Xmas Board Games

I went out to visit the family for Xmas (we have ours a few weeks early to get around conflicts on the day itself.) As I have done so the last couple of years, I took a few games out with me.

The Resistance has always been popular, but this year I took out The Resistance: Avalon. For guys and girls who don’t game much, the whole class-based system got a little confusing at times, but by the end of the weekend we had it all worked out. I was keen to try out the classes thing – I thought it actually sounded more fun than plot cards. After giving it a red-hot go, I’m not sure if I actually like it better. It’s nice for something different, but I wouldn’t say better. I think mixing it up is the key.

I also took out Fury of Dracula. One of my favourites. I thought it might work well, because one side is co-operative, so all I had to do was put the relative that was best at picking up the rules in Dracula’s seat, and have all the other players working together against them. Or, alternatively, get an experienced player (like my brother) to play as Dracula, while a bunch of relatives and I play as the hunters. The big problem with this game was its length – it’s honestly 2-4 hrs long, and although very good it’s hard to convince people to play. To my surprise, I did get a game in the first night and my little 11-year-old niece stabbed Dracula (my experienced brother) twice in the heart killing him and winning the game for us. She wanted to play again after that, but we just didn’t have the time.

The big success was City of Horror. This is no surprise – it’s a fantastic game. It’s not quite as easy to understand as some games (even a complex game like Mage Knight has more intuitive rules and easy-to-grasp mechanics) but after one game you get the hang of it and it all comes together for a great social game. The teenagers/early 20s loved it and were online looking to shop for their own version straight after that first game. I wasn’t sure people were really “getting it” so I was a bit surprised. The second game played out like a proper game of CoH, though, with lots of wheeling and dealing going on, so I guess people got into the swing of things.

Well, the actual point of this post was supposed to be to give a list of games stores to get these games from. I got three separate requests from family members, so I thought I’d post here as well. If my family visits my blog, they’ll get an updated list too, since I think I might have left a couple off.

These are my go-to stores in Australia. You have a much better selection getting things from the US or, in a pinch, the UK, but the shipping is extremely painful. By getting it from an Australian store you usually get it for about the same price (once you include overseas shipping), but much faster.

I got most of my information from this old Board Game Geek thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/47360/2009-online-australian-retailers-list-price-compa. Unfortunately, much of the information there is now dated, but I was still able to get a few nuggets from it.

http://allaboutgames.com.au/

http://www.fastbreak.com.au/

http://unhalfbricking.com/

http://www.milsims.com.au/

http://www.gamesparadise.com.au/

All sites I have bought from at one point or another. For me, it’s less about price and more to do with stock. It can sometimes be hard to track down a great game I’ve heard about and get it for less than $50US + $50US shipping. In Fury of Dracula’s case, I just happened to walk into a cosplay store a few suburbs from my house and saw it on the wall. I had searched everywhere online for that game and just couldn’t find it, so I was pretty chuffed.

If you have any other stores I might be missing (I’m sure I am) please let me know in the comments.

The Fury of Dracula (and he was FURIOUS)

English: A screenshot from Dracula (1958), an ...

English: A screenshot from Dracula (1958), an Hammer Horror production (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve played a few more games of Fury of Dracula since I last spoke of it. You know what? I getting to like it more and more.

Early advice, and games, indicated the best strategy for Dracula was to run, run, run. Many people bemoaned “Fury of Dracula is a bit of a misnomer. Shouldn’t it be The Fleeing of Dracula?” Well, let me just tell you how these couple of games have panned out.

The first was a bad one for me. I was Dracula and the very first card the hunters drew for me was Evasion. This is the big, key, “get out of jail free” card for Dracula. I can teleport to any city on the board… but drawing it first? Useless! I was nicely squirreled away in Eastern Europe and without even a full turn finished yet, that was something the hunters certainly couldn’t have known.

I decided I’d pretend to evade, so if they found my starting city they’d think my trail was broken (but it wasn’t!) Next, the hunters drew Newspaper Reports which reveals the last city on Dracula’s trail. Since all I’d done at this point was faked using Evasion my starting city was revealed. The annoying thing here was Newspaper Reports says that if the card would reveal Dracula’s current location, it doesn’t work. So this would have done nothing for the hunters if only I’d opted to NOT use Evasion!

Map of Eastern Europe as defined by the 2007 T...

Map of Eastern Europe as defined by the 2007 Time Almanac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other thing here is if I’d decided to bounce to the other side of the board with Evasion – just because I could – Newpaper Reports would have revealed exactly nothing about my whereabouts. My brother correctly surmised I probably didn’t go far from my starting location so turned to Eastern Europe to corner me. Well, long story short, he was sharing my city on practically the next turn. It was ridiculously uncanny that he guessed that I’d faked Evasion and which city I’d ended up in. So we fought during day time, and I lost a huge chunk of health before slipping away.

By then, though, they were hot on my tail and I was hurt. I probably could have made it to a port, slipped out to sea and gave them a merry chase for 2 hrs but there was really no point. They would have got me in the end. There was no opportunity to drop a New Vampire and I couldn’t survive for 6 days and nights to secure victory. So after just 20 mins, I conceded.

We jumped straight into another game, since that one went so quickly. This one went far more normally. It went for 2 hrs and I had decided to start in Ireland. It was a game of “double-think.” You see, Ireland only has two cities, so after two moves I’d have to take to sea (which they’d see.) However! I had correctly surmised that they’d know, that I know that… and therefore would assume I’d be anywhere BUT Ireland, pretending to be in Ireland. Unfortunately for me they drew a card early on that let them check any city on the board. They just checked one of the Irish cities (just to be sure) and confirmed I had, in fact, just boarded a ship from Belfast.

Well, after that I dropped on Mina who was looking for me in London, and I successfully bit her. This gave me two points. That same turn a vampire I’d left to mature in Belfast matured (just a turn before Val Helsing would have arrived to stop it.) That gave me 4 out of 6 points.

Meanwhile I’d taken to sea and fled to Spain. My opponents calculated I could have disembarked at any one of up to 13 cities… but it’s really quite amazing how quickly they can work you out with a process of elimination.

I had considered circling around the UK and landing back in London, but they seemed poised for that move. So, as I said, I fled to Spain and Portugal figuring that while the most obvious move, with all the other options on the table they couldn’t possibly cover all their bases.

English: Map of Spain

English: Map of Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was right. They decided they simply couldn’t check the UK, so abandoned it. (CURSES!) Then made a bee-line for Spain, as the most likely drop-off point (clearing up other possibilities on the way to eliminate them.) Not long after I landed the next day dawned and gave me 5 out of 6 points. I only had to make it until the next dawn to get my final point.

Well they had me cornered at one point, so I used Wolf Form to slip past … but they guessed what I was doing and then proceeded to surmise the city I’d skipped to. My brother’s ability to predict my moves is ridiculous. At the time they worked out my Wolf Form trick AND which city I’d run to, they actually hadn’t seen any of my trail since London. Simply through a process of elimination and guess work they more-or-less knew where I was. We fought in Bordeux and I bit him. Unlike Mina, this doesn’t kill my opponent outright – but it does let me fly up to two cities away (even though they’d tried to play garlic to keep me in place.) The two city headstart was all I needed to finish off the day and win. Scarily enough, a second hunter could have entered Bordeux the same night, so if I hadn’t successfully bitten him, I would have had to survive battle with him for 3 more rounds then faced a second (who I believe was packing garlic too.) Even with such a tremendous start I still could have lost it there.

We have played once more since then. In that game my brother bit Mina twice and survived 2 days to win the game. The amusing thing is that I had coaxed my fellow hunter to move into Paris then out of the blue said: “Well I’ve been keeping this to myself, but I suspect Dracula is actually hanging out in Spain. Why don’t you catch one of these fast Paris trains down there and surprised him?” Mina did and amazingly dropped right into the town Dracula was in. (That’s how she got bitten the first time.) So it seems a brother’s uncanny ability to guess cities cuts both ways.

The other take-away after those two games is that Mina is a real weak point for the hunters. We knew she would be, but so far it seems like the strongest Dracula move to play is to try and bite Mina on the first night, and even possibly on every night. Everyone else had recommended fleeing and trying to mature vampires but we’ve found it impossible to shake the hunters once they pick up the trail, and they always do on the first day or night (and if not, it’s the first thing they do with the Resolve they get on the start of the second day.)

Good times!

I’m going to see if I can supervise a game at a Halloween party this weekend. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

Some Many Games, So Little Time

I picked up 4 games this weekend. Well – ordered – most haven’t arrived yet.

Space Alert: The Final Frontier. I already really like Space Alert, and I couldn’t really imagine an expansion being worth the money… but I’d heard SO MANY GOOD THINGS. Too many good things. It was sold out ages ago. So imagine my surprise, when stumbling around the boardgamegeek boards I saw a reference to a little Australia store that happened to have 1 in stock! Well, I wasn’t about to take any chances, so I ordered it.

Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak. I have talked about BSG and it’s expansions quite a bit. It would have doubled the cost for me to order this box from the US (due to shipping costs) so I waited until one of our Australian stores got it in. I was fairly impressed – I was expecting a longer turn around, or higher price, but those guys get it in in bulk, I guess, and mitigate the shipping costs. If you want the game the moment it is released, it’s still a tough wait, but a few weeks to get it in store isn’t too bad. I can’t wait until it arrives.

Spartacus: Thanks to the ever-popular Dice Tower, I watched this review and immediately went hunting for a copy. The game itself was easy to find, but the expansion seems to be completely sold out. I guess that’s probably a good thing until I know for sure I love it. Also… I’ve never watched the show, and now want to. I may or may not have gone and grabbed the first series…

Fury of Dracula: I’m a huge fan of Fantasy Flight Games, of course, and this game looks to simply ooze awesome theme. Unfortunately, it looks like basically a co-op game – which I’ve talked about before except instead of being against the board mechanics, the four hunters are against another player – Dracula. So the hunters are going to play by committee – but in this case I think it is at least a little mitigated by needing to out-think Dracula.

The thing about Fury of Dracula is that it has been out of print since 2009 (I think?) and for those who like it… well, they already have it. And those that don’t like it, traded it away long ago.

If you dig you can find a few copies floating around, but nothing I could get here in Australia… until, this weekend, while at a Fete, I wandered past a little comic store. I decided to pop in. They had a small selection of board games and lo! Behold! Fury of Dracula. Due to it’s dubious co-op mechanics, and the fact it was basically impossible to get I had given up on it. I didn’t let the opportunity pass,though, and picked it up. I just need to get my mates around for a game, now.

What do you all think of these games? I haven’t really had a chance to play any of them. Are they all as good as I’ve heard?