Doctor Who holds the Guinness record for the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, airing from 1963 till today. For those unfamiliar with the show (really inexcusable I might say!!) Doctor Who (or The Doctor) is a humanoid alien, a Time Lord, whose planet has been destroyed and is travelling through space and time with a time machine called TARDIS, exploring the universe and helping the helpless. TARDIS looks like a blue British police box, a common sight in Britain during the 60s when the show first appeared. Through the years, it has become a trademark of the show. Doctor Who has faced many enemies through the course of the show, the oldest and most significant ones being the Daleks, an alien race whose sole purpose is to destroy all beings inferior to them. Martin Wallace, a well-known independent board game designer from U.K., undertook the challenging task of recreating the atmosphere of the show in a rather simple card game. Let’s see how the game measures up to its theme and how appealing it is in general as a card game.
Although I am a huge sci-fi fan, I’ve seen very little of the renowned show. However as I sat down to play this game I had in my mind the general concept of “The Doctor”, his time-travelling machine and the atmosphere that the game should have. In my point of view, the fact that I’m not a hardcore fan of the game neither totally ignorant of the theme, makes me more suitable to write an objective review of the game. Let’s go through the basics of the game for starters:
In Doctor Who: The Card Game, players take the role of Doctor Who and his companions, trying to defend locations from various enemies but they also take the role of the “bad” guys, by sending enemies to attack other players’ locations. During each of their turns, players will have the opportunity to perform a number of actions, which involve playing cards. There are four different types of cards in the game:
- Locations. Players will have to fight for the control of their own locations as well as their opponents’. Each location is worth a number of victory points at the end of the game.
- Defenders. Defenders will be used to defend a player’s locations. There are actually 4 defenders, all based on the Doctor Who TV-series, each one with their own defense strength: The Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory and River Song
- Enemies. Players send enemies to their opponents locations, trying to gain control of them. The enemies are well known races and monsters from the Doctor Who universe like The Daleks, Cybemen, the Sontarans and Davros. Each enemy has a different attack value.
- Support cards. These are allies, special gadgets or events that will help a player or hinder his opponents.
At the beginning of the game, each player must pick a color and get 10 counters of the appropriate colour (5 DALEKS and 5 TARDIS). Daleks are used to indicate that we have placed an attacking enemy at an opponents’ location, whereas TARDIS are used to show that we have successfully defended a location of our own. Each player also gains a starting location which is chosen randomly. The player having the highest value starting location becomes the first player. All cards are shuffled in a face-down pile and 5 cards are dealt to each player except the player sitting to the right of the first player, who receives only two cards. There are also thirty time tokens in the game, which are set by the side of the draw deck.