The Doctor Who board game!

Martin gets an exclusive hands on with a new Doctor Who board game, where only you can save the show...

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At DoG, we are lucky enough to get sneak previews of DVDs, films, gadgets and games from time to time. They make lovely Christmas and birthday presents once reviewed (you can often restore that ‘shop-bought’ look with Clingfilm and a box of Swan Vestas for the seams) and we’d all be in very poor shape if it weren’t for our good-natured and rarely-bloody scraps over the prizest of these promotional morsels.

Luckily something arrived yesterday that we were all able to enjoy (unless you like playing with yourself) – the BBC’s long-awaited new Christmas stocking-filler for fans of everyone’s favourite Galifrean eccentric. Well we are such fans, so we had a boss-dodging morning of it, putting Doctor Who: Executive Invasion through its paces.

Like last year’s offering, it’s a turn-based game, but now with the added element of player elimination….

This time the scenario is that BBC executives are determined to turn Doctor Who into utter shit by pandering to demographics and mid-Atlantic meddling, so it’s up to the players to cast a decent actor over the age of twenty in the role and keep them under contract for at least four years.

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You get points for getting all the way round the board (equivalent to one year/season) without regenerating, but if at any point you land on a red panel, you have to go to the Boardroom and throw a double-six to get out. What’s going on in the Boardroom varies according to the Meeting Agenda card. It could be a focus group comprised of care-in-the-community refugees saying that Billie Piper would indeed make a good Doctor herself. It could be a script meeting where the infamous ‘Tardis lands in Albert Square’ two-parter is mooted yet again. Only the double six can save these things from happening, because if you can’t get out of the Boardroom in six turns, these ideas will be acted upon and you will have to go to the Tardis’s bathroom to regenerate.

Since The Doctor is already on his ninth incarnation out of twelve, you only get to regenerate twice before being ejected from the game. Regeneration involves having a foamy shave and scraping away the whiskers to find a new actor underneath – there are some surprises in the actor pack; I got Stephen Fry first off, Sarah got Bill Nighy and Simon got Dame Judi Dench.

Secondary objectives include keeping the likes of ten-minute soliloquies about ‘how great humans are’ out of the Boardroom scripts, and unfortunately this can only be achieved by getting to the Tardis in the centre of the board, travelling back in time to the late 1970s and getting Douglas Adams back as the script editor – unfortunately he is killed by Trigger’s cybermen after his first good suggestion so you will have to get back to the Tardis to use him again.

There are some nasty scuffles with classic Doctor Who villains in the game, and do watch out, as prolonged contact with them risks that they may themselves get cast as the Time Lord. The pre-recorded sound of a Dalek offering you a jelly baby is probably one of the more surreal experiences to come out of the Whoverse.

Ridding yourself of the unsuitable assistants picked up on purple squares is another challenge that adds tang to Executive Invasion, and Sarah found Jade Goody quite unshakeable for two seasons, but was finally rescued by the Stephen Moffat card.

We enjoyed the game, but it doesn’t last very long and some of the Jack Harkness stuff is frankly a little advanced for younger players; in any case, our work-dodging morning culminated in Simon nailing Richard E. Grant to the role for the requisite four years, bringing both Withnail and ‘I’ into the (mostly) illustrious roll-call of Doctor Who. Hurray.

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Martin writes his (mostly) sci-fi column every Friday at Den Of Geek.