Reviewed by Herb Levy
KILL DOCTOR LUCKY: DELUXE 19.5tH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Cheapass Games, 2 to 8 players, ages 12 and up, 20-40 minutes; $40)
In the world we live in, the craving for something new is a powerful and often irresistible force. This applies to games as well as many gamers virtually salivate over the promise of the next new game to appear on the horizon. Sometimes, it is murder for a game to survive – and murder is what this game is all about and survive it has – with the victim is none other than the man whose name appears in the game’s title: Kill Doctor Lucky: Deluxe 19.5th Anniversary Edition.
Kill Doctor Lucky was the first game ever released by Cheapass Games twenty years ago! (We featured the original back in the Fall 1997 Gamers Alliance Report and revisited it in its subsequent revised and improved edition in the Spring 2007 GA Report.) Designer James Ernest has not lost his macabre sense of humor with this more streamlined version.
The game board shows a cutaway view of the mansion in which Dr. Lucky resides with each room numbered. (The board is double-sided with the reverse offering an alternative mansion “floor plan” dubbed “Dr. Lucky’s Bed and Breakfast” offering more rooms and a more complex layout.) With murder on their minds, the 72 card deck is shuffled and players are dealt a starting hand (of 5 or 6 cards based on the number of players).
Each turn, a player may move 1 space (from one room to an adjacent room as hallways don’t “count”). Only three types of cards are in this new edition: Move, Weapon and Failure.
Move cards allow you to move an additional space or two or “teleport” to a specific room as stated on the card. The other two card types come into play when someone tries to murder Dr. Lucky!
If a player is alone in a room and no one – not another player nor Doctor Lucky – has an unobstructed view of the room, that player may draw a card. This is the only way to replenish your hand. (There is no hand limit.) But if a player is alone in a room with Dr. Lucky AND he is not in a “line of sight” of any other player, a murder attempt may be made.
All players have a base “attack” value of 1. To that, one Weapon card may be played to add to that value. (Weapons are “linked” to specific rooms; if the attack is done in the matching room, the value of the weapon is significantly greater.) Now, it is up to the other players to stop the potential crime!
In turn order around the table, players may discard Failure cards (or any other card) displaying “shamrocks”. Shamrocks represent “luck” and Dr. Lucky IS lucky IF the number of shamrocks played is equal to or greater
than the attack value. If they are, Dr. Lucky has survived and may continue on his merry way. (The good doctor moves to the next higher numbered room after EACH player’s turn but turn order can change if Dr. Lucky enters a room occupied by another player. THAT player then becomes the active player.) As compensation for a failed attack, the thwarted player retains any one of the played cards to indicate that, for his next attempt, his base attack value swells by 1. (A second unsuccessful attack would increase that player’s base value by 2 and so on.) But, if shamrocks do not appear in the required amount, Dr. Lucky has been killed and the player doing the dirty deed is the victor!
In addition to the standard game, this anniversary edition includes a bunch of variants including a token which serves as Doctor Lucky’s Dog (or Cat, depending on preference) which adds additional obstacles to the murderous mayhem and a “turn the tables” option (“Escape from Lucky Mansion!) where Dr. Lucky has “risen from the dead” intent on revenge and to murder the players. In this option, the last player to survive wins!
This new Kill Doctor Lucky benefits from its presentation (an attractive and spacious board layout, a tall black wooden Dr. Lucky piece for atmosphere and character cards, which have no game purpose save for helping to identify which player is which color token) and smoother play. The game has an ever-increasing arc since the attack strength of players gradually grows (from failed attempts) and, if the card deck runs out, “the lights go out” making line of sight no longer a consideration thereby making murder tries easier. On the other hand, you have to always consider the yin-yang of card play: play that shamrock-laden card to stop that murder attempt or save its use for your own (while hoping someone else will do the “heavy lifting”, stymie that attack and deplete THEIR hands so you benefit). In addition to the winning conditions, there is also a “loser” condition in the rules: the player who COULD have played luck but didn’t! In our sessions, players were intent on committing murder (of course) but they were more concerned with NOT being the loser! This added to the fun and made Kill Doctor Lucky tilt on the scales more towards a rollicking “experience” rather than a straight win-lose game – not a bad thing at all!
Sometimes, games go through a long development phase until they ripen and blossom. With this one, the development phase has lasted 20 years but for this appallingly appealing (after all, you ARE plotting a murder) game of murderous fun, the third time IS the charm. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy
Summer 2016 GA Report Articles
Reviewed by Herb Levy BETWEEN TWO CITIES (Stonemaier Games, 3 to 7 with 1 and 2 player variants], ages 8 and up, about 25 minutes; $35) Ever since Antoine Bauza rediscovered and re-implemented the game mechanism of card drafting (and made a monster hit by using it in his game 7 Wonders), card drafting has become more and more popular in recent game designs. But ...Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue BLOOD RAGE (Cool Mini or Not, 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 60-90 minutes; $79.99) I really like most of Eric M. Lang's designs and of those Blood Rage is the game I prefer. Tense, deep, with different paths to victory in an outstanding presentation. It is a typical "American" game, with intense interaction but a really low ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy CASTLES OF BURGUNDY: THE CARD GAME (Ravensburger/Alea, 1 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 30-60 minutes; $13.50) If you've been paying attention to a lot of the successful board games published over recent years, you might have noticed a trend. It seems that profitable board games will give rise to card game versions of themselves. Castles of Burgundy is such a ...Read More
Reviewed by Pevans CVLizations (Granna, 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; $35) The title of the latest game from Granna is a play on their earlier game, CV, from a couple of years ago. CVLizations, designed by Jan Zalewski, comes in the same size box as the earlier game and has similar artwork and design. There the similarities cease. The game’s ...Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser DOMUS DOMINI (Franjos, 2 to 6 players, ages 12 and up, 90-120 minutes; $54.99) In Domus Domini, designed by Heinz-Georg Tiemann, the monastery in Cluny is in trouble. It has been neglected for decades and is currently in dire straits. The new abbot has called upon surrounding monasteries to come to the aid of this venerable institution. Failing to heed ...Read More
(UN) CONVENTION (AL) I don't know about you but, for me, United States presidential elections are fascinating. This year, the race to capture the highest office in the land has taken on some strange and bizarre twists and turns. All of it coalesces at the Republican and Democratic conventions held in the summer to anoint each party's standard bearer for the election this November. We've ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy ESCAPE THE ROOM: MYSTERY AT STARGAZER'S MANOR (ThinkFun, 3 to 8 players, ages 10 and up, 90-120 minutes; $21.99) Suppose you found yourself trapped in a room with no apparent way out, armed only with your intellect? This is the situation that has become something of a phenomenon in the "real world" as these sorts of situations have evolved from digital ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy KILL DOCTOR LUCKY: DELUXE 19.5tH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Cheapass Games, 2 to 8 players, ages 12 and up, 20-40 minutes; $40) In the world we live in, the craving for something new is a powerful and often irresistible force. This applies to games as well as many gamers virtually salivate over the promise of the next new game to appear on the ...Read More
[Note: Nick Sauer, designer of Looting Atlantis, has been a contributor to Gamers Alliance Report, including content for our Sid Sackson Tribute issue as well as reviews, the last appearing in the Fall 2010 issue.] Reviewed by Herb Levy LOOTING ATLANTIS (Shoot Again Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 30 minutes; $40) The legendary land of Atlantis has been the subject of ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy MYSTIC VALE (Alderac Entertainment Group, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 45 minutes; $44.95) Over 20 years ago, a game called Magic, the Gathering appeared (Winter 1994 Gamers Alliance Report) which introduced the idea of "trading and collectible card games". Years later, that basic idea was taken to a new place with a game called Dominion (featured in the Winter ...Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac NIPPON (What's Your Game?, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 120 minutes; $60) Nippon is a two to four player point engine building game with worker placement and tile laying elements designed by Nuno Sentiero and Paulo Soledado. The game has a very light them of industrialization in Japan during the early 1900’s ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy OH MY GOODS! (Mayfair Games/Lookout Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; $15) Originally published as Royal Goods, the game has hit American shores with all of the 110 cards intact but the name changed to othe more whimsical Oh My Goods!. In addition, the original rules for the game have been revised by the designer, Alexander ...Read More
Reviewed by Pevans PELOPENNES CARD GAME (Irongames, 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; €17.99) I really enjoyed Bernd Eisenstein’s Peloponnes (Winter 2010 Gamers Alliance Report) when it first appeared from his imprint, Irongames, in 2009. It’s a clever, entertaining game of developing an Ancient Greek city-state. I was thus intrigued by the arrival of his Peloponnes Card Game last year, essentially a card ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy SUSHI-GO PARTY! (Gamewright, 2 to 8 players, ages 8 and up, about 30 minutes; $21.99) It seems like only yesterday (actually it was last year in the Spring 2015 issue of Gamers Alliance Report) that we reviewed a very cute card drafting game designed by Phil Walker-Harding called Sushi-Go!. But nothing makes for good times like getting more and more people ...Read More
Reviewed by Kevin Whitmore TIN GOOSE (Rio Grande Games, 3 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 120 minutes; $59.99) Tin Goose, designed by Matt Calkins (Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan) is about building an airline business at the dawn of commercial aviation in the USA. It is a handsome game, coming in a large square box. Opening the box, you will find a ...Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber WINGS FOR THE BARON (Victory Point Games, 3 to 5 players [with a solitaire variant], ages 13 and up, 45 minutes; $49.99) As with many gamers, I very much enjoy attending game conventions. But my criteria for attending conventions isn’t based upon locality, or cost but on who I’ll get to see there. This might naturally push me towards large conventions ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy WORLD'S FAIR 1893 (Renegade Games/Foxtrot, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 40 minutes; $40) As the Industrial Revolution began to change life on this planet, science and its promise of wondrous things to come captured the imagination of the world. That excitement encouraged people around the globe to exhibit tomorrow's wonders. These conclaves of future possibilities were known as ...Read More