There are classic games of clashing armies and world conquest. There are classic games of deep strategy and cunning bluffs. Give Me the Brain! is the classic card game of zombies trying to finish their shift at a fast food restaurant, with only one brain between them.
Give Me the Brain! (originally published by Cheapass Games, now out through Steve Jackson Games) has the players as zombies working at Friedey's, the fast food restaurant of the damned. Players start with a hand of seven cards, and the first person to end their turn with zero cards wins. There is also one brain (represented by a six-sided die, though I like using a rubber brain) that gets bid on and passed around quite a lot.

At the start of the game (and if the brain gets dropped), players bid on the brain. Bid cards range from 1-20, though the lowest-value ones are worth more if you just had the brain. Players can bid once, they bid face-up, and you can make a losing bid to have fewer cards. And it is possible to win without the brain, but having the brain certainly helps.
After someone gets the brain, it becomes their turn. On a player's turn they perform jobs, which do something good or bad for the player. Each job has a number of hands, and on a player's turn they can do two one-handed jobs or one two-handed jobs. (Some jobs give you objects, with aid you during the game.) If a job also has a brain icon, the player must have the brain to perform that job. If the player with the brain does such a job, afterwards they have to roll higher than the number on that job or they drop the brain and bidding starts. And if you can't play a job, you spend the turn loafing and either draw another card, or discard your whole hand and draw one more than the number of cards you had before.
Give Me the Brain! is very simple, yet it possessed a good deal of both strategy and humor. How long do you hold onto a good bid card, and how quickly do you want to burn off low bids that could become high if you just had the brain? The jobs also make for interesting situations: Plenty will hurt your opponent, but some will give you more cards as well. And it's very possible to win without having the brain.

And Give Me the Brain! is funny, or so funny. Every bid card has flavor text, from the stressed-out zombie shouting, "I Suffer a Mix of Emotions!" to the zombie with its head in the tiolet saying, "I Can Hear the Ocean." You can grab the brain by playing "Look! A Monkey!" or answering the queston "Are you still serving breakfast?" with the answer "Uh, you mean, like, today, or in general?" And what undead Friedey's employee doesn't enjoy a good game of Brain Baseball?

Give Me the Brain! is quick, it's easy, and it's hysterical. Steve Jackson Games made very few changes from the Cheapass Games' Special Edition of this game (a bigger box and some very small changes to the word placement on the cards), but they deserve kudos for keeping this goofy game in print. Zombies have seldom been so silly -- or so enjoyable.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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