My partner Blake had a hankering for curry sauce and chips tonight, so I walked home past the chip shop to fulfil his desires. As it happens, my friendly local gaming store is en route, so I popped in for a browse. When I saw Munchkin Gloom, a combination of two games I like quite a lot, I couldn’t resist picking it up. But what exactly is it, and is it any good?
On seeing the large and familiar Munchkin style box, and the cover art promising translucent cards, I was excited to think that this game was some kind of clever hybrid of the two games.
However, on opening the box it became apparent that this is actually ‘just’ a new version of Gloom that’s inspired by and based on the feel of Munchkin and which uses parties of Munchkin characters rather than gloomy families. That means there’s a lot of wasted space in the box, but I suppose they had to keep it compatible with the existing Munchkin packages. Also, you could use the box to store multiple Gloom sets if you took out the cardboard!
The party cards are in full colour and graced with art by John Kovalic, which looks good. I’d have to say that the parties don’t feel as cohesive as the families that are provided in the original Gloom, or the groups in Cthulhu Gloom. Personally I felt that made the storytelling that’s an important part of Gloom come a bit less naturally.
I also found that my copy of the game has a printing error on some of the party members. Both the Good and Evil parties are blurry due to a problem with the offset printing process.
This is a fairly noticeable issue, to the extent that if I look at the affected cards close up they make my eyes go funny because they’re trying to focus something which is actually already in focus, just printed badly.
Still, when the cards are laid out on the table in front of me this becomes less noticeable, so it’s not the end of the world. This was the only copy of the game in stock so I probably won’t bother trying to exchange it for a copy without this problem
The game itself is pretty fun, and the handy reference cards provided make it easier to remember the options for each turn and the meaning of the various symbols (which are familiar from Cthullhu Gloom). The game I played was a two-player one and it was over surprisingly quickly.
It felt like there were more cunning mechanics than in a usual game of Gloom, perhaps because of the Munchkin innfluence? We did fall foul of this a couple of times, though. For instance, when a card says to ‘put your hand aside, draw three cards and play all the modifiers and Untimely Deaths you can on your own party, discarding any you don’t use’ (that’s paraphrased slightly), and another card says ‘Whenever you play a modifier card (including this one), discard a card from your hand’, do I discard a card from my put-aside hand every time I play a modifier card, or not? Surely if it’s put aside it’s out of the game until I pick it up again following resolving the other card’s effect? I really wasn’t sure. In this case we erred on the side of a literal reading of the rules so I did discard cards from my hand.
I enjoyed playing Munchkin Gloom and I feel that the more mechanically complicated cards added something fun to the game (mainly debate and rules lawyering). I’m less enthused about the selection of party members available and I was disappointed that some of the cards had printing errors.
I need to play the game some more to form a definitive opinion but so far I’m pretty pleased with my purchase. This should be a hit with anyone who really enjoys Gloom and Munchkin, and could act as a good gateway from one game to the other for anyone who hasn’t played both before.
I paid £22,99 for Munchkin Gloom from Xpress Games in Canterbury.