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Doctors in the game have different powers. Creative play at the right time can garner great success.

Based on the interest given by consumers to the world of medicine in the form of television programs, movies and toys, it's not surprising that the next big game experience would be themed around doctors. In the game Healthy Heart Hospital by Victory Point Games, one to five players work together to manage a failing hospital in order to improve its reputation and keep it profitable.

In this game, players represent the senior physicians and administrators of a hospital. Over several rounds, each player takes actions to treat and cure patients with various illnesses. Time is of the essence because illnesses can get out of control and kill patients. This leads to lawsuits, reputation loss, income loss and possible defeat.

The game begins with the ambulance phase. Two cards are drawn showing the number of new patients being admitted to the hospital and their level of disease. These cards show how many cubes are drawn blindly from a bag that contains five different colored cubes, each representing the type of problem the patient has. If a fifth cube of the same color is drawn, the patient dies in the waiting room!

Next, the patients already admitted into the hospital rooms of the hospital are checked to see if they remain stable or if their condition worsens. The five cube colors in the cube bag represent different sorts of medical problems, for example the color green represents internal medicine and red is cardiology. If a cardiology patient draws a red cube that matches their condition, the condition worsens.

Next it's time for the doctors to get busy and heal some patients. Each doctor or administrator in the game has special powers and action tokens. This adds great variety to the game because players can try a different unique doctor each game.

On a turn, a doctor has several options: He or she can use an action token to heal a sick patient, transfer a patient from the waiting room to a hospital room, build a new area of the hospital, hire staff, assign staff, conduct research, get training or if an administrator, perform a special action.

A major part of the game is healing patients. And this game has a unique mechanism to cure patients. For example, a cardiology patient (red cubes) is going to be healed by a doctor. The patient has an illness level from one to four. A player draws cubes from the cube bag. If the color is red, the level of illness drops in the patient. If the color is black, the illness level goes up and the patient can die if already at level four. Any other color does nothing.

For each level of healing, the hospital earns money to build new rooms or hire staff. If the patient is cured (illness level drops to zero), he or she is released and the hospital also gets a prestige point which attracts new highly skilled workers. New staff can help add special powers to the hospital and improve the chance of winning.

Another cool aspect to this game is the ability to build new rooms on the hospital. Each new room comes with special powers to help patients. For example, the operating room holds one patient with any level of illness and allows a patient to go up to a five illness level and still live. The clinic on the other hand can hold multiple patients with a one or two illness level, and each round the patients get better without the help of a doctor.

Research is a commodity that can be used to help train doctors. First a research lab must be constructed, and then a doctor can use the lab to improve training for the doctors. This essentially gives the doctors more powers and options on their turn.

When a patient gets too sick, he or she will die. When this happens, the hospital must have room for the body in addition to paying a fine and losing prestige. Players must avoid allowing their patients to die.

The end of the game can be triggered in one of three ways. First, if the ambulance phase comes and there are no cards to be drawn, the players win and the hospital is successful. Second, if a patient dies and there is no room in the hospital for the body, the game ends in a loss. Third, if the hospital goes broke, the game ends with a loss for the players.

For those who think this theme sounds interesting, the game does deliver a lot of fun. Please know that there is a fair amount of complexity for those that like a game with deep strategy. This is also a cooperative game where players work together. Overall, this is a gamer's game for those who like deep, engrossing simulations with lots of options. Find out more at Victory Point Games.

rmorgenegg@desnews.com