Bringing Monsters to Life: A Review of Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom

Crazy Creatures cover

How much fun can be had with a small deck of 52 cards? Quite a bit. Standard playing cards have been around for many centuries and continue to be one of the most widely-used game components, perhaps due to the vast number of different games in existence that use them. But what about a custom deck of cards designed for a single game?

Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom by Stronghold Games (known as Crazy Creatures of Dr. Doom for the White Goblin Games version) is one such game. It contains 48 Crazy Creature cards and 4 Machine cards, all of top-notch quality, graced with fantastic artwork, and packaged in a sturdy tin box. But is there enough here to rise above the ranks of the billions of decks of playing cards that are out in the wild?

Gameplay

In the game, players are trying to help Dr. Gloom, a wacky mad scientist, incubate fantastical monsters in his creature machines. There are 4 different creatures (colors) numbered 1 through 6 and 4 Machine cards (1 of each color). The machine cards have a plus sign on one side and a minus sign on the other, indicating whether cards of that suit are played in increasing order or decreasing order. They are initially placed with the plus sign visible.

The object of the game is to get rid of all of your cards. Cards are placed face up next to the Machine card of the same color and must be greater than or equal to the previous card (if the plus sign is visible) or less than or equal to the previous card (if the minus sign is visible). A 1 can always be played on a 6 and vise versa, regardless of the card order shown on the Machine card. If a card is played on top of another card of the same number, the player must either flip a Machine card to the opposite site or force another player to draw a card.

When one player has played all of his cards, all other players take a final turn and the round ends. Penalty points are then totaled based on the number of skulls shown on all cards remaining in a player's hand. Each player who has no cards remaining in his hand subtracts 3 penalty points from his total score. After playing a number of rounds equal to the number of players, the game ends and the player who has the least penalty points is crowned the winner.

Review

Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom is a very simple and fast-paced game that can be learned by anyone. We found it to be a delightful game that we wanted to play repeatedly, and others we played it with also enjoyed it quite a bit. The theme and artwork really add to the game, with much thought and attention to detail distinguishing it from other card games of this level.

It is also amusing to observe the progression of each creature as a small hatchling on card #1 into a full-grown beast ready to burst out of the machine on card #6. Here is an example of one of the creatures:

Crazy Creatures cards

Pros: Simple and fun, cute theme, highly portable (it's only 52 cards)

Cons: It's only 52 cards (if you want a deeper game with more components, look elsewhere)

For more information on this game and Stronghold's new line, read the cover story of the Fall 2012 issue of Casual Game Insider.