Monday, December 3, 2012


Card game created by Keith Baker with art by Scott Reeves
Published by Atlas Games

Plot Summary: In Gloom, each player assumes control of the fate of an eccentric family of misfits (consisting of five people). The goal of the game is sad, but simple: Each player wants their characters to suffer the greatest tragedies possible lowering their self-worth before passing on to death while trying to cheer their opponents' characters with marriages and other happy occasions that pile on positive self-worth points. Once a player has killed off all five of their family members, the game ends. The player with the lowest total family self-worth score wins.

Critical Evaluation: Gloom appeals to both girls and guys of all ages. Teens get a kick out of the Addams Family-esque characters and the hilarious alliterative mishaps and good things that can be played on characters (such as Pursued by Poodles or Mocked by Midgets). The cards are made of transparent plastic, which allows multiple modifier cards to be played on top of the same character card and since the cards are transparent elements from previously played modifier cards either show through or are obscured by those played above them. Asides from the dark humor, the greatest thing about Gloom is its storytelling aspect. You can’t just play a modifier card on a character—you have to create a whole narrative back story for why such a thing has befallen the character. The longer the game goes on, the more of a story you have to recall for each character (20 total) when adding on the good and bad events. I have a group of teens who are very random (so much so we actually have a club called Random Club where we have no idea what we will end up doing for the evening). They absolutely adore Gloom because they get the chance to create random, outrageous stories. It may be morbid but it is a creative way to teach teens about the various elements of fiction writing as they draft back stories for their characters.

Reader's Annotation: N/A

Author Information: N/A 

Genre: Horror (Card Game), Humor (Card Game)

Curriculum Ties: Storytelling

Booktalking Ideas: N/A

Reading Level/Interest Age: 15+

Challenge Issues: Many might complain at the thought of a game where the goal is to kill your characters off. There might also be complaints about its morbid nature.

Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:

·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
·        A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
·        Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
·        Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
·        Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at

Reason for Inclusion:  While a complex game, if you have the right teens with patience to play it you will get diehard fans. Also, unlike passive games played on the Wii or Xbox, Gloom is a “complex” card game that incorporates a number of valuable skills.

References: N/A

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