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Gloomhaven - Board Game Box Shot

Gloomhaven

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Players will take on the role of a wandering mercenary with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for traveling to this remote corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. In the process they will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions they make.

This is a persistent, “legacy” game that is best played over many game sessions. After a scenario, players will make decisions on what to do, which will determine how the story continues, kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Playing through a scenario is a cooperative affair where players will fight against automated monsters using an innovative card system to determine the order of play and what a player does on their turn.

Essentially, every turn a player will play two cards out of their hand. Each card has a number in the center, and the number on the first card played will determine their initiative order. Each card also has a top and bottom power, and when it is a player’s turn in the initiative order, they determine whether to use the top power of one card and the bottom power of the other, or vice-versa. Players must be careful, though, because over time they will permanently lose cards from their hands. If they take too long to clear a dungeon, they may end up exhausted and be forced to retreat.

User Reviews (4)

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6
I'm a Gamin' Fiend!
Amateur Advisor
Sophomore
10
16 of 16 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Mega Game in all the good ways”

Pros:
Great Components
Amazing story arcs with lots of choices
Interesting ways to upgrade your individual character

Cons:
Takes your shelf space
Organizer is almost a necessity
Steep Learning Curve but very intuitive by the 3rd game

When you open the box, you have access to the starting six characters. They are new and interesting, not the standard fantasy dwarf, elf, wizard, etc. There are an additional ELEVEN characters and their miniatures that are sealed. You must meet certain in game conditions before you can open a new character.

As your party adventures you fight through dungeons, advancing the story and learning more about the setting of Gloomhaven. The game plays well with 2-4 players and scales itself. (Side note, in many games, my wife and I play a third dummy character to make the game flow correctly but this is not necessary with this game!)

As you level up your characters, several things happen. You can choose the next perk you want, allowing you to control if you want to ignore certain negative effects or change the mix of your modifier deck (-1, +0, +1, +1 with an additional target, +0 but also poison the target, etc.) As you level up, you are also able to carry more small items (like healing potions). The town’s property will also improve through game play, granting you access to new items.

Eventually, your character will achieve his or her life goal and retire. This is NOT a bad thing! It will often allow you to open a new character, increase the prosperity of the town, and unlock certain town and road cards. When you choose your new character, they will be able to come in at a higher level and will begin play with a perk already added in. You don’t get to keep money or items but it didn’t seem to slow us down for long. This also means you may have a party with characters at different levels. This is OK! You take the average of the party and play at that level. You will not be underpowered, or at least not for long.

Overall, we love this game! We have played 80+ hours and have completed maybe 1/3rd of the adventures. We have each retired 3+ characters and have taught it to 10+ people. If you like tactical thinking, resource management, good story elements, and lots of pieces… welcome home!

P.S. Be sure to check the game tips as well for some add ons I wish we had known about when we first started playing.

 
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1
 
22 of 23 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Not top ranked for nothin'”

Gloomhaven right now is the pinnacle of what modern board games are trying to be, especially within the realm of fantasy / RPG / tactical, puzzle-style combat.

In a nutshell, it’s like Dungeons & Dragons in a box, but you don’t need a dungeon master.

What you’re getting:

A set of scenarios that could keep you busy playing one or two per session every weekend for a year. They’re honed to a razor edge in terms of balance and difficulty. It will make you think, and engage you. It has light legacy mechanics and an ongoing story. Certain elements such as the monster stat cards / sleeves are a remarkably elegant and brilliantly executed solution. Also, it’s TOTALLY diceless.

What you should expect:

1. To spend the night you get this sucker unpacking and sorting. You *will* want some kind of organizer (I’ve seen plans for a foam-core one on BGG; Google it).

2. Read the rulebook front to back, then read it again. Also, watch the two Gaming Rules! videos for it on youtube with Paul Grogan. They’re excellent.

3. If introducing anyone new to this game, leave *plenty* of time (i.e. don’t try this when folks are, or may shortly be, tired). You will spend hours on this.

4. You will have lots to think about, and analysis paralysis can be a thing, but it’s awesome. This comes in the forms of the class cards being not only what actions you can take, but also a representation of your character’s energy levels. Run out of cards and your character is exhausted and out for that scenario.

This game is a labor of love that would be worth $200. The fact that MSRP is $140 is a steal. The box has over 20 lbs of physical stuff in it, and it is all cool. This game has “Bang for your buck” written all over it.

Isaac, I can tell, put his heart and soul into this game to make it something really special. If you love board games, if you love fantasy, if you love tactics, if you love legacy games or even if you just love supporting excellent work from excellent people, you need to buy this.

Put this puppy in a place of honor, on it’s own shelf or on top of the bookcase where it can breath. It deserves it.

 
Player Avatar
1
6
Medals x 1
“Not for us, but a game that popularized campaigns in a box”

We played through about ten sessions before our kids took it over. in the realm of campaign gaming we are more keen on higher emphasis on exploration and story like in games like 7th Continent, Legacy of Dragonholt, Tainted Grail, and we’re big Middara fans. Our kids seem to like Gloomhaven for when they have gaming gatherings with extended family, though they say they don’t intend to play the whole campaign. They are very focused on 5e dnd, and have their own campaigns that they run every week.

In Gloomhaven, the players read a short intro to a chapter of the campaign, and set up a dungeon according to the chapter’s requirements. They then enter the dungeon, cooperatively clearing it room by room of monsters and treasure, and then at the end they can choose one of two branches of the story to continue with (one quite good, the other more evil). Combat is done via a deck of cards, and there are two options of action on each card. In many ways the game is mostly a tactical dungeon combat game. As the characters level up, they can get more cards, and their dice roll deck can change (with better outcomes hopefully!). Players can also switch to other characters (other classes) as they are discovered. We never played with the forteller app, but I hear it’s quite good.

I think the sequel to Gloomhaven (Frosthaven) will be a better experience because it should have a shorter set up time, and perhaps a deeper story. The shorter set up time will be due to Frosthaven adopting the book of dungeon maps concept originally found in Mice & Mystics. We found the amount of time we took to set Gloomhaven up was a deterrent to playing. The organizer we got from Broken Token helped but not enough in that respect.

Good effort for a first game from the creator. I think he was very savvy by going for mass market vendors like Walmart for wider market exposure. He has benefited for sure for being a leader in launching the concept of a campaign game in a box, and is a smart creator and businessman.

Other “campaigns in a box” that are out there or will be released in the coming year or two are: Sword & Sorcery, Hel the Last Saga, Middara, Isofarian Guard, Oathsworn, Tainted Grail, Etherfields, ISS Vanguard (space campaign game), Solomon Kane, Bard’s Tale, 7th Continent, 7th Citadel, Kingdom Death Monster, Bardsung, Shadows of Brimstone, Arydia, the Paths We Dare Tread, Roll Player Adventures, Aeon Trespass Odyssey, Darkest Dungeon, and Secrets of a Lost Station. I’m sure there are others!

 
Player Avatar
4
Supporter
I play orange
8
11 of 14 gamers found this helpful
“It's soooo big!”

Okay, yeah, this is a great one for art, story, gameplay, co-op, as well as fantastic replay. Just know this, it WILL eat ALL your play time for other games.

The biggest drawback is the amazing amount of set up and clean up time, and you really need a great rules lawyer to digest the book that is the rules. If you are into any sort of light gaming experience, forget this.

If you want that immersive game to rule them all and in the game closet bind them, you found it!

 

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