How To Play Operation: Operation Game Rules


Operation is a dexterity game for youngsters from age 6 upwards. The game tests players’ hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Players take turns to draw a card and then carry out the operation stated on the card on a plastic patient called Cavity Sam. A player who operates successfully earns a fee. The player with the most money after all operations have been completed wins the game.


Earn the most money by performing successful operations on the plastic patient.

Operation Rules

Only the player selected as a banker handles the money in the bank.

If a player operates successfully, they earn a fee.

If a player is unsuccessful in their attempt to operate, another player with a specialist card for that same operation gets to have a try and for a higher fee.

If a specialist is unable to carry out the operation, the doctor card for that operation is placed at the bottom of the doctor card pile.

Number of Players Needed

1 to 6 players.


A patient made of plastic, lying on a plastic bed. The patient is nicknamed “Cavity Sam”

11 “Funatomy” parts

24 doctor or specialist cards

Corded “surgical” tweezers

Play money

Setting Up

First, fit good batteries at the back Cavity Sam’s plastic bed. Then place each “Funatomy” part in their matching slots within Cavity Sam. For example, the heart piece is placed in the broken heart cavity. Make sure that all the “Funatomy” parts go all the way in and lie flat inside their cavities.

Move on to the playing cards and separate them. There are two types which are doctor and specialist cards. Shuffle the doctor cards separately from the specialist cards. Share the specialist cards to all the players evenly. If there are any specialist cards left after sharing, put them aside as they would not be needed for that game.

Pick up the shuffled doctor card pile and place in the middle of the playing surface where all the players can access them easily. One of the players is selected as a banker. The banker is in charge of the money and will pay players for each successful operation. To conclude the setup, the player that will go first is determined. After this, the game can begin.

How to Play Operation

Players take turns to draw the top card of the doctor card stack and act out what’s written on the card. Play goes round clockwise. Once a player draws a card from the doctor card stack, they read out what is written on the card. The card tells the player which operation to perform and for what fee.

The player proceeds to remove the “Funatomy” part they have been instructed to operate using the surgical tweezers. They must remove the “Funatomy” part from its cavity without touching the metal sides. If a player does this successfully, the banker hands them the fee for completing that operation.

If a player touches the metal sides while attempting to remove a “Funatomy” part, the buzzer is set off and Sam’s nose lights up indicating a failed operation. That player’s turn is over and the player must fix the “Funatomy” part back in its cavity. This gives room for a specialist to attempt to carry out that operation.

All the players including the player that failed to carry out the operation successfully will look at their specialist cards to see if they have a specialist card for that operation. A player with the specialist card for that operation gets to attempt the operation and for a higher fee. If the specialist is successful, the banker pays them their fee. If the specialist fails, the doctor card for that operation is placed face-down at the bottom of the doctor card pile and play moves to the next player.

If none of the players has the specialist card for that operation, the doctor card for the operation is placed face-down at the bottom of the doctor card pile. Play moves to the next player. This player will draw the top card of the doctor card pile and proceed to perform the operation stated on it. If the player succeeds, they earn a fee, if they fail, a specialist gets to try. In total, there are 12 operations to be carried out and the game continues until the last operation is successful. More recent versions feature a 13th operation that was added in 2004.

To make the game even more interesting, players may agree to introduce a time limit within which an operation must completed for it to be considered successful. For example, each player may get 2 minutes to complete an operation.

In the absence of multiple players, a single player can play the game. The player keeps going until they successfully perform all the operations.

Winning the Game

The game ends when all the operations have been carried out successfully. After this, each player counts the amount of money they made and the player with the most money is declared the winner.

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