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The Evolution of Fury of Dracula: From 1st Edition to 4th Edition

In 1987, Games Workshop released a tabletop game that resumed the narrative of Bram Stoker’s Dracula a full eight years after the events contained within the novel. In the 32 years since, that game, The Fury of Dracula, has undergone three additional major releases, culminating in this year’s 4th edition from Wizkids Games.

In the 32 years since, that game, The Fury of Dracula, has undergone three additional major releases, culminating in this year’s 4th edition from Wizkids Games.

The basic gameplay remains consistent throughout its evolution: One player assumes the role of Dracula and does his or her best to spread vampirism throughout 19th century Europe while evading the pesky meddling of a handful of Hunters determined to bring an end to the undead Transylvanian noble’s reign of dark terror.

But much has changed since the game’s inception. Here is a brief survey of the key differences between all four editions of The Fury of Dracula.

Fury of Dracula: 1st Edition

  • Producer: Games Workshop
  • Released: 1987
  • Board Game Geek Rating: 6.9 (1.1k votes)

The original incarnation of Fury of Dracula had a number of mechanics that were either streamlined or entirely done away with come the 2nd edition that would proceed it 18 years later. For starters, Dracula’s movements were tracked on a secret board behind a gaming screen. Without the introduction of the Trail (to come in 2nd edition), the number of Encounters he could populate the board with at a time was unlimited assuming he could stay ahead of his pursuers!

If the Hunters engaged him or his army in combat, a little cardboard combat token would be selected by each and placed face down. Then a die would be rolled to determine initiative. Upon revealing the tiles, players would have to consult a chart to determine that round’s outcome.

The amount of damage each character could take, including Dracula, was set at 12. If a Hunter took 12 damage, they died and were eliminated from the game. If Dracula incurred 12 damage, he entered a phase called Blood Death that required him to take 12 additional damage before being destroyed. When in Blood Death, he had to flee every combat and make all haste towards Castle Dracula! If he managed to retreat to the confines of his castle and the comfort of his coffin, the game ran the risk of resulting in a draw – with neither all of the Hunters nor Dracula dead.

If a Hunter incurred two bites from vampires during play, they were removed from play and became Encounter options under Dracula’s control!

There were also Major and Minor Victory conditions available to the Hunters and Dracula; some of which could be claimed by both groups.

I actually really appreciate the flavor of a twice-bitten Hunter falling under the control of Dracula, but I totally understand why that did not see the light of day (pun intended) past the 1st edition. For the same reason as the Hunters being removed from the game if they took 12 damage, I’d imagine: You just straight up cut someone out of the gameplay experience! Going forward, fallen Hunters could rejoin play and much of the combat mechanics would see significant streamlining.

Fury of Dracula: 2nd Edition

  • Producer: Fantasy Flight Games
  • Released: 2005
  • Board Game Geek Rating: 7.2 (8.6k votes)

Dracula is back, baby! And much of the game has seen some major improvement. Dracula’s movements are now tracked on what is called The Trail, which limits his Encounters but also introduces the Mature mechanic–allowing him to make threats that go undealt with even nastier.

To compensate for the increased threats, the Hunters received a few buffs. Each Hunter now has a unique ability to aid in the fight against the fanged foe. They are also not removed from play if they are reduced to 0 HP or twice bitten, but instead spend some time at one of the two new hospitals on the map. A Resolve system is also introduced, granting the Hunters points that can be spent to heal, take an extra action, or reveal Dracula’s oldest location on the Trail.

Combat receives a major streamlining, as well. Cards replace the cardboard chits and reveal on their faces much of the information you had to consult charts for in the 1st edition!

Day and night were also determined by a die roll during combat in the 1st edition, but the cycle is a built in mechanic of 2nd edition and onward. Victory conditions shifted a bit, as well. Dracula won if he advanced the Vampire Track to 6 whereas the Hunters won if they slayed the sucker (pun again intended).

Lastly, a new Hunter appears! Mina Harker is bitten during the course of events in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and has a telepathic connection with the fiend that is translated into her character’s unique power: The ability to tell whether Dracula is in her current region! This power would persist through all future editions.

Fury of Dracula: 3rd Edition

  • Producer: Fantasy Flight Games
  • Released: 2015
  • Board Game Geek Rating: 7.6 (7.6k votes)

The third edition of Fury of Dracula was a fairly large overhaul. Dice, which continued to be used in combat and for rail tickets through the 2nd edition, are done away with completely. Combat cards display all needed information, and smaller cardboard tokens did the same for railway travel.

Hunters are once again tasked with killing the Count, and Dracula wins if he is able to increase his Influence over Europe to 13. But there are a few added wrinkles making both sides’ win conditions a bit more tricksy.

Now the Hunters take turns during both the Day and Night, while Dracula only takes a turn during the Night. He still doesn’t have quite the freedom of movement that the Hunters do and now he must move half as often!

However, the Day/Night cycles are tracked and a new mechanic called Despair begins to work against the Hunters. After a full week’s worth of days pass, a Despair token is added to the board. These make his Influence increase faster (+1 per token) if he successfully sends a Hunter to the hospital, and if all three are in play his “Fury of Dracula” special kicks in and he gains 3 influence per in-game day that he remains out of the Hunters’ grasp!

A Supply mechanic is also introduced in 3rd edition which allows Hunters to seek equipment while in large cities. During the day they draw from the top where it can be seen if it is a Hunter card or a Dracula card (with the option of discarding the latter), but by night they must draw from the bottom of the deck – blind! If they draw a Dracula event card, it goes into the vampire’s pale hands.

Rumor tokens are also offered as an advanced mode of play. Dracula begins the game with one and receives one when a Despair token is placed on the board. If the card upon which he places it Matures, he gains 3 Influence, so Hunters might want to be wary. But watch out! It could be a trap!

Finally there is a major art overhaul for the 3rd edition! So pretty!

Fury of Dracula: 4th Edition

  • Producer: Wizkids Games
  • Released: 2019
  • Board Game Geek Rating: NA (It just released!)

So what is there left for the 4th edition to improve upon? A few bits here and there. The minis now come pre-painted (and are a bit bigger, I believe, than any from the previous editions), the cards are of a more standard size, and the rulebooks (yes, there’s two of them!) received a bit of attention–mostly some reformatting and the replacement of pictures featuring unpainted minis replaced with the color-included variety.

If nothing else, Wizkids is making available once again a game that has been out of circulation for just long enough to make it scarce (and pricey when found). I don’t believe there are any changes to gameplay, rules, etc., here at all. It is a faithful reprint of a game that was refined over the course of three decades with some special attention given to component quality upgrades.

If you haven’t played Fury of Dracula since the Reagan years, there is a lot of improvement to appreciate in the game’s evolution! If you’ve never played it, there’s a reason this game has received the attention it has from players and developers alike over the last thirty years. Maybe it’s time you found out what all the hubbub is about!

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