Review: Mad Scientist University

Last night we had guests for dinner and board games. We played one really awful game of Cities and Knights, a game that seemed as if it would never end, but before that we played a new game that our guests brought: Mad Scientist University.

The game is essentially theatre improv warmups wrapped up in a card mechanic similar to that of Apples to Apples. One person is the judge, and draws the prompt. The other players are the students, and each draw one card depicting an item that they must use to complete the assigned prompt. The judge picks the best (usually the funniest) response.

For example: ‘Reanimate the dead’ using [rubber bands/socks/business cards]. Or ‘Throw the perfect party’ using [flamingos/traffic cones/cheese]. I threw the perfect party by mechanically animating flamingos and using them to press gang unsuspecting passersby into my perfect party. The wilder and more convoluted the answers, the better, as long as they actually complete the prompt. In another round, my item was a bass, but the prompt was to obtain a snack. Instead of just eating the bass as a snack, I used the bass to obtain a series of increasingly ludicrous bait in order to catch a kraken and obtain a lifetime’s supply of calamari. You get as long as the judge decides to give you to think up a story, and the judge can end your turn before you’re finished if it’s too boring!

The endpoint of the game can be set to whatever number of prompts won (we played to five) and after the game is over, there’s even more fun in assembling the prompts you won into a coherent story. (I went to the moon to find snacks to throw the perfect party.)

I’ve played a similar game before, Aye, Dark Overlord, but I think Mad Scientist University, with it’s lack of direct competition between players, provides a better play experience. It has potential as great creativity and imagination exercise for older kids.

It also has potential great ‘fill in the gaps’ sort of game. Our annual gaming weekend in College Station is coming up, and there’s always a need for more open ended games to fill in the gaps of time between your table finishing a game and another table finishing a different game, so that the groups can be shuffled and everyone gets to socialize.

Oh, and the best maniacal laugh starts. You literally start the game laughing, and if you stop laughing before it’s over, you aren’t doing it right.

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