Boardgaming in 2017!


Gloomhaven arrived!

6 quart slow cooker included for size reference.

It has over 1700 cards, like five inches worth of cardboard punch out sheets, forty-odd location stickers (just on the two sheets I’ve seen so far), a big ol’ spiralbound scenario book, sealed envelopes, a sealed town record…a cipher key for ciphered messages elsewhere in the game…it’s crazy. Hopefully going to play it tomorrow.


What time? We’ll come by!


I’ve got a full suite of players at the moment or I’d take you up on that. ;)


That thing is immense! I want to play…


If I didn’t have a copy of Ogre Designer’s Edition it would be the single largest boardgame I’d ever seen. And although Ogre is a lot bigger overall, Gloomhaven’s box is still taller by a bit.


That Ogre box is nuts. What really gets my goat though is board games that are too big in a single dimension so they won’t stack nicely with other games and don’t fit on standard shelves. Summoner Wars Master Set, I’m looking at you…


Finished punching all that out:

The art is gorgeous. The cardboard is super solid and nice. Pretty much everything is clearly distinguishable. I won’t be able to comment on the actual play until tomorrow of course, but so far this is a really impressive package. And I should note, $64. Compare to something like Kingdom Death, which is also an obscene pile of stuff but is over 4 times the price before you buy any of the addons. Or, for saner releases, the $100 or so a base box of Imperial Assault or Descent or Mansions of Madness 2.0 cost at list price. (And Mansions, at least, doesn’t come a lot cheaper.)

That is the power of ditching miniatures. I mean, okay, they did make minis for Gloomhaven, for the characters (not the monsters), but that was another $20 - and probably a value at that considering you’re getting 17 classes and thus 17 minis.

Edit: Haha, holy shit, MSRP’s gonna be $120. That seems a lot more reasonable for what you’re getting, but it means I’m so glad I got in on the KS.


Jealous!! Still waiting for my shipping notice in LA.

I went for the standee only version too. Just didn’t care for the miniature design.


Oh that looks nice.

I really wish the Mansions of Madness miniatures were an optional purchase, they are so unnecessary and I would happily pay less for the game and expansions, or pay the same and get more lovely tiles.

On that note, so far as my limited testing has shown, you can tell the app you have the first edition stuff and play the base game stories with the investigators and monsters that come in the free ‘upgrade kit’.


Neat! Tell us how it goes!


Yeah, I don’t really have any particular interest in minis myself so when offered the option of not buying into them and substituting a more economical (but still perfectly serviceable) approach like standees or tokens, I do so every time. Unfortunately only a handful of games I’ve seen have offered that option, all on Kickstarter. (So far, Sentinel Tactics, Darkest Night 2E and Gloomhaven, of the ones I’ve backed and can recall.)

And so many minis-oriented games are such huge profit engines that I suspect we are in the distinct minority.


My Ogre box is wedged in on the floor like an anchor keeping my boardgame cabinet from falling over!


Heroes of Land, Air, & Sea is offering the option, if you’re interested in a two-hour 4X game by the guy behind the Tiny Epic games.


Well, my lunch time gaming group at work has a couple new obsessions:

Villages of Velaria is unfortunately a generically-themed fantasy game, but it’s still a nice 45-minute role-choosing card game. It lives adjacent to Race for the Galaxy/San Juan and Eminent Domain and is vaguely in the neighborhood of 7 Wonders, but isn’t entirely like any of them. Cards in your hand can either be played as buildings or turned into permanent resources to use later. Buildings allow you to recruit adventurers who are a little more valuable than buildings. Each of these actions–Build, Develop resources, Recruit adventurers–as well as Harvesting for cards and Taxing for gold, are chosen by the active player each round. When I choose an action, you can choose to “follow” that action, but with a slightly smaller benefit or greater cost. The really unique mechanic is that when I build, I have to use a gold coin for each of the resources I want to access. I can choose to use another player’s resources too, if they’re free (you mark the individual resource card with the coin you spend, and they don’t come off until you start your next turn). So I can spend a coin to use someone else’s resource, but now they own that coin and I’m down one. You might also use others’ resources primarily to block them or others from building with them.

Star Trek: Five Year Mission is a cooperative dice game with a very effective core engine. You take the role of one of the TOS or TNG characters, each with its own special ability. On your turn, you can choose to draw a blue, yellow, or red alert card. They ascend in difficulty, but the harder ones are more likely to get you closer to winning. You clear alert cards by rolling die and matching them with the requirements shown on the cards. Get too many of one type of alert (some alerts spawn others) and you’ll fail the oldest alert card. Too many failures and you lose. This is also a quick hour-or-less game. There are a lot of opportunities to strategize on your approach with the other players. For a light game, the theme comes through pretty well. Like any good co-op game, you occasionally find yourself facing an overwhelming number of challenges at once, and praying for a good roll to pull out of it.

I also played Scythe for the first time. I won, but mostly because of the miscalculation of another player who was new to the game. But we had a good time talking about it afterwards, and it was cool to see how the game juggles lots of different avenues to victory without being overwhelming or super long. I’m very impressed with the design, although I doubt it’s anything I’ll play often.


Okay, so, Gloomhaven.

First, you make your party. There are six classes available to start with, including the Brute, Tinkerer, Spellweaver, Scoundrel, Cragheart and Mindthief. Each player (up to 4 total) picks one of the available classes, opens up the class tuckbox, and pours out the contents. You get a notepad of character sheets for that class, a standee, a few class tokens, a big ol’ set of class cards (you will only have the level 1 and X cards available to start), some class-specific cards you’ll eventually be able to add to your character’s combat modifier deck, and a class mat with art, HP and XP trackers, and your hand size for that class. You’ll name your character, mark down a starting cash pool of 30 gold, and draw two Personal Story cards (pick one, discard the other), which give you this character’s goal in being an adventurer. Achieve that goal, and your character will retire, unlocking various things in the process. (At which point you create a new character). You also name your party, and it starts at a reputation of 0. As you adventure, you keep track of your party’s reputation, unlocked party achievements (mostly gating scenarios), location (which scenario you’re going back to, mostly), etc. My friends picked the Tinkerer and Brute. I went with the Mindthief.

Once you’ve got your party assembled, you open up the scenario book and kick off by adding the first scenario location (the Black Barrow) to the world map and placing a Global Achievement sticker to note that Gloomhaven’s government is “Militaristic” (no idea what this does yet), and then you can poke around the city for a moment to prep by buying gear, optionally have a city event (we found some mislaid supplies that we could have either sold, or turned over to the guard - we did the latter), and hit the road to the Barrow. Which means you draw a road event (in this case, we fell into an underground structure and decided to explore it, to an uncertain payoff). And then you set up the scenario, like you would in things like Descent, by assembling map tiles and populating the visible part with enemies, treasure and so forth, and you give everyone two secret battle goals, pick one. If you win the scenario and completed your goal, you get the listed check(s) on your character sheet. Get three and get a perk (which changes your modifier deck).

Once you’re actually in the scenario, the structure is fairly straightforward. You have class cards available equal to your hand size, and each turn you select two (face down) and pick one as your “leading” card, or you decide to take a “long rest” (more on this in a second). Once everyone has done this, you flip up your leading cards and deal a monster action card for each type of monster currently on the map. You compare the initiative order on everyone’s leading cards to the monster action cards and that determines turn order. Then everyone flips up the other card as well, and you act in turn order. Characters use the top half of one card and the bottom half of the other, in either order (and which card you used for initiative is irrelevant at this stage), and do each step of that half from top to bottom. You can skip any portion of the card except for things that harm you or an ally if you so choose, and can optionally use any top half as an Attack 2, or any bottom half as a Move 2. You can also potentially use any items you have with you according to the text on their card. Monsters act by type, starting with any elite members of that type and continuing with normal monsters of that type, in the order of their figure number. They will take whatever actions are on their card, top to bottom, if able, and focus on the closest (by number of moves required to maximize their attack) enemy, preferring the faster one if there is a tie.

Attacks are made with the printed value on the attack card, or the printed attack value of the monster, depending. Then any intrinsic offensive modifiers (most commonly on monster actions) are applied. Then the attacker draws a modifier card from their modifier deck for each target (each character has one, and the monsters share one) and applies that (ranging by default from one -2 through one +2 1x with plenty of +0 and -1 in between, as well as one 2x Damage and one No Damage that reshuffle the deck at the end of the round if hit). And finally any defensive modifiers (Shield, for example) are applied, and damage is resolved. Damage to characters is tracked on their mat, damage to monsters is tracked on these ingenious sleeves that fit over the monster cards to limit the display to the stats for the current monster level (between 0 and 7) and have spaces for 6 or 10 numbered monsters of that type. Unlike some games of this sort, additional status effects (like poison or stun) are applied even if the attack didn’t do damage. If a PC is reduced to 0 health, they’re out of the scenario but will recover without ill effect afterwards, win or lose. If a monster is reduced to 0 they are removed from the map and, if they were placed by the scenario (as opposed to being summoned) they drop a money token.

Once everyone has gone around and done their stuff, the class cards you used go into either the discard pile or sometimes the lost pile depending (some powerful actions automatically are lost after they’re used), any modifier and monster action decks that have hit a card with a reshuffle symbol are reshuffled, and you loot any money or treasure chest you are standing on.

So here’s the big wrinkle: in order to get your cards back from the discard pile (without some sort of special effect, be it action or item), you have to rest. This can either be a short rest (which happens at the end of the round), or a long rest (which takes your whole turn). Also, you -must- play two cards on your turn, so if you don’t have enough to do this, you are forced to take a long rest. A short rest obviously gets you up and running faster, but if you do that, once you’ve refilled your hand from your discards, you have to turf a random card into your lost pile. And you don’t recover those at all during the scenario, barring special effects. A long rest, on the other hand, still requires you to put a card in that lost pile…but you get to pick which one. Furthermore, it heals you by 2 HP and refreshes any spent items (consumed items, like potions, are gone until the end of the scenario). The downside, of course, is missing out on a turn. Finally, if you have only one, or zero cards left in your hand -and- discard, then you’re out of the scenario, because you can no longer play two cards or rest, either one.

Oh, and you can cancel an instance of damage by putting a card from your hand or two cards from your discard into your lost pile. Better than getting knocked out straight away, right?

This ends up being incredibly tactical and varied and interesting. Every class has hugely distinct card designs - the Tinkerer was doing party buffs, healing, and had a lot of one shot ranged gadgets. The Brute was charging around and trampling things and doing big sweeping area attacks or enormous single attacks. My Mindthief was summoning hordes (well, a horde) of rats, mind controlling enemies into attacking one another or walking into traps (knocking enemies into traps was a GREAT way to clear the traps and kill enemies in one fell swoop), dashing up for rapid fire poisoned dagger strikes or sniping with stunning cold, and could psychically augment his attacks (I mainly used the health leech, but damage or shielding were also options). We had a really rotten first turn (the Bandit Guards, all six of them, got their best action card and beat us on initiative so they swarmed us and poisoned all three of us with hard-hitting attacks, then had damage reduction in place for our subsequent retaliation - I had to lose two cards straight off the bat to stay alive), and at one point the archers in the second room immobilized me three freaking turns in a row, but we did eventually finish the scenario -and- loot the treasure (permanent unlocks ahoy). I for one was pretty much sucking fumes by the end because of that early card loss, but that was fine because my battle goal was to have 3 or fewer cards in hand or discard by scenario end, so I definitely got my check.

After that, we unlocked scenario 2 on the map, got a party achievement (First Steps), tallied up our earned gold and XP (I came out ahead on XP because I’d used so many XP-granting cards during the scenario, but everyone gets some for the scenario win), got our unlock for the treasure (I won’t say what), and decided to continue to scenario 2 next time rather than doing road events to and from Gloomhaven to…well, not accomplish much because we didn’t exactly have a ton of gold on hand, weren’t going to level, and didn’t need to make new characters etc.

I apologize for the length of the post but there’s a lot going on in Gloomhaven and it’s all awesome.


Thanks for the quick overview! Still waiting for my shipping notice. Can’t wait to get this going.


Thanks for the write-up. I just heard about it a month or so ago, and it sounds intriguing. I’ve actually got a pre-order in on Amazon, but have been wavering back and forth about whether to cancel it- it’s expensive ($120!, though free Prime shipping, yay.), and how many games like this do I actually need? Let’s just say I have a few, and I think my group might be ready to get away from the campaign-style play forna while after they finish Seafall.

On the other hand, it actually sounds like it’s doing something interesting with the card-based play (unlike Myth, ugh).

Hmm. Decisions.


Are you playing solo or in a group?


A group of three, as per his post.

If I find this in Spain (or the EU at reduced shipping costs) I might go for it. Any leads?


Yeah, my group is typically three to four. Gloomhaven supports up to four and does note that you could play solo by running two characters but you should up the difficulty of scenarios by 1 to compensate for the fact that you have perfect information about both characters’ hand state and chosen cards every turn. You are not supposed to show other players your hand or selected cards or discuss exact numbers by default and it does make a difference, particularly around initiative. For us this was mainly an issue in terms of movement (you can move through friendlies but not stop on their space) and positioning for a couple of AoE buffs from the Tinkerer, but there are apparently classes that can cause friendly fire incidents, and there’s a subsystem I forgot to mention around infusing the area with elements (for two turns at a time) that can be consumed by other effects where timing could be very important. It’s just that none of our characters had anything that consumed elements (only infused), so it isn’t currently relevant to our game.

As for how many games like this you need? Gloomhaven might be the only one for years. 95 scenarios! Plus tools for random dungeon generation, and the possibility of revisiting any or all as a casual replay rather than campaign progress.

I obviously can’t say whether your group will get into it, and it’s too early for me to fairly recommend it. But I will say you get a fuck of a lot of stuff for that $120. Oh, and unlike previous legacy games it’s explicitly set up so that you can have multiple parties adventuring in the same world and multiple people dropping in and out. You probably still wouldn’t want to do it as a legacy thing in the context of like, random gatherings of people with no consistent core group. But it can accomodate more than say, Pandemic or Risk Legacy.