When cultists finally summon the Great Old Ones from their slumber, it only makes good sense that they would descend upon Atlantic City, NJ in order to begin their inevitable eldritch destruction of the world. That, at least is the premise of The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, a cute roll-and-move style game set in the world of H.P. Lovecraft.
The basic premise is a pretty straight-forward take on Monopoly, where you’re bloody well encouraged to be cruel to your friends and loved ones. You play an elder god trying to either open six of your gates or meet a set of “doom action” conditions in order to be the first to bring forth something more unspeakably horrific than even New Jersey. However, there’s a catch; you’re not the only Old One on the strip trying for dominance. If the Greeks and Romans have taught me anything, gods, much like everyone who has ever attempted Monopoly with friends or family members, do not play well with others.
This gem was originally a Kickstarter project by creators Lee Moyer and Keith Baker. After they unexpectedly had to cancel their project and begin the process of refunding significant money to their backers, Cryptozoic stepped in to fund and save their baby. I for one, am glad they did. Atlantic City is a silly and fun game that is suitable to play with just about anyone. The rules are clearly written, it can be learned in about 10 minutes, and while there’s not a tonne of strategy involved, it is a great short game capable of ruining friendships and banishing people to R’yleh. At about 45 minutes, this would be an ideal warm up before a long day of gaming, a “dead dog” game at the end of a long convention, or else light entertainment between supper and desert at a dinner party. The game designers have even helpfully suggested variations for when the base game becomes too routine.
Game pieces (mostly wooden), board, and cards are very well constructed and zip bags and a solid tray are included to keep everything organized. The artwork, which ranges from cartoonish to nightmare-inducing is without a doubt simply spectacular. That, coupled with creepy Lovecraft-inspired quotes on the “Tome” cards easily raises Atlantic City to the status of a work of art in addition to a playable game. Also, tentacles.
It’s hard to pinpoint something specific to dislike about this game, but even I have to admit that the primary appeal will be for the Lovecraft fan or those, like myself, who just fancy strange little games even if they’re not particularly intelligent. Despite the included rule variations, it’s probably not a game that a serious player will pull off his or her shelf more than a few times a year. The Doom that Came to Atlantic City is simply too…well…simple to keep the interest of the hardcore gaming elite for long.
As is typical with many games, I wanted more from some of the physical components. The “one” pip on the dice depicts the face of the lady in the logo instead of a standard dot, but the dice are an otherwise unremarkable black-on-white design that don’t fit with the impeccable aesthetic of the rest of the game. One set of cards is about twice the size of normal playing cards, which allows much more room for Moyer’s artwork, but it makes them very hard to handle or shuffle gracefully. The others are about half the size of normal playing cards, causing the same problem for the opposite reason.
Those Miniatures, Though
I have touted Moyer’s artwork, but the miniatures included with Atlantic City deserve their own special place in this review. The game designers had Paul Komoda, who specializes in creep-tastic art as well as film prosthetics, design eight original representations of the Old Ones for the game. While the original Kickstarter project had a stretch goal of making these minis in pewter, they ultimately took shape as incredibly detailed, high-quality resin statuettes suitable for painting. There are no current plans to make metal versions, but nonetheless, acquiring this set alone is more than worth the $50 price of the game. See for yourself.
Casual game players, collectors, Lovecraft fans, and miniature enthusiasts alike will enjoy this beautiful, if elementary, game. The rule variations add a bit to replay value, and it does provide a neat introduction to the aesthetic of the Cthulhu mythos for those who aren’t already intimately familiar. Yet, it ultimately falls flat for anyone looking for a serious or intense game, however. I am not crying in my cornflakes that I bought this, but I can’t stress enough that Atlantic City is a prosaic game that’s value is largely as a collectors item. Since The Doom that Came to Atlantic City is essentially meant to pit you against your friends in an epic battle for who gets to destroy the world, you may leave the table feeling slightly less charitable toward your opponents than when you began. Your ire may just be so horrible it’s…indescribable.
Friendship Destruction Index: Fhtagn out of of 7