A while back I talked about Lord of the Fries, a Cheapass Games title about zombies working in various restaurants. While that game just finished up a successful Kickstarter campaign for a new edition, the zombies of Frieday’s (the Fast Food Restaurant of the Damned) first appeared in Give Me the Brain!, which itself just received a new “superdeluxe” edition as part of the Stuff and Nonsense campaign.
Give Me the Brain! is, like many James Ernest designs, incredibly simple. Each player is dealt a hand of seven cards, mostly representing various tasks they have to perform before they can end their shift. The first player to complete all of their assigned jobs gets to leave work and thus wins.
Of course, it isn’t quite as straightforward as that. Each job requires a number of hands to complete; players can play up to two hands’ worth of cards each turn. More importantly, some jobs are more complex than others. Completing these tasks will require the zombie in question to have access to the one brain among them, hence the name of the game.
The brain starts the game in the middle of the floor and the players must bid to claim it by playing specific cards that explain their pressing need for it. Whoever plays the highest bid claims the brain and takes the next turn. If nobody plays a bid, everyone draws a new card and bidding continues until someone wins a bid.
Once you are in possession of the brain, you can complete tasks that require it. Every time you do so, however, you must make a skill check of a single die against the difficulty of the task. If you roll lower than the indicated number, you drop the brain after completing the job and a new round of bidding begins, starting with you. The lowest-valued bid cards have their value dramatically increased if you play them immediately after dropping the brain, just to keep things interesting.
Each job has an instruction that must be followed. Worth noting is that if your last played card forces you to draw more cards (or otherwise end the turn with cards in your hand), you do not win. Not all cards are jobs or bids, however. A few are objects that stick around and help you out — or, in one case, actually prevent you from winning until you can get rid of it!
So what do you do if you need the brain but don’t have it? Some specific objects can substitute for the brain in a pinch, but without access to those or some brainless jobs you’ll have to take a loafing turn. As in real life, when you loaf instead of working you actually somehow wind up with more work to do, as represented by drawing a new card. Hey, nobody said that life was fair.
Give Me the Brain! is almost too light to even be considered filler. With an average playing time of 15 minutes and very little strategy to speak of, the game mostly gets by on its trademark Cheapass Games humor. This is aided greatly by the stellar artwork of Brian Snöddy, who has been illustrating the zombies of Frieday’s since the very beginning. Sadly only the bidding cards really show off his talents, as the jobs are exclusively text.
Still, even 15-minute games have their place. Specifically, that place is wherever you don’t really have time for anything more substantial. Give Me the Brain! consists of only 100 cards and a single die (which also represents the brain if you don’t have anything else handy), making it highly portable and convenient to have on-hand for whenever you and a few friends (up to eight players) might need to occupy fifteen minutes. All you need is a flat surface, and not much of one at that.
It doesn’t take a brainless zombie to find the fun in playing Give Me the Brain!, but it might require an entire shift of them to make a big event out of it. Keep it on hand for those times when it is the perfect fit for a narrow time frame and it will pay for itself eventually.
Give Me the Brain! Superdeluxe Edition retails for $25.