There are always 5 characters in Van Helsing: Dracula and 4 hunters. If there are fewer than 5 players, some players will play with more than 1 hunter. The hunters play together as a team.
The board shows three levels of Dracula's castle. In their turn, characters can move to an adjacent room, search the room for objects (e.g. garlic, holy water, daggers, or brides), or attack another character. If an attack is successful, the opponent loses "blood points". A hunter that loses his last blood point may be converted to a vampire; he changes sides and now works together with Dracula.
The hunters win if they kill Dracula; Dracula wins if he has converted all hunters to vampires. Dracula also wins if he returns to his coffin with 4 brides.