Good Help Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 7 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
  • For 3 to 6 players
  • About 90 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading & Writing
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management
  • Auction & Bidding
  • Worker Placement & Area Control

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Hard
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • As a recent graduate of a prestigious university and proud recipient of an evil science degree, you have returned home to wreak revenge on the town that scorned you, but you can’t do it alone – which is  a problem.

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

In Good Help, the players take on the role of an evil scientist whose single objective is to build a terrible monster and destroy the town that has ridiculed them in their youth. After setting up their base of operations (which is a big castle on the outskirts of town, of course) they are ready to start! First thing they need to do is hire some Assistants to run errands for them, especially the more unsavory ones. The problem is, good help is hard to find, especially in the business world of evil scientists.

Good Help is comprised of 1 large game board that represents the town and the Doctor’s castles that surround it, 20 Body Part tokens, 3 Gorilla Body Part tokens, 36 Shop squares, 9 Building tokens, 6 Food Supplies squares, 6 Medical Supplies squares, a bunch of Coins for money (in 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s), 6 Doctor tokens, 6 Monsters tokens, 16 Assistants (8 gents and 8 ladies) tokens, 1 six-sided die, and stands to hold the Doctor, Assistant, and Monster tokens.

There are also 4 Vice cards, 6 Employment cards (that represent the Hospital, the Zoo, the Butcher Shop, the Morgue, the Stables, and the University), 54 Action cards, and 16 Assistant cards.

PHEW! That’s a lot of bits and all of them are of great quality. The artwork is bright and all cardboard bits are thick and very durable.

Game Set Up

A word of warning: game set up can take some time. While not difficult in its execution, there are a lot of bits to organize and distribute. If you should choose to purchase this game, we highly suggest you take the time to organize the game bits to make set up and clean up faster.

First, unfold and place the game board in the middle of the playing area. The game board is large and will require a good amount of space. We suggest a kitchen table or a large coffee table.

Second, take the three Building tokens with the light grey border (Park, Mayor’s Residence, and the Zoo) and place them randomly in the three light grey squares in the town. Now do the same with the six remaining Building tokens with the dark grey border (Stables, Butcher Shop, Morgue, University, Market, and Hospital), placing them randomly  in the six dark grey squares in the town.

Third, the thirty-six Shop squares (the small squares) are now randomly distributed in town being placed on the small square spaces next to the movement squares. This is perhaps the most time intensive portion of the game set up. As it does not require any prior game knowledge or decision making based on Doctor or Assistant selection, we suggest you let someone else do this task while you continue to set up the game.

Third, separate the Body Parts tokens into different groups. One group of 12 will be identified as “Not So Fresh” (NSF), one group of 9 will be identified as “Fresh” (F), and one group of 3 will be identified as “Gorilla” (G). Randomly distribute the NSF Body Parts, face-down,  in the 3 graveyard spaces on the game board (the number placed is determined by the number of players), Place 3 Fresh Body Parts, face-up, in the Hospital, and 6 Fresh Body Parts, face-up, in the Morgue (the number placed is determined by the number of players), and place the 3 Gorilla Body Parts, face-up, in the Zoo. Except for the Body Parts in the graveyard and the Zoo, there should be a complete set of Body Parts placed (limbs, torso, and brains) in the Hospital and the Morgue. Note that the game also comes with “Cutthroat Rules” that reduce the number of Body Parts available. You can review those and all the rules at the game’s official web site.

Fourth, place the Medical Supplies squares in the Hospital, one for each player.

Fifth, place the Food Supplies squares in the Market, one for each player.

Sixth, place the 6 Employment cards and the Vice cards next to the game board, face-up.

That concludes the game board set up. Now to the players!  Each player selects a Doctor token and three token stands of the same color. Insert the Doctor token into one of the three token stands and place the Doctor in the castle on the game board space that matches the token stand color. This is the player’s home castle for the duration of the game. Deal each player 3 Action cards and then place the remaining deck, face-down, next to the game board. The player’s should keep their cards hidden from other players. After that, distribute to each player their starting money in the form of Coins (the total value depending on the number of players).

All done! Now can we play?

Nope, not yet.

Hiring Help

A Doctor can’t work on his nefarious plans alone because there is simply too much to do and not enough time to complete it all. To help the Doctor, a Male and a Female Assistant must be hired to lend a hand. There are two ways to do this. The first is to bid on the Assistants and the second way (and much faster) is to simply deal each player 1 Male and 1 Female Assistant. Regardless of the method used, the players will need to spend money and must have 1 Male and 1 Female Assistant. If the player should ever not have enough money to pay for the Assistant, they can always take out a loan at the local bank, but the player must pay back 3 times the amount lent before the money is spent on anything else! Ouch!

Once the Assistants have been selected, find the Assistant token that matches the Assistant card and place them in the stand and next to the Doctor token in the castle.

OK! Now we can play!

How Help Hinders

The Assistants hired are not what one would call “100% reliable”. First, each Assistant has a vice that will cause them to lose money or leave supplies and collected body parts instead of rushing back to the home castle! Second, depending on the gender of the Assistant, they will only do certain jobs.

Male Assistants will be happy to travel around the town, dig up or bury body parts in the graveyards, while Female Assistants are more than happy to run around town and collect supplies, but will never carry a body part. In fact, they won’t even occupy the same space as someone who is! Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Some of the Assistants are more willing than others to help the good doctor out.

Example of two of the many assistants you can hire in the game – perfect combo?

There is also the problem of appearance that the Doctor must maintain in order to continue to be perceived as an upright citizen. This means that a Doctor can never bribe, buy supplies, carry a Body Part, or be in the same space as a Male Assistant who is carrying a Body Part. Doctor’s can also not outwardly attempt to delay other Doctor’s or their Assistants, however, the Assistants can and will be sent to patrol the streets of town to confront the rival Assistants. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition!

Playing the Game

I am only going to sum up the actions the players can take. The game’s official web site has the official rules for all the many actions a player can take. Do give them a read.

First, the Movement Roll

  • The player rolls the six-sided die and adds 5 to the result
  • This is the total movement and is the value used for the Doctor and the Assistants (for example, if the die roll value is 5, the Doctor and his two Assistants can each move 10 spaces)

Then Male Assistant May

  • Move or…
  • Dig for one Body Part in the graveyard or…
  • Bury one Body Part in the graveyard or…
  • Do nothing

Then Female Assistant May

  • Move or…
  • Do nothing

The Doctor May

  • Move or…
  • Get paid for working or…
  • Assemble the Monster or…
  • Do nothing

Example of a game in progress – evil is afoot!

Note that the Actions cards can be played at anytime the card’s action makes sense and need not be played on the player’s turn. If a second Action card is played, it must be done so for defensive reasons by providing a response to another player’s aggressive action. Keep in mind, however, that some Action cards cost money to play!

Building the Monster

A player can only build their Monster once a full set of Body Parts (a limb, torso, and brain), 1 Medical Supply, 1 Food Supply, and the Doctor and his two Assistants are safely in the castle. But even if they have all the necessary components, the Doctor best be able to pay his two Assistants before he starts to build the Monster or they will turn him in!

Once the Monster is built, the Assistants leave, a Monster token is selected, and placed in the castle.

Monster Mayhem!

The Monster will slowly make their way into town and start to destroy buildings. The Monster’s total movement is determined by a six-sided die result plus the number of Victory Points as indicated on the Monster’s limbs. The fresher the Body Parts, the faster and stronger the Monster! In this way, a player can race and build a really shabby monster with Not So Fresh Body Parts or wait and build a super monster with Fresh Body Parts!

Once the Monster enters a named building (represented by the 9 Building tokens), the building is destroyed!

The other players should continue to build their Monsters as fast as they can and keep their Doctor and Assistants well out of the Monster’s way! If two Monsters should meet in town, they battle! Battles are determined by having both players roll six-sided die and adding their individual Monster’s Victory Points to it. The player with the higher value wins. The loosing Monster is torn to bits.

Winning the Game

The first player who’s constructed Monster destroys 5 Buildings wins the game! If all the Buildings have been destroyed, but no one single Monster has destroyed a total of 5 or more buildings, then the Monsters must fight and the Monster left standing wins!

This review only scratches the surface of how this game is played. For more information on the game and a chance to read the full rules that go into more detail about the game specifics than provided in his review, visit the game’s official web site.

Prediction

Monsters, mad scientist, and graveyards? This is most assuredly going to be a winner by default! My little geeks and I love the monster themed games and I have always been a sucker for the mad scientists. Two of my favorite movies of all time is the 1931 “Frankenstein” movie with Boris Karloff and the 1974 “Young Frankenstein” with Gene Wilder. And if you haven’t read Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, I really recommend it. I think you’ll be surprised how different the movie monster is to the one in the book.

That being said, Good Help does have a few slight disadvantages that made me stop short of offering the game to my little geeks. Specifically, some of the illustrations are rather grotesque and can be scary to look at. Nothing terrible, mind you, but the illustration for the torso Body Part can be somewhat unsettling. This was easily solved however by simply showing that specific game piece to my children. My 7-year-old said it didn’t bother him at all. The same could not be said for my 4-year-old who said it scared him. Based on their responses, I decided to go ahead with the game but only with my 7-year-old.

Explaining the game took a good deal of time. Note that the suggested Learning Curve for a child is “Hard”. This is because there is simply a lot to do. The individual steps are very simple and rather straight forward. What will make your little geek stop and ponder is all the “thinking” that must go into a turn that slows things down and causes a game’s difficult to jump up. Several times over I had to go back and review actions and rules I had already stated because my little geek’s mind was getting lost in the details.

Making it all the more difficult was the rule book itself. It is not written in a way that makes it easy to teach the game without playing it. For that reason, I strongly suggest the adult have at least one game under their belt before they teach the game to younger little geeks.

Once I felt that my little geek knew enough to play the game, he felt confident in the game rules, and we had answered any questions, I started to set up the game. As I did so, and my little geek helped, I asked him what he thought of the game so far based on what he was told.

“This game looks really cool and I like how I get to build a monster, but there sure are a lot of rules.” ~ Liam (age 7)

I completely agree with my son’s early assessment of the game. But even if the game “looks really cool”, it could still be a dud. Let’s find out.

Final Word

I have had this game on my list to play and review for longer than others, but not because I thought the game wasn’t good or was less interesting than the other games I also get to play. The reason it has been passed over is because Good Help is fairly complex and time-consuming to set up and to teach. When you play games with little geeks, you don’t want downtime as that can be a real mood and energy killer. This meant that I had to set up the game early on and then wait for an opportunity to play it. There were several weekends I would set up the game only to never get a chance to play it because we ran out of time or my little geeks didn’t have any interest.

When the stars aligned and I was able to play with my little geek, we would get bogged down with me having to explain the rules again or simply run out of time and not be able to finish the game. My little geek and I became rather frustrated by this, as you can imagine, but we continued to work on it. To my 7-year-old’s geek credit, he stuck with the game and his dad. The end result was very rewarding and so very worthwhile. Let this be a lesson to all Parent Geeks: never give up on games or your children!

As I have mentioned before, the game rules need some improvement. While detailed in how the game mechanics work and how to play the game, the format makes it difficult to read for an inexperienced game player and lacks some specifics that could help reduce any confusion. Additionally, the components in the game are not introduced, pictured, or explained in much detail which makes it difficult for the first time player to recognize what all the components are for. I spent a few minutes just staring at a few bits trying to figure out what components the rules were talking about. There is enough in the rules for you to learn how to play the game and figure out the components, albeit through the process of elimination. Very little effort would be needed to improve the rules to address these issues with no impact to the game itself, in my opinion. However, once played through, you will have no problem identifying and using the rules.

My little geek really liked the game but it was clear he was exhausted when it was over. I debated a good deal whether to give Good Help a “Child Geek approved” rating or not based on the difficulty of the game and how much it seemed to frustrate him. However, when he asked me the next day when we could play the game again, It became clear the game was a winner from a Child Geek’s perspective. Definitely not for your younger geeks, but for my 7-year-old, it was a very challenging and rewarding game experience.

My little geek ponders over his two Assistants wondering how best to use them

Gamer Geeks, this is very interesting game that is one part race, one part area control, and one part worker placement. The rules that determine what your Doctor and Assistants can and cannot do create a  level of complexity as you carefully navigate them through town to avoid each other and their noted vices. This game has some real depth that provides challenge and entertainment in equal doses. Since the town is also randomly populated each game play and new Assistants to be selected, there is an increase in replay value, too. Do expect to be frustrated with the rules, however, but any Gamer worth their weight in game bits should be able to work through the few hurdles.

Parent Geeks, this is a challenging game and should only be considered if you believe your little geek is up to the task. In other words, if your little geek is still working through Candy Land, give Good Help a miss for now. The game will challenge you and your little geek to keep track of and multi-task game bits on the board as you race to build your Monster. Unfortunately, because of the game’s subject matter, Good Help might be something you hold off on until you think your little geeks are mature enough to play it. It is much like Nitro Dice in this regard, which is a fantastic game in my opinion, as it has some game bits that might not be appropriate for your little geeks. If you have non-gamer friends, don’t bring Good Help to the table. It will blow their minds.

Child Geeks, this is a fun game but is it ever challenging! Do expect to be frustrated as your Assistants get sidetracked and loose the money and other goods you give to them. Not to worry, you can always have your Assistant hide around corners to cause mischief with another player’s Assistant if you want to “share the love”. Before you play this game, make sure you have the time and the patience.

Good Help is one of those game that I think will polarize the gaming community. Individuals with either love it or hate it. As for me, I love it, but I hate the rules. Oh, I hate the rules so very, very much. There is a lot that needs to be done to make the game set up and play clearer, but this is a statement from the perspective of a new player learning how to play the game. Once you set up the game and play it, it all makes sense, is a great deal of fun, and very challenging. I felt a tremendous amount of pride when I was able to build my Monster and laughed as I saw it go through the town and destroy buildings. The same could be said for my little geek who thoroughly enjoyed himself as he let his Monster smash through the town, too!

In the end, the game proved to be a great experience and well worth the hardship of learning how to play it. Very rich in theme and game play. I would not recommend this game to non-gamers, light gamers, or individuals with children any younger than 7-years-old. If the game is right for you and your little geek’s experience level, do check it out.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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