GOF 2017 Report: Gloomhaven Is Mostly Gloomhype

GOF 2017 Report: Gloomhaven Is Mostly Gloomhype

Editor’s Note: Still getting around to my posts from Gathering of Friends 2017 last month. They’ll come out as soon as I can get a moment to write and edit them. Bless you for your patience with this busy blogger. Gloomhaven here also got a little long.

Editor’s Other Note: If you are a Gloomhaven Groupie and want your opinion validated, Ars Technica has a good article for you. Ye will find no validation here.

Having a limited time at the Gathering of Friends this year, I had not really made a proper list of must-play games. Yet, Gloomhaven was high on my mental list to try because of all the hype that has been spread online about this game for some time, culminating in their highly successful Kickstarter campaign, which just closed. People I respected had been pushing it hard, talking about how amazing the whole thing was and putting a whole lot of money into the admittedly giant box offered by the publisher. The hype, not shied away from by the publisher, was massive and growing. My expectations were high.

So, I was quite appreciative when my friend Jeff gave me his slot in a planned Gloomhaven session on Thursday morning. As it happens, a big fan of the game had been running daily games for novices, teaching them the game and then running them through his campaign with prescribed characters he had been developing. I turned up early to my designated time all ready to be dazzled. While my recent investment in Descent 2.0 to play with my son and friends is substantial, maybe Gloomhaven will give me the eurogame-powered alternative that will be worth the switch. I recall how in the late 80’s, I switched to GURPS from AD&D 1st edition for similar reasons. More control, less randomness, a more serious design. Deja vu, game edition.

Expectations are a tough thing. Having been raised in the business world by the Pixie Dusters at Disney, where one of the key concepts is to exceed expectations, I’m keenly in tune with how important it is to go into a situation with them set properly. For the most part, the Gloomhyping had worked on me. I was considering supporting the Kickstarter even as I had sworn to not buy unplayed games this year (probably not an unfamiliar refrain to you, dear reader). The one bright (dark?) spot here was that the night before, a highly-respected game designer had run through his list of games played and offered his quick opinions. When he got to Gloomhaven, his review was two words:

“Hated it.”

Still Gloomhotin

On Thursday morning, I sat down with his words in mind, hoping they would lower my expectations sufficiently that I would love Gloomhaven. As the box was opened, the components were an inauspicious start. There’s a lot of stuff inside that big chest but I was immediately underwhelmed by the boring game boards and cardboard standees for monsters. Hey, Descent 2.0 has made me love detailed boards and cool miniatures while this felt like a throwback to the sad days when Steve Jackson Games tried to get us excited about Cardboard Heroes! Didn’t work on me then, not impressed now (I had similar misgivings about Dead of Winter, which hasn’t been to the table in a long while). The mix of figures for the heroes and cardboard for the monsters just felt wrong.

When we got to the rules, things seemed better. Gloomhaven has some interesting mechanisms, at least starting with the personal deck play options that let you come up with interesting card combos unique to your character. Players have a custom deck that can be upgraded with stickers and they’re double-purposed like what you find in Card Driven Wargames, with two ways to use them. You play two per turn, using the top combat-oriented option on one card, and the bottom movement-focused option at the bottom. I liked the idea of how they worked and interacted with power-ups that you could inspire and then people could use. Kind of like magic that hasn’t faded in the air, these elemental and such type of conditions can give players extended powers, which seems cool. I was intrigued but also felt like the options often limited what you could do for the turn.

Gloomhaven

The game has also worked hard to make the characters and classes unique in a way that shows these folks have been playing RPGs in the last nearly thirty years when I wasn’t. They’re exploding stereotypes and limitations. Clerics can have knives, dwarf-types can cast spells. This ain’t your father’s RPG class system! Er, I guess I’m the dad. This ain’t my old RPG class system! I mock because I’m given to do it, but this is actually a good thing. The characters have no attributes either, so you’re really using the card decks to do most of the work in combat and hand management. Some cards go away after a single use, others can go away if used in a certain way. Managing how you use these options is interesting but, a few hours in, you might grow weary of the work going into it. I did.

Like most dungeon crawlers, you have equipment to help you on your way and they add to what they should (armor helps with defense, weapons with killing stuff). Sounds good, so far – the description of those rules include lots of eurogame touches that look like they will make the game more balanced and interesting. As we get through an hour of rules, I’m excited but maybe a little concerned about how much there is to track and that I won’t be able to do what I want sometimes. Maybe kind of a lot of the time.

We hear a brief description of where we are in the world, being that this is eight scenarios in, and then we start. Much like Descent and other dungeon crawlers, we’re in conflict with some kind of monsters pretty quickly. Unfortunately, with the way the initiative mechanisms work, my rock-guy Tank runs up to the front but the dungeon jerks we are fighting sidestep me and go after our mage-thing run by our rules teacher. They promptly kill him.

I say ‘promptly’ but that’s just in Gloomhaven time, which moves like a snail crawling through barely-wet cement while covered in molasses and dragging an anvil. Did I mention the snail is really old?

More on that point later. We reboot.

We go in again and spread out a little differently. Now, the same rule plagues us and the creepy crawlies grab our rogue-thing. He’s killed and reboot two happens.

We’re over two hours in and we have yet to fight anyone but it’s noisy, we have three new players and while I’m getting it, there is a fair amount to think about on an individual turn so the other two guys are doing their best. Also, I have a work emergency going on and I’m Slacking between turns. This actually helps because the downtime in Gloomhangin is powerful.

As we play, some of the mechanisms that I found interesting start to feel unsatisfying. The ‘elemental effect’ or whatever mechanism only appears to have a single turn of impact, meaning it takes a lot of coordination to get an often minor impact on your turn. I hope the rules master had this one wrong because it turns something really cool into something lukewarm.

The standard equipment also appears to have a lot less utility than in any adventure game I’ve played. While my armor and shield help me every single turn in Descent or the D&D board games, Gloomhaltin limits equipment to seemingly minimal uses and then they need repair or untapping (sorry, ‘straightening’ or something – I don’t want to owe Hasbro a license fee). Man, why didn’t I buy armor that works every time? The rules master explains that this is for balance, which was the explanation for a fair number of my questions. Wow, I wish balance and fun could get equal time here. He did acknowledge that point sometime later.

I can do a lot of cool things with my cards…but they are fairly limited, hard to orchestrate, and often what I want to do is unavailable when I really need it. In fact, timing your actions to work well with the tactical situation on the board is hard enough to lack of a spark of pleasure that we get from easily getting into conflicts on the board in Descent, figuring out how our powers can help us beat the baddies. I keep making that comparison because it feels like Fantasy Flight are making a conscious effort to loosen things up with their combat games. Imperial Assault (essentially, Star Wars Descent) even has skirmish mode, acknowledging that sometimes you just want to throw down for 30-45 minutes and not plan a long day of dungeon delving. Gloomhaven seems to only allow the latter.

Four hours in, we have barely survived battle number 1 (on the third try) and just edged into a second room. There are three reasons I haven’t left the table yet, making some kind of excuse about a gaming emergency.

  1. The work emergency is still in the process of getting resolved and the otherwise-painful downtime is helping a lot. I’m making good progress and when it becomes my turn, I quickly move and then I’m off Slacking with my team back in L.A. and S.F.
  2. I appreciate the time the rules guy has put into it and don’t want to screw up his campaign by walking away. The other two players are also having some amount of fun, although it’s often hard to ascertain how much. They do eventually seem to get the game more. They’re all swell folks and I don’t want to ruin the game.
  3. I want to see this through so I can write this rather gonzo session review of Gloomhaven because, of course, I love you all.

Return on Attention

In the end, we spend six hours, finish room two and rush to get to room three. Mind you, these rooms are bare-bones chambers that lack of the character, obstacles, and theming of Descent boards. By this time, I could have played nearly three scenarios of Descent and been in dozens of rooms that would give us a sense of accomplishment. The app helps this immensely, as it helps you feel the experience and travel and exploration. Gloomholdin just feels like we’re running in place, and a nondescript one at that.

In the end, I could see how that designer could have ‘hated’ Gloomhazin. While the eurogame stylings have sawed off the Ameritrash edges in many ways, they make the game feel stilted and labored to me. You have to do so much to get so little, which violates a big rule for me. When I design software, one of my focuses is on “Return on Attention”. We are far too busy to do anything these days. We have only so many mental cycles in the day. I believe games need to deliver on fun and positive experiences for the time put in. If the game starts to feel like a lot of work or if it doesn’t deliver enough regularly to keep you engaged, it isn’t worth my time.

That’s just me, of course. I know many people love to play games that give them the feeling of running a big business, country, or other operation, and that experience and putting a lot of time into it to optimize or otherwise deliver better stuff is exciting. More power to them. If they are loving that experience, I’m glad they are getting what they want out of games. Gloomhaven feels like that to me. If you want to micromanage a dungeon crawl and feel the euro mechanisms slip together like artisanal puzzle pieces, this is your game. You will drown in joy at the 100 hours of play you will get out of the giant box, which will be an excellent deal and money well-spent. I still think replacing all those standees with miniatures and such would be more fun but that would make the box Ogre Designer’s Edition sized. Eeek.

If you want things a little looser, more consistently thrilling, and perhaps a little more in line with the old-school feel of RPGs dungeon-delving, I think you’ll be happier with Descent 2.0 (particularly with the excellent app) or maybe the D&D board games.

I’ll end with my caveats that longtime BGB readers and listeners know well enough: I’m a eurogamer by nature, but I played RPGs back in the 80’s. Ameritrash isn’t normally my thing but we have gotten deeply into Mice & Mystics and also Descent 2.0 primarily because my son wanted to play RPGs and I figured this was a good compromise. We also acquired and played the D&D board games but I think they aren’t as good as the other two RPG-in-a-box titles we have enjoyed regularly for the last couple of years. We’re playing fairly regularly now and, while I would love more variation in games, I’m thrilled that this oldschool play is delighting my son and the close friends with whom I spent a lot of time adventuring back in high school.

One more point: If you coughed up more than $100 for this game because you were Gloomhopin it was going to be a Descent-killer, the Second Coming, or just a really good game that you and your friends love, I hope it gets you to Gloomheaven. The play time situation for my experience wasn’t ideal and while I’d probably give it a second try with a friend who knew the rules really well and pimped it out with real miniatures, I won’t be seeking that situation out. Not all games work for all people so if the hype got you on the bandwagon, I do hope you enjoy the ride…and remember there’s always the secondary market if you also think Gloomhaven is indeed a haven for gaming misery.

Boardgame Babylon Rating for Gloomhaven

BIN (Buy It Now)

PIN (P)lay It Now

TIF (Try It First)

NMT (Not My Thing)

20 thoughts on “GOF 2017 Report: Gloomhaven Is Mostly Gloomhype

  1. Wow, it sounds like you had the worst possible experience in playing this. It amazes me how bad it was for you.

    1. Learning in a noisy con environment is bad for any game, let alone a complex one.
    2. Your​ teacher was terrible at teaching. The official rules videos total 30 minutes. There’s no excuse for it to take twice that long.
    3. Your teacher seems to have gotten many rules wrong:
    3a. If your character moved to the front, there’s no way for any monster to walk past you to attack another character.
    3b. It’s literally impossible to die that early in a scenario. Any time you take damage, you can lose a card from your hand to completely negate it. To kill even the weakest character at level 1 on the first round, they would need to take about 6 damage, and then take another 7 hits after that.
    4. Because your teacher was bad and you’re in a noisy environment, things are taking way longer than they should. A 4 player scenario takes between 2 and 3 hours, generally, not including setup. A 2 player mission can be done in 1 to 1.5 hours.
    5. Because things are taking too long, you’re experiencing downtime, when generally there’s very little. Card selection is simultaneous. Monster controlling should be delegated. Actual player turns are generally pretty quick.

    I recognise that your experience has probably soured you on the whole thing, but if you get an opportunity to play it in a more conducive environment, I urge you to give it another shot. It might not be for you, but it deserves better than a crappy demo in a crowded hall.

    1. I’m delighted to hear that he got some things wrong.

      1) The Gathering isn’t a super-noisy environment, but it occasionally distracted the other players. I don’t think this was a big factor. The teacher was easy to hear and I think we heard him fine.
      2) There were many questions from the other players (not me so much – I’m the kind of player who figures if I miss something, I’ll learn it as we play).
      3) The mage was to the side, but the baddies ran toward him because of the initiative on their cards. So, while I described it dramatically, it did happen. Were the rules still wrong? Maybe.
      3a) I do think there was some kind of caveat about discarding cards late in the game (he’d forgotten), now that you bring it up.
      4) This was our teacher’s eighth game at the convention. No idea how many before.
      5) I’d expect that happens after a lot of plays but when situations change and then you have to read a lot of cards, each of which have two things, then consider the combos and other elements…yeah, I don’t see this happening really quickly until you are 20 games in. Even then, don’t invite your AP friends because I expect you will want to smother them with the Gloomhaven box cover before long.

      As I said, I’ll try it again but it’s not high on my list. I want it to be better than my experience. But, yuck, chuck those cardboard standees!

      1. (3) “the baddies ran toward him because of the initiative on their cards. ”
        Closest target always gets attacked first. If there’s a tie in distance, they go for lower initiitative.

  2. He definitely got rules wrong. Monsters focus on whoever is closest first and foremost. Initiative only breaks ties if there are equidistant people. And with ability to discard cards, reboots were unnecessary.

    I can play three gloomhaven scenarios in the six hours you guys took.

    I have my gripes with the game but it has lived up to the hype for me. Descent without dice would be awesome.

    1. I’m definitely going to give it one more try and appreciate the feedback. I still think the components are crappy coming from use of thematic and fun Descent pieces.

  3. Exactly my feelings.. Probably my biggest complaint is, that this game is not rewarding at all. The combat is not tactical enough, choices limited. There is very limited character development, no useful equipment, etc. So for me it fails on both sides, i beleived it would shine – no RPG, no tactics.

  4. More advanced than I could say after that one play but I would say even Descent isn’t solving that problem – neither is Mice and Mystics. I really think there is a market for a board game that lets you keep more from game to game. I had hopes for the AD&D board game 4th Edition Recursion project – but it seemed like a mess.

  5. Hmm… I respect your opinion but not sure how else the game could have been done without cardboard standees; Any given scenario could have 6 +/- monsters of the same type at one time, and tracking the HP of each individually would be tough if they weren’t numbered. If these were all miniatures each box would be twice as large and cost hundreds more.

  6. Totally agree. Its actually not a good game. Any video game would serve u better and be way cheaper. those who love this game are kickstarter backers who would never admit to wasting $100 and waiting for 2 years for crap, reviewers who were bought or give great reviews to people who send them large and/or highly hyped games, or people just playing it wrong. It takes too much time to play at a level that is fair. The game is aggravatingly unfair at every turn and it takes hours of replaying scenarios and learning the cards u have and what you”l be facing. Do not believe the online play throughs. They’ve either played wrong, cheated, or got tremendously lucky. Do a search for Gloomhaven unfair and see what an honest group of people are trying to educate others on.
    For instance, Tom Vassel is playing the monsters on lvl 0. If u play solo u up the difficulty by 1. To make it easier u lower the difficulty by 1. Tom should be playing w/ lvl 1 monsters. There is no easier lvl in the book so Tom is house ruling that there is an easier lvl where u play monsters lvl -2. This is how it starts, w/ house ruling the unfairness the game puts forth.
    I spent quite a bit of money on this and the time I spent learning it, actually studying it, I count as time wasted. My kids and I, though they are kinda young being early teens, play Mage Knight which is similar, tactical, and strategic etc. We have fun. We immediately loved Pandemic Legacy, a highly rated game by all, from the get go. This game was aggravating for them and they abandoned it very quickly. I compare it to playing a DnD scenario where you realize the encounter is way too difficult right away and you give up not even attempting to proceed. I think many are giving this a high mark due to not wanting to realize they wasted money and time. This happens often on kickstarters. I would even go so far as to say that the reviewers that gave this high marks have some sketchy “behaviors” regarding this game. Rahdo stated Mage Knight wasn’t for him and all the things he said were negatives are multiplied by this game. He also said he played the game with his very non-gamer wife??? For reviewers not to inform on how punishing and basically unfair it is at the beginning is suspect to me. Vassel gave this #1 and he plays easy games and dislikes solo games but he does a playthrough of this solo??
    We got a side encounter through an event card. We wanted to go there as the 3rd mission and I spent time setting the whole thing up. The kids prepared, we looked at the first room, and we saw a lot of bad guys. We still were going to venture on thinking we would lose but it would be a good battle. Then we saw that you start the mission with the wound status. I mean c’mon! That’s when they were done. Didn’t even attempt it and so the game sits. Wasn’t this game about adventure? Being able to explore? To go where you want out of your discoveries? If encounters are not for all levels then they should be labeled as such. Is that too much to ask from a game so highly rated that costs $150????

    1. So, everyone who is better at this game is just a liar? Seriously, wound condition is healed easily, what’s wrong with it? We (Spellweaver + Cragheart + (sometimes) Brute, than Cragheart switched to Tribal Face) played around 15 scenarios on the normal difficulty, lost exactly once (Cragheart got too greedy and literally skipped 2 turns trying to fulfill “aggressor” battle goal) plus were close to defeat twice. A few scenarios were more like roflstomps. I don’t consider myself great strategic mind and our Brute certainly isn’t. Maybe it would become harder, but how can anyone find the first scenario difficult is beyond me.

      1. I think there are plenty of people who clearly enjoy this game and more power to them. I would note that I was playing the 8th scenario into the game, not the very first one. There was someone running the game during the convention and pulling in different people game to game.

        I’m going to give Gloomhaven another try one day but I still don’t care for the components at all.

    2. I have played through about 20 scenarios so far with a group of four, and love the game; as do the skeptics in our group. The logic, creativity and effort to put this game together is astounding. Props to Isaac and his team! The first few scenarios were tough as we got used to the gameplay and learned the rules, but we added an extra night a week to play this as we have been enjoying it so much. The game has a steep learning curve in the beginning during which it can be frustrating. If you have the patience and intelligence Gloomhaven can be extremely rewarding. If you don’t, as may be the case with the op, there is always Hello Kitty Island.

    3. After about 10 scenarios, my group has lost once. Playing on the recommended difficulty.

      Each scenario has come down to the wire – 0-2 turns left per character, tending toward 0.
      The game is impeccably balanced.

      I think you need to rethink your coordination abilities.

  7. Just started a 4-player campaign (Scoundrel, Brute, Mindthief, Tinkerer), and all of us are HOOKED, from me (the most D&D-oriented) to the guy whose closest experience to this is Betrayal at House on the Hill. In two sessions totaling ten hours, we cleared 4 scenarios and all reached Level 2. Taking a peek at our new cards & perks, it looks like the game just gets better from here. We’ve developed a terrific team strategy and are enjoying the rapid proliferation of scenario options and types of monsters. Combat mechanic is elegant and balanced, and the player options emphasize flexibility. In comparing it to tabletop RPGs for my cohort afterwards, I compared it to the ideal of the D&D 3rd Edition—stripping away the *ahem* arcane rules for a coherent game engine and easy scaling & customization.

    In our favor, our lead player had a few scenarios’ experience with another group and committed to the admin role for our campaign. We also allowed my character to replay a single turn in the first scenario that would have otherwise led to my *death* and a time-consuming reboot.

    Slight minuses—the biggest time drag is choosing card combos each turn, and some classes (esp. the Mindthief) take a lot longer to figure out than others (as the Brute, I’m almost always the first down). I was also expecting the conflicting personal goals (Life/Scenario) to lead to more strife, but so far they haven’t complicated our gameplay much. We also wound up with a combo of classes that have almost no Element effects,

    Lastly, I agree with Michael that standees seem like the only practical option for the monsters, which unlike the players are immensely varied and change from chamber to chamber, much less scenario to scenario. Miniatures would be a perfectly legit add-on for those who want a luxury gaming experience, but given how quickly they cycle in and out of use, cardboard makes perfect sense.

  8. I love it.

    Me and my second gaming group play it every fortnight The biggest problem is set up, but the game can hardly be blamed for that.The downtime and options given means you can’t really prepare two sessions quickly at once.

    Currently on our 6th scenario (going into a rift) …

    How we plan out our fortnightly is (assuming full 4 player complement);

    1: I preset up a Gloomhaven scenario
    2: Play an opener game (Fairy Tale, Karmaka, Lotus, etc)
    3: Play Gloomhaven scenario.
    4: If successful, do City/Road evens and pick next scenario
    5: Play 2 games of Netrunner/Legend of the Five Rings (1 game each, 2 games for 1st game winners…must switch between corp/runner and play both).Losers help set up next Gloomhaven scenario and gets the first helping of ‘consolation cake’. I always buy or bake a small cake for our sessions. No chocolate because one player has an allergy.
    7: Play next scenario.
    8: Pick next fortnight’s scenario/do end of scenario stuff.

    And that’s a roughly 5 hour game day.

    That has been our typical gameday every fortnight … .and we love it.

    Gloomhaven is wonderful. It allows players to be jerks, but still nominally ‘allies’. Other dungeon crawlers it feels like there’s always a ‘correct’ way to play, but with Gloomhaven there is that level of emergent gameplay that you never really know what others are going to do. But despite being a dysfunctional collection of self-interested mercenaries, you still pull off that victory and it always feels close because players have hidden agendas that let them push the envelope if they feel like they have time.to do so.

    My secret personal quest unlocks Musical Note. Currently using the Spellweaver, love her to bits. A friend that introduced me to the game and plays it weekly tells me that I will love my next character when she retires..

    Everything in this game has me invested.The dysfunctional party mechanic. The Eurogame stylings … There is a hell ofalot ofcustomization in this straightforward dungeon delving game.through attack modifier deck customization. It feels like we’re missing out on a lot of content with every choice we make. But given the expansion inaround the corner, I feel like we’ll be playing this game for years.

    I can’t help but notice you seemed to make a lot of mistakes, and might not have been playing with the right group.

    You need that group that can accept all the microaggressions you’ll suffer. Where a player will, rather than do what you need them to do, will speed over to the treasure chest. Where you can laugh and grin when it’s your turn to be sly and petty. Gloomhaven as a game kind of needs accompaniments such as a good opener, as set up and the nitty gritty is kind of annoying. It takes me an average of 45 minutes to get everything prepared straight out of the box. Which is why I got into baking. Making cakes or scones in the meantime. I live in a decently sized studio apartment, but a studio apartment nonetheless … so it’s not like I can keep the players stuff out constantly.

    Not as bad as resetting a Mage Knight game, but a 4 player Mage Knight game + opener is all you need for a games day.

    In short, the mechanics are probably the best in a dungeon crawler I’ve ever played, and we haven’t evengotten into the legacy aspects.

    Right now I’m imagining just how much fun it will be when one of our characters retires, and we have to suddenly all learn how to strategize together again. We only just started learning how to play together. Started feeling out eachother’s gameplay styles and hand management…. and suddenly havingto gov through all that chaos again,given one player retires soonish….

    I think Gloomhaven easily deserves all the hype it gets.

    The A.I. is elegant. The characters bleed all sorts of character and gameplay narratives. The customization is deceptively deep. It’s *diceless* (I love Euros), the party politics of greed and manufactured chaos is great…

    I get the criticism, but there ismerit alone that with the right group the game just gets raved about.

  9. I love it

    Before I got my copy, or even decided to buy, I played solo on TTS, and watched Alucard2004 throughways, And to counter EC’s comment – most of the mistakes and randomness they encounter, they play to their disadvantage, and they still play on +1, and sometimes even +2 difficulty.
    I fell sorry for the experience you had. Most of the mistakes of your play through have already been pointed out, but there is also the elemental/magic aspect that I am not sure if you got right. The magic you generate stays on the board and is able to being used on the round it is generated (for everyone after the person who is generating it), and for the entire next round. It does requires some coordination too pull out, but not as much as you make it out to have. Especially if you play Craigheart, who is pretty much self-sufficient elementally=wise. The impact of the magic used also varies, but I will agree that it hardly ever is anything major. But both of those things for me are good. If the elements just lingered on the board indefinitely, the mechanic would be shallow and too easy to use. As it is, it adds depth, because you have to plan your elemental infusions ahead of time, ask your teammates if they infuse anything or use anything already infused, and if multiple people plan on using the same element, you have to agree or fight for it. And as of the impact of the use of the elements, I’m glad that those effects aren’t as major, to make the usage of the action without the element oblivious. IMO That would be a takeaway from the decision making.

    As for our teams play sessions – It takes around 4-4.5h from the moment our playmates step into our apartment, till they leave it, Starting with tea and catch up, ending with discussion and analysis, sometimes with a cigarette break in the middle. If we were to play 2 scenarios back to back, we would probably plan an 8h meet, to be sure we wont run out of time, and to be able to make a lengthy break in the middle.

    We are exactly 10 scenarios in, and have lost only once. Our very first play through ended with a single enemy standing with a single HP left. But we had a few very clutch games. There were moments that some of the players felt as not having as much of an impact, we had games carried by single player, we had games made by a single action. Our last game we were certain we have physically no way of succeeding, until we noticed one thing, and then preceded to coordinate the next three rounds in a way, for our most tired player to make the absolute most out of his last 3 cards (we needed him to walk 11 hexes, past a group of enemies, and through a trap, with 3 cards left in his hand).

    I’m not claiming this game is perfect, or for everyone. The rules (especially the AI rules) are sometimes cumbersome, and there are a lot of them, which very often ends up with people messing SOMETHING up with the rules..But the tactical depth, character flavor and individual, dicelessnes, and legacy aspect, which further adds to the flavor and individuality make IMO gloomhaven a game worthe the #1 spot on BGG.

  10. Your experiences sound nothing like the ones my friends an I have. 2 rooms for you take longer than a full quest for us. Also elements last 2 rounds not one, and you can get a lot of neat combinations out there. I like that the boards themselves are flexible and filled in by components. It lets you create a lot of different types of quests, and they really do a great job of designing quests that feel very different. Personally I love the game but to each their own. Still I think your experience was not a good example.

  11. I’m gonna throw in that I love the cardboard standees. Yes miniatures are much cooler, but painting minis isn’t part of my hobby. So having full color, full artwork versions of the monsters is fan-fucking-tastic. I wish the characters were cardboard too instead of blobs of gray lifeless melted plastic.

    The thing that your group was missing was knowledge of cards. The first scenario is you constantly reading your cards and not knowing what you or your allies do. A couple scenarios in, and you’re like “I’m gonna jump in and smash and kick up some earth so you can pick them off with your consume bonus”. It’s a coop game and when you start teaming up, lots of fun crazy shit happens.

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