Kill doctor Lucky, board game analysis

“Kill doctor Lucky” is a game for 3-7 players where the player who succeeds to kill the doctor wins. Moving around in his mansion you have to make sure that no one can see you while you’re in the same room as the doctor, that’s when you can strike and make an attempt to kill him. Although his dog follows him everywhere, and can actually prevent a murder on the doctor, he has short legs and sometimes falls behind as the doctor rush through the mansions many rooms.

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The components in the game

Modifiers

The modifiers are the cards and tokens that modify things within the game. There are:

  • Room cards – If you use one of these cards you can teleport either yourself or the doctor to the room which the card shows.
  • Movement cards – When you play this card you can use it to move either yourself or the doctor as many steps as the card(s) shows.
  • Weapon cards – When you make a murder attempt you can play a weapon card which gives you extra murder points. Some weapons are stronger in specific rooms and gives more points.
  • Failure cards – When someone tries to kill the doctor it can be stopped by the other players, if the sum of all the failure points, shown on the cards played, exceeds the murderer’s murder points the attempt fails.
  • Spite tokens – After a failed murder attempt you get one of these tokens which you can use in another attempt of killing Lucky. They give you plus one murder point per token you use. They are then discarded from your hand when used.

 

Players

You can in one turn move one step, try to kill the doctor (or his dog) and play one or more cards from your hand. At the end of your turn you get to draw a card – if you have not used a card this turn or tried to kill the doctor.

Rooms

The different rooms in the doctor’s mansion have different names and numbers. Not all the rooms have names or numbers. The numbers determine where the doctor will move next, he jumps from one room to the one with the next number. If a room does not have a name the player in that room may not draw a card at the end of his or her turn.

NPCs

The NPCs in this game are the doctor and his dog. The doctor moves from one room to the other using their numbers to determine where to go. His dog moves one step at the time always the shortest way towards the doctor. The rooms the doctor jumps between aren’t always placed right next to each other, which makes the dog fall behind.

npcs

The best

The Line of sight (LOS) system

If someone is in your LOS they can’t make an attempt to murder the doctor, even if they are in the same room. Your LOS is all the rooms that are connected with doors to the room you are in. Your LOS persists to the next room if there is an opening in the same height as the first door. In the picture you stand in the corridor marked with yellow and can see in all the rooms where the green arrows point, but not in the room with the red arrow since that door is not in the same height as the first door.

line of sight

In some rooms you can see almost half of all the rooms in the mansion, preventing a murder attempt in all those rooms, but if you see someone they can also see you – preventing you from murdering the doctor. In other rooms almost no other room are in your LOS making it easy to kill the doctor. This system made it easy to prevent a murder one turn and in the next turn step into another room and try to kill the doctor yourself.

The dog

The dog did almost always stop you from killing the doctor with his LOS (if he saw you, you could not make an attempt to murder the doctor). He made the gameplay much longer – we played once without the dog and it was much easier to make a murder attempt. It also made us move more and not stand still in a room with less LOS and wait for the doctor to come to us instead. Even though we all wanted the dog murdered so it would be easier to kill the doctor it was quite hard, since you can’t kill the dog if someone sees you (the doctor didn’t care, you could be in the same room and he wouldn’t notice a thing).

The room cards

When played – a player or the doctor suddenly was in another part of the mansion, maybe disrupting your evil plan for the doctor.

The worst

The change of turns

When the doctor enters the room you’re in, it is automatically your turn. If you can move into the room he is going to next you can farm cards, as you may draw a card after your turn is over (with some exceptions I have already mentioned).

As the turn then continues as usual, to the next person, it might result in someone not getting any turns, no cards and no chances to kill the doctor. We discussed this problem and came up with the idea that the player which room he enters only gets a chance to kill the doctor and not an entire turn. And then the turn continues from the person who last had a turn. We didn’t try this out, but it would be interesting to do.

The weapon card balance

Some weapons have bonus damage in some of the rooms. This bonus is somewhat not balanced, one might think that the rooms with the greatest chance to get seen should have the highest bonuses. This is not the case, the room with the biggest bonus is the room where almost no one can see you, not really high risk high reward rather – low risk high reward. Even if it would take a rather long time getting to those rooms if you had the room card with that room you would be there in one turn.

Movement

The movement of the players is too slow which encourages camping (staying in the same room just waiting for the doctor to come to you), and the low amount of movement cards doesn’t help, neither the fact that you may not take a card in every room (only the rooms with a name, so no corridors or stairs for example). The players may take one step every turn so it might take a very long time getting to the room you want to go to. You might miss the doctor since he moves after every turn, then you have to wait for the doctor to make an entire lap around the mansion, hoping that no one teleports him right before he gets to you.

The most interesting

The system we all thought was the most interesting in the game was the Line of sight system which I described earlier. This is partly because you could see very far and, by just taking one step, you could see almost nowhere. In some games your LOS is just to the rooms next to you, we all thought it was pretty interesting when we first read about the system in the rule book.

Target group

The target group for this game was families and people of ages 10 and up. We all agreed with this target group since it is a very social game where the people you play with can make the game fun or just simply boring. The line of sight system and the dog’s movement and role in the game might be hard to understand for younger children. This makes the age suggested very appropriate.

The artwork in the game is sort of dark but the colors are at the same time very bright. This captures the dark motive in the game (killing the doctor), but also lightens it up with the strong colors making it somewhat more child friendly.

Summary

This game reminds me of the late nights at home playing “Cluedo” with my family, though the motive in the game is quite the opposite, instead of finding the killer you want to be the one killing.

I think the game really benefits from the line of sight system and the dog since it lengthens the gameplay. There should be less failure cards because after a few failed murder attempts it wasn’t as fun anymore, and when we tried to play with less failure cards the gameplay was shorter but more intense.

There are a couple of different tactics in this game, you could just attack the doctor every time you get the chance and always use your spite tokens forcing everyone to play their failure cards. You can also be the one attempting murder all the time but without spite tokens, collecting them and make one big strike hoping that the others already have played most of their failure cards. Or you just wait, not attempting any murder, lurking in the shadows seemingly innocent and when you see that all the failure cards are played you strike when everyone expect it the least.

I do believe this game would be more fun with fewer players. You would get to do more and not wait for so long for the chance to get close to the doctor. But that would also make it easier to camp and avoid others LOS which would lead to less movement.

players

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4 responses to “Kill doctor Lucky, board game analysis

  • Helena

    Verkar spännande! Är det ett spel du kan låna hem? Vore kul att prova!

  • Fishy

    I agree with you that the LOS system is the best part of the game, how it can totally destroy players plans by just having one guy walk to another room that gives him vision of the other players room. Although I would argue that it has its flaws depending on how many players there is, like you said some rooms is very easy to see form anywhere and some very hard to see unless you are right next to them. Because the more doors there are the harder it is to be alone when you play many players but if you are just 3 players you would probably notice it having a better balance to it.
    When my group tried out the game we played six players and it was almost impossible to be alone in room with the doctor without anyone seeing, because everyone was spread out on the map but there was so many doors that there was almost always someone that could see you. So I think that they should have balanced it more or had some doors closed if you are a certain amount of players. Or maybe that a player could close a door behind them if they had a card for it or spent a turn, this could make it more interesting to add because then you could block one path of the LOS.

    The change of turn was absolutely the worst part of the game. A player could sit for a very long time and never do anything if the other players played it right and had the right cards, which made it very boring for the player that didn’t get to move. Also one player could get to do a chain reaction where he spent cards and moved smart which made him get to walk for many turns and sometimes try to kill the doctor many times. This would create many spite points and the other players would lose many failure cards. This could create an end to the game very quickly from being no one having the upper hand, if the dog was dead or at the other side of the map. This made the game really boring if you weren’t the one doing the chain reaction attacks on the doctor. And I would have like to see that you had tried out the rule you came up with to only be allowed to try kill doctor lucky if he ended up alone with you in a room. That would have probably been more balanced and everyone would be able to play as much. It would probably be a lot more fun and make much more interesting tactics.

    I would also say that the LOS is the core system, it interacts with almost everything, it decides if you can attack the doctor or the dog. It makes you able to stop someone killing them. You have to use the cards to move out of the LOS so you can actually try to kill them. The players use it to destroy for each other.

    The most interesting part of the game is also the LOS because of how it decides so much like I said before. Every tactic is built around the LOS and like you say, in one room you can see a quarter of the map or across it, one step away from that and you can only see 2 rooms, so you will really have to think about how you want to move.

    The target group is a kind of a hard one. It’s totally a family board game or something you play with a group of friends. But the rules can be hard to follow so if a ten year old is going to play it’s good to have a parent there to assist them. Also in some countries this would be rated at years from 12 and up because of it having death and murder in it which is a kind of a dark theme and isn’t suitable for all children. It’s really up to the parent if they would allow their child to play it. But then again it’s just a suggested age restriction.
    But what I think is most important for the players that play this, is patience and not having problems to wait for ages until it’s their turn again, because this will happen if you don’t change the rules yourself. But I would like to change the recommended players for the game, I would say 3-4 players if you want fast games and more if you want long games.

    Another thing you talked about was the movement and how it was too slow. We noticed this to but I think it has its pros and cons. One good thing is that it’s harder to make a chain move and card farm if you can only move one room at the time unless you have a card which there isn’t many of in the game. But the problem with is that you can’t move far and like you said it’s encouraging camping, also if you move into a corridor or smaller room you can get stuck there forever if the other players gets alone in the room with doctor lucky a lot so you might never be able to move again. So if you would add the rule about only be able to try to kill doctor lucky if he steps into your room and not becoming your turn it would make more sense if you could walk one more step or maybe have more movement cards in the game. And it would stop the chain movements and everyone would be able to play and have fun and not get stuck behind. Also this would stop that one player might attack the doctor so many times in a row that the other players don’t have any failure cards left and can’t stop him. All in all I think the game is unbalanced in many ways and one of them that need to be fixed is the movement and how to make a chain movement out of it.

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