Fury of Dracula
If you’re the kind of person who considers the limit of board games to be Cluedo, Monopoly and maybe a little bit of Risk then hopefully this post will inspire you to check out and acquire (if you’re lucky enough to find a rare copy still available) a copy of what is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect games ever created.
Fury of Dracula was released in 1987 by Games Workshop following its creation by Stephen Hand. I purchased a copy in 1990 whilst living in Osbourne Avenue (Jesmond) in Newcastle Upon Tyne – I was 19 and enjoying the “perfect shared-house” experience. A blissful bubble period of my life that overlapped with the first few months of me starting out (rather wistfully and naively) to become an author of horror novels. That aside, the game came to dominate the sultry summer evenings of that year as my close friend Richy and I played session after session for weeks. To the point that whenever I see the lid of the box the game comes within, I’m always drawn back to potent memories of my small room within the eaves of the house and the garret window that overlooked the graveyard across the road – and the heat of those nights, despite the window being wide open. Candles burning. Spooky music playing. Perfect atmosphere for this game of gothic adventure.
When I moved to Bristol at the end of 1991 I somehow lost hold of the game. It vanished from my life until 2006, sitting in the kitchen of my good friend Richy (we’ve known each other since we were both 6) I reminisced about those halcyon weeks of the summer of 1990 and the game. He looked at me for a moment, suppressed a smile and then left the room. When he came back downstairs he was holding something behind his back. He handed me the copy of my game I’d left at his place 15 years earlier.
I was delighted. And this random rediscovery after so much time led to another moment of synchronicity. A bloke called Pete who up until this point was just some “older dude” who lived next door to my parents, rapidly became a wonderful and very close friend of mine; because 2006 was the year I went home for a week and stayed 3 months. During that time I got him hooked on my “new” game. He readily admits that before playing Fury of Dracula he hated board games. But this one is different. Every game is interesting and different. It’s you, versus the player running Dracula. And that leads to a lot of psychology, bluffing and tactics based on flushing out the deceptions of the Dracula player. This is because the Dracula player has a separate board, concealed behind a screen, where (he) gets to move around in secret. The hunter players have to traverse Europe by train and road or sea looking for signs of Dracula passing, lock onto them as clues and then track the creature down through sheer cunning with a good dose of luck. Without putting too fine a point on it, it’s bloody brilliant.
I also wrote an expansion pack for the game.
Grab a free copy of the PDF here (click)
Six years later, Pete is still hooked – and every time we get together, whether it be me visiting him up North in Newcastle or him making the trek down here to Bristol, we always manage to find time for a game.
Recently, we broke away from the confines of my house and took the game to my favourite “local” pub the Grain Barge. It’s about 4 miles from my house so far from local but it’s such a damned fine place to spend time it makes the trek always worth it.
We found a large table. Ordered in large coffees and got on with it.
The world of reality faded as we sank into the gothic period and took turns playing the Dracula character, hunting and being hunted, across Europe. Looking for clues. Searching for signs of the vile creature that is Dracula before he can lay down his vampires and win.
The expansion pack I wrote contains two new characters: I used painted lead figures of investigators for Call of Cthulhu as character pieces; also new event cards and encounter chits which you make yourself with squares of cardboard. All very easy and very worthwhile.
They released an updated version of Fury of Dracula in 2006. Avoid this at all costs. It has none of the charm of the original; the quality of the production is rubbish – and the new version removes most of the pleasure of being the Dracula character.
Go on Ebay or wherever and find yourself a copy of the original 1987 version.
Taking this game to a pub (with a large table) with the right kind of atmosphere – with punters who are open-minded enough to look on with curiosity, rather than responding with stupid sarcastic grins – was really satisfying. We had access to strong coffee – and later, to the amazing local ales produced by Bristol Beer Factory and the “Willy Wonka” pies that the Grain Barge serve up with mash and gravy. FAB.
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