Cardboard Children – The Doom That Came To Atlantic City

Do you like Monopoly? Most of you probably don’t. Many of you probably don’t even play the game by the correct rules. It’s a fact, an actual proven scientific statistical actual factual fact, that most people have played Monopoly by the wrong rules. If you play Monopoly by the rules as written, it’s a faster, even more cut-throat game. And it’s good. Sure, there are many better games, but I will defend Monopoly’s honour to the death. But how does this tickle your fancy – a game that is kind of like a reverseMonopoly, where you destroy buildings instead of building them? And you don’t strive to make your opponents bankrupt. You work instead to make reality itself bankrupt, because you are an impossible, immeasurably powerful Elder God and that’s how you like to spend your weekends.

This is The Doom That Came To Atlantic City.

THE DOOM THAT CAME TO ATLANTIC CITY

In this game, for 2-4 players, you take control of a foul Lovecraftian god and roll and move yourself around a board. All the usual suspects are in here. There’s Cthulhu, with his fishy face and his mad tentacles. Hark at the bold Nyarlathotep, creeping around dressed like Slender Man at the Burning Man festival. There’s Azathoth, the big dafty, all big and impossible like the English dream of a Euros 2016 victory. And all these guys are represented by giant miniatures that just seem entirely unnecessary for a game of this type. I mean, this is a light board-game, a gimmicky and quirky spin on Monopoly. Why it has these giant, gorgeous, dark and nasty models in the box, I do not know. Well, actually, I do know.

See, this game came from Kickstarter. And so the gorgeous miniatures were there to, y’know, enhance the chances of the targets being hit. And it worked. But then, as some of you may know, there was a whole drama and the game wasn’t getting made, and then a publisher swooped in to fix things and… Oh, it was a whole mess, but I suppose it kinda worked out in the end, because the game is here. I’m not going to talk about any of the drama attached to the game, hell naw, I’m strictly here to tell you if the game is any good.

When we played the game, there was three of us, and one of us was 9 years old. I’m just keen for you to know that we played the game with the kind of players that might sit down to Monopoly, even if this game’s complexity level might be a little bit higher. Here’s how it works — the game starts with houses on the board already built. As your chosen Elder God moves around the board (by rolling two dice and moving clockwise) you have the opportunity to roll dice to destroy buildings. If you destroy the final building on a space, you can open a GATE of your own. That kinda means you own that space, just like in Monopoly.

Now, if anybody else lands on your gate, they pay you a house, and houses (along with cultists) act as currency in the game. Your own Gates give you special abilities too – you can trade in cultists to do stuff, and the more Gates you own of a particular type make those powers more useful. So that’s the main thing in the game – destroy buildings, open Gates, use your gates to manipulate the game. Gates are also useful for movement – you can pass through a gate to another gate somewhere on the board at a movement cost of 1, like some kind of impossible unnameable really really fast THING.

If you land on an opponent when you move, you can fight – and winning a battle lets you steal stuff from your opponent, cards, cultists etc. You’re only rolling off against one another and maybe working out modifiers – it’s very straight-forward. Let’s talk about the cards now – because these are the things that push the game into more interesting directions. There are Providence cards, like the Community Chest cards, that tend to give your Elder God special abilities. They might increase your attack abilities, or your defence, or make movement easier. They sometimes raise some of your stats at the expense of some of your other stats. They’re interesting little things.

Chants cards (like Chance cards, see?) are not constant abilities, but more like cards you can use at opportune times to mess with your opponents or boost your own abilities. You can also discard these cards from your hand to alter your movement roll – reducing the strict roll-and-move feel of the game.

Let’s talk about rolling doubles. Doubles are good, right? We like to roll doubles in Monopoly because we get to move again. Same here in this game, but doubles also trouble the cosmos with their weirdness, and so three doubles in a row will get your Elder God BANISHED from the mortal realm. Here’s a nice thing, though – having a lot of cultists makes it easier to escape from banishment. You’re rolling under a number that is adjusted to your cultist total, and that works really well and fits the theme.

Every player has a DOOM card, and that’s how they win the game – by meeting the conditions on that card. Now, these conditions might be things like opening a certain number of specific gates,or completing certain challenges. THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE, for example, wants you to open 4 gates and then kill 12 cultists. COSMIC WIPEOUT asks you to open 3 gates and then fight your opponents in direct battle three times in a row and LOSE them all. It’s kinda fun.

And the game is kinda fun. That’s as far as I would push it. “Monopoly, but you’re a Lovecraftian creature DESTROYING Monopoly” is a nice gimmick, and this game sells that gimmick well. It plays really quickly – you will be done in an hour, guaranteed. It feels like a novelty, a silly idea, and it’s a silly idea with a decent game attached. I’m going to keep it in my collection because my kid enjoyed it (in fact, she won) and it has enough going on to entertain grown-ups and kids alike.

The look of the game is good – but there’s a lack of consistency between how those miniatures look and how the board looks and how the cards look. There’s not a uniform design aesthetic across the whole thing, and it’s very strange. The included TOME cards, used in a variant version of the game, are BEAUTIFUL, but just don’t look like they’re from the same game. It’s so odd. But somehow this mish-mash hangs together as a daft hour of family-friendly fun that might be worth a look for you and yours.

Just don’t go in expecting the world. Destroy the world instead.

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18 Comments

  1. Don Reba says:

    Now I’m curious, what are these right and wrong rules for playing Monopoly?

    • Keios says:

      The main rule that people miss out is that if a property is not bought when landed on it automatically goes to auction to everyone else.

      • malkav11 says:

        Which makes the game worse because now there are auctions in it and auctions are bloody awful.

        • Zekiel says:

          Ive never actually played the auction rule, but the idea is that it reduces the element of luck. You mig never land on property but so long as others do you can still get them via auction.

        • Haldurson says:

          A good player would (almost) never allow any property to go to auction if its at all possible without selling houses. You should buy everything, even if it requires mortgaging other properties. Its one of the most basic, and best known rules of strategy for the game.

        • Harold says:

          The auction enhances the game. Unfortunately most people who play Monopoly simply make up their own (boring) rules, skipping the stuff that makes the game interesting.

      • Don Reba says:

        Now I feel like playing Monopoly. Got to gather some friends I’m not interested in keeping much longer.

      • Veles says:

        I believe this is how I always played it. It’s still a bad game.

      • Haldurson says:

        There’s another rule that people forget about, and, unfortunately, it’s a rule that adds a level of strategy to the game, and that is housing shortages.

        The minor effect of housing shortages is that if there are no more houses in the bank, then you cannot buy houses until there are.

        That does come into play sometimes, but it’s not the most powerful tidbit. The best rule has to do with what happens to a player if he has to sell houses to raise money, but there are insufficient houses in the bank to break down his hotels — If that happens, no matter how little that person owes, he MUST strip that monopoly of everything (getting back half of what he spent to build up to that hotel). And that can be devastating. A simply $25 debt that the person cannot afford without selling houses, can destroy a player’s chances of winning.

        That’s why a good player will never build hotels, except if the game is already clinched. Build to 3 houses for maximum return on investment, and 4 houses to create a housing shortage, when it is advantageous to do so. Hotels can become poison when playing against a skilled player, as houses disappear.

    • thekelvingreen says:

      My brother plays using a rule that says that if you own more than one train station, you can move between them for one point of movement, rather than taking the long way around.

      Since he taught me to play, I thought this was an actual rule for years.

    • Scurra says:

      And the stupid Free Parking rule that distorts the careful balance of the economy.
      And the fact that you have to be able to build four houses on a plot before you can build a hotel, which means that sometimes it’s better not to upgrade to a hotel even though the returns are clearly higher, because you can stop your opponents from building since there is a deliberately limited number of houses.
      I’m with Rob – it’s a much better game than its reputation.

      (Me, I advocate Chinatown as the best modern incarnation of Monopoly – all the trading and estimation of return but without the roll-and-move.)

    • Skandranon says:

      Basically, almost every house rule introduced was originally intended to make the game longer.

      People use these house rules because its what they’re used to without realizing that this is why Monopoly has the reputation it has of taking forever.

      Played strictly by-the-book, Monopoly is like a 45 minute game.

      …of course, I Like the 4 hour version better anywway.

      • Haldurson says:

        Money in Free Parking, at least among the people I’ve played with, was intended to give a meaning to landing on Free Parking, and to give a nice big prize for it that would be feel good to land on. Children, for the most part, don’t get the concept of a game lasting for too long. It’s a big prize, and that’s the fun of it. I think as you get older though, you have more practical feelings about it, and you’ve played a lot, and you know that it doesn’t actually make the game more fun.

  2. Author X says:

    I mostly heard about this game because of the Kickstarter snafu, it’s nice to see it’s finally here and… well, at least decent. I don’t tend to buy a lot of board games but I’ll see if my friend that hosts game nights is interested.

  3. Ushao says:

    A friend of mine got this through the Kickstarter. About halfway through one of the players bailed and I was ready to shoot myself. Sorry but it just wasn’t that good for the amount of time it was taking.

  4. KastaRules says:

    Where’s Nucky Thompson???

  5. Haldurson says:

    Once upon a time, Monoopoly WAS a good game. You could make all sorts of special deals and use tactics that, while not explicitly mentioned in the rules, did not actually violate any of the rules.

    The problem is that players started actually using those tricks and tactics in official tournament games. So the rules were rewritten to prohibit all of the really interesting stuff that you could do. And then the game became a lot more vanilla and far less interesting.

    For example, you could buy and sell options on properties. You could buy and sell insurance. You could form limited partnerships on monopolies. You could buy and sell free passes, free lands, and even (although it was usually dumb to do so) immunity. There was this great book back in the 1970s (unfortunately long out of print) that thoroughly analyzed the game — any serious player of monopoly had read it. The author not only wrote about all of these things, but standard tactics like creating housing shortages. He also had written an excellent computer program to analyze the game, and came up with a really good guide to the TRUE relative values of the properties, based on return on investment and bankrupting power, and even went into the detail of explaining how those values changed as the game progressed (because early on, the cheap properties are much more valuable than normal, and as the game progresses, they decline in value, and which are actually the prime properties, change.

    There were certain rules of thumb that basically state that you should (almost) never let a property go to auction — buy everything even if you have to mortgage), that you should hold on to your get out of jail free cards (even buying them from other players, if they don’t quite understand their true value — yes, because of a quirk in the rules, the Get Out of Jail Free card is one of the best cards to get in the game… under the right circumstances), how to negotiate a deal with a reluctant trader, that you should (almost) never build more than 3 houses on any property (except to cause a housing shortage in order to screw with other players). Anyway, Monopoly USED to be a great game… and now it’s just generic.