It's been a little over two years since Gloomhaven first exploded onto the board game scene, captivating hundreds of thousands of players with its complex gameplay and mix of legacy-style gameplay and short, intense encounters. Because of the game's cost ($140 for a retail copy) and the sheer size of the box, many players are still discovering Gloomhaven or debating whether or not they should commit to such a complex game. And when you finally sit down with Gloomhaven and its nearly 50 page rulebook, you can quickly feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information being thrown at you at once.
Luckily, ComicBook.com is here to help! If you're looking to survive your first game of Gloomhaven, here are a few handy tips to keep in mind:
Ultimately, Gloomhaven is a game about hand management. Each scenario, you'll start with a hand of cards that you'll play at a rate of two per round. After playing these cards, you'll either discard them or "lose" them for the rest of the scenario depending on their abilities. The abilities that cause you to lose a card are usually the most powerful, so the temptation will be to quickly use those to kill a monster in one round or somehow clear a room.
However, the real trick to Gloomhaven is that your hand doubles as a timer for how much your character has left before they get exhausted and pull out of the scenario. Every time you burn a card - whether its by resting, by using an ability, or by blocking damage from an attack - you also throw away one or more turns from your dungeon run.
Understanding how Gloomhaven card system work will help making choosing what cards to put in your hand a lot easier. When you realize that a card that does 4 damage but gets thrown away isn't as impactful as a card that does 3 damage and can be used multiple times, it makes planning your hand a lot easier before scenarios.
The other big key to Gloomhaven is the "action economy" between that of your party and your enemies. Typical Gloomhaven scenarios will involve multiple rooms, which will have multiple monsters and enemies that you need to kill. If all of these monsters can gang up on your party at once, you'll wind up dead very, very quickly. Players need to be aware of how many actions your party can take compared to how many your enemies can take on a given round.
Because of how Gloomhaven works, you won't always have time to clear out rooms one at a time, but you should always pay attention to how many enemies can potentially attack you and your teammates at a time. Leaving too many enemies on the board at once will quickly turn the action economy against you - which will usually translate into a failure. Sometimes, the best move is to clear out the wounded enemy before they can attack or to disarm or stun a creature to prevent them from attacking. It might feel like you're wasting an attack on an enemy with 1 HP, but it's better to kill them than to suffer a cheap shot because you left them alive.
Another key to Gloomhaven success is knowing when to rest. Resting is a critical part of Gloomhaven as it replenishes your hand and can potentially provide you with some extra health. There are two kinds of rest - a long rest and a short rest. Both types of rests force players to burn a discarded card for the rest of the scenario, but each has their own benefits. The long rest forces players to skip a turn but gives them 2 HP, while a short rest allows players to immediately re-collect their discarded cards at the end of their turn. Players pick which card they lose when they take a long rest, but they have to select a random card when making a short rest.
Long rests are typically the best option when you have some time to spare, but using a short rest gives players the opportunity to press the advantage and keep attacking foes. Understanding when to stop and when to press the attack is a critical part of succeeding in Gloomhaven. Which brings us to...
Because players only have so many cards they can play, there's a constant pressure to make every turn count. Sometimes, you'll only have one enemy left in a room and a final door left to open, and you'll want to rush in before you run out of cards. However, don't let that ticking clock in the back of your head push you into making poor decisions. It's usually better to have a plan of attack before entering a room, and sometimes that means making sacrifices.
On the flip side, Gloomhaven won't always give players the option of regrouping every time they clear a room. After all, there's a ticking clock going in every scenario, and players can't afford to burn turns just to wait for one player to long rest.
If you want to succeed in Gloomhaven, you'll need to know when to press forward and when to hold back for a turn. Sound strategy will defeat just about every obstacle - so try to find a balance between moving forward and holding back.
The last piece of advice I can give to new Gloomhaven players is to understand how your character works and what it brings to your team. Each class in Gloomhaven operates differently and provides a different benefit to a party. Depending on the composition of your group, you may be asked to jump into different roles - whether it's healing, disabling traps, or drawing enemies away from your more vulnerable teammates.
During each scenario, players will pick a scenario goal card that they try to secretly complete. These goals might be in conflict with your typical role - whether you're gathering up loot as a Brute or trying to kill an Elite enemy as a Scoundrel - and you may be tempted to go rogue so you can more easily boost your character.
Part of the fun of Gloomhaven is having your own agenda, but remember that breaking away from the group may lead to a TPK - which means that no one completes the mission. You might need to put aside your personal goal to complete the scenario, and that's okay!0comments
Let us know how your first Gloomhaven session went in the comment section, or find me on Twitter at @CHofferCBus to chat all things tabletop!