In a somewhat close game, I could have won with Dracula but lost.
At first got a vampire token off the track and a day went by, giving me 3 Vampires in Europe. The first disadvantage I gave myself is I backed myself in Eastern Europe with only the Black Sea as an escape route. With 12 health after having set sail and earlier did a Dark Call, the Hunters began cutting off my escape. I could have chose to either continue by sea and try to go past Mina (who I did not know had a move 4 by sea card) around the map or go up and disembark and take a chance at fighting Lord Godalming in Venice with a Trap card in daytime. I chose Lord Godalming, and that was a poor idea. I didn't realize the potency of Sister Agatha and I went from 12 to 2 fast. He Sacred Bulleted my Claws off, so I was forced to choose Dodge or Escape. So if I have 2 health left, did I automatically die due to Sister Agatha or can only a Hunter character slay Dracula?
We ruled a Hunter had to, but I put my health down to 1. Instead of escaping north (when I fled from combat), I went to Florence on a bluff. Verbally admitting my move would be stupid to himself, my opponent continued to search other areas as I laughed and wept to my wounded self. Unfortunately Seward washed up to Rome, directly south of me. When Mina left Gosia, I walked in her shadow. Before moving Seward, my opponent was about to go by train, and then he reluctantly announced he'd go to Florence. Curse you, Seward! Mina then knew because Venice was locked down, I was stalking her, so she doubled back and went for the kill. A lucky escape as bat saved me, and I pursued Dracula's Castle as fast as I could.
On the way, I received Vampire Brides. Does Vampire Brides increasing my encounter hand size by 2 come into effect immediately or only when I refill my hand at the end of my turn?
When in Budapest, the meddlesome and weakened Van Helsing rode the train. Hoping for this, albeit a little soon, I welcomed him to a fight. If I could kill Hellsing, he'd increase my track to 5, and on my turn it'd be a New Day with my final Vampire. Instead, Hellsing plays Heroic Leap, auto-winning the game!
So, on my first play, I really liked the game. I was close but playing Dracula is a challenge. Those pesky Hunters get a lot of really good cards. Truly there are no poor item cards to really draw in the Item deck for them, and the Event deck has slightly better cards for the Hunters I observed and there odds of receiving those cards are 66%. I noticed a lot of the encounters do little to nothing. I was sure to play all my minions in Eastern Europe as to receive the +1 bonuses, but that really didn't seem to matter much. All in all, combat is fun and fast but the Hunters... wow, are they ever more powerful than the children of the night, including the Count himself!
I was discussing afterward if Dracula needed a boost. He argued mostly Dracula didn't. He said when I play the Hunters, he believes I will appreciate how elusive Dracula really can be. Though we agreed we shall play a couple more games before adding variants, a discussion still commenced itself.
I am wondering how overpowered the +1 to Dracula's dice rolls for himself would be, but I digressed from that because I myself am skeptical to its abilities to possibly being overpowered. He and I instead contested over the topic of Blood Regeneration: I said whenever the Day/Night marker advances into a night space, Dracula regenerates one blood as if he used the card Feed (which he is still able to take as a card action). He thought that was slightly too powerful, opining instead Dracula regenerates one blood at Dusk (because he is fully rested) and one other blood regenerated at the Small Hours (has a "snack" before going to rest). The problem with his suggestion is the Hunter's Long Day card would have to be errata'ed, as it could work to Dracula's advantage and limits when during the day it can be used if the Hunters don't want to regenerate Dracula at Dusk twice.
How does everyone else feel about a blood regeneration variant?