Welcome to Doctor Lucky’s Haunted Advent Calendar!
Doctor Lucky plans to sell Lucky Manor. Before he can, he needs to get rid of some of this junk… and he’s been a bit of a pack rat over the years. Visit this page daily beginning December 1st to see what the good Doctor throws out. Follow the day’s instructions and he might just throw something to you.
How do I win this stuff?
To enter, follow the instructions listed for that day’s prize. We accept entries via Twitter, Facebook, and email. Submit your entries by 12 AM Pacific/3 AM Eastern the day after the prize is posted. (For example, to win the December 1st prize, submit your entry by 12 AM Pacific/3 AM Eastern on December 2nd.) Note the deadline for the Grand Prize is January 5th.
If you post on Facebook or Twitter, use the hashtag #HauntedAdventCalendar and make sure your entry posts’ privacy settings allow us to see them, because you can’t win if we can’t find you. Winners will be announced on this page, and should contact us via email with their shipping information.
Please note this is open only to the United States. (Shipping costs are murder. Get it?)
DECEMBER 25th GRAND PRIZE: JAPANESE PAIRS DECKS
WINNER: ALEXA C
Our partners in Japan, Tendays Games, created five lovely Pairs decks we’re all deeply in love with. Two are translations of US editions: Goblins and the classic Fruit deck. The other three are unique to Japan: Ball Game, Funny Hatter, and Little Birds.
Designed by Tansanfabrik, the Ball Game deck depicts various sports and their players. The Funny Hatter deck by Makoto Tanaka features cloth cutout art. Finally, the Little Birds deck by Mutsumi Hagiwa is just wee birds and flowers, and it is totes adorbs.
During Pairs’s playtesting period, customers and staff would always ask us what it was and where they could get it. We hated telling them they couldn’t get it yet! Now, we’re curious if it still gets the same reaction.
To win the Haunted Advent Calendar’s Grand Prize, go play Pairs in public—at a pub, game store, library, etc—and tell us how it went! Bonus points for pictures or catching the attention of a stranger. Submissions will be accepted until January 5th. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 24th: KILL DOKTOR LUCKY, GERMAN EDITION
WINNER: DAVID JAMES SOLIE
Our real-life Doctor J. Robert Lucky, BJ Becker, speaks fluent German and is always delighted to get new copies of his favorite games in this strange and otherworldly tongue. If you, like BJ, speak German, then this edition of Kill Doktor Lucky is for you!
KILL DOCTOR LUCKY is the original Cheapass game, in which players race to murder an old man in his house. We’re pretty sure he deserves it. But he’s not called Doctor Lucky for nothing! He has a knack for dodging death, and it’ll take good planning and at least two years of conversational German to take the old man out.
Of course, if you’re interested in the English version, there are plenty of places to look.
To win, tell us why you want to kill Doctor Lucky. Feel free to tag BJ on Twitter @proffbeej, and don’t forget the #HauntedAdventCalendar hashtag! Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 23rd: GIVE ME THE BRAIN, GERMAN EDITION
WINNER: DAVID CARRON
“Wo ist das Gehirn” roughly translates to “Excuse me, sir, could you please direct me to the cranium?”. We all know it as “Give Me the Brain,” the original zombies-flinging-fast-food card game. This is Truant Spiele’s new German edition, based on the updated 2015 deluxe edition of this Cheapass classic.
To win, craft a delicate way to deliver an alarming or insulting statement. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 22nd: ONE FALSE STEP FOR MANKIND
WINNER: KEVIN SAUNDERS
It’s 1849, and you’re a rich California gold rusher with lots of money and no sense. So, like all your friends, you’ve decided to race to the Moon. One False Step for Mankind is an amazing catastrophe of a game, with a nearly four-hour playing time, but absolutely worth every minute. Players build cities, research rocket technology, and try like heck to get their machines to the Moon. The city building and resource generation is pretty sweet. But you need a lot of spare parts, and yeah. Four hours.
To win, show us a picture of where you’d spend the four hours it takes to play this game. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 21st: BRAWL, GERMAN EDITION
WINNER: WANDA VEST
Join us in turning back the clock as we revisit the 2002 German edition of BRAWL! These colorful two-character packs constitute the entire original set, but with German rules and packaging. BRAWL is a two-player real-time combat game, which we updated and re-released in 2016. Check out the new edition as well as six all-new characters here!
To win, suggest a creative edit to James Ernest’s Wikipedia page. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 20th: STARBASE JEFF
WINNER: BOB WIEMAN’S KIDDO
STARBASE JEFF is a unique gambling construction game, in which players with identical decks race to complete a space station and win money from each other. The game was designed by James Ernest and Jim Geldmacher, and released in 1998. It has been out of print for a long time. We’d really like to do a new edition, as soon as we find a good way to make square cards. Print your own here!
Note: Games in this format don’t always include everything you need to play. The box tells you what you need, and it’s usually simple.
To win, tell us about your ideal space station. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 19th: GERMAN PAIRS DECKS
WINNER: WADE DANIEL COOKSEY
Truant Spiele licensed three Pairs decks last year, including one of their own design. Das Schwartze Auge translates to “The Dark Eye,” a German RPG. You don’t really need to speak German to enjoy these decks; they are still numbered 1 through 10.
To win, tell us what your favorite Pairs game is. Or, if you’ve never played, take a look at The Pairs Companion and tell us which one sounds like the most fun. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 18th: CHRISTMAS TREE CAPSTONES
Thanks to TAK, James Ernest has a wood shop. And from time to time, he makes game accessories like this unique pair of tree-shaped TAK capstones. They are hand-turned from maple and purpleheart, approximately 42 mm tall, and designed for use with any wooden TAK set.
The tree shape is not a common capstone shape. In fact, we might not make any more ever. So there.
To win, tell us where you get your board game news and recommendations. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 17th: TROLLS PAIRS PROTOTYPE
WINNER: KIRA CHA
“I am concerned that others might be offended.” So says Helpful Jack, the #10 card in our favorite Pairs deck: Trolls! This one was a stealth entry in the original Pairs Kickstarter campaign, so not many people know about it. But this isn’t the production deck. It’s the original prototype, made with labels stuck to blank cards. Well-worn and one-of-a-kind, this deck is now looking for a new owner.
Did you know it’s our company policy not to feed trolls? Nonetheless, to win, tell us what you’d feed a troll if forced to. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 16th: THE BIG CHEESE, ITALIAN EDITION
WINNER: MICHAEL MARKEY
You’re all rats, working for Rat Financial, Inc., and trying to score the most points by giving projects to your workers. This is a classic Cheapass bidding game in which, true to life, a project takes longer to complete when you put more people on it, and it is done when the last worker walks away. If you speak Italian, this edition is for you. Otherwise, check out our Drive Thru version here, and our free version here.
Rats love cheese. To win, share a picture of something you love. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 15th: THREE GAMES? WHY NOT?
Witch Trial, Japanese Edition
In the imaginary early times of the United States, lawyers struggle to prosecute and defend various men and women accused of witchcraft, vegetarianism, and smoking in public. You play a lawyer (sometimes prosecuting, sometime defending), building cases with criminals and crimes, and sorting them all out for money. In Japanese.
You play one of several candy inventors who want to break off from the big chocolate factory and start their own businesses. You start the game with a secret recipe and save up your money to earn enough chocolate, sugar, nuts, and love.
Devil Bunny Hates the Earth
The lesser-loved sequel to Devil Bunny Needs a Ham, and a game so terrible that it counts as negative one game. You and your friends play squirrels who have broken into Devil Bunny’s candy factory in an attempt to thwart his efforts to flood the world with sub-par taffy. One of the worst games in the overpopulated south end of the Cheapass Catalog, this game is ironically a fitting metaphor for itself.
As you might have heard, the FCC did away with net neutrality. Since they refused to listen to the logical words of thousand of citizens, it’s time to express ourselves in the true language of the Internet: memes. To win, send a picture of a disappointment meme to the FCC via Twitter, Facebook, or email. You can tag us if you want, but be sure to tag the FCC and use the #HauntedAdventCalendar hashtag. Otherwise, your entry won’t count. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 14th: THE MAN BETWEEN
James Ernest made a movie! In 2003, James Ernest and Anthony Gallela traversed the Western Hemisphere shooting this lightweight 30-minute spy comedy in which basically nothing happens. The Man Between depicts a not-so-super spy, Agent Bob Smith, in his dullest moments: waiting on hold, getting lost, trying to make a decent martini. With many cameos from within the hobby game industry, The Man Between is an interesting curiosity if you are in it, or know someone who is. Buy The Man Between from the Cheapass Games Factory Outlet Store!
To win, tell us what your spy code name would be. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 13th: FIGHT CITY
WINNER: AI AOLAN
Fight City is a simple, customizable two-player combat card game, which we hope one day to reprint and expand. In Fight City, players build armies of fighting characters and send them out to do battle. Illustrated in stark black and white by Brian Snoddy, this edition contains all the cards from the original two decks.
Nowadays, Fight City is the setting for BUTTON MEN, albeit 40 years earlier and in full color. How things change!
We get a lot of boring spam. To win, craft and share an interesting spam message. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 12th: FIGHTBALL
WINNER: MIKE WALSH
In the summer of 2002, while James Ernest demoed Fightball at his Origins Game Fair booth, world-renowned game designer Reiner Knizia offered him two words of advice: “Slow down!”
Designed by James Ernest and Mike Selinker, Fightball is a real-time card game in the spirit of FALLING, BRAWL, and Light Speed. Set in the distant future, “Fightball” represents the best approximation of what sports used to be like. Players play their cards as fast as they want, trying to make a stack of player, ball, and shot, to score points from as many positions as possible.
This is the entire set of Fightball decks: six teams each with their own mix of characters, shots, and special effects.
To win, describe your own original Fightball team and give them a catchy name. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 11th: SECRET TIJUANA DEATHMATCH
WINNER: LEJON JOHNSON
Once upon a time, a great game publisher named John Nephew made a game called Spammers. Because it was almost the same price, he made 10,000 sets of counters for this game, even though he only printed 5000 units of the game. And he never needed the rest.
For many years, he sat on these counters, thinking. If I were James Ernest, I would write another game that uses these counters. I am not James Ernest… but I know someone who is.
And with that, Cheapass Games inherited 5000 counters from Spammers, and James Ernest did indeed incorporate them into a game he was working on anyway, Secret Tijuana Deathmatch.
The unique origin story of this game more or less prevents it from ever being reprinted, but you can check out the rules at the Boulevard of Broken Games.
Secret Tijuana Deathmatch fighters can’t have insurance, but you can! The deadline to sign up for health insurance via the Affordable Care Act is this Friday, December 15th. To win today’s prize, share the deadline and a link to the exchanges (https://www.healthcare.gov/). Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 10th: THE BIG IDEA
WINNER: KRIS DRUMMOND
Originally released in 2000, The Big Idea is a clever Cheapass game about combining nouns and adjectives to make new products. Funforge licensed The Big Idea in 2011, removing some of the original bidding mechanics and stripping the game down to a simpler party game.
This is the English language edition of the French translation of the original English language game, because board game publishing is complicated. If you’d like to see what mechanics the game used to have, check out our “semideluxe edition” rules at the Boulevard of Broken Games.
The end of the year approaches, as do a plethora of “Best/Worst/Etc of 2017” lists. To win a copy of The Big Idea, tell us about an end-of-year list you’d actually read. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 9th: GET LUCKY, JAPANESE EDITION
WINNER: BEN CURTIS
GET LUCKY is the KILL DOCTOR LUCKY card game. Our Japanese partner, Cosaic, created this handsome Japanese edition in 2016. Strangely, they decided to change what Doctor Lucky looked like, morphing him into a combination of Santa Claus and Bluto with a dash of our friend Patrick Rothfuss. (Speaking of Pat, if you haven’t jumped into the Worldbuilders fundraiser yet, now is the time!)
In GET LUCKY, you and your acquaintances are racing to murder an old man in his house, but without the house! It’s a streamlined version of the classic board game (with plenty of unique twists), first published in 2014. Check out the English edition of GET LUCKY over at its game page.
To win the Japanese edition of Get Lucky, tell us who you’d cast as Doctor Lucky in a “Kill Doctor Lucky” film—assuming, of course, that BJ Becker (our real-life Doctor Lucky) was unavailable. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 8th: ESCAPE FROM ELBA
WINNER: BETSY TACY
You’re Napoleon and so is everyone else, in this letter-collecting escape game illustrated by John Kovalic. Players sneak around an insane asylum that they are sure is Elba, convinced that they are the true Napoleon, and struggling to collect enough letters to spell a word that will let them get away. Download a complete copy of the original ESCAPE FROM ELBA at our Boulevard of Broken Games. Enjoy!
Note: Games in this format don’t always include everything you need to play. The box tells you what you need, and it’s usually simple.
To win a copy of Escape from Elba, tell us which classic Cheapass title(s) you’d like to see come back in a deluxe edition. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 7th: GIVE ME THE BRAIN, JAPANESE EDITION
WINNER: STEVEN LAMOREAUX
Give me the brain—I need to speak Japanese! This is the Japanese edition of the classic Cheapass card game, GIVE ME THE BRAIN. You and your zombie friends work in a fast food restaurant, racing to finish your chores and go home. Unfortunately, some of the chores require a brain, and you only have one to pass around…
Unsurprisingly, the Japanese edition of GIVE ME THE BRAIN is in Japanese. Many years ago, we printed a version of this game in Czech, along with a cheat sheet that translated the cards into English—available only to the player with the brain. We recommend trying the same with this edition. After all, before you play a card, you don’t really need to know what it does!
To win the Japanese edition of Give Me the Brain, post a picture of your best zombie face or video of your best zombie groan (preferred). Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 6th: DELUXE TAKE BACK TOE
WINNER: KIRSTEN LOVE
In 2010, game inventor Daniel Solis issued a Thousand Year Game Design Challenge. James Ernest won the prize with a simple abstract game: TAKE BACK TOE. In this two-player strategy game, a die tells you how many stones you may move while attempting to get three matching piles on your side of the board.
Though TAKE BACK TOE is simple enough to play with any 40 stones, today’s prize is a“deluxe” version that includes a
mouse pad play mat, 40 high-quality mini poker chips, and a custom Cheapass Games d6. You can print a board featuring the same art from TAKE BACK TOE’s free games page.
To win a copy of Take Back Toe, share pictures of adorable baby animals with us. (It’s been one of those weeks, hasn’t it?) Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 5th: NEXUS AND GOFIRST DICE
WINNER: CHRIS AMBURN
Today’s prize is a double feature: Nexus and GoFirst Dice!
Designed by James Ernest and first introduced in 2001, Nexus is a simple abstract area control game. Ernest originally designed the cards to fill an empty space on a different game’s press sheet, fully prepared to throw them away if he couldn’t invent a game to play with them. Luckily, Nexus proved to be pretty good!
Since Nexus supports 2-4 players, today’s calendar prize includes a set of GoFirst Dice from Maths Gear. Invented by Eric Harshbarger, James Ernest, and Robert Ford, these four unique 12-sided dice provide a fair, random play order (including who goes first, second, third, and fourth) for 2 to 4 players, with no ties and no re-rolls! Learn more about GoFirst Dice at Eric Harshbarger’s design page.
To win a copy of Nexus and GoFirst dice, tell our friend Mike Selinker about a Really Great Game Theme IdeaTM. Post your ideas on Facebook or email them to us, or post on Twitter using the hashtag #HauntedAdventCalendar and tagging @mikeselinker. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
Yes, this is a joke. Please do not suggest theme ideas you plan to eventually use.
DECEMBER 4th: GET LUCKY, GERMAN EDITION
WINNER: KERI PARMETER
In GET LUCKY, the KILL DOCTOR LUCKY card game, you and your acquaintances race to murder an old man in his house, but without the house! It’s a streamlined version of the classic board game (with plenty of unique twists), first published in 2014. Our German partner, Truant Spiele, created this handsome German edition in 2015.
To win a copy of the German translation of Get Lucky, tell your elected representatives how you feel about the new tax plan. You can find your representatives here. Post directly on their Facebook or tag them on Twitter (using the hashtag #HauntedAdventCalendar so we can record your entry), or email us a confirmation of your message to them. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 3rd: DICELAND
WINNER: MADISON KELLER
DICELAND is a tabletop combat game played with sturdy paper dice. We made several expansions for this game, but the best one to start with is DICELAND: SPACE. This came in two varieties, both based on ships from the Digital Eel game “Strange Adventures in Infinite Space.” We also made a booster envelope called “Extra Space,” with ships from the card game Light Speed.
In DICELAND, players take turns throwing their dice into play, and maneuvering the dice already in play. Each face of a die shows a different set of abilities, slowly changing and diminishing as the die takes damage. It’s a brilliant little system that nevertheless died off. You can learn more about the game circa 2005 at Diceland.com.
To win copies of DICELAND, tell us what your favorite friendly local game store is. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
DECEMBER 2nd: GET OUT
WINNER: DANIEL SROKA
In GET OUT, a game just as timely now as in 1997, players race to get a job, rent an apartment, and move out of their parents’ basement. Though long out of print, the rules for GET OUT currently live on the Boulevard of Broken Games.
To win one of our archived copies of GET OUT, tell us where you would live if money were no object. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.
Games in this format don’t always include everything you need to play. The box tells you what you need, and it’s usually simple.
DECEMBER 1st: RENFIELD, JAPANESE EDITION
WINNER: ADRIENNE JONES
Our advent calendar begins with the Japanese edition of RENFIELD. A pleasantly twisted Cheapass classic, RENFIELD is a gambling game about gravediggers eating bugs. The Japanese translation comes in a strange little card box. And, being the Japanese translation, it is in Japanese. 日本語を話せますか？
To win the Japanese edition of RENFIELD, tell us what kind of bug you’d eat and why. Read the full contest rules at the top of this page.