Vampire: Dark Influence

From: White Wolf Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Vampire: Dark Influence is a new Card Game from White Wolf Games.

Vampire: Dark Influences is a game for two to five players where they play vampires who forge bonds, win favors and break vows to gain enough influence to become the next Prince. The Prince has declared that he will be stepping down and go into torpor(the rest of ages). He will choose a successor before he passes. The vampire who wins the support of the most allies before dawn will be declared the new Prince.

From page #30: “There is a World of Darkness much like our own”

The game contains several components. The 5 Player Cards each represent the different Vampire characters the players take the roles of. The 25 Kindred cards are used to form the hierarchy of influence within vampire society and represent those the players must gain influence from. The 30 Event Cards are drawn during play and used by players when needed but otherwise kept secret.

Set up begins with forming the pyramid of Kindred. There are six rows of vampires dealt out randomly, each laid out in a pyramid starting with 6 at the bottom, with corners touching (as pictured in the rulebook). The top-most vampire is the Prince. Each vampire in this pyramid has a point rating, which is added to the row number to get the total point value of the kindred. For instance, a +1 on row 4 is worth 5 points.

Each player chooses or is randomly given a Player Card, which is their character for this game. There are 5 to choose from and each have their own unique Discipline. An example of these is the Ventrue who has the ability Dominate. Each player receives an Event card, which can be played at any time on yourself or other players. A player gains a new Event card when he/she wins a new allegiance.

Each player has 10 Blood tokens in their Blood Pool. Blood tokens are placed on Kindred Cards and spent on Disciplines. Spent Blood is replenished at the end of the round. Blood Tokens have two sides – a red side and a white side. When placed on a Kindred as part of a bid for allegiance, the token is on the red side. Once the allegiance is won, it is flipped over to signify that the Kindred has joined your coterie. Throughout the game, your Blood pool maximum can increase and decrease as you gain and lose allegiances. The Blood Pool also determines who goes first each round.

The first Kindred you gain allegiance with determines your covenant. You gain bonuses when trying to gain allegiances from Kindred of the same clan or covenant.

There is one 10-sided die in the game box, but the rules say you need a lot more than that. They say at least five will do. Die rolls are similar to the World of Darkness RPG – roll 10, roll again. You are rolling against a difficulty, which is usually 8, unless otherwise noted. Any die equal to or above that is considered a success. If you roll a 10, the 10 counts as a success and you get to roll again for a possible additional success.

From page #30: “Hidden from humanity by a veil of deceit, the vampires of this world play games of intrigue, politics, and betrayal”

In a turn in Vampire: Dark Influence, there are two phases – Blood Placement and Blood Resolution. A full game is six turns.

Blood Placement involves placing Blood tokens on Kindred that you wish to gain allegiances with. During the first round, you must choose from the bottom row. Once you have won that Kindred, bringing it in your coterie, the next must be adjacent to any Kindred in your coterie. The only exception to this rule is in the case of row one – any Kindred on row one can be bid for. Any number of tokens can be placed on a Kindred. Blood can be placed on any Kindred controlled by another player to initiate combat or on Kindred already owned by you to strengthen that alliance. This phase ends when all players have passed.

During the Blood Resolution Phase, initiative is determined again based on the amount of Blood in each pool. In order of initiative, each player determines the results of their bid. Bidding for allegiances, strengthening, and combat all occur during this phase. The dice are used for bidding and combat. Each player in turn does one resolution, based on what blood tokens he has laid out. What resolution you pick and how many blood tokens you commit to this resolution is key in the strategy.

For example. you could have 4 tokens on one Kindred that is already in someone else’s coterie. In this case combat is initiated. With those 4 tokens, you could commit to the combat (allowing you 2 dice) and leave 2 to later bid for allegiance to that Kindred if you win or 2 more combat dice if you lose. It is a tricky strategy.

Once all players have passed, the turn is over. You can pass during the phase and then play again the next turn. It is one of the risky strategic maneuvers one can take. After six turns, points are added up and the winner is the player with the most.

In conclusion, the game is creative and has elements of strategy and chance. As said, the system itself is similar to the World of Darkness RPG system, a little simplified. The game is a simplified exposure to what the World of Darkness is like and could help people interested in the RPG get a taste of it. It is a reasonably enjoyable game of intrigue and faction building, with a simple system and good replayability. The one thing I do not like is the rulebook – it is too small and compact. It is the size of a typical CCG rulebook and a little difficult to read. However, the rulebook is thorough with a full example of play in the last pages as well as a FAQ.

For more details on White Wolf Games and their Card Game “Vampire: Dark Influence” check them out at their website and at all of your local game stores.

Vampire: Dark Influence

From: White Wolf Games

Type of Game: Card Game

Game Design by: Michael Miller, David Raabe

Developed by: Ken Cliffe, Steve Wiek

Card Art by: Brom, Cyril Van Der Haegan, Marko Djurdjevic, Travis Ingram, Roberto Marchesi, Jean-Sebastian Rossbach, Jeff Rebner, Cathy Wilkins, Andy Trabbold, Michael Phillipini, Tomasz Jedrusek, Avery Butterworth, Shane Coppage, Udon, Mark Nelson, Vince Locke, Torstein Nordstrand

Number of Pages: 30 page 2.5″X3.5″ booklet

Game Components Included:

  • 5 Player Cards
  • 25 Kindred cards
  • 30 Event Cards
  • 21 blood/regnancy tokens for each player
  • 1 ten-sided die 1 rulebook

Retail Price: $ 14.99 (US)

Number of Players: 2-5


Reviewed by: Ron McClung