Game Review: Kill Doctor Lucky

Doctor_Luckyby Chris Tompkins

 

(click) …and remember, that for a meager $300.00 donation you get this fantastic PBS keychain. We now return you to PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! Welcome to the J. Robert Lucky mansion, a rambling country estate seven miles north of nowhere. It is a stormy midsummer’s evening, ten seconds after midnight, and someone has just shut off the lights. You have hated Dr. Lucky for as long as you can remember and you’ve been secretly awaiting the perfect chance to do the old man in. Maybe he destroyed your dry cleaning business, maybe you think he’s the leader of the vampires, perhaps he’s the only person standing between you and the family fortune, or maybe his cat just keeps peeing in your shrubs. Whatever the reason, it’s good enough to push you over the edge and now you can’t wait to take the old bastard down. And, even though you don’t know it, everyone else in the house wants to kill him too.

Yes, boys and girls, unlike Clue, where the game starts after all of the fun is over, Cheapass Games proudly brings to the gaming masses, Origins’ Best Abstract Board Game of 1997, Kill Doctor Lucky. The name of the company is very appropriate, as the game only comes with the bare essentials, what you can’t provide yourself. That includes the map tiles (made of cardboard thinner than a cereal box); movement, failure, and weapon cards (you thought the map tiles were thin!); and the rules. The game is diceless and the pawns you have to bring to the table yourself. Having to use your own pawns makes the game different with each set of pawns you use. Got some D&D miniatures? Now the name of the game is Kill Evil LichLord Lucky. Use your Star Wars action figures and play a rousing game of Kill Doctor Jar Jar. We used hobbit pawns and Dr. Lucky was the Malevolent All-Seeing Eye and the game was Kill Doctor Tolkien.

The game itself is a breeze to play. Gameplay begins with everyone’s pawn starting out in the same room, each player having six cards in their hand. After each turn, Dr. Lucky moves to the next highest numbered room on the map. On the player’s turn you have one of two choices—Search or Do Stuff. Searching consists of moving one space, if you wish, and drawing a card from the deck. Doing Stuff consists of moving one space, or not; using a card to move Dr. Lucky or yourself; or attempting to murder Dr. Lucky. The game works on a very simple line-of-sight system where you can see anything going on in the rooms with a door to the front, behind, left, or right of you, but not diagonally. No one can attempt to kill Dr. Lucky in a room someone else can see into.

If you do (and it isn’t easy even with a mere three people) find yourself in a room with the good doctor, and no one can see you, you may attempt to murder the poor bastard. Murdering him is done simply by saying, “I’m attempting to murder Dr. Lucky,” and playing a weapon card. Weapon cards have a basic murder value, good for any room, and a specialty room murder value (i.e. the garden spade is worth two points in any room, but catch Dr. Lucky in the Rose Garden and it’s worth five points!). If you don’t have a weapon card, you can attempt to poke him in the eye, give him noogies, or use the dim-mak death touch, but these hand-to-hand attacks only have a murder value of one point each. After you make your murder attempt, the other players get the chance to play “failure” cards to stop your murder. Failure cards have a point value on them also. If the failure points are equal to or greater than the murder value, the old man lives to see another turn.

One other thing, if the old man moves into a room you are in, it automatically becomes your turn. This adds a great bit of strategy to the game. When we were playtesting it, I found that I could finagle anywhere from 3-5 turns if I had the movement cards—although, even with this extra advantage, I still couldn’t win the game.

I highly recommend Kill Doctor Lucky to all ages and genders. With a pricetag of only $7.50, you can’t afford not to try it (have you seen the price of Clue lately?). Cheapass Games also publishes an extensive variety of card, board, and computer games with cool sounding titles like Unexploded Cow and The Great Brain Robbery. There’s also an interesting looking prequel called Save Doctor Lucky that involves rescuing the doc from almost certain death on the Titanic. For more fun and frolic, check out the other offerings at www.cheapass.com and tell ’em Dr. Lucky sent you.

 

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