Vampire Empire review from Colin Y
Polish your fangs, fill up a wine glass with some ambiguous red liquid and take in this review from Colin Y.
I recently sat down with the new two-player title from Stronghold Games, Vampire Empire; in part because I tend to enjoy the games Stephen at Stronghold releases, but mainly because I am a sucker for asymmetric two-player games drenched in theme. (To which anyone who has ever sat through my Revolver teach can attest.) It is a deceptively straight-forward card game which pits the populace of a medieval city against a den of vampires. The vicious vamps walk amongst you and it is up to the Human Player to deduce their identities and stake ‘em. However, the Vampire Player will be masquerading as the most loyal of humans, bluffing their way into your confidence and convincing the humans to kill one another. As such, your goal is simple: humans must kill vampires; vampires must kill humans.
The game begins with three of the nine character cards played face up. (This is called the Castle). The other six make up the character deck (This is called the City). Gameplay takes place over a series of turns, in which you’ll play support cards (powerful events that take place throughout the game) and combat cards (which force characters in the Castle to fight, with dead characters replaced with characters from the City). Whatever actions you choose, each card in your deck may only be played once. The Human Player may use their Holy Water cards to reveal the identity of a character, but that means that they won’t be able to use them later when they need to fight a vampire. (But if you never use Holy Water to reveal identities, you’ll never really be sure whether you’re attacking a vampire, or one of your stalwart humans!) Every weapon used and event triggered is gone forever, so you’ll have to choose wisely.
The art direction is elegantly grim, with rich colours illustrating every terrible deed that will bring your city one step closer to peace, or to chaos. Vampire Empire is a quick game (playing only thirty minutes or so); but, it offers enough psychological and mechanical complexity to satisfy gamers searching for a challenge, while remaining accessible enough for fans acquainting themselves with the hobby. I’ve played it several times over the past few days, and will be teaching it as often as folks’ll let me.