Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Sunday 17 November 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Rush M.D.

Game: Rush M.D.

Publisher: Artipia Games

Designer:  Anthony Howgego, Konstantinos Kokkinis, Dávid Turczi

Year: 2019

Rush M.D. is a sequel of sorts to the game Kitchen Rush, from Artipia Games, Stronghold Games and now Pegasus Spiele. You might have noticed that Kitchen Rush is a bit of a favoutrite for us here at The Game Shelf. It was number 1 on our best Kickstarter games list and frequently hits Fi's top ten of all time.

Rush M.D. had a successful Kickstarter and released at Essen with a lot of theatrics from the live action nursing team at Artipia's booth. Much like Kitchen Rush, it's a real time cooperative game, but Rush M.D. adds more dexterity elements and mini games to get in the way of you successfully treating patients requiring operations or simple in-patient treatments. 1-4 players will each play as a doctor, as well as calling on the help of nurses to ensure that the hospital runs smoothly, treating all patients and making sure no accidents happen!


After setting up the various player boards and building up supplies of blood, organs and IV drugs the game is ready to begin! You start by drawing an objective card based on player count and then choosing to play on easy, medium or hard. You will then have as long as you like to make a plan before starting a 4-minute timer for the real-time phase.

The real time phase is where the game happens, you have 4 minutes to cure as many patients as possible. You help the patients via a vast variety of worker placement spaces many of which can only be used by doctors (of which each player has one) or nurses (of which there are 4 shared between everyone). The twist being that your workers are all sand-timers. When you place a timer you can immediately carry out the action of that space, but you cannot move that timer again until the sand has run dry. Managing your timers so they are all being used efficiently is important to the running of this hospital!

The spaces themselves vary in function. Some are simple such as bringing patients into the hospital or restocking drugs in the pharmacy. Others are rather more complex and time consuming such as the 4 different diagnosis tests, or surgery. Surgery must be kept clean, so you can't use your bare hands to handle the organs, drugs and blood you give them. Instead you use the included tweezers to pick up and drop off the game components into the patient's gurney. I won't go into details of every spot on the board, but safe to say many of them are designed to give you a dexterity challenge before they can be considered complete.

All of these tasks must be performed within 4 minutes. At the end of the timer you will asses all the patients in your hospital. If you gave them exactly the treatment they needed then they will be discharged and you will gain points as a team. However if you failed to treat a patient, or even over-treated them (who wouldn't want a second heart?) then you will lose reputation and the patient will deteriorate in condition. If a critical patient should deteriorate then they will die which comes with a huge reputation loss. The game will typically end after 4 rounds. If you have met the quota of your objective card then you win, otherwise you lose. You can also lose if your hospital reputation ever hits zero. Turns out that letting people die is bad!

Amy’s Final Thoughts 

Rush M.D. takes the core idea of Kitchen Rush and mixes it with a healthy splash of dexterity game. The challenge now comes from how fast you are able to fulfill those challenges. The last thing you want is a load of sand timers sitting around empty, but can you fill a syringe with little cylinders of blood any faster? How about when you are doing it with tweezers? To an extent the game lets you set the difficulty as only surgical patients need the dexterity games. You can choose what ratio of surgical/outpatients to allow in which lets you manage things to some extent. But ultimately they are worth more points and some objective cards require them.

But not everyone has to do surgery all the time, each player may have 1 doctor that only they can use, but there are also 4 nurses that anyone can grab. It's perfectly possible to take a support role, ensuring patients are where they need to be, refilling the pharmacy and taking blood donations. In fact since actions can't be split up having a player go accept an organ donation when you realise you were short a lung for surgery is vital. If you didn't have someone else to help you'd have to stop surgery, wait for your timer to run out, go to organ donation, wait for your timer to run out and then head back to surgery! that's half a round wasted to one silly mistake, that can be completely solved with a little help from your friends.

It's here that Kitchen Rush excels. There is something fantastic about down-to-earth cooperative games. Everyone knows the fantastic work that doctors and nurses do. Everyone knows what a great thing it is to save a life. So everyone really wants to work together and succeed. Similarly there is a pang of guilt every time you let a patient slip or even die. The theme of the game makes everyone want to pull together, the timer makes everyone just the right amount of stressed, and the challenges are approachable enough, but still have a risk of failure. Especially picking up the hearts. Sorry, but if you need heart surgery then go to the next hospital over!

So it's a beautifully designed game, and a beautifully presented game, what's not to love? Well a couple of things. The game is a huge table hog, which in itself isn't a massive problem, but there is perhaps some unintended challenge in trying to access the parts of the board that aren't close to where you are sat. The difficulty also doesn't seem as finely tuned as Kitchen Rush. I know people complained that Kitchen Rush was too hard, but once you learned to work together it became quite achievable. Rush M.D. is certainly easier, with us playing on hard to keep the challenge in place. Remember that your mileage may vary on this depending how adept you are with a pair of tweezers! But really these are very minor flaws. Rush M.D. is a fantastically frantic and thematic medical drama in a box and I love it!

Fi’s Final Thoughts

While Kitchen Rush is still very much a favourite game of mine, it admittedly hasn't come down from the shelf in a while. I'm very grateful that Rush M.D. was there to be shiny and new and remind me of my love for this style of game. Rush M.D. has the same fundamental structure as Kitchen Rush - your workers are timers - they go to spots to gain resources, to gain new challenges cards, to perform tasks and ultimately to fulfill the requirements of the card. Of  course the setting of Rush M.D. is different, but that fully it's another underutilised theme and one that players will have a real affinity with. The real difference for me is the 'mini-game' style of activities which actually consume time. Whether they're dexterity elements, like trying to pick up some organs to perform transplants. Or, whether they're the tasks you have to perform in order to diagnose a patient. This solves one of the biggest drawbacks from Kitchen Rush, where you're sitting and waiting for your timer to run out. In Rush .D. you often can't even finish the thing you're trying to do while the sand flows through the timer! It really reduces downtime, if you can call out downtime in a round that lasts only 4 minutes!

All of the patients have different difficulties and that can be a factor in whether you fail at this game. One round you might pull three patients into patient beds and pull three people to be treated as outpatients and you might find this easy, even drawing more cards to treat or stockpiling resources with your left over time. You enter the next round with confidence - pull the same mix of cards again and then have a complete disaster - causes patients conditions to worsen or even causing them to die. This does bad things for your hospital reputation and can easily lose the game for you. As you get more experienced at the game you might become more cautious - testing the waters by drawing a few cards first, but spending more workers on drawing fewer patients at a time isn't that efficient either.

There's a lot going on in Rush M.D. and it really is a table hog. You need a familiar team to work well together and I can't imagine how crowded the table becomes as you play with more than two players, with other people's arms flying everywhere, causing the blood and drugs to roll away, knocking over timers and really adding chaos. Amy and I are a great team. We always did well at Kitchen Rush and to be honest, we've found Rush M.D. a little too easy. Within our first 5 or 6 games we conquered hard mode and that's the biggest drawback for me. Where do I go from here? We can try the three player difficulty levels I suppose, but what I'd really appreciate is a few harder and more unique victory conditions to try out, to keep me coming back for more.

Aside from the difficulty, that's really going to bother me, Rush M.D. was an even more fun experience than Kitchen Rush for me, and I think that the reduced difficulty will make it more accessible to a wider audience. The theme is fantastic, the game really immerses you and the game is really cooperative, hilarious fun, whilst also really making you think about strategy in order to win. I really hope that a lot of people give this game a shot!

You Might Like...
  • In this real-time game, clear communication and cooperation is a must.
  • The game has fantastic components and quality.
  • You really get immersed in the theme and engrossed in trying to make it work despite the chaos.
You Might Not Like...
  • The difficulty level does seem too easy, and so replayability might feel limited a s a result.
  • Some of the dexterity elements are really fiddly, which could be a challenge for younger players or players with less manual dexterity.

The Verdict
9/10 Rush M.D. is an incredibly good board game. It's inherently quick to play and a really fun kind of stressful that really gets your adrenaline pumping. The difficultly level and theme make it more approachable than Kitchen Rush, even though it has more elements and mini games that add complexity. It's a challenge, but not too difficult and really gets you into a theme in no time at all. We just need a way to make it slightly harder and keep up the difficulty now that we mastered it in a weekend!

Rush M.D. was a review copy kindly provided to us by Artipia Games.

1 comment:

  1. Did you end up trying the 3-player goals to add difficulty? Or something else? And how did that work? Thanks for the honest review!