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Trepanation... a medical marvel

In the early 19th Century, Frankenstein, the popular horror novel had just been released, doctors were performing medical procedures for audiences and 'miracle' cures were being sold on every street corner to anyone with enough wishful thinking to part with their hard earned cash for a shot in the dark. This game takes you back to this era peddling the streets and bribing the police to earn fame and wonder as the impressive doctor you are.

Trepanation board game set up

The horrors of the 19th century medical field were all to real and this game brings these practises to life without the gruesome details and smells to go with it.

First Impressions

The box is fairly plain and doesn't give a whole lot away from first glance, the description on the back however, certainly piqued my interest. Once you open up the box, the colours and styling of the components, matched the theme well and although not desperately eye catching due to the muted colours akin to the early 19th century, had a beautiful ornateness yet simple elegance. The tokens have a decent thickness to them and popped out of the punch board without tearing the top layer off of any of them, the board feels nice and strong and the cards are of a good thickness. The rules were well explained and I only found myself reaching out to them once or twice after we started playing.

Game Play Overview

Trepanation board game set up player board

In Trepanation, players assume the roles of 19th Century doctors, performing medical procedures to fascinated audiences, bribing the police to turn a blind eye to their practises and trying to become the most famed doctor in town, all in just 6 days. Each day is broken down into 3 rounds: updating, scheduling and action. During the update phase, new shows and travelling locations will become available, the days resource will be moved into the suitcase and your bribes and shills will move along your player boards. The scheduling phase sees players take it in turns to place one of their meeples onto a locations time slot of their choosing, being careful not to schedule themselves in two places at once! After all scheduling is complete, players enact the day from morning to night, resolving all players actions in each time band (i.e all 9am time slots resolve in player order, followed by the 11am timeslots and so on). After 6 days, the game ends and scores are calculated. The player with the highest score wins.

Pros and Cons

Trepanation board game meeples on action spaces

This game was easy to learn and fun to play with plenty of suspense throughout and it was really hard to know who was winning right up until the final scoring! The design is very befitting of the theme, however I do feel as though the medical aspect could have been highlighted slightly more to really make you feel as though you were a doctor carrying out these scheduling conflicts. However, that aside, I really enjoyed playing this game and couldn't waiti to play it again. My biggest issue with this game, has nothing to do with the gameplay or the component quality, but the lack of storage for the tokens in the box. There is no insert and it came with just 1 plastic bag for the various different tokens. Whilst I'm impressed by this games eco friendliness in the lack of plastic, I do feel as though a couple more smaller bags would have been more beneficial. Fortunately for us, we have plenty of spares from those games that give you far more than you need!

Final Verdict

Overall, it was a really fun game, it had a nice level of strategy in alongside the competition and with just 1 or 2 locations that had a take that element, the game was well balanced and didn't feel as though you were at each others throats throughout, just getting in each others way occassionally! If you enjoy a slightly darker theme to your games and a nice strategical element without being too complicated, then this is definitely the game for you. However don't let the darker theme put you off as it's mechanics are what set this game apart

In conclusion, we would rate this game a 9.3/10


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