Saturday, 16 February 2013

Gloom - Kill yourself happy!


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!!!
The four unfortunate families
Modifier cards
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! 
Mr Giggles, the creepiest card I own, and that's quite an achievement!
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.

.....But now he's dead (again)
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, 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 cards 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!!!!!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Hey, That's my fish!

Hey, That’s my fish, Fantasy Flight edition.

Light, that’s the first word that springs to mind. For a box almost as big as the Talisman box there is a distinct lack of weight! The reason for this shall soon become apparent.
The artwork on the box is well done and in keeping with the humorous nature of the game within and the usual FFG vinyl effect is present too giving the box a good sturdy feel.

When opening the box the reason for the weight issue become apparent, FFG seem to be shipping fresh air around in their boxes! The contents would easily fit inside a box half the size, if not smaller, the card insert to hold the components takes up more room than they do! But this is only a minor quibble (if a daft one).
This box contains more air than anything else!

The rules are simple and well presented on a double sided page explaining the easy, but addictive, game format of move, take fish, win game. Bonus points there for not using an unnecessary amount of paper for such a simple concept unlike some games companies.

The ice flow tiles are of the same sturdy vinyl effect card as the box so they will stand up to a lot of play without damage.
The penguins themselves are brilliant! Quite small but well sculpted, molded in an assortment of amusing poses (my favourite being the one raging into the sky!)

All four colours with one of each pose.
The tile layout before a game.

The game is simplicity itself to play and takes seconds to set up, in fact it took me longer to get the box open than it did to set the first game up!

You begin by placing one of your penguins on a tile with one fish on it, the next player does so too and so on until all players have done so and this is repeated until all penguins have been placed.
On your turn you can move any one of your penguins across the ice flows, taking the tile you were stood on with you and removing it from play. You move in straight lines and your progress can only be barred by other penguins or missing tiles.
The main strategy involved is placement of your penguins. Trying not to end up trapped in a corner where your opponents can remove a tile or two and cast you adrift from the board, at which time you are considered eaten by killer whales!, but aligning yourself to do the exact same thing to everyone else while taking as many high scoring fish tiles as possible.
The rules are so simple that a full group of four were taught the rules before turn two of the first game and were penguin strategists extraordinaire by the third. It makes a great casual filler game for a busy game day and breaks up those times between big box games nicely. The penguin playing pieces are a nice touch and the tile quality adds to this.
A four player game about to kick off!

I’ll give this game 9/10 as a casual game alone as if I compared it to most of my other games it would have a much lower score. Great as an introductory game and fantastic if you want a litre of American factory air as a bonus!

A fantastic way to spend ten minutes or many hours afloat on the ice and I would recommend this to any and all as a brilliant and inexpensive game for all tastes, from the hardcore to the casual.

Bonus game tip: removing tiles that are surrounded can easily disturb the neighboring tiles and ruin a game by forcing you to constantly rebuild sections of the board. To prevent this I recommend using Nerf darts, the ones with suction cup ends, as you can simply prod and lift a tile without upsetting the play area at all.