Sunday, March 15, 2009

Board Game Review - Kill Dr. Lucky

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned the game Kill Dr. Lucky. I think the time has come for me to review that game. As always, we start with the numbers:
Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, andmakes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take.
Strategy: 2
Randomness: 4
Complexity: 2
Humour: Implicit
Attractiveness: Average
Expected Length of Game Play: one-half hour to one hour.Kill Dr. Lucky is intended to be a "prequel" to Clue (which is known outside of the United States, for reasons that I don't pretend to understand, as Cluedo). It is an inversion of Clue, in that the players are not trying to find out who killed the victim, but are trying to kill the victim themselves!

The game is produced by Cheapass Games, and it shows. The "board" is a folded paper map of a mansion. The only other items in the game set (aside from the rules, of course) is a set of cards. Players must provide their own tokens to represent their pawns on the board.

Game play is simple: move through the mansion. Dr. Lucky moves one space on each player's turn, following a predetermined path through the mansion, and moves an additional space after each failed murder attempt. As the game progresses, players draw cards. Some of the cards represent weapons, which can be used to attempt to kill Dr. Lucky. You may only make this attempt when you are alone in a room with Dr. Lucky, and no other player can see into your current room. That is, none of the other player's pieces are in a room that has "line of sight" into your room (this is my second biggest complaint for this game; on a paper map of rooms of irregular size and shape, it can sometimes be difficult, and usually annoying, to determine who has line of sight).

The majority of the cards, however, are "failure" cards. When a player attempts to kill Dr. Lucky, the other players have one opportunity each, in clockwise order, to play a single failure card. If the combined value of the failure cards played against an attempt equals or exceeds the value of the attack, then the attempt fails, and Dr. Lucky moves a room away.

This forms the core element of the game: a player attempts to kill Dr. Lucky, and the other players play failure cards to prevent it. Theoretically, a player can opt to play no failure cards, as a bluff attempt, or to deplete other players' hands, or just to maintain their own reserve. However, given that an insufficient number of Failure cards will result in the attacking player's victory (and thus, the end of the game), it is unlikely that many players will do this often.

Thus, we have what is my biggest complaint of the game: it ends up being a "Who's the first one with a chance to kill Dr. Lucky after the card deck has been emptied?" scenario. I think the game had potential, but by the end, I just wanted to say, "We can skip all the boring parts where we play cards and jump to the part where we see who's the first alone with him when there are no cards available." The game would have been faster (and in my opinion, more enjoyable, though not much so) if the cards had been eliminated completely. First one in the room with him wins!

This is referred to by a reviewer on boardgamegeek.com as the '4th player wins' effect: when a player tries to manoeuvre themselves into 4th place in order to win the game. I mentioned this briefly in my post about Munchkin Quest. The winner is not determined by the actions or decisions taken by the player, but by the order in which you happen to go.

Of course, there are other draws for this game. Some people are amused by the role-reversal from standard Clue, and by the attempts at humour written on the failure cards, or enjoy games of luck (i.e., games with a high Randomness rating). I'm not one of those. But if you are, then you may enjoy this game. I'd like to hear it if so; please remember that there are comment links on this (and every other) post. Don't be afraid to use them!

So that's all for this week. Until next week: 

Game on!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I sometimes have trouble with the comments on this journal, actually. No idea why.