Overview: The Old Ones have come to Atlantic City, and they’re each a bit upset that they don’t have a — ahem — monopoly on the place. So there’s a bit of a smack-down ahead, as each one tries to amass Cultists, destroy those ugly hotels, and rip holes in the fabric of reality. This is The Doom That Came to Atlantic City.
Doom is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. The project is from here in Portland so I got a chance to play a prototype at a local game store. Here’s a run-down of how the game works.
Players: 2 to 4
Ages: 13 and up (for theme)
Playing Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Retail: $50 on Kickstarter
Rating: Light but dark — that is, light strategy, dark theme (but with a lot of humor).
Who Will Like It? Fans of Lovecraft will get the most out of the references, and it may appeal as much to Monopoly haters as Monopoly fans. It is, at heart, a roll-and-move game, so don’t go in expecting Arkham Horror.
As the Kickstarter video states, it’s a combination of two horrific behemoths: Monopoly and the Old Ones from Lovecraft. As you well know, I’m not a fan of Monopoly, so I was a bit concerned that this would basically be Cthulhu-opoly. Thankfully, it’s not, although it does rely on the old roll-and-move mechanic and the board is clearly patterned after something you’ve probably seen before.
The Chance cards have been replaced with “Chants” cards, and “Go” has been replaced by “Mi-Go.” Instead of going to jail, you’re banished. But it’s not just cute thematic replacements: you each play one of the Old Ones from the mythos, and you have a starting power that gives you some sort of an advantage. You go around wreaking havoc and destroying houses in order to open up gates, which is how you win the game.
Designer Keith Baker and artist Lee Moyer have done a great job in blending two disparate concepts into something that looks like Monopoly but plays like something else.
- 1 Game Board
- 2 Dice
- 4 Reference Cards
- 8 Plastic figurines of Paul Komoda’s sculpts
- 8 Mythos Role Cards
- 16 Dooms
- 24 Gate Cards
- 40 Gate Markers
- 45 Chants Cards
- 45 Providence Cards
- 50 Wooden Cultists
- 60 Wooden Houses
I played on a prototype so I can’t speak to the quality of the final products, but if you look at the images on the Kickstarter page you can tell they’re going all out with the figurines; the rest of the components will be fairly standard types of things: cards, boards, dice, and wooden bits. The Doom cards and Tome cards seem a little larger than they need to be — they’re certainly nice to look at and the size shows off the artwork (which is fantastic), but I can imagine they’ll be taking up a lot of space on the table if you get a four-player game going.
Each player starts with a role card (showing which Old One they are), 6 Cultists, and a Doom card. In addition, you look through the Providence cards to find the starting power that goes with your character and put it on your board. (Powers can be stolen and replaced by others.) Everyone starts on Mi-Go, of course. The property spaces each start with two houses on them.
The basic mechanic is roll and move, though you can discard cards from your hand to add to your movement roll. When you land on a space that has houses on it, you can roll to attempt to destroy it: 7 or higher destroys a house, which you take and put on your role card. If it was the last house on the space, then you create a gate, which looks like a tear in the board with your cute little face peeking out of it. The ultimate goal of the game is to create 6 gates … but there are some exceptions.
If you land on a Providence space, you draw a Providence card, which is some sort of power — you can use it on yourself, use it on another player, or just save it up. Some powers (like Malign Force) help you, some powers (like Florid) harm you, and some (like Flabby Claws) increase some stats and decrease others. The Chants cards tend to be single-use things, giving you a bonus in some stat like attack or defense in exchange for a few Cultists or Houses.
You can also attack each other: if you land on the same space as another player, you must attack them. If you’re in the same color region as another player, you can choose to attack them, but it’s optional. You both roll two dice, modify them based on powers and Chants cards, and see who’s higher. (Attacker wins ties.) If the attacker wins, they steal a Cultist from the defender. If the defender wins, then nothing happens but the Attacker’s turn is over.
Also, as gates open up around the board, you can use them to teleport. If you start your turn on a gate (yours, an opponent’s, or a neutral gate), you can begin your movement from any of the gates that match it. So as the game progresses, you have more choices about where to move. Some powers and cards will also allow you to modify your die rolls.
Opening up a gate also has some other advantages: as in Monopoly, you can now charge toll for anyone who lands on your gate — the costs are shown on the gate cards (which look like property cards). You also get some sort of bonus for having a gate there, but it costs you Cultists or houses. The cost for the bonus goes down based on how many gates you have in that region, and if you have all three gates for a region then you get a really big bonus.
The game ends when you open your sixth gate. However, the game can also end in other ways: if you fulfill your Doom card. Each Doom card has a prerequisite (e.g., at least 1 gate on each side of the board). If you land on one of your gates during movement, you can then attempt the associated action — some require sacrificing a number of houses, or rolling a certain number of successful Destruction rolls. Succeed, and you win the game.
There are various other rules that I won’t describe in detail, but there are some bonuses and penalties for rolling doubles, and you can suffer banishment if you run out of Cultists (or land on the “Banished!” space of the board).
The Doom That Came to Atlantic City isn’t a deep strategy game by any means — it’s a lot of die-rolling and it encourages attacking each other as much as possible (attackers win ties; there’s no significant downside to losing an attack). It does take the basic mechanics from Monopoly and you are moving around a square board, hoping to land on a good space.
However, with the extra powers you get from Providence cards and the ability to modify die rolls (or do crazy things like moving counterclockwise), the game does depart from Monopoly and goes off in a different direction. Because the game ends at the sixth gate (and there is no way to close a gate), there is a certain inevitability that somebody will bring their doom, so the game won’t drag on forever.
Also, the Doom goal cards make for a good alternative way to win. In the game I played, both other players had opened three or four gates before I ever got my first gate open. (Lousy dice.) But then I started getting lucky, and opened four of my gates — and was able to complete my Doom requirement and steal a win from the back of the pack. The ability to do something like that means that nobody is totally out of the game.
I really liked the artwork on the Providence cards especially (the yellow ones you see above) because of the little Monopoly-style creatures that illustrate the various powers. There’s an interesting mixture of Lovecraftian horror and dark humor in the game, and I think fans of the mythos will get a kick out of it. It doesn’t have deep strategy, but it does have Deep Ones.
Interested? Check out the Kickstarter campaign, which ends June 6.
Wired: Fantastic miniatures; funny spin on Monopoly and Lovecraft.
Tired: Only slightly more strategic than roll-and-move.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of this game.