Close

Login

Close

Register

Close

Lost Password

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Early Access

Fantasy Adventure Burning Bright: Gloomhaven Reviewed

Gloomhaven (Cephalofair Games)Game Name: Gloomhaven

Publisher: Cephalofair Games

Designer: Isaac Childres

Year: 2017

Players: One to four

Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 60-120 minutes

Genre: Euro-style fantasy adventure game

Retail Price: $140.00

Gloomhaven is a smartly executed and engaging title that mixes board game mechanics with RPG style storytelling to create a one-of-a-kind player experience — just don’t expect to jump right in.

Gloomhaven Heroes (Cephalofair Games)Unboxing the game is a treat, but it can quickly get overwhelming Print and paper quality are high, ensuring individual elements feel great in-hand. The art is stunning and the aesthetics of the world are quickly established. Be ready, though, with your favorite organizational system of choice, or be prepared for a long and messy sorting period.

What makes Gloomhaven shine is the collection of individual jewel case sized cardboard boxes and corresponding sealed miniatures. Each box contains a unique character with a complete deck of abilities and a small backstory. Certain characters can only be unlocked with the completion of certain objectives, adding a reward element to campaign progress. The miniatures accompanying each character are beautiful and would be a fun canvas for any miniature painter.

Player-characters take on the role of adventurers whose deeds will alter the course of life in the city of Gloomhaven, for better or worse. Each character has both a long-term personal goal, randomly selected at the start of the campaign, as well as an individual goal for each quest, also selected at random. Characters have encounters, earn experience, collect gold, and level up while pursuing their objective, often fighting quite a lot of monsters along the way.

Gloomhaven feels like a world, and makes sophisticated use of branching non-linear narrative paths. This, in turn, gives it an almost sandbox feel, an impressive feat for a board game. This is great for players who value agency in their game experience, but may Gloomhaven Scoundrel (Cephalofair Games)frustrate or overwhelm those who prefer a singular, cohesive narrative, such as the ones available in Near and Far. Each successive quest opens up multiple options of where and how to continue the adventure, leaving players to decide for themselves. Care should be taken in selecting the next adventure, however, as some are meant to be tackled at a higher level than that at which they are initially made available and failure is possible.

Mechanically, Gloomhaven is intense, especially on a first playthrough. There are a number of fantastic explanatory videos, but they’re forced to cover a lot of ground and, as such, can be lengthy. It may be advisable to select a designated gamekeeper, someone who volunteers to watch, learn, and understand the rules and mechanics ahead of time and who agrees to teach fellow gamers as play occurs. Once acclimated to the system, however, it quickly becomes intuitive, increasing the ease and speed of play.

Among the game’s greatest achievements is the support for a variety of play styles. Each character has been carefully designed to encourage different tactics and techniques, meaning that no matter how you like to adventure, there’s a character for you. Likewise, Gloomhaven leaves itself open for players to inject as much or as little life into characters as they see fit. It’s possible to play as a straight board game and have a wonderful experience, or instead as a kind of facilitated tabletop RPG; it comes down to which style suits your group’s tastes best.

A word of warning, however: Gloomhaven is not for your group into light, casual games. While hardcore board game fans will find no end of delights in the title, more casual gamers quickly become frustrated. Managing your resource pool during dungeon encounters and coordinating with other players is imperative and having a player who’s checked out will only serve to frustrate the rest of the table. Likewise, the initial complexity makes Gloomhaven a poor fit for younger players or those who have difficulty with sustained attention spans. It also bears mention that the game requires no small amount of space; a standard card table and TV tray barely fit the required contents and left no room for food or drink. This is the kind of game that calls out for a dining room table to be fully-experienced.

Gloomhaven Layout (Cephalofair Games)Likewise, Gloomhaven is not an insignificant investment. The current list price of $140.00 is steeper than your average game, but well justified by the quantity and quality of goods contained within. Additional optional accessories, such as removable map stickers, may facilitate a more enjoyable experience, but are by no means essential. Gloomhaven also has an expansion for new scenarios following the conclusion of its main campaign, as well as a set of solo adventures.

For dedicated gamers looking for a mix of interesting mechanics, great worldbuilding, and engaging storytelling, Gloomhaven is hard to beat. While younger and more casual gamers may struggle, and a rules refresh may be merited if you’re planning to take significant time away, this is the perfect title for those who enjoy Dungeons and Dragons or other mechanically dense fantasy games.

Review 0
9.1 TGG SCORE
0 VISITORS' SCORE (0 votes)
Summary
For dedicated gamers looking for a mix of interesting mechanics, great worldbuilding, and engaging storytelling, Gloomhaven is hard to beat. While younger and more casual gamers may struggle, and a rules refresh may be merited if you’re planning to take significant time away, this is the perfect title for those who enjoy D&D or other mechanically dense fantasy games.
REVIEW SCORE
What people say... Leave your rating
Sort by:

Be the first to leave a review.

User Avatar
Verified

Show more
{{ pageNumber+1 }}
Leave your rating

Sami Yuhas
TGG SCORE - 9.1

9.1

For dedicated gamers looking for a mix of interesting mechanics, great worldbuilding, and engaging storytelling, Gloomhaven is hard to beat. While younger and more casual gamers may struggle, and a rules refresh may be merited if you’re planning to take significant time away, this is the perfect title for those who enjoy D&D or other mechanically dense fantasy games.

User Rating: Be the first one !

Share This Post

You Might Also Enjoy...

Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar Thieves of Cold Corner feat
0
0

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    Thanks for submitting your comment!

    Our Summary

    Gloomhaven (Cephalofair Games)

    Fantasy Adventure Burning Bright: Gloomhaven Reviewed

    Gloomhaven is a smartly executed and engaging title that mixes board game mechanics with RPG style storytelling to create a one-of-a-kind player experience — just don’t expect to jump right in.
    0
    Awful