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March 18, 2014 / Jett

Kill Doctor Lucky Review

Kill Doctor LuckyI don’t know what Doctor Lucky did to piss everyone off, but it must have been serious if everyone is trying to kill him. In Kill Doctor Lucky, everyone is stalking the man through his house in hopes of taking his life before anyone else does. However, the murder must be done without anyone looking, and the good doctor’s four leaf clover seems to be putting in overtime based on how easily he’ll slip past your attacks. In a way, it’s sort of like the prequel to Clue.

The game consists of a board, standees for each character and action cards. The board displays the floor plan of Doctor Lucky’s mansion from an overhead perspective, which does look a lot like Clue. Doctor Lucky moves through the board on a set path at the end of each turn, while players by default can move one space at a time to try and get the drop on him. As for the cards, they can let you move extra spaces, manipulate where Doctor Lucky is on the board, attempt to kill Doctor Lucky with a weapon, or save him from getting killed by someone else through failure cards.

Kill Doctor LuckyIt only takes one successful hit to kill him, but there are a number of factors that make committing the crime difficult. While he moves on a set path, he also moves through the mansion faster than players can. Because of this, trying to chase him down is mostly a fruitless exercise. Instead, you’re better off trying to anticipate his movements and confront him at the most opportune moment. Even if you’re alone with him in the same room, you still can’t attack if the others can see you. Determining sight lines is done through the board, as players can see any other room or hallway from where they’re standing as long as there’s a straight and open path connecting the two. Not only are other players trying to shank, shoot or clobber Doctor Lucky, but it’s in their best interest to actively clog up sight lines to stop you from doing the same. With more players in the game, creating that opportune moment without prying eyes becomes even more difficult.

If you do catch him in a vulnerable position, you can now make an attempt at his life with or without a weapon card to play. It is at this point where everyone else can try and stop the murder by playing fail cards that add up to or surpass the murder value of the weapon being used. Starting with the player to the left of the attacker, they can choose to spend failure cards to cover all of the murder value, some of the murder value, or pass. When a murder is successfully stopped, the attacker doesn’t leave empty handed, as they’ll still gain a spite point for their effort. Next time they attack, each spite point in their collection will add +1 to the murder value, making them stronger the next time around.

Failure cards will only bail you out for so long. There are a finite number in the deck, which means that successfully stopping a kill will get harder with each attempt. Players who successfully collect a number of spite points for failed attempts will also have a better chance of winning later on, as their inflated murder values will force others to burn through their failure cards faster. In certain cases where an attempt is taking place, it may be in your benefit to pass as a means of saving your failure cards while forcing the last player to spend all of their failure cards to thwart the attack. However, this strategy can and will backfire eventually. If there are not enough failure points collected by the time it goes to the last player and they don’t have enough to put the fail total over the top, the attacker will successfully score the kill. When that happens, you might be kicking your butt for not spending those cards just a moment earlier.

Kill Doctor LuckyThis is not a hard game to learn, but there’s a lot of thought that goes into committing the perfect crime. I find that the effort required and the act of executing on your devious plans is quite exciting. The game supports up to 7 players, though I find it works best for 3-4. With this size group, our games lasted between 20-40 minutes each while never wearing out its welcome. Once you go past that, it can get really hard to confront the doctor without anyone looking. Also, murders become even harder to commit, as there will be more failure cards in play.

Steff’s version of the game also comes with Shamrock, Doctor Lucky’s dog. He’s used for a few variants that are described in the rules. If you try and kill the doctor while Shamrock is looking, he will bark to stifle your attempt. However, his short puppy legs make it difficult for him to keep pace with the doctor, so there are still opportunities to catch him alone. If you want to be a truly cold-hearted killer, you can also give Shamrock the business, though Shamrock can act as a way of collecting extra spite points. On top of that, other players can also save the pooch as if they were saving the doctor. It’s nice to have the option if you want to mix things up, though we preferred the game without the puppy in play.

Kill Doctor Lucky is a clever board game that makes for an interesting gateway to the hobby. Grasping its core concepts isn’t very difficult, though there’s enough nuance involved with trapping the doctor to keep things interesting. As long as you keep the player count towards the lower end of the spectrum, games should move fairly quickly as well. Crime doesn’t pay, but killing Doctor Lucky sure is fun.

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