Board Games
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Frankenstein’s Bodies

by on July 3, 2014
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The Good

Unique horror theme.
A huge amount of malicious body snatching fun.
Fast to set up and get playing, easy to teach.

The Bad

May be a bit ghoulish for some.
Can be a bit cut throat, dependent on players.

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Summing Up
 

This is a brilliant game and has proven so by hitting its Kickstarter goal and converting legions of fans whenever it is played.
Comes highly recommended for those looking for something a little different in the horror game genre.

 

frank bodies

Curse-of-Frankenstein-w-paper-hammer-horror-films-813896_1024_768I love Hammer movies don’t you? I grew up on the old Peter Cushing Frankenstein movies so when I was lucky enough to get get my hands on a preview copy of Frankenstein’s bodies I lunged at the chance. This looked to have everything ghoulish and horrid that I loved about those creaky old films, mad scientists snatching body parts from the local body pit and each other, all wrapped up in an art style reminiscent of those classic films, even the blood is the same ketchup red. We’re only missing Ingrid Pitts heaving bosom’s to complete the job, oh well you can’t win them all.

Now i’m working off a pre-release version of the game, so I can’t comment on the completed quality of the cards and components, Andrew Harman the games designer has confirmed that he is going for the best that money can buy on these. So we’re be focusing on how the game plays.

f bodies

So the game is very easy to teach and straightforward to play, each player is a dubious surgeon who has been invited by dear old Victor Frankenstein to pop along to his castle, sneak by the villagers hanging around outside with the requisite pitchforks and torches and stitch together the best body. Think of it as the great Transylvanian bake off only with less cakes and more severed heads, OK actually no cakes really just corpses, but you get the idea.

fb1Each surgeon gets two operating tables with which to assemble their masterpiece, extra points will be awarded for showing some competency as a surgeon by getting all of them to be the same sex or serum colour (Victor has helpfully had Ygor pre-inject all the bits with his patented reanimate serum) infected or in any way gooey bits score 0.

Everyone starts by being dealt a hand of five cards and then that days batch of fresh produce is wheeled in by trusty old Ygor. These can be more parts or other cards that allow you to perform surgery’s or carbolic sprays (these clear up any nasty infections) even some passing master surgeons have popped by for a gander and you might coax them to hang around to help out.

 

fb5On your turn you have to take two cards, either two mystery ones from the deck or one from the face up cards and one from the deck. You then have to play two, always discarding back down to five cards at the end of your turn. Now things always seem to start civilly enough with each surgeon knuckling down to getting some bits on their slab. But sooner or later (and this is where the fun begins) some good old body part snatching is going to happen. At which point all bets are off.

 

FB3On your turn you can play a surgery card to remove a part from an opponents table, so you can take it and plonk it onto your slab or even a rival surgeon. Remember those master surgeons from earlier, well if you have one helping you out then they can stop the bit you’ve snatched becoming infected, they also stop the other quacks from taking the parts from you if its under their specialization. But you are not completely defenseless, you can play a deflection card the equivalent of a poke in the eye which causes the intended swipe to be sent against an opponent or even the original snatcher (whoever deflected gets to choose). This really throws a scalpel into the body cavity as you can use these moves to sabotage other surgeons tables or even the original saboteur. These are evil and a riot to use and games often descend into a shifty game of bluff and counter bluff with surgeons goading or threatening repercussions. If a part is infected then it can’t be taken (who wants moldy body parts after all) but this when you can use a splash of the old carbolic, want that left leg on an opponents table but its a bit musty, give it a spray and then snatch it.

OK that may sound confusing, but let me break this down for you, its really all about carefully playing cards at the right times and once you understand how these work its a breeze to teach and play, at which point you can savor the subtle tactics and the deliciously mean streak beneath it all. Most games seem to descend into a highly unprofessional surgical version of musical chairs, with limbs and heads lunged about willy nilly as it devolves into a mad scuffle to grab what you need whilst stitching up (ha made a funny) your opponents.

fb4The game ends when either a player has completed both bodies or the deck is shuffled for a second time. Whereupon you score all the parts on your table with modifiers dependent on matching sex and serum color. This is always a great time to do that last ditch switcheroo in the games final moments to completely sabotage a players bonus score.

fb2Darn this is tight little game, Andrew has stated that its been play-tested to death and I believe him, this is really easy to teach and pick up. By the second round everyone has a grasp on the basics and then blood starts to flow, this is right up my alley as I love games that positively encourages you to do horrible things to your friends to advance your score. There are Newtonian Physics at work beneath the scenes that quickly avalanche into absolute carnage, and the more people playing the more cut throat its going to get, as soon as some body parts start getting snatched and then deflected somebody is going to be left holding a grudge and probably the wrong head.

If I had any niggles they are small, the artwork on the surgeons are a bit generic and I would have liked for them to have more character or maybe even a special power, although with a game as balanced as this that might cause an issue. And the rule book could still see a refinement or two mine is obviously a pre-release so in no way completed yet but I did struggle at first navigating it and had to recheck things a few times, its not a deal breaker but anything that might stop someone enjoying this is a crime and if there is one thing guaranteed to irritate a board gamer is a poor manual. Aside from that all of the cards a well designed with strong iconography making it easy at a glance to see what options you have.

If your group loves games involving backstabbing and underhand maneuvers then you are going to lap this up, its up there with the greats of this style of play, with oodles of player interaction, you ignore the other surgeons at your peril. I thought Nothing Personal was mean but this gives it a run for its money. And once you grasp the basics its then that all the subtle tactics start to emerge, knowing when to strike or  when to make the best use of an opportunity as it presents itself, a great litmus test for me are those games that take minutes to learn then years to master, this has the feel of one of those.

So about now if you have any sense at all you are saying sign me up where can I get this game, and you’d be perfectly sensible to think that. Well Frankenstein’s Bodies is at this very moment running on kickstarter and can be backed here its got lots of information and a link to download the P&P of the game (although it would probably be cheaper for you to just back the game) and you can visit the games website here.

This has a great theme and whilst ghoulish its not to an excessive level so can be enjoyed by all ages, its a breeze to learn and will definitely reward return visits to the lab. And most importantly for me brings a unique theme to the horror game genre with nay a tentacle or Cthulhu in sight.

 

 

 

 

 

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