Board Game Geek Rating: 8.15
Board Game Geek Avg Player Rating: 9.10
Players: 1 to 4
Content Notes: This is for the Kickstarter game edition of Gloomhaven WITH STANDEES (minis are not included). The Kickstarter Exclusive "Thank You" card with a secret decoder message is included. Please note: unless otherwise stated paid add ons from the Kickstarter Campaign are not included.
Gloomhaven is a game of Euro-inspired tactical combat in a persistent world of shifting motives. Players will take on the role of a wandering adventurer with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for travelling to this dark corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. In the process they will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions they make.
This is a game with a persistent and changing world that is ideally played over many game sessions. After a scenario, players will make decisions on what to do, which will determine how the story continues, kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Playing through a scenario is a cooperative affair where players will fight against automated monsters using an innovative card system to determine the order of play and what a player does on their turn.
Each turn a player chooses two cards to play out of their hand. The number on the top card determines their initiative for the round. Each card also has a top and bottom power, and when it is a player’s turn in the initiative order, they determine whether to use the top power of one card and the bottom power of the other, or vice-versa. Players must be careful, though, because over time they will permanently lose cards from their hands. If they take too long to clear a dungeon, they may end up exhausted and be forced to retreat.
It's a grim but lucrative business being a mercenary out on the edge of civilization. You must explore the harsh wilderness and engage in deep tactical combat, where the decisions you make have an impact not only on your own character, but also the world around you.
Gloomhaven is cooperative game of card-driven combat set in a persistent fantasy campaign which will change and grow as you play the game.
There is always more to unlock and explore in the world of Gloomhaven.
GGloomhaven is a series of tactical combat scenarios that are strung together in a persistent, thematic campaign.
Each scenario is played out through rounds of combat against fully automated enemies. In each round, players will play 2 cards from their hand of ability cards which determine the order in which they act and what abilities they perform. Each card has 2 special actions, and on their turn, players can play the top action of one card and the bottom action of the other.
Card actions are varied and powerful, cutting through the monotony of a basic "move and attack" system. Default actions are available, though, if a player's plans get ruined by an enemy's ability card or even by the actions of their own teammates. Gloomhaven eliminates the alpha player through simultaneous hidden action selection to illustrate the chaos of battle.
There are also no dice in Gloomhaven. Instead, attacks are modified by a player's attack deck. Over time this attack deck will change as a player begins to add and remove cards by completing battle goals and leveling up.
Players gain the experience needed to level up by performing certain actions in their ability card deck. Through leveling up, players will also get access to more powerful, higher level ability cards which they can use to customize their deck.
In midst of battle, players will also need to focus on looting money tokens. These can be used to purchase powerful items in town, where new stock is always being unlocked by player actions.
One way to unlock items is to increase the prosperity of the town, which players can do by completing scenarios and making decisions during events between scenarios. Players will also have to manage their reputation during these events, as reputation will influence the outcome of some events and also affect shop prices.
As players interact with the town and move along the branching story paths of the world, they will always be working towards completing career goals. By meeting certain objectives, a player's character will retire, unlocking a new character class to play with, new events for parties to encounter and additional perks for the achieving player. After retirement, a player will create a new character, possibly from the class that was just unlocked, and continue the adventure!
If you'd like more information about any aspect of the game, you can find a wealth of information on the Gloomhaven website and also the BoardGameGeek page which features a number of illustrated lessons on how to play the game.
In addition, here is a PDF of a preliminary draft of the rules.
If you learn through action or just want to get a better feel for the game, there are a couple easy ways to sit down and play the game on your computer.
The introductory scenario of Gloomhaven is available through Tabletop Zen (free) and Tabletop Simulator (this requires the purchase of software).
You can get the Tabletop Simulator Steam Workshop mod here. From there you can play around with it on your own, or sign up to be taught the game through this Google Doc. When you become familiar with the game, you can also sign up for pick-up games, or even be a teacher yourself.
Tabletop Zen now has an open lobby where you can go play around with the game on your own, or you can sign up for pick-up games or teaching games through the Google Doc. All that's required is a valid email address to sign up.
Keep in mind that the game is not automated. Players will have to move the pieces around according to the rules, and communication between players is highly advised. Tabletop Simulator has accompanying voice software, but Google Hangouts is needed to play on Tabletop Zen.
For those interested, a PDF Print-and-Play of the first scenario is also available, along with the accompanying pages from the scenario book.
The scenario available online is just the beginning, though. A scratch on the surface of the world.
Gloomhaven is deep and expansive. It is a game of exploration and discovery; of branching story paths and decisions with real consequences. You always have a choice of which scenario to undertake next and which plot thread to unravel.
More than that, though, there is plenty of content to support multiple game groups. If you want to play the game with someone new, you shouldn't reset the game, but instead just pursue a different story line. Each party of adventurers will develop their own campaign, but everyone will interact with and expand upon the same world.
Gloomhaven provides a persistent world of permanent choices without the restriction of only being able to play with the same people time and again. It does this by focusing on the stories of individual characters instead of an over-arching linear plot.
New classes will become available to play when players meet certain conditions in the game. If you want spoil yourself on the surprise, or you just really want to check out more amazing artwork, click here to see what else you'll be getting, or if you want to get a detailed look at the miniatures, you can check out all the original sculpts by clicking here (also full of spoilers).
(Note that all depictions of miniatures are digitally modified pictures of the original physical sculpts.)
In the proud tradition of slaying helpless rats, I have decided that to reward backers of the Gloomhaven project, I will graduate to a slightly more formidable - but equally prolific - foe: the animated skeleton.
For anyone who pledges a single dollar or more to the campaign, I will foray into a host of fantasy-themed games and slay a necromantic abomination in your name. This will be caught on camera, of course, for you to marvel at and cherish for years to come.
Isaac is the driving force behind Cephalofair Games, which published its first game, Forge War, last April. Isaac also designed and developed the game.
Isaac graduated last December with a physics PhD, but, with the success of Forge War, he is now designing and publishing games full time. It's turned out pretty well for him so far.
Josh McDowell started playing board games after his wife encouraged him to find an inexpensive hobby. The joke is on her, as that encouragement turned into an expansive collection and regular schedule of playing games with his friends. He turned to his graphic design prowess to offset the costs and is now completely engrossed in all things board games. He lives in Indiana with his wife and three young children, gamers in the making.
Alexandr lives in Ukraine, Odessa and works as a freelancer and specializes in several styles: sci-fi, cyberpunk and fantasy. He's looking for hard-core projects in the styles that he likes. Most of all he is proud of his artwork for cards in board games. He dreams to release his comics and develop the indie game with a small group of people In the future.
James Van Schaik has over 20 years experience as a professional miniature sculptor. He has worked as a freelance sculptor, in-house staff sculptor and on several exclusivity contracts for a range of companies including Megacon Games, Ninja Division, Soda Pop Miniatures, Ral Partha, WizKids, Wyrd, Games Workshop, Pulp City, Battlefront, Gale Force 9, Dust Tactics, Mantic, Reaper, and RAFM.
He has also sculpted for toy companies outside of the gaming industry and produced figures for licensed properties such as Lord of the Rings, Dr. Who, Marvel, DC, and Harry Potter to name a few.
--from the publisher
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