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Should I Play Gloomhaven?

Is Gloomhaven fun to play?

Players: 1 – 4 players | Game Duration 60 – 120 mins |
Min. Age 14+ | Game complexity: EASY Genre: Adventure, Exploration, Fantasy, Fighting, Miniatures
Solo game mode: Yes | Co-op: Yes |
Online Version: Yes

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What is Gloomhaven about?

Unveiling Gloomhaven

Venture into a world of tactical combats and intricate storylines

Gloomhaven has been making the headlines due to the adventure within the game, the game mechanics that closely mimic RPG video games and the rich content it possesses.

In this guide, you will be taken through the winding pathways and dangerous dungeons of Gloomhaven.

What is ‘Gloomhaven’?

‘Gloomhaven’ is a cooperative tabletop game for 1 to 4 players, known for its unique blend of solid tactical combat, Euro-inspired mechanics, and branching storylines designed to create a unique player experience.

You take on the roles of wandering mercenaries with unique special skills and reasons for seeking treasures in the dark and dangerous city. Choices made during each scenario can influence the course of the game, unlocking new challenges, characters, and choices. There is no fixed ‘path’ in Gloomhaven—which makes it engaging for gamers.

Gloomhaven Gameplay

Several core gameplay elements make Gloomhaven engrossing and captivating.

Core Loop and Objectives

The game is divided into scenarios, each of which can be a one-off battle, a stop point in a larger story, or a step towards a larger goal—usually, amassing wealth and power or uncovering arcane secrets. Throughout, players will interact with a richly detailed world through a number of mechanics that depend on the choices a player makes.

Character Classes and Customization

Gloomhaven offers a roster of diverse character classes. Each class not only has its own set of cards dictating their moves and abilities but also its own personal quest interwoven with the overarching narrative.

Combat Mechanics

Combat is a tactical affair, played out on a grid system with players and enemies moving and attacking in turn-based fashion. The abilities on the players’ cards must be managed carefully, as they each have a series of initiative values that can make the difference between a swift victory and a devastating defeat.

The City of Gloomhaven

Outside of combat lies the city of Gloomhaven itself, a hub of activity where players can visit shops, undertake side quests, and advance their personal goals. It’s here that the essence of role-play really shines through.

Gloomhaven Game Mechanics

Legacy Elements

A key mechanic that keeps players besotted is its legacy system. With each choice leaving a permanent mark on the game world, unlocking and locking away content, the game is in a state of constant evolution. As you rip open sealed envelopes and discover new scenarios, the game itself transforms—a mechanic most associated with video games but thrillingly applied here in cardboard form.

Hand Management

Hand management is critical. Players must carefully balance the cards they use in every round, as once a card’s ability is executed it is ‘lost’ for the rest of the scenario. The dynamic here is to weigh short-term benefits against long-term consequences, which adds significant depth to the tactical decision-making process.

Element Infusion and Exploitation

Gloomhaven incorporates an element system: earth, wind, fire, ice, light, and darkness. Players can generate and consume these elements to supercharge their abilities, adding a layer of strategic planning that’s immensely satisfying to strategize around—especially for those who relish the intricacies of competitive RPGs.

Road and quest events

Before and after each scenario, players draw from event decks that can lead to unexpected outcomes, from skirmishes to moral quandaries, testing team bonds and strategic wit outside of formal battle.

What Makes Gloomhaven Fun?

Beyond the complexities lies a deeply rewarding and immersive experience that hooks in players from the very first draw of their character’s hand.

The Rich and Expansive Lore

Gloomhaven is incredible, not just for its mechanics, but for the Jungian absurd amount of lore it packs along with its cards and cardboard tiles. The world feels both alive and indifferent to your presence, a contrast that makes every discovery all the more compelling.

Character Progression

Watching your character grow from a fledgling weakling taking on rats in cellars to a powerful force mastering impossible challenges is the kind of character progression that every RPG is built on, and Gloomhaven delivers this in spades.

The Challenge

Make no mistake, Gloomhaven is a tough game. The balance struck between providing a challenge and being fair is executed to near-perfection. Players will fail and falter, as intended, but the game is rich in learning experiences that make each subsequent run-up to a scenario absolutely thrilling.

Who Will Find Gloomhaven Fun?

Gloomhaven is a game that caters to varying tastes and levels of gaming experience, though with the caveat of requiring players who are dedicated and prepared to put in the time.

For the Seasoned

Vets of Warhammer and D&D campaign settings will find a familiar language in Gloomhaven, though seasoned tactics of those worlds won’t always translate one-for-one. The depth and challenges offered are constantly rewarding to those who are willing to invest the time.

For the Newcomers

For those new to the world of RPGs or Euro-style board games, Gloomhaven offers a gentle yet enthralling first step. The learning curve can be steep, but the game is crafted in such a way that each session builds on the last, constantly nudging the players towards being masters of its complex, elegant mechanics.

Find out about Gloomhaven How to play Gloomhaven Where to buy Gloomhaven


Official Gloomhaven Rulebook

Where to play Gloomhaven online?

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Gloomhaven Videos

Awards Won by Gloomhaven

2020 Japan Boardgame Prize Voters’ Selection Nominee
2020 Japan Boardgame Prize Voters’ Selection Nominee
2020 Gra Roku Best Thematic Game Nominee
2020 Gra Roku Advanced Game of the Year Nominee
2020 As d’Or – Jeu de l’Année Expert Nominee
2018 SXSW Tabletop Game of the Year Winner
2018 Scelto dai Goblin Winner
2018 Origins Awards Game of the Year Winner
2018 Origins Awards Best Board Game Winner
2018 Origins Awards Best Board Game Nominee
2017 Meeples’ Choice Nominee
2017 International Gamers Award – General Strategy: Multi-player Nominee
2017 Golden Geek Most Innovative Board Game Winner
2017 Golden Geek Most Innovative Board Game Nominee
2017 Golden Geek Board Game of the Year Winner
2017 Golden Geek Board Game of the Year Nominee
2017 Golden Geek Best Thematic Board Game Winner
2017 Golden Geek Best Thematic Board Game Nominee
2017 Golden Geek Best Strategy Board Game Winner
2017 Golden Geek Best Strategy Board Game Nominee
2017 Golden Geek Best Solo Board Game Winner
2017 Golden Geek Best Solo Board Game Nominee
2017 Golden Geek Best Cooperative Game Winner
2017 Golden Geek Best Cooperative Game Nominee
2017 Golden Geek Best Board Game Artwork & Presentation Nominee
2017 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming Nominee
2017 Cardboard Republic Striker Laurel Nominee
2017 Board Game Quest Awards Best Thematic Game Nominee
2017 Board Game Quest Awards Best Coop Game Nominee
2017 Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game Nominee

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