Sep 5, 2012

[Games] Cthulhu Gloom

Ever since Geek & Sundry launched, the internet has been gifted with a new source for various varieties of geekery. And one of their special web shows that hits closest to home would have to be TableTop, the Wil Wheaton show focused on various board games and the like.

And while I already play a good number of games, especially due to friends like Tobie, it's always nice to have a new source for information on games of interest. And I'd be lying if I said that I didn't think of buying a particular game after watching an episode of TableTop.

And this is a classic example of that - after watching the TableTop episode featuring Gloom, I knew it was a game that I had to have. And thankfully Paradigm Infinitum over in Singapore didn't just have Gloom in stock, but one with a more Lovecraftian vibe to it.

Cthulu Gloom is a card designed by Keith Baker with illustrations by Todd Remick. The game is distributed by Atlas Games and is a standalone variant of the original Gloom game.

In Cthulhu Gloom, you control a group of Lovecraftian characters as you guide them through their ill-fated lives. Your goal is to make them as miserable, horrified and mad as possible before you finally condemn them to an equally horrible and untimely death. It sounds really macabre, but that's just par for the course for any game focused on the horrors of the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. But it's a lot more fun than it sounds like.

Now starting with your "family" cards, you use a variety of other cards to make them more and more miserable such as having them followed by fungi or sent to investigate Innsmouth. But at the same time, you can thwart your opponents' plans by making their characters happy with other modifier cards such as Bargained at a Book Sale or stuff like that.

Now a special twist to Cthulhu Gloom involves the addition of Story Cards that can give a player special benefits, provided your characters have the prerequisite symbols on them as well. Thus not only are you trying to make your characters all depressed and mad, but you're also trying to collect the right combination of symbols that will help you gain control of cards like the Necronomicon or even the King in Yellow.

 I love how the use of transparent cards is a key part of the gameplay mechanics. You stack modifier cards on your character cards and those circles that are visible represent the ones that are still in effect. Thus a depressed character can be quickly changed to a happy one with the right card played over the existing ones. Plus there are persistent card effects that continue to change the way you play for as long as the symbols are still showing. Totally brilliant card mechanics right there.

And I took the time to cite the artist behind the cards since they add to a lot of the character of the whole game. Despite this being a game involving Elder Gods, the cartoons keep things light and entertaining and even humorous. And that's what the game is supposed to be like - a fun experience among friends. Don't take it too seriously - just enjoy the crazy ride as you all take turns creating weird stories about your characters and the odd misadventures they end up experiencing. And that really defines the game right there.

Cthulhu Gloom is a fun game that you can enjoy with friends, whether or not they're well-versed in the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Thus the game gets a full 5 unspeakable horrors out of a possible 5.

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