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Fury of Dracula 3rd Edition – Game variants

The following house rule ideas are mostly concerned with optimizing the balance of the game
(which normally tends to give Dracula the upper hand) and adjusting issues I personally have with
some minor theme inconsistencies.

If you are also interested in a guide for the hunters and Dracula likewise, you may look up
the one I posted in the Strategy section on board game geek (title: ‘For all of you who have to
save Europe or want to engulf it in darkness: A hunters’ and a vampire’s guide + 10 rule
clarifications for Fury of Dracula).

[As mentioned in the guide, I apologize for any mistakes in language or writing. Greetings from
Germany! ;) ]

(A) Variants concerning the hunters


1. Supports
 FAST HORSES: I personally really like this card. It can be pretty valuable in the last rounds of
the game to keep on Dracula’s track. Therefore, hunters shouldn’t hoard all of the good train
tickets. Still, if you are unlucky and can’t draw a ticket with a yellow 2 several times, it can
make the card appear quite useless, especially because you could have another, maybe better
item card instead. So consider this little improvement of the card:
If you draw a ticket without a yellow number, you may keep the card and use it exactly one
other time. Lay the card before you, face up and upside down. After you used it another time,
discard it regardless of the drawn ticket.

 JONATHAN HARKER: Although he is one of the key figures in the novel, Harker seems to be
of rather little help compared to the other two allies RUFUS SMITH and SISTER AGATHA.
Therefore, I tend to improve him:
Ally: When a hideout slides to the sixth or the fifth space of the trail, reveal that hideout's
location card.

 Supply actions: I never understood why a hunter has to draw an item card (as the official
rules state) by performing a supply action when he just wants an event card. Therefore, my
ruling for supply actions is: The hunter must draw an event card, but draws an item card only
if he wants to.

2. Restrictions
 HEROIC LEAP: This is a very powerful event card. However, it can be very frustrating and
anticlimactic if Dracula is defeated, without combat, just by a single event card. Hence:
… Dracula cannot be defeated by the use of this card. Thus, HEROIC LEAP will harm Dracula
only by a maximum of 14 damage points.

 SISTER AGATHA: Since this card is one of the best events the hunters can get, particularly in
combination with GARLIC WREATH, consider this:
Ally: After Dracula resolves ‘Escape as Bat’ or ‘Escape as Mist’, he suffers 2 damage. After
Dracula resolves ‘Fangs’, he suffers 1 damage.
 Castle Dracula: If you want this location to be the hellish, sinister place it is in the novel,
hunters should not only be hindered to supply and reserve a ticket, but also should not be
allowed to recover damage either when standing on the castle Dracula location.

 Defeating Dracula: Imagine the heavily wounded, but still deadly lord of vampires snarling at
his enemies and snapping his teeth. Horrific, isn’t it? But – PUNCH! – a little bit of dull violence
beats him for good. … Not very satisfying, is it? So consider the following rule:
Dracula can never be defeated by the card PUNCH unless the hunter who played PUNCH
reveals a STAKE. If Dracula has 14 damage and the hunter who played PUNCH cannot reveal
a STAKE card of his own, ignore the damage PUNCH would inflict.
Note that such a rule only affects Dracula, not his vampire encounter cards.

(B) Variants concerning Dracula


1. Supports
 Lord of the undead: As mentioned in my guide, Fury of Dracula captures the atmosphere of
Bram Stoker’s novel very well. This includes the fact that Dracula is no brainless killing
machine, but has to act carefully, too. Therefore, though combat between the hunters and
Dracula is a key element of the game, it is not meant to occur perpetually nor is Dracula always
more powerful or more deadly than the hunters. And that’s totally okay and thematically
correct.
Still, sophisticated hunters might defeat Dracula quite quickly, once they found him, with cards
like HEAVENLY HOST, HOLY BULLETS or HEROIC LEAP. Especially in combat with several
hunters, Dracula might seem a little bit of weak condition. Admittedly, the game balance slightly
gives the advantage to the Dracula player, but that’s not because of his combat skills. So, if
you want to balance the game more accurately, give Dracula some other disadvantages (see
below), but don’t reduce his chances to withstand the hunters in battle.
The following two house rule ideas slightly improve Dracula’s battle abilities:
UNDEAD: The curse of the undead protects Dracula; he doesn’t receive more than 14
damage. If he gets damage that would exceed 14 (e.g. being hit by KNIFE when already
having 13 damage points), just inflict the damage up to 14 and ignore all damage points left.
However, once he reaches 14 damage, the protective spell dissolves. Now, Dracula can
receive more than 14 damage and therefore be defeated. Recovering health points does not
bring back the protective spell.
The dissolution of the spell takes place immediately. Thus, Dracula can still be defeated in the
same combat round when in combat with several hunters.
LAST STRENGTH: If Dracula has received 15 damage, he is not defeated, but is in a
weakened state. As long as he has 15 damage, Dracula cannot use the night effect of
ESCAPE AS BAT. If Dracula recovers, he leaves the weakened state. Dracula is still defeated
if he ever gets more than 15 damage.
Both ideas can be combined, of course. This can be a good idea, if a beginner controls
Dracula.

 RATS: Like BATS and WOLVES, the RATS play a special role in Bram Stoker’s novel (there is
a brilliant and creepy scene with thousands of rats and their little eyes glowing in the dark).
However, the RATS encounter card doesn’t satisfy me, most notably because it is usually of
less useful effect in comparison with BATS, which also has no matured effect. Recently, I came
up with the following idea, but I haven’t tried it out, yet:
The hunter suffers 2 damage and gets an infection marker. Return this card face up to this
hideout unless the hunter reveals a "Pistol" or "Rifle".
What does an infection marker do?
Infection marker: As long as a hunter has an infection marker, he doesn’t recover any
damage by performing a rest action. The hunter may discard the infection marker as a day
action (not a night action). A hunter can never have more than 1 infection marker.
As I said, this idea has not been tested, yet. It will satisfy me if the idea is suited because it
would raise the value of DOGS, too. Also, the idea may still be expandable:
 What if a hunter could have 2 infection markers (but only 1 can be discarded by 1 action)?
 Should the hunter also suffer 1 damage at the end of the day phase if he has an infection
marker?
 Should the hunters be able to discard an infection marker while it’s night instead of day? Or
should the action be available day and night?
Maybe try out the idea by yourself and report your experiences.

 WOLVES: While being quite useful because they might harm the hunters or bring Dracula
information about two of their item cards simultaneously, the effect of WOLVES can easily be
negated by DOGS. Thus, I have the variant, that DOGS must always be discarded against
WOLVES, even if used in a search action. Additionally, I tend to give the WOLVES a more
powerful matured effect since I’ve very rarely seen matured WOLVES:
Matured effect: Reveal this location card and choose up to 2/3/4 cities as far as 2 roads away.
Resolve the above effect in those cities.
Just decide for yourself whether the effect should concern 2, 3 or even 4 cities.

 Dracula event cards: While it’s really sad that the Dracula player usually gets very few to no
event cards in a game against experienced hunters, it stays a matter of fact that the game
would be very unbalanced if Dracula could easily get his extremely powerful events. That said I
can understand everyone who would like to integrate more of them into the game,
nevertheless. If you do so, consider to give Dracula some heavy disadvantages (see below) or
advantage the hunters in other ways.
How could Dracula get more event cards, besides a hunter’s night supply? Maybe if a despair
token is placed on the board? Or just if the third despair token is placed? Maybe if Dracula
manages to mature a vampire? You might try by yourself, since I rarely play this variant. I
assume, that if Dracula draws an event, he should be allowed to draw two of the facedown
Dracula events in the discard pile, choose one he wants to keep and discard the other face up.
( Look at the point about rumor tokens below to get another idea.)

2. Restrictions
 The downfall of pirate Dracula: If there was one thing criticized with FoD 3rd edition, it was
definitely the not-restricted possibility that the Dracula player might decide to stay most of the
time on sea to just return to land at the beginning of week 4 and promptly gaining victory points
by his FURY OF DRACULA ability. While I never thought that Dracula’s sea movement in
general was overpowered (see my guide for further information about the bunch of
disadvantages Dracula must keep in mind by going to sea, when facing sophisticated hunters),
I do think that there should be some restrictions from the beginning of week 4. The
following house rules have proved themselves quite well:
1. Adjust the text of the FURY OF DRACULA ability by this:
THE FURY OF DRACULA: While all 3 despair tokens are on the time track, advance
the influence track by 2 if there is no sea location card on the first 3 spaces of the
trail.
Thus, Dracula will not gain victory points if there is a sea location card on one of the first
3 spaces of the trail, which means that he’ll have to wait 3 rounds until he gets victory
points again, if he chooses to move by sea even once from the beginning of week 4.
Also, the restriction forces Dracula to come back to land at least 3 rounds before the
beginning of week 4 if he wants to get the victory points right from week 4’s start.
To make full sense of the rule, you should forbid that MISDIRECT can be placed
on a sea location while all 3 despair tokens are on the track. At least, it must not be
played on a sea location which is placed on one of the first 3 spaces of the trail.
Furthermore, the number of victory points Dracula gains has been reduced from 3 to 2.
You might still go with the original rule, but I found that 3 points were rather many and
Dracula could often easily win by that. 2 points are the better deal in my opinion.
Note that in return, Dracula will get victory points now even if he plays FEED or DARK
CALL.
2. I recommend increasing the damage Dracula receives by sea movements at the
beginning of week 4:
While all 3 despair tokens are on the time track, Dracula suffers 3 damage when
moving from a city location to a sea location. When moving from one sea location to
another, he suffers 2 damage. If Rufus Smith is the hunters’ activated ally, Dracula
suffers 3 damage when moving from one sea location to another.
3. Finally, this little rule makes it even more painful for Dracula to move to sea in week 4:
While all 3 despair tokens are on the time track, retreat the influence track by 2 if
Dracula places a sea location on the trail to move from a city location to a sea
location.
That means that Dracula only gets the penalty once he departs from a haven. The
influence track is not retreated when he moves from one sea location to another.

If you don’t want to use every one of those restrictions, I absolutely recommend using
the first one, if any; it is by far the most important of them, in my opinion. Still, an
experienced Dracula player should be able to handle all 3 of those rules. In my own
games, I’m mostly using all of them.

 MISDIRECT: Misdirect is quite a powerful card. It can even become virtually overwhelming
when played on a sea location card while Dracula himself is still on sea. By doing so Dracula’s
move options improve in a way that, when he comes back to land again, he might be
anywhere. That’s unfair and thematically doubtful: Sure, Dracula can influence a ship’s course
(as seen in the novel), but even then, a captain will not head the complete opposite direction.
However, that’s precisely what Dracula could do in FoD. Test it; you’ll see how Dracula might
take venturous courses (e.g. going round Great Britain).
So, to prevent such an abuse of MISDIRECT, consider the following adjustment:
MISDIRECT: If your current location is a city location, you may clear a hideout on any
space of the trail that is not your current location. Then, place ‘Misdirect’ on that space. Then,
choose a location to place on the first space of the trail.
If your current location is a sea location, you may not play ‘Misdirect’ on a space with a
sea location.
Thus, Dracula has to be on land to take a sea location back from the trail by using
MISDIRECT. The experience shows that this little modification helps a lot. It even makes the
pirate Dracula strategy less attractive.

 Rumor tokens: I never use the rumor tokens. While I find the idea attractive that those tokens
can give some special thrill to the game (the hunters must decide whether there really is a
vampire and Dracula hopes that the hunters will or will not act), the benefit of a matured
vampire with a rumor token on it, however, is just too great and unfair.
I never tried it out, but maybe, it could be a good and more just alternative if Dracula would be
allowed to take 1 or 2 Dracula event cards from the discard pile when he manages to mature a
vampire with a rumor token on it (there must be a certain benefit for Dracula to probably
expose the location of a vampire encounter willingly, so a single event card may be too
insufficient).
… I might give that idea a try in my next game sessions.

 Defeated hunters: The victory points Dracula receives by defeating a hunter depend on how
many despair tokens are placed on the time track. That means from week 4 on, Dracula gains
5 (!) victory points at once if he beats a hunter. If you think that’s too big an advantage, you
might be right. Consider a modification; in some of my sessions, it felt quite appropriate to
make the victory points independent from the despair tokens; thus, Dracula got exactly 3
victory points after defeating a hunter, regardless of what week it was. Every player was quite
happy with that.

 Last chance: Once you’ve reached 13 victory points, if you are a nice Dracula player, consider
giving the hunters one last chance to catch you: They have one round left. If Dracula survives
that round, by the start of the next Dracula phase, he wins (unless the hunters managed to play
VAMPIRE LAIR).

 DESECRATED SOIL: It can be very powerful for Dracula to draw new encounter cards since, if
the encounter deck is used up, it is remixed and Dracula might get new vampires, which will be
very unnerving even for capable hunters. Also, DESECRATED SOIL gets additionally useful by
informing Dracula whether a hunter, who is confronted with DESECRATED SOIL, possesses a
HEAVENLY HOST card or not. Furthermore, the matured effect that allows Dracula to recover
3 health points is very strong and will resolve often since in more than just some cases a
hunter will not have a HEAVENLY HOST card (or he might not want to reveal it).
Therefore, I tend to reduce the power of DESECRATED SOIL:
Draw 2 encounter cards. Then, discard up to 2 encounter cards from your hand. Return
this card face up to this hideout unless the hunter reveals ‘Heavenly Host’. You may not use
the basic effect of ‘Desecrated soil’ a second time, unless by another ‘Desecrated soil’
card.
Matured effect: Recover up to 3 damage.

 ENRAGED: I tend to limit the effect of this very usable event card to combat between the
hunters and Dracula himself. It may not be used in fights between the hunters and a normal
vampire.

 UNEARTHLY SWIFTNESS: This is one of Dracula’s best event cards. It’s so powerful that I
use to play it with the following restriction: If the card is played while all 3 despair tokens are on
the time track, Dracula does not gain victory points by his FURY OF DRACULA ability in the
Dracula phase resolved by UNEARTHLY SWIFTNESS.

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