Mad Vampires vs. Mad Hunters

“Fury of Dracula” (Third Edition)

Designed by Frank Brooks, Stephen Hand, and Kevin Wilson, published by Fantasy Flight Games

A hidden movement game where four vampire hunters pursue Dracula throughout Europe. The Dracula player plays location cards to indicate where he is going while the vampire hunters collect stuff and try to get on Dracula’s trail. Dracula also plays event cards to slow those guys down. Neat day/night mechanic as the time of day changes how things work, but still, can be frustrating for the vampire hunters. The only “fury” in this game was how upset everyone got.

The game is in closing the net around Dracula, and not really in the combat.  So if you like deduction, then yah!  If not, not so much.


Coal, Glorious Coal

“Coal Baron: the Great Card Game”

Designed by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling, published by Stronghold Games

Become a coal magnate in industrial Germany! Mine the coal, transfer it onto waiting coal cars, attach engines to the cars, acquire contracts, and deliver coal for victory points. All done with a clever worker placement that uses numbered cards! Play cards up in sequential order in order to do a task: the more people want to do a task, the more workers it will take. Since the worker cards have to be placed sequentially, careful planning is a must. Then watch one player destroy everyone else’s careful planning by blindly buying endgame bonuses.

A tricky, brain-burning, card-driven, worker placement game, where you feel like there’s a flurry of activity, and then you say, “that’s all I did?!”

Cave Paintings Good


Designed by Dominque Ehrhard & Michel Lalet, published by Mayfair Games

Explore the wonders of Lascaux in this set collection card game. Cards are set out and each player secretly decides which cards they want. Bid stones to stay in and get first choice of cards: pass, and collect the stones in the pool, but you go to the back of the line in terms of choice! Force your opponents out, get first pick of cards, but you’re out of stones to stay in the next round! But, remember, you only score points if you have the most or tied for the most of one image: one point per card. It’s like “No Thanks,” only you’re bidding to stay in, and man, am I horrible at bluffing. Just. Plain. Horrible.

In short, this is a next level “No Thanks.”  Like that one, like this one.

Racing and Steampunk: Two Great Flavors

“Steampunk Rally”

Designed by Orin Bishop, published by Roxley Games

Take the role of a turn-of-the-century inventor or scientist, ranging from Nikola Tesla to Ada Lovelace, and then proceed on a wild road-race in your crazy steampunk vehicle. Draft cards to build energy, add parts to your vehicle, or get special powers. Use dice to power your different vehicle parts and fly down the course. But be careful, the faster you go, the more likely you will damage your vehicle and have to slough parts. And go limping across the finish line with literally only your cockpit left…

Draft, build, race: go for a spin!  I mean that both literally (that’s what you do in the game) and idiomatically (give it a try).


Sail the High Seas with “Black Fleet”

“Black Fleet”

Designed by Sebastian Bleasdale, published by Asmodee Games and Space Cowboys

Sail the seas as merchants, pirates, and the navy at the same time! Each player controls a merchant ship to deliver goods, a pirate ship to sack other players, and one of two navy ships to thwart the pirates. One card allows you to move each separate vessel as you deliver goods to earn coins, raid the other players’ merchants, and use the navy to sink those pesky pirates.  Use the coins you earn to unlock upgrades that feature different game-breaking powers for each player.. Also get fortune cards to deploy extra powers to your vessels. Only players who unlock the last upgrade are counted to win the game: the most coins wins. And you can have a ton of coins, but don’t forget to unlock those upgrades, because timing is a factor! As I learned the hard way.

There is a lot of strategy and cutthroat action, but oddly enough, minor stakes.  Good pirate-y fun all-around.