We were playing a game called Gloom. Gloom is simple: you win by picking a family of characters out of the deck and then spend your turns making them as miserable as possible. The most miserable family at the end of the game wins. But to make things interesting, you can also use your turn making other player's characters happy. So while I was wishing out wasp strings and mocking midgets to my family, Jon was laying down cards where my miserable characters found love. In real life, that would be sweet. In Gloom, it's bad news. You win when your family has the least amount of self worth. It is hilarious, ever-changing, and better when surrounded by adult beverages...
The real fun of the game is every time you change a character action you have to explain it in one ongoing, horrible story. This forces everyone to do a little web-weaving, and make it up as they go along. Think of it as fiction-jazz. Stories get horrible and out of control, turning the worst news into headlines. Jon took his characters into some hilarious place, including a conflicted clown named giggles finding true happiness in dark places. I talked about characters drowning in bogs and being taunted in private schools. Maria told stories about illustrated ladies on tightropes over vats of shark-infested pudding. It sounds silly, even sad, but it isn't. You get attached to the characters and get drawn into their made-up world in this high-stakes game of horrors. We played a while and pretty much just laughed. The game ended in a tie between Maria and I after she killed off my last character. It was great.
So why share about a card game on a farming blog? Well, because it's the kind of thing folks don't really do anymore. We get together to gossip, complain, converse, and award each other but we don't necessary challenge each other to a story-telling contest. this is something that doesn't require anything but your family and your time. It's a good game for farmers. You don't need anything but a blanket in the hayfield, a few beers, a tired body and reeling mind. (I think a lot of farmers have that in spades!) You can play it by campfire light while out under the stars, or at a booth at your favorite bar over dinner. It's not some confusing board game with pieces to lose or complicated rules. It's really for the story-tellers out there. And if you know someone with a dark sense of humor and a competitive edge, I may have just finished your Christmas shopping.
Tonight was a little competitive, a little dark, and a whole load of creativity. Try it out with some friends, you'll love it. And if you have time to watch the video above you'll get a real taste of the game before you commit to buying it. That show is free to watch on Youtube and reviews all kinds of games. This particular one costs around twenty dollars, but for a game you can play over and over with friends I think it's money well spent!
So that was my night. Any suggestions for equally addictive games out there that fall a little under the radar? Do you have a game the average Scrabble or Trivia Pursuit player may love but doesn't know about? Share it here!