Kill Doctor Lucky, a pre-murder mystery of sneaking, drawing cards and keeping others from killing Doctor Lucky so you can off him, has been a staple of Cheapass Games since their beginning.  The game went out of print, returned with a deluxe edition, and returns again with Kill Doctor Lucky: Deluxe 19.5th Anniversary Edition. This version keeps most of the core rules but adds several to expedite gameplay.

As with previous versions, the goal of Kill Doctor Lucky 19.5 is to, well, kill Doctor Lucky. Players move around the mansion of the fortunate doctor, with one free move and being able to play Move cards to either add to their movement or jump to a room.  After moving, players have two choices.  If a player can't be seen by any other player or Doctor Lucky, that player can draw a card.  Of if a player is in a room with Doctor Lucky and no other player can see them, the player can try to kill the Doctor, either with a basic attack (which starts at 1) or by playing a Weapon card (which are worth more points in certain rooms and add to the basic attack strength).

Going clockwise from the would-be murderer, the other players can play Failure cards to try and stop the murder.  If the points of all Failure cards are less than the murder attempt, Doctor Lucky is killed and the murderer wins!  If the Failure cards equal or exceed the murder attempt, the Doctor survives, all played cards are discarded, and Doctor Lucky jumps to the next-highest numbered room.  Play proceeds clockwise, unless Doctor Lucky moves into a room with another player; if that happens, that player then starts.

There are several changes in Kill Doctor Lucky 19.5 -- and they work pretty well.  First, with fewer players the left wing, right wing, or both wings of the mansion are closed; this makes games quicker, as fewer players have fewer rooms to move around in.  Second, only being able to draw a card when out of sight of all others makes finding privacy important (and eliminates the left-to-right "train" on the top of the board, allowing a player to take multiple turns while drawing multiple cards).  Third, players now move past the unnamed hallways automatically, making movement around the mansion much quicker.  Fourth, every time a player fails at a murder attempt, one card is placed under their character card -- and each card adds 1 to the strength of a murder attempt, so characters become much more lethal as the game goes on.  Finally, when the draw deck runs out of cards, the lights go out in the mansion, and a player can only be seen by other players in the same room -- so it becomes far easier to try and kill the Doctor.  (This edition also has several variants: two-player, pets (Doctor Lucky's cat or dog), and Escape from Lucky Mansion! where Doctor Lucky is now a zombie out to kill the players!
Kill Doctor Lucky 19.5 is the third edition of this game, and it maintains the quality of the first two with some pretty good rule changes.  The fundamentals of the previous game are all there, but the changes make gameplay faster -- without making the game easier or ridiculously quick.  The game maintains a fun (if slightly morbid) sense of humor, from the character cards' motivations for wanting the Doctor dead to the bizarre reasons for failure on the Failure cards.  And the board and pieces are very well done.  Kill Doctor Lucky 19.5 remains a really great board game.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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