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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Historical Board Game Spotlight: Bring Out Yer Dead

Bring Out Yer Dead
Designed by Aaron Watts
Published by Ginger Ale Games, Upper Deck Entertainment
2-5 Players ... 30-45 min ... Ages 12+
The head of your family is dead.  The will has been read, and you're last on the list.  The only way for you to get your share is for your family to find their final resting places in the most exclusive cemetery in the city.
Bring Out Yer Dead is a surprisingly upbeat game about the Black Plague in 14th century Europe.  As the only person left in your family, you have to clean out all of your late relatives from your hovel.  Depending on which cemetery plots you are able to bury them in, you will gain more influence in the city and more victory points.  You will need to negotiate with the gravedigger to get the best plots.  You will need to search for (and steal) valuables that the dearly departed have left behind.  You may even need to enlist the help of grave robbers, plague doctors, and fortune tellers to help you in your goals.

The board depicts the cemetery that lies just outside of town.  Grave plots are each associated with an amount of points that you will gain if you can bury your family in them.  Some plots can only fit one coffin while others can fit a pair of stiffs.  You will usually want to bury your kin in the highest valued plots, but you will also have to pay attention to gaining majority in certain areas and keep in mind that your opponents may dig up and move your coffins to less favorable areas!
The game board toward the end of the game.  Most grave sites are filled and some coffins ended up in the river.
Each round, players will play cards from their hand that either depict death certificates, valuable treasures, or special events.  Once all cards are played face down, they are revealed and they go into effect in order of their number.  Brown death certificate cards allow you to place coffins on the gravedigger's cart.  Green treasure cards gain you victory points.  Purple fate cards allow you to do many different things to mess with the current layout of coffins.

Some fate cards (top) and treasure cards (bottom)
The sooner you are able to get to the gravedigger with your recently deceased, the better your chances are of getting them into valuable cemetery plots.  If you wait too long, there may not be enough spots on the cart and the gravedigger may toss them in the river!  Caskets in the river deduct points from your point total.

Death certificate cards and the gravedigger's cart.  There aren't many spots left!
Play continues for a number of rounds.  After these rounds, players total up the points of their occupied cemetery plots and any bonuses they received from treasures.  The player with the most total points wins.

Bring Out Yer Dead is easy to learn and contains aspects of bluffing and reading your opponents. There is some strategy in deciding which cards to play.  You want to play your cards in such a way to ensure you bury as many of your coffins as possible, but if you push your luck too far, you may accidentally dump them all in the river.  The theme sounds dark, but the game pulls it off in a comedic way akin to the Monty Python skit that it is likely named after.  

If you like light strategy games, bluffing, and fun themes, give this game a try!

Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

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