The Awkward Yeti is a hilarious webcomic that often features the adventures of Lars the Yeti, Heart and Brain, as well as a host of other organs. In OrganATTACK!, you and your opponents each have a set of these organs, and compete to remove everyone else’s organs with a host of ailments.
At a glance: OrganATTACK! is a game by The Awkward Yeti for 2 to 6 players, ages 10* and up, and takes about half an hour to play (though time varies depending on the number of players). It retails for $24.95 and is available directly from The Awkward Yeti. While the game is about removing each other’s organs, your kids will also learn true facts about various ailments, so… I guess that’s okay?
*The original Kickstarter campaign said 12 and up for “mildly-morbid themes that may not be suitable for those sensitive about medical conditions” but the box says 10+.
The game comes with 126 cards total, split up into the standard deck and the Ready Player 6 expansion (included). There are 70 Attack cards and 20 Organs in the standard deck, and 32 Attack cards and 4 Organs in the expansion.
Attack cards include afflictions (various maladies that can affect organs), resistance cards that can protect your organs, and tactical and bureaucracy cards that have various effects. Organ cards are, naturally, different organs. The cards feature illustrations of the organs from the comic, along with little facts about the organs or afflictions shown. Organ cards also have a tiny icon version at the top, and each affliction has some number of these icons to show which organs it can affect. However, the affliction cards do not show the names of the organs they affect, which would have been nice, since the icons are pretty small.
The card quality is pretty nice. The box looks really great. After you pull off the sleeve (which has the cover shown at the top of the post), the box inside is made to look like a hardcover medical book: dark blue with silver foil accents, and a lid with a magnetic clasp. The two wells in the plastic insert inside are just slightly shallower than they should be, which means that as soon as you take the shrink wrap off the cards, then a couple of cards kind of slide around on top of the insert.
How to Play
You can download a PDF of the rules here.
The goal of the game is to be the last player with organs remaining.
To set up, shuffle and deal out all of the organs to players. Organs should be placed face-up on the table, facing the center (so that your opponents can see what organs you have). Whoever gets the “Organ Wild” card goes first—the Organ Wild can be affected by any affliction, but it takes 4 afflictions to remove it. Deal 5 Attack cards to each player, and place the rest in a deck in the center of the table.
Taking turns, each player gets to play one card, and then draw back up to 5. If you don’t have anything you want to play, you may discard and redraw up to 2 cards as your turn instead of playing something.
Affliction cards are played on an eligible organ—once there are two afflictions on the same organ, the organ is discarded (as are the afflictions). There are also some cards that can remove an organ immediately, like the Necrosis cards. Wild attacks can be played on any organ. Instant cards (with a flame icon) can be played out of turn at any time, according to what the card says, and don’t count as your turn when played. There are various other cards with other effects, but they’re all fairly self-explanatory.
That’s basically it! If you run out of organs, you’re eliminated. Whoever survives the longest wins.
There are some advanced play ideas to mix things up, like redrawing only when your hand is empty, or playing all playable cards in your hand before ending your turn. If you want the game to go a little longer, require 3 afflictions per organ instead of 2.
I’m fairly new to The Awkward Yeti, but I really enjoy the Heart and Brain comics and the way the various organs are characterized. The appeal of OrganATTACK! is largely due to the humor: the illustrations of the organs, the funny-but-true descriptions of the afflictions, even the overall absurdity of the theme itself. I mean, if you think about it, it kind of feels like we’re all organs belonging to a single body, and we’re trying to eliminate each other. Poor Lars. By the time the game is over, sometimes all he’s got left is a pancreas and a gall bladder.
The game is mostly a lot of “take that” with a side of “but, wait!” Since you generally only play one card per turn, you may have to decide between attacking another player and protecting yourself. Mostly, though, you’re usually just deciding which player to attack. Using an affliction to remove an organ directly is more effective, but not if the organ it removes is your own. Since the wild attack cards can affect anything, it’s often good to use those on an organ that is already afflicted, so that you can just get rid of it.
The other types of cards can be quite effective, depending on when you use them. Vaccine protects you from various attacks for two turns, and cures can remove afflictions. The tactical cards have lots of sneaky effects—for instance, “Contagious!” lets you immediately attack any opponent when you are attacked. Finally, bureaucracy cards will do things like reshuffling all attack cards, pulling cards out of the discard pile, and so on. If you don’t have an attack you can play on somebody, these cards still allow you to mess up somebody else’s plans.
You may learn some medical facts by playing OrganATTACK!, but there are also things that are thematically a little weird, like if you use “Contagious!” to spread the “Scalding Coffee” affliction (which normally only works on the Tongue). I think it also helps if you’re somewhat familiar with the comics, because then the cartoons may make more sense—at least you’ll know the characters a little better. You don’t need to know any of those things to play the game, of course, but I think it adds to the flavor.
The gameplay itself doesn’t seem incredibly innovative, and while there is some strategy for using some of the special cards, a lot of the game consists of trying to convince players to attack other people first. The more players you have, the more chaotic it can get, but it’s a fairly casual game—good for laughs and an ice-breaker, but not necessarily something that will satisfy those looking for more strategic depth. We let my toddler join us for a round, and although she didn’t know how best to use some of the special cards, she didn’t have any trouble figuring out how to match up afflictions to organs.
To sum up: if you’re a fan of The Awkward Yeti comics and you’d like to play around in that world, you’ll probably get a kick out of OrganATTACK! It would also make a fun gift for your medically inclined friends, who will know the difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, and who probably get asked all the time if they’ve played Pandemic yet. While it’s not a game that will usually be the main course at my game nights, I’m keeping it handy for when I’ve got a bigger crowd and want something lighter.
For more information, visit the OrganATTACK! website.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this game.