Healthy Heart Hospital Board Game Review (Victory Point Games)

8

I can neither convey nor justify the sheer joy we felt when we picked up Healthy Heart Hospital. To be precise, two of us felt this; the rest of our group approached with a spectrum ranging from casual interest to abject hatred. I can't defend our excitement: in mechanics, it's a perfectly mediocre family-style board game situated around a Grey's Anatomy-inspired hospital. In Healthy Heart Hospital, a cooperative game, your goal is to heal as many patients as possible, building prestige and (hopefully) not killing too many of them.

Game Details

Players: 1 to 5

Game Time: 90 Minutes

Age: 13+

Genre: Cooperative / Strategy

How is Healthy Heart Hospital Played?

Healthy Heart Hospital is mildly asymmetrical, with one player taking on the role of "administrator" and other players taking on physicians in the hospital. There are three types of action: medical, administrative, and a special function only the administrator can do. There are multiple administrators and doctors to choose from, including Doctor Dreamy and Administrator DuRonger. 

There are no traditional turns. Instead, players have action tokens they can use to do things such as attempt to heal a patient, move a patient, or develop new wings of the hospital. At the beginning of each round, new patients come in and old patients get sick. If a patient dies, well. You have to hide the body.

How Does Healthy Heart Hospital Look?

It's like a Soviet Union propaganda poster, isn't it? And we loved it. Healthy Heart Hospital looks like a game you'd dust off of a shelf in the 1980's, and that's fantastic. Nearly everything in Healthy Heart Hospital is controlled via colored cubes. In the beginning, for instance, you draw colored cubes to indicate illnesses that are coming into the hospital. If you draw black cubes, they multiply; you need to draw two more cubes. Though Healthy Heart Hospital requires an opaque bag of some sort, it does not come with one. We wouldn't expect it to. It's supremely low budget. 

The appeal of the game may not even be the game or its mechanics. Instead, the appeal comes in the long, confusingly worded, but firmly tongue-in-cheek manual, and the whimsical art that looks as though it was ripped straight from war-time propaganda. 

What's in the Box?
Doctor and administrator cards * game board * colored cubes * hospital upgrade cards * action tokens * ward ability cards * learned traits tokens * hireable people tokens * patient bed markers * flatline OR markers

How Does Healthy Heart Hospital Feel?

"Just pray you don't get any blacks. Hey, do we have enough money to buy that person yet? -- I don't like how this game makes me feel."

This game was a landmine of accidental racism ("I'm worried about the yellows") and bureaucratic cruelty ("he's going to die anyway but at least we don't have to pay for it"). It's not really about healing people: it's about being a hospital administrator. Even though most players control doctors, they're controlling them for the general benefit of the hospital itself. And that's what kind of makes this little cooperative game great. 

Though the mechanics are very blunt and rudimentary, something magical starts to happen about thirty minutes in: everything starts to make sense. For a fairly simple game, it offer a lot of opportunitie for improvement and better cooperatie play. It's even better if you roleplay the characters.

Healthy Heart Hospital Game Review
  • PRO: Whimsically stoic art and a tongue-in-cheek tone that never gets too abrasive.
  • PRO: Replayabiliy through a number of interesting characters to play with. 
  • CON: A poorly worded (though entertaining) manual that can be extraordinarily confusing the first playthrough. 
  • CON: May be a little too easy, as "winning" the game is fairly simple (and losing is pretty hard).