Give me the Brain! Special Edition
Game Type: Card Game for 3-8 players
Designer: James Ernest (art by Brian Snoddy)
Publisher: Cheapass Games
Medium: full color glossy cards
Give me the Brain! Special Edition is, as the name suggests, a re-release of the original Give me the Brain!. However, this is not just a re-release of the original game. In the latest incarnation, Give me the Brain! Special Edition has been spruced up with full color cards, new artwork, new cards, and glossy plastic-coated cards. The box includes 112 full-color, coated playing cards and a 1 page rule book (2 pages if you count front and back). The cards come in a nice full color box with a zombie grinning at you from the front. All that is needed to play is players and 1 six-sided die.
The artwork on the cards is funny and well done. Cartoon zombies abound on the cards, along with some other critters. I enjoyed just flipping through the cards to see what the next card had in store. The cards also have funny quotes or titles, such as “Look! A Monkey!” or “Are You Still Serving Breakfast? ‘Uh, you mean like, today, or in general’”. My players had a fun time just seeing what cards they drew.
Alright, so the game is pretty, but is it fun? Yes, the game is a blast to play. You, as an employee at “Friedey’s, the Fast Food Restaurant of the Damned”, would like to go home. To leave, you need to complete all of the jobs you are assigned, which are cards in your hand. Some of the jobs will require the brain to complete, of which only one brain is shared among the lot of you and the other employees (players). In essence, the goal of the game is to reduce your hand of cards to zero. The hand starts at seven, but it is quite easy to build that up.
The cards in your hand are either bid cards or job cards (with job cards also including objects). Bid cards are only used when someone drops the brain, so these can be kind of trick to get rid of at times. Fortunately, you can discard them and draw new cards instead of playing cards when your turn comes around, except you have to draw one extra (or, you could just draw the extra card if you do not play a card). Job cards are rated by the number of ‘hands’ they take, not to be confused with your card hand. You can play jobs that take up to two ‘hands’ per turn. Some jobs require one hand and some jobs require two hands. This is easily distinguished by the number of ‘hands’ required being drawn on the cards. The crossing of hand of cards and hands required to do a job is the most complex part of the rules.
Now why do I need a six-sided die? There are a couple of reasons for that. First, it represents the brain, which is passed to players as the game plays on. Second, it is used to make skill rolls, a number based on the difficulty of the job being performed (this is on the job card).
There are a couple of downsides to the game. First, you do need three players. In the initial playtest, I played it with another player and a dummy-hand (which was actually played by one of my cats). There are decisions to be made that we randomized, but would actually be more enjoyable if a player were deciding them. Playing with a dummy hand removes some of the strategy in the game. Another downside is that, because of the way turns work, it is possible that you will not get the opportunity to play a job card before a game is over, especially if you are playing in a large group. The second session of playtesting had seven players playing, and there were a few games where people did not have the opportunity to play. The reason for this is that, when a player drops the brain (which happens if they do not roll equal to or higher than the target number on the job card), a new bidding round starts. Whoever wins the bidding round gets the brain, and the turns start from there. Of these two issues, I feel that the three player minimum is the worse of the two, but your mileage may vary.
So, is it worth buying the game if you already have the original edition? Yes, it is. This new version includes cards you do not have. The cards are coated cards, meaning longevity over non-coated paper cards. This alone will be worth the price, especially since your old cards are already worn if you played the game much.
Playability: *** (it is playable as a 2 player game with 1 dummy hand, but really needs at least 3 players for the game to shine)
Game Mechanics: ***** (very easy to learn and simple to play)
Presentation: ***** (well laid out instructions and some of the cards are hilarious)
Originally written 3/17/2003