Tabletop Tuesday: ‘The Doom That Came to Atlantic City’
Play Time: 45 Minutes
Genre: Dice rolling, hand management
Review: Oh dear. Oh dearie dear. Here’s a game that went from Kickstarter success story to cautionary tale. After the Lovecraftian themed reverse-Monopoly launched on the crowd sourcing site it reached it’s goal and then much, much more, instantly marking it as a board gaming event (having one of the creators coming off the back of Gloom helps). Then the trouble started. It was revealed that the money collected was never intended to produce the game but launch a company to publish it. With the game not physically being in production and problems piling on one another the entire project was cancelled and the backers were left out of pocket. Nobody was happy.
Cryptozoic eventually stepped in and took the production on, supplying the backers with their long overdue game. Reviews were mediocre with many hardcore players unimpressed with the luck based game mechanics. Recently I had to chance to secure myself a once-played second hand copy. Why did I buy it?
LOOK AT THOSE PLAYING PIECES!!!
Paul Komoda’s highly detailed, intricately carved figures of Lovecraft’s monster mash are the star of the show. They are without a doubt the most amazing player pieces in my game collection. The jarring contrast between the bright, cartoon style arts across the rest of the game only adds to the fun, and players will enjoy stamping their massive Elder God along the happy, goofy looking board. I’d say 90% of the reason I went out and bought it was for those figurines.
Then I played the game. In a subversion of Monopoly you begin by placing houses and resorts on each of the streets around Atlantic City. You then roll the dice and move your chosen Old One around the board. When you land on a street you roll again to destroy one of the houses. If you destroy the last house on a street you can put down one of your Gates to earn a bonus for the area, travel between gates and get closer to winning. When a player opens their sixth gate they instantly win. Each player also gets a DOOM card that outlines a set of circumstances under which they can also win the game, with opportunities to swap for a different DOOM card during the progression of the game.
Each ‘character’ comes with their own set of abilities, and Providence cards can give you a total of 3 special abilities. Chants cards can provide larger one-of bonuses that can be activated at a cost. One big addition to the rules that sets the game apart from it’s obvious inspiration is the ability to attack other players by rolling dice against each other. Chants and Providence can improve your odds at destruction, attack and defence and a successful attack lets you take from your opponent’s stash of Cultists. Cultists and destroyed Houses form the currencies for the game, being spend primarily for Chants, Traits and completing DOOM cards.
If you run out of Cultists or land on the wrong space you can wind up banished to the outer realm, the game’s equivalent of Jail. When you wind up banished you have to collect new cultists and roll less than the total number of cultists to re-enter the game.
Don’t play The Doom That Came to Atlantic City with a competitive player because they’re going to hate it. It all comes down to luck. Movement, combat, destruction…everything is determined by the dice. There’s very little strategy to be had beyond picking your character traits and choosing when to use your bonuses. If you want something that is based on skill, look elsewhere.
For a nice, relaxed hour of rolling the dice and making smashing noises as you guide Cthulhu down the pier to stomp on a house, trying not to giggle when chant your beasts name to unbanish them, or dropping the poor mistreated cultists down a dice tower as a sacrifice it’s a good time. The game works, it’s fairly well balanced and it looks great. The amount of fun you can have with it is down to how serious you take it (less is better) and what you’re drinking. I’ll be playing it on good, casual game days.