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Fury of the Szgany

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MT Updated
There Will Be Games

I was expecting to be playing Napoleon's Triumph at my game group last night, since it's the current hot ticket, but on a whim I took along The Fury of Dracula (the GW edition) instead. I'm currently reading a novel about vampires - The Historian - and it suited my mood. Lucky for me, only one other person turned up and he was keen to try it, so I got to play.

I took Dracula and he the hunters. FoD suits itself very well to "explain as you play" so we were up and running in no time. I started in Eastern Europe, as I usually do, and he began all his hunters in the west, so I thought I'd have an easy first part of the game. But it was not to be - an early draw of Newspaper Reports meant the good guys were on my tail right away. I crossed swords with Dr. Seward somewhere in central Europe - the combat was in the day and I played Trap to ensure I won the initiative and was able to get away. Good thing too since it turned out the good Doctor already had a stake!

The hunters swept in on my position, hemming me in to northern Germany. I started dropping my precious vampire encounters in the hope of using up any stakes the hunters might have a ploy which worked well, but cost me three of my precious undead! I bluffed a lot, moving right up close to the hunters and at one point even following Lord Godalming around in the presumption he wouldn't double back. It was a false presunption and I was caught again, but this time combat was at night, and the noble Lord got a vampire bite for his trouble. 

I was still unable to escape the net when Van Helsing stumbled into a Szgany encounter in Prague. He was armed with a rifle and thought he could take it down but with his -1 initiative modifier against agents it was a serious miscalculation. The Gypsy inflicted serious wounds on the hunter and Van Helsing was eventually forced to flee, leaving the Gypsy in place. He ran northward right into a flock of Bats, which allow the Dracula player to move the hunter - so of course he went right back to Prague, and this time there was no escape. The Gypsy finished him off good and proper. 

 With one dead hunter, it was much easier for me to escape, and I wormed my way into Eastern Europe. I then got hit with another newspaper reports, and quickly had Dr. Seward on my tail. I escaped down into South Eastern Europe and the doctor followed me as far as Budapest where the trail went cold and, to my relief, he gave up and went back north. With the breathing space of no hunters nearby (with one dead, there's a lot of board to cover for just two hunters) I was able to pass and change my encountes a couple of times to get enough vampires for the win. And a supreme victory too, with one hunter dead.

My opponent - a seasoned Eurogamer - really seemed to enjoy himself and was interested to play again with more players, to push up the collaborative aspect of the game. What interested me most about his reaction though was the mixture of delight and disbelief he showed when some of the more thematic rules would come up. Like Szgany only appearing in Eastern Europe, for example, or the text on the "superstitious characters" card. There were no paralells in his usual gaming experience and in spite of appearing genuniely surprised that you really actually got rules like that in games which were actually platable and didn't have 30-page rulebooks he got really immersed in the narrative of the game and had a great time.

The other reason I took FoD along was because I've been toying with the idea of buying a copy of the FFG edition. I'd tended to think of the GW version as superior, but I hadn't played it in a while and wanted to make sure. I certainly had a great time playing, but it made me think - most of the exciting stretches in the game were when the hunters had some idea where I was, which is more the case in the FFG edition, but then again it was Van Helsings' death which really made life difficult for them as they were unable to search properly. I also wondered about the possibility of using victory conditions more like those from the FFG version in order to solve the turtling Dracula "problem" and make sure a lid was kept on game time. I'm pretty sure that would be a viable variant. Anyway, there's a 2nd hand copy of the FFG reprint going here in the UK at the moment, but after last night I think I'm pretty comfortable with this old favourite.

There Will Be Games
Matt Thrower (He/Him)
Head Writer

Matt has been writing about tabletop games professional since 2012, blogging since 2006 and playing them since he could talk.

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