GAME REVIEW: Bad Medicine

Party games like Apples to Apples and even Cards Against Humanity aren’t really my favorite.  That’s because they feel more like an activity than a game.  Don’t get me wrong, I usually laugh a lot and enjoy myself when I do play them, but in the end I’d rather just play a real game.  But when designer Gil Hova came out with Bad Medicine a couple of weeks ago, I got very curious.  That’s because his last game Battle Merchants was one of my favorites from last year.  It’s a medium/heavy euro style game that I enjoyed quite a bit.  But this is a party game?  Hmmm.  Interesting, I thought.

Bad Medicine is published by Formal Ferret Games, plays 3-8 players, ages 16 & up, and plays in about 30 minutes (maybe 45 depending on how long players take during their presentations).

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In this game, players are the head of a major pharmaceutical company.  You will create drugs for a specific ailment (or malady, which is the term used in this game), coming up with a name, how it treats the malady, and then downplay its side effect.

Each game lasts 4 rounds.

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In a 3-4 player game, each player will take a token that will represent their company, and voting tokens for their opponents companies.

First, a malady is chosen randomly:

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Then players will draw seven drug cards.

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There are 3 sections on a drug card.

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The top has word fragments from which you will make the name of the drug, the middle text is how the drug will treat the malady, and the red text are the side effects.

Out of the seven cards, players will choose 3 of them to form the name of their drug and 2 of them for how it will be treated.

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They will have 2 cards remaining in their hand.

In turn order, each player will present their drug.  First, by stating the name, then explain how it will be treated.  After than, every other player will choose a side effect from the two cards remaining in their hand.  One that they think goes best with that drug.  Then the player who is presenting the drug chooses one of the side effects given to them by the other players, and tries to explain why it isn’t so bad.

Once all players have presented their drug, then the voting begins.  Each player chooses a drug (not their own) that they think is the best.  The winner will receive 2 points.  You keep track of this by placing a face down drug card under your company token.  Also, when your side effect card is chosen by the current active player, you receive one point.  This is done by placing a face up drug card under your token.

The chosen drug’s side effect will be the next malady.  Then you proceed to the next round.  After 4 rounds, the player with the most points is the winner.

If playing with 5-8 players, you play in teams.  The game changes quite a bit here.  Teams are assigned randomly each round.

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On a team, one person will formulate the drug, then the other person will pitch the drug, without knowing what their partner actually came up with.  Then players vote individually what they think is the best drug (again, they can’t vote on their own).

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.  Not surprised that I enjoyed a game by Gil Hova, but like I said, I’m not that into party games.  But every game I’ve played of this has been a blast.  And guess what?  It feels like a game!

First of all, there are a certain set number of rounds, unlike in Cards Against Humanity, which seems to go on forever.  The game never overstays its welcome.  And unlike most party games, this has a very strong theme that really makes the game pop.  A very welcoming, humorous spin on prescription drugs.

So, mechanically, I think the games works well.  It flows nicely.  It works both as a 3-4 player, and even better as a 5-8 player game.  I haven’t tried the 2 player variant yet, but it’s another option.

The best thing going for this game though, is that it’s FUNNY!  I haven’t laughed this hard in a game in a very long time.  Some of the side effects are so random, that they just cracked me up.  I’m even laughing right now as I’m thinking about some of them.  Like “heart falls in the left leg”, or “whining sound from genitals”.

As you can see, there is some suggestive content here.  Though it’s pretty tame compared to Cards Against Humanity.  There isn’t really any coarse language.  It’s PG13 humor.  Still, they labeled the more suggestive cards so you may take those out when playing with younger players.  I thought that was great, because then I was able to play with my middle school class.  And by the way, they loved it!  Constantly cracking themselves up (and making me laugh too).

I played this with adults and with middle school kids.  While I had fun with both groups, I think I enjoyed myself more with the middle school kids, because I really love watching young minds be creative.  And this game is great for that!

And then when you play this with 5-8, the game really shines!  Not knowing what your partner formulated can be positively nerve-racking.  Sometimes you can’t stop laughing while making your pitch.  Now that’s fun!

The one thing that got negative feedback was how you keep track of scoring.  Personally, I thought it was neat how you keep track of your points by using face up or down cards (1 or 2 points).  But my brother, who loved the game, thought that part was hard to remember.  He kept saying, “Why don’t we just write our scores”.  He said when he plays again, he’ll be doing writing down his points instead.  I still think it’s cool that they came up with a way to keep points so you don’t HAVE to write down your score, but there may be some others that have the same feelings as my brother.  But if that’s the one negative thing to say about this game, well, that’s pretty good I think.

This is a party game that I can get behind.  It feels like a game and it’s absolutely hilarious.  And if you’re in the medical field, you’ll get an even bigger kick out of it I’d think.

If you think Cards Against Humanity is too vulgar, or are just getting burnt out of that game, you might want to check this one out.  It’s just as funny, plus you get to be more creative by making presentations to a group.  To be fair, it’s probably more like Snake Oil, then Cards Against Humanity, so if you like Snake Oil, you’ll probably love this one too.  This one has more bite to it.

Gil Hova has made a solid party game!  I’d be willing to bet that this’ll be a hit at most parties.

As far as party games go, Bad Medicine is a homerun!

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