Let me start out with a short preamble. I love Gloom. I had the pleasure of being an active member of the Atlas Games “Special Ops” demo team for many, many, years. As such, I’ve played a lot of Gloom. In fact, as far as anyone can tell, I’m the only person outside of Atlas itself to run their massive Gloomiest Tea Party tournament format. (This the part where I plug that I’ve been asked to run that format again in a few weeks at Direct-Play Expo in Edmonton, Alberta. You should come.) The second part of my preamble is apparently being called the new “I’m a vegan who does CrossFit and cycles”. I’ve never watched, or read, Game of Thrones. What I do know about the series can be summed up by Winter is ALWAYS coming. Boobs. Everybody’s dead, Dave, everybody’s dead.
Basically, it’s already a perfect game of Gloom, plus boobs. It was only a matter of time before something like this came out. Gloom of Thrones is an unlicensed parody of Game of Thrones. Let me be super clear, it’s a parody. If you want canon, go somewhere else. If you want Snark, not Stark, you’re in the right place.
Fast rundown of Gloom. You want to help your friend, and their family, to be as happy, and wealthy, and long-lived, as you can; while making your own family as miserable as possible before inevitably killing them all.
For clarity, let’s try a slightly more detailed rundown of Gloom. Every player has a family of up to five characters, and a hand of clear, plastic, cards. On a players turn they may play two cards from their hand. Most of these cards will be Modifiers while increase or decrease a character’s “self-worth”. The cards are clear plastic so that when you play a card on a character, you can still see certain elements that have been played before. If you can see something, it’s active regardless of how many cards may have been played on top of it. Some cards have a positive self-worth value, others have a negative self-worth value. These values are spread out over three slots, and the total value of all three determine that character’s self-worth. If they are showing -10 -10 -20 they are worth -40. If someone then plays a card to cover up two of those slots, it could become +5 +10 -20 for a total value of -5. If a character has a negative self-worth, and only if they have a negative self-worth, a player may play an Untimely Death on them. In most cases, an Untimely Death can only be the first card played, and it removes that character from play and locking in their current self-worth as points. I say “in most cases” because there are cards that can break both of those rules. One such card, that is unique to Gloom of Thrones, is The Porcelain Throne. If a player controls the Throne they may play an Untimely Death card as their second card, but only on their opponents.
Any player can play cards on any living character, so you can play cards on your opponents as well as yourself. Positive modifiers often have beneficial bonuses to them, making it difficult to decide if you want your opponent to have that bonus while messing up their score.
The game ends when an entire family is dead, and points are totaled for all player’s dead characters. Living characters don’t give any points, and the player with the lowest total self-worth score wins regardless of whether their entire family is dead or not.
Pledge levels are pretty standard. $25 (USD) gets you a single copy of Gloom of Thrones, $50 gets you a special Deluxe Edition with four playmats, and a metal Porcelain Throne token by Campaign Coins. $250 gets you copies of every Gloom game, digital access, cool promos, and free worldwide shipping. $750 gives you everything, plus 500 custom Gloom of Thrones cards designed by the backer.
Gloom is an amazing game. I just gave the basic mechanics here, but that isn’t even where the game shines. You are encouraged to build a story as you play, and it makes a great experience.