At a Glance: Gloom is darkly comic, and just begs to be told as a macabre narrative as you play.
Gloom is a card game for 2-4 players who each take control of a family of misfits who experience a wide range of unfortunate events, eventually (and hopefully for you) resulting in their untimely deaths. You see, in Gloom, you want the negative events to happen to your family because whoever has the most negative self-worth will be the winner. The game uses transparent cards that are played in succession on top of the family characters and only the visible modifiers are the ones that count at any point. Your goal is to play negative cards that have alliterative names like Mocked by Midgets, Swindled by Salesmen, or Perturbed by the Pudding on your own characters so their self-worth decreases. If at any point a character has a self-worth value that is less than zero, that player may mercifully kill them off, at which point that self-worth value is locked-in. The game ends when a player has no characters left alive. Whoever has the most negative self-worth “wins” the game of Gloom.
It seems Gloom would be…well…gloomy, but with the tongue-in-cheek storytelling and dark comedy, it ends up being fun and quirky. In order to get the full effect of this game, storytelling is a must I think. The game is fine when just playing cards on your characters and others, but if you get into it and make up a running narrative while you play, it elevates this game to something really funny and special. It’s also nice because the “negative” cards that you play on other players’ families are actually happy events like getting married, having a good day, or being honored, etc. and the morbidity of it all is softened by the cartoony artwork and the quirky characters that include a teddy bear and a brain in a box. So it is more like The Addams Family or Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
As I mentioned, this game uses transparent cards in a really innovative way, and I love these cards and how they modify the character and the cards underneath them. There are no other components in this small game, but these are some of the coolest cards out there, and Gloom is one of the coolest games out there.
Affordable and in-print: https://amzn.to/2RkSMGk