Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Vampire: Dark Influences

Our Sunday group gave Dark Influences a try this weekend instead of our usual game.

The pieces are well-made, sturdy and attractive. The art is good and evocative, and the game itself uses Vampire-isms to good effect.

My problems with it may seem a bit nit-picky really. The game recommends that you use five dice, but it comes with one. Luckily I usually play L5R on Sundays, so I had extra d10's with me, but it would have been a huge pain to roll a single die over and over again.

Also, the font on the cards looks nice, but especially when the print is small it can be very hard to read. We weren't playing in an exceptionally well lit place, so that probably exacerbated the problem, but I can't imagine that some of those fonts would be an easy read even under the best of conditions.

The game itself was an interesting concept. The old prince is stepping down, and you have six turns to convince (through battle or charm) as many kindred as possible to support you in your bid to take his place. You spend blood to try to convince kindred to join you coterie. Each blood pool let's you roll one die, an 8 or higher is a success, with 10's allowing you to reroll.

Gaining support, or causing another player to lose the support he has gained, gives you event cards, which can be used at any time for a variety of effects. We had players steal blood and spend it for you, replenish dwindling supplies of blood, or automatically gain the support of an available vampire.

All in all it was fun, but not quite fun enough to make up for the length of time that a game seems to take. We spent an hour going through just the first couple turns, which was likely because we didn't know the game well, but the taking turns aspect of the game lends itself to drawn out play. It was simply too slow.

Also, the game is supposed to evoke images of political intrigue, and perhaps for those with stronger imaginations than mine it might, but I saw no need to even check which archetype I was trying to attract. I'm not sure if I ever read a single card during play more than what it took to determine what modifiers my rolls were getting.

So, nice attempt, and probably worth it for Vampire fans, but it wasn't for me. I'll give it a couple more tries before I make a final decision to make sure I wasn't just not getting it on a first play through. For now I'd give it a 5 out of 10, losing a full point because they are difficult to read.

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