Friday, January 28, 2011

Colonel Mustard vs. Doctor Lucky: Fight!

The quality of games has definitely improved over the last few decades. As a matter of fact, if you didn't believe that, you probably wouldn't be reading this blog. You'd likely just has a beaten-up copy of Monopoly, a backgammon set and a chess board that got pulled out every now and again. That's not to say that the truly classic games are bad... they're classic for a reason. Most of them, anyway... some of them *cough*Monopoly*cough*cough* just need to find a recycle bin. Others, though... they're definitely fun. But how do they stand up to newer ones with similar themes?

Today, I'm comparing the classic Clue (1949, Anthony E. Pratt) to Kill Doctor Lucky (1996, James Ernest). "Why compare the two?", those of you who have played both might ask, "Those are completely different games!". That is indeed true. They're definitely very different mechanically. But we're going with theme, and viewing this through a lens of "the old vs. the new".

Clue The Classic EditionClue... if it wasn't for the fact that I didn't play it until I was an adult, I would more or less assume that everyone had played it. The game isn't that difficult. You are dealt character cards, weapon cards and room cards. One character card, one weapon card and one room card are put in an envelope. Players make accusations of characters, saying so-and-so killed poor Mr. Boddy (Dr. Black in the original UK version) in this room with that weapon. The players then go around clockwise, and are given the option to reveal one of the cards in the accusation... which proves that since it is not one in the envelope and cannot be involved in the murder. It's a fun game. Solve the murder! Bring that dastardly villain to justice!

KILL DOCTOR LUCKYKill Doctor Lucky, on the other hand... it kinda tells the same story, but from a different perspective. The characters all have grudges against the bumbling but irritatingly felicitous Dr. Lucky. And everyone wants to be THE one to kill him. The way it works is that you have a hand of cards. Some will be Failure cards (with a numerical value), some will be weapons (also with a value) and others will be room cards, which you play to move your character or Dr. Lucky to the specified room. The idea is that you want to get Dr. Lucky into a room out of  view of the other characters, preferably with a weapon (though you can try without one) and try to do the deed. Once you do that, you add the point value of the attempt. Then, going clockwise, players may play Failure cards to stop the attempt, trying to match the value of the attempt. If they don't play enough, you win. But most likely, that old guy will slip through your fingers. Eventually, though... players will end up being too greedy in hoarding their Failure cards, or will just have ran out. And that is that.

So... which is better? I dunno. They're both pretty good games. Kill Doctor Lucky certainly appeals more to my sense of humor, I'll admit. How cool is it that you are setting yourself up to be that guy revealed on the last page of that novel? It should be worth noting, however, that the game has spawned a term... the infamous "Kill Doctor Lucky Syndrome". Basically, this is where a mechanic depends on players being called on to spend finite resources to prevent another player from winning. Specifically, when this goes arouynd the table in a specific order, and the person at the end of the line is expected to contribute more than the others, which pretty often can result in that player not being able to contribute enough and player greed handing someone the win. Some people get SO mad! It's pretty amusing.

That's it. Do you ever compare older games with newer ones? Have couple you'd like us to look at? Let us know! And don't forget to check out what Julian over at Cool Factor 5 has to say on the "old vs. new" subject; this was another of our blog challenges.

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