Tabletop Archive

Game Review: Gloom

Posted March 10, 2014 By Andrew Bradley
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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Game Review: Doomworks!

Posted February 23, 2014 By Andrew Bradley

This will be the first in what should be an ongoing series in which we review some of the stuff other folks out there are doing.

Doomworks! is a card-based tabletop game that we obtained by backing it on Kickstarter. It’s also one of the model projects we’re basing our own upcoming Kickstarter project on, and so it seemed like an apt first review.

In Doomworks! you are taking on the role of a mad scientist trying to assemble your doomsday device before all the other mad scientists finish theirs. It’s created by a fella in Arizona called Daniel Schroeder, whose domain at seems to have expired. Alas.

For our part, we’d very much like to see another project from the studio, as Doomworks! was inventive, imaginative, and different, while remaining competitive and fun. Its cards are well-designed, giving the information necessary without feeling cluttered. The game is easy to learn, which makes the strategy of each turn the focus of your energies.

The theme of the game was what first attracted me to the project, and it is well-constructed and maintained throughout. It reminds me of the game Evil Genius, which lurks deep in my Steam catalog and surfaces occasionally. It plays with the tropes of the mad scientist and, while playful, stops short of making fun of the genre, as well it should.

They manufactured at the GameCrafter and you can still buy the game there thanks to that company’s printing model. At 20 bucks, the game’s worth it as you’ll certainly pull it out and play it on a semi-regular basis. It’s a quick game, and the modular nature of the doomsday devices means you’re never manufacturing the same thing twice. (Or at least, rarely).

Lastly, and certainly not least, the art on this game is worth the price alone.

I have decided to compare games to beer, as an esoteric and inscrutable form of reviewing instead of giving something so mundane as scores. Doomworks! rates a Saison, but with something surprising like a hint of winter spice in it. It’s enjoyable in short bursts and suits many occasions, and you can play it a few times in a night with few ill effects.

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