Gloom: Second Edition is a card game I have heard talked about over and over. It’s something people always seem to have in their collections if they have been playing board games for a while. I’ve never played Gloom before, but have checked out the semi-transparent plastic cards that look pretty cool and make it look far different from any other cards that I have seen.
Gloom has a simple concept; you are a narrator to a story. This story involves your family, a group of four individuals who you get to pick. There are quite a few different sets of families, that have their own theming and personality. One has a human/teddy bear, while another has a set of twins. One even has a pet dog that Claire, a member of our tabletop group, really enjoyed having.
You want your family to be sad — an eventful life full of drama and bad things happening to them. You do not want good things to happen, as you want them to be unhappy. When your family member dies, the number of negative points they have ends up counting towards your score. Having positive points ends up creating a negative score for you at the end of the game.
Playing is pretty simple — you have a hand of cards that come in three different types; red event cards, that can be played to mess up another play, black story cards that can be played on yourself or others and come in either good or bad, and untimely death cards that kill of any character that you want. On your turn, you can play up to two cards, however, you can only play untimely deaths first and not twice per turn. Your cards can be placed on any of your characters or any characters on the table.
Once a card is placed, the person who is the narrator of the family must then tell a story about what happened, depending on the prompt on the card. One of my characters got widowed at the altar, for example, so I had to make a story about how their spouse died on their wedding day, but then someone placed a card on that one, continuing the story. This storytelling element of Gloom is the best part of this game. Listening to what other people come up with when it comes to their Victorian-styled characters, through these strange prompts, is really most of the fun.
There are so many positive and negative circumstances and random events to make the game different each time you play, and each prompt is vague enough for you to connect the last one and create an engaging story. It also doesn’t feel awkward as everyone is doing it!
The cards also stack in a pretty cool way. They’ve got three circles on the left hand side of the card, and these three circles is where positive or negative scores come. Placing a card on top of a card, you can see the circles on the card below, if there is nothing blocking it on the card above. The way you stack cards matter, because the only thing that is going to be counted is the circles that can be viewed after the character dies. You can sometimes bring characters back to life, which is especially useful if someone kills off a family member who died before they were truly sad or if you have something to add to them before killing them off again. The game ends when one family has completely been killed off, at which point everyone counts up the points of only their deceased family members to find a winner.
Gloom was a game that I didn’t really want to play at first. I have held off for this long, as I wasn’t keen on killing off characters for fun, however once I started playing the game I really enjoyed it. The clever design of the cards combined with the amazing story telling makes for a very captivating game.
Gloom can be purchased on Amazon.