A Feast For The Ages
Tonight will be a feast for the ages! Every candle is lit, every streamer is hung. The banquet table is set with a smorgasbord of delectable delights. The townsfolk should be arriving shortly and the band is ready to play.
Everything is perfect. I’ve really outdone myself this time…
*A low growl echoes through the foyer, followed by the stomping of several (possibly large) feet*
What was that? No, No, No! This is not happening. I specifically avoided sending them invitations! I can’t believe they’ve decided to crash my party! *sigh* Now that the guests have started to arrive and everyone is wearing their masquerade masks, I can’t tell anyone apart! What a nightmare!
Perhaps I can dance my way to figuring out who everyone is… Might as well enjoy myself while trying to get rid of these monstrous party crashers.
- 4-8 Players
- 5-15 Minutes
- Age 10+
Dracula’s Feast, by Jellybean Games, is a social deduction game where players try to figure out the identities of the other guests who have crashed Dracula’s big event. The game has no night phases and isn’t a free for all guessing fest. Players must take an action on their turn to gain information about their fellow guests. Players may dance with, question, or accuse the other guests on their turn. Once they are certain they have discovered the identity of all of the other players, they may attempt a Grand Reveal on their turn instead. However, a correct Grand Reveal isn’t your only chance at winning. Every role in the game has a special ability or restriction to how they must play. This could change the way you gather information in the game, or how you present information to others. Players must be careful to not be tricked by the special role abilities, because a wrong accusation or Grand Reveal could mean your banishment from the party.
Preparing For The Feast
The Setup (for 8 players)
Setup for Dracula’s Feast is super simple. First decide which roles you want to include in the game. Everyone may decide that they want to leave a specific role out. This will be easier with the full game, as I had only a review sample. For 8 players, you should have a total of 9 roles selected for the game; Dracula must be included in the 9. Once you have decided on which roles you want in the game, shuffle them and deal one out to each player. The 9th card will go face down in the middle of the play area; this will be the Mystery Guest. The player roles are secret, so remind everyone to keep them hidden.
Next give everyone a set of voting cards and a player’s aid card. Then set up the 9 accusation cards (these cards show every character that you are using in your current game) in the middle of the play area next to the Mystery Guest. The first player is determined by who has the most delicious blood (do not go tasting each other’s blood for this, just make a guess). And that is all you need for setup.
How To Play
Playing the game is almost as easy as set up. The player’s aid card has everything you need to know for your turn. On one side there is a handy-dandy list of all of the characters (this may change for the final production copy, as new characters will be added in). On the other side, there is a list of all the available actions you can take and what they entail. Before I tackle the actions, let me introduce you to a few of the guests and their special abilities/restrictions (there are 9 total, but I will leave some as a surprise):
- Dracula: Takes one more turn after being banished.
- Alucard: Accepts all dances. Answers YES to being Dracula if questioned. Wins if given Dracula’s accusation card.
- Trickster: Accepts all dances and answers YES to all questions.
- Van Helsing: Wins by correctly accusing Dracula, or dancing with them.
- Zombie: Wins by dancing three times.
Everybody will know what characters are currently in play and what each character’s ability is, they just won’t know who is who.
*Note: You can also tell the difficulty of a character by the number of bat symbols on the cards.
On your turn, you will take one of four actions, if you are able:
- Question: Ask another player if they are a specific guest. They must answer YES or NO using one of their answer cards. This answer is secret and it must be truthful, unless, of course, you are a character like the Trickster.
- Note: If someone asks you if you are a specific guest and you are the guest that they question you about, you DO NOT reveal yourself. A question is just used to get information, and it will not banish you from the game. However, you are now susceptible to them accusing you on their next turn–which in that case, if you do not stop them in some way, could lead to your banishment.
- Dance: Ask another player to dance. If they accept, you will exchange role cards, to see who the other person is. Once you get a good look, exchange them back to their original player. Once you have danced with someone, you can no longer accuse them.
- Dancing, however, does not prevent you from exposing them during a Grand Reveal.
- Dancing with another play also prevents you from discussing that player’s identity. Think of it as a secret pact that you will not screw each other over.
- Accuse: Place an accusation card in front of another player. If it’s theirs, they reveal their card and are banished (unless their role card says otherwise). If it’s not, their role stays hidden and you are banished instead.
- Accusing is best to do after questioning a guest and getting an affirmative answer. However, be careful not to be fooled by the Trickster or Alucard.
- Grand Reveal: Reveal your card, then place an accusation card in front of every guest. Each guest will then place a YES or NO card face down in the center of the table. Shuffle the answers and reveal them. If they are all YES, you have won the game; if there are any NO’s, you are banished from the game.
- If that player correctly identifies some, but not everyone, do not reveal your card. Play will still continue as normal if the player who failed the Grand Reveal is banished.
Interacting with the Mystery Guest is also an option. Since they are not a real player, you cannot dance with or question the Mystery Guest. However, you may accuse the mystery guest. If you choose to do so, you secretly look at the card. If you are correct, reveal the card and place it in front of you. If you are incorrect, you will be banished as normal.
And that is the game. It is super simple and very quick to play.
The Grand Reveal
At my local game night, I usually avoid the social games. They are always too loud, or in the case of Werewolf, if you die early, you are essentially just a piece of furniture for the rest of the game. If I’m going to be choosing a social game, I want to be doing something the whole time, and I want it to at least have some challenge to it, as opposed to something that is luck or opinion based. Dracula’s Feast fits exactly what I’m looking for, and it’s quick and easy to learn/teach.
What I love most about Dracula’s feast is its ease of play. It takes almost no explanation or setup before you can start. The age limit starts at 10, but I don’t doubt that you could play this with kids a few years younger. It accommodates most players really well. It is a social game, so most hardcore gamers that I know will avoid it for that reason alone, but they are truly missing out. There are strategies to the game and it definitely gets better the more you play it. The game is always different (unless you get the same character twice, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are playing consecutive games). Also, if you become banished at any point, you won’t have long to wait, because the games are so incredibly quick.
I also love that each character has an ability or restriction. It forces players to tackle the game a different way every time. Plus, it is nice to feel like I have something else going on with my role, that there is something inherently special about my character. In Werewolf, I am constantly a villager, and it gets old, real quick. I used to love the game, but I’ve grown to realize I just don’t find it that fun anymore. Dracula’s Feast is a great replacement game, and like Werewolf, it has the potential to add in more characters, which is awesome. Below are some examples of cards to come. What’s really cool about these new cards, is that some of them will be face up roles, but they are balanced with really cool abilities.
If they keep with the card sizes I saw in my preview, this will also make a great game for travel. Because it is so quick and easy, you can virtually play it anywhere. I actually think this could also work really well in a phone app format.
For those of you interested in the thematic side of things, the game definitely keeps in line with the theme it is going for. For example, the rivalry between Dracula and Van Helsing definitely comes across. With the newer cards you’ll see connection with the Investigator and Cthulhu. Plus the art is absolutely fantastic! All the art for the game was done by Tania Walker and was inspired by Edward Gorey. I love that it maintains a spooky feel without being overly macabre. The art for Alucard is also super adorable!
I’ve brought this game to my weekly game night a few times now and it has been a big hit. The only thing I haven’t liked about the game is that, if you are Dracula and Van Helsing is also in the game, it is incredibly easy to end the game super early. The first few games I ever played, the game ended in one round, because the Dracula player danced with Van Helsing. I’ve found that if you give a big disclaimer about this before the game starts, people tend to play a little bit on the safer side until they have sussed out at least some information about other players. After all, dancing is optional for most characters. That is my only major complaint. I don’t know that I would necessarily change the cards or anything though. You could always chalk it up to players not paying attention to their character’s special abilities also.
Overall, this is a game I will happily add into my collection. It has been a big hit among the social game players at my weekly game night, and it is something I can actually enjoy playing with them. It’s fast, simple, and still maintains an air of challenge. It is definitely one of the better social deduction games I have played. The game will be hitting Kickstarter October 4th, 2016, so keep an eye out for it!
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