Thursday, September 4, 2014

Somebody save me

James Ernest's Kill Doctor Lucky is a well designed game, but like many of Ernest's games, its central theme is based on a joke. In this case, it's a parody of the Parker Brothers classic Clue. The fact that it's a more interesting game than Clue is what elevates it beyond being a mere curiosity.

What, then, are we to make of Ernest's Save Doctor Lucky, a game which appears to be both a prequel to, and a parody of, its predecessor? Is making a parody of a parody going a step too far?

The object of Save Doctor Lucky is to, well, save Doctor Lucky from drowning as the ship he is on sinks. The game seems to take great delight in being the opposite of its more homicidal cousin: where in Kill Doctor Lucky the goal is to use a weapon card to murder the hapless doctor while no one is looking, Save Doctor Lucky asks its players to assist the doctor by throwing him a life preserver, while in full view of at least one other player's pawn on the board. It really is the same game, but in reverse.

The one interesting addition is the concept of the sinking ship, which provides a way to limit the players' resources as well as putting a time limit on the game. The board is divided into four sections representing the four decks of the ship, and the cards players use to move and make saving attempts are divided into four equal piles, one for each section. When all of a section's cards are drawn, that section sinks, until eventually the whole board is gone and the game ends, whether Doctor Lucky has been saved or not.

I can't help but think that this sinking ship game mechanic might have been better served by being part of a more ambitious, or at least more original, game, rather than being a somewhat out of place element added to a game that worked well the way it was.

Rating 2 (out of 5) In the end this is just a slightly different (and somewhat more awkward) version of the more smoothly designed Kill Doctor Lucky.

Date played: July 26, 2014

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