Clinic: Deluxe Edition, designed by Alban Viard and published by Ludicreations, arrived on my doorstep in mid-March.
And…I hate it.
No, wait, that’s not right.
I love it!
The seemingly endless stream of components that tumble from the box fills me with joy.
Putting most of them back again for a solo game frustrates me…so many toys, so few gaming buddies.
The intricacy of the design, the interplay of mechanisms and the scale of the challenge combine to whip me into feverish excitement.
The massive comedown when I realise that I have, again, forgotten a sub clause to a key rule.
My stats (as of May 17th 2020) are:
- Played: 5
- False Starts: 2
- Miserable failure: 1
- Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory due to forgotten subclauses: 2
These have all been solo games. Games where I can focus on what I am doing and not what three other players are doing incorrectly. I’m dreading teaching this one.
So why do I keep coming back to Clinic: Deluxe Edition like a lab rat in a cardboard addiction experiment?
Because there is nothing else quite like Clinic’s time pressured, economic and spatial juggling act out there.
So, what do you do in a game of Clinic? Allow me to explain as best I can (you can skip past the italics if you are familiar with the game).
Clinic Deluxe: summary
Players are managers at a new hospital trying to juggle the competing demands of patients, doctors, and the financial balance sheet.
The game is won by the player with the most popularity points at the end of the final turn.
There 6 turns, each comprising 3 phases
Players choose from three available actions, simultaneously revealing the action they have chosen.
Actions are then performed in turn order within the following priority sequence
- Players use saved funds to purchase up to two new tiles to place in their clinic. The costs vary based on the current height of the hospital.
- Tiles represent the services, supply rooms, parking lots and grounds that together make up the clinic. Each tile type, and sometimes individual tiles, has their own function and placement rules.
- Placement rules vary between tile type, however, as a rule of thumb no two tiles of the same type can be adjacent. However, certain types do need to be adjacent. Adjacency is both orthogonal and vertical i.e. left, right, front, back, above and below.
- Players can pay to recruit
- A doctor and/or
- A nurse or orderly
- Doctors are graded by colour from white to red. Red is the most skilled, white the least.
- A doctor can treat patient of the same colour only unless,
- Nurses are available to offset the patient/doctor difference. One nurse is needed per level. So, a white doctor would need three nurses to treat a red patient. Equally, a red doctor would need three nurses to treat a white patient.
- An orderly positioned on the correct tile will help to keep running costs down.
- Once in the clinic staff members do not leave.
- Players can pay to recruit
- Depending upon the current admission rate of the clinic (determined by number of entrances) players have a certain number of ‘queue points’ to spend
- Queue points can be spent to move patients between treatment specialty queues on the main board and from the main board to a player board
The above is repeated three times. In each action phase, players take either
- three unique or
- two matching and one unique action
Action Phase: Additional Considerations
- Every individual (doctor, nurse, orderly and patient) in the clinic drives and brings a car with them. Each car needs to be parked and if there is no space that individual cannot enter your clinic.
- Patient queue subphase
- Patients are graded from white (least unwell) to red (most unwell).
- Patients are pooled in treatment specialty specific queues on the main board
- After each action has been completed by all players additional patients are added randomly to the main board queues
- Movement Sub phase
- Once all players have completed three actions, patients and staff are moved around the clinic to ensure staff are treating the correct patients.
- Staff can move to a new location
- Patients cannot move after the movement phase during which they were admitted ends.
- Tiles have occupancy limits
- Each movement costs time, time reduces popularity (VPs)
- Once on the player board the only way patients will leave is to be treated or die.
- Your clinic needs to be paid for!
- Patients are treated which provide an income
- Staff need paying from income
- Clinic facilities need upkeep, paid from income
- Spare income is used to:
- Buy popularity
- Saved (savings cannot be used to buy popularity during a later round).
- Round tidy up including addition/removal of patients and staff from the main board
- Turn order change
- Patients in player clinics become more unwell or die
- Doctors skills degrade unless they are in a facility allowing upgrade
Popularity is determined based upon:
- Purchased popularity
- Number and type staff
- Height and size of clinic
- Unwell patients
- Time efficiency
The player with the highest popularity after adjustments wins.
(Note: in a solo game an objective must be completed before scoring is permitted. If the objective is incomplete you lose!).
Time for a Playthrough
Wow, I’ve missed off, glossed over and simplified swathes and it is still a lot to take in. Even when you know the game Clinic can throw a curve when you least expect it.
The rules are available on the publishers’ website and there are plenty of videos showing you how to play. However, this game can tell a story like very few economic puzzle games can. So much, that it left me wondering why there was no text-based session report on BGG (as of May 17th 2020).
If fact, why are there so few sessions reports for games outside of the war game genre? Maybe the answer to that question lies in a different article. For now, let’s grab our copies of Clinic, set up for a solo game and begin the trial by fire that is hospital management.
The Clinic: Deluxe Edition session report can be found here