Sorry for being gone last week and missing Monday. Following a visit with my sister, most of the Taco-Family came down with the latest plague, so yesterday was pretty much a wash.
Anyway, now that I’m back on the wagon, I’d thought I’d tell you all about this week’s game: Gloom by Atlas Games.
Gloom is an interesting take on card games by combining clear cards with narrative play. The game itself is pretty simple, each player has 5 family members of a dysfunctional family. Each round, a player gets two turns to play cards and then draws up to their hand limit. The goal of the game is to make your family members as unhappy as possible before killing them off. It’s a rather dark-humor game.
The first round of play can be used to kill a family member, but the second is reserved only for playing action or mishap cards. The clear cards allow you to stack mishaps (or indeed boons) on characters which will show through allowing you to easily tally their score. Things get a little more strategic when you begin to disrupt the other players by playing boons on their cards, which increase their happiness and make the character worth less points when they die. The fact that you can only play a killing card (with some exceptions) on the first round really limits your ability to combo on your own characters for high scores, which in turn leads to more complex strategizing. Once one player has completely killed their family, the game ends and points are tallied from all the dead characters.
The narrative side of play comes in with developing stories for all your characters as you play mishaps and boons on them, creating a network of story-telling within any game. I’m not sure if this is written in the rules, but it was brought to the table by my sister, so we went with it. For instance, I had a character who was locked in a basement with mice before being let out into an arboretum to discover she had dendrophobia. She we laid to rest when the mice ate her in her sleep. Yeah, dark-humor game.
It’s a rather enjoyable game, though the big downside I saw with it is that the number of boon cards is really limited, which reduces the effectiveness of trying to disrupt other players. Indeed, as a strategy, I found that killing off my characters as quickly as possible was almost the surest form of victory because only dead characters are counted in the final tally. Indeed, even having only 4 characters with mediocre scores on each easily got me enough points to surpass the two other players who had far more points showing, but no dead characters to count during the tally. I think the game might be improved slightly if the rules were altered to give some point value to living characters. There’s probably some house rules out there for that.
-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?