Vampire: the Masquerade Bonanza!

I’ve been getting back into Vampire: the Masquerade again recently due to playing a homebrew concoction, which led me to look into what’s going on with the property. In short, there’s a lot of activity going on, which makes it an interesting time to step into the World of Darkness, whether you’re a curious newcomer or an older lapsed fan.

Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition - Modiphius | Vampire 5th Edition |

It seems appropriate to begin with the latest edition of the roleplaying game (V5 as it’s known) which was released in 2018 amid an ugly deal of controversy and mixed reviews (I reviewed it here.) Honestly, it does have some really interesting elements to it, but it also has some really ho-hum features as well. It hasn’t been the comeback kid the designers expected, but it is still managing to stay on its feet and classic line developer Justin Achilli has been brought back on board to help get the ship back on course, which is a pretty good sign.

In digital gaming news, the sequel to the 2004 PC game Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines has just seen yet another setback. Bloodlines 2 has been in development for a number of years now and just this month saw production handed over to a new development team. Like Cyberpunk, a big digital game release can see a boost to the profile of an RPG property, but this still looks like it’s a while off; we likely won’t see it this year. It looks pretty cool, but the dev team politics doesn’t bode well. (A digital game for Werewolf: the Apocalypse came out just recently called Earthblood, and it’s reportedly pretty poor.)

Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New York | Nintendo Switch download software | Games | Nintendo

Another digital game called Coteries of New York (from now on just assume all these games carry the V:tM monicker) was released in 2019 with an expansion released last year which follows more of a “visual-novel” format, which isn’t for everyone. It seems to be something worth grabbing if it’s on special if you’re really into the setting or just want to explore it.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong

The really exciting digital game seems to be Swansong which has you playing as three different characters following a storyline set in Boston. Swansong is currently slated for release later this year, though details are pretty thin on the ground. It certainly looks like it’s going for the pretentious arty vibe White Wolf worked hard to cultivate, which I don’t mean in a negative way.

But back to tabletop media, and here’s where it gets expansive. First I should mention Vampire: the Eternal Struggle (though it’ll always be Jyhad to me.) This classic CCG was first released in 1994 and designed by the legendary Richard Garfield, and it’s still going through the efforts of Black Chantry Productions (who were formed specifically to keep this game going.) Eternal Struggle was an excellent game and has received a rerelease more akin to Living Card Games. It still stands up, but there’s nothing really new to it if you remember the old game and the design is just a touch dated. Still, if you want a solid and effective card game based on Vampire, it’s a good port of call.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Rivals Expandable Card Game | Board Game | BoardGameGeek

But if you would like to explore Methuselah machinations with a more modern game design flourish, Vampire: the Masquerade – Rivals looks like it’s pretty good. Designed for two or four players (but not three) Rivals combines TCG elements with some board game features like a communal shared “City Deck” that influences play. I’ve got to admit that this might just scratch that itch for veteran Jyhad/V:TES players looking for something familiar yet new.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Vendetta by Horrible Guild — Kickstarter

Late last year saw Vendetta successfully kickstarted, which is a card-based board game which I haven’t done a lot of investigation on, but it has been co-designed by Charlie Cleveland (Subnautica) and Bruno Faidutti (Citadels, Mystery of the Abbey, Cosmic Encounter) so there’s some pedigree on the team.

But these seem like small fry compared to some of the bigger products, and of course there’s a legacy game that has been developed called Heritage. Spanning 700 years of history and 21 games, Heritage is a very attractive product and reportedly has some interesting base concepts. It isn’t blowing critics out of the water, but it also doesn’t seem to be disappointing anyone either, though few of the reviews I’ve read have been from setting fans nor have they finished the full game. But it looks intriguing.

Another big box is Chapters, and this one looks like it has taken a leaf out of the Gloomhaven playbook. Chapters is going for the rpg-crossed-with-board-game format with minis, tokens, character sheets, dice, boards, and books filled with missions, branching storylines, and multiple ways to approach encounters (many being non-combat.) This has been successfully kickstarted and has several expansions available, in case you want to jump in on the back end.

Prince's Gambit Wallpaper - Onyx Path Publishing | Vampire 20th Anniversary |

But not every game is so big. Prince’s Gambit was a small social deduction game released a few years ago (with the aforementioned Mr Achilli on design duties.) This is a party game in the Werewolf/Mafia or The Resistance mould with each player given a Clan and an allegiance (either Camarilla or Sabbat.) It isn’t really breaking new territory, but it’s also available for free as a print and play, so it’s certainly worth checking out for the price.

Vampire: the Masquerade - Blood Feud a Mega Board Game by Everything Epic — Kickstarter

Finally is probably the most fascinating and adventurous release, Blood Feud. This “mega boardgame” is designed for up to thirty-frikken-two players and if that doesn’t immediately pique your interest then you’re pretty much dead inside yourself. Set at four stations situated in two different rooms, players are assigned into groups of four which denotes their vampiric clan or mortal faction (such as the bureaucrats of City Hall or the scholars of the Arcanum). From there players must work with their teammates to manipulate the various subsystems in play to achieve their agendas. This is almost a premade LARP in a box and the megagame format is a perfect fit for the Vampire setting

As you can see, there are a lot of Vampire: the Masquerade products out right now, and it seems to be part of a wider strategy boiling down to “chuck as much out there as we can and hope that something sticks.” But with so much around there should be something to whet your appetite…

… or is it slake your thirst? I’m really behind on my vampire allusions.

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