A Tell-Tale Game of Depression, Denial, and Death – Gloom

Gloom

Welcome my fellow gamers, to the newest edition of A Roll of The Dice, with me, Adam. Today we will be going over a cult classic game, which is popular among players who enjoy games that require interaction. In order to take full advantage of this game, you need to be a bit outgoing, have a decent imagination, and be willing to create an intricate story about how your family has come to their inevitable demise. Did you read that right? Killing off your entire family? Yes, yes you did. Lots of time for that though, let’s jump in with both feet, and see if I can convince you to pick up a copy at The Comic Hunter.

Brief Explanation

Gloom is a game designed to test the barriers of your imagination, while having the players come up with unique combinations of characters and cards. The entire point of the game is to have your family members die with as many negative bonuses as you can possibly get. You will play different cards, which will add to the devastating back story of each of your relatives. All the while, your opponents will be playing cards on your family to try and have them complete a happy death. In a game called Gloom, you can imagine that taking the happy way out is not the best. Your goal is to make them have the most miserable story in existence before they go out.

I get it, your thinking “But why would I want to hurt my own characters?” Well, the answer lies in the game play itself. When you see the things that you can do to the character, mixed with the absolutely insane stories that players can come up with, you realize that this is an amazingly fun dynamic. Take a second and think back, how many other games can you think of where your main goal was to die first, while carrying the most points at the end of the game. I know there is a few, but they are few and far between.

Design : 8.5

Gloom 2

I am a massive fan of the design on this game. They have an extremely unique look at the card style games. There cards are translucent, and approximately half of the card has design, while the other half is clear to make room for the points. You can now see straight through the cards to see which point cards are attached to it. This makes things so much easier to calculate for the amount of “misery” points you have when you die. The cards are durable, and very difficult to tear or break. This also makes them great for a family man or woman, because if your kids happen to get a hold of them, they shouldn’t damage other than a bit of bending.

The art style of the card is fairly cartoony, but in a good way. It is a game that is good at not taking itself too seriously. You will feel like the card artwork is exactly what is needed to be fun, to have good graphics, but not to be too over the top for a game about death.

The case is fairly standard, and good for holding the cards. It also has a see-through front part, so you can see a card or two just by bringing it out into the room. A lot of the time, this causes my group to ask to play or at least be intrigued enough to want to learn more. Just by giving them the chance to hear a bit, a room can quickly be turned into a Gloom Room.

So overall, I love this design. Mainly because it is original, it is creative, and overall it works perfectly for what the game needs. I have yet to find another game that is the same design, or uses any of the same elements of Gloom.

Replay Value : 8

Now of course, as I’ve mentioned before, all card games have a lot of replay value. That is mainly because just by shuffling, you are essentially playing a new game with new ways to win and lose. The same, of course, goes for Gloom in this aspect. The families are always the same, in the aspect that there is four base families in the game (more if you purchase an expansion or two). The real replay comes from the multitude of cards you can play. You can choose to play cards on yourself, on an opponents team, or chain a few moves together. Either way, you have a lot of free reign in what you can and can not do with the cards. This makes the game ever changing, and evolving around the game play of each person sitting at the table.

The other main aspect of the replay in the game is you, the player. Now Gloom itself is best described as a story telling game. That is to say that half of the game revolves around your ability to tell the players why your character was eaten by poodles. How did your character come to such a demise? What caused the poodles to go mad? This and any other amount of questions may arise, based on the cards you play, and who you are playing it on. This means there is an unlimited amount of uses for each card, since the only limitation is the players imagination.

Fun Factor : 6 to 10

Okay, I know you are all thinking how can a game get two different ratings for the fun factor? The quick answer again falls to you, the player.

My reason for a 10 rating – Honestly, this is one of the best games I have had the joy of playing. I have played it about seven times, and have loved five of those plays. We had a blast with the creativity, and laughs we got from coming up with fun ways for the damage, death, and even the good cards, getting played on our characters. The best part of Gloom is the interaction. This is the main factor that separates Gloom from all the other card games that are out there, the fact that the story telling aspect is so much fun. Well it is fun, when you have a group who are interested in doing it. This leads me into why I also had to give the game a six rating.

When you are in a group, and no one is interested in role playing, story telling, or getting involved in that part of the game, Gloom can get a bit monotonous. The game is still fun, but it then runs almost identical to other card games. Draw, play, next turn, which can start to get dry after a few plays. I know that people will absolutely love the fully immersed game play, but they need to be willing to give it a chance. Just know it is worth your time and effort, and will forever change your view of card games. So please, if you are going to be playing this game, and trying to have an awesome time, just try it out the way it is meant to be. Watch the table top episode on YouTube, this will clear up the joy that can happen from letting your inner goof ball come to the top.

Overall

This game is amazing, and is easy enough to learn. You should absolutely pick your copy up at The Comic Hunter, and while your at it, pick up some of the expansions. Remi and them will be happy to help, and hey, if you ever need someone who goes balls to the wall when playing, feel free to invite me. I will show you how much fun the make believe aspect can be!

BONUS

A quick run down on the gloom expansions.

First, we have Unhappy Homes, which will add a mixture of new cards and new rules. It starts by giving you a new family, Les Artistes of Le Canard Noir. With the new family, there is also fifty five new cars to add to your deck. It gives “residences” for your characters to go, which was not in the original Gloom decks. The rule states at the beginning of the game, you will place a residence card next to your family on the table. The new “mystery” cards included are the only cards you can play on a residency, no modifiers from original cards or untimely death cards may be used onto a residence.

The best part of buying this expansion is that you have now expanded your game from four player to five player maximum.

Next we have the expansion Unwelcome Guests, which adds a new rule as well. An unwelcome guest which is added to each family. Someone who will do unspeakable horrors to your team, like try and make you lose. It also gives you another family, by the name of The Malone Mob, so you know they are willing to kill their way to the top. Still only recommended to play five players, as hitting the six player mark makes the game too wonky according to most reviews, and the site itself.

Thirdly, we have Unfortunate Expeditions, which I am not going to bother saying I know a lot about. This is the only expansion I keep forgetting to pick up (I know, shame on me). I do know from what I’ve seen and heard, that it adds expeditions to the game, which are “resolved” by playing certain Modifiers and Untimely Death cards with the proper symbol on them. Also it adds the Bumpersnoot family, which in itself is a good reason to buy it. How many times can you say Bumpersnoot in a game and not die from laughing? I couldn’t picture too many myself.

Lastly we have the Unquiet Dead, which is actually my favourite expansion of the group. not only does it add story cards, which benefit your family in the long run, but they also decided to throw in Undead cards. So you can have a ghost, skeleton, or zombie fighting for your team and “earning” points towards your teams end goal. I always love adding a bit of the supernatural to the realm of board games!

The only downside to this expansion? It is the only one which does not add a new family to the mix, so you would be trapped only playing four players instead of five. So of course, easy fix. Grab this expansion, and pick up another while you are at it, which will give you the full game you want, with the awesome rules you need.

ULTRA BONUS

So a lot of people have mentioned that I tend to only do positive reviews on my own site, and on here. You are correct in that fact, as I always look for the good in every game. The designers work hard, the publishers put work and money into them, and the consumer doesn’t want to read a review purely on the negative. I understand that not every game is for every one. I felt the need to give my very first negative though, because the game is out of print so it won’t cause any trouble for The Comic Hunter. This game, is called The Walking Dead : Card Game, which I just couldn’t find anything positive about.

I know, I know, there has to be something you say, well feel free to comment or message me directly to tell me about it. The only singular positive I could find was that they had character cards, so I got to be Daryl for all of the ten minutes we spent playing.

The game is very hard to explain, as we read over the rules several times, and could not make any sense of what it was we were reading. Let’s break it down real quick to try and see where the game is lacking though. Consider this a mini review.

Design : 2

Very plain. The card images are just reused with new numbers on them, and the game has almost 115 cards in size but only has about ten different styles. This would be including the six character cards that are included (Darryl, Tyrese, etc.) and then the four or five designs on the zombie cards. The case is also fairly basic, and really disappointing. Overall we really found the design to be boring.

Replay : N/A

I can’t even give this a rating, which I have never run into before. I have to give it an N/A because we just weren’t willing to try it a second time. Things did not go well at all, and it caused us to put it away after about seven cards played. This caused us to go over the rules again, realize we were playing it right, and know that we had no interest in playing it again. So all in all, I do not feel there is a replay value at all.

Fun Factor : 3

Again, the only fun thing is getting to play as Glenn for the ten minutes we played. I love the Walking Dead comics, TV show, and have been told the board game is fun too, but my god the card game is just awful. The game itself almost plays as a who plays the highest card. You essentially lay cards in a row trying to lay the highest card to earn “bullets” which are the points in the game. The row can only go to six cards, but you can not play a card that is smaller than the previous, which I guess requires skill a bit, but the characters you get allow you to choose a lower card and put it in the order, essentially restarting that row at the lower number. You can of course only do this once per game, and the game goes until all players run out of their fifteen cards. That’s right, if you play all of your fifteen, and the other player still has to run their hand.

I get the concept, and I guess I can see how it would work for some games, but when you go into the box expecting a fun zombie killing or survival game, you are definitely mad when you get a “whose card is bigger?” game of comparing sizes.

I feel like this is probably one of the only times I can say that I am happy the game is out of print, so at least no one else will get stuck with this deuce of a game. You win some, lose some, and some of them just take a giant dump on your wallet.

Tune in next week, when I will be reviewing the Chez series (Cthulhu, Geek, etc).

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