Always on the lookout for interesting new games, I stumbled across several independent games on the Guerrilla Miniature Games YouTube channel around the same time. One that caught my eye was Dracula’s America from Osprey Games, a skirmish game with a very cool backstory and ongoing progression system.
The backstory is that Dracula makes it to the New World and assassinates Lincoln, installing himself as President of the USA for life. The factions include the Red Coven (Dracula’s coterie of vampires), the Twilight Order (the evil hunting crusaders), Skinwalker Tribes (Native Americans who can shapeshift) and others. Each of the factions starts with the same number of models initially (six) and are differentiated by a special model type which two members of the posse must be nominated to be. These vary between factions, but the Skinwalkers can pick two models to be shapeshifters. This is a cool way of creating in-game differentiation whilst providing some balance to starting posse’s.
Maximum model count for a posse is 10, seeing the game remain at a very small scale even as the campaign progresses and more models are hired, and also each model must be equipped differently except for pistols providing a balancing mechanic. Importantly also, posse size determines the number of activations that can be made each turn in the game. Activations are done via a hand of cards (drawn from a standard deck), with hand size being half the posse size plus your leader (if they’re still alive). Initiative is determined by picking a card at the same time as your opponent, with black cards trumping red cards, and otherwise down to card number. If you both reveal the same card, a special event occurs which adds nice flavour and a little uncertainty to the game.
The game plays fast and can be quite brutal, with several key decision points throughout. Especially important is choosing who and how you are going to activate models. Each activation consists of two actions, this may be one for two different models, or two for the same model (i.e. allowing you to move twice or move and shoot). Balancing getting the jump on your opponent with ensuring your posse stays cohesive and able to support each other is an important decision point in the game.
Now, for a quick battle report on the game Wyrm and I played.
Wyrm and I got together for a game, using the terrain and models we’ve accumulated for Wild West Exodus. I decided to go with the Twilight Order, and picked a merry band as follows:
Veteran Wade – pistol
Crusader Frank – shotgun
Crusader Victor – rifle
Novice Anna – double pistol
Novice Jean – double pistol
Novice Logan – pistol
I didn’t make a note of Wyrm’s list, but he was running a Skinwalker list with a mix of bows, spears, rifles and of course two shapeshifters.
We spent turn one positioning, with all the actions taken being move actions.
Turn two saw more moving and the opening of hostilities. Wyrm fired the first shot, opening up with a carbine on Veteran Wade seeing him shaken. Crusader Victor fires his rifle at a skinwalker, which sees him downed and back in human form and fails to recover, seeing me pick up first blood.
Turn three opens with the other Skinwalker, enraged by the death of his brother, charge at Crusader Frank, tearing him apart. Veteran Wade sees this and blast wildly at the Skinwalker, taking it down, with Logan then walking up and putting the boot into it, taking it out of action. Wyrm’s carbine armed novice shoots at Wade and sees him downed, and he than fails to recover at the end of the turn.
Turn four, I start with initiative and start by having Crusader Victor fire on Wyrm’s veteran, seeing him shaken. Wyrm’s rifle armed model fires on Novice Anna which sees her downed, then follows up with a bow shot at Victor, also seeing him down and putting my posse on the ropes. Veteran Wade succumbs to the wound from the carbine and is removed as a casualty, with my other models remaining down.
We started playing through another turn, but then I realised I would’ve bottled at the end of turn of four after losing my boss, so we called it there.
We ran through the post-game wrap up, which saw Crusader Frank unsurprisingly dead, Veteran Wade receive an old wound, Crusader Victor lose an eye and Novice Anna losing all her equipment… So that didn’t go well for me!
This was a fun game, fast and furious, and the progression mechanics seem very cool. It was attractive having models and terrain ready to roll for it and we could get it to the table quickly. We haven’t played again since our first game due to other priorities, gaming and otherwise, and I’m going to be running off in a different direction again shortly, but this is a game I’d like to find more players to explore with.