Gloomhaven - Tactical Combat in a persistent world!

I tried out the digital version last night (thanks, Epic). It works well and Gloomhaven is still a great game! I have a feeling I’m going to be playing it for a while…

I figured I’d spin up a party of the four that haven’t seen any action on our table: brute, mindthief, rogue, and tinkerer. I don’t regret it at all but it takes quite a lot to play four-handed! My wife and I are working through Forgotten Circles two-handed, on the table, and so far it seems that it takes roughly the same amount of time and energy to play four-handed, solo, digitally, as two-handed, with two players, on the table.

Also, I figure now I’ll figure out how good at this game I really am, since I’ll follow all the rules. (I don’t cheat intentionally, of course, but I figure that the unintentional rule-skipping probably falls in player favor, because that’s how brains work.)

So far, I’ve learned:

  • Mind-controlling a living bones with the mindthief’s make-an-enemy-perform-attack-2 card grants the living bones two targets (3 for elite) because of its native “target 2” ability. I would not have played this (I’d have only given it one attack), but upon reflection I believe the computer has it right.
  • Monsters will move on a trap if it’s their only way to get to you, even if there’s another way that’s temporarily blocked by another monster. (In this case, there’s a monster in the doorway, the target is next to the doorway, and the other square on the target’s side is a trap, so they move on the trap and attack.) I’ve never played it that way, despite it coming up pretty frequently. Maybe it’s time to re-read the rules…

I will admit to doing “restart round” a couple times in the first scenario to revert some mis-clicks. AFAICT the monster action (and attack?) draws are the same when you do that, i.e. you get the same “random numbers”. I kind of wish it didn’t do it that way, but oh well. What I really wish is that there were a more fleshed-out undo system.

With that caveat, I did manage to beat the first two scenarios on the first go!

Well this is wacky. Apparently Childres announced today at PAX Unplugged that they will be Kickstarting a Gloomhaven TTRPG next spring, using the same card-based combat system? But also using a gamemaster. It’ll be ‘fully compatible with the two previous games’ whatever that means.

I guess I’m interested in whatever this will be, but only from a distance, somewhat academically- hell, I didn’t even back Frosthaven. My stance on these things has always been that these days I want TTRPGS to be about something other than combat, and I’ll take these campaign adventure boardgames for that sort of thing. I think the mechanics of the *Haven games are brilliant, but they don’t make me want to play them as a more free-form thing.

The RPG got a lot of attention but some Frosthaven backers are fuming that they still await shipping notices while the game is on sale at the con.

Cons are a time-limited important business opportunity that don’t care about where in your fulfillment your Kickstarter is, so it makes perfect sense to me that if you have some copies earmarked for that con you’d sell them even if not every backer has received theirs yet. And some folks absolutely have, but it also had tens of thousands of backers and the fulfillment companies only have so many people to pack and ship.

What I regard as pretty uncool is games ending up at (non-backer) retail before backers have finished getting theirs. Because that is an ongoing contract.

Tangentially related to kickstarter, deliveries etc.

Byt not worth a new thread.

I got my copy of Aeons Trespass: Odyssey yesterday.

Anyone heard of it?

I be was in the crowd for the rpg announcement. Polite applause but a lot of “welp I ain’t ever gonna play that!”

Saw the KS, ultimately passed on it. Kinds struck me as the next evolution of the Kingdom Death: Monster sort of thing. Seems like it was really late, too? Though I guess not nearly as late as the second KD:M KS, heh.

So, now that it’s here, still look cool? Though I guess this is more a question for the boardgaming thread.

Yeah, after three failed attempts my co-op friend and I moved on to other things and haven’t been back. It’s a profoundly off putting start to what looks like a really cool game otherwise. Does it get better? If it’s one of these “play the same scenario 6 times til you get strong enough to beat it, then play the next one 6 times til you get strong enough to beat it and so on” games, I don’t really see much reason to bother.

That first scenario isn’t representative of the rest of the game. Even ignoring that it’s way too easy to not grok the decision-making around burning cards the first time through(and therefore exhaust way early), I think it’s just a poorly balanced scenario for level 1 characters without items.

I’ve been part of a weekly online Gloomhaven session for the last year now and I’d say we probably beat about 80% of scenarios on the first try. And for the ones we fail I don’t think we’ve ever failed them twice. Once you know the game it’s pretty easy to diagnose where you went wrong and to adjust the approach next time through. Also, you pretty quickly have a half dozen or so scenarios to choose from at any time, so you can always just try a different one.

No, I gave up. Just too hard.

That’s fair, life is short. It is a pretty damn good game, though. ;)

I think one of the problems with the digital game in this respect is that you can’t accidentally cheat. When you sit down to play the first scenario you’re going to mess up a ton of rules, and odds are they’re going to be in the player’s favor because I think that’s just how people’s brains are wired, they’re more likely to remember things that benefit themselves. You can’t do that in the digital version! (And as mentioned above, the digital version also takes away a certain set of “player decides the ambiguity” cases–for good reason, it would be tedious–and those add up.)

None of that to take away from the fact that it’s a terrible first mission. Like, I can’t believe they went with it. I think they probably just fell victim to the playtesters all becoming quite experienced with the game and forgetting what it’s like to not know what the hell to do on turn one.

Frosthaven starts with a special “scenario zero” that’s simplified, just for learning the game (and really, learning your class).

In related news, we finally finished Forgotten Circles, and therefore Gloomhaven. (It’s extremely unlikely we’re going to be going back to any of the side scenarios we have open and uncompleted, what with Frosthaven just sitting there.) The last scenario of FC had the same effect on me as Gloomhaven’s–I set it up and thought, “how the hell are we going to kill that big baddie?” and got ready for a loss followed by some grinding, but it turned out to be not all that scary. What saved it from being anticlimactic was (1) a whole bunch of special rules, (2) the build up in the lore (kind of minor, the writing / plotting of the game is so-so, I mean, it’s a board game, not Shakespeare), and (3) the fact that we just got to unload with all our level 9 characters without holding anything back (really fun to get some big numbers on the board).

My overall review is that it’s not quite as good as Gloomhaven, though it definitely did some interesting (and fun) things with scenario design. The Diviner was an interesting (and fun) character, though we ended up using a lot of her one-off weird abilities, rather than the her stack-the-deck(s) mechanic. (We did get some use of of the rifts.) Some of the scenarios were unfortunately quite “puzzley”, and puzzles are just hard to get right, IMHO. (The Envelope X puzzle in Gloomhaven angered me, for example.) I also made the mistake of reading a bit online and the designer (not Childres) had some comments to the effect of “It’s supposed to be hard, it’s for experienced players” which is just a huge cop-out to me. So I’m not interested in pursuing more of his stuff, though we did have a good time with FC, to be fair. My major complaint is that there was way too much flipping through the scenario book, and some of it was dreadfully exacerbated by whatever puzzle they were trying to set for you–for example, in one scenario a certain move would send you to page X section Y, which would immediately redirect you to another section, just so you wouldn’t know in advance you’d already triggered that effect. I see why they did it that way, but it should have been a clue to them that the puzzle was not fit for the game format. (Frosthaven has a (huge) scenario book and a (huge) section book, with the explicit purpose of reducing the amount of page flipping, so I’m hopeful they’ve taken the problem seriously.) In the end, though, I’m glad they made FC and I’m glad we bought and played it.

We cheated and opened the two envelopes we didn’t unlock in the game–one character class (what we get for playing two characters) and envelope A. I was quite annoyed that we never hit the conditions for opening envelope A (finding ancient gear thingies), but having opened it, I’m mollified.

Next up: Frosthaven. Just got to figure out what class to start with…

I continue to be amazed by people still having an appetite for more after finishing Gloomhaven’s campaign. It’s an incredible game but there is so so so much of it and I just ran out of steam before even finishing, let alone doing Jaws of the Lion, Forgotten Circles, or getting another giant pile of content in the form of Frosthaven. And I do have other games. So many

Same. Damn do I have too many of these things.

The digital version also leaves out a lot of the detail about special scenario rules that often feel important. The worst offender I can think of offhand was a specific boss battle where the boss would despawn and respawn in a set pattern. On the table you have easy access to the spawn location progression, but in the digital version you get none of that. Like, we were trying to figure out if there was any rhyme or reason to the spots he was spawning in on thinking it was just a random place on the board. Finally somebody looked it up and it turned out it was just a set rotation of 6 or so spots. Made the scenario much less frustrating and way more tactical to be able to plan around.

Agreed. They did a phenomenal job on recreating the game in a technical sense, but not as well at providing all the information that the board gamer got. Only affected a very few missions, but those became frustrating.

From my perspective, it felt like one of the advantages that the board gamers had was having to know all the rules of how enemy movement works. Since, you know, they were the ones that had to move the enemy pieces. I don’t feel like the computer game made enemy behavior clear like that, which I think provides real tactical advantages.

Speaking of which, how does the game handle this sort of scenario? Three tile wide hallway with an obstacle in the middle. E = Enemy, O = Obstacle, P = Players. How do the rules determine if the enemy unit moves SW or SE? Is it random or is there an order of precedence?

| _ _ _ |
|   E   |
| _ O _ |
| P _ P |
| _ _ _ |

Player with the lowest initiative get the focus of the enemy

I used this version of the manual on GitHub to learn how the enemies operate. There have been a few edge cases where I think the digital version gets it wrong, though I have to believe on the whole it adheres to the rules better than I would.

And if they’re tied (i.e. both at 99 doing long rests) I think you go with the one with the lowest health. I think.

This is incorrect–after initiative, there is no tiebreaker, so it’s player choice: Gloomhaven RuleBook - Page 30. But it’s so rare for there to be equally distant targets with identical initiatives (both cards, remember!) that it doesn’t really matter–outside of long rests, fair point.

FWIW the case that happens a lot more frequently than the one @KevinC outlined is this:

. .
 A B

The enemy E, with, say, move 2 attack 2, focuses on player A (due to lower initiative, say). It can move into either of the dots with one move and be adjacent to A (it’s a hex board, remember, which is hard to draw here). By the board game rules, the players get to decide which of the two the monster moves into, as there’s no reason to preference one or the other. So if player B has a melee attack, they can move the monster to the right hex, and then B doesn’t have to use a move to get into position, and vice versa if B has a ranged attack.

Oh yeah, 100% agree, this was insanely frustrating. Even the little stuff like “add a curse to each player’s attack deck as a scenario effect”. How the hell are you supposed to know that perk is worthwhile if you never see this?!

We don’t have any other games. ;) We could invest the money and effort into a new game, but the real investment for us is the time when the kids are in bed and we don’t have some urgent task or other that needs attention. And it’s not worth the risk that we won’t like the game, when we already have one we’re happy to play. (FWIW, competitive games don’t really work that well between us. Maybe a couples counselor could help with that, but, yeah…)