GTM #221 - Bad Doctor!
by Mayday Games



Bad Doctor! is a light tile-laying game where doctors compete for the glory of being the Best Doctor by treating and curing patients. Sitting down to a game of Bad Doctor, you assume the role of an overworked doctor fighting to keep it together in a derelict hospital overwhelmed by patients. Each patient is yet another burden that you struggle to keep alive until your shift ends. Avoid blame at all costs by leaving the sickest patients for your rival doctors!

Doctors work to treat a common set of ailing patients with tiles. Some tiles help patients and other tiles further complicate the patient’s condition to new levels of absurdity.

But treating a patient is not enough.

You must score tokens to be named the Best Doctor in this pathetic hospital held together by duct tape and wire. When you place a tile, the doctor marks it with their token. Score your tokens by curing a patient or treating a patient that dies on another doctor’s turn.

Cure a patient by solving all their complications and score all your tokens on that patient. All tokens from rival doctors are returned and not scored. What did they really do anyway?

Don’t let a patient die on your watch! It’s okay to leave them hanging on by a thread, just keep them alive until the end of your shift and pass the problem, I mean the patient, on to the next doctor. If they die on another doctor’s watch, you and the others that treated the patient score your tokens. The doctor that let the patient die takes back their tokens and they are not scored.

These on-turn and off-turn scoring opportunities create a shifting set of goals. When it’s your turn, cure a patient if you can, attend to your patients to keep them alive, treat weak patients to hedge your bets, and leave difficult patients for your rival doctors. When it’s not your turn, try to convince the attending doctor that it’s okay to let a patient go, especially if it’s one you’ve treated.

Adding to your strategy, each tile has a bonus that activates when placed. With thoughtful application, some bonuses allow the doctor to attend to a few patients with just one tile. This attention helps you keep a patient from dying. Attention is difficult to give when there are up to five patients on your shift and you only have two actions.

In making Bad Doctor, we sought to create a game that is easy to learn and has interesting decision points for players of all skill levels. We worked to integrate a light-hearted comical theme with a simple tile-laying mechanic that offers interesting and sometimes ethically questionable tactical decisions for the doctors overwhelmed by patients.

Patients suffering from maladies such as two left feet and plumber’s crack are treated by doctors that don’t wash their hands and amputate the wrong limbs. Each tile is beautifully drawn by the award-winning cartoonist Bill Holbrook, whose unique artistic style really brings Bad Doctor to life!

The patient’s medical needs evolve as tiles are placed, creating a dynamic puzzle. This may result in some sound medical decisions and some not so sound decisions as each doctor struggles to keep at least some patients alive. It is troubling, funny, and may help you figure out which one of your friends should not be a doctor!

Throughout the development, I saw play-testers immerse themselves in the medical theme, making grand statements on the heavy responsibility they hold as doctors to do no harm and maintain a patient’s life at all costs, only to shift to explaining away a patient’s well-being as less important than the immediate slight benefit they would get by adding to their score pile. These moments made me laugh and fear my next doctor visit.

This wouldn’t be possible without the team at Mayday Games. They are amazing! They saw our vision and enhanced the theme tremendously, putting players into the world of Bad Doctor!

I pity the patients of Bad Doctor! A doctor’s actions may benefit the patient, but the most important vital signs are to avoid blame and increase their score pile. I hope no players, especially those that are doctors, wonder why this game is called Bad Doctor!


Eric Magnan designed Bad Doctor! along with Dan Germain. He spends his free time working to design games that are accessible and rewarding for players of all skill levels. When he is not at the table, he manages a team of scientists and engineers that work to protect human health and the environment. Eric lives in Oakland, California.