Monsters for a Good Cause

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Kudos to the fine folks at Gaming Hoopla for running another excellent fundraiser for the American Cancer Society this past weekend. And while this “Spring Mini Hoopla” was more low-key than usual—with no preregistration of badges or events—it was every bit as friendly and fun as the previous ones I’ve attended. (For what it’s worth, I’m more of a “show up and discover what’s playing” guy anyway.) Got a chance to hang out with Jim Ward and with Gerald and Randy from Colosseum Games, among other people.

Over the weekend, I demoed Monster Con, Wolf Man’s Curse, and Invasion of the Saucer People (with and without the Booster Pack), and also played a German game, Die Vampire Connection, and tried out Vampire Empire..

Die Vampire Connection coverIn Die Vampire Connection, each player is a traditional sort of vampire, able to turn to wolf, bat, or mist, and with a hunchback assistant. At least, if you have the right card to play. You gain cards from the vampire deck mainly by resting in your crypt—where you are also more vulnerable to being staked. (Fortunately, your hunchback assistant can unstake you.) Or you can spend your turn in your castle, playing movement cards (wolf, bat, mist—or carriage driven by Igor) to visit the village deck and carry off victims. The village deck contains some protection cards (garlic to repel mist form, for instance), and other vampires can play hunters and stakes to intervene. Toss in a unique power for each vampire, rules for robbing each others’ castles, and a few wild cards for unexpected sun-ups and such, and you have a game. Whoever has the most blood tokens once the Village deck is exhausted wins.

Given the German card text, it took us a bit to get up to speed, but then the game zoomed right along. I’ll definitely be playing this one many times again in the future. It’s perfect for a party night.

Vampire Empire tinVampire Empire is a two-player game, one vampire player and one human. It includes nine double-sided character cards (one side human, one vampire) with plastic sleeves to obscure one face, matching tokens and a cloth bag for them, a vampire deck, a human deck, and several combat bonus tokens, all in a metal game box. The nine characters are divided into nobles, clergy, and servants (three each), which affects which cards they can use from the player decks. At game’s beginning, three random characters are face up on the table, occupying a “Castle” space in the table’s center; the other six are face-down in a draw pile called the “City.” As characters die in the “Castle,” new ones replace them from the “City.”

The vampire player begins the game with three random tokens, secretly identifying which characters are vampires; the human player begins with two tokens secretly identifying trustworthy humans. The vampire starts with a night turn, discarding unwanted cards, drawing replacements, and taking one action—often combat between two characters in the castle—followed by the human taking a day turn. Whenever one player initiates combat, the other can play cards to defend the target. One twist is that the vampire player can have anyone attack anyone, but the human player must use only an identified human to attack.

If all three vampire characters end up in the castle, the vampire player wins the game. If all three vampires are killed, the human player wins. Otherwise, the game continues until both players have exhausted their cards, and each surviving vampire is worth two points, each human worth one. I’m not sure of game balance yet, but the design is intriguing enough I’ll be playing again—despite having lost pretty terribly as the human player. (Any game you want to play again after losing has something going for it!)

Gaming Hoopla will be back this fall in full force, and I definitely plan to attend. In fact, Popcorn Press intends to be a sponsor. I hope to see you there.

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