Treatment: A Psychiatry Card Game

Board and card games cover all sorts of topics. Today, Fairway picks up Treatment: A Psychiatry Card Game. A game that tackles psychological disorders like addiction, depression, anxiety and a host of other disorders. See if this game is just what the doctor ordered. 

Treatment: A Psychiatry Card Game is a two- to four-player card game in which players are psychiatrists trying to find the best possible treatment for various psychological cases.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. This brings a new meaning to a “heavy” game. There’s no shortage of heavy topics covered by cases and symptom cards.
  2. The art style is interesting and brings a peculiar, psychological feel to the game.
  3. The game itself is easy enough to learn and relatively quick to play.
  4. I’m not really sure who the audience for the game is.

Game play ^

Treatment is a set-collection card game in which players are all working on the same objectives: a series of cases. These cases are essentially a set of cards that represent a patient and a patient’s condition. For instance, there are cases for substance use, psychotic disorders, depressive disorders, and several others. Each case indicates a number of treatments required to resolve the case and the number of points awarded for each of a particular types of treatments played. These cases are revealed one at a time after the previous case is resolved, and the game is played over a series of cases.

To resolve a case, players must play a certain number of treatment cards. At the beginning of the game, players are dealt a hand of treatment cards. Each treatment card has a set of positives and negatives that affect: social support, therapy, and pharmaceuticals.

Each case proceeds in rounds in which you can: draw new treatment cards, play treatment cards, or exchange two treatment cards from your hand for three from the deck. Each player takes an action then play proceeds clockwise.  Also, each time around the table, a “symptom” card is revealed. These symptoms modify the rules for the game slightly.

In addition to treatment cards, players can use “resource” cards that also alter the current case’s rules. For example, they may alter the scoring of one or more of the treatment types.

Play continues until the players resolve the current case. This happens when a player plays the required number of treatment cards face down in front of them. The cards are then revealed and players score them according to the case card.  In general, each case awards some number of points for each of the three categories of treatment. Players treatment cards then indicate how many of each (positive or negative) that particular treatment contributes. A player’s case score is equal to the total of all those points.  The player with the highest score takes the treatment card.

The game continues until one player gets enough case cards to win the game.

On the green ^

Treatment tactfully avoids the potential pitfall in which the game merely minimizes the seriousness of topic itself. On its Kickstarter page, the publisher stated their mission as wanting to create that caused “the players to start talking about psychiatry… [and] to break the stigma surround the field.” In a sense, it’s hard to open the box and scroll through the cards without at least broaching this topic. Even me posting pics of the game on Twitter and Instagram did just that. In this sense, the game achieved its objective.

Screenshot from Treatment’s Kickstarter campaign page

Art and illustrations. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but the illustrations certainly feel like something you’d find in a comic strip or poster about psychiatry. The color palette of the illustrations are muted almost washed out in places. You’d almost expect to see some of these colors adorning the walls of stereotypical pysch wards. However they managed it, it fits the theme.

Integration of game play and theme.  There’s something clever about aligning each case with efficacious treatment options.  That is, each case weighted the points for assigning specific types of treatments and then each treatment weighting themselves (often negating the efficacy of other treatments played). Not being personally invested in this world, I don’t know how closely aligned those value assignments are, though.

Where it comes up short ^

Fodder for the conversation. I will say, I think that if the game wanted to start the conversation about disorders and treatments, it needed to provide the fodder for that conversation. As the game sits now, there’s labels and imagery. It doesn’t describe them. It doesn’t provide context for them. I think this is a missed opportunity for explanation.

Game play.  While we liked how the designers integrated the theme and game play, we were actually mixed on whether there’s much of a game here.  Drawing cards and playing matching cards that best met the case wasn’t particularly engaging. The winner of a case was mostly the player who got the luckiest draws: either applicable treatments or lucky draws of resource cards.  There are other games that implement this sort of set collection in a far more endearing way.

In the hole ^

Treatment: A Psychiatry Card Game is a very niche card game covering a very heavy topic: psychiatry and psychological disorders. Through quirky illustrations and cards that explore the plethora of real-life psychiatry treatment options and disorders and symptoms, Treatment does achieve its objective of creating a game to start a discussion about a serious topic. For what it is, an advocacy and issue-addressing game, Treatment mostly hits its mark. For someone dealing with these issue or anyone looking for a game as an ice breaker for the topic, Treatment is worth a look.

Treatment: A Psychiatry Card Game is in the hole for a Par. ^


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