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Subject: Looking Back on a Decade of Murder rss

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Anthony Maurasse
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I've played a good number of board games over the years. Many Eurogames, Cheapass games, variants, homebrews, FFGs, and others have been spread across my table to be put under the microscope of myself and my incredibly powergamey and aggressive gamer friends.


From 1998 until 2006, Kill Doctor Lucky was my favorite board game.

For those of you who are not familiar, the premise is that the game takes place before your average popular mystery board game ("Why does Clue have to take place after the fun part?") and the players are wandering around a mansion attempting to assassinate an old man in the dead of night.

The Doctor wanders around the mansion in a predictable pattern set by numbered rooms on the board. The players can move into an adjacent location and either draw a card or play cards. If you want to draw a card, you HAVE to be in a named Room at the end of your turn. If you play cards, which do things like "Move 2" or "Move to the Library," you can use them to shuffle either yourself or the Doctor around.

Here's the gimmick: If at any point in the game, the Doctor ends up in the same room with another player, it instantly becomes that player's turn (interrupting whatever was happening already). That player has the option of taking a normal turn or attempting to kill the Doctor. If the Doctor ends up with 2 or more players at once, whoever is next in turn order in that room immediately begins their turn.

Because the Doctor follows a predictable path around the mansion, you can stay a step ahead of him and draw several cards in a row by having him reset your turn for you. This is very necessary to getting an upper hand on the other players.

Alternatively, one may attempt to kill the Doctor, winning the game. Certain cards may be weapons, each having a Kill Value (and possibly a second KV if in certain locations). You can also attempt to kill him without a weapon by poking him in the eye or somesuch (which has a KV of 1). You can only do this if you just began your turn by virtue of the Doctor entering your room, and only if you are out of line of sight of the other players.

Line of sight is the player restrictor, making certain player amounts mandatory for fear that the game may end instantly (2 players will never see each other) or never (7 players will always be watching). 4 is ideal, but the Cheapass Director's Cut version includes an additional game board that supports more players by making it more restrictive in terms of line of sight.

When you attempt to kill the Doctor, the other players in turn order MAY play Failure cards (which are drawn like normal cards, but unlike normal cards are not reshuffled back into the deck upon use*) as they see fit, to attempt to stop your murder attempt. This allows players to bluff with regards to whether or not they're actually holding any Failure cards to exhaust the hands of other players. Of course, if you bluff and claim to have none, you might have screwed everybody else over and lost the game. Murder attempts are successfully stopped when enough Failure points worth of cards (some Failure cards are more spectacular than others) have been played to equal or exceed the murder attempt in question. If it goes entirely around the table in turn order and the murder isn't stopped, game over, the murderer wins.

They also added a "Spite points" mechanic later on which rewarded players who attempted often to kill the Doctor by permanently adding to future murder attempts. Anything to decrease the length of this particular game is welcome when you're with the wrong group of players, as most of the entertainment from the game comes from the interactions, not the game itself.

It suffers from a few problems:
1. People always feel cheated the first time they see you lead the Doctor around for free Snoops. Once they get the hang of doing this, it's cool, but this requires both the right group and for them to be fully familiar with the rules.
2. The game CAN go too long. If the deck just happens to shuffle in a way that nobody has the weapons they want/need until 2/3rds of the way through the deck, nobody will be able to kill the Doctor until all the Failure cards are used or somebody purposely lets them.
3. There are sometimes where the game will last 2 turns and the rest of the players will feel unfulfilled. I've seen first turn kills before; it's very possible. Once the point from my first bullet is tackled, the other players should be comfortable with this.


If you have a group of people who are aggressive and cunning, I highly recommend Kill Doctor Lucky. If your group lacks the former, they will find the game boring. If they lack the latter, YOU will find the game boring.


*This mechanic represents the Doctor's dwindling will to live despite multiple murder attempts.
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Tim Earl
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You seem to have forgotten what I consider the largest shortcoming - spite tokens used to foil a murder attempt are passed to the player who attempted the murder. In practice, the spite tokens are then just passed from player to player like permanent failure cards, and the game goes on forever. The last time I played this, someone finally ended it by refusing to throw in and spite tokens to foil a murder attempt (when she was sitting to the right of the murderer and held most of the tokens).

I don't know how to make this game playable again.
 
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P.D. Magnus
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cheng wrote:
You seem to have forgotten what I consider the largest shortcoming - spite tokens used to foil a murder attempt are passed to the player who attempted the murder. In practice, the spite tokens are then just passed from player to player like permanent failure cards, and the game goes on forever. The last time I played this, someone finally ended it by refusing to throw in and spite tokens to foil a murder attempt (when she was sitting to the right of the murderer and held most of the tokens).


In the original edition, there are no spite tokens. So I really don't know what you're talking about.
 
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Randall Bart
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He played pre-spite. I think the game is poor without spite tokens.
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Anthony Maurasse
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cheng wrote:
You seem to have forgotten what I consider the largest shortcoming - spite tokens used to foil a murder attempt are passed to the player who attempted the murder. In practice, the spite tokens are then just passed from player to player like permanent failure cards, and the game goes on forever. The last time I played this, someone finally ended it by refusing to throw in and spite tokens to foil a murder attempt (when she was sitting to the right of the murderer and held most of the tokens).

I don't know how to make this game playable again.


Seriously? They added the ability to make Spite tokens usable as Failures?

If you leave that out, and Spite tokens are just a floating bonus to future murders, it really cuts down the game length.

Wow, I'm kind of glad I haven't played the new "real" version, yet.
 
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Flawed Hero
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Broken Loose wrote:
cheng wrote:
You seem to have forgotten what I consider the largest shortcoming - spite tokens used to foil a murder attempt are passed to the player who attempted the murder. In practice, the spite tokens are then just passed from player to player like permanent failure cards, and the game goes on forever. The last time I played this, someone finally ended it by refusing to throw in and spite tokens to foil a murder attempt (when she was sitting to the right of the murderer and held most of the tokens).

I don't know how to make this game playable again.


Seriously? They added the ability to make Spite tokens usable as Failures?

If you leave that out, and Spite tokens are just a floating bonus to future murders, it really cuts down the game length.

Wow, I'm kind of glad I haven't played the new "real" version, yet.


Your reply was almost exactly what mine was going to be. We only play that spite tokens add to the attempt value and we've never had a game go longer than 30-45 minutes or so. it's quite enjoyable. the latest rule book doesn't even mention using the spite tokens as part of the failure attempt anyway.
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Tim Earl
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Jim K wrote:
Broken Loose wrote:
cheng wrote:
You seem to have forgotten what I consider the largest shortcoming - spite tokens used to foil a murder attempt are passed to the player who attempted the murder. In practice, the spite tokens are then just passed from player to player like permanent failure cards, and the game goes on forever. The last time I played this, someone finally ended it by refusing to throw in and spite tokens to foil a murder attempt (when she was sitting to the right of the murderer and held most of the tokens).

I don't know how to make this game playable again.


Seriously? They added the ability to make Spite tokens usable as Failures?

If you leave that out, and Spite tokens are just a floating bonus to future murders, it really cuts down the game length.

Wow, I'm kind of glad I haven't played the new "real" version, yet.


Your reply was almost exactly what mine was going to be. We only play that spite tokens add to the attempt value and we've never had a game go longer than 30-45 minutes or so. it's quite enjoyable. the latest rule book doesn't even mention using the spite tokens as part of the failure attempt anyway.


Which version do you have? I have the Titanic Games edition (2006) with mounted board and wooden pieces, and it clearly says that you can play failure cards and/or spite tokens to foil a murder, and any spite tokens used for this go to the player who made the murder attempt. So, once all the failure cards are gone, the spite tokens just float around the table and the game goes on forever. The only way to win is to make two murder attempts in a row before someone else has a chance to attempt one and thus take away a large chunk of tokens.

If there are more recent rules that eliminate this rule, then I'm glad to hear it and may want to start playing that way. (Link, anyone?)
 
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Flawed Hero
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cheng wrote:
Which version do you have? I have the Titanic Games edition (2006) with mounted board and wooden pieces, and it clearly says that you can play failure cards and/or spite tokens to foil a murder, and any spite tokens used for this go to the player who made the murder attempt. So, once all the failure cards are gone, the spite tokens just float around the table and the game goes on forever. The only way to win is to make two murder attempts in a row before someone else has a chance to attempt one and thus take away a large chunk of tokens.

If there are more recent rules that eliminate this rule, then I'm glad to hear it and may want to start playing that way. (Link, anyone?)


I have the latest Paizo version (I believe they are a division of Titanic Games)....the board and the cards are all the same as the Titanic version, but the Spite Tokens are cardboard and show Dr. Lucky on them, and instead of nice wooden pawns, they are cardboard with characters on them. It also comes with the previously sold seperate expansion "and his little dog too." You can see the components here:

http://paizo.com/titanicGames/v5748btpy8ar0&source=top

The rules definitely omit any mention of using the Spite Tokens for foiling murders. I can't find a .pdf copy of them, but trust me, I've scoured them thoroughly looking for a ruling on this and they aren't in this edition.
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Randall Bart
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cheng wrote:
In practice, the spite tokens are then just passed from player to player like permanent failure cards, and the game goes on forever.

In practice they get passed back and forth across the table in ever increasing quantities, until I have so many that I make a murder attempt and win. It takes 20 to 40 minutes for a game. Titanic rules rules.
 
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Randall Bart
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Jim K wrote:
http://paizo.com/titanicGames/v5748btpy8ar0&source=top

The rules definitely omit any mention of using the Spite Tokens for foiling murders. I can't find a .pdf copy of them, but trust me, I've scoured them thoroughly looking for a ruling on this and they aren't in this edition.

I am quite sure the rule was in the edition with the large wooden pawns. I read a lot about this game after playing it, and concluded the game is just broken most of the ways it is played, but with spite tokens adding to the attack and spite tokens used for failure, this is a really good game (unless you don't like seeing me win all the time).

The most important thing to remember is that spite tokens never leave the game. Every attempt there is one more spite token in play than before. Eventually someone gets a big stack of them.
 
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Tim Earl
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Barticus88 wrote:
cheng wrote:
In practice, the spite tokens are then just passed from player to player like permanent failure cards, and the game goes on forever.

In practice they get passed back and forth across the table in ever increasing quantities, until I have so many that I make a murder attempt and win. It takes 20 to 40 minutes for a game. Titanic rules rules.


The problem is collecting that big pile. Once the failure cards are gone, spite tokens are the only way to foil an attempt, so it's hard to collect a big stash. The person who attempts the murder ends up with a big stash, but then someone else makes an attempt and so you end up spending yours to foil it etc, etc. I've had games go over 2 hours with no end in sight until someone just gives up and refuses to foil an attempt to end the game.

I'm not the only one to experience this:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/143133/are-we-playing-th...

paulmond wrote:
In our experience, a huge pile of tokens getting passed around the table just isn't fun and seems to lengthen the game superficially. Now, when tokens are used to foil an attempt, they are paid back to the bank, and we like the game much better this way. YMMV.


 
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Kelly Overholser
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Personally, I like the rules of getting spite tokens but only being able to boost murder attempts with them (and they aren't used up when you use them, they stick around). Makes the game go a bit faster, since failure cards are used more and more, and it gives incentive to actually try to murder the doctor, instead of just hoard cards.
 
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Tommy Theys
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I came here tonite looking for some clarification on the spite tokens as well. I played it a while ago and we used the spite tokens as failure cards as well.

I received the latest version from my BGG Secret Santa (thanks Santa!!) and it didn't mention this anywhere in the rulebook. I thought maybe we had played it wrong when I was taught it.

But now it looks like they added that feature in the Titanic Games version and Paizo removed it in their version (or I missed it the several times I specifically went looking for it in the rulebook)
 
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P.D. Magnus
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The 2011 print&play version has Spite tokens giving a permanent +1. That's the designer's latest word, because the variants section mentions that the original rule for Spite was that they could be used as failure.
 
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