Saturday, April 29, 2006

I Love Me Some Good Color Text

Set the Wayback Machine for the late 1980's. I lived in Ft. Worth, TX, going to seminary & basically being a very lonely guy. (This is the time period where I started collecting comic books - amazing how much disposable income you have when you're not dating.)

Most Fridays, I got out of class around noon and hopped into my little blue Honda Accord and hightailed it across the metroplex to go spend with the weekend with my best friend from college. Tim & I spent most weekends of my first year in seminary like this:

  • I arrive at his apartment around 5 pm, usually a little ahead of him. I sit in my car & read game rules.
  • Tim arrives around 5:30 pm. We head out to eat dinner & play some mindless video games in an arcade.
  • By 7-8 pm, we're back at his apartment, playing a game. OK, a lot of games. (There's also a time period in which Tim insisted that I learn how to juggle so we could pass clubs together... this worked out well when we were playing wargames with some serious downtime - while he'd work on his turn, I'd practice juggling.)

We'd pretty much spend Friday night & Saturday playing a variety of games... then I'd head back to Ft. Worth late Saturday night so I could get up & go teach 5th/6th grade boys Sunday School at the little church I attended.

We played a LOT of Gamemaster games (Axis & Allies, Fortress America, Shogun) as well as some oddball wargames (GDW's Operation Market Garden, Ambush: Shell Shock, A House Divided, etc.) and the whole raft of Games Workshop bookshelf box games that were coming out - Block Mania, Blood Bowl, Chaos Marauders, Dungeonquest, Kings & Things, Warlock of Firetop Mountain... and, FINALLY, the subject of this post, Fury of Dracula.

It wasn't a perfect game - there were holes in the system that you kind had to spackle in yourself with some house rulings & the endgame could drag on forever. OTOH, it was a blast to play and just dripped with theme. I don't know how many times we played - 4 or 5. Not as many as we would have liked, but we managed to waste at least a couple of nights on Rogue Trooper.

Then life intervened - I moved to SE Texas to be a youth minister, then a year later back to Arlington to actually be Tim's roomie (and finish seminary). Oddly enough, living together actually meant less "wargamer-y" gaming, as we both had lives outside of geekdom by then. I started dating Shari Jo the same weekend he took Kim to Baylor Homecoming - and Fury of Dracula just sat on the shelf in our "game room" (the walk-in laundry room with no washing machine or dryer) while we went on with our lives.

In 1990, we both got married & went our separate ways - and we were each other's best man. I was the first to leave TX (heading to Arkansas), but since Tim had bought the game, Fury went with him... to Dallas, then to Tyler, TX, then to Providence, RI... and finally, sometime last year, to a rural area of Maine. As far as I know, Tim still has it.

So it was with a mixture of trepidation and excitment that I approached the new Fantasy Flight version of the game last Monday with my regular gaming group. John (CapAp on the Geek) is our "buy it/try it/trade it" guy - so he provided the game. After about 20 minutes of rules & set-up (much of it feeling familar), we started playing.

Wow. 3 hours later, as the hunters cornered Dracula in Leipzig at midnight, we managed to pull out a win with Drac only one point away from taking over Europe. We were all ecstatic... it was an incredible gaming experience. The changes Fantasy Flight made were all positives - the game works like a charm and doesn't degenerate at the end like the old version. The color text on the cards is primo... as is the artwork. The playing time may seem a bit much, but I think we could do it in two hours now that we've got a game under our belt.

I do enjoy Eurogames... but it's nice to play something that's theme-o-licious every once in a while. (And Monday was the night for it - we also played Sindbad.

BTW, I never was good enough at juggling to do clubs on my own, let alone with Tim. He, OTOH, learned enough to juggle torches. My job was to stand there with buckets of water, ready to douse him if he set himself on fire.

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