I said that I was going to come back to Gloomhaven at some point in time, the first two parts were from when we had started playing the game, now we are a ways in, so I wanted to come back to it as the game is a monster and I was curious to know how it would hold up over time. I also wanted to give people an idea if this game was going to be worth their investment, both time and money.
I don’t think my opinion of the game has changed much really. I find it a fantastic game still, so let’s get that out of the way. The staying power of the game is really good, and we’ve gotten to open two new things in a box from when we started until when we played last night. And that is okay, because you get to like your character that you are playing, and you want to get to their higher level abilities. The story is still cool and the monsters change from section to section as you find out crazy things that are happening.
Let’s talk about some things that I want to call out from what I’ve noticed in the game:
We get rules wrong once in a while. We messed up big time at one point picking the correct level for the mission. That math isn’t tricky, it just isn’t what you’d think it would be immediately. I’m sure we’ve messed up rules with how certain effects work from time to time. However, when we mess something up, we tend to mess it up for both ourselves and the monsters and when we mess up a rule, so it isn’t like we’re giving ourselves an advantage.
Leveling up is simple and fun. There’s honestly not much more than swapping in new combat cards and getting a few more hit points. That is, however, plenty, because what you really care about is adding in those new combat cards. I went from having a few cards that did a little bit of damage and a contraption that I could toss out that could soak up damage to having a contraption that can attack, an auto turret firing arrows on my back, and a death ray. Everyone else has found new cool things as they’ve leveled up as well, and looking forward to leveling up and watching those XP climb is exciting, because you want to get to that next spot and to that next card.
We’ve also had our first character retire. Retirement is a little bit bittersweet from what I can tell, and I’ll be likely retiring my character next week. The reason for that is that you’ve grown attached to your character, you know what they can do and how you want to play them. At the same time, it is exciting, because you get to play a new character. I believe that most of the retirement conditions allow you to open up a new character box, but you also have the original characters as well that you can play. That’s one of the things we’ve gotten to open as well as the town records which has led to some interesting discoveries about the world that we’re playing in.
Another thing that I’ve enjoyed is that Gloomhaven gives you a chance to have absolutely epic moments. In the case of my character, I go through a lot of cards where I can play them once and they do something great, but then they are gone for that scenario. That means that I’m working on a pretty tight timeline for what I can do. I like the ticking clock that you have over you, but that means sometimes I don’t make it to the end of the scenario. So if I’m smart about it, I have a card or two saved for the last room, the toughest part to do something epic. In the case of last night, we were facing off against a large demon. It had 36 HP, and I had three turns left before I’d be exhausted. Instead of doing a little damage and trying to keep up with the action with lasting as long as possible, I decided to “burn” my cards so they would be used up for the scenario and ended up doing 17 damage to the demon in a single turn. So I, in a single turn, nearly did half the damage to the monster and left it greatly weakened for the rest of the players. We’ve had a number of those moments where someone has rushed in and killed half the enemies in the room in one fell swoop or thrown rocks at an enemy dealing them damage. There are a ton of cool moments that you can have in Gloomhaven.
I do want to offer a piece of advice as well. Gloomhaven is an investment to start out with, like a big investment. While it’s definitely worth the money, it’s probably worth it to invest even more into it. Now, I’m not just talking about the expansion that is being worked on, what I’m really talking about is a box insert. While my system isn’t bad and it makes set-up a whole lot faster and easier than it would be without the envelopes that I’ve used, I’m moving three boxes, the big box, a tackle box, and a shoe box full of monster envelopes out every time that we play. If it were to fit in one box neatly or even if it fit in one box with the lid slightly higher than it should be, that would be great and make it so much easier to move. Now that I’ve already sorted mine this way and spent a little bit of money on envelopes, I don’t feel like re-sorting it and spending more money, however, if you haven’t yet, I’d get an insert for the game, you’ll appreciate it. Broken token has a very nice one that I’ve heard nothing but good things about.
So clearly I’m still loving the game. I don’t see myself getting bored of it, and I’m already planning on getting the expansion when it comes out. Gloomhaven is very much worth the money investment and the time investment. If you can find a couple of other people to play it with weekly or bi-weekly, you are going to have a blast.
Overall Grade: A+
Gamer Grade: A+
Casual Grade: B
So just a tiny bit on the casual grade. B is still a very good grade, however, there is a fair amount of complexity to the game and to combat, and while I do think that my wife, who is more of a casual gamer, would be able to get it figured out after a few times, it does have a steeper learning curve and is a heavier weight game than a lot of casual games were want to jump into.
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