As detailed previously, I picked up a game called Fury of Dracula essentially by accident. I bought the 3rd edition. A 4th edition was just released but by a new publisher. What the new publisher did really well (and frankly I was quite impressed) was they spent time reading and talking to folks on BoardGameGeek.com to review commonly debated issues and address them in the revised rule book. Fantastic idea!
The problems came about because the same level of attention was not given to the graphical elements of the board game. Oops.
One of the things the new publisher wanted to improve was the size of the player cards. In the 3rd edition the cards are smaller and thinner. For the 4th edition they are thicker and larger. The problem is during the resizing process the graphic designer copied one of the elements to all four cards, which introduced a mistake. Only one Hunter card is supposed to show a hand limit of four cards; now they all do! The publisher will provide an update that can be printed at home and added to the player cards as a DIY fix, but many folks are not pleased.
In my opinion that mistake can easily be ignored. A hand limit is a common restriction used in many games, and it’s not hard to track. The hand limit on the player card was just a reminder. However, there is a worse issue. There are two types of cards in Fury of Dracula that are mixed together: the Hunter cards and the Dracula cards. In my edition the cards are identical except for an icon in the center of the cards. After the revision process these cards now have different backs in addition to the different icon. This can impact game play, and not in a good way.
The mixture of event cards (Hunter versus Dracula) is a key thematic element to the game. During the day if a Hunter wants to draw a card, it is drawn from the top of the deck. The icon on the card back is clearly visible, so the Hunter knows exactly what is going to happen. If the Hunter draws a card at night, it is drawn from the bottom of the deck! It’s supposed to be hidden information, reflecting the power of Dracula and the dangers of going out at night looking for supplies.
With different colored card backs the mystery is gone. Card sleeves don’t help because they obscure the icon. I’ve seen some creative suggestions on the discussion boards (the one I like the best is having Dracula draw the cards behind a screen) but the bottom line is that this is a problem that was introduced for no apparent reason other than the person responsible for the card design didn’t understand the impact of their change. Unlike the hand limit issue, the publisher has not yet indicated they will provide a solution (reprinted decks) for this issue, so buyers who get the 4th edition game are left to come up with their own creative solution.
As an owner of the 3rd edition, I plan to download / print / use the revised 4th edition rules, but continue to use the components (cards, etc.) that are in my 3rd edition game.
Fury of Dracula is typically under $50 though. What happens when there is an “oops” in a more expensive game? Like a $100 10th anniversary edition of Pandemic?
It seems even special edition games are not immune. It has recently been reported that there is a city connection (map route) missing in this edition! That’s a big Oops. The fantastic news for Pandemic purchasers is that the game publisher has acknowledged the issue. While there is no solution yet in play, at least they understand the desire that the board game community has for quality work.
Mistakes happen. Some are more impactful than others. The issues outlined in this blog post are two of the more recent challenges that I am aware of. (I’m not even going to mention the missing “blue line” for the C-ROC Epic Scum ship that was later explained as, “We meant to do that.” by Fantasy Flight Games.) With board game prices ever increasing, I think someone who buys a game has the expectation that they’re buying a quality product. When that doesn’t happen, how the game publisher reacts can go a long way towards the attitudes of the general gaming community.
How about you, have you ever been impacted by a board game defect? Let me know in the comments below.