Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Before the mystery

In the classic Parker Brothers mystery game Clue (based on the original British Cluedo), players are tasked with wandering around the mansion of a man who has just been murdered, using a process of elimination to determine the murder, weapon used, and location of the crime. 221B Baker Street takes a similar approach, with players racing around the board to find which locations have the relevant clues needed to solve the mystery.

Kill Doctor Lucky, on the other hand, proceeds under the assumption that the crime is more interesting than the solution.

Players assume the roles of visitors to Lucky Mansion who, for whatever reason, really hate Dr. Lucky and want to kill him. Dr. Lucky moves in a predictable pattern through the mansion, and the goal of the game is to use movement cards to get him alone in a room where none of the other player's pawns have a line of sight, and play a weapon card with as high a value as possible in order to do the poor fellow in.

Other players will play failure cards to stop you; they are allowed to combine their totals to beat your weapon value, but the play goes in order around the table, so if a player decides to get stingy with the failures, they run the risk of letting you win. Additionally, the failure cards are not shuffled back into the deck when it runs out, so eventually there will be no more ways to stop a player from winning.

It's a pretty smooth game, if a bit simple. Room cards that allow you to move either yourself or Dr. Lucky to a particular location keep the movement less predictable than it might ordinarily be, but the ending can be a bit abrupt if a player gets lucky (pun intended) with a high value weapon card when the other players are low on failure cards.

Still, when we play this with friends they almost always want to play a second or third time, which to us is one of the hallmarks of a great game.

Kill Doctor Lucky was the very first Cheapass Game published by James Ernest in 1996. It is currently available as a full color boxed game from Paizo, but we prefer the simple black and white design of the original.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) Not a game you'll play all day, but great for a few hours, especially if you're not up for something more complicated.

UPDATE 8/9/2016: The Paizo color edition is now out of print, but Cheapass Games has released a new 19.5th Anniversary Edition of Kill Doctor Lucky, which adds a few new rules and variants.

Date played: February 23, 2014

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