Game Review: Gloom

Box for the base game of Gloom

Gloom. It’s gloomy.

Gloom, a game by Keith Baker, is one of the more innovative games we’ve come across, in multiple ways.

First, and maybe least innovative, is the theme. In Gloom, as the title suggests, good cheer is hard to find. It is not, however, impossible. But finding your family in good spirits will, alas, mean that you’re probably losing the game. For the object of the game is to take one of the fictional families, ruin their lives, and then kill them. The unhappier your family is when they die, the better off you are.

Are you a sociopath?

Who asked that? This isn’t a FAQ! And no, I’m not. And neither is Keith Baker. In fact, there’s good cheer to go around as well, and when you find it, you should do your best to bestow it on the families of your opponents. So you see, this game is actually all about generosity, if the meanest thing you can do to a nemesis is to ensure their character is Wondrously Well Wed.

You said there were other innovations?

Still not an FAQ. Stop that. But yes. The cards themselves are one of the cooler ideas in this game. They’re not quite transparent, and so the effects endure, even when you’ve stacked more cards in top of yours. See the pretty picture?

See how translucent?

See how translucent?

That’s cool

That wasn’t a question. But yes, it is. And speaking of pretty pictures, how about that artwork? It looks like it was personally drawn by Edward Gorey, making it not only attractive, but a perfect fit for the game’s theme.

There are four expansions, of which we own three, and a Cthulu-themed spinoff with an expansion of its own. The expansions add players and each adds a new twist to the game without overly complicating it much, and thus they’re recommended.

What about your silly beer analogy review system?

It might seem natural to go to a porter or a stout, for the darkness, but that would be too obvious. But no. Gloom is far too interesting for so mundane a comparison. It’s different, and at first glance it will confuse you, but as you partake it gets better and better, while continually surprising. Thus, I’m going to veer from a style comparison and into a specific beer, and name Gloom the Midas Touch of tabletop games.

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