Get ready to return to—and stay a while in—the world of Vampire: The Masquerade with the new board game from Nice Game Publishing. Vampire: The Masquerade Heritage is a legacy game with an impressive time span. Gather some fellow leaders and grow your bloodline from a start in 1306 and see what you can accomplish across the centuries. With a chronicle that covers a story through 1997, you are sure to experience the rise and fall of empires, just hopefully not your own!
Now, if this sounds a little daunting, never fear. Vampire also supports games outside of the chronicle, which will allow you and your friends (or enemies) the chance to learn the game mechanics without lasting consequence. I personally recommend playing at least three games this way so that you have a firm grasp of mechanics. In order to avoid story spoilers, most of this review is going to focus on this aspect of gameplay.
Each player (up to four) will choose one of nine clans to represent, and each of those clans has two options for a leader. Each clan also has unique abilities and mechanics to customize your playstyle and the feel of your bloodline. Even in a game that does not span centuries, your bloodline is going to get long and sometimes even complicated. Unless you’re playing at a very large table, consider some space saving techniques for organization. As Magic: The Gathering players, we highly recommend “tapping” a vampire to show exhaustion, but your mileage may vary.
Vampiric bloodlines require recruitment to grow, so this step is mandatory. The first thing you will do on your turn is to choose an unsuspecting human to bite. Be diligent. Once bitten, you will then activate your chosen childer. These activations, denoted by a series of symbols in the top left corner, will determine how each vampire behaves on the various battlegrounds in play. They denote their morals, politics, and location of origin. Often, bloodlines will go in the same direction as their leader. However, in the battleground The Beast Within for example, it can be worth changing morality to draw a new scheme card.
Scheming is a household convention in vampiric life. Each player will have a deck of schemes from their clan, as well as access to specific battleground schemes. In order to successfully carry out a scheme, you will need to form a coterie. A coterie is a sire and childer that use their unique talents to get things done. Each vampire has one of four specialties (also denoted in the upper left corner); each scheme card has required specialties.
You must select a vampire with childer to act as the leader of this coterie, and all required specialties must be present in the coterie. If your leader lacks childer of the appropriate specialty, you have options, but they involve diplomacy or putting more kids to work. Once assembled, the scheme is carried out and the leader is exhausted. I know I would be after all this work.
Those are the basics for the non-chronicle game, and the building blocks for your extended stay in this world. Even the base game can become more complex with missions, which will be required for the chronicle. The chronicle also adds obligations, so be ready to be saddled with those. This game has a lot of parts, both physically and in a rules sense. The rulebook, the chronicle book, and an extended “Living Rulebook” are all available online.
I tried to get started with just living rulebook and realized quickly that it was a supplement and not a standalone, so be sure to use all three. Luckily, the physical parts are well-made and include quite a few quality-of-life choices. For example, the character deck comes pre-sleeved, with extra sleeves for all your needs. Each clan has its own dedicated box, which makes organization a breeze.
This game is a huge undertaking, and I look forward to the day when I can have a dedicated group of vampires to explore the chronicle with. It is definitely a lot to take in upfront, but it does ensure the amount of complexity required for a legacy game. After all, you wouldn’t want to get bored after the first few centuries, would you?
You can grab a copy for yourself at the Nice Game shop,
Image Courtesy of Nice Game Publishing.
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