Kill Doctor Lucky

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Kill Doctor Lucky is a humorous board game designed by James Ernest and released in 1996 by Cheapass Games. In 1998, Kill Doctor Lucky won the Origins Award for Best Abstract Board Game of 1997.[1]

Kill Doctor Lucky is, in concept, a sort of inversion and perhaps a parody of Cluedo (Clue in North America). Both games are set in a sprawling mansion full of colorfully named rooms and a variety of dangerous weapons and deal with the murder of the mansion's owner. Cluedo begins after the murder has been committed, and players compete to solve it, but Kill Doctor Lucky ends when the murder is committed, and players compete to commit it.



The gameboard is a floor plan of Doctor Lucky's mansion, and it is accompanied by a deck of cards representing the objects and opportunities that can be found there. Players take turns moving through the rooms of the mansion and accumulating cards, while Doctor Lucky moves through the mansion following a predetermined path. A player may attempt to kill Doctor Lucky by playing a weapon card (such as a runcible spoon, a monkey hand, a letter opener, or pinking shears) while the player's token is in the same room as Doctor Lucky and out of sight of all other players. Each weapon card has a certain point value, and certain weapons are worth more points when used in certain rooms (for example, the trowel is worth extra points when used in the wine cellar, an allusion to Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado").

At this point, the player making the murder attempt succeeds, and thereby wins the game, unless the opponents play Failure cards of combined value equal to the value of the weapon used. The situation is complicated by the requirement that players play Failure cards in clockwise order, with each player having only one opportunity to play cards. Since it is to any player's advantage to eliminate failure cards from his opponents' hands, a large part of the strategy of the game consists in bluffing: when one player attacks Doctor Lucky, it is in your interest to persuade your other opponents that you have no failure cards in your hand, to attempt to force them to save the game by spending the required cards.

When played, failure cards are set aside and not returned to the deck. Thus, as the game goes on, fewer and fewer failure cards are in play. This not only builds tension but also forces the game to end in a reasonable amount of time, because once all the failure cards are gone, the next murder attempt cannot fail.

The new Titanic Games version of Kill Doctor Lucky makes two changes to the original rules. First, a minor change was made to game play that now allows everyone to take at least one turn before the Doctor Lucky pawn determines turn order. In the original, it was possible for players to position themselves in such a way as to keep some players from ever getting a turn. This is no longer possible.

The second change was the addition of a new game piece called the "spite token" (a variant in the prior edition). Spite tokens are awarded when a murder attempt fails and adds a bonus point to all future murder attempts. A player also has the option to spend a spite token as a failure point to aid in thwarting an opponent's murder attempt. When spite tokens are spent in this manner they are given to the player they're spent against. This speeds the game up and adds a great deal of strategy to the late game when all of the failure cards have been removed from the deck.

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