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Critical Care: The Game
Critical Care: The Game
by Zentensivist Games (2022)
Player Count
1 to 4

Player Ages

Playing Time
45 minutes to 2 hours
  • Card Game
  • Educational
  • Medical
  • Designers
  • Omari Akil
  • Lakshman Swamy
  • Mechanisms
  • Cooperative Play
  • Hand Management
  • Simulation
  • Press Your Luck
  • Artists
  • Rating: 0/10 from 0 users


    Critical Care: The Game lets you bring all of the intensity and teamwork of the ICU to life on your kitchen table. Designed by an ICU doctor, the Critical Care is based in real medicine but accessible for a broad audience.

    • Cooperative gameplay for 1-4 players taking on the role of ICU doctors; discharge all of your patients to win, but beware the threat of a Code Blue that can end the game for everyone!
    • No medical knowledge required- but each of over 250 unique cards has a plain-English description of real ICU medicine
    • Select from 8 unique patients and 25 ICU Diagnoses such as Sepsis; patients are at risk for 50 unique Complications, allowing for endless replay value as the game builds on these combinations
    • Heal patients and recover with over 100 unique Therapy cards, everything from potent medications to invasive procedures
    • Bring in additional expertise with over 20 unique Specialists like the Cardiologist or Pharmacist to turn the tide in your favor
    • Watch out - your pager goes off every turn. A 2am consult from the Emergency Room can throw off your best plans!

    Each day in the ICU, the game's engine tries to add Injury and Crisis tokens to patients and players race to remove these tokens. Each patient can sustain Injury to five different systems: brain, heart, lung, blood, and inflammation. In addition, each patient has a Crisis track representing the intangibles of being sick in the hospital: how much the patient is suffering and how close they are to death. As Crisis tokens accumulate, patients are more likely to develop complications. If all available slots for injury tokens or the Crisis Track are filled, the patient undergoes a Code Blue and the team has a chance to work together to save the patient or else the game is lost.

    The game is played over a week: seven Days in the ICU. Each Day is broken up into several phases. First, Rounding and Complications happen simultaneously for all players; during Rounding, any cards already on the patient take effect, adding or removing Injury and Crisis. Then, Complications are drawn for each patient; the injury they have already sustained determines what Complications they get, just like in real life! After Rounding and Complications, players take individual turns called Shifts. During each Shift, a player draws and resolves a Pager card and then draws up to 7 Therapy cards and plays up to 12 hours of Therapies. Pager cards represent real life in the hospital, such as when nursing is short-staffed or the CT scanner breaks down. Therapy cards have beneficial effects for patients, often removing Injury or Crisis tokens. Many instantly remove Injury/Crisis; tokens removed this way are added to your experience pool, which may be used for a variety of purposes including bringing in consulting Specialists in the next phase. In the Specialist Phase, players pool experience tokens to consult Specialists and bring them into the ICU. Specialists have active and passive abilities to bend the rules in your favor; for example, the Surgeon prevents complications from invasive procedures. After the Specialist phase, the Day counter is advanced and the phases repeat, starting with Rounding, until either all patients are cured & discharged from the ICU (win), patients survive until the end of Day Seven (win), or any patient dies (lose).

    Critical Care is brought to you by a diverse team of doctors, board game designers, experts in patient language & graphic design, artists, and writers as well as a phenomenal team of sensitivity reviewers who bring in an additional focus on health equity and the patient & family experience of the intensive care unit. We hope Critical Care gives you an immersive experience of the ICU that is fun and authentic but never disrespectful.

    —description from the publisher

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