Marcel Lademann
Germany
Osnabrück
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Sometimes it is a good idea to choose a path no one else is taking. This might be the case for Truant Verlag and its American counterpart Cheapass Games. Both publishers try to minimize costs by selling their games without dice, pawns and tokens which can be taken from other games. The German version of Truant’s Kill Doctor Lucky for 2-8 players will be reviewed today. It is designed by James Ernest and takes an average of 45 minutes although that can vary heavily depending on the number of players.


1. Components



In the black version of Kill Doctor Lucky you can find a rules booklet of 4 pages, 98 cards and a paper board that consists of 4 fold-out parts. Everything is monochrome.

There is a little hint on the box that you need additional items to play the game. The picture below shows 9 pawns that are needed by all means as well as a twenty-sided die and 4 tokens that will be used for an unofficial 2-player variant.




2. Aim of the Game

The title says it all: you need to kill the unpopular Dr. Lucky in his manor. To do that, you need to be in same room as he is without being in the line of sight of someone else. Easy you say? Well, the other players will give you a hard time by making you fail your attack.


3. Set up



Arrange the four board parts so that they fit together and put them in the middle your table. Every player chooses a pawn and puts it in the entrance room which is coded with a zero.

Shuffle all cards and deal one after the other face-up in front of the players until a room card is dealt. Put the Dr. Lucky pawn into that room and designate the player who received that card as the starting player.

Collect all cards again, reshuffle and deal 6 of them to each player who will hold them hidden in their hands. The remaining cards are put next to the board as an uncovered draw pile.


4. Gameplay

The game is played in multiple turns in clockwise order. The starting player is the first to decide which of the two actions he wants to perform:
1. "snoop around" or
2. "do something“

Snooping: You can move your pawn to an adjacent room (stairs and hallways count as rooms) or stay where you are. If you end your turn in a room with a name, you get to draw a card from the pile.

Doing something: This action consists of two parts which are both optional.

• a) You can go into an adjacent room and/or play additional movement or room cards to move Dr. Lucky or yourself. This can be performed in any order.
• b) In case you are alone with the Dr. in a room and no one else can see you, you can start a murder attempt as in the picture below (max one per turn). You can either try to kill him with your bare hands (attack value of 1) or use an additional weapon card to increase your attack value. You are not allowed to play more than one weapon card all of a sudden.



Foil a murder attempt: After a player has attacked the doctor, everybody in turn order has one chance to play failure cards off his hand. You don’t need to play them if you want save them but if the combined players’ failure cards are lower than the attack value, then the game is over and the guy who attacked wins. If you foiled successfully, then Dr. Lucky flees to the next room in order.



It is quite important for the game that you separate discarded failure cards from all other used cards since those failure ones are not shuffled back into the pile when the original draw pile is depleted.

Dr. Lucky‘s Movement: The old man is excellent form, he moves continuously through his mansion following the room number pattern in ascending order after each player’s turn. After the 19 he starts again at the 0.

Interruption of player order: Normally, you follow clockwise order around the table but when the doctor enters a room with a player pawn, it will be that player’s turn then (which offers the possibility of double or triple turns). If there are multiple players in the room Dr. Lucky has just entered, then it will be the turn of the one being closest to the last active player in clockwise order.


5. My Opinion

When I opened the box of Kill Doctor Lucky I was quite disappointed by the low quality of the components. The fact that there are no colors at all on the paper-board and cards doesn’t really make this game visually appealing.

For 11€ I expected a bit more, especially compared to games in a similar price segment. As a quick example I’d like to mention Forbidden Island which comes with 6 painted miniatures, 24 large double-sided tiles, plastic treasure pieces, dozens of cards and additional stuff; everything very colorful for just around 14€ here in Germany. But well, I also like the idea to produce a game as cheap as possible so that many people can afford to buy that game.

Let’s turn to the actual gameplay. There are some really nice concepts here. I especially enjoy Dr. Lucky’s movement and its influence on the player order.

However, there is definitely a caveat that appeared to be quite large for my gaming groups: If some people are too canny with their failure cards, they put the last player on the spot who often needs to spend all his failure cards to foil the murder attempt. So far so good, but more often than not in our games the last player didn’t have any or not enough of those cards and Dr. Lucky was killed after few rounds. Sometimes even with bare hands.

In addition I experienced some problems with the number of players. It simply doesn’t seem to scale very well. With only 2 players, there is not much excitement at all (winning is very easy and happens fast) and with more than 6 players the game can drag on quite a bit to a point where people reject to play their failure cards just to finish the game.

I’d briefly like to highlight the awesome 2-player variant posted here on BGG in which you imitate two virtual players. One of them has his turn after real player A and the other one after real player B. During their turn they move to a random room (determined by a dice roll). They also have 2 tokens that they use as a kind of failure card if one of the real players attacks Dr. Lucky. Check it out if you like to try the game with 2 players only.

All in all, Kill Doctor Lucky is one of the very few games that didn’t work at all in my gaming groups. I pointed out some problems above that make the game inferior to so many other great board games that are out there. That is why I can only recommend this game for people that really like to play games with a wacky theme.


6. Rating


4,5/10 Points
(6/10 Points with additional components and BGG rules variant)

>> Originally written for www.yesbo.de/gedankenspiel
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Rob Rob
United States
Tampa
Florida
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Eleven Euro?! Holy cow, that's way too much especially for a locally produced version.
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Milvus
Ireland
Wicklow Town
Co. Wicklow
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I have the Titanic Games version which is a beautiful production. Gameplay is improved by the addition of "spite tokens". These are gained by attempting murders and act as added strength or can be spent to foil other murders.

I've always found it a game you can easily introduce to non-gamers (my nice version not your ugly one!), there is a bit of tactics to it and best of all, its fun Having said all that there is no helping the fact the people that hoard their failure cards can make the game end a little early, but when that happens we just start again!
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Chris Fee
United States
Corning
New York
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No fair! They're using brains against us! We removed our brains to make room for guns and explosives!
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Robrob wrote:
Eleven Euro?! Holy cow, that's way too much especially for a locally produced version.


Wow. Back when this was in production in the US, I think it was $4. I know I got the Craigdaroch expansion for $2.
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Marcel Lademann
Germany
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Thanks for your replies.

I totally agree that the price should be lower. If the price was around 5€, my conclusion would be much more forgiving.

During the last year I checked 2 online-shops and a FLGC, 11€ was the lowest price I have seen. Well, maybe I just had bad luck.

@Milvus: You can't believe how much I wish to have that Titanic version. From what I read the spite tokens do a great job and the artwork is just fantastic. Too bad there is no German deluxe version, or is there one? Anyone knows?
 
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