Chairman of the Board: Out of luck

Illustration by Ed Appleby
Illustration by Ed Appleby

‘Kill Doctor Lucky’ game review

By Ed Appleby, Illustrator

Whether he failed you in your ethics class, stole your girlfriend in the second grade, or took the last donut—Doctor Lucky must die!

Kill Doctor Lucky (1997) is a board game for two–eight players designed by James Ernest and published by Cheapass games. The game is basically the opposite of Clue (1949), and as such you play a guest attempting to kill the titular Doctor Lucky, who has a Mr. Magoo-like knack for thwarting your attempts.

An attempt can be made on the doctor if you are in the room alone with him and are out of the sight lines of other players. Once an attempt is made, other players try to thwart you by playing cards that bolster the doctor’s luck. Once an attempt is successful, that player wins.

The game is very funny, and holds true to its murder mystery roots. Murder mystery games can be very serious, but this feels more like you’re playing a board game version of the movie A Shot in the Dark (1964).

The one thing I love about this game is the simplicity of its mechanics. Except for checking sight-lines, play was very intuitive and simple, and rivals the ease of Clue itself. The learning curve was very low, which leads to a swift game. Strategy is key, though, and playing with friends who just wander about may end up leading to a very long game.

Kill Doctor Lucky just had a successful Kickstarter to release the 19 1/2 anniversary addition, which expands the rules to incorporate 2 and 8 players, as well as adds different maps with which to play. It is a great version, even if the art may not be as strong as some other versions of the game. There is also a prequel to the game called Save Doctor Lucky (2000).

This game makes a great addition to any family board game collection. I would highly recommend it to more casual and conservative players who are looking to spice things up a bit.