Operation Board Game: A Guide to Set-Up, Gameplay & Versions

playing game in livingroom with children

The Operation board game is a classic game where your dexterity is tested as you play doctor and remove "ailments" like Brain Freeze and Funny Bone from a patient without setting off a buzzer. It's a fun, silly game that creates a lot of laughter from children ages six to ten.


The game was designed in 1965 by Marvin Glass who designed over 50 games between 1961 and 1974 including:

  • Ants in the Pants
  • King of the Hill
  • Masterpiece
  • Mind Maze
  • Mouse Trap

The game was first published in 1965 by Milton Bradley. Versions of the game continue to be published using characters from television and movies such as the Simpsons, Shrek and SpongeBob SquarePants.


The Operation board game is usually played by children because it does not require any strategy. It is a fun, silly game, accentuated by a buzzer and light bulb that are activated when a player touches the game board while removing a playing piece from the game board.

The game is recommended for two to six players, ages six to ten. It requires only minimal reading skills, so it is ideal for non-readers and children who aren't totally proficient in English. It is a good game to use in an educational setting since it teaches the lessons of taking turns, counting money and keeping score.

It is a popular board game because it is simple to play and fun for both novice and more experienced players. It makes a good gift to have around when you need a quick fun game to capture the attention of the six to ten year olds who are not able to join the games for older children and adults such as Scrabble or CSI.

Game Pieces

  • 1 game board with patient, body part tweezers, light bulb and buzzer (2 D batteries are required)
  • 26 cards
  • 12 "Funatony" parts
  • Play money
  • Rubber band
  • Instructions in English and Spanish

Game Set-up

There is really only a little set-up required for this game. All you need to do is unpack the game elements, place the "Funatony" parts in the game board, shuffle the cards and place the cards face down where they can be reached by all players.

Playing the Game

The game is a dexterity game that helps players increase their fine motor coordination. Players take turns drawing cards that detail what part needs to be removed. The cards also show the amount that will be earned by the player for successfully curing an "ailment" by extracting a body part from the patient using a pair of tweezers. There are twelve "ailments" including:

  • Brain Freeze
  • Adam's Apple
  • Broken Heart
  • Spare Ribs
  • Wishbone
  • Butterflies
  • Writer's Cramp
  • Water on the Knee

Winning the Game

The winner is the player with the most money after all twelve of the "Funatony" parts have been removed from the patient. The game usually takes about ten minutes to play.

Other Versions

The other versions of the game are the same basic game, but they have different patients and different items to be removed. Many are no longer readily available for purchase, but the list includes:

Where to Buy the Operation Board Game

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Operation Board Game: A Guide to Set-Up, Gameplay & Versions