Kill Doctor Lucky Deluxe 19.5th Anniversary Edition is a game by James Ernest, published by Cheapass Games. It is for 2-8 players. In this game, players will take on the role of a Victorian era persona that has come to hate and loathe the infamous Doctor Lucky. They have invaded his home on a dark and stormy night and now seek to end his existence in any way possible without being seen. Of course they’ll have to watch out for their opponents who will also be trying to do the same thing. It won’t be easy though. After all, they don’t call him Doctor Lucky for nothing. In the end, the player that can finally bump the old guy off will be declared the winner.
To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area on the regular side. Players choose a character card and place it in front of them on whichever side they prefer. The remaining character cards are returned to the box. Players also take the colored pawn that matches their character card and places it on the Drawing Room space on the board. The black Doctor lucky pawn is placed on the Gallery. The deck of cards are shuffled together. Each player is dealt 6 cards. The deck is then placed face down next to the board. The first player is chosen and play now begins.
It should be noted that when playing with less than 6 players certain rooms are closed off. This is done by placing cards from the top of the deck facedown onto the room spaces on the board. This is covered in more detail in the rules.
A player’s turn is divided into 2 phases; movement and action. The first phase is the movement phase. In this phase, the player is allowed to take one free move from one room to another. Hallways don’t count as a room, so a player is allowed to freely move through them. They are also allowed to play a movement card to add 1 or 2 steps to their normal movement. This number is specified on the card. It should also be noted that a player is allowed to play as many move cards as they want either before and/or after their free move.
The next phase is the action phase. In this phase, a player is allowed to take one action. The actions are to draw a card or try to kill Doctor Lucky. This phase is optional as there are some times when the player is not able to perform either action. To draw a card, the player must be in a room where no one including Doctor Lucky can see them. This is based on the line of sight rule in the rulebook. If they are able to meet the requirements, then they can draw one card from the top of the deck. If there are no more cards left to draw, then the lights go out. This means that sight lines are no longer in play, making it easier to kill Doctor Lucky.
The other action from the action phase is to try and kill Doctor Lucky. To do this, the player must be alone in a room with Doctor Lucky and not be able to be seen by any other players, based on sight lines. They may then play a weapon card to increase their chance of success. The strength of the player’s murder attempt is then determined based on the basic strength and value of the weapon used in the attempt. Each character begins with only a strength of 1. Each time the player fails to murder him, their strength increases as they gain a “Reason”. I’ll explain this in a moment. The basic strength and strength of the weapon card are added together. In should be noted that some weapons are worth more when used in the corresponding room. Once the combined strength of the attempt is determined, players are then allowed, in turn order, to discard cards from their hand in an attempt to foil the murder attempt by contributing to Doctor Lucky’s Luck. This is represented by the four leaf clovers on some of the cards. Each clover adds 1 to his luck. Players are allowed to play as many cards with luck on them as they’d like or they may pass if they’d like. As long as the players are able to meet or exceed the strength of the murder attempt, then the player fails to kill Doctor Lucky. If the player’s foil the attempt, then the cards used are sent to the discard pile, except for 1 card. This card is placed facedown beneath the player’s character card as a “Reason”. This card adds 1 to the player’s future murder attempts. If for some reason the other players are unable to stop the attempt or chose not to, then the murderer wins.
Once a player has completed their turn, assuming a murder attempt has not been successful, Doctor Lucky moves. His pawn moves by following the number of the rooms in sequence. In other words, he always moves to the next highest number room, as long as it’s not closed off. If it’s closed, he skips over it. If Doctor Lucky moves into a room with a player, that player takes the next turn. This can happen several times in a row. It’s called “riding the Lucky Train”. If there are more than 1 player in the room that he moves into, the turn goes to the player that is next in turn order. It should be noted however that Doctor Lucky doesn’t activate players like this until one full round has been played. This allows every player to have at least one turn first.
The game continues with each player taking turns moving and performing actions until Doctor Lucky has finally been killed. Once this happens the game is over and the one that finally accomplished the murder is the winner.
It should be noted that there are special rules for 2 players which involves adding a pair of strangers to the mix. This is covered in more detail in the rules, as are the many variations to the rules. Some of those variants include the alternate board which increases the complexity of the house. There’s also the pet token, which can either be a dog or a cat. The dog counts against drawing cards and murder attempts, while the cat makes it where no one can see out of the room that the cat is in. There’s also the Escape from Lucky Mansion variant that brings Doctor Lucky back from the dead following his murder in order to seek revenge on those that wished to bring him harm. This variant allows players to try to be the last one standing as their opponents are killed off by Doctor Lucky and each other.
This game has some really nice looking pieces to it. To begin with there are several really nice looking wooden pawns in a rainbow of colors. There’s also a taller black pawn that represents Doctor Lucky. It has a bit of a different design and shape to it. There’s also a wooden disc or puck as the rule book calls it. This is the pet token that can be used to represent either the dog or cat included in the variant rules. These wooden pieces look really nice and are super sturdy. The board is also very nice looking as well. It has some really nice artwork on it that gives you a bit of a Clue feel. The board is double sided with the regular game on one side and the larger Doctor Lucky’s Bed and Breakfast on the other side. I like that if you choose to use this variant side with fewer players, you can just fold the board in half to close off rooms instead of placing card on them. The game also comes with some really beautiful looking cards. Each one of these has some great looking artwork that is appropriate for the game. I especially like the included Doctor Lucky card that is double sided like the character cards. One side has Doctor Lucky and the other side has his ghost for the Escape from Lucky Mansion variant. I also like that the character cards are double sided with one side having a male character and the other a female one. The cards are really thematic and fun with lots of humor involved in most of the text written on them. I really like the overall look and feel of the game as well as the theme. Component wise, this is a really great game.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is really nice looking. Like many of the games from designer James Ernest, it starts with a brief narrative into the world of Doctor Lucky. All the basics for setting up and playing the game with any amount of players is included. It even gives information on which rooms to shut off on both sides of the board for fewer players. Everything is quite simple to read and understand. The rulebook also includes rules for 2 players as well as all the variants that I mentioned earlier. The book has several nice looking pictures and a few examples of game play. Overall I like the design and feel of the rules and find it to be well done.
8 out of 10
This is a really fun and light family game. I’m sure upon first looking at the board many people are going to associate this game with Clue. I did. Of course this game has nothing in common with that game apart from the similar board style. Clue is more of a deduction style game while this is more of a hand management game with a board. Yes, you’ve got some moving around to do to get your character in the right place along with making sure that you get Doctor Lucky in the precise place as well just so you can use that weapon in the right room to get a bonus. In the early game, there will be a lot of attempts thwarted but what doesn’t kill him only makes you stronger. Remember that! I really like the mechanic of riding the Lucky Train. I like how you can keep taking turn after turn by using this simple addition to the rules. It can really help you to put everything in the right place. I think the game works well for families as well as gamers. Pretty much everyone should enjoy this one. It has enough going on that it won’t bore you. It has a lot of silly humor on the cards that I like a lot. I also like how that the pet tokens can be used to either making the game a bit harder or bit easier. I think that fans of Clue will like this game as an alternate approach to the find the killer style approach to that game. Fans of games like Get Lucky and other hand management games should also enjoy this one. Of course the game works best with more players but can easily be played with less. I’m not crazy about the 2 player game but I do like that it is included as an option anyway. The game doesn’t take a long time to play. Most game sessions last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the number of players. All in all, I really like the game and would recommend it.
8 out of 10
Kill Doctor Lucky 19.5th Anniversary Edition is a light weight game of hand management with a Clue look. The game isn’t very long and can be played in 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the number of players. The artwork is beautiful on the board as well as the cards. I really like the humourous flavor text included on the cards. The wooden pieces are really nice as well. The game itself is quite fun and is easy enough for pretty much anyone to be able to play. I’m sure that a lot of players will compare it to Clue but the mechanics are completely different. Even though the games aren’t similar, fans of Clue should enjoy the alternate perspective of killing the host in this game. Gamers that enjoy hand management games like Get Lucky should enjoy this one as well. It’s definitely a game that I recommend. It works best with more players but can easily be played with as few as 2. There are lots of variations to make the game easier or harder as well as lenghtening the game a bit as well. That is of course, if you choose to add the Escape from Lucky Mansion variant into the game. In any event, this game is just overall full of family fun. No clue needed.
8 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cheapass Games at their site.