Planning to learn or try out the new WizKids ‘fourth’ edition of Fury of Dracula this Halloween? It’s a superb and spooky one-vs-many game where four vampires hunters try to track down the creepy old count. One player is Dracula himself, who attempts to hide around 19th century Europe, sire new vampires and spread his reign of terror. Meanwhile, four Hunters have to work together to both find the sucker and defeat him in battle.
For a while, Fury of Dracula was out of print and highly sought after. But now it’s back! It’s very much a bigger sibling to the classic hidden-movement game Scotland Yard by Ravensburger. Only this game comes with a lot more teeth!
So, pop in your fake fangs, practice your best Bela Lugosi impression, and get that petrifying playlist on the go. (We recommend the official movie soundtrack from 1992, by Wojciech Kilar.)It’s time to learn how to play Fury of Dracula…
Fury of Dracula plays best with five players – one as the vamp, and four Hunters. You can play with less, but some players will have to control multiple Hunters to ensure it’s still four-vs-one.
First, decide which player will be portraying the role of big bad Drac. Place the board in the centre of the table. It’s a macabre map of Europe, with 60 cities on display. ‘Dracula’ will need to sit at the head of the table, within easy reach of the ‘trail’ (covering Russia). This is where Dracula will play their cards throughout the game.
The other players should decide which character they want to be: Lord Godalming, Dr. John Seward, Van Helsing, or Mina Harker. (Yes, all protagonists from Bram Stoker’s marvellous novel.) Have the players sit clockwise, in this order. Give everyone their corresponding, asymmetrical player aid and pre-painted mini. The Dracula player also gets a postcard-sized map of Europe – A scaled-down version of the board.
Place the Influence Marker on zero and the Time Marker on the first ‘Monday’ point on the time track. There are a bunch of other tokens, including train tickets. Separate and place these at arm’s reach close to the board, too. (We’ll explain these in more detail, later.)
There are quite a few cards! Start by separating them into their various decks. Place the Hunter Item deck face-down next to the Hunter Event deck. The default Hunter Combat cards can make up a third deck.
Give Dracula the remaining cards. They should create a face-down Dracula Combat deck, a 70 card-strong Location deck (60 cities, and 10 sea zones), and a Dracula Encounter deck. Dracula then draws five Encounter Cards as a starting hand.
If it’s your first game, have the Hunters start in the default locations. Put the Godalming mini in Constanta, Seward in Marseilles, Mina in Brussels, and Van Helsing in Amsterdam. In the Advanced Rules, hunters pick their unique starting cities.
Last of all, Dracula decides where to begin. (They can analyse the postcard rather than stare at the board itself, so not to give away their plans!) Dracula cannot start in the same location as a hunter, nor in Castle Dracula, nor at sea. They don’t place their mini on the board, though. Instead, they pick a city, and then place the corresponding Location Card face-down on the left-most spot on the trail. This mystery card indicates where Dracula is, currently.
So, How Do You Win?
Fury of Dracula is a whopper of a game. It's immersive and tense. It’s impossible for us to explain all the rules, here. Many of them are circumstantial. (If this happens, do this.) Instead, we’re going to give you a general gist of how to get started.
There are win conditions for both the team of Hunters and for Dracula. The Hunters win if they can find Dracula, and then dish out 15 points of damage to him. Meanwhile, Dracula wins if they can advance the Influence Track up to 13. So, how do the players accomplish these tasks?
Fury of Dracula plays over a series of rounds, until a win condition applies. Rounds act as follows: First up, there is a Hunter Phase (hooray!), which is then followed by the Dracula Phase (boo!). The Hunter Phase splits into two parts: Day, and then night. The Hunters get to do one action during the day. This always starts with Godalming, followed by the rest of the Hunters, clockwise.
Day is when the Hunters are strongest, when they have many safe options. Day is when Dracula is helpless (he doesn’t like the sun)! But night time is fright time – The Hunters have access to far fewer (and risky, at that) actions at night. Then, it’s the Dracula Phase. Night is when the vampire gets to plot his evil schemes and move in secret. Let’s break it down, further…
The Hunter Phase
Each Hunter gets to do one action during the day. They pick one from the following:
- Move to an adjacent location (by road, rail or sea).
- Reserve a ticket (needed to travel by rail).
- Supply (draw from the Event deck – as well as the Item deck, if they’re in a large city).
- Rest (do nothing, but recover one point of damage).
- Trade (cards/information with each other, if they’re in the same location).
- Search (reveal both Dracula’s Encounter and Location Card in their current city; this will make more sense, later).
- Special Action (potential asymmetrical player powers, or activating an Event Card).
The Hunter’s initial aim, remember, is to locate Dracula. Move allows the Hunter to travel to a nearby city during daylight. (Hunters cannot travel at night.) Roads are slow, but free to move along. Trains are quicker, but costly – Hunters need to get a ticket, first. Some cities also have ports. Hunters can move to an adjacent sea location, or to an adjacent port, for free. It’s quick, but Hunters are somewhat starved of options at sea until they dock again.
All cities on the map are either large or small. Hunters in large cities can Supply, which means they get to draw the top card from both the Event and Item deck (obeying their hand-limit). If in a small city, Hunters do not get to draw an Item card. Event cards help both the Hunters or Dracula, offering a mixture of allies and ‘Special Actions’. The Item deck comprises of weapons, which help to fight Dracula.
One of two symbols will be on the card’s back – A crucifix (Hunter) or a skull (Dracula). Players get to keep Hunter cards but must discard a card with the Dracula symbol. They draw from the top during day (so they can see the card’s symbol). If they draw at night, they must gamble and draw from the bottom of the deck. If it’s a Dracula symbol, they must gift that card to Dracula. Ouch!
The Dracula Phase
So, after the Hunters’ day and night actions, it’s Dracula’s turn. This is where things get fun and Dracula makes their move. They cannot move by train, but they can move by sea (albeit, doing this deals damage to Dracula).
Neither can they re-visit a city they have visited, recently. Why not? Because on Dracula’s turn, they slide any cards on the trail one space to the right. Then they ‘move’ by playing their new location card face-down on the now-vacant, left-most space on the trail.
They cannot re-visit a city already on the trail, because they would not have that city card in their hand. When face-down, players can tell if Dracula played a city or a sea zone. It’s determined by the artwork on the back of the Location Cards.
Then, Dracula accompanies their current Location Card with one Encounter Card, also face-down. Dracula cannot play Encounter Cards when at sea, nor when in Castle Dracula.
The Encounter Cards are a variety of wicked scenarios and traps – fantastic for Dracula eluding and attacking the Hunters. Dracula always re-draws back up to at least five Encounter Cards.
Afterwards, the Time Marker moves on to the next day, and the Hunters get to then take their daytime action. After seven days and nights, a Despair Token is added. This grants Dracula more Influence if they’re successful in battle, or if they can mature vampires.
Chasing the Trail and Maturing Cards
How do the Hunters find Dracula? That’s where the trail of cards shines. If a Location Card is among the six on the trail when a Hunter enters a city, Dracula must flip it face-up on the trail. Now the Hunters can begin a process of elimination. They know Drac can only travel by single roads, so can start tightening the net.
If there is an Encounter Card on this location, Dracula can opt to reveal it then and there. If so, it occurs immediately, and the Hunters must deal with it. These are all circumstantial. Some involve the tokens we mentioned earlier such as fog, storms or bats, impeding the Hunters’ movement. Others might be a new vampire sired by Dracula; in which case the Hunters must fight this minion immediately.
Dracula’s Encounter Cards have two parts to them. A bad scenario (for the Hunters), and an even worse one! If ever a Location Card and an Encounter Card drop off the final slot of the trail, the Encounter ‘Matures’. If this happens, the Encounter is revealed anyway, and the exaggerated, worse version of the Encounter occurs. This is particularly powerful for Dracula if a vampire card Matures – it pushes up Dracula’s Influence Track. Also, adding insult to injury, the Location Card goes back into Dracula’s hand, granting him more flexibility.
There is one respite if ever a vampire Encounter does Mature, though. In this scenario, Dracula removes the Location and Encounter Cards from the fourth, fifth and sixth trail spots. The trail goes cold. Good for Dracula, because half of his trail is a complete mystery. But also good for the Hunters, because at least no cards will Mature for the next three rounds.
Finding Drac....and then Combat
How do you beat Dracula? By finding him, and then fighting him into submission. If ever a Hunter moves into a city where Dracula is right now, Dracula must reveal their Location Card. They place their mini on the city. Now it’s time to fight!
This is where the Item Cards become crucial. Hopefully the Hunter has picked up some by this point! Regardless, the Hunter gets three default Combat Cards to add to their hand. Dracula deals themselves out five Combat Cards from their deck.
Simultaneously, both Drac and the Hunter (or Hunters, if two are in the same city at the same time), reveal a Combat Card. They check to see if the cards have matching combat icons. If they do, the Hunter has thwarted Drac’s attack. If not, the count has the upper hand. Dracula can only tackle one Hunter’s Combat Card, so teaming up to fight him is a huge advantage.
Dracula’s card resolves first (if applicable), followed by the Hunter’s card. Usually they involve the opponent taking x number of Damage tokens. Each character has a threshold of damage they can withstand before becoming Defeated.
The Hunters also have a limited number of times they can be Bitten by Dracula, before becoming Defeated. If Defeated, the Hunter loses the fight, and must retreat to the nearest city that has a Hospital – either Madrid, Rome, or Budapest where they recover. Dracula’s Influence track goes up by two, plus one for each Despair Token on the board.
After the cards resolve, they remain face-up. Combat continues and the players play another card from their remaining hand. Once again, symbols are compared, and effects resolved. In later rounds, the Hunter takes back the card they played in the previous round. Dracula, meanwhile, does not take back any cards previously played. Instead, they just draw a new card to their hand each round.
Both the Hunters and Dracula have an ‘Escape’ card they could play. This is a ‘run away!’ card for the player to utilise if they fear things are going south. (Beware, it can be trumped or resolved like any other card.) However, Dracula is a proud old man, and cannot escape combat until a certain point. This is when they have played at least a number of Combat cards that is greater than the current quantity of Despair Tokens.
Combat continues until either a participant Escapes, or one of them becomes Defeated. Remember, if Dracula is Defeated, the Hunters share a glorious victory.
Fury of Dracula - Bite-size Bits of Advice
Phew, we made it this far… All joking aside, Fury of Dracula has two rulebooks. One is a Rules Reference with a glossary of terms. There is no shame in having this close to hand during gameplay. On occasion, some additional details rules can apply. On the bright side, at least this means that no two games of Fury of Dracula will ever be alike!
So, a couple of tips before we sharpen our stakes… Consider giving Dracula a physical screen. (Something like the one in Mysterium, or the DM Screen for Dungeons & Dragons could work.) This allows Dracula the chance to plan/make notes in secret. That, and atmosphere!
The Hunters can, of course, talk and discuss strategies at the table. However, anything said aloud is public knowledge. Dracula has ‘spies’ all over Europe, so thus knows all ongoing plans. The rules clearly state that all communication must be open, in this regard. Only during the Trade action can Hunters speak in private without the count hearing them.
Finally, take note of each Hunter’s asymmetrical power. Use them to your advantage! Mina’s psychic ability is great at finding Dracula, for example, but she’s weak when fighting him. Meanwhile, when playing as Dracula, consider which Encounter Cards to play and when. If any of your vampires mature, great; but remember that it wipes out your next three Encounter Cards on the trail…