This week’s Monday Night Gaming / MNG: Bring Out Yer Dead!
Publisher: Upper Deck
# of Players: 2-5 Players
Best with: 4 players
Playing Time: 45-60 minutes
Game Components:98 Total Cards (30 Fate Cards, 30 Treasure Cards, 8 Gravedigger Cards and 1 set of Death Certificates and 1 Player Aid for Each Player), 2 Sided Game Board (2-3 Player Side & 4-5 Player Side), 65 Wooden Coffin Tokens (Double Coffins, Single Coffins, Score Cube), 5 Player Crests, and Color Rule Book.
General Mechanics: In Bring Out Yer Dead, players take turns using their “deck” to load caskets into the wagon, then bury the caskets in the graveyards. It’s definitely a twisted/morbid themed-game, which is why it looked like fun to me.
At the beginning of a round, the “first” player (which alternates) turns over the Grave Digger’s Cart card and selects which side of the cemetery to bury the bodies. This matters because each side has its pluses and minuses depending upon availability, size, and score for a grave. Players then bid to add their caskets to the cart by playing three cards from their hand. Their hand is made up of core set cards, plus fortune and fate cards which can be earned in a variety of ways. Both the fortune and fate cards can be played to gain points or boons, or they can be saved until the end of the game for additional points and boons.
Once all players have placed their bids, card effects go in the order of the card’s number, from highest to lowest. (Ties are defaulted to the player who went first this round.) The card effects include players placing their coffins in the cart and then either buried in a face or swept down the river if there wasn’t enough graves.
Grave plots have a variety of values and are scored at the end of the game. During the game, some card effects allow players to switch caskets/graves, steal graves, rescue caskets from the river (which takes away points if the caskets remain there), and so on.
How to Win/Lose: You win by getting the most points at the end of the game.
What I Liked: The theme is fun and once you get the hang of it, so is the game. However….
What I Didn’t Like: Whoever designed this game and its manual has never done game testing. Or at least, they haven’t done it well. The manual leaves many ambiguities up in the air. In fact, a quick Google search shows that many players have to watch YouTube videos in order to figure out how to even play.
Case in point, this card on the left, has these icons up top that look pretty damn important. There is nothing in the manual AT ALL that tells you what these icons in this position on the card actually mean. It has something to do with single and double caskets. Beyond that, who the hell knows.
Other ambiguity comes with the main player aid card. One icon reads, “Place 1 Coffin from your Family to any Grave Area but not into a Grave.”
First, no where in the manual does it ever call anything your “Family,” so what does that even mean? Second, there is nothing in the manual about placing graves into an area rather than a grave or why you would even want to do so. Internet says that apparently you can earn points that way but there’s nothing in the manual that says this.
There were times that we had to outright guess about an action. Who knows if we were even playing it correctly. 🙁
Overall Rating/Impression: 5/10. I’m used to better game quality from Upper Deck and while the theme was fun, the lack of proper instructions makes this game a flop.