Posted on November 27, 2008 by Flames
“Vampires’ Quest” is a card game about competing vampires and is the first offering from Headless Games. In “Vampires’ Quest” players compete to match Bite cards with Victims, turning them into vampires and racing to create an army of the undead.
The game is played in rounds, scoring points based on the number of bitten victims claimed.
There are 15 different kinds of cards (including Bite and Victim cards) that can affect game play. Some allow you to steal claimed victims from other vampires, send claimed victims back to the deck or counter other players’ cards. For example, Coffins offer a measure of protection for claimed victims, though a few cards can counteract them. Bats allow you to steal cards from another player’s hand, while a Wolf card allows you to take an extra turn.
The number of cards dealt to each player differs depending on the number of players in the game, with more players meaning fewer cards in your hand. In games with fewer players, some cards are removed from the deck and placed out of play.
Each turn you play as many cards as you can from your hand, matching bites and victims, storing them in coffins and sabotaging your opponents. At the end of a turn, a player draws a number of cards up to their maximum hand size.
The game is designed for players to compete until one player can claim 21 victims. This is way too difficult. The deck itself contains only 15 Bite cards and 15 Victim cards. In a closely-matched two-player game, it would take 3-4 rounds (each round is playing through the deck once) for a player to win. Add more players, which can climb to 5 or more, and the possible number of victims successfully claimed each round dwindles even further. With a good sized group you could be playing all night and still not finish the game. Especially considering the relatively light game play, this is an almost game-breaking error in design.
However, it is a problem easily fixed. Just reduce the number of points (victims) to win, say down to 10, and you will finish most games within 5 rounds, which isn’t an extreme amount of time. If you want a game to go longer, start over and play to 10 again. You still are likely to end earlier than one session of a 21-point game.
The artwork by Melvin De Voor is probably my favorite part of the game. The black and white ink drawings harken back to the old Bela Lugosi “Dracula” films, with dark shadows, dank castle hallways and creepy imagery. The art does a lot to evoke the feel of the game.
The price point is a little high for this kind of game, costing about $20 to purchase directly from Headless Games. The card game is self-published, and is nice quality, so if you are looking to splurge a little but still get a decent game, this would be a good purchase.
Overall “Vampires’ Quest” is a fun little card game that would work best as a filler or intro to another horror game. I can see warming up with “Vampires’ Quest” before starting a game of “Arkham Horror” or “Last Night on Earth.” There isn’t a huge amount of depth, and as written the goal of the game makes it way too long, but with a simple tweak “Vampires’ Quest” is a fun way to pass a few rounds with friends and put the bite on a few hapless victims.
Review by Michael Erb
Reviewer’s note: I picked up a review copy of “Vampires’ Quest” at CharCon, a gaming convention in Charleston, W.Va. (www.charcon.org) in October where it was recommended to me by one of the event organizers. Headless Games was a sponsor of CharCon and I wanted to thank both of them for introducing me to this game.