BEDPANS + BROOMSTICKS
A family boardgame for 2-5 players by Fréderic Moyersoen
This is one of those “chase” games where one player controls the hunters and the other players are the hunted. In this case the hunters are the mean Doctor and Orderly’s (Nurses) of the Shady Pines Village Retirement Home and the hunted are the old folks, the patients, who are trying to escape.
The inmates, aka Elders or Residents, are tortured mentally by the staff always describing their weekends away, days at the beach and freedom to enjoy the sunshine. Thus they form an escape committee and plan their getaway. Of course their memories being what they are (rather like mine it seems) they soon forget the plan and end up making their own way around the twisting and turning, ever-changing corridors of Shady Pines.
There are several exits to Shady Pines except that none of the Residents can remember exactly where they are. This is portrayed in the game by having the players each lay a rooms and corridors tiles whenever they move to a place where they can see along the corridor to a doorway: this can mean several tiles being added at the same time. Three dice, two white and one red, are rolled for movement but the number of spaces moved depends on who is moving. It doesn’t take long to remember the way in which the dice are used but for the first few turns you should regard the chart in the rules book. The first Nurse uses the sum of the 2 highest value dice, the Doctor uses the value of the Red die and the lowest White die, other Staffers (the second and third Orderly/Nurse) move the value of the 2 lowest dice – the dice are rolled separately for each person moving.
The Residents aren’t totally doolally though and each has a friend dressed identical to them as a decoy. Decoy counters are blank on their backs whereas Residents show a Black dot in their centre on the back. This decoy gets its own movement roll but it can also move directly to join up with the actual Resident or to a bed of the same colour (Elders are colour coded for player identification). We have played Bedpans + Broomsticks several times and have yet to understand why you would move your decoy to a bed as this immediately tells the Staff player which of your 2 pieces on the board is the Resident and which isn’t. If you move the decoy to the resident you are allowed to pick them up and shuffle them before returning them to the board, one atop the other.
The idea of the game is for the residents to find the Exit tile and escape through one of its doors. Exit tiles are added during the game by the Staff player when certain situations are met, mainly when there have been a set number of tiles which display the universal Exit sign (actual Exit tiles have the word “Exit” on them). To recapture/subdue a Resident the Staff player has to catch one with the Doctor or with two Nurses – capturing them by landing on the same space. Elders only have to reach the door space of an Exit tile to escape.
There are two sets of elevators and stairs found on the tiles. The elevators are either one single or two single red squares on a tile, these match up with other similar tiles. You cannot go down from a single elevator tile and come out on a tile with 2 elevators. If any piece occupies either of the elevators then the matching elevator space cannot be entered. It is a legitimate tactic that the staff player can use if the elevator tiles come out (are randomly drawn) early on in the game.
Throughout the Shady Pines Village (I think the word “Lodge” is better suited as Shady Pines appears to be one large building rather than a series of separate bungalows) “Stuff” can be found. “Stuff” appears when a new tile is played, appearing in the two corners opposite the adjoining door – tiles have to be laid so that at least one doorway butts onto the doorway of a previously played tile. “Stuff” can be helpful in various ways, just depending what it is and who finds it – Staff can pick up “Stuff” as well, it isn’t just for Residents. Saving the “Stuff” collected to use at the most appropriate time can be, often is, a game winner.
As you would expect, Mayfair Games have gone all out on the artwork and production but I still feel that BEDPANS + BROOMSTICKS is a bit of a fluffy game. I also have to say that I am quite surprised that Mayfair Games published it at all, let alone under their own brand name, as it isn’t a game style they are usually associated with and it’s not good enough to break them away from tradition. It isn’t a train game and it hasn’t the worldwide appeal of a Catan and despite the title it isn’t particularly amusing. If anything it should have been under their family FUNFAIR branding, but to be honest it’s a game that you won’t find yourself wanting to play too often unless you are addicted to this type of chase game.
I am not saying it is a bad game I just don’t believe it has that addictive feel or appeal. The first few games are a bit of fun, as long as you alternate the role of the Staffers – if the same player draws the short straw every time it can be a bit repetitive – because you are finding new “Stuff” and different tactics for using it, but once the novelty has worn off and the tactics determined the game comes down to luck; of the die rolls, of the “Stuff” found and luck of the tile draw. It’s almost as if Mayfair Games were in some way obligated to publish it.