Gloomhaven Characters: Sawbones (Spoilers)

Gloomhaven Characters: Sawbones (Spoilers)

Woo, new character time for me. I unlocked this one and have been playing it at Level 5 and am now Level 6.

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

Let me start out by saying when I was going for a retirement goal this is the one that made the most sense for the Soothsinger that I was playing previously. It also looked, from the symbol, like it could have been a more combat focused character. It was disappointing when I opened it up and found out that it was yet another support character as I’ve played the Tinkerer, Soothsinger, and now Sawbones who have all been more support focused characters.

But before we get into my build for the character and how they actually play, let’s talk about what they are built for. The Sawbones refers to the fact that they would have been a field medic prior to becoming an adventurer. They have a lot of healing cards, but if you think about it, a lot of medical practices could also be to cause a fair amount of damage. There’s a lot of focus on healing on the cards then with some damage on them, or cards that do large amounts of damage. This character also hands out a lot of tokens as well, so they are heavy on wounds but also immobilizing, stun, poison, or even muddle.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

I think the standard build for this character would focus on healing. There are nice ways to boost that, and there are quite a number of cards that give you XP for handing out healing. They also have an interesting concept that allows you to keep your fellow adventurers alive and that is by handing out med packs. These are cards that go into your allies hands and don’t count against their total card count. So a character with fewer cards you could theoretically help keep alive. These cards also have some solid healing on them which is nice as well. The downside is that you have to be next to the other players when you are doing this. Being a Sawbones, though, means that you aren’t too soft a character and you can soak some damage. However, your healing works better on others.

Now, I wanted to play this as more of a combat build, however, when i started with that, I found out it didn’t work as well. There was some possibility for it, because you have some nice damage cards, but your best damage cards are the ones that end up getting put to the trash instead of the discard pile. But when I was able to do 14 damage on the first turn (out of 45) to a Drake, that was awesome. However, if you make it too combat focused, you aren’t going to be an extremely effective character as you limit yourself in what you can really do on a turn. I’ve actually gone fairly item heavy in hopes of being able to support more damage that way. Having a base 3 attack versus a base 2 attack thus far is the best thing that I’ve come up with for that.

The biggest thing that makes this character solid is the ability to move around the battlefield. With the deck that I’ve put together, I can most more than the base two on a good number of the cards. I have a several move four cards and a move five as well. This is a piece that I do like quite well, because the Soothsinger had a few cards that would allow it move around the battlefield, but only two or maybe three that I had in the deck. The Sawbones, thematically, makes sense to have that ability and it comes through on the cards. This, however, does come at the cost of speed from the cards, I have a couple of fast cards, but after playing the Soothsinger who was basically always first to go, the Sawbones will sometimes go after the enemies which is a bit of a weird feeling.

This character was a bit of a disappointment for me when I started playing it, because, like I said, I wanted someone who was more combat focused. That said, I’ve come to enjoy it at this point, though I do hope my next character (and I’ll probably make it be) will be more combat focused. It’s a solid balance of combat and healing, and with a few powers, one that burns a card but I can just kill a regular or elite monster or now another one that will allow me to kill a regular monster as long as they have two negative effects on them, that’s going to make me much more viable in combat. It’s interesting to see how you can use characters who seem to be more focused on healing for good amounts of damage and I hope as I continue to level up the Sawbones that I’ll be able to play them with more of a combat focus.

Complexity: Medium
Combat: Medium
Support: Medium/High

Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!

Email us at
Follow us on Twitter at @NerdologistCast
Message me directly on Twitter at @TheScando
Visit us on Facebook here.


1 thought on “Gloomhaven Characters: Sawbones (Spoilers)”