Review: Dracula

Copyright Nigel Buckle © 2004

Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion

"In your turn you move around the board looking at the face down cards, hunting for the victims or coffins"

Produced by Rio-Grande Games/Kosmos, this is a simple, quick, enjoyable 2-player memory/bluff game with a Dracula (Bram Stoker) theme. A typical game will take about half an hour.

One player is Dracula, hunting 5 victims; the other player is Dr. Van Helsing, hunting 5 vampire coffins. Each player has 2 decks of cards, the 10 action cards (one played a turn) and the 15 encounter cards.

To start the game each player picks 6 of their encounter cards (hunters/vampires, victims/coffins, etc) and these are shuffled and dealt out on the board. In your turn you move around the board looking at the face down cards, hunting for the victims or coffins (depending which side you are on). After moving you have to play one of your action cards; the action card determines how far you can move, what your strength is if you are involved in combat, and usually a special effect.

Each space you move to will have an encounter card, and you can choose to look at it or not. If you find one of your encounter cards you can swap it with one from your encounter deck, and then keep moving; if it's one of your opponent's then your turn ends and you have to face the encounter. If it's a target (victim/coffin) then you take it and replace it with one of your encounters, otherwise you have to fight the vampire/vampire hunter.

First player to locate all 5 targets wins. There are some extra wrinkles: each action card allows you to place or move 'barriers' on the board that restrict movement. If ever the two player's markers are in the same place you can look at your opponent's encounter deck, which gives an indication of what cards are in play on the board.

The artwork is fantastic and the special actions on the action cards vary between the players, helping the theme. At its heart this is an enjoyable memory/bluff game; you need to remember which cards you've looked at, what cards your opponent has played and what cards your opponent has left. If you are looking for a quick, fun, abstract game, and the theme appeals, then this could be the game for you.

One thing to note is that the rules have a glaring typo. On Page 4 the rulebook states:

"The player puts the encounter card in his supply without showing it to his opponent. Next, he places one of his encounter cards face-up on the place."

This should read (change in bold), "The player puts the encounter card in his supply without showing it to his opponent. Next, he places one of his encounter cards face-down on the place."

Editor's Note: Dracula is published by Rio-Grande Games and retails for $19.99 USD, @pound;14.99 UK. For ordering information visit its website at riograndegames.com or look for it at your favourite gaming store.