9 October 2015 | Fury of Dracula

The Devil's Hours

Day and Night in Fury of Dracula


“We may then arrive in time; for if he escape not at night we shall come on him in daytime, boxed up and at our mercy; for he dare not be his true self, awake and visible, lest he be discovered.”
   –Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula

Count Dracula may be the King of the Un-Dead, a creature centuries old at least, and even in his lifetime a cunning student of the utmost evils. Nevertheless, even he must obey certain natural forces, namely the regular vicissitudes of day and night. In the light of day, his uncanny powers are greatly diminished. But in the dark of night, Dracula becomes far stronger than any living human, even under the pale light of a full moon.

In this third edition of Fury of Dracula, the difference between day and night becomes an integral part of gameplay. Today’s preview explores how this essential rhythm affects not only combat, but movement, gathering supplies, and events, and how developer Frank Brooks worked to make the alternation of day and night more significant in the game than ever before.

One of the most obvious differences between day and night is that although the hunters have a day action and a night action, they can only travel during the day. It’s simply too risky for them to venture away from gaslit, populated cities into the pitch black countryside of France or Spain, or even more perilous, the thick forests of Germany and Romania. Therefore, if the hunters consciously move into a space in order to attack Dracula, that battle occurs at dusk, when the Count’s powers are at their peak. His Claws , for example, do more damage at night than during the day. His Strength becomes formidable enough to shatter even a holy crucifix.

Yet if Dracula spends his night traveling towards a hunter’s location, that combat necessarily occurs when he arrives there at dawn. The hunter now has the upper hand: Dracula is exhausted and his powers are waning, and the hunter has the ability to depart immediately after the attack should he need to. 

This difference between day and night in Fury of Dracula has evolved gradually over the game’s multiple editions. Developer Frank Brooks explains this evolution's most recent stage below.  

Dividing Day From Night

When I was assigned to work on Fury of Dracula, I first wrangled up the interns and played many games of second edition. For a game that was so dripping with theme, the time track from second edition was not very thematic—although I understood why Kevin Wilson added it. In the first edition, Dracula needed to place six vampires on his trail to win. It was possible that the hunters could kill every vampire he placed without ever really fighting Dracula. The designated ending of the game might never even happen.

To amend this, Kevin added the time track so that Dracula acquired a vampire every six turns, guaranteeing that in the worst case scenario the game would end in thirty-six turns. There were three turns of day (Dawn, Noon, Dusk) followed by three turns of night (Twilight, Midnight, Small Hours). The hunters and Dracula had the ability to plan attacks when they were most advantageous: If the hunters knew where Dracula was roughly, they could plan their attack to assault him during the day. Alternatively, Dracula could attack a lone hunter near him during the night.

Unfortunately, since movement wasn’t changed, this led to unreasonably fast travel. For example, a hunter could travel from Saragossa, Spain to Brussels, Belgium—a distance of roughly 1400 kilometers or 870 miles—in a single round. Since a day was divided into 6 turns, it meant that the train they were on was traveling at roughly 220 mph! We could easily address the travel distance issue by making each turn a single day, but that created a new problem: how to distinguish between day and night when fighting Dracula. That’s incredibly important, as Dracula’s power is radically different during the day or night. Our idea was to give the hunters a separate day action and night action. If the hunter moved into Dracula’s space as their day action, a day combat would occur; if they moved during their night, it would trigger a night combat.

Twilight Struggles

Another issue we found was the way group combat worked in second edition. It was very difficult for the hunters to group up and attack together. I thought that they should be rewarded for moving together into Dracula’s location, since that meant the players controlling the hunters knew his position. But the separate day and night actions did not help enable group combat until we gave the hunters both a day phase and a night phase. 

When hunters moved during the day, a day combat would happen immediately after, and if hunters moved during the night, a night combat would happen. This created some weird situations where there would be two fights within one day. Additionally, it was difficult for players to remember whether they had moved during the day phase and whether they could move during the night. The hunters were also finding Dracula too easily during the day, when they were strongest. We wanted to make combat with Dracula during the day rare and to give Dracula a bit of an edge in one-on-one combat.

While working on Fury of Dracula, I read Bram Stoker’s novel and watched some films as additional background. One thing that really came out in the novel was that Dracula isn’t necessarily an aggressive character. He’s more about subtlety and confusion, and he’s a creature of passion. Although he tries to stay reserved and keep his motives hidden, when the moment strikes him he acts out of desire and can hardly control himself. It therefore seemed reasonable for Dracula to be able to attack only when he was most emotional and most vulnerable — during the day. 

With Dracula only able to initiate day fights, and hunters only able to initiate night fights, the game played very differently. The defender had the advantage, the part of the game I liked the most—the deduction element—became more emphasized. Dracula rarely wanted to reveal himself because the hunters would get an advantage with the combat cards if he did, but additionally, the hunters could then respond to Dracula’s position before he could move again. They want to find Dracula, but must be careful not to place themselves alone in a weak position. The day/night system as it now stands rewards both well-organized hunters and a sneaky Dracula. 

In Enemy Hands

The alternation of night and day has one more significant effect upon the game that Frank did not mention. A hunter can obtain supplies either during the day or at night, but to seek out weapons, transportation, or even garlic at night exposes you to danger. Performing a supply action after dusk may even inadvertently enhance Dracula’s ability to do you harm. Whenever you supply, you must also draw an event card. Some events, such as Newspaper Reports , are played by the hunters. Others, like the Great Wolf card, fall directly into Dracula’s cruel clutches for him to play—but only at night. In daytime, any Dracula event is simply discarded. Hunters may therefore want to be very cautious about seeking supplies during the night, and do so only under the direst circumstances. 

Day and night also determine what effects events may have and even when they can be played. The event card Vampire Lair can only be played by a hunter during the daytime, when the vampires discovered in the lair are asleep. Excellent Weather must also be played during the day since it changes how far a hunter can travel. Similarly, Dracula can only play the Darkness Returns event at the end of the night, just before the day cancelled by that card would have dawned. 

From Dusk Till Dawn

Dracula’s return has emboldened and strengthened the numberless forces of darkness, making the nighttime more perilous than ever before. But if you choose to undertake the pursuit of the greatest of all nosferatu, you must be brave enough to face the night and all the fiends that inhabit it. The fight against evil cannot merely be waged during daylight, but even in those times when evil reigns, between dusk and dawn.

The days are growing shorter and Dracula’s fury kindles once more.  Pre-order Fury of Dracula from your local retailer today!

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