Vampyre Review by David Lent
Vampyre is a game of the hunt for Dracula from TSR that was released in 1981. It is based on Bram Stoker’s novel and the players each play one of the characters from it. The game also has items from the book such as holy water, hosts, silver crucifix, knives, guns and silver bullets. This is very intriguing and it sounded like it would be a really cool fantasy game using wargame rules and components. What surprised me though is it is actually a roll and move kid’s game, which happens to use a hex map and wargame-like charts and tables.
In the basic game, the players play on a map of Transylvania and try to be the first to destroy three of Count Dracula’s hidden coffins. The players may have encounters if they camp on rough terrain. In these encounters, they may have to fight animals, vampires, werewolves or demons. However, if they roll well they will have a strange occurrence instead. Strange occurrences can cause bad things to happen to your character or he may get an item that can assist in melee or supernatural combat.
After the basic game is finished, the extended game is played in Dracula’s Castle. In this scenario, the players move through the castle and reveal any counters in rooms they enter. These counters are guardians, swarms of rats, traps or Count Dracula himself. Players keep track of the time of day, because they get a +1 bonus to supernatural combat between 6AM and 6PM. The first player to slay Count Dracula wins the game.
Vampyre’s components are ok as far as 1980’s microgames are concerned. The game comes in a transparent plastic box that holds the rules, dice, counters and map. The artwork on the counters and map are satisfactory for an early 1980’s game. Vampyre’s map is double sided. The Transylvania side has all the named locations from the book and they are on megahexes. There are roads connecting them and a lot of varied terrain on the map. The backside of the map contains a rudimentary layout of Dracula’s castle with green and white rooms. The green rooms get populated with guardian counters for the advanced game.
The rulebook is properly written and easy to understand. However, the charts are in the middle of the book and the clock is on the inside cover. You have to move counters around the clock every turn during the extended game. This is very clumsy, because you will inadvertently move the counters when flipping through the book. Why couldn’t they print the clock on a separate piece of paper?
Setup for the basic game is simple. You shuffle the 27 black counters and place three of them in every named location except Klausenburg. The players then each roll a dice and the high roller is the first player for the entire basic game.
Transylvania’s sequence of play:
- Search or check for encounter
- Conversion to nosferatu or werewolf. Possession
During the movement phase, the phasing player rolls to see how many movement points he has. Normally, he will move on the road. However, if the ending space is not on clear terrain or a named location he may want to move off road to stop in a clear space. Rough terrain causes encounters, which usually lead to combat.
If your character is in a named location, he can search by revealing the top counter. If it’s a coffin, he destroys it. Otherwise, if it’s an item he keeps it. The player may not search that location again until he has searched another location.
During combat, you find the creature on either the melee or supernatural combat results table, roll your dice and add any bonuses from equipment. The results are wounded, victory, bitten, possession, fear or immobility. A wound causes your player to return to Klausenburg to heal. Victory means you defeated your enemy. Bitten means a vampire bit you. If you are bitten three times you become a nosfaratu. If a werewolf wounds you after you have been bitten twice, you become a werewolf. However, you can go to Standing Stones to remove a bite if you have less than three. Possession means a demon has taken over your body and you will move towards the nearest player and attack him. Posession lasts 1-6 turns. Fear only occurs in the extended game and causes your player to run back towards the entrance. Immobility happens from being bitten by a gargoyle. You lose 2 turns from it.
When a player becomes a nosferatu, he will immediately start hunting other players. He doesn’t have to use the terrain effect chart when moving. He always moves the number rolled regardless of terrain. If he bites a player, he is satiated and returns to the crypts and waits there 2 turns before hunting again. If he is defeated, he returns there also. However, if a salvation effect occurs the nosferatu is removed from the game.
Castle Dracula’s sequence of play:
- Set clock
- Reveal Counter
- Conversion to nosferatu or werewolf. Possession
- Restock the map (midnight turn)
The extended game occurs inside Dracula’s castle. Player’s move the clock at the beginning of their turn and move around the castle. If they encounter a counter, they reveal it and fight it if it is a creature. If a player gets two wounds, he is killed. After a wound, the player may skip his next turn to heal a wound. Creatures that wound a character are normally removed from the map after combat. However, Dracula will remain in place until he is defeated or until all the characters are dead or no longer human.
Vampyre plays like a roll and move game with wargame tables and a fantasy theme. The game is fun to play, but the constant rolling to move gets annoying. There is very little strategy here, but the strong Dracula theme makes up for it a bit. Children and younger teenagers will probably love this game, but adults will find it lacking in strategy. It’s definitely a good game for parents to introduce their kids to wargaming though.
Crafty gamers can easily make this game better though. Get a dungeon master and throw out the combat system, so you can use your favorite version of D&D to resolve creature encounters. All of the named locations from Bram Stoker’s book are on the Transylvania map, so your DM can use this game to run a Bram Stoker’s Dracula D&D scenario. The DM will have to make rudimentary firearm rules for firing silver bullets though.
Buy your own copy here.
View the components in the unboxing video below: