Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: Gloom I first heard of a game called Gloom, I thought "How depressing!" Then I started to learn more about the game, such as the incredibly awesome see-through cards. You layer the cards on top of each other and they're made out of flexible and thin plastic. That was pretty great! Then I learned it was about out-saddening the other people playing. That seemed very funny. Finally, I learned that there was a storytelling angle to the game and, if you know me you know I love stories, so I was sold! A hilariously fun game that I could play 1-on-1 with my husband or with friends. What can get better than that? …… The Artwork!

Title: Gloom

Gloom Logo Sketch


Geeky Specs

Designer: Keith Baker
Year Published: 2005                     Rough Game Time: 60 mins
Players: 2-4                                         Suggested Ages: 10+
Type: Card Game, Hand Management, Thematic


What’s the Story, Morning Glory?

Players control the lives of bizarre and offbeat characters that are part of some strange families. Essentially, you want to make your characters as absolutely miserable as possible. Suffering is just the tip of the iceberg for the tragic lives of these families. Death is the only way they can find solace, and even then. . . fate might have a different story in mind. While players try to destroy the fates of their own characters, they also strive to cheer up the cheerless lives of other families with special moments that will enhance the characters positive moods.

Card Selection Gloom

What’s in the Box?

  • 20 Family Cards (5 for each family)
  • 20 Untimely Death Cards
  • 58 Modifier Cards
  • 12 Event Cards
  • 1 Set of Directions

How To Play or Not to Play, That is the Question

  • First separate the family cards from the rest of the cards and shuffle the rest of the cards together.
  • Each player should select a family and place them in front of them. Familiarize yourself with the story of each family member. The directions share some background information on each family, as well as the family symbols.
  • Players will draw five cards each from the shuffled deck.
  • The player who has had the worst day goes first.
  • On a player's turn they can play or discard up to 2 cards and then draw back up to your hand limit. Limit is typically 5 unless there are modifier cards that change that.
  • First, players can either play or discard any 1 card or choose to pass. Only on this turn can the player play an Untimely Death card.
  • Next the player can either play or discard another card or choose to pass. Untimely Death cards cannot be played on the second part of the turn.
  • The player's turn ends by the player drawing back up to their hand limit. If the player ends up with more cards than the player's hand limit at the draw phase, they do not draw up to their limit. Only draw up if you are under your limit. Do not discard the hand of cards back down to the limit unless there is a modifier card in play that requires this.
  • When players play a card it can either be on their own family or other player's families.
  • When a card is played, the person who played it needs to connect the events on the card to the story that is being spun by the family.
  • If a card is played on another family, the player controlling that family takes the effect of the card, not the player who played it.


The End

The game ends when an entire family is deceased. It ends immediately with that person, regardless of what the turn rotation is. Points are totaled for all the deceased characters with the points that are showing. The player with the most negative score wins! Do not tabulate the points that are covered up by cards that have been laid down.


Rules Weren’t Meant to Be Broken (Or Were They?)

The turn steps are sometimes beat by your eagerness to kill off a character, so make sure that if you want a character to meet their demise, it has to be on your first turn. Additionally, do not forget that you can discard as part of your turn if you're struggling to get helpful cards.

When you have positive cards in your hand, make sure you remember the stories the other players have shared so that you can add plus cards to their characters or have them come to their demise while they at their least gloomy. Don't forget to watch what the other players are doing. It is a multi-tasking game, so you have to stay on top of things.

Modifier Cards have pathos points and might have a Special Effect. The cards might also include Story Icons and will have Flavor Text that spices up the story. Story Icons play a role regarding Event Cards and Untimely Death Cards. These cards are placed on top of the character cards.

Event Cards are played and then discarded. They are not placed on the character cards. The events can be played on a player's family or other families.

Untimely Death Cards cannot be played on character cards that do not have a negative self-worth. Something gloomy must happen to a character before an Untimely Death can occur. These cards cause the character cards to be turned over. Keep the points cards in play for that character at the time of their death.


Best Played Under These Conditions

Gloom is made for 2-4 players and there are expansions for Gloom that allows for additional players to be added. I have typically played it with 2 players, but it has been the most fun playing with 3-4 players, because of the diversity of stories and the different players you can choose from.

My recommendation is to try to be as storyteller as possible. Playing with friends makes it more enjoyable, because you can more easily play off of each other. The storytelling part is really the best thing about it, so if you aren't that into telling silly about stories or trying to make connections, this game is not for you.


Spice Up Your Game

Why not attempt to make your guests as gloomy as the card game? Well, they might not come back, but you could still have fun with your last night playing with them.

You could make cups of tea or hot chocolate, but instead of serving them hot, make sure they sat out for a while and serve them room temperature or cold. Only make room temperature water available. If your guests are wanting beer or something carbonated, make sure it's already been opened and is at room temperature. It won't kill them to try to get into the minds of the families in this game. . . Or will it. . .

If you want to serve food, choose chicken breasts or pasta and cook them without sauces. Just maybe some salt and pepper. That doesn't mean tasteless and dry, just bland food. You could always taunt them with some sauce if they want to add some plus bonuses to their families. That would be devious.

As for snacks, what makes people gloomier than stale snacks! Buy some tortilla chips and puffy foods that turn into Styrofoam when left open overnight. You don't have to go for brand names, but that will definitely bring the gloom into the room. Try putting out some salt-less saltines and dry toast slices. Are you concerned that this might be too much dryness? Really make them sigh in exasperation by putting out some dips that are simply jarred baby food! Banana and Spinach are great choices for this.

I'll be honest, my husband got all frugal on me in regards to these recommendations, but it's really up to you and what you want to bring to the table. You could even just provide initial gloomy snacks by leaving a small bowl of snacks out to get stale, instead of the whole bag. Same with the soda. You could have two sodas already open and just pour little glasses of them.

Decor would include a white tablecloth and fake black flowers in black vases. If you have dead flower decorations already available, you could set those out. Think gloomy and drab without going heavy into Halloween. This would be a great game for a Halloween Theme Night with friends, though. Gloom would also be fun to play with the right family around Thanksgiving, too. It has that morbid sense of humor that could make those family holidays hilarious!



Gloom is an engaging and beautiful card game that challenges the mind in more ways than one. Spin a creatively depressive tale of a family tragedy while also contributing to the highs of other families. The game replay is great, because you can always try a new family and there are so many different event and modifier cards that it is near impossible to have a repetitive story. There are several expansions to make replay even greater, as well as quirky (Geek & Sundry Tabletop Expansion). Even for gamers who are not hardcore about games, this is a fun way to involve all types of gamers. I would play this when asked, if not initiate gameplay. There's a reason this game is so popular, so get your copy and join the Gloom Gang!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Loot Crate Unboxing - September 2014: GALACTIC

Back in July, I was lured in by the geeky-something-shiny of Loot Crate. So many neat little special items to call my very own for a set price every month. I'm not usually turned on by subscription boxes. I've done food ones in the past like Graze ( in the US) and Nature Box (US). Yet, one of the parts of my Fitness Goals says that I am allowed to reward myself big at certain milestones. And with that. . . I signed up for Loot Crate.

Loot Crate is a monthly box of Geek & Gamer gear. Subscriptions vary from one month to six months. I currently have the sixth month recurring subscription.

Each month is a special theme. So when I signed up it was VILLAINS! August's crate was HEROES! There was a glow-in-the-dark exclusive Funko Pop bobble-head Groot in this one. (I keep it at school and my kids LOVE it!) While these two crates were nice, they weren't really wowing me like what I've seen in past crates. Yet, one of the options that Loot Crate has is to sometimes buy leftover Loot Crates from previous months. I bought the June crate: TRANSFORM. It had some neat things in it.

Each crate has some nice pieces. The VILLAINS crate was the most-underwhelming so far, but the September crate even impressed my hard-to-impress husband who does not like that I signed up for Loot Crate. September's Loot Crate theme is: GALACTIC! That is right up my alley. They've been tempting us with bits and pieces for the last month. So I already knew there would be Star Trek, Star Wars, and Firefly, as well as some other galactic type stuff.

It arrived yesterday and I felt compelled to do my first unboxing EVER! Not a video, but pictures. So. . . beyond this point, let me know what you thought of the unboxing.



Below you will see what came in the box, as well as inside pictures of the box itself. They theme out the insides of the boxes, as well. 

We all know Tribbles are trouble, and now you have one of your very own. It is a plush Tribble with directions on the package for how to care for your Tribble, such as keeping them away from Klingons.  Light and fluffy, but it did shed a little bit when I took it out. This is a Loot Crate exclusive.

This box was a Mystery Mini. It could have been one of many different items. When I opened mine, I had gotten Captain Mal from Firefly. This is a Loot Crate Exclusive and everyone, according to the Loot Crate magazine, received a Captain Mal.

Each Loot Crate includes a pin for the theme of the crate. It is picture below with some awesome Pop Rocks Green Apple candy. On the right is a Star Wars Exclusive Retro Arcade Magnet. 

An Alien collectable figure was also included. Just like in previous boxes, they randomly put a figure into the box. I lucked out and got the Alien. They also had available Ripley, Kane, Dallas, and Ash.

It took me a moment to realize this was Firefly Bank Robbery Money, which can be used as currency in the Firefly universe. So now when I need to seek passage on a ship outta this crazy place, I have the creds to do so.

 And finally, snuggled away at the bottom of the box, was this perfect 9 x 27 poster of Han Solo. ::swoon::

The crate also game with a HALO code for digital loot and, as always, the Loot Crate magazine. The magazine has neat information and also explains all of your materials. So if you didn't know or understand why something was in your box, you could find out. This month's magazine has a little Behind-the-Scenes of Loot Crate's Short - The Verse.

And, finally. . . the empty box. The perfect playground for your new loot!  

If you don't want to miss out on this level of awesome in your life, make sure you go and sign up for Loot Crate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Middle School Game Club Teacher

I start my day getting up a little earlier than normal and  loading my car with a box of games, that must then be carrried up the steps to the building, then down the long hall to the other side of the school and up to the third floor. Once there I put the box down and prepare my classroom.

 I had a lot of construction in my back room this year. So I had to scrub down the tables and chairs and make sure we had at least 5 extra chairs in the back.

Then I have to unload the box of games into the game vault.

Check the calendar for gaming sign-ups and get the games out of the vault.

Set up the more set-up-heavy games for the kids, so they can amplify game-play during lunch. (Save set-up procedures for teaching days.)

Finally, lunch rolls around and it's TIME TO GAME!