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.