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Gloom - Board Game Box Shot


| Published: 2004

The world of Gloom is a sad and benighted place. The sky is gray, the tea is cold, and a new tragedy lies around every corner. Debt, disease, heartache, and packs of rabid flesh-eating mice—just when it seems like things can't get any worse, they do. But some say that one's reward in the afterlife is based on the misery endured in life. If so, there may yet be hope—if not in this world, then in the peace that lies beyond.

In the Gloom card game, you assume control of the fate of an eccentric family of misfits and misanthropes. The goal of the game is sad, but simple: you want your characters to suffer the greatest tragedies possible before passing on to the well-deserved respite of death. You'll play horrible mishaps like Pursued by Poodles or Mocked by Midgets on your own characters to lower their Self-Worth scores, while trying to cheer your opponents' characters with marriages and other happy occasions that pile on positive points. The player with the lowest total Family Value wins.

Printed on transparent plastic cards, Gloom features an innovative design by noted RPG author Keith Baker. Multiple modifier cards can be played on top of the same character card; since the cards are transparent, elements from previously played modifier cards either show through or are obscured by those played above them. You'll immediately and easily know the worth of every character, no matter how many modifiers they have. You've got to see (through) this game to believe it!

User Reviews (24)

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Hockey Fan
Tinkerer Beta 2.0 Tester
79 of 86 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“A Gloomy game to fit it's name”

“Gloom” by Atlas Games is a very unique and innovative card game for 2-4 players. The game puts you in control of one of 4 twisted families: Castle Slogar, Hemlock Hall, Blackwater Watch and Dark’s Den of Deformity. Your goal is simple: make your family have the worst day possible and then put them out of their misery by killing them off. The game ends as soon as one family is completely killed and whoever has the family with the lowest “self-worth” points wins the game.

Unquestionably, the major draw to Gloom is its amazing translucent cards. The cards are made of a floppy, see-through plastic (which, by the way, shuffle like a dream). Incredible art work is printed on both sides. What makes the game truly innovative is the way the cards stack. Through the game, players will be playing modifier cards on themselves and other players. Since the cards are translucent, elements from the previous cards either show or are obscured by the new cards played on top. This makes the point modifiers placed on the cards easily visible for each character. As the Atlas Games’ website puts it, “You’ve got to see (through) this game to believe it!”. It’s wildly clever and works really well. You do truly have to see it in action to appreciate it.

Storytelling mechanic:

The game rules encourage players to “tell the story” as the game unfolds. Perhaps Lord Wellington-Smythe was pestered by poltergeists, which in turn caused his daughter Lola to be written out of the will (which then caused her to go mildly mad). So how could it be that Lola was wondrously well wed? And what effect will that have on the Twins and the Butler? Telling the story isn’t required to play the game, but I feel that the game heavily suffers if you don’t. To see the storytelling in action, I strongly encourage you to watch the play through on Wil Wheaton’s webshow “TableTop” (available from the video tab on this page or through youtube.)

The Theme:
Gloom’s artwork and theme lends itself to being spooky and macabre, but still stays light-hearted in a cartoony way. If you are a fan of The Addams Family, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, Tim Burton or just plain spooky Halloween fun, then this game might be right up your alley.

Throw your own Gloom party:
Atlas Games has also thought of something that I think is quite unique for any Board or Card Game. Their website provides a “How to Host a Theme Party”, with complete instructions on the Setting, Invitations, Music and Attire. Combine this with the fact that the website also allows you to print your own custom playing cards with fonts for the different families of the game. Someone could really run with this idea and throw a full blown Gloom bash! This idea is something you don’t often see and wanted to applaud Atlas Games for their effort to make this game come to life!

Cons / Concerns

Lasting power / Repetition
After you get over the amazement of the translucent stacking cards and have told a few tales on how your family encountered their horrible series of events before their sweet release of death, the game can start to feel a little repetitious. There’s only so many ways you can tell the same tale of unfortunate events. Since it takes creative effort on your part to weave a story, eventually you may forgo the effort of “making the game go” and dump the story telling all together. Unfortunately, once you do that, you are left with a game that is mechanically “just okay”. We burned out quickly with the main set, so I purchased one of the 3 expansion packs. (Unfortunate Expeditions). Although the new cards did add more modifiers and a new mechanic, it still just felt like more of the same. After deciding we didn’t want to play with the expansion anymore, it was actually a headache separating the expansion out once it’s integrated. (Had to find a decklist from the website and rebuild from scratch)

Flavor Text and Game Modifiers Text are too similar:
Every card in the game has flavor text on it. That’s fine, in fact, most of it is quite funny. The problem is some of the cards also have additional game state modifiers that may alter your hand size, cause you to skip a turn, or some other ongoing game effect. Since the fonts and colors of these texts are so similar, usually stacked on top of each other in the same text box, it’s VERY easy to overlook an effect that is currently in play. Combine this with the fact that cards are constantly getting covered up. Soon you will find yourself sitting on a family inundated with text, most of it of no consequence and yet one card is absolutely crucial to game play. You’ll want to really stay focused on what modifiers are effecting what, but that’s pretty hard to do when the other part of your brain is too busy trying to tell the story about how Cousin Mordecai was taunted by tigers before finding fame at a feast. Designing the critical game text to better stand out from the flavor text would have been a huge help.

Card Ink and Storage:
I’ve read a few reviews saying that the ink on the cards (particularly in the initial runs of this game) had a tendency to smear. Luckily, my copy hasn’t had this problem, but I know I would be pretty gloomy if I got a bad batch. This is doubly concerning seeing as these aren’t really the type of cards that are conducive to putting in sleeves (since you need to be able to see through them clearly when they stack). Another issue that I immediately came up upon getting the expansion was just plain storage. The expansions cards immediately blend right into the core deck, but the core deck box just holds the core deck amount of cards. If you picked up the 3 expansions, the Cthulu Gloom set and the Cthulu expansion, that’s a huge stack of cards that is going to require a new deck storage solution to hold it in. Otherwise, you are just going to have to cut the one big deck down into it’s 5 or 6 little boxes.

Parental Concern:
The game is rated for ages 8 and up. Seeing as the point of the game is dragging your family through horrifically painful plights and then murdering them off so you can win the high score may not sit well with some parents. That said, the game does do a great job in keeping as light and kid friendly as a Halloween type card game can be. It’s never more graphic than a cartoon skull or a brain sticking out of a teddy bear’s head, but I could see why some parents might object.

Too Long, Didn’t Read:
Gloom is an innovative and wonderfully spooky romp of a card game that shines bright at first but can fade fast. I attribute this mostly to the fact that you need to actively participate in the storytelling aspect to get the most out of it. If you are the type of gamer that just wants to sit down and play the game without having to spend a ton of effort to “making the game fun”, then this might not be the game for you.

Once you remove the storytelling aspect, you are still left with a decent card game, but one that can also feel repetitious. Some ink smearing issues along with some design concerns regarding the sameness of fonts on the flavor text/game text may leave you a little bummed. There might also be some parental concern with its appropriateness. (You are actively killing off your family, after all).

Gloom may just be the perfect light card game you pull out every now and then to showcase off its novelty, but the only Gloom I get is from the amount of dust its box has collected on our shelf.

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Intermediate Reviewer
60 of 67 gamers found this helpful
“Gather around the table friends, we got's some killing to do!!!”

To say I was expecting a slightly larger package when I ordered Gloom I was pleasantly surprised when the small box plopped onto the mat below my letter box! The packaging itself is very well presented, using a black, white and red colour scheme the mood for the game is set before you even open it up and get into the unique cards within. The blurb on the back sets the scene for the game with a brief gameplay rundown below a banner stating “The sky is gray, The tea is cold, And a new tragedy lies around every corner…”
The rules for the game are printed on a rather flimsy piece of paper but are easily readable and are just as easily understood as the gameplay mechanic is a simple one.
The cards are BEAUTIFUL!!! They are printed on clear plastic and printed on both sides so you can hold them up to the light with little to no distortion from the image on the rear of the card. Each of the family members are accompanied by an amusingly dark piece of text about themselves and a black and white portrait of them on a colour coded background for each family. Each family has five members and the draw deck is comprised of 58 modifier cards, which can be either negative which is good for you or positive which is bad for your opponents, 12 event cards which act as single use effect cards to either give yourself the edge or severely hamper an opponents strategy, and 20 untimely death cards which are the most important cards in the game as you need these to bump off your thoroughly depressed family members in order to score points at the end of the game. The main objective of the game is to make your family as miserable as possible using the modifier cards, with such unfortunate events as being “sickened by salmon” or being “chastised by the church, and all the time attempting to cheer up your competitors families by making them fall in love or becoming popular with parliament! When your family members are suitably depressed you can play an untimely death card and aid them in shuffling off their mortal coil in as unappealing manner as possible.
Once one family is entirely dead the game ends and the player with the unhappiest dead family wins the game, those members still alive do not count.

The game has a very simple mechanic to follow making it an easy one to pick up for players of any skill level. Each player has a hand of five cards and each turn they may play or discard two cards with the exception that an untimely death card may only be played as the first card, ensuring people don’t depress then immediately kill their characters. After a player has played their cards they draw back up their hand size (some cards increase or reduce the hand size) Some cards have continuous effects as long as they are on your family members but it never gets over complicated and most games are over well within the average 60 minutes given.
One of the greatest elements of this game is the story telling. It’s infectious! We found that even staunch refusers of roleplay were crafting tales of woe for their poor families which branched with each soul crushing event that befell them, and adding to the tales of other families with a delightfully whimsical tone as a wonderful event cheers up an opponents character, with a saccharin sweet smile and evil intentions all the way!

This game is a treat for any table and no matter who plays they will be hooked before the end!
9/10 I would have given this game a 10 if not for the smell of the plastic upon opening dissolving my eyebrows. The new plastic smell dissipated within minutes but the memory of the odourful punch in the nose is one that stayed!!!!!

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48 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Great for encouring storytelling and imagination!”

Gloom is a delightfully macabre family card game. It encourages story telling, and because you make the story up as you play, you get a different game each time.

Each player takes control of a “family” of five character cards. The characters themselves are very Addams Family like, gloomy and a just little bit twisted. On each turn the player gets a chance to create or continue a storyline surrounding one of the family members (their own or someone else’s) by using the cards in their hands.

For example, if you or someone else had the “Nefarious Nanny” character card, you might weave a tale of madness when you put the modifier “went mildly mad” into play. Perhaps the Nanny went mad when she was looking after “The Adorable Tots”, two children who appear innocent but perhaps were evil little sods who spent their days driving their new Nanny insane with endless loops of Rebecca Black’s Friday song. Or perhaps the Nanny went mad when she fell under the control of the “Creepy Clown” after being “charmed by the circus.”

The story would continue with each new modifier placed on the character card until eventually the Nanny’s story comes to end. Perhaps she was “devoured by weasels” after being “jinxed by Gypsies.”

Each modifier put into play can twist the story in whatever way your imagination comes up with, and with each player getting a chance to play a modifier it can make for a pretty interesting tale!

The game play can be short or long, it really depends on how in depth your story is and whether you are using expansion packs. The more detail you put into the story, the longer the game takes to play.

Gloom is a family friendly game, but it will also still satisfy those with a dark sense of humor.

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Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
55 of 62 gamers found this helpful
“Don't be fooled by the name! You'll have lots of fun!”

The best way that I can describe Gloom is a whimsical game shrouded in a veneer of misery. I mean, what more can you say about a game that you win by getting the most negative points, by afflicting family members with misfortunes like “Perturbed by the Pudding” and by winning the game by making all all the members of a family become the dearly departed?

It sounds awful, but it’s really not. Quite essentially, these families believe that the path to bliss in the afterlife is met by enduring hardships in their daily lives. The more misfortune they have, the better. And so, the goal of the game is to inflict as much misfortune as you can on your particular family before shuffling them off this mortal coil. Of course, your opponents are going to try to stop you, by playing (ugh) beneficial events on your family to boost their happiness, meaning you will have to be on your guard.

Gloom is a game that is played with 2 to 4 people, although with expansion decks, you can have up to 6 playing a single game. Each family has five individual family members. These family members are all alike, for game purposes, but each family member is wildly eccentric and whimsically macabre, like Mister Giggles, the Creepy Clown, who is literally a a skeletal clown with an afro wig. (“Mister Giggles always has a smile for the children.” Or Butterfield, the Lurking Butler. (“Whatever it is, he did it.”) These family members form the core of the game, as any modifiers that are played are played over the individual family members, and when a family member is killed off by an Untimely Death card, the card is flipped to its opposite side, which is “Our Dearly Departed”, indicating that character is no longer with the family.

Modifiers are played over the card, you say? How does that work? With an ingenious card design. You see, the cards of Gloom are clear plastic, with designs imprinted in. There are four types of cards: Character cards (the family members), Modifiers (the bad – or good – stuff that happens to family members), Events (cards that have an immediate special effect on the game or families), and Untimely Death cards (the cards that actually kill characters off). Each of these cards (with the exception of the Character cards) look the same on the back, so you can’t tell what cards are which. Well, that’s not entirely true…Modifier cards have circles that are printed that tell what the modified values are, so there are black circles on the backs of those cards. Some Untimely Death cards also have modifiers on them as well, so the cards are uncertain enough that it’s basically a ********* anyways.

Modifier cards have three locations in which modifers are visible: the upper left portion of the card, the left-middle of the card, and the bottom-left of the card. Some modifier cards have one modifier, some have two, and a few rare cards have all three. Not all modifier cards are beneficial for your family members, but that’s OK; a modifier card can be played on your opponents family members as well as your own. Any modifier card either augments any existing modifier card underneath it, or replaces it entirely – if a modifier circle covers up another modifier circle underneath it, only the visible modifier counts.

Example: Butterfield has a top modifier of -20, and a bottom modifier of -10 (two modifiers with a total of -30). A player plays a modifier card on Butterfield with a top modifier of +10 and a middle modifier of -10. The top modifier will cover up the previous modifier, turning it into +10. The middle modifier covers up nothing, so it counts as -10. The bottom modifier can still be seen through the plastic card, since nothing covered it up, so it counts as -10. So the card now has three modifiers of +10, -10, and -10, for a total of -20. By playing that modifier card, Butterfield’s value actually lost -10 points. If an opponent played the card, it was a good move by the opponent. If the player played the modifier card, it probably wasn’t a good strategy.

Modifiers aren’t just for adding or subtracting points, however; some modifier cards have additional effects. Scarred by Scandals gives a -25 modifier to the middle location, but playing it forces the person who played it to immediately discard their entire hand when the card is played. Some effects can be potentially devestating, so sometimes you need to weigh whether playing a certain card is worth it at any given time.

During a player’s turn, they can play two cards from their hand, play one card and discard one card, or discard 2 cards (certain card effects can temporarily change this, of course). There is a very important rule to pay attention to: An Untimely Death card may not be played on the second card play of the turn. There are cards that can enable you to kill more than one family member in the same turn, but this rule prevents players from stacking deaths willy-nilly. There’ll be plenty of time to bump family members off, believe you me.

Where this game really shines is in the storytelling aspect of the game. As you get further along in the game, the litany of events gets really comical to read. For example: “Mister Giggles, the Creepy Clown, was Distressed by Dysentary, was Mocked by Midgets, was Put into Prison, Landed a Legacy, was Disgraced at a Dance, was Wonderously Well Wed, but was Widowed at the Wedding.” There’s plenty of flavor text to make you giggle, and the game is different enough to set it apart from any other game you’ve likely played. I also really dig the plastic cards; the cards are extremely durable, and because they’re made of plastic, they won’t get ruined by a random soda spill like other card games would.

As much as I enjoy this game, I understand that the macabre stylings might not be for everyone. There is no outright blood or gore in the game, so it IS kid-friendly, but the subject of killing off family members might be somewhat circumspect. As long as you can deal with the slightly off-kilter nature of the game, you’ll have fun with this one.

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Book Lover
Video Game Fan
40 of 45 gamers found this helpful
“"Are you miserable darling? Oh, Yes, Completely! ”

Gloom is one of my favorite games but I only get to play it about once a year because our game collection is vast and the tastes of the rest of my household run more to Axis & Allies, King of Tokyo, Munchkin and so forth. I’m not complaining, really, I enjoy playing all sorts of games.

Let’s start off with the games components; the game is nothing more than a large deck of unique, clear cards which, when stacked atop one another, allow certain elements from previously played cards to show through. The artwork on the cards is wonderfully whimsical and slightly creepy. I love the novelty of the see-through cards and the level of strategy added by what gets covered and what shows through. However, this brings us to my one, and only, complaint about the game; the cards can be very hard to read if lighting conditions are not ideal. This game is so much fun that dealing with hard-to-read cards is absolutely worth it.

Onto game play! Each player is assigned a family who’s cards are laid out in a row before them. The object of the came is to make your family members as miserable and unfortunate as possible and then kill them off. The most miserable family wins. There are cards of misfortune where one contacts disease or is left at the altar or drowns in a lake and there are “good” cards with happy events on them. In a complete turnabout on normality a player wants only bad things to happen to their family and will use the more fortunate cards on other player’s families to spoil their gloomy scores.

One of my favorite parts of the game is the storytelling. As each new card is played the person playing the card narrates and recaps something like this: “After contracting the plague, being left at the altar and being mauled by badgers the poor fellow found solace in the arms of a New Love….” Then said new love card is played covering up gloomy happenings and destroying the carefully cultivated despair. Also, at the beginning of the game, which player goes first is decided by who has had the most dreadful day. I always go first, not because my life is actually awful, because I can make my day sound terrible. It is much like narrating the cards in game and loads of fun. This game always makes us laugh. Highly recommended!

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Advanced Grader
Novice Reviewer
69 of 78 gamers found this helpful
“What are you willing to put into it?”

Gloom is a card game where each player chooses a Family and makes them as miserable as possible, then you use kill cards to kill off the family member and collect the points on the particular member of the family. The more miserable they are, the more points you get. At the same time, your opponents will receive cards to increase happiness and will use them on your family to take away points.

The cards are a nice see through plastic, which makes the cards good quality. Also because the cards are see through, they can be placed over the cards of family members, without covering the portrait. This is also used to cover up and counter scores put on by previous cards.

As stated above the cards are of excellent quality and the cards are humorous as well. However, the real meat of this game is the people playing. The cards can take you from point A to point B, but the real entertainment ensues when the players are tasked with explaining how they got from point A to point B. “The Madame was crying over her lost beloved and decided to weep by the lake. However she forgot she had bread crumbs on her dress and she was [Attacked by ducks +10pts].”

Overall, I like the quality of the cards and I like the idea of the game but you ultimately get what you put into the game. Players who are not as creative might not entertain the group as much, where as eccentric individuals would make for more entertainment. Depending on the game it can drag from time to time, because it takes awhile to kill all 5 members of one players family which makes the replay value low. But strangely enough after enough time has lapsed, the suggestion of playing Gloom again sounds like a good idea.

If the group is prepared for the duration of the game and they are willing to pour creativity into the game, Gloom can be very fun.

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Cryptozoic Entertainment fan
AEG fan
39 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“Make your day depressing”

Many card games want you to have fun with the rules and with others. But for Gloom, this is a game where the fun is with depression. If you are a storyteller, then this game may be for you.

Gloom is a game where the ultimate goal is to make your family as miserable as possible while making your opponents families as happy as possible. The point is to get the most negative points to win the game. But how is this possible? Well, it is a card game but the cards themselves is both awesome and a tiny drawback.

The cards themselves are actually see through. When placing cards on top of each other (given that it’s for a positive or negative effect) it will cover up your character card and give you a positive or negative point value. You can use certain cards to also effect your opponents family in a positive way as well. While I do like the cards, often times it’s hard to really get a good grip on the cards because they always slide around but that’s just me.

The real deal breaker here is the fact that you can just say what’s on the card but for Gloom, you really have to get into it. Make the game like a story and why your characters want to be as unhappy as possible. A good story can make or break a game and this is one of those games. But if you don’t like telling a story, that’s perfectly fine. The game as it sits is a lot of fun when you have the right people playing it and sometimes it’s good for a laugh.

Gloom is a tale of woe but it’s a fun card game. The cards themselves won me over (or in this case, decided to slide all over the place) and it’s a chance to find out just how much of a depressing family you can make. Regardless on how you feel at the end of game, I do hope you have a miserable (positive here folks) time as possible.

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Gamer - Level 4
39 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“How to lose friends and alienate people (and have fun doing it).”

Gloom is a great game for ages 8ish and up. Reading fluency is really the only requirement for the game. That, and a dark outlook on life.

The game is quick to learn and easy to teach.

This is a story-telling card game, where the aim is to make your chosen family of 5 characters as miserable as possible, and then kill them off in suitably bizarre ways at the nadir of their lives. The game finishes when one player succeeds in slaughtering their entire family, and the winner has the least happiness/most misery points (depending on your world view).

The game is made up of clear plastic cards, through which you can see past details; misery or happiness points. The players can either play cards on their own characters to make them unhappy, or on others’ characters to make them happy, or kill them at opportune or inopportune times. This mess-with-your-neighbour aspect can get a bit out of control, and can need to be supervised a bit if playing with children, so older or more sophisticated children don’t victimize the less-so with happiness.

The story-telling aspect of the game is the best part. If you have a generous, skillful story-teller, the game will be a marvel of ludicrous misery, spiraling the despair out of control and weaving the lives of the families together in an epic tale of Greek tragedy proportions that all will get caught up in. One good story-teller can raise the game and creativity of the whole group.

The game can be played with minimal story-telling, which I’ve used as a way to entice reluctant players. However, I’ve found that within a turn or two, everyone is spinning completely outrageous tales of woe.

We love this game (adult and 10 year old), and I love the imagination and language skills that the game fosters. The kid just likes making people miserable and then killing them off.

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Plaid Hat Games fan
Miniature Painter
I play red
39 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“A Macabre Change of Pace”

In an industry constantly assaulted by endless zombie, Cthulhu, and ironic titles, stand-alone unique games are a welcome sight. “Gloom” is a fantastic game whose unique components, simple rules and phenomenal world will make your game night memorable. The cover art immediately reminded me of Edward Gorey’s gray rainy murder scandals, and the game is, through and through, a spiritual successor to his works.

You play as one of four demented households, filled with a mob of miserable souls. What is the correct term for a pack of miserable people, like a pod of whales, a flock of seagulls? A Travesty? Yes, you have a Travesty of miserable souls and will lead them through torture and demise to win the game. In Gloom, you want wicked things to happen to your household, while making others bright and cheerful: stepping on a lego piece would afford you a giant advantage, and nothing is more detrimental than a man selling ice cream singing Italian songs.

The game is composed completely of transparent cards, those plastic see-through ones which give off that strange celery smell when you first open the package (really, why do they always smell like that?). The rules are exceedingly simple and easy to learn, with one exception: hiding in the middle of the rule guide is a suggestion that you narrate and explain everything that happens to your characters, and this is where things become complicated.

If you don’t make the game into a story, the replay value is, honestly, very limited. You will typically need an experienced and enthusiastic player to “lead the game” the first time to encourage the other players to construct their own family stories and continuing scandals. Wheaton in Tabletop makes this look easy, and I’d recommend seeing how they do it before trying the game. If you have players delve into the world, then you can expect to be playing it again before long.

Because Gloom’s entertainment value is directly influenced by the creativity of the players (which I will make clear is a wonderful thing) I only give this game four stars in Replay value, but it’s your job to make it five stars yourself when you play! For the same reason “Easy to Learn” is four stars as well– the mechanics are simple, but getting the hang of rolling with these random cards and making it a cohesive, fantastic story is a little more tough but necessary for maximum entertainment value.

I for one had a fantastic playthrough where my Machiavellian butler rose up and became the head of his household and married the head of a second household, while the Lord of a third household turned out to be a member of another household in disguise (somebody noticed the two characters looked rather similar). The game culminated with a duel between the rising butler and the master-of-disguise lord, before they each met embarrassing and fatal ends. None of this would have happened relying purely on the cards. If you have a taste for intrigue, and remember to keep things gloomy, you’re in for a terrible time– in a good way.

So buy Gloom, gather your enemies, put on your best evening attire, dim the lights, put on some somber music, and have the worst day of your life. You’ll be glad you did.

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Novice Reviewer
United Kingdom
57 of 65 gamers found this helpful
“Play with the right friends”

I’m not going to discuss the game mechanics which everyone seems to have covered, I’m just going to talk about how much fun Gloom is. Yes, the morbid humour is great but the game only really works if the players are prepared to embellish the stories as they go along. Just playing the cards one after another to gain points or punish others would be boring quite quickly and its one of those rare games where the winner of the game doesn’t matter so much. It really is the taking part that matters.

When several characters have simultaneous stories running at the same time it can get a bit confusing . . . was he the drunk, or did his partner die? . . . but that’s part of the fun. If you have uninhibited broadminded and imaginative players it’s well worth playing. otherwise think twice.

The only downside I would mention is a slight limit on replayability. The same kind of story lines keep recurring even with inventive players. I haven’t tried an expansion game yet, but am starting to think that after only three games I need an expansion for more variety.

My favourite card in the game is the one that cancels out a planned death. it’s just so satisfying when another player announces “Tragically they fell down a well to their death” to say, according to the card, “Ah, but they din’t . . they saw little metal rungs in the well and against all odds climbed out and lived!”

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Reviewed My First Game
39 of 45 gamers found this helpful
“Creatively Creepy Curse Cards”

One of my favorite things about original Gloom is the opportunity to create an elaborate, twisted story with my fellow players. Any time we pull out the deck we all groan and hope our poor family doesn’t dare to once again visit the moors–the site of many a gruesome death in the past. Or, heaven forbid, dare to visit the circus while it is in town.

What I like:
1) The families are just weird enough on their own to inspire some great story telling, but simple enough to allow for some VERY different interpretations.
2) The design of the cards is beautifully intricate. I love how the clear layers work together.
3) The deck is small and portable. As long as you don’t have too many expansions, it is easy to grab and go if you are gonna play somewhere other than your game room.

What I didn’t like:
1) Probably inevitable with new plastic, but when I first opened the box the cards had an odd smell and it took a few airings for them to lose it.
2: The color coding for each card type is clear once you get used to it, but at first we had to constantly refer to the rules to remember what counted as each type. This is occasionally important.

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I'm Completely Obsessed
Book Lover
Advanced Reviewer
12 of 13 gamers found this helpful
“Happiness is Overrated”

Gloom is a game that I took an immediate interest in when I first saw it played. The premise of having a family of characters and telling stories of how miserable their lives are (before killing them) was intriguing. It appeals to the storyteller in me, and I appreciate the game’s dark humor.

That being said, this game won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and not everyone in my game group was all that enthused about it. If the players enjoy telling a darkly humorous tale, they’ll get quite a bit out of this game. Without the storytelling aspect, though, Gloom loses a lot of its fun factor. An appreciation for alliteration is also an advantage as there’s an alarming amount and anyone who is anti-alliteration is almost assured to get aggravated or annoyed.

The cards themselves are sturdy, and the transparent, stacking nature of the cards gives the game a distinctive look. The cards can get a bit hard to read if a lot of them start to stack up, but overall they work well. Just be careful when shuffling and stacking them–the clear plastic cards are study, but they are also very slippery.

The original Gloom (there are other “flavors” available–Fairy Tale, Cthulhu, and even Munchkin Gloom) also has several expansions which introduce elements such as unwanted guests, homes, story cards, and even the possibility of “Dead” characters staying active after becoming ghosts, vampires, or other forms of undead.

If you enjoy dark comedy and telling a somewhat morbid tale in which you get to make your characters’ lives miserable. This is a game where doing nice things to the other players characters is one of the rottenest things you could do to them.

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I play purple
38 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“If you are creative, you will love this game”

As some of the other reviewers mentioned above and as it was said in the tips, you really need to create a story as you play. Otherwise, you will not enjoy this game. There are both positive and negative modifiers to the cards you can play, and some of them have an effect on the person the card was played on. There are some really good game tips regarding this aspect of the game as well.
In my opinion, this game is more about having fun while going crazy as you create convincing enough stories as you play a card. You will obviously try to keep your family as miserable as possible while your opponents’ families are satisfied (as satisfied as they can get in a world such as the one in which our families live) but even if you lose, all the laughter that you will get while playing will help you overcome the defeat.
One of the downsides of this game is that the stories can get a little bit repetitive, especially if you play with the same groups of people all over again. Playing with newbies may be hard at the beginning, while they get the hang of it, but if they are creative and shameless, you will be surprised to see what they can come up with. You definitely need to be feel comfortable talking about serious injuries caused by wild animals or scatological stuff.
I only have the basic set of cards and I would like to see what the expansions add to it, especially in what comes to replay value.

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Gamer - Level 3
38 of 44 gamers found this helpful
“Mr Giggles Returns!”

Rarely does a game make me laugh so hard that I cannot breathe. This is one of these rare games. Without fail, with Gloom the evening will descend into side splitting laughter as the most awful things happen to your family. With the right crowd you may need oxygen – you have been warned!

First of all the quality of this game is superb with strong well made cards and the process and rules of play are beautifully simple.

You each start off with a family with different family members (Mr Giggles!) and play transparent cards over your or other players’ characters. Each card is transparent with negative (good) or positive (bad) points and a starting sentence such as ‘savaged by poodles’. It is up to the person laying down the card to come up with the narrative, i.e. why Mr Giggles was savaged by poodles, and so each game will vary depending on who you are playing with. My gaming group is dark so I am unable to repeat why Mr Giggles was savaged by poodles….. Playing cards to ruin your opponents score adds to the mirth, the only rule is that the narrative must flow. People who are into role-playing will love this

The game ends when you kill (yes kill) all members of a family, not necessary yours. Killing an opponents family member is a good idea if they have positive points.

All in all this is a fun game which can be awesome with the right group, that is really easy to play and easy to learn. Be warned however, this game can be a bit dry if played with people that are not into storytelling. The game is still playable, just not as fun!

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The Gold Heart
Rated 100 Games
73 of 85 gamers found this helpful
“Let Me Tell You a Tale of Woe...”

An Atlas Games Card Game
If Edward Gorey, Charles Addams and Tim Burton decided to design a game, it might have just been Atlas’ Gloom! A world where the only escape from a world of damp skies, musty dark hallways and perpetual pessimism is, quite possibly, the warm and swaddling embrace of the eternal hereafter.
Welcome to Gloom. A unique card game where your goal is twofold: kill of your entire family and be ready to come up with a story of their lives worthy of a Morgan Freeman narration. Granted, the tone of the game starts out as sad, but it’s up to you to make it hilariously unbearable. Your goal is to lump upon your chosen 5-member family great tragedies with the intent to make their lives so unbearable that when death DOES come calling (again, by your own hand) it is a respite to the torrid insanity that is their lives. You do this by lowering your kinsman’s self-esteem by playing such cards as “was Cursed by the Queen” and “was beaten by beggars”, events that would depress anyone. But you are not so heartless a player as that, because at the same time you can visit encouraging cards such as “was wonderously well-fed” and “had a picnic in the park” on your opponents’ family, taking them further and further from everyone’s goal…kill of your whole family. The real trick is the storytelling. As each event occurs to a family card, you must string the story of happenstance, both good and ill, together so that in the end there is a tale of woe (or elation) worthy of passing down the family tree. It is a narrative game that requires incredible imagination.
Keith Baker did a brilliant job in designing the game. The cards, themselves, are transparent so that as each modifier is played on a member card you don’t lose background information that would lend itself to the stories.
If you are looking for a game to be played between 3-4 fairly accomplished storytellers (I have found this true with a gaggle of Dungeon Masters), Gloom is brilliant, fun and affordable.
There are four expansions:
Gloom: Unfortunate Expeditions (adds a family, adds worldly events)
Gloom: Unhappy Homes (adds a family, adds homes as extra characters to destroy/kill off)
Gloom: Unwelcome Guests (adds a family, additional characters to add to the storyline)
Cthulhu Gloom (adds Cthulhu mythos…talk about ultimate depression)

In the end, with all of the expansions, eight families are available (so up to eight players with them all).

Final Opinion:
If you have an intelligent, imaginative group, purchase the base set, it is unbelievable fun. Each additional set can enhance but inevitably complicate the game.

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Cryptozoic Entertainment fan
38 of 45 gamers found this helpful
“Role-playing Horrific Stories”

This is a unique game in which you have a family of five or four members based on number of players. The object is simple make your family have the worst life they can have before killing them off. The game will end when one person’s whole family is dead with the winner having the lowest score. The Game has a deck of clear cards that can be stacked on each other reveling what is on the card below it. Just playing this card game as is can get boring on replays I would highly recommend adding in the role-playing aspect of the game giving your family life and telling their stories. The cards give a small description of what is happening to the character, we tend to always elaborate on these descriptions to give our families epically horrific stories. Without the role-playing aspect added to the game replays of the game can become quickly boring. Gloom does have expansion packs allowing new life events, families, and even adding a main story line that will help at getting your score even lower at end game. If you have an over active imagination, or just enjoy a good role-play I would recommend this game for you.

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38 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“A very nice game!”

It’s a funny game that could make you laugh a bit, and the mood is great!
I played some two players games. I liked it, but it’s a little too random for my tastes and not completelly balanced.
The core of the game is the transparent cards game mechanic, which is brilliant. You basically stack transparent cards over your characters and what you see is what actually affects your character.
You win the game by having bad things happening in abundance to your family members (each player has got 5), and then killing them when they are worst off. The challenge, however, is that your opponents try to make good things happen to your family members as well, so the story told about each person is a gloomy chronicle with occasional happy events (“Oh look! Ducklings… a[…]”).
If you like Tim Burton’s style you should definitely buy this game.

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I Am What I Am
38 of 48 gamers found this helpful
“Dark humor is always fun”

I first saw this game on TableTop and i just had to try it.
Killing people have never been so fun.
I played it with my boyfriend and it was so mutch fun.
It´s dark and twisted.
The rules are quite simple to learn and you learn so mutch troghout the game to.
I strongly recommend this game to peapole with some dark and twisted humor.
It is an unpredictable game it all depends on your cards.

The card tells a happening, an event or the finale death and the point is to get your characters as unhappy as possible and then kill them off with the cards you have.

The moore depressed and heartbroken the characters are the higher your finale score will be.

I love this game and i hope you´ll do that too.

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Gamer - Level 5
Intermediate Reviewer
38 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“Morbid fun!”

Even though I own this game, my fiancée never wants to play it with me, however her family loves it, so we always play it together! It is great fun to enjoy with both her parents and brother; everyone having as much fun as the next one!

Each player has a family of five on the table in front of them. The objective is to make them as miserable as possible and kill them to relieve them of their misery. At the same time you can make your opponents families happier if you believe that is a good strategy.

All cards are transparent, making it easy to play modifiers (and less messy) since you just put them on top of each other!

There is a storytelling element to this game, but we usually ignore it to speed it up, and I find it just as compelling!

I own the expansion Unfortunate Expeditions which I find make the game more flexible and funnier!

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Amateur Reviewer
38 of 51 gamers found this helpful
“Kill your family...hate your friends!”

This game has a neat concept where you are trying to make your family have a horrible day right before they die. I can handle the theme and it is neat because it is different, but this game will make you hate your friends so much. There are cards that pretty much trump all of your work and after spending 3 turns racking up points to have another player trump it and then kill off your family member so you don’t even have a chance to fix it sends me over edge. It is a fun little game that is decently easy to learn. I would play it again if it comes to the table, but I wouldn’t ask to play it.


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