The Prince is dead by unknown and mysterious means! The Primogen of the five vampire clans vie for the throne of Prince of the City by outmaneuvering each other through controlling city zones, using their humans, using social stature, physical combat and mental abilities. Who will outwit each other, physically dominate or use politics and intrigue to claim the title? Which one will persevere and take the throne? Do you have what it takes to lead not only your clan but also all five-vampire clans?
Publisher: White Wolf Publishing, Inc.
Game Designer: Mike Nudd
Ages: 15 to adult
Playing Time: 90 – 120 minutes
Contents: 1 rulebook, 1 folding city board, 1 deck of 100 playing cards, 5 character cards, 5 unique character miniatures, 5 10-sided die and 3 sheets of counters and tokens.
Suggested Retail Price: $45.00
Parental Advisory: Safe for kids
Vampire: Prince of the City is based on the popular role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade and I think effectively captures its essence. Set in the aftermath of a great tragedy, the former Prince has met with the Final Death by some unknown means and now the Primogen of the five vampire clans the Daeva, Gangrel, Mekhet, Nosferatu and Ventrue are on the move to claim the throne of Prince of the City.
Each player takes the role of one of the Primogen in this effort to out maneuver his or her opponents to claim the title. Whichever player holds the most Prestige (victory points) at the end of the game wins. A set length of rounds between 6 and 12 determines each game and this of course affects the length of the game. Prestige comes in two forms in this game, Personal Prestige and City Prestige. Both are equally important for players to focus on. Personal Prestige is gained primarily though the event cards and City Prestige is game through city zone (area) control. At the end of the game, the players add up both their Personal Prestige and City Prestige to see who has become the new Prince of the city!
The clans have different attributes that may give advantages in the different challenges from both event cards and other players.
Daeva – Sensuous, artistic and hedonistic. They posses supernatural physical power but are most feared for their majestic social presence.
Gangrel – Animalistic, instinctive and shamanic. The hunters and mystics of the Kindred world, physical power is legendary as are their abilities to transform undead flesh in to beasts.
Mekhet – Ideological, intellectual and philosophical. They are the spies and prophets of the Kindred world. They are supreme strategists and always one step ahead of the Danse Macabre.
Nosferatu – Monsters, outcasts and freaks. The brutes and terrors of the Kindred world. Known for hoarding its darkest secrets, physical power, mental cunning and nightmarish control of fear itself.
Ventrue – Royalty, generals and autocrats. The Ventrue are leaders and champions and take command of any man or best as suits their whim.
Each of the five clans have attributes on the player cards that represent their ability to perform mental, physical and social challenges The higher the score, the stronger the ability. Each of the five clans also have Disciplines listed on their cards that are super powers so to speak and may only be used once per turn. Disciplines cost one Vitae (blood) to use each time.
The game board is broken out into different city zones that are distinguished by color.
Religious – Orange
Government – Blue
Business – Purple
Arts and Entertainment – Pink
Research – Green
Industry – Red
Transportation – Yellow
Community – Dark Blue
The game comes with 100 playing cards of five different types.
Activation – Special game effects that may be used if the player controls the zone the card represents.
Event – These represent a number of different events that would occur in a city full of vampires. Any Primogen who expects to command the respect due a Prince needs to be able to resolve these events.
Retainer & Equipment – These cards represent people and items that give bonuses or other effects to the controlling player.
Strategy – The cards represent the different ways a Primogen may employ to garner more prestige or resources.
This game is a turn based game set up in five different phases as follows:
Resource phase –During this phase the player marshals the tools at their disposal. The player may take two actions from the following list.
Draw a card from the deck – A player may never hold more than three card in their hand at one time unless a card play dictates otherwise. Also a player may not have more than five cards in play in front of them again a card in play dictates otherwise
Hunt to gain one Vitae – Gain one Vitae (blood) to heal
Consume a retainer to gain two Vitae – Gain two Vitae to heal at the cost of one retainer card removed from play.
Recover from or rescue another Primogen from torpor (coma) – A player may come back in to play or help another player come back into play after loosing all their Vitae in a challenge. If a player looses all their Vitae, they are moved to the center of the board in the Elysium zone and they loose a turn as they are in torpor (coma)
Perform an alternative resource action (card text) – play a card from your hand or activate a card in front of the player in play.
Gifting or trading card is a possibility with another player in range of each other, this meaning in the same city zone or one away. A player may gift or trade as many cards in any combination with another player that is within range.
Movement phase – Each player may move their miniature to any spot on the board even if already occupied by another player or token (unless a game effect dictates otherwise such as torpor.) A play is not forced to move if they choose not to. Once a player moves a piece and places it, it may not be moved again until the next movement phase (unless dictated by a game effect.)
Challenge Phase – During the challenge phase each player may make one challenge in turn order against another player in range of each other. Both the acting player and the target roll one 10 sided die and add their challenge score from their character card and any other bonuses from cards or other players helping and the high score wins. The challenges are as follows:
Mental Challenge Effects – The winning player may steal one face-up Strategy card in play of their choice from the loser, or steal one influence token from the loser in the next Influence Phase.
Physical Challenge Effects – The winning player may steal on Equipment card of their choice controlled by the loser, or steal up to three Vitea counter form the loser.
Social Challenge Effects – The winning player may steal one Retainer card of their choice controlled by the loser, or steal up to two Personal Prestige counters from the loser.
The winning player may also decline any winning effect if they so chose.
Event Challenges – These challenges are handled in a similar fashion but the event card dictates the type of challenge. The current player must score equal or higher than the given difficulty number on the event card. If they do, they event is solved and the player collects the Personal Prestige points awarded. If they fail, the event is left in play and other players may attempt to resolved this challenge during their turn.
Assisting a Challenge – Other players may assist both in player and event challenges. This must be declared before any dice are rolled or Discipline or card effects are used.
Influence Phase – This phase is where the players “bid” for influence in certain city zones. Each player will take three influence tokens from the bank plus one for ever zone in which they control all of that color. Influence tokens are not kept past this phase. Once this phase is complete, everyone discards his or her tokens and it begins again the next round. Once bidding begins, players try and get their influence tokens on the board in zones to control it. If a player wins that bid, those tokens stay on the board, if a player loses, the tokens bid this round are discarded. Players can only bid in zones they are currently in, colors they have tokens in or zones that in range of the players miniature. When a player controls a zone, their tokes are placed in the circle on the right side of the zone to show dominance.
Resolution Phase – During this phase all the players count up both their Personal Prestige and City Prestige and adjust their Prestige track on the outer edge of the board. Prestige is no cumulative, so it is entirely possible that a player will lose ground on the track. The person with the most Prestige per turn becomes the Regent (first player) and the next round starts unless of course it was the last round of play.
The components for Vampire Prince of the city are pretty well done. The board is thick and lays flat. The city zones could be outlined a bit better and the circles in the zones as well, but that is a minor issues. The miniatures are very nicely done; the tokens are thick and will last a long time. Using dark purple on a black background wasn’t a great idea for one of the tokens as it makes it very hard to see.
The box art on the other hand is really pretty poor. It’s very non-descript and doesn’t convey anything of the game and the back isn’t much better. There is information left off that would help sell the game to casual buyers.
That being said, Vampire: Prince of the City is a good, solid game. It plays much better with at least four people and best with five. Anything less and it takes for every for anyone to really challenge each other as the board is large and it’s easy to avoid other players.
There is a nice amount of strategy in this game. The player interaction makes it very fun and the theme carries through a bit. The cards add a great feel to the game and provide for some interesting strategy choices based on what you draw out of the pile. Bidding for influence is a great feature and provides a lot of great interaction and choices on top of the area control mechanic. Being in the lead will definitely lead to people attacking you so beware!
I recommend not using event challenges the first round or two as many of the challenges are much to strong to beat with out having cards laid down in front of the players to use.
All in all this is a much better game than may let on about in other reviews. I have a feeling, they didn’t really dig into it or have enough players to fill out the board more.
If you can find a copy of this out of print game, I recommend it. It’s worth the money and definitely has a good amount of replay value with all the different cards and types of characters you get to choose from.
I will give this game about a 7 out of 10 stars just because you need at least four players to really get the game effects really banging but it is certainly worth the price and wins in the strategy department.