Gloomhaven - Tactical Combat in a persistent world!

Kingdom Death: Monster is the example of a campaign failure state that I’ve played, and it ended every group’s interest that I got to start a campaign. Seeing new things was all good. Being told to replay the 40 or 80 hours already invested was too much overhead to getting back to the discovery.

Probably if the early game play continues to feel fresh, or is greatly accelerated, failure->restart isn’t as bad. I stopped Darkest Dungeon after getting to the final set of bosses and realizing I would have to sacrifice a team to each one to learn its trick, then regrind everything to face the next one. (I.e., I’m not good enough to beat bosses on seeing them the first time.) I hear later patches addressed some of that reset-to-zero aspect.

The first scenarios in Gloomhaven the group of four I’m playing with failed it three times, and then failed the next couple a time or two each. I was worried we were going to hit a soft failure state, where levelling up from fail XP without getting other rewards would actually advance the monsters more than us. But, the last two scenarios went much better. Having the game indicate that we’re learning to be better at it is a great feeling.

Oh, I don’t mind that there’s no penalty for failing in Gloomhaven, as to me the lost time is penalty enough! Time is my most precious commodity.

I could not agree more with your sentiment about time. I find that time is penalty enough for me in most games.

OK, so on my latest mission, I figured I’d be bold and try looting a couple of chests with my two-person party. It did not work out well! In one case, my Brute found a 3-damage trap. In the other case, the chest had a Ring of Skulls, but the Scoundrel who looted it ran out of cards and became exhausted. The Brute almost did manage to kill the final boss alone, but he too ran out of cards, and I failed.

I think I did keep the gold I collected in the scenario. And the XP maybe? But I don’t see the Ring of Skulls anywhere. (I guess I check inventory at the merchant, only?) Does one lose the contents of chests one loots if one fails the scenario?

One shouldn’t. If you looted the item design, it will show up in the merchant’s inventory. If you looted the item itself you should have it available for the next mission. Looted items don’t auto-equip, so it will be in your inventory (click on the character’s backback, then relevant slot to see it).

Ah OK, I must have looted the item’s design, not the item itself. The merchant does have it in his inventory now. Thanks for the explanation!

The design thing is a cool mechanic, by the way. I like that the game is as much about leveling-up Gloomhaven itself as the characters.

@rho21 I took a few days off from the campaign to play Guildmaster and experiment with the different classes a bit. I think I tried all but Saw and Circles. Long story short, I have been converted. In experimenting with different party makeups, I came to realize that Spellweaver is far better than I had realized.

For one thing, I was misunderstanding the level one card Impaling Eruption. “Path to the primary target” does not need to be a straight line. Duh! Which takes this from a very situational card to a top notch card, and very much a candidate for enhancing.

I also got over the idea that this character is a hothouse orchid, requiring extreme caution. She can take a hit or two, especially early mission when any disaster leading to a burned card can be recovered from the burn pile. But that almost never happens because even up close, she doesn’t have the initiatives to attract a lot of enemy fire. If I play her with the same aggressiveness that I play the Mindthief, I get similar results – although AOE damage, of course, rather than stuns.

The other thing I realized was how well she synergizes with the Soothsayer, once I quit depending so heavily on the Soothsayer’s +1 attack song. Not only does that song only apply to one individual target in an AOE attack, but I also experience a lot of bugs where it doesn’t apply at all. But some of those other songs are very powerful, and the one that gives wounds applies to all of an AOE attack. Which against some enemies is just overwhelming.

Anyway, it took me almost two weeks to realize, but you are right. On most missions, Spellweaver is the best fit for 4th party member. They can’t kill my bear if the Spellweaver has already killed them. :)

One problem with Impaling Eruption is that the nearest square is always adjacent to the spellweaver, and so at disadvantage. Overall I generally prefer Fire Orbs, but I happily used both for a lot of the lower levels. I do reckon there are better cards by about level 5 or so, making it difficult to fit both in your (extremely small) deck. Easier in Guildmaster mode, where the scenarios are shorter, so loss cards are less tricky to use.

If you can get your spellweaver a personal goal which means she never needs to retire, one of her level 9 cards is probably the most overpowered in the game.

My top tip though is to enhance the bottom of Mana Bolt to provide Strengthen, and use it on yourself a lot. Two turns of advantage (the first of them at very fast initiative) works really well with your multi-target attacks.

(Music notes spoiler)

The soothsinger is incredibly powerful, mostly for putting out enough stun, disarm and other effects that very few enemies actually get to attack. I tended to play with the healing song most of the time, particularly when there were enemies that cause poison or wound about. Swapping to a different song in time to synergise with a big spellweaver attack could be extremely effective though.

Yeah, my Spellweaver is level 4, thanks to Gloomhaven prosperity level 4. Not sure about her longevity – she has the retirement goal involving exhaustions, which is probably the worst possible for her. But if by then prosperity is even at a 5…

In Guildmaster, I enhanced Impaling Eruption to a range 5, which in a crowd can make quite an impression. Even if the one target is at disadvantage. But I like your idea for enhancing Mana Bolt.

As to Soothsayer, she is just a superstar. All the uses you list, and then the level 4 card Disorienting Dirge… Curse EVERY enemy within range 3. And bless every ally!!! Do that a couple times, and the mission might as well be complete, especially if you then switch to the card’s song, putting all enemies at disadvantage. Kind of hard to land a single shot, if they have to draw two cards that are not curses, out of a deck that has close to ten curses in it! I’m toying with enhancing that card, so that it actually doubles the curses. Very expensive, but it strikes me as an “I win” outcome against all but bosses.

Remember that ten is the maximum number of curses that can be in the enemy deck. So there’s diminishing returns on amping an already powerful curse generating card.

Agreed. It would be mainly a turn saver – one turn to get to around ten instead of two turns, which means the ability to play the card, use a stamina potion to get it back, and then play the song on the next turn.

Of course, if it turns out to be less than I figured, then I can always refund that enhancement and invest elsewhere. But given that I do not want her to retire and her retirement goal is 4 enhancements, I am inclined to invest in one or two heavy hitters, as opposed to spreading it out over relatively small stuff.

But yeah, no point in investing in curse production that takes it over ten.

Another question for the more experienced (very minor spoiler):

I cannot understand what I just saw the AI do. Two Vermling Shaman Elites had had “Move 3 Heal 3 Range 3.” They each began three tiles away from a wounded Cave Bear with that was missing several hit points. Yet both Shaman Elites ignored their wounded ally and moved directly towards my nearest unit. I mean, that’s great for me, but it was totally unexpected. Is there some explanation for this, or is it a bug?

I am positive that they did not cast heal before moving, because the cave bear is still wounded. But even if they had cast heal first, would their moves have been correct?

From the rulebook:

If a monster does not have an attack listed on its ability card for the round, it finds a focus as if it had a melee attack.

If a monster has a move but no attack afterward as part of its ability card, it will use its movement to get as close as possible to its focused target (determined as if it had a melee attack), moving along the shortest possible path to enter a hex adjacent to its focused enemy.

Having abilities other than “Attack” on its ability card does not affect a monster’s movement in any way. It will simply move according to the above rules and then use its other abilities as best as it can.

To spell it out more explicitly:

First they found a focus, which was “as if they had a melee attack” because there was no attack on the card. Second they moved 3 toward the focus. Third they performed Heal 3 Range 3 (which I guess was out of range at that point).

So following RAW, definitely. Monsters make a lot of suboptimal moves.

Wow, that’s terrible! Although it sure made that room easy.


Okay, I want to whine about a couple UI things. I lost the bend-in-river mission for the second straight time, even though I virtually one-shotted the boss, because I didn’t notice the little immobilized icons. Yes, there’s a tiny little notification in red text when this happens, and a tiny little boot, but I didn’t notice either. So both my characters set up to move and melee-attack and ended up doing nothing. Grr!

I’ve now visited the cleric for a buff to each character. But I think I’ll try a different mission lest I rage quit.

Also, should I be adding a third character? My starting two (Brute and Scoundrel) are still level 1. I’ve leveled up Gloomhaven itself to 2.

I haven’t played much, but I felt that a third character added a lot of flexibility. You can move front line more easily, go for more treasures, and have more synergies. Scenarios take a little bit longer, though.

There’s a Reset Round option for just those situations: ESC → Reset Round, I think. It just sets you back to the card selection phase again and is super handy for those situations you didn’t realise your options were limited, you realise you wanted to play the same half of each card, etc.

I agree about that particular UI problem. It is frequently difficult to tell what information goes with which character. And especially when you’ve placed a bunch of conditions on several of them, it can be almost impossible to see info about your own character. I find that sometimes zooming in or out can make a big difference. But if you don’t realize that this is a moment when you need to see something…

I also find that there are times when the camera centers on an inconvenient spot on the map. Especially when playing Two Minis, but other times too. And this makes the problem you describe even worse.

As to number of heroes, I tend to think of three as the sweet spot, in terms of difficulty. But it depends so much on the party. The more your heroes have area effects, the better they scale to larger parties. And the more you have room in your party for a specialized member who may offer great benefits but sometimes be of little use. Also, the bigger the party, the more gold piles you can potentially pick up, which, if you have a gold-hungry character, can be helpful. Oh, and I guess if you are relying on summons smaller parties are better. And if you rely on those “kill a normal enemy” cards then 4 member parties are worse due to having a higher proportion of elite enemies.

But mainly, I think it’s a matter of what you find fun, a crowded map or a sparse one.

Thanks for your comments! @Pedro: Ah yeah, I should have thought of resetting the round!

@FinnegansFather, thanks for your thoughts on the UI and on party size. I actually do like a sparse map and quicker gameplay, and I’m tempted to buy the ring of skulls so I can summon a thing during combats. Maybe I’ll do that and see how it works with a two-person party a bit longer.