Woken from a dreamless sleep by the rattling of the train, you realize you have arrived at a new place, a place destined to be either a haven or a final grave for your family. History exiled you from castles and crypts long ago. In this new century you are wanderers, endlessly searching for a new home, new servants, and fresh, fervid blood... In Masters of the Night, a new solo/cooperative game designed by Nikolay Aslamov, developed by Igrology and published by Ares Games, one to five players are members of a Vampire family who just arrived in a new, unfamiliar city. After a long journey they are challenged to survive and establish their rule, despite the mysterious agents of the Inquisition trying to stop them.

The character card of the mysterious Imre, one of the six vampires in the game.

The vampires cast fear into people’s hearts with their hunts, shape dread sigils in different city districts, and fight against the agents, all in preparation for the grand Blood Moon ritual. Time plays against them, as their enemies search for them constantly and even vampire magic may not stop them if the “veil” hiding them should drop. Players must find a compromise between using powerful blood-magic and keeping the Veil of Secrecy which protects them.

At the start of the game, vampires are weak. Their journey was long, and they did not have a chance to feed. Their choice of actions is limited - they can move, fight if necessary, and recruit new minions. They are not yet confident enough to hunt prey in the streets, are unable to summon the arcane powers of Relics, and their most powerful Blood abilities are still denied to them. Each vampire has a unique ability to use at Night, but it will drain their remaining life-force even further.

To get back to full strength, vampires need blood - and their enemies will become their best allies! When vampires defeat an agent, they can feed, recover powers, and finally become able to impose their Seals on the city, and complete the Blood Moon ritual - together with their brethren. But losing fights and using their Blood powers can make them so weak they will need rest and recovery. Time is essential: the Inquisition is after them, and their destiny is either to rule this city, or be doomed forever.

The vampires' miniatures.

There are six playable vampires, each of them with specific abilities: the hypnotic Agnieszka, the crazy Ishtvan, the mysterious Imre, the furious Laszlo, the seductive Mila, and the otherworldly Nevena. Regardless of the number of players, two to five vampires can be used in a game. A single player can control more than one vampire – playing solo or with other friends.

Masters of the Night is played on a modular board composed of nine district tiles, each representing a part of the city of which the family of vampires is trying to establish its rule: the Railway station, the City Hall, the Museum, the Cathedral, the Asylum, the City Park, the Police Department, the Radio station, and the Night Club. Each district has a unique special effect, which the characters can activate when they are there.

As the life of a vampire is very different at day and at night, each round is divided in a day phase and a night phase, and the effects of the various districts are related to one, or both, of these phases.

Each day begins by drawing an Event card, causing new enemies to appear and creating challenges of increasing difficulty to the vampires.

A view of the game, with the district tiles composing the board.

During daytime, the vampires are not roaming around and rely on the help of their minions, while trying to hide from the dangerous agents hunting them. Most daytime-based district effects are based on who is controlling the area - minions, or agents. Winning or losing control of a location can have lasting effects on the game.

At night, vampires can stalk the streets, and each district with a night-time effect gives them new possibilities, such as using the Nightclub as a hunting ground, or manipulating the news at the broadcasting station.

You win by completing the Blood Moon ritual, confirming your rule of the city and sealing its fate. The ritual requires all your vampires, at full strength, gathering together with the minions, after casting their Dread Sigils on the city. You can lose if, before the ritual is completed, the veil of secrecy hiding you is broken, or if you run out of time, represented by running out of cards in the Event deck.

The vampires’ fate will be sealed in mere days. There are multiple paths to defeat, and only one to victory. Do not waste time, complete the Blood Moon Ritual before it's too late…

Masters of the Night is due to release in February, following the Kickstarter backers' fulfillment. This article was originally published by Game Trade Magazine, issue 248 - October 2020.

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