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Operation (Game) 101: Objective, Purpose, Gameplay,… (15 Things to Consider)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Operation (Game) is a fun board game. It’s a game suitable for anyone ranging from the ages of 6 and above. This game will test your physical skill, eye-hand coordination, and fine motor skills. 

Cavity Sam comes with a broken heart and a body bruised with multiple ailments. But try not to hurt Sam. If the tweezer touches the injured edges, a buzzer beeps, and Sam’s nose turns red. On the other hand, you earn money on every successful Operation.

Operation first started off as a college project; John Spinello was an industrial design student, and one of his projects was to design a game or toy. Then he made the game Operation, and all his fellow students loved it. He then sold his game to his godfather, who worked at a toy design firm.

Operation comes with interesting objectives and purposes that can positively impact children (and their family members) playing it. 

The main objectives of Operation are to promote skill and precision while having fun at the same time. Hand-eye coordination is just the start of it. Kids can also learn a bit about health and wellness while learning to play fair, lose with grace, and a whole lot more.

These are 15 things to consider about the game Operation:

1. Main Objective

This game is about skill and precision. The main objective of Operation (game) is to be able to get the body parts out of Cavity Sam without making the buzzer go off. And if your Operation on Cavity Sam is successful, you will collect money. 

The person who assembles the most money will win at the end of the game.

2. Purpose

You will get to perform surgeries on your patient, Cavity Sam, and his quirky ailments. The purpose of the game is to fix as many ailments as possible without touching the sides of his injuries. And if you fail and touch the sides, another player will get to try.

3. The Original Play Pieces (injuries) and Money Collection

There are a lot of play pieces that come into play, like the Adam’s Apple ($100), Broken Heart ($100), Wrenched Ankle ($100), Butterflies in Stomach (worth $100), Spare Ribs ($150), Water on the Knee ($150), Funny Bone ($200), Charlie Horse ($200), Writer’s Cramp ($200), Wish Bone ($300), Brain Freeze ($600), Bread Basket ($1000) and, Ankle Bone Connected to the Knee Bone ($600).

4. Gameplay

The game has two sets of cards, “Doctor” and “Specialist.” At the start of the game, the specialist cards are dealt out evenly between the players, and extra cards are removed when playing. The Doctor cards are mixed to form a deck, and then it’s placed face-down. Players will then take turns drawing the top Doctor card from the deck.

5. Amount of Players

According to Hasbro, the game can accommodate one or more players.

6. Removable Body Parts

Cavity Sam contains twelve different removable body parts, and the pieces are referred to as “Funatomy.”

7. Origins of Operation

The game was originally named “Death Valley,” involving dessert operations and a probe.

When Milton Bradley bought the game rights from the previous owners, one of their designers suggested that they use a pair of tweezers instead of a probe. Therefore, the setting of the game was changed from a desert to an operation theater, and the name was changed to “Operation.”

8. History of Operation (Game)

Operation has gone through quite a few changes in its lifetime. In fact, the current version of the game is not really anything like the original release or idea for it. 

The game was invented back in 1964 by John Spinello when he designed a prototype. Milton Bradley was one of the first producers of the game, and now the franchise is owned by Hasbro. The game has been published in different names and editions.

9. Operation Game Rules

As is the case with all board games, the rules are important to follow. With the doctors’ card, you can remove the funatomy pieces from Sam’s body, and after you’re successful when fixing the ailment, you’ll get to earn a fee. 

When removing the funatomy part, the tweezer can’t touch the metal edge of the cavity. If you’re successful when removing the ailment, Sam’s nose won’t turn red, and the buzzer won’t go off. The opposite will happen if you’re unsuccessful.

10. Solo Play

When you’re playing by yourself, you have to perform all the operations successfully by yourself. If you miss one, you can start over. While it is definitely more fun to play with others, you can still have fun giving the Operation game a whirl on your own.

11. Setting up Operation

The players will have to know who will be the banker. The banker is the person who is in charge of handing the money throughout the game. Separate and shuffle all the cards. Match and place each “Funatomy” piece in the different body parts. Test the board’s batteries. Then deal the Specialist cards out evenly to each of the players.

12. Performing Surgeries

Players should take turns “operating” on Cavity Sam. You can also play Operation by yourself and see how quickly you can remove the “Funatomy” pieces. You’d get a fee if the Operation was successful. If the Operation was unsuccessful, let the specialist have a turn, and if they succeed, they can claim the reward.

You can start a timer to make the game more challenging.

13. Finishing the Game

The game will be finished when all the cards are completed. Each player should count up all their money and determine the winner. Undoubtedly the room will be filled with excitement as the winner claims their prize or victory! 

And if you’re playing by yourself, you could try to beat your personal record. Once the game is finished, store away your game and its pieces.

14. Tips About Operation (Game)

Playing Operation is not a lengthy affair, which is perfect if you’re not up for several hours of battling it over the board games. Operation (Game) is designed for players ranging from ages six and above. If you have younger children, you should play another game that requires less focus. 

Operation usually takes up to 15-20 minutes, which isn’t too long but probably a little long for children who haven’t developed focus and attention skills (this is perhaps why it is aimed at children above 6).

15. Warnings of Operation (Game)

Try not to lose any of the “Funatomy” pieces. The game will become unplayable if you lose too many of the parts. The small pieces of the operation game can be a choking hazard for small children.

Last Word

Operation is a game that brings back memories for adults that grew up in the 1960s and 70s. As it turns out, most of us had access to the game, and there are many modern parents who fondly remember hours around the table battling it out over a game of Operation.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.