Atlantic City is Best Doomed Together
We’re all sick of Monopoly, right? I mean, sure, part of that is because pretty much nobody uses (or even knows about) the auction rules, and maybe it’s picked up a bad rap because your Aunt Ellie keeps giving you special editions for your birthday ’cause she heard you like board games. But then another family holiday rolls around and everyone’s sitting there after dinner, what what do they recommend? Monopoly. Boring ancient World War 2-winning (but nothing since) Monopoly.
Well, I’ve got a solution for you, and it’s just crazy enough that it might work.
When I Say “Crazy,” I Mean “Crazy Insane Cultists That Are Mutating into Fish-People”
I don’t want to go into the sordid tale of how The Doom That Came To Atlantic City came into existence, because it reads something like the birth of Yog-Sothoth in all his viscid glory. In a way, it’s almost as if the insanity of these elder gods, the ultimate antagonists of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, bubbled up from the source material and into the project itself, suffusing certain personalities with greed and ineptitude, wrecking lives and hopes, until Cryptozoic Entertainment saved everyone like a 1920s pulp hero by shipping the game to all the Kickstarter backers even though it wasn’t their problem.
With that out of the way, this is Monopoly made fun again. It’s the after-Monopoly: the hotels and resorts are in place, the competitors have been eliminated, and — look, there! — from the sea rises something older than the Earth itself. Elder Gods, come to turn Atlantic City into their personal chew-toy. How? By wrecking the hell out of the boardwalk, gathering a cult, and opening gates to their home dimensions so that their brethren can come and help chew on everything until it’s as pulpy as H.P. Lovecraft’s prose. Naturally.
The first two things you need to know about The Doom That Came To Atlantic City are that yes, this is Monopoly, or at least close enough that you have a decent shot of getting your non-gamer loved ones to play it. And no, it isn’t Monopoly, or at least it’s a distant enough cousin that you’ll be able to retain your sanity while playing it.
It Would Be Scarier If It Were Monopoly
Like Monopoly, your goal is to travel around the board, accumulating property (though in this case, “property” means destroyed businesses, mindless cultists, and portals to Other Worlds), robbing your competitors of their wealth (“wealth” being severe beatdowns that result in enemy cultists abandoning their master’s cause and joining yours), and collecting a bonus when you pass Go. Or the fungoid alien Mi-Go, as the case may be. Oh, and in addition to Providence cards that will mutate your Elder God into ever more horrifying forms, you’ll also pick up “Chants” cards, in case the Mi-Go pun wasn’t enough for you.
As such, it’s really only similar to Monopoly in that it’s a game of acquisition where you move by rolling dice. You want cards for their upgrades or bonuses, and houses and cultists to fuel your best cards and as a safeguard against getting banished out of existence, which is a real bummer and a harsh setback — and also never becomes paradoxically good, unlike being sent to jail in Monopoly.
Another major break is that rather than trade your play-money back and forth in an endless cycle that quickly becomes tedious, there are only so many properties to smash. Since polishing off a property lets you open one of your gates to another dimension, once everyone’s traveled the circuit a couple times there will be gates everywhere, collecting tolls and letting your Elder Gods teleport across the board. Open enough gates in the right places, and you might even pick up some special bonuses, like the ability to nab Chants cards out of the discard pile, immunity to all attacks, or an additional Doom card — and since Doom cards are special alternative ways to win the game, you’ll be happy to have them.
You’ll Stay Sane Because You’re Going Insane
The Doom That Came To Atlantic City is so simple that I’m hesitant to tell you everything about it, for fear of making it sound more complicated than it really is. Like how you can destroy larger resorts to gain powerful Tome cards, or how you can play certain Providence cards onto your opponents to hobble their Elder Gods in various ways, or how some of the upgrades let you do stuff like travel the board counter-clockwise, which is guaranteed to mess with people’s heads. I guarantee that at least one person will forget what you’re doing and shout that you’re moving wrong. Also, each Elder God is unique from the start, so it’s possible to grow to love Tsathoggua and his Formless Spawn and argue about who gets to control him with every bit as much zeal as you would over who gets Monopoly’s race car.
When it really comes down to it, The Doom That Came To Atlantic City is simple, and quick, and fun. It lets you screw each other over, stealing gates and sending each other to the abyss, without totally annihilating your afternoon. It takes around an hour to play, even if you choose to play with all the available Elder Gods (8) rather than the game’s insisted maximum of four players.
It might be close enough to Monopoly that it isn’t going to win any design awards, but this isn’t the kind of game that’s trying to be the most innovative thing to hit the scene this year. Instead, it’s a clever take on an old system, and it’s one of the better ways to sit around, chat with some non- or casual-gamer friends, and slowly mutate until they resemble miniature versions of yourself. So long as “yourself” is a fish-god, that is.