Critical Review - Evil Baby Orphanage

While at Gen Con 2012 this year, I had the opportunity to end up at a Game Night Session over at the Hyatt on Friday, where a good friend walked in, slapped a deck box on the table and said, "We have to play this thing... now!"  We proceeded to laugh about the title, laugh louder at the artwork and concept, and then play the thing for 5 hours straight and have a blast!


That was my introduction to Evil Baby Orphanage!


Sadly, I hadn't known about the success of this project on Kickstarter, but after an evening of ruckus fun and laughter, combined with me seeking out Justin Gibbs, one of the designers the next day, I made sure I left Gen Con, not just with a copy or two for myself, but with full knowledge of the universe they created in this whacky and twisted party game!


Wyrd is the game publisher of Evil Baby Orphanage, and while mostly known for mini games, Wyrd has built something twisted, interesting, comical, and honestly, well designed here.  How well?  We've got a video review below, as well as an interview from Gen Con with Justin at the Wyrd booth, along with more after the jump...


Critical Review Video:

Justin Gibbs interview at Gen Con 2012:

In Evil Baby Orphanage, you play as a Time-Nanny, who has the power to go back in time.  Of course, instead of using this to win the lottery 100 times over or bet on every superbowl, you use it to instead kidnap evil people, when they are babies, and bring them into your orphanage, to rehabilitate them, or more to the point, supervise them!


Twisted?  Yes.  Fun?  Without a doubt.


The game says it is for 3+ players, although we have had fun playing with 2 and we have had fun playing with 8! It can take as quickly as 15 minutes with a smaller group or as long as 2 hours with a larger group, with time extending that long if you are introducing new players to the abilities of the evil babies.


The goal is to start your turn with 10 mischief points.  Each evil baby has a mischief value, and some will have abilities to add to that based on the types of toys in your orphanage.  The game plays out with two main decks, the Orphanage deck which is where you will have common cards to "adopt" new evil babies from, as well as the Time Nanny deck, where you will get actions and toys to use to influence babies to your orphanage, force others out of theirs, and genuinely wreak havoc.


Most abilities in the game that the evil babies have are in the form of icons on the bottom of their card.  There are evil babies who bite, bully, grab, creep, and babble.  Then there are specific text written abilities that impact the game as well, for instance Guy Fawkes (Remember, remember the 5th of November...) will cause the entire board to "blow up" and he'll redistribute evil babies among all time nannies.


To me, this is where EBO shines.  When you see an evil baby and think, "Hm, I wonder what Marcus Brutus does?" and then you see their abilities, they more often than not, do exactly what you'd think they would, given the abilities at hand.  Then there is the comical flavor text, which is a never ending string of punch lines, funny moments, and hilarious "politically un-correct" moments.

In addition to the evil babies and their abilities, there are good toys, bad toys, and time machines to affect the gameplay.  As you can imagine, there is a lot of "I'm stealing this card" and "take that" gameplay, so don't get too attached to any one baby.  However, you can use the "good toys" to "supervise" your evil babies, ensuring their abilities won't trigger at the end of your turn.  


In addition you have "bad toys" which you can use to trigger your own, or other evil babies and their abilities, before the "supervision" phase.  This can greatly effect things, and cause someone with 10 mischief points who is about to win, end up with almost 0 if timed right.


This is a nice, but at times, complex thing.  It's great to be able to make an impact and shift the gameplay, but at times, there is SO much moving around, that it can be hard to keep track of, especially with more and more players!  We've seen 4 or 5 players get involved in a chain of events, stopping someone from stealing an evil baby, then someone stopping that "stop" from happening, and then someone else sneaking in behind it all and snatching them for themselves.  Fun, but crazy!

That all said, you best enter this universe with a twisted sense of humor or at least a light heart.  Between actions like "Trail of cookies" that will help you lure evil babies to your orphanage, to "Where did he get that?" and the artwork being an evil Genghis Khan baby pointing a toy gun at his face, there is a lot of dark comedy involved!  The artwork fits perfectly too in this case, and is another shining and funny addition to the world.


Overall, Evil Baby Orphanage is a Hit of a game!  It's got a good amount of strategy to it where you can enjoy gameplay, but enough luck and hilarity to truly make it a blast of a party game!  Obviously, the more the merrier, but also, the more the crazier in this one as well, so buyer beware.  That said, I think 6 players is the optimal, "have fun without straining your brain" level, but again, we've had fun at 2 and at 8!  


Finally, there are plans for expansions, more babies, more toys, and more insanity from Justin, Wyrd and the crew, so be on the lookout!  


While it's not the most perfect game, and certainly for it's humor, not made for everyone, if you have a light heart, and wicked sense of humor, and don't mind playing a game where it's good to kidnap Billy the Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, or Charles Manson, then this may be right up your orphanage, er, I mean alley!  Anyway you cut it, Evil Baby Orphanage is sure to provide those of you with these traits, a wicked good time at the table!


Final Critical Review Score: (Crit, Hit, or Miss):


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