Ever dreamed of slowly torturing your family to make them as miserable as possible, and then killing them? I’m a bit concerned if you answered yes, but if you did, Gloom just might be the game for you.
Gloom is a tabletop card game in which the objective is to kill the family you’re given when they’re at their most miserable. Misery is increased by placing modifier cards on family members, and the scoring system is simple thanks to the transparent cards. As modifier cards are layered on the character cards the points which are no longer visible lose their value, so keeping track of the points is easy. To fit the theme of the game, the points are negative so the “less” you get, the better. When you suspect your character is the most depressed you can get them, you kill them off using untimely demise cards. After killing a family member their negative points can’t be affected further. There are also event cards that have clear instructions on how they are played, and they can affect the game in various ways. The game ends when every member of one player’s family has met their untimely demise.
The game focuses heavily on hand management, so if you’re into that kind of stuff it’s made for you. The structure of a turn is straightforward: you play two cards and then draw back up to your hand limit, which is 5 cards. A few things to remember are that you can only play untimely demises as your second action and family members that have positive scores cannot be killed. Otherwise the cards to a good job of telling the player what they must do. The event cards encourage the player to build a story around their characters’’ fates, adding an extra level of imaginativeness to the game.
Gloom was a bit challenging because neither I nor my friends had played before. Although the rules are fairly simple, there are quite a lot of things to keep in mind whilst playing. This was quite disruptive for the storytelling aspect, as you had to focus all your attention to the rules. If we would’ve had time to play a few more rounds it probably would’ve been easier.
Overall, the game was an absolute blast. The gloomy art style of the illustrations fits perfectly with the atmosphere of the game and playing the game was highly entertaining. Who knew that ending the lives of your loved ones could be so enjoyable? Gloom easily one of the best card games I’ve ever played, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys card games and board games.
Designer: Keith Baker
Publisher: Atlas Games
Release date: 2004
Playing time: 60 minutes