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Review: Gloom


We wrapped up our October with a streak of horror-themed games. As we cracked the seal on November, we decided to keep the theme going as we settled in to play Gloom.

Gloom was published in 2005 by Atlas Games. It is designed by Keith Baker with art by Michelle Nephew and J. Scott Reeves.

It has several expansions and is currently released as the second edition of the game. It is the winner of the 2005 Origin Awards Traditional Card Game of the Year.

The game utilizes the Hand Management and Take That, mechanics.

Set up
Set up for the game is very simple. First, each player needs to select the eccentric family they will be controlling. Next, shuffle the cards and deal out the opening hand to each player. Last, place the remainder of the deck face down in an area accessible to all players.

Decide who is going first (the game suggest allowing the person who has had the worst day to go first) and begin play.

Game play
After deciding who goes first, player one will begin by playing a card from their hand. A player may play two cards on their turn. The only stipulation is they can’t play an Untimely Death card first. Otherwise, the player may play cards on any character on the board, not just their own. Cards that can be played are Modifier cards, Event Cards, and Untimely Death cards.

Modifier cards will affect the self-worth of your family. You want to play the negative self-worth cards on your family while playing the positive self-worth cards on your opponent’s family.

The point of playing cards is to amass the largest amount of low self-worth points on a character as possible before letting that character reach an “Untimely Death.”

Untimely Death cards can only be played as the first card of your turn. Further, they can only be played on a character with negative self-worth.

The other cards you can play are Event cards. Depending on the card, Event cards can be played outside of your turn. Event cards can modify the rules of the game and allow you take actions you otherwise you may not be able to do.

Remember, many of the cards have text that will affect different parts of the game. Make sure to read your cards.

After playing your two cards, you then draw back up to your maximum hand size and pass the turn to the player on your right. Play will continue in this manner until someone successfully kills off their entire family. Dark enough for you?

An example of an opening hand and part of the family.

An example of an opening hand and part of the family.

Winning the Game
After a player successfully kills their family (it’s odd typing that!) the game comes to an end. At this point, each player will add up the negative self-worth of their dead characters. The player with the lowest score wins.

This game is fun. Lots of fun. This game is easy. Very easy. One round of play and all players should pretty much have the rules down.

There are a couple things that should be stated about this game. First, the cards are transparent. This allows you to stack the modifiers on your character while letting the character card show through.

img_1400The other thing that adds to the fun of this game is the storytelling aspect. Now, you could play this game by simply playing the cards on each character and passing your turn; however, each card has a title that lends itself to storytelling. By taking this, and creating a narrative as you play the card, adds a level of fun to the game that results in laughter as you and your friends weave a masterful tale of doom.

The artwork for this game is outstanding. It is so dark and, dare I say … Gloomy? We absolutely loved it.

Gloom has a low MSRP and, because of its small size, it is easily transported. It is the perfect game to take on vacation, to play on a rainy day, or any other time you want to play it.

The Forge Herald highly recommends this game.

Score 10/10


Patrick Steam punkPatrick Cossel is the Publisher of The Forge Herald. He is a writer, gamer, father, husband, and Level 1 Magic Judge. Professionally, he is the Operations Manager of a family-owned newspaper company. He can be reached at pcossel@gmail.com

© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.

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About Patrick Cossel,

I am a journalist and gaming enthusiast.

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