Good news! RB and I have what is sure to be a brilliant idea for a new weekly post, and you all get to be our guinea pigs! Hooray!
Here’s the plan:
You know how very intelligent and intellectual people play chess by e-mail? Each player has a chessboard set up and the players send each other their moves so that they can carry on a game without having to be in the same place at the same time. RB and I don’t play chess, but we do play Gloom.
Gloom is a card game, the object of which is to make your characters suffer as much as possible before killing them off.
I’ll give you a moment to absorb the awesomeness of that.
We’re modifying the game a little to make it easier to play on the blog. There’s a great instructional video on YouTube that explains how to play here if you want the details of the full game, but here’s how we’re going to play it:
RB and I each have a family of five character cards. RB is playing with the Blackwater family: The Old Dam, Angel, Cousin Mordecai, Willem Stark the handyman, and Balthazar the dog. I’m playing with the Slogar family: Lord Slogar, Professor Helena Slogar, Melissa Slogar, Grogar the teddy bear, and Elias E. Gorr the gravedigger. Further down in the post there are pictures of the family cards and brief descriptions of the family members.
Each Wednesday we’ll do a Gloomy Wednesday post, and each post will be a turn. So one week it will be RB’s turn, and the next week it’ll be mine. Each turn consists of playing two cards. There are two different types of cards we’ll be playing with: Modifier cards and Untimely Death cards.
There are two different types of Modifier cards, good modifiers and bad modifiers. Good modifiers say things like, “Was Diverted By Drink” and “Was Delighted By Ducklings” and they have positive points. Bad modifier cards say things like “Was Cursed By The Queen” and “Was Taunted By Tigers,” and they have negative points. Since the player with the lowest score wins the game, the object is to pile as many bad modifier cards on top of your character before killing them off, so that you can accrue as many negative points as possible. You use the good modifier cards against your opponent by piling them on top of their characters.
To kill a character you play an Untimely Death card. Untimely Death cards say things like “Ran Out of Air” and “Was Torn Limb From Limb.” Once you’ve played an Untimely Death card on a character, you turn the character card upside down. There’s a catch with playing these cards: Each turn consists of playing two cards, but an Untimely death card can only be played as the first card. When one of the player’s entire family is killed off, the game is over. The winner is determined by tallying up all the visible points on the modifier cards of the dead characters only, and the person with the lowest point total wins.
There’s actually more to the game. There are Event cards, and instructions and qualifications on the bottom of Modifier cards that complicate the game, but for simplicity’s sake we’re leaving those parts out of our game.
Here’s the part of the game that we’re really interested in: You can just play the game with the cards and have a good time, but what’s really fun is to try to string the random events in the cards you play into some sort of coherent narrative. For instance, the last time RB and I played, there was an unfortunate incident that involved a character named Lola being cursed by the Queen for seducing the Queen’s husband. Lola and the adulterous husband were discovered in flagrante delicto by the Butler, who staggered out of the room in shock, fell down a flight of stairs and broke several bones, then met his Untimely Death by hanging as he crashed through the stair rail and caught his tie on one of the broken railings. We have a ridiculous amount of fun making those stories up, so we decided, “Why not do it on the blog?”
Famous last words. A word of warning: This seems like a good idea to us. It may turn out to be a complete disaster. If it is, we apologize in advance.
RB’s cards: The Blackwater Clan
The Old Dam: If her steely gaze doesn’t keep you in line, her large scythe will. There’s a reason why they call her the Murderous Matriarch.
Angel: Don’t let her name fool you; Dam’s training her to take over the family one day . . .
Cousin Mordecai: If he had half a brain, he’d be happy about the inbreeding. It’s the only thing that’s kept him alive for so long.
Willem Stark: Dam’s faithful handyman. His loyalty for the Matriarch goes farther than six feet.
Balthazar: The family hound can sniff out any bone no matter how deep it’s buried.
Ella’s cards: The Slogar Family
Lord Slogar: Once the head of the family, now just the brain . . . in a box.
Professor Helena Slogar: Brilliant, yes. Evil, maybe. Control freak, definitely. There’s the little matter of her reanimating her deceased husband’s brain and keeping it in a box, and then there’s the questionable husband-hunting for her daughter.
Melissa Slogar: Look, with parents like these there’s no way she’s going to turn out well.
Grogar: The teddy bear. Sort of. Also, when Professor Slogar finishes her little project, her daughter’s future husband!
Elias E. Gorr: Gravedigger. Times are hard. You take the jobs you can find. And at least there’s always plenty for him to do at Castle Slogar, given Professor Slogar’s, um, research needs.
Here are the links again to the game and the tutorial:
Atlas Games’ Gloom page: http://www.atlas-games.com/gloom/index.php
YouTube tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ea8FTdR3Dg
One last thing: We’ve added a Gloomy Wednesday link at the bottom of our home screen. If you’re reading this, say, a month or two after we’ve started playing (Hello, future people!) and you’d like to read the all of the Gloom posts without having to wade through the non-Gloom stuff, click that link.