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Board Game Review: ‘Doctor Lucky’s Mansion that is Haunted’ from Cheapass Games

Doctor Lucky’s Mansion that is Haunted expands the classic Kill Doctor Lucky from Cheapass Games. The original game, released in 1996 and now in its 19.5th anniversary edition, is often called an inversion of Clue. Instead of solving the mystery of who murdered an esoteric host in an old mansion, players work to do the killing themselves without being seen. Kill Doctor Lucky has seen several variants and expansions over the years, each adding twists and turns. The new Haunted board has its own take on gameplay, which may become players’ new favorite way to kill Doctor Lucky.

Like Clue, Kill Doctor Lucky is played on a board that maps out a series of classy rooms. The rooms’ doorways form a rough grid in which sight lines show who could be peeking in from another room. Players take turns following the good doctor, who traces his way through the rooms in an ordered route. If players manage to be alone in a room with Doctor Lucky, they may attempt to bump him off.

While navigation is key, especially planning where Doctor Lucky will be during each turn, the most fun mechanic of Kill Doctor Lucky comes with the cards. Each player receives a secretive character with a motive – believing that Doctor Lucky has wronged them in the past, that he must be destroyed on moral grounds, or even that he is a vampire lord. Players may use Move cards to hurry across the board, and Weapon cards give bonuses during the slayings. Meanwhile, though, opponents chip in Luck cards that foil the would-be killer’s carefully laid plans, making Kill Doctor Lucky a riotous, stab-friends-in-the-back good time until finally someone is in the right place with a strong enough motive to put the doctor to his end.

Doctor Lucky’s Mansion that is Haunted turns the original game on its head. A new scenario has the good doctor trying to sell his mansion while the ghosts dwelling there wish to keep him around – permanently. The aesthetics are suitably creepy with the new board art, but it is the new mechanics that radically change the game.

Movement and sight lines change drastically, with the players serving as ghosts. Players are free to float through walls from room to room, and special portals allow for instant transport, like those secret passages in Clue. Rather than seeing all the way down the board, players can now only see into rooms directly beside the one they are in. Now the game becomes something of a race to cover ground rather than a process of long-term planning, making for even lighter play. The cards remain the same, continuing all the backstabby fun while taking things to a new, unearthly level.

Doctor Lucky’s Mansion that is Haunted is an expansion to the Kill Doctor Lucky board game for two to eight players aged 12 and up. It is a short to medium-length game, lasting about half an hour. The base set is required for the Haunted version of the game, using the same cards. The Deluxe 19.5th Anniversary Edition includes other variants, too, such as an alternate “Bed and Breakfast” board for more play, Escape from Lucky Mansion where the good doctor’s ghost seeks revenge, and the Pet token for special rules on sight lines thanks to Lucky’s cat or dog. As the Haunted board shows, there is no end to the possibilities of a solid base like Kill Doctor Lucky.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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