Boardgaming 2021: minis are back, baby!

Also, FWIW, there’s a variant rule to just treat nulls as -2 and crits as +2 to reduce outcome randomness in the modifier deck. I’ve never used it, but it would definitely avoid just completely whiffing your big attack in the clutch moment…

I like the crit/null variant a lot. Also, I would argue that you should think of your big move as the one where you can guarantee advantage…not that success is assured, due to curses.

I enjoy GH’s core gameplay but it’s still demoralizing to fail at the end of a scenario. My group was four busy people who managed to find two hours a week, and when that happened, we felt like we lost a week, even though we mostly had good attitudes about the randomness in the game. It was more fun to fail quickly (like in the aforementioned #72, which took us three tries) so we could either reset immediately or talk tactics.

Using two characters?

I only got through the first four (tutorial) missions before starting to find the number of options/choices I had at the start of a mission a bit overwhelming.

I know you’re not meant to plan ahead based on both characters cards but I couldn’t help doing it to some degree, plus the urge to min/max/optimise is kind of strong in me and I think made my turns too long for too little payoff.

Of course it’s all quicker at the end of the mission but by then I’m upset over what I should have done differently earlier lol. ;)

I’ve spent far more time playing Gloomhaven in Tabletop SImulator (due to Covic) than in person now. Setup time is essentially instant so it makes it very easy to keep going back to it. And the table is saved if we can’t finish a session.

That being said I found there are now apps for in person play that make setup far easier. I don’t have to bring out all the components. JoTL is even faster since I don’t have to set up any maps.

my interface mod for Rocketmen, instead of shuffling the mission success cards for each attempt (could be each round), I just draw them from a bag!

Thanks to the folks at BGG, a nice printable template was provided.
The game comes with 20 something mission success cards, that you need to draw when launching a rocket. However, you can abort a mission for free after the first draw. So when you are preparing a mission, you want to test the waters and draw one card and abort if the number is too small like 0 or 1. But this requires a lot of shuffling. Not anymore!

Did I mention, that the cards are really interesting. A deckbuilding card game is only as good as the cards and synergies.

Beat the AI on the second of three difficulties.

Here is a card, that I like if it comes out early enough, that is after the first level assets.

Hey Joe, what should we do with the spare mission plans and the gen 1 rockets?
Joe: Eh, just dump them in the fusion reactor. We will get a good price for the gained energy.

It also has a resource symbol, that gives you a little boost when flying to the moon.

Decided to back the KS for Witcher: Old World earlier today. Well, at least the $1 access to the pledge manager, because I’m not certain I’ll like the game’s mechanics, especially without a rulebook to peruse.

This is good timing, as I have some questions about Gloomhaven: JoTL

I played about 35 scenarios of Gloomhaven solo and loved it. The criticism above is definitely real however. With 90 scenarios the thought of finding time to go back and replay a scenario is nauseating. I would fudge plenty of games if they were close, and only replay those that weren’t even close. To compound that, I could never find anyone to play with. Well, that isn’t true, there were people who would be interested in playing, but there was zero chance I was going to get someone to play 90+ scenarios with me. The bulk of my time to play cooperative games like this is a yearly vacation with a friend where we spend 3 days playing a game. Plenty of time to run through Spirit Island a bunch of times, or beat Mechs vs Minions, or Pandemic Legacy. But do I really want to introduce someone to the very complicated game when realistically 3 days gets us to like scenario 15… if that. JoTL sounds like a great solution to that.

But what I love about Gloomhaven is the setting and character progression. Exploring the world, personal goals and retiring characters, permanently improving cards and shopping in the stores, modifying my attack deck, etc.

Strangely, I haven’t been able to find much on this - but how much of the non-dungeon crawling is left?

There are only 4 characters. I understand that you still level them up and improve their attack modifiers… but do you play all 4 characters in the campaign or can you mix and match? Is it reasonable to get any characters to max level?

is it possible to swap in some of the original Gloomhaven characters to JoTL? Or are there cards and scenarios that are dependent on those characters (or balanced for those characters at least)?

You don’t permanently modify cards or unlock new characters - but do you still shop at the store and get new items? Make donations to the temple? I assume the city reputation is gone as well?

Is JoTL meant to be replayed, or is it a once through experience?

25 scenarios in JoTL - about how long would all those take to complete? Is it reasonable to play 2-3 scenarios in a 2 hours sitting? Or do those 25 scenarios translate to 50 hours of gaming?

I ask these questions because I’m looking at games for that aforementioned gaming getaway… and every year I bring a game. My past games look like this:

  • Mechs vs Minions
  • Spirit Island
  • Pandemic Legacy Season 1

All were big winners!

This year i’m looking at

  • Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
  • Clank: Acquisitions Incorporated (I’m a huge Clank fan)
  • Arkham Horror TCG
  • Project Elite

Open to suggestions - we aren’t opposed to complicated and we immerse ourselves in the game for 3 days, with breaks for other games, hiking, and heavy drinking.

I’ve only played JotL solo (and nothing of GH proper,) but I just couldn’t get through more than 10 or so missions. I really wanted to like it, but the combination of a diminishing hand as the clock and the frequency of whiffing meant that I never really felt in control of my characters. The missions boiled down to “just do basic move and basic attack each turn, splurge on one or two special actions that fail, win/lose based on what the last enemy draws for their attack.” I’m sure with a full group, better on-the-fly analysis and planning would mitigate those issues, though.

Ya…I bought and sold Gloomhaven twice and JOTL once…just cant get into the gameplay at all. I much prefer KDM but do see the idea of Gloomhaven, just never clicked with me solo.

I can absolutely vouch for this one, though you’ll want to play one of the full-fledged campaign cycles and not just the short campaign that ships in the box(es). And that can be an expensive proposition if you’re buying in over a short period of time.

I’ll also say that Sleeping Gods is a great campaign-style tabletop game that I went into thinking “I know what this is”, and discovered that it was a little bit of something else instead. It works best with just 2 (ideal) or 3 players however (It’s also great solo). The storybook campaign aspect is what sells the game, I think…but the worker placement, resources and command dynamic is actually really, really satisfying and interesting. We realized “Hey, this narrative-based game has this really underrated, sneaky-good set of boardgame mechanics attached to it!”

Good advice on Sleeping Gods. Looks just about perfect, but also looks out of stock everywhere.

I don’t think there’s any compunction to replay the scenario in Gloomhaven if you fail? (Don’t know about JotL) You can go and do another a scenario elsewhere if they are available?

If you don’t mind drawing another road card (if it’s in Gloomhaven you don’t even have to do that) you can return to Gloomhaven, level up from your experience, cash in your treasure, upgrade your cards or whatever else you fancy before going back to repeat that scenario, you could even switch out characters in the party if you wish…

I’m certain the fail condition is a lot less brutal than something like Swords and Sorcery which will involve you repeating the quest over and over again to progress the campaign and also lose some equipment into the bargain every time you fail…

Heh, in S&S you lose equipment if a character is dead when the quest ends - so you can beat the quest and still have characters losing equipment… :D

I think Project Elite might be a great choice for a gaming getaway. It plays quick, has an intensity that is pretty unique, and can engage both hardcore and light gamers. It is one of the few KS level games that seems to have broad appeal along with sparking “one more game” nearly universally. I also think it gains extra merits as a post(?) pandemic game as its real time, interactive, and highly physical format is the sort of thing that was impossible during lockdowns (in comparison to easily TTSed games like…Gloomhaven).

Escape room game news:

Break-In might have surpassed Exit as my new favorite series. Break-In: Alcatraz is the first one we tried. It’s on massive sale at Target right now. $10 in store, $4.45 on their website!!!

It reminds me a bit of the Escape Room the game (specifically Prison Island), only with better puzzles and a cool 3D setup. It’s a 3D cardboard model that you open up and unfold into new areas as you progress, like a Russian nesting doll. It’s incredibly well designed and is everything that the disappointing Mystery House should have been.

Puzzles were pretty clever. Only one of them was a massive groaner that is impossible and should be skipped (searchlights).

The reviews are overwhelmingly negative. The reviews are stupid. Not only is it well designed and an absolute steal at the low price, but it’s 100% replayable. Resetting the entire thing takes less than 2 minutes. I find myself having less and less patience for the Exit games forced destruction these days…

My only complaint is the instructions don’t do a great job of getting you started. “Draw the matching card every time you see these brown symbols on the box” is all they had to say to save you so much time. It’s also very vague on how to reveal new sections. “Open up the next layer” is all it will tell you. No more description. Not a single illustration. Held us up a lot because we were paranoid about going out of order or damaging the components. So here’s a tip for revealing new areas: just pull out ALL the cardboard panels from the plastic pins and unfold.

Definitely pick it up if you’re at all a fan of escape rooms. Especially at the insanely low sale price.

Also tried Exit: The Deserted Lighthouse


I was apprehensive going in. Their previous “double feature” entry, Catacombs of Horror, was by far the worst entry in the series. The only one that overall felt like a frustrating waste of time. Deserted Lighthouse isn’t that bad, but I don’t like the new direction they took it in.

They’re trying a lot of new stuff here. Gone are all the cards. Instead, you get a bunch of mini-booklets with all the clues on them. You line up the wheel. If the symbol of the back matches the current lock you’re attempting, it could be correct and you compare the 3 showing symbols on the wheel to the covers of the booklets. If one matches, you open it up. Solutions are now all in the manual instead of cards. This was all an okay new change I guess, but I don’t feel it added or subtracting anything.

The other new feature is the jigsaw puzzles…woo boy. You get four jigsaw puzzles of 88 pieces each. They take the place of location illustrations you’d normally find in the book. They advertise this as a 2-3 hour experience. We still had 3 booklets left to go before we called it a night after 5 1/2 hours. But easily half that time was spent simply putting the puzzles together. 88 pieces sounds easy, but you have no clue what the picture looks like beforehand, and almost all of the edge pieces are pitch black so you can’t go with the “edges first” strategy. They do maybe 2 things with the jigsaw puzzles that you couldn’t do with illustrations on flat paper.

Overall, we hated this new feature. A jigsaw puzzle isn’t what you sign on for when you do an Exit game. Furthermore, it made solving things harder even after assembling them. They can easily come undone. At least 2 solutions evaded us because crucial clues were obscured by the creases between jigsaw pieces. The couple of things they did with a jigsaw puzzle was not worth all the extra hassle over a regular paper illustration.

There is one puzzle so ridiculous, it might have unseated “that” puzzle from Pharaoh’s Tomb as the worst one in the series.

The actual puzzle solving was typical Exit fun times. The jigsaw puzzles were not. My advice is to assemble all the jigsaw puzzles ahead of time, and do your best to not study all the details in them. To my knowledge, you can’t spoil any solutions without opening the clue booklets so this should be safe from spoilers. Hell, give the jigsaw puzzles to parents/grandparents/kids who otherwise wouldn’t be into escape rooms.

One big upside is they really moved away from the forced destruction aspect for this one. There is only booklet you have to cut the page out of (which it explicitly tells you) which can just be put back with no damage or spoilers to future players. This is a bigger factor when you’re dealing with these $25 entries.

Overall, a positive experience marred by not assembling the jigsaws ahead of time.

You guys didn’t post yet? You all saw this, right? Battlestar Galactica rethemed to Deep Ones:

I probably missed a post around here somewhere.

Ah, found the post I missed.

The intent is each player picks one character and plays only that character throughout the campaign. You could switch characters, but it would be extra work that I don’t think is documented in the rulebook. I haven’t finished the campaign, but my impression is you will get pretty high level by the end of the game.

The JOTL characters are playable in Gloomhaven, but not the other way around. The tutorials are built around the included characters. Not sure whether the mission balance would be affected, but I would bet some of the missions are built with JOTL character abilities in mind.

As I recall, you still shop at the store but don’t donate to the temple and I think there is a metagame stat like reputation but I can’t remember what it is. You do resolve a city card between missions also.

I don’t think JOTL is any more or less replayable than Gloomhaven itself.

The time to play a mission is about the same as a Gloomhaven mission, but with maybe 1/4 the setup and teardown time since there are less components. I’d say maybe 1 - 1.5 hours per scenario. While there are 25 scenarios in the box, a good bit of them are branched so you don’t play all of them. I didn’t finish it, but I’d guess it’s more like 17-22 scenarios per campaign? So maybe ~30 hours to run the whole gamut.

That is a great selection of games you’re looking at! I’ll disagree with Chaplin and say that I think Project Elite might be a bad pick. But you should buy it anyways, it’s so fantastically fun. I just don’t think it will hold up to lots of repeated focused plays in a short period of time. It’s the perfect game to pull off your shelf once a month when players are feeling ready for an adrenaline rush.

I would definitely recommend Clank Legacy though! It’s about 10 games, each of which probably runs about 2 hours (much longer than regular clank due to the legacy components), so maybe 20 hours of playtime total. It’ll definitely pull you into playing multiple missions in a single sitting and I think is best if consumed in a short amount of time. Perfect game for a focused gaming weekend.

Awwww. :( Maybe it is that Project Elite is so different of an experience that it gains a lot of positive reaction around here. I will coveat that I have the full kickstarter of it (both editions) so there is a lot of variety to plug in during the games. I also recommend the user submitted timers that you can find on BGG. I downloaded them and play them from my phone rather than using the cheap timer that comes with the game. My favorite is the one from first edition that has tense music and a timer narrator as the time gets close to the end. This really helps the sci-fi action movie feel as it’s pretty cool as people are bemoaning or cheering their progress as the calm narrator says “10 seconds remaining” “5, 4, 3…” with music out of a sci-fi bomb disposal scene.

That said, I am not poo-pooing the rest @dionisus1122 list. Those are great choices. For me, Project Elite has a special zing in a post lockdown world (if I am understanding his “gaming getaway” correctly). Although around here lockdown has meant total lockdown.