Review: Bedpans and Broomsticks – escape from a retirement home
Every day, I am starting from scratch. As if someone rebuilt our entire pension overnight. Suddenly, it seems to me, that corridor was not there yesterday and other is missing. I know too well, that its just my memory playing tricks on me. Its trying to stop me from visiting world behind the window. Similarly to what guards and nurses are doing. They are all my enemies!
In the game Bedpans and Broomsticks collide, there are precisely these two groups fighting and living inside a pension: the elderly and those, who care for them. Designer Frederic Moyersoen is known for example for his exquisite game Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan. This time, he introduced a novelty under flag of Mayfair Games and they published it in 2014 with illustrations by Jacob Chabot and Jared Bland.
Red box looks like a scene from some crazy kung fu game, in which an old man full of energy stands against a cloudy nurse. But hidden inside is the game, you would hardly expect, either by image or by name. In the first place is a stack of 21 pieces of large map tiles, which together create map of the nursing home. Each of them is divided into spaces and contain even a lift and exit, which are dreams come true for all residents.
These massive one-sided cardboard tiles are bigger than ten centimeters in side. They are sharing the space on sheets with much smaller components. There are retirees, forty-eight pieces of items, but also the actual tokens representing characters. And not only the already mentioned old men and old women. There are also doctors and caregivers. And door tiles as well. In addition to cardboard, players will find nothing but those little dice (three), rules and plastic holders.
At the beginning of the game, players will prepare tiles which will gradually create current vision of nursing home. In the middle of the table, there is now space for one starting board room containing four beds. Players select their characters and inhabit this room with them. They also get their game boards and one random item. Between map tiles, players need to find four elevators and three exits, and set them aside. Rest is shuffled well and one player (overseer) takes them to care about. You see, we completely forgot to tell you, that players will be stading against each other on both sides of the barricades, as if we had been also touched by senility.
During the game, pensioners sway over their home. They are always receiving help from two dice, which can be rolled at the beginning of their turn. By doing this, a certain number of movement points gets available (sum of lower two values of all three dice) and they can move sometimes faster and sometimes slower as their stamina permits. Once each has his chance to move, player in charge of guards gets his turn and can activate three figures.
Grandpas and grandmothers gradually appear in their hospital room. As soon as they reach place, where they can see into unexplored parts, it is necessary to place a new tile including any items (randomly drawn) and guards, based on markings on the map.
Fortunately, grandpas are not alone to do it. They have each other and are working together, except they have two tokens – one representing their real self and also one bait, that should distract guards and make it more difficult for them to catch those runners. At first glance, it is not clear, which chip is a real character and which is not. Guard must get into its spot to find out. If player has caught a real character, he/she is returned to bed, from where he can start another attempt to escape next turn. Dummy returns after revealing to location of its owner and can be used in following rounds again to make guards dizzy.
Anytime during their turns, players can use accumulated items. Pensioners can carry a few pieces, but they can be passed from one to another. When they are in the same location, rules of this game even encourage players to take advantage and chance to communicate. In other moments, when they are not near each other, communication should be limited to a minimum.
Newly laid tiles contain exit signs and their numbers in the game suggests possible additional placement of a second tile. That is, if old men and women got quite far, perhaps even with exit in their sight. Players are gradually discovering more elevators and exits, until they reach one of them. And this player becomes a sole winner. Other side of the coin is shown, when player in the role of guardians can nab each pensioner as many times as there are players in the game.
Bedpans and Broomsticks is a game, that polarizes players from the very beginning. Since them moment, when they open the lid. Someone seems topic as very original and funny, while other candidates consider role of senile grandmothers and grandfathers at least for very strange.
It is a semi-cooperative game, in which both sides can work together to defeat their enemies, but winner is only one in the end. Whoever flees, while others get caught. Or a player in the role of superintendent can win, but his role may feel a little bit simpler. He mainly has opportunity to place new segments and thus fundamentally affect course of the game. Often this results in a really difficult situation and it creates pressure on the refugees. It is so strong that, according to our sense, has a greater chance of winning, than the grandfathers and grandmothers escaping.
Frankly, when I read the basic premise for the first time and there was a note about memory, I sort of hoped, that layout of the rooms will really change, even during one game. Each room you will have not in sight will be forgotten in a dysfunctional mind and next time you visit, there will be something else entirely. Unfortunately, map is set once discovered.
However, a much bigger problem arises from rulebook. There are some places not entirely clear, but above all, they are sometimes in conflict with help cards. According to the author, this occurred due to changes in the rules in the last minutes and they were wished for by publisher. Thanks to this, players do not know, which rules they should follow and will have to trust their common sense and hoping they are playing it right. Or visit forums on BoardGameGeek. Latest version of the rules is often not the best and this is truth here.
Players in the role of refugees may often experience feeling of hopelessness. However, this is just reason, why there are items hidden in every room. They enliven the gameplay and finally give it at least a little juice and a chance to stand up to the guards, sometimes not quite in the face, but at least to resist. One of the big guns of the game is variability raising from this. It is also supported by a random distribution of map tiles. Most fundamental for it is last page of the rules, which is flooded with different options, that can make this game feel fresh, when you get tired of it.
Game is recommended from two players up. But it is not working. It is not even so much about mechanisms itself, as for a lack of atmosphere. In two (and even three), most of the game passes peacefully and lacks a proper nudging. To remedy that, you need at least four players and preferably a full pack of five contestants. Advantage is definitely hidden in playing time, which somewhat improves feeling of luck in dice – they decide about your motion and a little bad luck can cut a player and send his ward back to bed.
Bedpans and Broomsticks is a promising game, where two hostile camps compete. Victory will not be easy. Path to it is a thorny one, just as will be yours, when learning to play this game. But if you noticed us mentioning deficiencies over the previous paragraphs and still decide to try it, you get a very original theme, funny items and good mechanism for hidden movement. Bedpans and Broomsticks does not ride on a broomstick and will not take your breath away, but its fun. Not as much as it could be, but still fun. Mostly with different variants of gameplay.
Review: Bedpans and Broomsticks – escape from a retirement home
Bedpans and Broomsticks is definitely not for everyone. There is no need to beat around the bush, because you have to be willing to delve into discussions and pull out answers how to exactly play it with correct rules. Fortunately, game can be changed regularly thanks to a lot of variations in the rules, that lead to great variability, as well as plenty of components. And because it is an escape from retirement home, it provides fun for both players themselves in their skin, but also for those, who will be in control of supervisors. Game is very dependent on luck, which is compensated by game time. Just be careful of player number, in which you enter the house. Bedpans and Broomsticks can be good fun, but you will not have it easy at first.
Reader Rating0 Votes
can be fun
dependent on luck
two and three player games are missing main ingredient