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.


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)


  1. Ax0r May 7, 2017 12:48 am 

    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.

    • E.R. Burgess May 9, 2017 4:25 am 

      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!

      • Matt May 2, 2018 3:39 am 

        (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.

      • Kristen Phillips August 11, 2019 3:27 pm 

        Your complaint about the cardboard standees for monsters seems like a really weird hang up to me. We also have Descent and many other RPG style board games, and while minis are wonderful, the game would be about 7+ times more expensive and require its own closet if monster minis were included. In the case of a game like Descent, the minis are wonderful, but if you got as much content as you get with Gloomhaven it would easily be $1000 in Descent expenditures. The value is absolutely fantastic with Gloomhaven for the cost.

    • SturmhammerII August 29, 2018 1:46 pm 

      The OP has a gripe about standees with real minis – LOL. Did he see how many enemy standees there are – 236 standees in total. You show me the game that provides that many ‘minis’ and I’ll call bullshite. At and avg cost of $2 per mini (and that would be a friggin’ bargain) that’s $572 for the minis alone. The OP is full of himself if he thinks he gave this game a decent go. We had a few pitfalls, and still find rules that we missed (very minor ones these days) but this is easily the best game my group has played for a very long time. (and between us we own a lot of games).

      • Kristen Phillips August 11, 2019 3:28 pm 

        My thoughts exactly.

        • E.R. Burgess March 18, 2020 9:45 am 

          Thanks for reading. This is indeed one of my most popular posts, amusingly enough.

          • Blutmes March 31, 2020 4:17 am 

            I see you are still keeping up to date with this post,

            i have played gloomhaven a lot, and i really enjoy it its my friend group’s go to game. so it is odd to me to see someone dislike this game as much as you do. considering my friend group is all made of of ppl who came form playing Descent 2.0, we actually found this to be more fun and have more freedom to what we can do. in Decent the story is very linear with very few variants you can take. (Unless you just playing one-shot games with the dungeons.) compared to gloomhaven were you can play the game over and over and take a different path each time you start anew.

            i would say give it another try, however considering you dont like how long it takes to play the game i would say maybe try to play a digital version of the game. if you want to keep the Table Top game feel you can get Table Top Simulator on Steam there is a fully Scripted Version of Gloomhaven on the steam workshop there (my friends and i have been playing this with the current state of the world, and our games are actually taking about 1/3 of the time it took playing in person with the board game).

            if you want something that can get none of the rules wrong tho and is made by the developers of the game Gloom haven has a Video game of the popular Table top. currently it is in early access but if you just want to give it a try by yourself the Single player adventure available is alot of fun, and the full release of the game including online multiplayer should be out soon.

      • lee April 8, 2022 9:41 am 

        Lol, the game has to many pieces, that’s why it has to look like bland crap. Not really a great excuse.

    • Purplereign March 10, 2019 4:21 am 

      Yes I think the appropriate response to this review is “lol git gud”

      • E.R. Burgess March 12, 2019 12:33 pm 

        I had to look that up. Okay…

        • Charlie D. May 18, 2019 10:41 pm 

          Joke aside, i think one of the best things gloomhaven gives, is that feeling of accomplishment when you start managing your cards better, and learning to pick the right cards for the mission. But i definitely see how it can feel like a chore for some players… Not a light game at all, but it flat replaced d&d for me!

      • K June 4, 2019 6:37 am 

        It’s not that hard, just boring and slow. Git gud doesn’t really apply.

        • Blutmes March 31, 2020 4:19 am 

          *not that hard* someone been playing the game on easy mode and hasen’t even tapped into even the tip of the iceberg

    • JS August 11, 2020 6:45 am 

      If OP hates cardboard minis so much, and has the money to buy hundreds of minis plus get someone else to paint them, why don’t they just buy them? 3D printing sites have the exact minis, and I’ve also seen full painted sets on Etsy.

      The only way the game could be viable from a business standpoint and be full mini (not enough people would buy a $500+ game) would be to drastically reduce the types of enemies and/or force you to buy dozens of expansion packs. To each their own, but I much prefer getting a whole game, then buying/painting appropriate minis I don’t already have as our party advances.

      I know this was originally posted years ago, but since then there’s been an app produced that significantly reduces set up and play time (no pesky tokens to deal with). My group plays online and I use 2 webcams (phone and iPad) so they can see the physical board. Generally I go “oh crap, game starts in ten minutes”, and in that time I set up the board, microwave some food, and choose my cards. It only took me about four games to get that quick, and I’m not a very organized person.

      The first few games will be slower, but I found it significantly quicker to pick up than your average RPG and most RPG type board games. I agree that it is difficult at first, so just start on easy.

      I won’t belabor the already thoroughly covered rules mistakes. I will say it should not be surprising to anyone who is even passingly familiar with RPGs, RPG board games, or RPG video games that it isn’t a good idea to placed a squishy spellcaster next to the tank rather than behind it (worth noting that the Spellweaver actually can be a great tank for a few rounds once you get the hang of it).

      If OP isn’t a fan that’s perfectly ok, but for anyone that likes RPG battles please don’t let this review talk you out of trying it.

  2. Jeff July 18, 2017 3:09 am 

    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.

    • E.R. Burgess July 22, 2017 10:06 pm 

      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. Sis October 25, 2017 7:13 am 

    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.

    • SturmhammerII August 29, 2018 2:14 pm 

      OMG – not tactical – LOL (compared to D&D – which is ‘same move…same move…same move’
      Not rewarding: You get small rewards for even failing a scenario – the difficulty scaling is far better than most RPGs where the monsters hit lvls as you do.

  4. E.R. Burgess October 27, 2017 8:50 pm 

    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. John BonJovi January 24, 2018 8:03 am 

    I disagree Gloomhaven is a very tactical Game. eg Look carefully the scoundrel cards!

  6. Michael Butler January 24, 2018 3:23 pm 

    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.

  7. EC February 3, 2018 9:13 am 

    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????

    • Numa Pompilius April 30, 2018 9:26 am 

      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.

      • E.R. Burgess May 1, 2018 12:25 pm 

        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.

        • SturmhammerII August 29, 2018 2:10 pm 

          Stop going on about the components – 1700 cards and 236 enemy tokens that you want as minis – that would cost $550 minimum (and that’s at $2 a mini, which is cheap as chips) for the minis alone. We enjoy the retro feel of the standees, and the fact that it is the only sensible way to package a board game with that much stuff. Can you imagine trying to box that many minis.
          I am 45+ years old – played board games and games in all formats, hell, my family was the first in my neighbourhood to own ‘pong’ on the Atari. My friends own literally 1000s of dollars worth of games between us – and we all agree that Gloomhaven is ‘huge’ value. I was not a ‘backer’ and had no knowledge of the game until I started searching for some top-rated games. This game belongs in that group my good fellow.
          You’d need a very large, padded tool box for the minis. and an extra $500 – so that argument is just out of this world ridiculous.

          • Get over it April 16, 2019 8:35 pm 

            Wow, you must be a gaming expert. First in neighborhood to own Pong. Amazing. Another Gloomhaven fan boy who gets upset if someone else doesn’t love his cherished game. Good God.

          • E.R. Burgess April 18, 2019 11:32 am 

            It really is kind of funny. If you can’t be happy with your purchase because someone else doesn’t like its components, that’s not about me or the game, it’s about you. 🙂

          • Mike July 18, 2020 6:38 pm 

            “I am 45+ years old”

            It shows 😀

        • Jason September 11, 2018 6:57 am 

          I really hate standees. Other than spinners, they’re probably my most hated game component. But, the gameplay of Gloomhaven makes me willing to ignore this flaw.

          The cardplay of Gloomhaven combined with retirement keeping classes from getting stale is what works for me. I also like the perks a class gets for leveling or completing tasks. Having my Cragheart attack and hit so hard the monster is knocked back and through an obstacle for extra damage feels heroic. He was throwing rocks, blocking hexes, and overall stomping monsters. The other two classes I’ve unlocked and played have also felt great to play.

          I think the most valid criticism is why a class can do something one turn, but not do it again without a rest. It kind of makes all the characters feel a bit like magic users in a D&D campaign. But, any character can use cards for the basic 2 attack with 2 moment which emulates the default attacks and moves of more typical dungeon crawlers.

    • Nick May 18, 2018 3:05 am 

      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.

      • E.R. Burgess May 22, 2018 2:05 pm 

        I love the spunk of this message. Hilarious!

    • a June 28, 2018 3:41 am 

      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.

      • E.R. Burgess August 4, 2018 1:48 pm 

        If I ever get another person willing to run me through it, I’ll give it a go. I found the game so slow and boring that I doubt I’ll make the time, but who knows?

    • Justin September 8, 2018 3:13 am 

      One of my noob mistakes was realzing the # of bad guys is not determined by the number of pictures you see, but by what image is colored on the hex. White/Black/Yellow etc.

      There’s a chart in the rule book that says what to place for the # of players. Our first game we got that wrong and had like 12 monsters in the first room, when it should have been 6.

      We also thought the monsters get their base move/attack every turn in addition to what is drawn from their monster cards – we lost the first scenario twice doing it this way, but no, they only do whats on their card for that round. SO if they don’t have “attack” they don’t attack even if they’re right next to you.

      We had our fourth session and did Scenario 3 and it was a blast! I had a ton of fun and it was challenging to complete the scenario.

  8. Cliff February 7, 2018 9:20 pm 

    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.

  9. Adela May 18, 2018 10:53 pm 

    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.

  10. Qudaci May 23, 2018 5:41 pm 

    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.

  11. kioku May 24, 2018 12:18 pm 

    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.

    • A October 16, 2018 12:06 pm 

      Yes, elements lasts “two” rounds, but not effectively, and not in the way it should imo, Since you only produce an element “at the end of the turn in which the ability was used” and since elements wane “at the end of each round”, you can for instance not combo one infusion card and a card which takes advantage of the element on the same turn. Now this isn’t inherently bad, but I personally think it’s a little bit boring. We have only finished 5 scenarios and are playing Brute (me), Mindthief, Tinkerer and Scoundrel. Since I’m the only one able to produce the Wind element (that I know of and so far into the game), I usually have to play suboptimally for one round, and hope I can take advantage of the element the next round. Sure, I just have to plan for it, but I think it would be more fun if i could both produce AND use an element at the same turn.

      So far I love Gloomhaven though, and I think it’s a really fun game.

      • Dom Dom April 5, 2019 3:59 pm 

        The element being produced at the end of the round is to force people to cooperate. You create the element not for youirself, but for others. If you could use it the same turn everyone would just play by themselves with no regard for others, We constantly plan for elements and it’s really fun. “Anyone can create fire this turn? Anyone needs the earth?”

  12. Lucas July 5, 2018 7:33 am 

    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.

    • E.R. Burgess August 4, 2018 1:47 pm 

      Definitely disagree there. As someone who lived through a time when Steve Jackson games tried to sell people on “Cardboard Heroes” and games were crap in the way of components, I’d rather not go backward. I can’t paint at all, but there are people who will do it for you and the experience is so much better.

      And, no, I don’t want to play a game that requires so much work to card-combo during a dungeon crawl. If that’s what makes you happy, enjoy Gloomhaven. I will stick with Descent 2.0 and D&D when I want to really mix it up.

      • Peter C.K. LeMaire III January 12, 2019 5:03 am 

        I think there’s a difference between “personal preference” and if a game is actually good. For example, the past two campaign-style games I have played (board game or otherwise) have been Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4 remastered) and Gloomhaven. For anyone who has played both, they are diametrically opposite in terms of playing style. FF12 is simply guilty pleasure RPG goodness. You hit hard, you can take a ton of damage, and you can utterly annihilate most enemies with the right combination of strategy and overleveling. Gloomhaven, on the other hand, is a much more Grit-n-Grind kind of game, similar to SoulBorne on a board, in some respects. First, there’s no such thing as a trash mob. Every enemy can kill you. Second, it’s all about economy. Doing the most in the least amount of time is the name of the game and, in my opinion, finding that balance takes time. Third, and most importantly, failure is an option. If you lose, you keep all the gold and XP that you earned, you go back into town without any losses, and you can try the scenario again.

        I also think that the atmosphere of play did it an enormous disservice. Your group was set up for failure. Having an idea of the initiative of your teammates’ cards and knowing their tendencies as people streamlines synergy a lot. Understanding the value of the other classes you are playing with and knowing how they operate is vital and probably assumed because the maps get progressively tougher. I don’t think that this game was ever meant to be picked up 16-20 hours in. More importantly, though, in a one-shot setting, my third point from the last paragraph becomes irrelevant. At that point, you’re playing Dark Souls with one life, which would make it awfully frustrating to play. If you are a person who hates to lose at all or are in a place where losing is not a viable option, this game loses a ton of its luster, and I could understand why someone would never want to play the game like that.

  13. Branko August 2, 2018 1:05 am 

    Couldn’t disagree more with the review. First, this is pretty much NOT a review of Gloomhaven, since with so many rule misplays and unnecessary restarts it’s definitely not the same game. Second, this game has a learning curve which simply cannot be ignored; the mechanisms it uses are incredibly rewarding, but they need to be well understood first, if you expect you will take your deck for the first time and instantly be pulling off incredible combos in perfect synergy with your team…think again. But if you stick around, things start falling into place and by your second or third game you get to enjoy depth unparalleled by anything Descent or Imperial Assault.

    I respect everyone’s right to dislike something, and I would agree Gloomhaven is not for everyone, especially those who want a quick, light, empowering dungeon romp with easy decisions and lots of luxury components. But I still feel Gloomhaven was presented in a wrong light here, with too many inaccuracies, mistakes and misunderstandings. You can hate the game, no problem, but at least give it a fair chance – or at least one game played by the actual rules – before deciding to share your opinion about it publicly.

    • E.R. Burgess August 4, 2018 1:45 pm 

      This is the funniest response yet. Clearly there are some rules that our teacher got wrong but it certainly doesn’t change many of the concerns about the game’s components, the slowness of the system that I have seen in play, nor the experiences of others with whom I spoke (the very well-known designer who ‘hated it’ definitely played with a good rules explanation). I respect your right to love the game – if it floats your boat, enjoy! But this is why I’ve allowed every comment made to come on through. Correct the rules, explain why they are so great. But telling me that I can’t share my opinion because rules were taught wrong? No thanks – I’m not a fan of censorship.

      • Calcuschild September 16, 2018 12:08 am 

        I agree that response went a little far at the end, but I think the point he was trying to make is that with how many obvious rule changes and misunderstandings, you are no longer reviewing Gloomhaven, but an entirely different and inferior game. You should feel free to share your opinion, but claiming this is a review of gloomhaven is a bit unfair. It is rather a review of why it is important to read the rules. It kind of reminds me of reviews people post online about dinner recipes: “I didn’t have chicken or garlic so I replaced it with hotdogs and cinnamon. It was so gross! This recipe for garlic chicken is terrible! Do not recommend!”

        The game can still be tough sometimes, true, but even the time spent agonizing over your turn and general slowness, restarting over and over, etc., would be drastically reduced with the correct rules; you can play for fun with some decent tactics thrown in, instead of trying to fight the system which is making things unnecessarily difficult.

        • E.R. Burgess September 16, 2018 12:28 am 

          All fair, although I am pretty particular about not calling what I write “Reviews”. I don’t do reviews because they are restrictive in a way that I find uninteresting to write. If you want reviews, there are people who write good ones. Dale Yu on Opinionated Gamers writes comprehensive ones (TL;DR for me, but detailed). Others do capsules, which I think are terrific to give you what you need (some OP writers do these). I write session reviews, which means that it’s about the game itself but it’s infused heavily with my personality. And if you don’t like that last aspect of it, I can understand it. When I’m nice to myself, I’d call it ‘gonzo’ journalism and it’s what I write here because I’m a professional writer elsewhere and this is blogging and just fun.

          So, if the rules are wrong (in this case, the fault of a guy who was clearly playing this game before the launch of 1,000’s of pages of FAQ for Gloomhaven), I’d still stand by it because of all the community members that have corrected the rules. I’m not going to re-edit anything.

          What I am doing is investing in this situation. Those who follow me on social media will see that I bought a copy of Gloomhaven recently and one of my 2019 gaming resolutions is to learn the game and play through it sufficiently to see if my opinion changes. Mind you, like Power Grid, Gloomhaven is a game I admire for the hard work that went into it but I just didn’t find it fun to play. That might change when I give it more of a go but it did shock me to see how little I liked it when I played, thus the story.

          Plus, the designer who ‘hated it’ – well, let’s just say he’s the kind of guy who should love it. No, I won’t name that name but I’m curious to see if he gave it more of a go. I think he learned it from the same guy…

          • JP February 25, 2019 1:13 pm 

            I don’t want to beat up on you, because you’ve had the same people correcting the same rules over and over. I am really impressed that you’ve bought it and dedicated to giving it another go! I just want to give you some good news: after having been out for 2 years, rather than 1,000 pages of FAQ, it’s only 32 pages long. And that goes all the way through every single class to the end of the campaign. 🙂

      • Douglas Davis December 28, 2018 9:50 am 

        Its not about “censorship”, its about giving an accurate and fair review of a presently very popular game. My family gave me this game for Chirstmas, while googling about the game your review was one of the first to come up. After reading it I actually was beginning to feel guilty that my wife had spent so much on such a poorly designed game.
        Thankfully I decided to read the comments, something which should normally never do on the internet, but they all went into great detail as to why your review was quite simply put utter bollocks.

  14. john faria August 13, 2018 8:56 pm 

    Great to see so many differing views. I have been playing nearly every week for a few months now and I do really like the game. It did take me a few weeks before I was sold on it. One play-through doesn’t do it justice as there’s a steep learning curve and plenty of game management. However once you get to grips with your character and those in your party it starts to come alive. I think given the scale of the game, the component quality is forgiveable – if they had miniatures for that many monsters the game would cost hundreds of pounds and take up even more room than it does. We took the decision to use an app to handle the monster damage. While it’s a little bit of a shame to have to use tech for a board game it takes out a lot of setup and game management time and doesn’t spoil the feel of the game at all. It speeds things up but still feels like a board game experience. OK – the game isn’t perfect but I admire the ambition of what it’s trying to do – create a grand campaign and epic story that could reasonably last a couple of years. Truly an RPG in a box. I can see why it wouldn’t appeal to all and I can certainly see why one play-through could feel very unsatisfying. I guess it’s like test cricket – to a beginner it seems overly complicated and takes forever without much happening and frequently resulting in a draw. But once you get to know it and take the time to learn the intricacies, it becomes rewarding in a way other games/sports are not. But it will only ever appeal to those who like that kind of uber-geeky experience,

    • E.R. Burgess August 19, 2018 12:25 am 

      Yes, it’s a good callout. Quite the reverse of what some are seeking from this experience, I’m finding my return to ‘adventure gaming’ and RPG to be more an interest in the joy of a story. I am currently running D&D 5E with my oldest friends, my son, the son of one of my friends, and my wife. The experience of the collective story and the thrill of a great roll at the right time or a victory from a clever decision is what is thrilling us. Not the rules (which I only pay cursory attention) and certainly not the interplay of mechanisms.

      So, I’m not sure Gloomhaven will ever really appeal to me. While I found the deck-building concept and some of the individual mechanisms quite intriguing, it didn’t translate well to the adventure gaming experience to me personally. For that, the lighter touch of Descent or Imperial Assault works for a board game-RPG experience. Amusingly, I don’t mind using tech for part of the experience. That actually makes me slightly more interested in the game.

      So, yes – geek out all you like about it. But, for me, it’s not a wonder of design worthy of the top spot on the BGG list nor do the justification of the component choices mean much to me in a place where people buy massive games full of tons of gorgeous miniatures. If they had done the basic game with cardboard but offered minis as add-ons galore, they would have made piles of cash AND made it more economical for those who cannot afford the cost of the minis. Win-win.

      As we say, to each, his own. I’m glad the game exists, even if I do think the whole thing is on hype-a-go-go right now.

  15. Greg Snyder August 25, 2018 2:22 am 

    I’d like to write to the author just to say the following:

    I feel like you are comparing fast food (Descent 2.0) and fine dining (Gloomhaven). One is much quicker and more immediately accessible, but the other is far more satisfying.

    You mention in one of your comments that you don’t want to have to ” put in work to card-combo”. I

    would only like to point out that this “work” is only an up-front cost. After just playing 2-3 scenarios, you will have naturally figured out how to use your cards (since you are sticking with the same character). The same can be said for everyone else playing at your table. Then, no one really has to work at playing their cards and turns occur much faster and more smoothly. Hence, your other point about the system going ‘too slowly and too boring’ will no longer apply.

    I’ve completed only 2 scenarios with my girlfriend (total 3 tries, after failing the first scenario once). That first scenario felt like stumbling in the dark, and we played our cards terribly, but even still we had only one enemy left before failing. On our very second try, we were like a well-oiled machine and we ROFLSTOMPED it, set up the next scenario, and ROFLESTOMOPED it too all in one evenings work. We play on normal difficulty.

    I also want to point out that my girlfriend has never played ‘gaming’ board games before; she’s only played games like Monopoly and Candy Land. (though that is changing, as her first Gen Con has gotten her very excited about the more ‘geeky’ board games out there)..

    So, thank you for the review. But I do think this is the kind of game that can only be ‘fairly’ judged with 3+ (certainly 2+) scenarios of experience…its just that kind of game, and to suggest that it doesn’t deserve the #1 spot on BGG due to having this requirement seems far too limiting and even unfair. It absolutely deserves its spot, though pandemic legacy is pretty amazing too..

  16. Ryan August 29, 2018 3:09 am 

    I’ve played about 24 sessions with the same group of 4. Only 2 losses, both on the same ridiculous scenario. Every other scenario we won, and most were never in much doubt. They have mostly been easy.
    We all like it, and we are all going to continue. But unanimously, we agree that it is not the “best game EVAR!!” We are all baffled how it got the #1 spot in BGG’s rankings. The game does some things very well. It does a few things poorly. It’s fun enough, but it’s not amazing us on a regular basis.
    Sounds like Eric had a bad experience, sure. But I’m also not going to tell him that playing more often will totally change his mind. He played enough to get the gist, so even if the experience will be improved, the game won’t be radically different.
    For some people, it’s the #1 game.
    For my group and everyone I know, it’s a good enough game.
    For some people, it’s a boring game.
    And those are all equally correct.

  17. Richard Bradley October 17, 2018 6:09 am 

    All I got out of this was “my group sucked and couldn’t beat the missions this game is bad”

    • E.R. Burgess October 21, 2018 8:53 am 

      Reading comprehension is a challenge faced by many modern readers. LOL

      • Lol June 3, 2019 3:02 pm 

        Your blog is a joke. Reading comprehension wouldn’t be a challenge here if the author knew how to write

  18. Krazyguy75 October 28, 2018 9:39 pm 

    I recommend you play it again. Your GM sounds like absolute crap at both strategy and knowing the absolute basics of the rules. It’s to the level of a DM for AD&D insisting that all dice rolled should be D6s and having your experience ruined because you never land attacks.

    And that’s not even an exaggeration. Drawing and manipulating aggro is a key element in this game, and discarding to avoid a hit is even bigger. Another comparable comparison would be if a D&D DM insisted there was no AC and just made every attack auto hit and wiped your party. It’s a gross distortion of the rules that drastically hinders the players.

    Here’s how it should work: Before choosing your cards, strategize with your team about where you plan to be an approximately how fast you’ll get there (though sharing init is illegal), and get a game plan in effect. Then, after that, monsters reveal their actions and init. This is public knowledge. You know where and when they move at this point, and how each player is able to act. That lets you rework your strategy and basically preplan the entire turn’s worth of aggro.

    And enemies will always aggro the nearest person, with ties going to the lower initiative. You will always be able to tell who draws aggro from the very start of a round with a bit of planning. And worst comes to worst and you fuck up, and someone takes a crit for 8 damage… they can simply lose a card to nullify it entirely. Even with no cards in hand, you can opt to lose two from discard.

    This is literally the equivalent of armor class for gloomhaven. If your GM didn’t know it, he had no clue what he was doing at all, and it’s quite possible he overloaded the map with monsters, as the number scales based on both players and level.

    All in all, get together an actual group, read the rules, and play the actual game of gloomhaven, rather than whatever monstrousity that GM distorted it into. You basically were playing a crappy off-brand knock off version it was so bad.

  19. Harmonica November 11, 2018 7:41 am 

    I’m wondering if you’ve managed to have another try yet. I play regularly with a friend who I otherwise probably wouldn’t see and we’re a long way in – 40-50 hours maybe, so pretty close to finishing. I understand where you are coming from in terms of excitement. I find the whole thing a bit of a grind. There’s clearly a lot of love for this game in the board gaming community but I don’t think it’s really for me. The balancing is often way off as a two player game (either wildly difficult or incredibly easy) and the missions (once the flavour text is out of the way) are pretty samey. Levelling up characters is pretty tedious as the improvements you make are so small I find it renders them unsatisfying. Even when you do get yourself a cool card the tiny incremental improvements your character has gone through render it all a bit of a damp squib and it’s most likely something you will lose as soon as you use it. I’m not a huge fan of the weapon/armour mechanisms as they completely break immersion in the game for me – if you’ve gone to the trouble of wearing armour then it’s effects should be permanent or there should be a degradation element, not a “ooh that rock thing just punched me so hard all my clothes fell off. I’m just going to scrabble around on the floor for a bit and get myself sorted if that’s ok”. I had a cool weapon at one point (the weaponry is pretty rubbish) but the whole “you’ve got to have a rest every time you use it” did my head in. Thematically it could have been fixed if say it was a gun or something that needs reloading but it was most definitely a melee weapon. I really appreciate that the designer has built this as a labour of love and I think from my point of view a it’s a very flawed work. Just because someone spends huge amounts of time and effort on a project doesn’t make it a work of genius (or even any good). Set up is a faff too. We’re pretty organised and in a two player game you might spend a quarter of your game time just getting the bits together to sort the map. Clearly I’ve spent far more time playing it than I should have but I really wanted to give it a good go because it’s a vast undertaking, well loved and I felt deserved some commitment just to see if, maybe I was missing something or, if at some point it would spread its wings and soar (spoiler alert – for me it hasn’t). Lots of people clearly love the game and I respect their opinions (after all, they’re like buttholes…everybody’s got one). I think maybe, despite having a bit of a dodgy teacher, you should go with your gut on this one and give it a pass (perhaps try sword and sorcery – which is complex but once you get your head around it is pretty awesome).

    • E.R. Burgess November 20, 2018 7:50 am 

      Not yet, but I do have the game. I’m going to start over the Christmas holiday with a group and it’s a goal in 2019 to play through a handful of scenarios and write something more akin to a review.

  20. Etherealnod November 24, 2018 9:17 pm 

    I’m glad you’re open to giving it another go.

    I had a similar experience my first time playing: We wiped in the first room over the course of 2 or 3 rounds. It was frustrating and I never wanted to play again and was questioning my faith in BGG. But I went home and stewed on it. I thought I was pretty good at dungeon crawlers, so this game must not be very good.

    But then I realized, I’m glad I died my first time playing a new game. The game, though it looks like a standard dungeon crawler, is quite different, and getting the hang of it will take a little time.

    Let me give you a few thoughts to help keep your mind open to this game.

    It’s different. The races and classes and mechanics and world are different. Enjoy it, and don’t fight it. Equipment, skills, initiative, and all the decisions all different. Figure out what works best for your character and team. There are many difficult decisions.

    With a single playthrough, there are a number of things you didn’t get to experience. Leveling is easy, but the decision can be rough. Pick a brand new card, and put it back in the box; this character will never play with it.

    Crafting your ‘to hit’ deck can be entertaining. Many options here. Don’t go online and find out what everyone else recommends.

    Play against all the creatures in the game. Others have mentioned it: there are tons, and they all fight differently. The first time you fight one, you just have to see what’s in the deck before you know how you should go about killing them. Each session is a little puzzle.

    Retiring a character is unique in Haven. Say goodbye to your old friend. Say hello to a brand new set of challenges. As you learn about how to play your character, things will go faster. My friend and I set up, play, and tear down in an hour and a half.

    I hope you enjoy your next playthrough. I look forward to your next review.

    • E.R. Burgess December 2, 2018 1:02 am 

      Yes, I even invested over $100 in this set just to answer all the queries here! 😉

  21. Douglas Davis December 28, 2018 9:55 am 

    Its not about “censorship”, its about giving an accurate and fair review of a presently very popular game. My family gave me this game for Christmas, while googling about the game your review was one of the first to come up. After reading it I actually was beginning to feel guilty that my wife had spent so much on such a poorly designed game.
    Thankfully I decided to read the comments, something which should normally never do on the internet, but they all went into great detail as to why your review was quite simply put utter bollocks.

    • E.R. Burgess January 1, 2019 6:34 am 

      LOL – yes, everyone’s opinion is fine here and that’s why I approve them all for publication. As a creator, I feel no obligation to give you a review (again, this was not a ‘review’) that serves your specific purposes when I’m just writing about my experiences with games. As I said before, you can read others who give detailed descriptions of a game after countless plays and they will tell you all about it, while my breezy, gonzo style will not. I believe I stated my comments were based on a single play and that I was learning from someone who had played it seven times before our session. The guy who taught me is a serious gamer so it does lead me to believe the rules aren’t amazingly written. And even some of the commenters disagree with the rightness or wrongness of some rule issues. So, I’m excited to explore it myself when I play more Gloomhaven in 2019.

      • Lol June 3, 2019 3:09 pm 

        It was a review. You don’t pick up a chessboard make up random rules and write a blog post about how terrible of a time you had playing chess without it being an inherent statement on the game of chess.

        I appreciate opinions but you are absolutely trashing a game you literally have never played.

        If you consider yourself a writer, understand your responsibility to presenting an honest and accurate viewpoint. You have no integrity if you just bash your face into a keyboard and then defend your hot take after dozens of people politely and accurately correct the discrepancies in your blog.. Do not speak from a place of authority without understanding that position first. Just wow 2019 mentality.

        • E.R. Burgess June 4, 2019 1:07 pm 

          That sounds like a solid read.

        • Good God February 11, 2020 10:24 pm 

          Get a life, fanboy.

  22. Tom West January 1, 2019 2:15 am 

    The thing I find interesting about this game is that each of its elements are okayish-to-good, but the sum of the elements has our game group (including myself) hooked hard and looking forward to every scenario.

    I’d rate the tactical aspects “good” (cards make for interesting decisions – a lot of subtleties that can make the difference between victory and defeat.
    The scenario balance “excellent” (about 60% of matches have been nail-biters, decided on the last turn).
    The role-play/story is “meh”. None of us identify so closely that we remember the names our characters.
    The gear grind is slowish but “good”. Things don’t go exponential, so we can have 4th level and 9th level in same party all helping.
    The components are “okay”
    The discovery component (unlock scenarios, encounters, retirement quests, etc.) is “okay-good”.

    If I averaged the ratings, this would probably be a 7/10. Yet this is easily the most played/wanting-to-play game I’ve seen in years. I think it’s mostly because of the gear grind “what did I get” aspect, but it works, and works well (for our group).

    However, we’ve won all our games (although tons of nail biters and decent luck when we absolutely needed it). I don’t know if our enthusiasm would survive 2 or 3 losses in a row.

    Also, in my opinion, the first scenario is *way* too hard. We won it in a nail biter, but only because we misread the rules, and used each class’ whole modifier deck (and yes, it was still a nail-biter). In retrospect, I think that massively helped our enthusiasm for the game. In game 2, we played it right, but we also knew enough to win (in another nail-biter).

    Love the game, but could easily see why others would not.

  23. B. J. Stiner January 16, 2019 11:36 am 

    Have to leave a comment here because our game group has been obsessed with Gloomhaven for about 9 months. I love the game but alot of the criticism is fair. maybe it can help some learn to make the best RPG in a box happen soon—because yes, I feel like Gloomhaven is missing somewhat is story, especially compared to D and D.

    Also agree that the gear can sometimes be very mediocre except as the game progresses you start to get some good stuff like flying boots

    I did hate the card mechanics at first but kinda love it now expecially when you progress in the game and start to retire and come back at level 8 for example. The card mechanics are much better the higher level you get.. But still think sometimes the mechanics can be limiting.

    we switched to the app about four months ago and has made the experience hella better.

    Bottom line, Gloomhaven I think will pave the way for even better RPG’s in a box. IWhile a video game is always so much better it can be anti social. RPG’s in a box are the future… We always have dinner (order or make it) and it becomes a social gathering.

  24. Drew February 15, 2019 4:41 pm 

    Hey OP.

    I read your article to the end, even though it was a challenge at times to take your opinions seriously because you self admit that your work crisis was distracting you. To me that sounds like you gave up on learning how to play and went through the motions of playing. Just my opinion.

    I have a few comments.
    1. After reading your account of your experience, I want to apologize to you on behalf of the guy who tried to teach you. He did not do the game justice, and the players he mentored a great disservice.
    2. Gloomhaven is a legacy game. It is not designed to pick up a partially developed character and jump into the 8th mission, just as you wouldn’t launch into a complex descent 2.0 boss fight with a new player who doesn’t understand rules. The sessions and encounters are built in Gloomhaven with a natural progression, as are the enemies you encounter, to slowly introduce the game mechanics to you. In early scenarios you find yourself against run of the mill “cultists/bandits/etc”. Their abilities are unremarkable, and their stats straight forward. Fighting against them is supposed to teach you what a] your character is capable of. B] what your allies are capable of. C] how to synergize and work together to defeat an encounter. One of the most amazing things about Gloomhaven for my group, is how the game forces all the players to lock in their ability cards without knowing the order of play. Not like D&D or Descent, where you can observe what your partner accomplished before making any decisions about what to do with your own turn. In Gloomhaven, you must imagine what your partners will attempt to accomplish, weigh their chances of success, make a plan for your turn, and use cards that are flexible enough to react to a sudden change in the room environment or position of enemies. When learning, it was frustrating for me to plan to “Move 3 and then attack a melee target for 4 damage, only to go third on initiative and watch my target get pushed back a square and out of my reach! As we played more, you can say things like “I’m going as fast as I can, to crush the bandit to my left with a boulder”. My teammates can then infer. “I know his fastest initiative is 13, and if he’s using a boulder it’s probably that melee attack that charges nature.” That’s a lot of knowledge to have and it’s not something a new player can be “taught”.
    3. You didn’t get to create your character, so how can you feel an affinity toward it. Why care if it lives or dies. Why care about Gloomhaven at all,
    4. Your teacher did not know the rules. Monsters behave very predictably. So much so, that you can mitigate attacks from enemies by being crafty and creative. Monsters focus on the closest enemy. Always. Even if I am standing there with a 99 initiative, and you are 1 additional square away with an initiative of 2. That enemy will always focus me first, if we were both the same distance away from the foe, it breaks the tie by going after you first. Finally monsters will move to make the best attack possible. So if the monster has an attack that can target two people, it will move in such a way to make that attack possible. As such, your first two reboots were unrequited, and a result of poor teaching.
    3. Why reboot? I get he is trying to show people the game, and it sucks when you die and you have to watch other people play…but failing encounters should t result in a reboot. Gloomhaven is designed so that you keep the experience and loot from a failed attempt, strengthening your characters for the next one!
    4. Someone before me mentioned, but the mage or rogue could have put a card from their hand to the lost zone to prevent all damage from an attack, or two cards from the discard zone into the lost zone to prevent all damage from an attack. It’s a very important rule for balance. In that way your deck of cards is actually a second life total, as it represents (in most cases) a finite cap on how long your character can function in the game.
    5. A session in Gloomhaven might take longer when you are learning, but a groups with a couple of sessions under their belt can complete a mission in 2-3 hours easily. 6 hours. That’s insane.
    6. My friends weren’t thrilled with the cardboard Standies for monsters either, but we understood the need for them.
    7. I feel like your biggest mistake was that you thought Gloomhaven is the kind of game you can enjoy casually, playing one session now and then when the mood strikes. It’s not like dropping into a D&D campaign, or a game of mice and mystics. It’s not the game you sit down at a convention and “try for fun”. It’s a game you have to commit too, play it properly with like minded friends, not children or disinterested girlfriends with short attention spans. It’s like a cripple writing a review of Twister, game not being played as intended.

    Thanks for the article!

    • E.R. Burgess February 20, 2019 5:50 am 

      Thanks for stopping by, despite the kind of cringe last comment. Kind of insensitive but I guess I get the point.

      All the feedback is useful as we look ahead to play Gloomhaven this year with the attention it requires and may deserve.

      • Lol June 3, 2019 3:00 pm 

        Only cringe here is you my friend, so many people have explained how wrong you are and you just defend the fact you weren’t even playing the right game…..

        Hello Kitty adventure is calling.

        • E.R. Burgess June 4, 2019 1:06 pm 

          LOL – it’s okay. You can still like the game if someone else doesn’t.

        • E.R. Burgess June 4, 2019 1:09 pm 

          And the cringe is the inappropriate use of a ‘cripple’ to illustrate the point. Reading comprehension issues, indeed.

  25. Caleb O'Keefe March 11, 2019 11:48 pm 

    Sorry your playthrough had to suck like that. Seconding everything everyone else said (rules blah blah). Glad to see you taking it all in stride!

    You’re 100% right on two points in particular IMO.

    1. The production value on this game is mostly subpar. The minis are okay but not great. I think to get everything in there that they needed they had to cut corners on some things. I don’t mind that they used cardboard, but what I do mind is that they used cheap cardboard. I’ve played about 40 scenarios now and have played maybe 20 games of Mansions of Madness. Both games use some cardboard but with all the play on Gloomhaven I’m seeing my cardboard tearing/warping even when taking them out of the box. Never had that issue with MoM or any other high-end board game recently.

    2. This game is not for everyone! Even people who love tactical gameplay. I’ve played those 40 scenarios with my girlfriend who is mostly just spending time with me rather than playing the game at this point. She loves tactical and thoughtful gameplay but cannot fully get into this game. I love this game though, 10/10 for me and maybe 7.5/10 for her.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the article, great read and really funny!

  26. Filip July 3, 2019 12:29 am 

    Man, I’m playing board games for yeeeeears, like 20. This is one of the best i’ve ever played (with Star Wars Rebellion).

    1. There is possibility to generate “random” three rooms dungeon.
    2. You can set difficulty modification ( -1 to +2)
    3. Your rule teacher probably didn’t get a lot of rules right.
    4. We managed to get through dungeon with 14yo girl (3 players) on our first play without struggling. 🙂

    So don’t blame the game. Next time, before writing a review, take your time, learn rules properly yourself.|

    It’s amazing how mechanics are intuitive and complex at the same time. Retiring heroes and unlocking new ones is very strong system to keep you attached. Big and small quest are making you somehow go after your own intesions. It;s a lot of things there. Sorry for you that you first impression got spoiled.

    • E.R. Burgess March 18, 2020 9:46 am 

      Once again, NOT a review. I wrote about my experience. Enjoy the game!

  27. Steven Kornegay July 31, 2019 3:15 am 

    My group absolutely love Gloomhaven. Of course, we have been together over 30 years. We aren’t too far in, but we all are having a great time with it. Like Tom Vassel, we enjoy the story and lighter combat. We usually play one level easier than we should.

  28. Kosterix August 30, 2019 7:18 pm 

    So many thanks for this useless piece of garbage. You and your group did everything wrong. Good for you, but how does that help the reader. You wasted my time.

    • E.R. Burgess March 18, 2020 9:45 am 

      Thanks for reading. Some people enjoyed it anyway.

  29. Jim September 9, 2019 10:29 am 

    I hate that this pops up whenever I search for things related to Gloomhaven (which is a lot).

    Read the post, ‘hated it’. Read the author’s response to comments, hated it even more. 🙂

    • E.R. Burgess March 18, 2020 9:45 am 

      So sorry – blame Google!

  30. Chris Fougere October 9, 2019 12:15 am 

    As we close in on the fall of 2019 I wonder if the OP did get a chance to try the game or not.

    • E.R. Burgess March 18, 2020 9:44 am 

      Sadly, I have not gotten back to it but I will in 2020.

  31. Erik January 18, 2020 1:19 am 

    I find some people like to roll dice and some do not. Could it be that simple :D?

  32. Thomas March 30, 2020 8:36 pm 

    The thing I find daft here is that you’re calling standees a reason why you don’t play Dead of Winter! I can’t imagine into minis so much that it makes me dislike when a game includes 20 characters where in minis you’ll be lucky to get 6. This is obviously exponential with Gloomhaven, since 200+ standees is enormously more valuable than 50 enemy minis for making the campaign actually fun. (And I certainly can’t afford the game with 200 minis).

    Did you ever play again? Played with 2, even a game of learning can take 2 hours and change. It’s still a eurogame in dungeon clothing, so the thinky decisions are there – though it sounds like you prefer popcorn-and-pretzel dungeon crawling.

  33. E.R. Burgess April 12, 2020 12:28 am 

    Yes, it’s one of the reasons that Dead of Winter sits on the shelf. Sorry but, for me, it’s part of the experience of longer adventure-driven games to have minis on the board. I agree that Dead of Winter is a compelling game but when I’ve played it with my friends, they’ve definitely been less interested. By comparison, Zombicide (which I think is far less interesting than Dead of Winter) hits the table more often because of that ‘toy factor.’ I do think this is part of the appeal of Descent and why we bought more packs of it. The players were always thrilled to come to the table and we played through many campaigns. We’ve also played actual D&D more now and all the players want minis. What can I do? They love it and it’s rubbed off on me, too. As a longtime eurogamer, I am very happy with pushing cubes and counters around. But when it’s an immersive RPG-like experience, the minis help. To each one’s own there.

    I still haven’t gotten to Gloomhaven. At least part of that is my group’s lack of interest in such a heavy experience in a dungeon crawl. It may just not be for us. I’ll admit as a fan of games like Man-To-Man in the past that combat games are more fun when they swing rather than shuffle – but that’s me.

    I respect the opinion of others to love love love Gloomhaven. I’m always fascinated at the people who want to censor this post because they cannot stand someone expressing a difference of opinion about their favorite game. Go enjoy – my little post about a lousy experience apparently exacerbated by someone who played the game eight times before teaching me still getting some things off should not affect your lives – or cause you stress because you encounter it in Google search results (wow, that’s not about me, folks – that’s something to see the doctor about).

    My displeasure at that experience should not diminish your joy over the game, folks. As I used to say at the end of all my podcasts, ‘remember, it’s only a game.”

  34. Michal May 2, 2020 8:42 pm 

    If it helps, I am with you.

    The core experience is interesting enough (playing the cards), but it’s wrapped in a ton of redundant stuff, which, together with heavy admin, makes the game a chore rather than a fun experience. This is a game that should totally be a videogame (but not a videogame adaptation of a boardgame). I think that many people who now got on the hype train during the Frosthaven KS campaign will be disappointed once they actually try it.

    This is not to say I consider the game awful – I’d actually play it if suggested by someone really into it, but I got rid of my copy.

    I don’t mind the lack of miniatures personally though. And I can certainly appreciate the way the KS campaigns are handled, without stretch goals and exclusives.

  35. Gaming lady May 26, 2020 10:29 am 

    I’m so with you! I hate it so much so far and for all the exact reasons you listed, esp the lame crappy pieces. The card stock is nice. So boring. My favorite games are Twilight Struggle and Terraforming Mars. Lots of action and no sitting around waiting. The long rest makes me want to die. Playing with my gf who seems to love it. I keep trying. We’ve played twice. It takes all my strength not to quit. Only because I love her though! She’s teaching me Mage Knight next. Pieces are better at least! This game has to be the most overrated game of all time. HATED IT! You’re a good sport taking the ignorant nerd abusers telling you how to do your job/hobby. This game sucks! I told her I’ll give it one more try. One!

  36. Shinny June 5, 2020 10:21 am 

    Interesting–we had very opposite responses, but feels like we played under completely opposite circumstances. I was introduced by good friends who were quite familiar with the game who walked me through the rules. We played 2 or 3 missions that first session and moved at a smooth clip, maybe 45 to 90m each? And most importantly, we played it digitally on tabletop simulator, where our rule is that at one person has to own the game. Between my friends and I living across the country, the quarantine, and how much easier it is to commit to sessions online, it’s a really good fit. What’s more, it’s really streamlined digitally, where many cumbersome elements are automated or at least simplified. Like level scaling, initiative tracking, enemy action tracking, enemy spawning, map creation, doors, element tracking, drawing attack modifiers, health tracking, and the like. Also, it doesn’t weigh 22 pounds and you don’t have to constantly dig around for the right map/item card/what have you.

    So I had competent, good friends ready to have fun (we even take turns doing dramatic readings of all the material) using a system that cut down on the unfun stuff and let us just have a good time. And what’s more, I had several missions to get comfortable with the mechanics, become invested in the story, and experience the progression systems. By the 2nd mission in that first session, I rather liked it. By the 3rd session I was so thirsty for more gameplay that I started introducing other friend groups to the game to get more sessions per week. Every single participant had a rocky first session, but by the 2nd or 3rd was clamoring to meet more often.

    Where I had the best possible intro, you had the worst. Like those nightmare first exposures to D&D with a terrible DM, an inexperienced group of players, a meh environment, and the like. Where everyone spends 20m on each roll trying to figure out what dice they use and the DM keeps miscalculating CR and it’s also a one-shot single encounter so you don’t engage with any of the progression or storytelling aspects. Highly recommend you give it another try, hopefully with at least one seasoned player and perhaps done digitally. Where the miniature/cutout is also a complete nonissue.

    Amusing aside–you and I have very opposite responses to cardboard & miniatures. For me, miniatures are a strong negative. I hate doing art things in general; I find those activities a mix of boring, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing. I especially hate when I just want to play the game, and that I could get (or pay) someone else to do the drudgework for me doesn’t actually make it better. And with a game like this, where cost and physical weight are a serious concern, that sounds nightmarish. So when I see cardboard, pre-done art it’s like “thank god it’s not miniatures.” Though the issue’s pretty much moot with digital play.

  37. M Newton June 12, 2020 5:00 pm 

    Regardless of my personal opinions on Gloomhaven, I appreciate the review. I agree with a lot of the comments that your teacher got some of the rules wrong that would have effected how smoothly the game ran, however, the game does take a lot of time. I am fortunate enough to play with just my girlfriend and we both enjoy these kind of games.

    I absolutely have to agree that the map design in Gloomhaven sucks… really bad. I believe it to be my biggest gripe (Which isn’t actually a bad thing) But playing Descent 2nd Ed and then playing this… man, it almost ruined part of GH for me.

    I think the advantage of GH over Descent is the on going campaign, mission to mission I think the major hook is knowing (Or not knowing) what effect it will have on the campaign as a whole.

    Where as descent is MUCH better for when you fancy a fight monsters, level up, get loot kind of experience. It also scratches a certain itch for me when it comes to wiping out the entire hero group with a well placed set of Bane Spiders.

    Also of course opening secret boxes hits us all with that christmas morning feeling. But yeah, personally I think it’s good, it’s awesome that you at least gave it a go.

    Happy gaming 🙂

  38. Adam September 16, 2020 11:49 pm 

    I’ve played a bunch of Gloomhaven since picking it up, largely solo. Ultimately I think it’s greater than the sum of its parts. All the individual mechanics to me aren’t impressive, but holistically they become fun.

    That said, my biggest gripe is with the class design and ability cards. To me, they feel thrown together and lack any real individuality, at least at first. The top of most cards is for attacking and the bottom for movement, but sometimes cards just don’t fit into that mold. It’s frustrating to have to throw away a decent attack card just so you can get 2 movement.

    In terms of class design, they don’t feel unique enough. Unlocking a class that focuses on stealth is underwhelming- they only have a single ability card to enter stealth, and one other to attack from stealth. With Gloomhaven’s rest mechanics, you’ll only get to use these cards 3-4 times in a given scenario (assuming you use your long rests and plan your discards). Essentially this renders a stealth character to playing just like any other melee class with slightly different attack cards for the majority of the scenario.

    To me the fun of Gloomhaven is the quantity, not the quality. The rules are super intuitive, I just don’t find the actually class design intriguing enough to push towards retiring and unlocking more of them.

  39. Isaac January 15, 2021 6:12 am 

    After taking a year(we play every second week) to DM through the Curse of Strahd at DND, I wanted to take a break. We’ve been playing Gloomhaven for more than a year, most of it on Tabletop Simulator(Covid…), and still having a blast. We like to talk a lot and figure out every turn in detail, each campaign takes 3-4 hours. We switch between normal difficulty or one harder depending on new characters cycling in. We’ve lost 3-4 games, most of the others we’re on the edge of our seats and barely scrape by. I don’t see how it would be much fun in a convention. Maximizing gold vs xp, planning your cards/enhancements/perks and testing new strategies is a big part of the reward.

    I’ve also played through descent with my gf and had a lot of fun, but it’s definitely a lot easier. Gloomhaven combat is almost like a puzzle without a dm to fudge the dice when things get bad.

  40. Christian March 30, 2021 7:24 am 

    While I agree with others that the experience you had with GH was fundamentally flawed, I don’t think the hate you’re receiving is justified. Some people get real nasty over a differing opinion.

    I was rather suspicious of the Gloomhype myself and GH has collected dust on my shelf for over 3 years as a result. But I just started a campaign with my group last month and it is easily my favorite game I’ve ever played now. I am alarmed at how much I enjoy it.

    The dungeon crawls I’ve played are Mansions of Madness 2e, Imperial Assault, and Arcadia Quest–Imperial Assault being the most similar to GH in my opinion, except for the theme. To me, Gloomhaven trumps them all simply due to scale. This is the thing missing from your review in my opinion and the one thing that could not be captured by a “sit-in” session at a convention with a random scenario in the middle of a campaign.

    I know that doesn’t seem important, but scale is the main reason I enjoy this game. With the other dungeon crawls I mentioned, the “story” is more or less on rails. There’s no agency. You just play scenario after scenario. The skirmishes ARE the game.

    But Gloomhaven is like an open world video game. Like Skyrim in a box. And as characters, story, and prosperity develop, the more “stuff” opens up. More cities, more items, more events. Sure there are skirmishes/battles, but you are playing the scenarios not only for the scenario’s sake, but also to advance the story, open up the map to new cities, unlock more stuff.

    I think that is why people enjoy it so much. The world of Gloomhaven feels so real and expansive in a way that other physical board games have not ever been able to capture. It grows and scales as your adventure develops.

    You certainly are entitled to your own opinion. I completely agree that it is not a “pure” dungeon crawl experience because it has so much Eurogame DNA in it (which I actually enjoy, but acknowledge isn’t for everyone). I also agree that the learning curve and rules management is a huge barrier to entry that hamstrings an otherwise elegant game (a necessary evil perhaps). I also don’t think you need to try it again or “give it a fair shake” just because other people don’t like your review. But I do think your experience with this game was flawed and abbreviated. As I mentioned above, the scale and depth of the game is as much a part of it as the scenarios themselves in my opinion.

    Thanks for reading! Hopefully you are able to give it another go. If not, Descent is one heck of a fun system.

  41. Ferme October 20, 2021 4:01 pm 

    This reads like it was written by a big retard. idiot.

    • E.R. Burgess January 26, 2022 6:58 am 

      I’m indeed a big guy and I’m sure some will agree with your assessment. But that word is offensive so I’m going to delete it from your comments.

  42. Fruit Monkey August 18, 2022 9:16 am 

    This article is wrong in pretty much every way it’s possible to be wrong.

    You sound like a judgy idiot with a chip on their shoulder.

  43. E.R. Burgess December 13, 2022 8:57 am 

    Why thank you for reading! I’m definitely judgy but I can’t endorse the rest of the statement.

Comments are closed.