What is this “Gloomhaven”???
This post is going to be less of a review of Gloomhaven and more of a what is Gloomhaven. Gloomhaven is a euro-inspired tactical legacy board game designed by Isaac Childres. I was recently introduced to this game by a friend and coworker and was instantly intrigued when I saw the size of this beast. The game is extremely deep with its 50+ page rule book, but pretty easy to grasp after playing a couple times. I’ll admit though, after playing almost a dozen scenarios there are still rules I forget or need to look up or just plain don’t follow(on accident of course). And, that’s OK because the game is cooperative. You aren’t playing against the people you are with, you are all trying to complete an objective with each scenario.
But I still dont understand what Gloomhaven is about!
OK, so here is the basic overview. Each person starts off creating a character by choosing one of the 6 basic heroes. Each character comes with a small deck of 7-11 ability cards, these are your basic attacks and movement cards you use each turn to move your guy around the board and fight monsters. You have a couple extra cards and have to decide which abilities you are going to use for the scenario you are playing.
After creating your characters you open the scenario book and read the introduction and setup of your very first game. The scenario book has about 100 different scenarios you can play, each with different goals and setups. As you complete more scenarios, the party has to decide as a group what to do next. The story continues to change and evolve based on events you complete, decisions the party makes, and even sometimes random things that can happen in a scenario(like finding a treasure map to a buried treasure).
As you play you gain gold that you can spend on items to make your character stronger, experience points to level up your character gaining new ability cards, side quests that unlock new perks and eventualy ways to modify your abilities to make them stronger.
How Gloomhaven is actualy played… no dice you say??
As you can see from the picture of the scenario above Gloomhaven is a tile based tactical game. The book tells you which tiles to put out, where each monster goes, where there is loot to be earned, and even story events that you read after certain doors are opened. The story telling in the game is pretty decent. It’s almost like playing D&D but without a dungeon master. The monsters all have rules as to how they move, and each monster type has its very own ability deck.
Each turn you get to pick 2 ability cards to play and follow the top of one card and the bottom of the other. Each monster’s abilities are chosen at random. Each of these cards has an initiative value that tells you the order that stuff moves. When its your turn you reveal what you are going to do, and make your attacks using a deck of modifier cards like +1, -1, miss, critical hit(x2), etc. Your modifier deck is also customizable through perks that you earn throughout your adventures, like removing a -1 and gaining a +1.
The real reason I love Gloomhaven
So, the game is insainly fun to play. It can be played solo or with up to 3 other people. But the real draw to the game is all the mystery behind it. The game comes with a ton of content that is sealed and you dont open it until directed by the game. Eventualy the character you are playing will retire and other classes get unlocked. The game starts you off with the 6 playable characters to choose from, but there are 11 more that you can earn throughout your adventures. With each game taking 1-2 hours to play, and probably more if you have a full group of 4, and 90+ scenarios, 17 total characters to earn and level up, you could play this game for hundreds of hours and still have more stuff to explore. Its part tabletop board game, part pen and paper RPG, and incredibly well balanced fun.
You can pick this up on amazon, and some time later on PC through steam.
If you have a favorite board game or tabletop game you think I should check out please let me know down in the comments as I am always looking for new board games to play.