It’s Alive! A Preview of Good Help the Card Game
Be a mad doctor, build a monster, and wreak havoc in town, in this thematic game that is now on Kickstarter.
Each player controls one doctor and two assistants. Your goal is to be the first player to build a monster and destroy four buildings in town or be the last monster standing.
You start with a castle and a set amount of money. Seven cards are laid out in the center of the table to form the town.
On your turn, your assistants may each move one space and take an action in either order, and then your doctor may take an action and move one space (again in either order). Assistant actions include getting money from the doctor, buying body parts, digging for them in the graveyard, attacking another player’s assistant in order to attempt to steal an item from them, purchasing supplies, or dropping off parts at the castle. Doctor actions include giving money to an assistant, assembling your monster, or working at one of the locations in town to earn coins.
Each player also holds two action cards. If you play one or both of them, you draw back up at the end of your turn. Action cards can give you helpful bonuses but can also be used to distract another player’s assistant. If a player’s assistant is not on the same card as his doctor and has a distraction card that matches that assistant’s vice, then the player has to roll a die. Each assistant has a number next to their vice. If the roll is one higher than that number, the assistant is able to resist the distraction; otherwise, the assistant loses everything he was holding. Coins are discarded, body parts sent to the morgue card, and supplies returned to the market.
In order to build your monster you need one limb tile, one torso, and one head. You will also need one supply tile and enough coins to pay your assistants. You can buy fresh body parts (or gorilla parts) from the morgue and zoo (and depending on player count sometimes the hospital). Or you can get cheaper, but less fresh and weaker parts from the graveyard. These pieces are also face down and you select one at random, so you may be drawing a body part that you already have. Once your monster is put together, its strength will be determined by adding up all its parts. When monsters fight, their strength is added to a die role, and the highest number wins.
One player’s assistant can also try to rob another player’s assistant if that assistant is alone. The attacker may choose to use either wits or strength, and if she wins, she can take one item that the defending assistant is carrying.
Good Help the Card Game is one of those games that is just dripping with theme. Everything about its rules and components contribute to building a story of mad doctors and abominable monsters. With a deck of cards it creates a town, castles, and a colorful cast of characters.
The rules can get a bit dense and there are a lot of little details to remember, particularly bits like when you can accost an assistant or when an assistant can dig up bodies. Sure they can’t do it in front of their own doctor, but how about another player’s? Situations like that will have you reaching for the rulebook several times while playing it.
But the game has a nice balance between luck and strategy. For example, sending an assistant to pick up supplies with your doctor might be the safer bet, but splitting your forces will help you meet your goals faster — if no one gets in your way, of course!
The game might take a little while to get the hang of, but once you do, it’s well worth it. The gameplay fits together in a very neat way that really creates an atmosphere for the game, and the artwork is fun. If you want a monstrously good time, check out this Kickstarter campaign.
Pros: Extremely thematic, nice mixture of planning and luck
Cons: A lot of rules to learn
Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.