Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Miserable tragedies just before Christmas (Gloom)

Tomorrow (probably today when I've finished writing this) is the Christmas eve.

Before that we had to witness countless tragedies that crippled the hearts and lives of various family members in a world filled only with Gloom.

I'll summarise the highlights of the two game played, and lastly write something about the game itself.

First game was played with 3 players, and even this first play revealed quite a few horrific happenstances and interesting stories.

Darius Dark, the failed circus ringmaster, lived quite an interesting life. He had a severe alcohol problem that supposedly stem from the fact that even the neighbouring group of lame children was more skillful and entertaining than Darius's shows. For a brief moment his life - outside of the circus - was quite good. No wonder he didn't want to go back. He even had a wonderful marriage arranged for him - but that was also his downfall. Bride never showed up and Darius was ditched at the altar. He wanted and tried to die many times, but something always came in between. Eventually he had to crawl back to his circus, only to find out that he himself was the only living member left.

Mr. Giggles, the clown, also had quite a remarkable story. Being a clown, he obviously had to deal with children. There were, however, some evidence that Mr. Giggles suffered from some sort of phobia towards children - when he was chased by children, he felt that he was being hunted by horrors. To make matters worse - the phobia wasn't irrational. It made sense perfectly, when one of the children, his own kid in fact, killed him.

Balthazar, the almost loyal dog from another family, was also living the dream. For a while, at least. Balthazar went to a picnic with his family, and none of us, the players, got to know what exactly happened during that picnic, but the end result was that the poor dog was shunned by society ever after. That, however, was a real good step ladder to enter the parliament, and Balthazar was indeed quite succesful there. He could have probably won the next elections, until something unspeakable happened... again. This time Balthazar was cursed by the queen herself. That dog really did hide something heinous within his soul.

These were the bigger story arcs I remember from the first game. Other characters had good (bad?) things going on, and two highest final scores were 110 and 105, so it was quite close game, too!

Game 2:

After two days we played another game of Gloom, this time with four players. This game took actually at least twice the time it took to play a 3 player game.

Anyway, there were some highly entertaining tragedies.

Most amazing story was the story of the work-in-progress grooming teddybear from the frankensteinish family. He was forgotten in a train, probably on purpose, for not too long after its brains started to show signs of some serious infection - the teddybear's brains (the only organic part of it) were suffering from painful boils. Next the tormented patchwork teddy started dreaming some delirious dreams... Everything was good, everything was perfect, it found love in the train, and yes, yes! There was even a priest in the same train car, and teddy was wondrously well wed! But then... then it woke up. There was no marriage, there was no priest, only it being forgotten in some dark corner of a train with painful, debilitating boils slowly destroying whatever ability it had to realise it's situation. The train traveled on, and the teddy never returned...

Circus had some strange happenings, too. Samson O'Toole, the bearded man, was very unsuccesful in the circus. He was quite the simpleton. Once he won in some card game quite a bit of money, and felt quite good about it. But wealth alone does not make a man. With his beard he had quite a resemblance to the current president, and so he was mistaken in the parliament. Everyone tried to gain his attention, he was loved by all. However... such a mistake doesn't live forever. Soon he was kicked out, and Samson went back to the circus. Well, at least he won once with the cards. Later he borrowed his beard for Angel, when she too became very popular at the parliament.

Darius Dark, the ringmaster, had done some quite shady dealings in the past with completely wrong persons. He was jinxed by the gypsies, and misfortunes started to follow him. Eventually someone pushed him down the stairs, and that was the end of him.

Mr. Giggles got only a slightly better life than in last game. Instead of being chased by children, he was being chased by poodles. After a nice little picnic to the city park, coming back to the circus he found that he had been written out of the will. And it was quite curious that Thumbelisa had landed on quite a legacy... Counting one plus one, Mr. Giggles went mildly mad. Next morning he was found dead, and he had fallen from a great height. Did he jump himself, or were there some darker powers behind all of this?

Thumbelisa did survive all possible tragedies. So maybe it wasn't so bad that she had possibly made some... adjustments to the will of the ringmaster. She went to a dance, but her height became an issue there and she was disgraced. Weeping bitterly she ran to the moors, where she got lost and got marooned rather badly. To make matters worse, a lone bear found her and ate her, thinking she was a rabbit of sorts. Bear possibly forgot to bite, so Thumbelisa cut her way through the bear's stomach and came back to the circus.

The evil twins of the top hat family were wondrously well wed even before the age of consent, which indeed was quite disturbing. But before anything entirely morally wrong happened, they got both sick from a salmon they ate at the wedding. There were also some maggots in the meat. But the salmon... the salmon was really bad. They caught a consumption from it, and died shortly after.

Balthazar wasn't very politically active this time, in fact he was quite neglected and early in the game he died of despair. Aww, poor dog.

So... the game does offer some awesomely disturbing happenings and weird stories. Gloom is a very good game, but even these two games revealed a bit of an annoying fact: there are too few cards. There was inevitably some repetition, so either the game needs to be played rarely, or you need to buy expansion.

I'm opting out on the last one, probably buying the Unhappy Homes expansion next.

Anyway. Maybe we just got the right cards to drag the game on unnecessarily long in our four player game, but the discard pile had to be shuffled over twice, whereas in the three player game it needed no reshuffling (though it was very, very close).

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