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5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN - DAY 5 – FURY OF DRACULA

5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN 

DAY 5 – FURY OF DRACULA

Even before they started to sparkle vampires were incredibly popular in literature, movies, games and other aspects of popular culture. I remember playing the old ‘I Vant To Bite Your Finger’(Hasbro, 1979) game as a child. Never knowing if Dracula would bite you as you possibly sacrificed your finger to his bloodthirsty teeth (the teeth left two red felt pen marks on your finger to show you had been bitten.

(I Vant To Bite Your Finger photo courtesy of http://growinguplast.com/post/109394469671/i-vant-to-bite-your-finger-1979-what-are-some found via Google)


Almost a decade later an altogether much more involved and fun game came out from British publishers Games Workshop which featured our friend Dracula travelling around Europe giving those hunting him the slip and leaving an assortment of problems for the hunters to face if they started getting too close to his trail. The game, of course, was Fury of Dracula and it was the first board game I played where the players where playing as ‘a team’ against the person who controlled Dracula. It wasn’t the first game to introduce this idea (Scotland Yard had been published by Ravensburger in 1983 and won the Spiel des Jahres award that year) but was took the idea and added rules for combat, events and encounters – as well travel by a variety of means for Dracula.

Scotland Yard, by Ravensburger


Fury of Dracula 1st Edition, by Games Workshop


I loved Fury of Dracula and was lucky enough to get one of the early sets that contained metal miniatures.

Fury of Dracula sadly disappeared out of print as Games Workshop shifted their focus away from board and roleplaying games to concentrate on the miniatures market through their immensely popular Warhammer Fantasy battle and Warhammer 40,000 brands.

Fury of Dracula 2nd Edition, by Fantasy Flight Games


We had to wait until 2005 before Fury of Dracula returned to print, after years of inflated second hand prices, when Fantasy Flight Games entered a deal with Games Workshop to produce (and in some cases reprint) games based upon GW’s brands. Fantasy Flight revised the game and upped the production quality to bring us a fantastic new edition of the game which was, unsurprisingly, as popular as ever. A third edition of the game, with all new artwork, has recently been released by Fantasy Flight Games.

Fury of Dracula 3rd Edition, by Fantasy Flight Games


It’s a great game at any time but especially one for Halloween. It is quite a long game though, with all editions quoting about 3 hours of play, but if you’re hunters get very lucky and track down the Count early on the game can be played quicker… but make sure you have plenty of time just in case!
  


By Angus Abranson

5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN - DAY 4 – OF GHOSTS AND GHOULS…

5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN 

DAY 4 – OF GHOSTS AND GHOULS…


What’s Halloween without ghosts, spirits and other things that go ‘BUMP’ in the night. The old ‘child in white blanket’ was a firm favourite Halloween costume for kids all over growing up, much to many parents despair seeing their blankets get holes cut out so their little devils could see through them whilst roaming the neighbourhood in search of sweets.

So it’s only natural that Ghosts get a mention in our 5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN blog series and I’ve chosen two games that are great ways to spend your Halloween Games Night.

Ghost Stories, by Repos Productions

First up is Repos Productions ‘Ghost Stories’.  Ghost Stories is a co-operative game where each player takes on the role of a Chinese Taoist Monk trying to defend the village from a variety of nasty ghosts that have taken advantage of the ‘longest night’ to break through the barriers separating the spirit and physical worlds. The Monks can either try and battle the ghosts directly or visit one of the locations scattered around the village to harness the locations special power (either for the benefit of the group as a whole or the individual Monk ). You are playing against the game itself and there are a variety of difficulty levels – but even at the beginning level the game can be quite challenging. The artwork is fantastic and the games components are really nicely done. It’s suitable for 1 to 4 players and takes about an hour to play – so ideal if you want to play several different games in an evening or even have several attempts to defeat Wu-Feng, the Lord of Hell, and save the village from being overrun by evil spirits!

Ghost Stories Board

Mysterium, by Libellud

Next up is a game that I would be very surprised isn’t a contender for the 2016 Speil des Jahres next year. It’s the recently released ‘Mysterium’ by Libellud. The game is set in the 1920’s when astrologist Mr MacDowell invites a number of his friends (all gifted mediums) to his new house to try and communicate with a ghost that seems to be haunting it. The ghost was murdered several decades before and will remain restless until their murderer is identified. Unfortunately the ghost is unable to ‘talk’ to any of the mediums but can ‘communicate’ through visions. Using these ‘visions’ the players have to decipher their meaning and identify possible suspects, locations and the murder weapons involved. One player takes the roll of the ‘ghost’ and is given a hand of seven cards which contain dreamlike images. The ghost then passes the first player one, or more, cards that they think will help the player identify the suspect. The Ghost then refills the hand and proceeds to hand out cards to each medium. As soon as the last medium received their cards the timer is flipped and the mediums have until it runs out to not only identify the suspect (or location or weapon) they are looking for but also help the other mediums too (thus possibly scoring some bonus ‘time’ in the final round). Those who have identified their suspect correctly move along to try their luck at determining the location, whilst those who failed spend another round trying to locate their suspect. The game lasts seven rounds at which point if any medium has failed to guess their suspect/location/weapon the ghost has failed and disappears leaving the mystery unsolved until another attempt can be trued the following year. If all the mediums have guessed correctly then the ghost has a final chance to let the mediums know ‘which’ of them has correctly identified the culprit, etc. This is done with a final three card ‘vision’ which depending on the bonus ‘clairvoyancy’ each medium has gathered during the game means they will have one, two or three cards shown before they have to make their final decisions. If the majority of the mediums identify the suspect correctly then the ghost can ‘move on’ and rest peacefully forever more. If not, then there is always next year…

Mysterium has been getting rave reviews and is a dead cert for our own Halloween Games Night this year. It plays for 2-7 players and takes 42 minutes (or thereabouts).

Mysterium Components, by Libellud





By Angus Abranson

5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN - DAY 3 – DEAD OF WINTER : A CROSSROADS GAME

5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN 

DAY 3 – DEAD OF WINTER : A CROSSROADS GAME

Once zombies were rarely seen outside of b-movies but, for whatever reason, they’ve broken out of the scientific research stations, clawed their way out of the graves, and have become a mainstay in popular culture over the last 10-15 years. Best selling books and comics are written about them, Hollywood aswell as the small screen have made them stars and many game designers have been lured into creating games about them. And we, the players, have largely lapped them up.

Last Night On Earth, by Flying Frog Productions


I’ve played my fair share of them over the years from the low production qualities of ‘Maul of America’ (which was a fun game even if the components were pretty basic) to the more recent high end production of games such as Zombicide. I think my favourite has, so far, been Last Night on Earth but that’s not the game I’ve chosen for todays ‘5 Days of Halloween’.

Zombicide, by Cool Mini Or Not/Guillotine Games


I have, in fact, chosen a game which we are hoping to play for the first time on our own Halloween Games Night. One I’ve been wanting to play since it came out in 2014 and I’ve heard people raving about. The game? Dead of Winter : A Crossroads Game by Plaid Hat Games.

Dead of Winter : A Crossroads Game, by Plaid Hat Games


It’s a co-operative story-centric survival game for 2 – 5 players. Taking place in one of the last human colonies during a harsh winter the players have to work together to find food, fuel and other supplies, fight off the ever present zombie menace (as well as other outside threats), resolve a variety of crises that occur, all whilst trying to keep the colony’s morale up.

Added on top of the already troubling survival chances is that one of the players *may* be a traitor – working to destroy the colony. This mechanic has been seen in a number of other games (such as ‘Shadows Over Camelot’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica The Board Game’) and can be very fun to play with. Making all the players work together but never entirely trusting one another. Each player will also have their own secret objectives which can give them an additional victory on top of just managing to survive.

As I’ve not actually managed to play Dead of Winter yet (only a few more days….) I’ll let Wil Wheaton show you a play through from Tabletop Season 3.



Geek & Sundry have also created a very good parody video for Dead of Winter starring Felicia Day and Brandon Routh.





By Angus Abranson


5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN - DAY 2 – ALL THINGS CTHULHU…

5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN 

DAY 2 – ALL THINGS CTHULHU…

H. P. Lovecraft, the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos back in 1917, would never have believed how popular his creations would become – spawning hundreds of ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ stories, films, video games, toys, household d├ęcor, games and, even slippers, to name but a few things. He is, quite possibly, the most influential horror writers of the twentieth century. His initial creation has expanded through generations of other writers exploring the Mythos, adding to it and in some cases carving out their own versions of the Cthulhu Mythos universe (such as Charles Stross’ excellent ‘Laundry Files’ series which deals with Bob Howard, an ex-IT consultant turned British government agent).

The Mythos has influenced and inspired dozens of board and card games over the last few decades. Some serious and heavy, others whimsical and light, but all pay homage to his dark tales of cultists and Elder Gods from Beyond the Stars…

Arkham Horror, Chaosium, 1987 Edition


My first experience with H. P. Lovecraft was, appropriately, one Halloween as an early teen when I started reading his ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ novella. I was hooked and the ‘Call of Cthulhu’ Roleplaying Game soon became my favourite RPG (and still is today) and we played the original Arkham Horror (published by Chaosium, 1987) as often as we could.

Cthulhu gaming has come a long way since then and, today, we have dozens of Cthulhu-themed games available to while away the hours this Halloween.

Here are just a few to choose from:

Arkham Horror (Fantasy Flight Games)
Call of Cthulhu : Living Card Game (Fantasy Flight Games)
Chez Cthulhu (Steve Jackson Games)
Cthulhu 500 (Atlas Games)
Cthulhu Dice (Steve Jackson Games)
Cthulhu Gloom (Atlas Games)
Elder Sign (Fantasy Flight Games)
Cults Across America (Atlas Games)
The Hills Rise Wild! (Pagan Publishing)
Mansions of Madness (Fantasy Flight Games)
Munchkin Cthulhu (Steve Jackson Games)
The Stars Are Right (Steve Jackson Games)
Unspeakable Words (Playroom Entertainment)
The Cards of Cthulhu (DVG)
Cthulhu Fluxx (Looney Labs)
Cthulhu Wars (Green Eyed Games
Do You Worship Cthulhu (Toy Vault Inc)
Cthulhu Rising (Twilight Creations)
Building An Elder God (Signal Fire Studios)

Arkham Horror, Fantasy Flight Games


Whilst Arkham Horror has a very special place in my heart, and is great if you have plenty of time to play (games can easily last 2 to 4 + hours) the two which I play the most, and are thus more likely to reside on my Halloween Gaming Table, are Elder Sign and The Stars Are Right.

Elder Sign, Fantasy Flight Games


Elder Sign (Fantasy Flight Games) is a fantastic co-operative dice rolling game by the designers of Arkham Horror. It can play between 1 to 8 players and can last 90+ minutes. Each player takes on the role of an investigator who, armed with occult knowledge, allies and various tools, have to locate Elder Signs within the museum, and surrounding areas, and stop the gates from opening and letting in all manner of monsters. The game has a countdown mechanic and, if your investigators are unlikely and not quick-enough, they are faced with a final showdown with one of the Ancient Ones.

The Stars Are Right, Steve Jackson Games



The Stars Are Right (Steve Jackson Games) is unlike many of Steve Jacksons other games and has a much more involved and thought provoking game mechanic – which I guess can be expected as the game is originally a German designed and published one. You have a hand of cards which will influence the 5 x 5 card board grid which represents the night sky. Each ‘night sky’ card is double sided with a symbol on and through ‘summoning’ various Mythos creatures to do your bidding you can modify the night sky to create the correct pattern to summon more powerful entities until you are able to attempt to summon a Great Old One itself. The game is surprisingly clever and can really make you think as you try and plot the best constellations for your creature summonings. The game is for 2 to 4 players, lasts about an hour or so and, I feel, is an under-rated Cthulhu-inspired game so well worth checking out if you like hand management pattern-recognition puzzle games.

Yes, Cthulhu Slippers do really exist (Manufactured by Toy Vault, Inc)





By Angus Abranson


5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN - DAY 1 – GEISTESBLITZ

5 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN

Halloween is fast approaching and all across the land gamers are gathering together in lighted rooms to keep the darkness outside at bay. Armed with sweets to keep any trick or treat gremlins (as well as their own stomachs)  happy, the gamers gather together a selection of suitably spooky games to kill the hours until daylight breaks and the ghosts and ghouls retreat for another year…

With that in our minds we thought we’d share some suitably themed Halloween games that you might be playing this coming Saturday in ‘5 Days of Halloween’…

DAY 1 – GEISTESBLITZ



Geistesblitz is a quick, fun, activity game for ages 8+ by German publishers Zoch. Zoch have a reputation for making good quality games with lots of very nice wooden components and Geistesblitz is no different.

In this pocket-sized box you get five different wooden objects – a Green Bottle, a Red Chair, a Blue Book, a Grey Mouse and a White Ghost and a deck of cards. Each card will show two objects – with one, or both, of the objects coloured differently to the actual physical object sitting on the table in front of you. If both objects are the wrong colour – say a green book and a red ghost – then you’re looking for the object and colour not shown on the card and be the quickest player to grab that object from the table. In this case it would be the Grey Mouse. If you were the first player to grab the Grey Mouse then you get to keep the card as a Victory Point. If you, however, grabbed the wrong object (say the Blue Book) then you have to pay a forfeit of a card in your stash (if you have one) which gets discarded and placed at the bottom of the card deck. Everyone can only make one ‘grab’ a turn so if the first person gets it wrong they can’t then grab the correct item – they have to just watch agonizingly as someone else makes the correct choice and scores the point.

The other possible combination on a card would show one correct item (for instance a White Ghost) and one incorrect item (for instance a Blue Bottle). In this instance you will want to be the first to grab the White Ghost to win the point.

Geistesblitz is a fast and furiously paced game, not to be played with any witches (or anyone else who may have long fingernails…) which is a great Halloween filler.



Two versions of the game are currently available – Geistesblitz and Geistesblitz 2.0. Each are completely stand alone games although Geistesblitz 2.0 does have rules for a ‘mega’ game you can play combining both sets. Geistesblitz 2.0 comes with a Green frog, Red Towel, White Ghostess, Grey Tub and a Blue Brush. Each individual game can usually comfortably be played in under 30 minutes so makes a perfect Halloween filler…

Buy Geistesblitz 2.0 : http://www.boardgameguru.co.uk/geistesblitz-20-12053-p.asp

By Angus Abranson