Gloomhaven is a 1-4 player dungeon crawler. Players take on the roles of heroes who hail from the town of Gloomhaven and venture out into an extremely dangerous world to uncover locations, treasure, and plot. While the theming of the game can be fairly well defined as fantasy, it shatters so many of the tropes it feels more like fantasy through the lens of Perdido Street Station than Lord of the Rings. Gloomhaven is a campaign game meant to be played by the same people over the course of several sessions but it can also be played in individual sessions if you have a group that can’t commit to that level of consistency.
It’s really hard to know where to start with a game like Gloomhaven. Let’s start with the biggest obstacle: the price. You get this behemoth of a game for $140, which at first sounds like a painful amount of cash for a board game, but it’s honestly the greatest value I’ve ever seen in one. The group I’m playing with weekly has had fifty 2-3 hour sessions and we still have a bunch of content to play through. Because of how the game is paced, and because of just how much comes in the box don’t expect to see everything for a good while without cheating a little.
Component-wise, Gloomhaven comes through again. The game has several tiles that are combined together to make the playboard characters adventure through during the course of a session. Player characters have well detailed plastic miniatures, and enemy characters are represented by high-quality chipboard standees. There are ton of tokens, playboards for each character and a unique deck of cards that make up a character’s actions during combat. These decks are fairly well customizable and represent the primary form advancement as you adventure with your character over the course of several sessions. There’s also a large world board that you’ll be placing stickers on as new areas are discovered.
And then there’s all the boxes. So many secrets held only to be revealed when a certain game event occurs, or achievement is won. Everything from new characters to secret codes that need to be assembled forming riddles to be solved. Opening a box is a big deal for our table; new characters represent unique mechanics to learn and play through, and the additional content is just fun to work through together.
There’s really a lot more that can be said regarding Gloomhaven, but honestly if you’re looking for a boardgame that operates like an RPG in a lot of ways without the need of a game master, that holds more meat than other awesome games like Mansions of Madness, Gloomhaven is worth every penny.
Designed by: Isaac Childres
Player Count: 1-4
Playtime: 60-120 minutes
Time to Learn: 15 minutes (initially, there’s learning as you go)
MSRP: $140 (don’t let this scare you)
Am I happy I bought it?: In fairness, I’m not playing with a copy I purchased but there’s no way I’d be disappointed if I had shelled out the cash for it.
Written by Brendan Quinn; President of Tri-City Area Gaming. Learn more about the 200+ annual gaming events we host by visiting http://www.tricityareagaming.com.