It is a dark and stormy night; Dracula has invited the local townsfolk over for dinner, however a few of his fellow monsters heard about the feast and have crashed the party. While maintaining their secret identity each monster must learn, and publicly announce, the identities of all the other monsters before Simon Belmont arrives and… wait, wrong game.
Dracula’s Feast is a quick and easy game of logical deduction. At the start of the game players are each assigned a secret monster identity. Your job is to protect this identity while trying to deduce who each of the other players are. In addition to player controlled guests there’s also a ‘mystery guest’ represented by a card in the centre of the play area. The first player to correctly identify all the other monsters is deemed the winner and allowed to eat the remaining players (house rule).
Gameplay is very straightforward with players taking it in turns to perform one of four simple actions. These are well balanced forcing players to adopt different strategies based on how much they are willing to risk. On their turn a player may:
- Question: Ask another player if they are Monster X. That player will secretly pass you a YES or NO card to answer your question. Look at the card then return it.
- Dance: Ask another player to dance. If they accept you each show the other player your identity. Once two monsters have danced they are not allowed to perform the accuse action on each other.
- Accuse: Accuse another monster of being Monster X. If they are that monster they reveal their card and are out of the game. If not then you must reveal your card and you are out of the game.
- Grand Reveal: Reveal your identity and announce that you are doing a grand reveal. Accuse every other player of being a specific monster. They will pass you a YES or a NO card (face down). Shuffle all the answer cards and reveal them. If they are all YES then you win the game. If any are NO then you are out of the game.
The joy of Dracula’s Feast comes with its balance – both in risk vs. reward as well as public vs. private information. Combining information from what other players have asked with the information you’ve gathered yourself, you must try and discern who is who. The risk of a failed accusation is high but you don’t want to wait too long before making your move or another player may beat you to the punch.
This strategic deduction element is strengthened by the addition of variable player powers. Each monster card has specific unique rules that directly affect how you play the game. Alucard, for example, wants desperately to be cool like Dracula. Therefore, the player with his card must accept all dance requests and answer YES if asked if they are Dracula. On the plus side Alucard automatically wins the game if someone accuses them of being Dracula. Dr. Jekyl, on the other hand, is a wallflower with a dark side. The player with her card is not allowed to question other players but, if correctly accused, discards her identity and assumes a new one. All up there are nine gothicly themed monsters – each of which has a special skill that partners perfectly with their personality.
The artwork on the cards is cleverly designed with a uniform black and white theme and a splash of colour to aid in quick identification of the pertinent aspects. Inspired by Edward Gorey the artwork is good – but not something I’m personally a fan of. However that’s more a personal taste thing than an objective view. In fact, out of the eleven people I tested this with only 1 other person (my 7 year old son) agreed with me! Note: The photographs of the game shown in this article are of the prototype version of the game and shouldn’t be taken as a final indication of quality.
The game’s components are well thought out, with the right number of cards to facilitate play while eliminating confusion. When each player is dealt their secret identity a mirroring card is placed in the centre of the table. This is used when making accusations but, more importantly, allows players to see which characters are in the current game – thus ensuring your strategy for each game remains relevant.
Designed for 4-8 players Dracula’s Feast looks like it will be a well-balanced and enjoyable logical deduction game. The age recommendation of 10 and above feels accurate although I did try playing with kids as young as seven as well. For younger players I’d recommend ignoring the monster specific rules and just sticking with the core.
Dracula’s Feast will be coming to Kickstarter in early October and I strongly recommend you check it out. With simple, yet balanced rules and a fast play time (around 10 minutes) it’s more accessible than other deductive games like Resistance – but has enough strategic depth to provide an engaging experience.