Full disclosure: A preview copy of Dracula’s Feast: New Blood was provided by Jellybean Games. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
Two Kickstarter games this week! Dracula’s Feast and NewSpeak are both hitting KS sometime in the next few days; we’ve got writeups for both coming down the pipeline, so check them out.
You’ve been invited to a masquerade ball at the home of the legendary vampire himself, Dracula! That’s pretty solid for your social standing, as far as monsters (or that one monster hunter who keeps showing up; who invited her?) go. You arrive to find the masquerade in full swing, but it is very difficult to tell who is whom among the swirling, dancing, and general jovial activity. You’ll have to deduce some identities and make some accusations if you want to be able to figure out these mysterious monsters. Will you be able to solve these identities?
Pretty much nothing to do, here. You’ll want to choose some guests randomly from the guest cards:
Dracula must always be included (he’s the host!), but you can choose randomly if you’d like. For your first few games, it might be worth leaving out The Witch, Alucard, and the Zombie; they’re more advanced. Either way, play with this many, depending on your player count:
- 4 players: 6 guests (2 Mystery Guests)
- 5 players: 6 guests
- 6 players: 7 guests
- 7 players: 8 guests
- 8 players: 9 guests
Now, choose a Mystery Guest by shuffling the Identity Cards (except Dracula; again, it’s his house) and place one face-down in the center (two if you’re playing with 4 players):
The difference there is the Identity Cards have your special rules on them. Once you’ve done that, shuffle Dracula in with the remainder of the Identity Cards and deal each player one. You’ll want to give each player YES / NO Whisper Cards, but I didn’t get mine before I had to go to press so just imagine sets of two cards with the same back but YES or NO on the front. Beyond that, you should be ready to start!
So, Dracula’s Feast: New Blood is a quick social deduction party game about going to Dracula’s for a masquerade party. Your goal is to determine who everyone else is, and then name them correctly. If you do, you win! If you don’t, well, you might have just helped somebody else. Be careful, though! Many players have their own secret win condition that might surprise you.
The game’s played over a series of turns. On your turn, you must do one of three actions (and only one):
- Inquire: It’s a masquerade, so you want to figure out everyone’s identity. To do so, just ask someone if they’re a specific guest, like the Boogie Monster or Van Helsing. They must whisper their reply, which means they pass you a Yes or No Whisper card so only you know the answer. Generally, you must answer honestly, but be careful! Some players are allowed / forced to lie.
- Dance: It’s easy to see who someone is if you’re up close, but be careful, they can see you too! You may ask a player to dance; if they say yes, show each other your Identity Cards. If they refuse, choose a different player and immediately Inquire.
- Accuse: Once you think you know everyone, you can Accuse! Flip your Identity Card, revealing it to all players. Then, take the guest cards and place them in front of each player according to what you think that player’s Identity is. Each player then hands you a Yes / No Whisper card, face-down. Shuffle them, and then reveal them all simultaneously. If they’re all Yes, you win! If not, take everyone’s other Whisper card and then shuffle them all together and re-deal everyone a pair of Yes / No cards. play continues as normal.
As you might guess, there are some rules about player interaction:
- Once you’re revealed, you can’t dance. There’s no intrigue there! You can’t ask players to dance or accept dance requests.
- Table talk is totally fine. You can say whatever you want; you only have to be honest about Inquiry actions.
- No secret conversation. Like most games of this nature, all talk must be public and understandable for all players.
- No taking notes. Makes sense.
- You can’t Accuse or Inquiry against the Mystery Guest(s). So mysterious!
- Ties resolve with the player whose turn it is. Then they continue to resolve clockwise.
Player Count Differences
Having played it a few times at lower and higher player counts, I have a slight preference for lower player counts. At higher player counts, you have a pretty significant downtime when it’s not your turn. Sure, you’re listening, but if you’re not the type of person to keep meticulous track of every occurrence during a deduction game then you might find yourself idling without much to do. Certain roles benefit from paying attention, but many do not, so you might be sitting around for a hot minute. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but, it slightly shifts my preference towards the smaller, faster games.
- Watch. Look at which players are asking about which other players. Are they looking for someone specific? Certain characters (the Zombie) are forced to do certain actions, as well, so watch for those patterns and see if they emerge in a way that lets you accuse. Is one player only Inquiring about their neighbors? Maybe they’re the Swamp Thing.
- Listen. Remember, certain characters cannot refuse a dance request. That means if a player does, they cannot be one of those characters. This can very quickly eliminate a few possibilities from your mind.
- If you’re the Trickster and you think you’ve been made, might as well Accuse. This usually happens if one player makes an Inquiry action against you twice, which isn’t good. At that point, you may be able to convince other players to make the same move, but, that’s about the best you can get. I figure, by then, you may be able to accuse everyone else.
- Remember: someone is Dracula. It’s his feast. He cannot be the Mystery Guest, so if your Accusation Plan doesn’t include him, you’re making a mistake. A pretty big one.
- Also remember: Alucard wants you to think he’s Dracula. Don’t accuse him of being. This also means that Dracula may want to dance a bit less in games with Alucard. Dancing with Alucard also gives a lot of information — if the turn ends and he didn’t win, you know that player is not Dracula.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Really great art! It’s got the old B-horror movie poster feeling to it and I really, really like it.
- Social deduction without as much potential for aggressive play. Most players aren’t lying because they want to; they’re forced to respond a certain way to requests. It makes the game feel a lot more predictable and less predicated on player deception skill.
- Seems pretty kid-friendly. Not a ton of reading is required and the action space is pretty small. Might not be great for the youngest players, but probably a decent family-weight game.
- Diverse characters! It’s very good.
- Pretty easy to transport. It takes up less room than The Shipwreck Arcana, even, impressively.
- Seems expandable. There are a lot of underutilized B-horror monsters; lots of ground to cover.
- For such a small game, you’re shuffling an awful lot. You’ve gotta shuffle some guests, pick some guests, remove Dracula, and then shuffle the Yes / No cards on various accusations. Given how few cards you’re shuffling, it can be vaguely annoying.
- The Witch’s ability could use some clarification. The reference card doesn’t quite make it clear if the Witch is supposed to say yes to anyone who asks her if she’s anything but the Witch or just her neighbors. A few players I’ve played with have been confused by this.
- My overwhelming desire for the Guest cards to be equidistant slows the setup down. It’s very much a personal thing.
- May feel a bit short. It’s pretty much pure deduction, so you might be able to activate your ability in two rounds if you get lucky enough on who asks whom what and who accuses whom. This will likely vary a bit between games.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Overall, Dracula’s Feast: New Blood is a cute little deduction game! It’s light and pretty easy to pick up (save for a few of the Advanced roles, but that’s why they’re advanced). I’m a big fan of the no-lying approach to the game; there are no opportunities for players to lie, as they are merely responding to a player’s action with the response the game requires they give. Sure, you can lie by talking, but if players don’t want to you can play a pretty silent game without causing much concern. The fun’s in the deduction, which is light enough that you can probably mostly intuit it, but not so aggressive that you need to constantly be paying attention (you can’t take notes anyways). Add in some bright, bold colors and super fun art and you’ve got a solid party game! It’s a shame I don’t really play them more often, to be honest. Either way, if you’re looking for a fun, spooky deduction game for your game group, Dracula’s Feast: New Blood might be right up your alley!