Thursday, July 10, 2014

Game Review: The Doom the Came to Atlantic City

 If you think board games are just for kids, think again.  A booming table-top gaming industry has grown recently, with niche-shops opening in many major cities.  Old favorites like Monopoly are still played, as well as numerous specialty games catering to every interest and geared toward adults.  Game nights bring together friends and enthusiasts who connect in a way that video-games simply don't allow for.  

 I discovered The Doom that Came to Atlantic City while visiting one of these stores with my daughter.  We sat down at a table and played the "demo" set the store made available for just that purpose, and had a blast.  I knew this game would be a hit in my house and with my friends, and ordered my game that same week.

 In The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, you play a Great Old One from the stories written by HP Lovecraft.  The game is set on a board that is a replica of Monopoly, however, instead of buying properties and building them up with houses and hotels, you destroy houses and resorts to destroy a street and create a Gate.  If you can create six Gates, you bring doom to the world and win the game.  

 Game-play is much faster than Monopoly, with a game taking about an hour to play.  In addition to the goal of getting six Gates, you can also win the game by completing a "Doom" mission randomly assigned at the beginning of the game.  The game involves building up power by collecting "Cultists" and destroying houses, each of which are used as currency that you spend to enact powers and "Chants" which change the play of the game.  While you are striving to build your Gates and complete your Doom mission, you must also foil the efforts of other players.  You gain Cultists by completing a circuit of the board and by engaging your fellow players in combat.  Getting around the board is harder than it sounds, as rolling doubles too many times and landing on certain spaces can result in you being "banished" until you have sufficient cultists to re-enter the game.

 The game includes eight amazingly detailed markers representing the Great Old Ones; Azathoth, Shub Niggurath, Hastur, Yog Sothoth, Ithaqua, Tsathoggua, Nyarlathotep, and of course Cthulhu.  Each starts out with a "Providence Trait", a power which modifies the way the marker moves or interacts with the game.  As you play, you can gain additional modifiers and change the modifiers you have (as well as have other players steal or change your modifiers).  Two sets of cards, "Providence" and "Chants", modify game play. Providence cards tend to be lasting effects on the game, while Chants are held by the players until they need to be used and generally have an immediate, one-turn effect.  In addition, destroying street and creating Gates give you additional abilities, with the maximum effect of these abilities being achieved if you manage to destroy an entire "region".  In addition to standard play, several modified versions of the game include additional modifiers like Tome Cards, which give your marker added abilities.  

 The game-play moves fast, with players taking actions to change another players turn and thwarting their efforts.  This makes it difficult to achieve any of the goals of the game; from destroying a region to just making a circuit of the board.  Making things even more interesting are "Event" cards sprinkled throughout both the Chants and Providence card-sets.  Event Cards are played immediately and impact the nature of the game itself.  

 The Doom that Came to Atlantic City is beautifully crafted, including amazing art.  The game rules are simple yet wickedly designed, with the game being as much about thwarting your fellow players as achieving your own goals.  In a word, the game is simply "fun"!  The price-tag is a little on the high-side, with the game going for $60-$75 depending on where you buy it.  The different variants and special cards in the game means it will be a long time before you play the same game twice.  Definitely invite some friends over, order some pizza, and destroy Atlantic City.  The Doom that Came to Atlantic City is a hit.

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