Transylvania: Curses & Traitors (Preview)
Transylvania has seen better days. Vampires, werewolves, zombies…it doesn’t get any worse for the poor citizens who currently live there. Fortunately, the local government has a plan: hire only the bravest and best of adventurers to drive those monsters out. That’s where you come in. “Transylvania: Curses & Traitors”, a board game hitting Kickstarter at the beginning of May 2014, will task players with working together as these adventurers to break the curse once and for all. Before we take a sneak peek at what this game has to offer, I’d like to thank Loren Cunningham, the founder of WIBAI Games, for reaching out and providing me with a prototype copy. It’s important to note that prototypes are not often representative of the final product, making everything featured below (including the rules) subject to change. The minis featured in the below pictures, for example, are from D&D and HeroClix games…though I’m told the stretch goal will include unpainted (but detailed) minis.
My prototype copy came with quite a number of different components, including dice, pawns, cards, tiles, sliders, and tokens. In all, the number of components total out to be roughly three-hundred…the majority of which are cards and tokens of varying types. I obviously won’t be able to detail them all here, but I can say that they all functioned well and I had no issues understanding how they all worked together. I’ll attempt to cover some of these components in more detail as I explain the gameplay mechanics. The playing area, for those of you curious about that, consists of board tiles that are all randomly shuffled and dealt onto the table. The exception is the church tile, which serves as the centerpiece.
Speaking of which, the players’ main goal will be to defeat the forces of darkness. To do that, they’ll need to gain five knowledge cards (including one for each monster type) and return to the church tile. Sounds simple enough, but there’s a real danger of players turning into the very monsters they are hunting. Those who do succumb to the forces of darkness will turn against their fellow adventurers and adopt a new victory goal: kill a number of adventurers equal to half the number of players in the game, rounded up. “Dead Panic” and other horror games have similar mechanics, but “Transylvania: Curses & Traitors” takes it a step further by including a few different monster types into which the players can transform.
One thing players will note right away is the variety of adventurers available. Each player in the game will receive one character card that contains stats unique to them. Character cards track health, movement points, and traits related to attack, mind, and spirit. The above mentioned sliders are used in conjunction with the character card to track player health as it is gained or lost throughout the game. It’s important to note that dying (health dropping below “1”) doesn’t eliminate a player from the game or transform them into a monster…like “Last Night on Earth”, players will be able to regenerate as a new character on their next turn. There are a few more rules and steps associated with this, but nothing overly difficult to figure out.
Monster transformation is a whole different beast and is probably my favorite part of “Transylvania: Curses & Traitors”. Players can transform into a vampire, werewolf, or zombie and the requirements for doing so change depending on the monster type in question. For example, a vampire transformation can occur when a player holds three vampire bite transformation cards. Each monster type grants the player with unique skills, abilities, and weaknesses. The kicker is that the player who transforms does not have to immediately reveal that they’ve done so…hence the word “traitors” in the title of the game. As such, our play sessions were very intense toward the midgame as we didn’t know who we could trust. Traitor mechanics like these are what makes “The Resistance” or “Battlestar Galactica” so appealing and I’m glad that the developers included them here.
When you’re not worried about transforming (like that will ever happen), you’ll be doing your darndest to collect quest cards. Quest cards are made up of knowledge cards, item cards, and transformation cards. A player who manages to collect five knowledge cards, including one for each monster type (vampire, zombie, werewolf) and make it back to the church tile will win the game. Wild knowledge cards exist to help players collect those hard to find monster types. Items are a mixed bag in that some are helpful and some are not…some even contribute to a player’s transformation! Transformation cards were explained above already, but collecting these is a necessary evil since they are included in the same deck as the knowledge cards. There’s a separate event card deck that players have to draw from and resolve as players pass spaces marked with the “E” symbol, serving to mix things up a bit.
Combating other friendly adventurers in “Transylvania: Curses & Traitors” is possible, but not necessary. Most of the time, players will be rolling for quest cards…that is, rolling the dice to see if they are allowed to draw a quest card from the quest deck. When a player lands on a quest token, they’ll flip it over to reveal a trait icon and a number…this is where the character traits (attack, mind, spirit) come into play. The player will then roll the number of dice equal to the trait value listed on their card, adding or subtracting any effects from other cards in play. An equal or greater dice roll will result in the player be granted the ability to draw from the quest deck. Alternatively, players can challenge one another if they are occupying the same space. A similar combat mechanic ensues and the winner gets to take a quest card from the other player.
There’s a few rules that I didn’t touch on and a lot of the above mechanics have listed exceptions in the manual, but the above is a good overview of what you’re in for should you decide to support “Transylvania: Curses & Traitors”. I personally found “Transylvania: Curses & Traitors” to be an intense and gratifying experience. It was both fun and scary to know that any of us could transform into a monster at any time. With that being said, part of me wanted to transform so that I could try out each of their special abilities. Being a zombie nut, I was looking forward to controlling my own zombie horde (the zombie character gets zombie minion tokens) and swarm the other players with reckless abandon. All in all, we enjoyed our time with “Transylvania: Curses & Traitors”…it’s certainly one of those games that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish!
You can learn more about and support “Transylvania: Curses & Traitors” by visiting its Kickstarter page, here: