(2012 Stronghold Games, White Goblin Games)
Designer Michael Schacht is no stranger to the family board game genre. From Zooloretto to Mondo to Coney Island, just to name a few, Schacht has been a frequent name thrown around from year to year in the Family Game of the Year nominees among various game awards. In one of his newest releases, Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom, players seek to rid their hand of cards before their opponents, with the use of determining what order cards can be played, and hope to minimize their amount of penalty points from round to round.
As a note, originally printed by White Goblin Games as Crazy Creatures of Dr. Doom, Stronghold is currently producing an edition under the alternate name, Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom.
– Amphibug Creature cards (blue, sizes 1 – 6)
– Trolliphant Creature cards (green, sizes 1-6)
– Beenoceros Creature cards (yellow, sizes 1-6)
– Hellcat Creature cards (red, sizes 1-6)
In Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom, players take the role of lab assistants, aiding Dr. Gloom in growing monstrous, hybrid creatures to help further his ongoing experiments of crazy, ingenious, madness…ness.
Dr. Gloom has invented a Growing Machine, which will help speed up the process of maturing each creature. Sometimes, however a creature can get too large, too out of hand even for Dr. Gloom, thus he has also created a Minimalizer, which can reverse the maturing process. The assistants will help Dr. Gloom balance the growing process for each of his 4 Hybrid creations: The Amphibug, the Trolliphant, the Beenoceros, and the Hellcat. The assistant who is the most successful at aiding Dr. Gloom is awarded an apprenticeship, and is considered the winner of the game.
The setup for CCDG is quite simple. All 4 of the Dr. Gloom Machine cards are set into a central play area, and set with the Growing Machine (“+” symbol in the top corners of the card) side, face up.
All Creature cards are then shuffled into 1 large deck, and a certain number of Creature cards are dealt to each player, depending on the number of players in the game:
– In a 2 player game, players will receive 12 cards each
– In a 3 player game, players will receive 12 cards each
After each player has their own personal hand of cards, a Reserve Deck is formed by dealing 8 cards from the remaining Creature card deck, and placing these 8 cards to the side of the central play area. All remaining cards that are not part of a player’s hand or in the Reserve deck, can be placed back in the box, as they will not be used during this Round.
Players will take turns playing Creature cards from their hand, with the ultimate goal of trying to rid their hand of cards. Each card is color coordinated to a particular Creature, and this is easily identifiable by not only its color, but by the type of Creature pictured on the card. The numbers on the Creature cards (ranging from 1-6) represent the current level of maturity for that particular creature. There are also different types of symbols which are located between the numbers of each Creature card.
– the wavelength symbol represents an instant genetic mutation that a creature can go through
Each turn, a player must play 1 of their Creature cards in front of a matching colored Dr. Gloom Machine card. If the current Machine card is on the “Growing Machine” facing, each Creature card played in front of the Growing Machine card must be played in ascending order. On the flip side of this, if the current Machine card is on the “Minimalizer Machine” facing, each card played in front of it must be in descending order.
For instance, Player A has played a level 3 Amphibug creature card in front of the blue Growing Machine card. If Player B wanted to play another Amphibug creature card from his hand, he would need to play one with a level of 3, 4, 5, or 6.
If however, a level 3 Amphibug creature card had been played in front of the blue Minimalizer Machine card, the Player B would have to play a 1, 2, or 3 level Amphibug to follow.
If at any time, the same number is played on top of another Creature card in the central play area, the player has two options. The first option is to flip the Machine card to the opposite side (from Growing Machine to Minimalizer Machine, or vice versa). In this way, the player can determine which order cards will be played for a particular Creature. However, if the player does not choose this option, he may instead choose to have an opposing player draw 1 card from the Reserve Deck and add it to their hand. Since the winner of a Round in CCDG is one that has rid their hand of cards, a player can add extra cards to their opponents hand by choosing this option.
For example, Player C plays a level 2 Hellcat onto a level 2 Hellcat already in play. He has the choice of flipping the Red machine from its Growing side to its Minimalizer side, or he can require Player A or B to draw a card from the Reserve Deck. Since the current level of the Hellcat in play is only at 2 and the machine is on its Growing side, he’ll choose to have Player draw 1 card from the Reserve Deck.
There is one instance in which a player may play any card from his hand into play in front of a Machine, no matter its number (the color from the card must still match the color of the machine). If you remember, when discussing the iconography on the cards, I talked about the “wavelength” icon between the numbers on some of the Creature cards. This wavelength icon represents a creature going through an instant mutation, therefore it is a sort of wild card that can be played at any time on top of another card that matches its color and also contains a wavelength icon.
Player B has a hand of 4 cards, including a level 2 Trolliphant, a level 5 Trolliphant, a level 1 Amphibug, and a level 2 Beenoceros. Since the blue Growing machine is faced up with a level 6 Amphibug card in front of it, Player B would normally only be allowed to place another level 6 card here.
However, since both the level 6 Amphibug card in play, and the level 1 Amphibug card in Player B’s hand have the wavelength icon on them, Player B can choose to place this level 1 card on top of the level 6 one, ignoring the “+” and “-” icons from the machine.
Once a player has rid his hand of cards, all other players take their last turn. At this point the Round is over (the Round can also end if all players must pass because they can no longer place cards from their hand), and players will total up the amount of Skull icons on their remaining Creature cards. Each Skull icon is worth 1 Penalty point. Any player that ended the Round with no cards left in their hand can subtract 3 Penalty points from their total, down to 0.
The round has ended and Player C is left with 3 cards in his hand. Amongst the cards, he has a total of 3 Skull icons (cards with wavelength icons on them count as 0 towards penalty point scoring), thus he would obtain 3 penalty points this round. If however, he was the first player to rid his hand of all cards in the following Round, he could subtract 3 from his Penalty Point total, bringing him back down to a total of 0.
Players will then play another Round of the game by reshuffling all the Creature cards (including the ones in the box not used for the previous round), dealing them out, creating a new Reserve Deck, and flipping all Machine cards to their Growing side. Players will play a number of Rounds equal to the number of players in the game. After all Rounds have been played, the player with the least amount of Penalty Points wins the game.
Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom is a light, casual filler-type game that will interest family gamers in the hobby. While the main mechanic in the game revolves around hand management, an all-round strategy is held to a minimum. Which to be honest, the game is probably better for it. CCDG doesn’t attempt to be something that it is not. Built as a family oriented card game, it plays quickly, is quite easy to teach, and fits the mold of a filler. The artwork is quite entertaining. Young gamers will enjoy looking at the different artwork of creatures and how they evolve in size from level to level. Though the theme is fairly light, it’s something a younger crowd may find charming and enjoyable. Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom is functional, entertaining, light-hearted card game that families can use in between sessions of Ticket to Ride and 7 Wonders on family game night.