Gaming Unplugged: Gloom

 

Gloom Logo Sketch

Have you ever wanted to kill your family? Well now you can take out the pent up rage out on sad little people on see-through cards. Gloom is a wonderfully sadistic game where the winner has a team full of losers. In Gloom, each player controls the fate of one family of five lovable losers. There are only four families so the game is designed for four players, but it can be played with five by each player giving up one family member to the fifth player.

The game play is really simple. Each player has one family they are trying to cause misery too while making their opponent’s family members happy. Once you have your family members depressed enough to your liking, you want to try to kill them off one by one. Players can also play actions to make things harder or easier. The first player to kill off all of their family members ends the game and then the sadness (points) are tallied up. Then a winner is declared.

 

The families are already very gloomy to start things out. The little gothic portraits are fantastic and fit the theme of the game perfectly. The families are comprised of delightful characters; the circus family has a creepy clown that’s wonderful. There’s a brain in a box and a Frankenstein teddy bear, weird twins, and what is surely an evil butler, the family dog and the red-headed stepchild. There’s a family to murder for everyone.

Gloom Cards

Game play is simple enough. Essentially, each player takes turns inflicting unpleasantness to the individuals of their own respective families. These misfortunes give each family member a negative number that represents their mood. For example Grogar, the Frankenstein teddy bear, may have “contracted consumption” giving him a mood of -30. Once your family member has enough gloom to your liking, you can happily kill them. No reason a very sad Grogar can’t be “burnt by a mob”, as the card says, “Fifty people with torches and pitchforks can’t be wrong.” Players also can have good things happen to their opponent’s families. Poor old Balthazar, the unfaithful hound has had a rough life so maybe he deserves to be “the toast of the town”, giving him a +15 to his mood. As you’ve probably picked up by now, you want negative numbers on your family; the worse off they are, the better!

When playing the mood altering cards, modifiers, you do have to pay attention to the actions that come along with them. Cards have effects that can be quick and painless or be continuous. You may have to pass along cards to other players or limit yourself to how many cards you can draw. Many of he modifier cards also have little story icons to go along with them. These icons represent story elements to use in the description of the bad things that happen to the characters. They also come into play in different way with the other cards. The story icons can also be covered up and replaced by playing different modifier cards on top of them. There are event cards that are just quick play for quick strikes against your opponents. The untimely death cards are what finish off your family and they all have their own rules and provide bonuses. If you want to play the “died old and alone” card you can’t play it on anyone with the heart symbol currently visible.

The first player to wipe out their clan ends the game and then the players tally up the negative points on their dead family members. Sorry — the alive ones don’t count. The player with the most negative points wins. It’s a simple game of murdering your family that happens to be a lot of fun. I think the best part of this game is the stories players come up with for the terrible things that happen. You can just play the cards and go about your business but where’s the fun in that? Get creative! PLAY GLOOM!

Gaming Unplugged: Smash Up

Have you ever wanted an army of aliens and zombies? What about one of robots and wizards? Well all of your crazy arm dreams have come true with Smash Up.

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Smash Up is a simple fun card game for two to four players. The gameplay has a much shallower learning curve than a lot of modern tabletop games. Each player picks two different deck s at random; the decks represent different armies or races. There are eight very different armies to you could wind up playing with, some combinations are utterly ridiculous. The basic Smash Up box has robots, aliens, zombies, tricksters, pirates, ninjas, dinosaurs (which may be cyborgs), and wizards. You play two of them at once! Players use these armies and the special abilities that come with them to take over bases. The bases are also themed after the different armies.

Now despite each army being awesome in their own way they also have their own play style. Zombies let you draw from the graveyard, aliens change the bases, wizards allow players to chain action cards. Every time you play you’ll have to compose a different strategy because you’ll never know what you’re dealing with. Playing aliens and changing out a base right before it scores is super satisfying.

smash up things

Players win by playing minions on bases to score the bases and claim victory points. Each base has different point values and different bonuses/extra rules. The bases all of have a point value and players place minions, with their own point values, on the bases in order to reach the total for the base. Once the last minion necessary to score the base is placed the three players with most minion points score the victory points for that base. Each player scores a different amount and sometimes it’s better to have the second most on a base. That sounds like a lot of number, but trust me once you look at the cards you’ll understand.

Smash Up looks like a really goofy game, and it is, but it’s also a very strategic minded one. You have to pay attention to what everyone is playing and determine the best course of action for yourself. On top of playing minions to score bases you all play actions. Actions are special cards that pair up with the style of play your particular army has. For example Pirates are great at moving units between bases and eliminating weaker minions so they have action cards that focus on those attributes. The pirate action “broadside” let’s you wipe out any minions of a chosen army with a value of 2 or lower. They can’t really take out anything stronger than that though. Smash Up is a fantastically strange strategic card game.

There is a lot of replay ability with Smash Up since the armies are always chosen at random, it’s the box of chocolates of card games, you never know what you’re going to get (sorry couldn’t resist). If you find yourself getting bored with the basic armies Alderac Entertainment Group, the makers of Smash Up, have put out some wonderful expansions with some of the most terrifying armies around (BEAR CALVARLY). The latest edition is the Pretty Pretty Smash Up it’s full of princesses, kittens, fairies, and horses.

If you’re looking for a great little card game with friends that is sure to get a few laughs, or if you’ve ever wanted to control an army of ghosts, Smash Up is an excellent choice. With plenty of reason to play multiple times with a different experience each time. Mix in a few expansions and you can play Smash Up until your hands can no longer hold the cards.