays best with 5 players.  It is also good with 3 players and playable with 2.  I didn't like it as much with 4 players though as one player is controlling more Hunters than another which unbalanced the game a little. 

Lots of games have tense endgame but I haven't experienced one as dramatic as this one. Often in a standard 'euro game' the tension comes from adding on your Victory points and bonus VPs on the score track at the end of the game. In this game (definitely not a euro game) the tension starts about 30 minutes in and steadily ramps up to the conclusion 2 and a half hours later.  It is an intense experience. I would even say that it is a high-stakes game...

The game arguably provides a more cinematic experience than going to the cinema and more suspense than any whodunit novel. It just may be a perfect blend of board-game where you're constrained by rules which tells a story without any narrative.  After you've played you will feel exhausted just as you would having traipsed across Europe for the last three weeks hunting and being hunted by Dracula.

Most game-stores will have a copy of this game in and even if you're not interested in this game, you can use this link to find your nearest game store.

Publisher: Wizkids
Players: 2 - 5
Designer: Stephen Hand
Playing time: 2 - 3 hours

Mage Knight needs no introduction as it has topped many 'best of' lists since its release in 2011. It has consistently been vo...

Mage Knight Ultimate Edition Mage Knight Ultimate Edition

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Mage Knight needs no introduction as it has topped many 'best of' lists since its release in 2011. It has consistently been voted the best solo game of all time and it is a game that was on my grail list of games to learn and play. This is Mage Knight Ultimate Edition which includes all of the expansions and additionally 5 extra cards on top of what has already been released.

You can view my unboxing video of this monster-sized box below: 

If you're not familiar, players take on the role of a titular 'Mage Knight' as they explore a fantasy realm, fighting monsters, looting artefacts, pillaging monasteries and besieging cities. The 'realm' is an unknown quantity before you start exploring and your knight will encounter a plethora of fantasy tropes during their quest. There are a total of 18 different scenarios in the Ultimate Edition, 11 from the base game and the remainder from the expansions. The goal of each game is to achieve the scenario specific objectives before time runs out. 'Time' is tracked by a day/night cycle of no more than 3 rounds which initially feels very restrictive. Each scenario can be played competitively, cooperatively or solo, some would argue it's best at one player (I think I'm in that camp too).  Your character will level up, gain abilities as they defeat monsters and interact with villagers and mages throughout the land which hopefully has prepared you enough to take on a city.
Arythea starting her journey


Once you're familiar with the rules, the game can be reduced to a brain-burning exploration puzzle with generous helpings of high-fantasy. It has a reputation for being a very heavy and complex game but I think this is unfair. I read the majority of the 'Learn to Play' booklet and then watched Ricky Royals excellent playthrough videos which completely prepared me to tackle the introductory scenario, First Reconnaissance. The core system of the game is not hard to learn, the complexity comes from a lot of specific rules for each type of monster, site, or terrain tiles, which will also change from day to night.  However these specific rules breath thematic life into this optimisation puzzle of a game.
Rules(s) books
Each day or night round will start by rolling a pool of mana dice and drawing an initiative card to determine which player goes first. There will probably be some bonus as well described on the card to make the choice of initiative card a little harder instead of 'I want to go first I'll pick number 1', number 6 (the highest initiative card has the greatest bonus. The role of mana dice locks those dice to one of 6 different colours of mana, which can be used once per turn by any knight to power their Deed Cards. After a mana dice is used like this it gets re-rolled back into the pool. Despite the rolls being random, the mana dice really requires a level of skill to use optimally, the best play will nearly always involve at least one mana dice, but finding the best use of mana can be tricky.

The game, or your knight's actions throughout the land, is primarily driven by the Deed Cards that you play. Each card has two effects and when played, affords your knight a certain number of points in either move, influence or combat attributes. These points are then available for your character to spend by performing the associated movement and/or action once per turn. All cards can be imbued with mana which allows for the more powerful effect of the card to be played. Any cards played are discarded at the end of your turn and you will draw up a new hand so that you can start planning your next go whilst your opponent is taking their turn.  I can understand why people say this game is the best solo; with multiple players, there is often a lot of downtime, or conversely too much pressure to move when you're searching (often in vain) for better actions.
The first City is revealed
As you generate points from the cards you can explore new terrain tiles. Each hexagonal-shaped tile has a variety of terrain types on it from countryside to mountain and forests to deserts, both of which have different movement costs during the day and night time. It's little tweaks like this, littered throughout the game, that makes this game notoriously complex. However, I didn't find one 'tweak' that didn't logically fit or feel thematically correct. For example, moving through a forest is much harder at night and moving through a desert during the night is much easier. I don't have personal experience of the latter but I've read enough books to have been told that many times.

As you reveal a new tile you will place tokens corresponding to any icons in terrains spaces. At the end of your move, you may be able to interact with whatever token is in the terrain space you've stopped at. Again each site has their own specific rules however you'll primarily be attempting to generate enough influence points to hire some units to aid you in your quest. Of course, there are many other options available to you which all depend on what type of token you've stopped at. You can plunder, attack, recruit, buy spells, train etc. etc. The list is fairly comprehensive and because of the number of different options you have, not just in token interaction, but route choices, ability options when you level up and combat actions, the optimal path can be hard to find.
Random components
Often, the tokens you place onto the board will be monsters, or interacting at sites will cause monsters to spawn. The base game has a large array of different monsters from several different monster types. the most common are the orcs on green tokens. However, The three included expansions add an almost bewildering amount of stuff for the new player. If you are a new player coming into the game with this version as your starting point, for the sake of your own sanity, please only play with the base game for your first foray or two. Tokens can cause multiple enemies to spawn or a conjurer who will summon even more monsters to attack in their stead. It's never a nice feeling to face three enemy spawns when you were hoping for an artefact from a dungeon. 
Ultimate Edition cards
The combat system of this game is ingenious. It took me several games to get my head around it, especially as with your first game or two you're not going to see the more advanced enemies with a variety of combat-effecting attributes. Each time your turn ends on a space with a monster you will fight. If you don't defeat them straight away, i.e after one round of combat, you will take wounds into your hand and withdraw. It is a rather binary affair, you've got one chance to generate enough block and attack points to defeat them else you lose the combat. The points are generated in exactly the same way as movement or influence points are, but it is the careful use of mana tokens, crystals and mana dice (yes there are three sources of mana to juggle) which will allow you to be successful. Each fight will start with a Ranged Attack in which you will get a chance to attack the enemy. These attack points aren't that common on your starting cards and without additional units to play this is not likely to succeed. Next, the enemy attacks the knight, which can be blocked using generated block points. If the enemies' attack is not blocked your knight will take wound cards depending on the strength of the attack and their armour. After you've blocked the enemies attack, it is finally your chance to kill the enemy. If you can generate enough attack points to defeat their armour, congratulate yourself. You've just gained some fame and maybe some influence with the local population.

Wolfhawk versus a Minotaur
There are, of course, a multitude of different attributes that can affect the simplistic combat described above but generally they all work on the concept of doubling or halving the required attack or block points. The rules call this 'efficiency' if your block is efficient against the type of enemy attack, e.g. a cold block is efficient against a fire attack, (makes sense right?) your block points are applied fully. If your block is inefficient you will need to generate double the number of block points to have the same effect. Again there are a lot of different combat attributes that use a similar mechanism, e.g. swift attacks need twice the amount of block to be defended against, which to my mind is efficiency re-skinned. If you can get your head around efficiency any combat will be a doddle, to resolve if not to be successful!

As you defeat enemies and level up, more powerful abilities and spells will be available to you. If you're really good/lucky you'll maybe get a powerful artefact. However, during the course of any one game, you'll only see a small, if not tiny, selection of all the possible cards that you could have. There is a tremendous amount of replayability. It is this replayability that reminded me of Magic Realm, in scope if not depth, however, this is still dwarfed by that much older game.  No other game (that I've played) comes as close to the breadth and depth of Magic Realm as does this. Any game that evokes Magic Realm in any aspect is doing alright in my book.

A very special version of Magic Realm
The rules necessarily allow players to take back their moves up until something had been newly discovered. What this means is that your turns will be littered with indecision and doubt as you stumble to make the right choice and you'll redo and redo a turn to find a route that works. If you like min/maxing, or suffer from Analysis Paralysis then this could just be the best cathartic game to gorge on your idecision; however please do it solo. The time between turns can stretch out to be loooong affairs when playing with just one other person, let alone one that enjoys AP. The box states 1-4 players, however, my patience is exhausted at 3 players and I've not even tried it at 4. *shudder* 


Let me get this off my chest, the box is massive, it's far too big and I'm almost considering ditching it. It takes up an inordinate amount of space on your shelves and there is no reason for it to be so big. there is a good 3 cm empty space at the top of the box.
Let's crush it
The insert is perfect if all you want to do is transport the game to a buyer undamaged; for anything else i.e. playing the game, it is terrible. It falls far short of being useful and I have already ditched it in favour of plastic bags and elastic bands.  Wizkids have attempted to provide afunctional insert, there are card slots for individual decks and spaces for the dice etc. but the tokens are all in the same slots which is less than helpful considering the setup time of this game. A third-party insert is almost a must although none are on the market as of Jan 2019 - I am attempting to design my own.
Bottom layer revealed
There is a dizzying amount of content when you throw the base game and all expansions in together. We are spoilt with games offering 50+ scenarios in the box (Gloomhaven et al) and I think the vast majority of scenarios go unplayed in those games; at least by me and my game groups. Mage Knight (the base game) has 11 scenarios but the re-playability is off the scale. The terrain will be different the encountered monsters will be different, as will be the spells, abilities and artifcats that you collect. I would rather have replayablility with a wide variety of content than lots of different scenarios using the same content.
Knights and Citys
The miniatures come painted, and as someone who enjoys painting minis to quite a good standard, the quality is terrible. However, as someone with limited time to paint minis I am very grateful that they come pre-painted at-all and they're certainly good enough to get the job done, i.e. look good on the table. A factory paint-job will never match the quality or time that a hobbyist can put into their own miniatures so they get a thumbs-up from me.
The one standout area of the games' artwork and design is in the cards. Each card has unique artwork that is evocative of the card's effect and beautifully drawn to a similar quality of a Collectible Card Game. The rest of the tokens and terrain are fairly generic but it gets the job done and, more importantly, clearly conveys all necessary information (once you're familiar with all of the icons).


Huge unnecessary box.
Insert doesn't help a long game set up and is actively keeping me from playing more.
Long time between turns when playing multiplayer.


This game wont be for everyone, but I couldn't do anything but recommend it to every gamer I know. It presents players with so many different and difficult decisions every single turn and the pressure to advance is constant; the first turn is as important as the last. It never feels unbalanced and I always have a niggling doubt that I could have played a hand better. There is no right way to play, but there certainly is a variety of good ways to play. I wonder if the best plays will still be elusive after 20 plays. I still dread going up against a city or even delving into a dungeon. But the challenge is always rewarding and this is one game where I come away thinking about the next time or things I could have done better.
Ignore the ruins, the red City beckons, Fire Dragon needs dealing with first...great game.
I prefer this game solo, or at most with 2 experienced players (I now include myself in that bracket...), playing cooperatively. I tried it with three and I've tried it competitively and it was not as much fun for me. I lost heavily when I was playing competitively but I'd like to think that doesn't sway my opinion (much), I just found the down time untenable and the disappointment of being outwitted by another player quite unpleasant. Which is strange, beacuse normally I don't care whether I win or lose a game I just like to play. 

I enjoy playing and regularly losing at chess, but that doesn't bother me at all. Chess is an abstract that doesn't tell me a story like Mage Knight does. I am invested with the story in Mage Knight. I want my knight to succeed and defeat all the things. A game that conveys a story without presenting you with a written narrative is doing something right in my book. Mage Knight has that quality in spades, the mechanics tell a story, a good story story at that, and that is what is going to keep me coming back to Mage Knight as often as I can; just as soon as I can make a different insert.