August 15, 2017

Dokapania- A Review (Transylvania: Curses and Traitors)

This review is being written independent of other sources. I have not looked at any other published reviews for the game. Therefore the opinion offered is my own and developed as my own.

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So let's talk about this hybrid board/card game: Transylvania- Curses and Traitors. The objective of the game is to discover knowledge cards and return to the Church in order to break the curse hanging over the land. can become that which you fear and slaughter everyone else.

 Everyone is dealt a random hero card per the rules. I talked with some fellow gamers and they are disappointed that their starting character cannot be chosen. The rules say nothing about randomization of characters when the player starts a new one, though. Some have good movement scores while others excel at fighting, thinking or praying (spiritual rolls). I like to think that an averaged out character is good for this game- but it really depends on how you want to play.

Play is somewhat straightforward: when you land on a 'step' token you can initiate a check. Roll the corresponding dice indicated by the character card's printed value- and a greater than or equal to value results in success. A card is drawn from the universal discovery deck. There is no individual decks for players. Sometimes players will cross an "E" whether on a 'step' token or not. An event occurs which can be good or bad. Usually it is bad.

 'Examining' (playing) a card may modify the values printed on your character card. One card gave a character +3 ATK (three additional dice to roll in checks) but made them one step away from becoming a Vampire and losing one maximum health capacity. A lot of event cards don't give you the choice of examination- they must be.

Players will die in this game. But when you do you start a new character. When a player acquires enough cards to transform they have two options. They can transform right there or wait until they attack another player. Monsters in this game have special rules. There is the vampire, the zombie and the werewolf. Each has a unique perk and a lot of health and movement points. As a monster your goal is simple: kill everyone else (you need to kill 'X' characters, rounded up- where X is the amount of players) or kill another monster. Completing either task wins the player the game.

 But herein lies my issue with the game. I feel that the random element of chance is too random. Sure you are supposed to stumble into traps or get beaten to within an inch of your life- but the game is too liberal with its punishment. Not being able to pick your initial character also peeved me. You can only heal so much and there is no way to protect yourself from incoming damage. Die rolls are supposed to be random, but I believe the game relies too much on them. I have no problems playing this game with people who want to play it or try it out- but be prepared to get salty. Here is what I mean.

 In one instance an Event Card hung over the Church. It said that the priest went missing and that any monsters can move through the church zone without penalty (or stay in it). Normally for crossing into that tile as a monster you lose 2 health. This event card turned that off. The Abess ran into an event card where she discovered a hungry hellhound. It killed her by ripping out her entrails (I came up with that in my imagination- the event card reduced her health to below 0) and when the player was to create a new character and start at the church she arose as a werewolf monster.

The werewolf monster made its way through the church zone to attack the other two players: the inventor and the templar. The werewolf moved in to attack the inventor first because of his lower attack value. The monster and the character did combat- and the inventor was to take 8 damage, bringing his health to 1. In desperation he examined a discovery card in his hand called 'The Voodoo Doll' and made a roll on it. he succeeded at the highest possible reward- giving all the damage to the templar (who was at 5 health), killing that other character. That is major league dickery- and might cause some people to at least think about strangling you.

But I do want to praise the game where it deserves praise. I like the idea of flipping tiles, but I am more in love with the concept of a building game world via tiles. It adds to the game's replayability factor and makes adventures fresh, but familiar to older players. There is no real key to winning the game outright at the start- you have to think about what others are doing, understand the meta game and understand when you should shift gears so that you come out on top. To restate my problem- I think the game is too liberal with its 'chance' engine.

In terms of durability I did not like the material the character cards are made with. They are extra slippery- probably to help with the health pointers and their sliding across the bottom of the card. The overall quality of the product is excellent except for one detail- which I will get to. It is difficult to get the game board markers into the little plastic display stands. Be careful or you will booger up the markers. Use your thumbnail to kind of spread the lips apart- then insert the marker via the corner somewhat gently. The instructions, in my opinion were not written well. Steps to play the game are out of order or are unclear. This is why my friends decided to give me the game- because they could not figure it the hell out. I had to learn how to play the game by watching  two youtube videos. Once I run through a game with them I intend on giving it back to them so that they can enjoy it.

I would rate it a 6.4 out of 10 (Board Game Geek Score: 6.2/10). It's not a horrible game- it's average. If you like the mythos of Transylvania, Castlevania, vampires, werewolves etc- this would be a good game to own in the collection and one to break out every now and then.


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