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Gloomhaven


therearerules
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I finally started playing this and sunk abut 12 hours in over the last week. It's tough to get started on account of there being so much stuff all over the table. After a single session I chucked half of it back in the box and switched to using Gloomhaven Helper and Gloomhaven Campaign Tracker apps (the first is free if run in a browser, the second is free). They massively speed up the game in a good way and give you a great visual indicator of the stuff you're trying to hold in your head while you argue/look up rules for 15 mins between turns. It's a huge improvement and I really recommend it.

 

The game itself is great. It really, really reminds me of Divinity Original Sin I and II, to the point where I'm using those rules to make assumptions about Gloomhaven and finding it right most of the time. The hardest rules to absorb are probably enemy movement and line of sight, but after muddling through for a few hours you'll figure out your own brain-shorthand for it. There's a really good app for calculating line of sight, focus and movement here: https://gloom.aluminumangel.org/

 

I left the box on the shelf for a year as I found the contents so overwhelming. I really recommend simply getting stuck in, bumble through it slowly with some music on. Watch the Gaming Rules videos for how to play and get started.

 

The game recommends that if you're playing solo, to bump the difficulty up one notch in order to account for your open-hand playing. E.g. you know exactly who will have initiative and who will be performing which spells when because you're controlling every character! However while I was learning the rules I actually bumped it down a level and found that a much better fit for getting my feet wet.

 

The main tips I can give you are:

 

  • Enemies don't move or attack unless their card explicitly says so. 
  • Enemies move the minimum of spaces required to hit their target. 
  • Enemies target the person the fewest number of hexes away, in a tie they target the person nearest as the crow flies. If it's still tied they target the person with the lowest initiative. If it's still tied, they target the person who went (or will go) first (initiative ties are decided by the group).
  • The only thing that breaks line of sight is walls. If you can draw a straight line from any corner of a hex to any corner of another hex without hitting a wall, you have line of sight.
  • Don't don't don't don't burn through all your cards which go into your lost pile (versus your discard pile) until you absolutely have to. You should mostly ignore the abilities which require you to lose the card, and use the alternative ability on the card or use the generic move 2/attack 2 instead. In my first game I equated these powerful abilities to source spells in Divinity or general ultimate abilities and expected to pick them all back up at some point. Nope! Save these for the real do or die moments as you won't get them back until the next scenario. As every card can also be used for move or attack, the more cards you lose the fewer options you have each turn and the more often you have to rest (which also requires you to lose a card!) There are ways to recover lost cards later on, but not at the start.
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  • 6 months later...

I'm in a group of four who started a campaign back in October, and we stopped playing for obvious reasons in March. This week we got around a table again for our first game in nearly six months. It was great! Although I was unsure if we'd all be a little rusty after such a long hiatus, so we dropped the difficulty down to easy mode for a change. That was probably unecessary as we breezed through the scenario despite my brother spending 90% of the time far away from any of the monsters, hoovering up all the coins we were creating as we slaughtered our way through a sewer.

 

My stats tell me that was our 20th game, and while we've won most of those, it still feels like we've accomplished very little in terms of overall progression. One of us is nearing their retirement goal, but the rest of us aren't anywhere close yet. I'm wondering when we start slapping achievements down on the map. Perhaps we've been jumping around the map a bit too much, not focusing on any one particular storyline. We're all still having fun though, and I've just reached level 5 which means another awesome card to add to my Spellweaver's pool.

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Some of the retirements are much quicker to achieve than others - one of my first ones required a certain level of enhancement which in turn required a certain level of town development, which all took ages.    

Glad I'm not the only one to have kept records!

I do think Gloomhaven is one of the easier big games to get back into after a break because the game play loop and enemy AI are both simple.

 

My major regret is that I didn't implement a risk of ambush mechanism to compensate for a house rule "cheat" - the percentage increasing the further from town the scenario is.  The reasoning being that all RPGs let you rest before tackling dungeons, and if you pick up a crippling effect from a road card (like 3 fewer cards on a stamina test)  it's a simply a waste of time to attempt the scenario.  So maybe you rest up, roll a die and if unlucky have to play through one of the random rooms - get through that and good to go again (or keep any conditions, dunno).  Maybe I could have kept more kill stats too (like you often get for party based RPGs, but obviously they are often a team effort).

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21 hours ago, Pelekophoros said:

*looks at unopened expansion on shelf*

 

...ah...

 

If you have access to a commercial printer you can print the replacement cards off. If not, its a couple of hours job with sticky white labels.  There are also a few errata in the scenario book so screw the eyes up to deal with those.

 

I've got it and will probably play through once when the FH timing gets clearer.

 

In the mean time Jaws of the Lion lands in 10 days...........

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  • 3 weeks later...

Anyone playing Jaws of the lion? It's great! It has loads of quality of life improvements over Gloomhaven (the fuckin' bits fit in the fuckin' box lads) and it teaches the game really well. 

 

The first five scenarios slowly layer mechanics in a way that makes it seem vital for teaching, and taught me a few things I'd gotten wrong in the core game.

 

I really recommend it, especially if you're solo and you want to learn the game from scratch. 

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I haven’t played Gloomhaven proper, but there’s plenty going on in Jaws for me, being used to some fairly complicated games like Folklore. Combat focussed dungeon crawling  with legacy choose your own adventure stuff thrown in. Very neat card based fighting with some nice synergies between abilities, particularly with the elemental system. I’m not using those nearly enough at the moment so there’s plenty to get your head around in terms of strategies. And your own hand of cards being the game’s ‘threat timer’ is very clever. It’s good.

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Definitely not too dumbed down. By the time you get to scenario 6 it’s standard gloomhaven pretty much. The characters and enemies don’t have reduced movesets, there are basic versions which get phased out after the first couple of scenarios. 

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Jaws of the Lion is really clever.  They have put a lot of thought into providing "stabilisers" for the first 3 scenarios, using a reduced deck of cards and clearly explaining each one.  In the first scenario, the monsters only move and attack at par, they don't use their own decks.  New features are introduced and then the wheels come off in #4 and you are straight away into a stamina scenario because there is a lot of monster HP to chew through.  Scenario #5 is a boss to introduce these, and thereafter its standard Gloomhaven.

 

A couple of things stand out for me:

 

  • All cards have been laminated to a higher degree which makes them more slippery but longer lasting;
  • The private scenario goals are more sophisticated; and most importantly
  • The new classes are sufficiently sophisticated to invest in and keep - this was my biggest concern.  It would have been simple to have provided 4 cliched fantasy tropes with slightly different names and decks, but these are much more interesting.  You have a looter which isn't a thief type and which uses the focus ability of one of the original characters, a crazy quatryl who likes banging heads against walls, a spiky red devil ("Cantona") who wades into trouble and a "healer" who isn't a healer at all on closer examination.   Top stuff.

 

It really is Gloomhaven in complete miniature other than enhancement.

 

If you are still unsure, if you buy it and don't place any stickers until you have worked through the training scenarios, then you can sell it on.

 

If you bag up as suggested I'm not sure it all fits back neatly into the box, but that doesn't really matter to me.

 

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Thanks for taking the time to write that out! It's all bang on.

 

It does fit back in the box, you just have to layer the baggies on top of each other rotating 90 degrees each time to maximise space.

 

The initiative tokens are a a good addition that stop you having to use the app to remember what on earth is going on as you're learning. The rulebook is much better too.

 

The new classes are modular and can be brought into Gloomhaven proper. You can't bring an actual character across - you have to start with a fresh sheet.

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Oh yes, I'm sure it fits in, its just I prefer to leave the monsters in a different container between sessions.

 

I don't use the initiative bars since I place the cards played in initiative order across the table, simples (miss my binned off LP mailer trays though :().

 

I should have mentioned the use of the booklet replacing bland and bulky tile sets as a big plus - no more fiddling with door and obstruction hexes.

 

Much smarter all round basically, and the bonus of classes you may well want to retain for later use (I'm assuming the only thing one will want to carry forward into Frosthaven will be character tuck boxes and the maps as a record of one's campaigns to date).

 

Win win.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So would you say that JooL is recommended for a very experienced Gloomhaven group? I'm just wondering if it's more of the same (albeit more refined) but ultimately the story is similar. Or would you say the whole experience is different enough? 

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10 hours ago, Jamin said:

So would you say that JooL is recommended for a very experienced Gloomhaven group? I'm just wondering if it's more of the same (albeit more refined) but ultimately the story is similar. Or would you say the whole experience is different enough? 

 

It's worth a look for sure -

 

  • It's not Gloomhaven lite in the sense that the scenarios after the stabilisers are removed are as meaty as any in the big box.  
  • Deducting the introductory scenarios and a few either / or choices you probably have around 16 classic Gloomhaven scenarios to complete.
  • You level up more quickly in this and you will probably want to keep playing if you hit level 5.....
  • The characters are interesting and their benefits are often highly contextual - I would say they can be more tricky to play than the starting characters in the big box. 
  • The campaign story is mediocre, but you don't come to Gloomhaven for story do you?  
  • Adding the stickers to the town map is rather satisfying.

 

 It's entirely detached from the GH campaign and uses the neater book format, but ultimately its more of the same.  

 

In short would recommend if you really like the Gloomhaven core gameplay and would be interested in obtaining 4 new characters to fold back into the big box or forward into Frosthaven. 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finished up Jaws of the Lion with an intense burst over the weekend.  The highlights are definitely the higher numbered scenarios, some of which should leave you grinning from jaw to jaw.   Not changed overall conclusions - a nice addition to the universe for experienced players and a good way to introduce the game / onboard others.  However there is definitely accelerated character progress compared to the big box.  My Blade was also the luckiest dude there is, achieving huge dps with crits, and he also ended with exactly 500 xp (the start of level 9).  We also collected 472 surplus gold which will be used for enhancements.

 

I'll schedule Forgotten Circles for the spring or summer - then, joy of joys, to junk all those bulky, clumsy and bland floor tiles.

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  • 3 months later...

Finished up Forgotten Circles with an intense week of playing.  Interesting to see how the gameplay has evolved from the base game.  I will spoiler just to be sure

 

Spoiler

Some changes introduced in this expansion

 

Hybrid enemies which draw cards from two enemy type decks

The boss has his own card deck, and, most interestingly, this deck reflects your actions in the campaign.

Only the first room of the scenario is shown which is for the better in terms of surprise - sometimes you realise the objective is a red herring or there are different outcomes to the scenario depending on the route taken.

Nice variety in scenario.

Book is suboptimal since you are forever thumbing backward and forward -  this was improved for JoL and is being addressed for Frosthaven.

 

All in all its a decent addition which you can pick up cheaply if you are prepared to make the many corrections (not sure when the 2nd edition is due in retail), but not essential.  The new character class is interesting and subtle (you have to include her and she must always survive).  At least the various "exchange position " abilities have been rationalised as teleporting (these are sooooo OP for puzzle solving).  Story is meh as ever.   Best thing is probably that there different ways to complete  any of the scenarios and I didn't get some of the most powerful new items.  However, my team of Sunkeeper, Blade and Diviner made reasonably short work of the Boss.

 

Spoiler photo of boss battle - note boots of magma wading.  

Spoiler

IMG_2394.thumb.jpeg.4ab1150ea2c876e9f30215eda1c83aa1.jpeg

 

So, yeah, it's been an incredible experience overall.  I waited 6 months after paying for it and finally got it in January 2018.    I spent a weekend making my propriety LP mailer character organisers (much missed as you can see from the mess on the table above).  I had a look at how the scenarios unlocked.  Finally it was time to play the first scenario and the Gloomy Gooners set out - Harry the stainless steel rat (mind thief), Finch the tinkerer, Jutson the brute and Demetria the spell weaver.  I had allocated suitable career goals to each, not realising that the one for the mindweaver required the town to be at a much higher level, whereas all Harry had to do was make some poison or something.  Anyway, off we went and of course we failed dismally!  Lessons had to be learned quickly by this group of misfits.  

 

And they were, and by their successors too.  The town thrived, in truth nothing very exciting happened at all, and nothing we did made much difference one way or another, but new and much more interesting characters joined the band and wove their skills around each other.  We teleported! We summoned! We rode some bear thing around!    Some upstarts from the pub had their time in the sun too before the old guard regathered to put an end to the Corruption for once and all.  Buffy and her relatives were exhausted and packed their bags - "if the next thing up is "an expedition to the North" we're outta here".  A statue has been erected in their honour.

 

THE END

 

 

 

I've kept a few souvenirs and the character tuck boxes and miniatures (except for the Sunkeeper retired) for carrying forward into Frosthaven.  Everything else junked or recycled.  A whole shelf freed up!

 

Finally

 

Like all legacy games

 

Spoiler

Don't forget to check below the inset.  However,

Spoiler

Not great - I had unlocked this anyway.

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’ve been doing a little bit of solo Jaws Of The Lion just to see how it all worked — quite fun now I’ve started using GH to help track stuff. Enjoying Hatchet and Voidwarden a lot. 
 

Scenario 4 is killing me though — the first attempt I realised I’d set the level too high on GH, and then second go I just couldn’t make my cards last long enough. Eek. 
 

Might have a deep re-read of the rules just to make sure I’m not screwing my self through errors. 

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Reassuring that there wasn’t an immediate ‘there’s no way that scenario should cause stress’. 
 

Really enjoying it though — hoping I can convince my board game buddies that it’s not too dense after we’ve continued Pandemic Season 2!

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Despite how it looks Gloomhaven isn't particularly complicated, there's just a lot of it.  I like simple games so I'd convinced myself it wasn't for me but Jaws showed me that actually, all of its systems are straight forward in the way they work, it's just that there are a fuckload of them.  It's a case of having to be methodical in the running of it. 

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  • 1 month later...
On 23/09/2020 at 23:26, Moz said:

Anyone playing Jaws of the lion? It's great! It has loads of quality of life improvements over Gloomhaven (the fuckin' bits fit in the fuckin' box lads) and it teaches the game really well. 

 

The first five scenarios slowly layer mechanics in a way that makes it seem vital for teaching, and taught me a few things I'd gotten wrong in the core game.

 

I really recommend it, especially if you're solo and you want to learn the game from scratch. 

 

Been playing this over the last few weeks. It's really good. Can see myself going onto Gloomhaven proper once it's done.

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  • 7 months later...

I bought it thanks to @Benny’s recommendation (or rather thanks to him letting me know it was finally out of early access, as I’ve actually wanted it for a while but never buy early access games). I started with the best intentions, completed the first three tutorial missions then realised there were a total of 11 tutorial missions and admitted to myself I was quite tired and probably not in the right frame of mind! Looked/sounded nice, though! 

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