This game was a complete curveball that caught me off guard at the first time I had ever attended Conpulsion (which is this Saturday, don’t you know!). A random invite from two warm and friendly strangers with random body parts scattered around the table, which made me wonder if I was about to be used for some fiendish experiment that would leave me missing a kidney, to try out a game in prototype. Sounds harmless enough, right? Then it was mentioned that this game was inspired by the world of Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein written by the superb Iain Lowson.
Well, you had my interest, now you have my attention.
The premise of the game is simple. You are a surgeon who has been invited to show that once and for all, you are the greatest surgeon in all the lands! The task is simple, create the most fabulous body ever seen from seemingly random parts you can get your hands on over the next few days. Of course, it would be too simple if that was all you had to do. There are other surgeons eager to prove to Victor Frankenstein they are the greatest surgeon of them all and all is fair in love and war! Finally, there is only so much time you have to build these bodies before they are judged and nobody mentions you aren’t allow to steal from your competitors either (or at the very least, ruin their entries)…
Frankenstein’s bodies is a board based card game where you have 48 body cards. There is both male and female body parts as well as colour coordinated red, blue green and yellow. An entire body is made of six body parts (head, torso, arms and legs). Which means for each gender there is one set of body parts. You score points at the end of the game for having matching gender and colours for your bodies. The person at the end of the game with the most points win! You have two “Operating tables” to work on, so you have two bodies of which to score points from.
There is 62 other cards for you to pull from. The first is surgery cards. These allow you to transfer body parts from your own operating table to somebody else’s table, or steal body parts from other player’s operating tables to add to your own. When this happens, due to the not exactly sanitary conditions you are working in, the body part gains an infection. Infections can be removed with the Carbolic Spray card, or prevented entirely if you have a master surgeon card for that body part when you transfer it from somebody’s else bench to your own, the master surgeon’s expert skills prevent the infection. Of course, other players can also steal back the body parts or even try to relocate your surgeon to their own lab with the relocate surgeon card. There are even cards which will improve the score a body part will give you. Finally, there is the deflection card. This card lets you deflect any of the actions to another person/body part, or if there is no other suitable target just stop the action entirely.
You can even place body parts on other people’s operating tables to ruin their perfect scores, as well as removing unneeded body parts from your own bench. The more “perfect” the body you have at the end of the game, the more points you score at the end too! So it can all change simply by somebody moving a red leg onto your otherwise complete yellow body (even worse if that leg doesn’t match the gender of the rest of the body too!) to change who will win at the end of the game.
It has all the elements I love in this style of game. Ways to mess with your opponents, ways for your opponent to mess with you as well as ways you can try to prevent as much as you can! Throw on top of this that the game takes on average an hour with experienced players to play to the end and you have a rather simple game!
Now, as mentioned I have a preview copy designed for play testing, so I won’t be commenting on the quality of the components. The artwork however has vastly improved since the last time I saw the game many moons ago surrounded by those body parts. It is easy to tell which parts are which colour, as well as which gender the game pieces are thanks the symbol in the top right hand corner. It is easy to tell which body part is which, and tell which card is which. The only card which would be confusing for those using it the first time would be telling what the carbolic spray is for (to do with removing infections which body parts can get due to moving them around the filthy lab you work in) but the rest (including the surgery cards and the master surgeon cards) are pretty clear on what they are meant for.
The rule book was again, a preview copy and beyond a few layout issues that I would expect from a preview copy (I gave it to my rules expert who was slightly confused by how it was described initially in some parts, especially confusion about infections and when they did or did not happen, as well as the mention of the deflection cards reducing the hand size by 1 with no further explanation in the rule book as to how long this last for, or if it just means you lose the card) but beyond that it was reasonably simple to understand.
Overall this is a solid and more importantly fun game to play. It is quick to pick up, quick to understand and fantastically simple to get going. A perfect game for a break between Arkham Horror 4 hour slug fests to have just a bit of simple strategic fun! The kickstarter to support this game is coming soon, and we will slap a link up here on the blog when we find out! I know personally I will be backing this all the way and I heartily recommend you do the same! Of course, if you want to find out more first about the game – then they have an entire website page to help you discover the greatness that is Frankenstein’s bodies! Go check it out!