This post contains spoilers for the first two scenarios of Gloomhaven, a road event (#13), a city event (#22), character creation and a random side mission (#63).
Considering the strong legacy part of this board game you should be aware, that through reading this article, you could spoil yourself some of the fun, if you plan to play this game yourself in the future.
We started the game with three players and we choose the Spellweaver (similar to a wizard), the Brute (a warrior) and the Tinkerer (a gadgeteer) for our first characters. Character creation is pretty easy compared to pen-&-paper roleplaying games. Besides picking your class you have to draw two random cards, from which you choose one for your characters personal quest. This personal quest affects your play style and sets the end for his career. After achieving their biggest goals, the characters retire and settle down in the city of Gloomhaven. After that you get some money to go on a shopping spree in the city of Gloomhaven.
I bought a copy of the games first edition without the miniatures. When the second Kickstarter was live I backed an “expansion package” to get the miniatures and some updates to the rules and cards. As my package didn’t arrive yet, we have to settle for the cardboard standees for the time being.
Like in every good RPG there is a bunch of equipment you can choose from. I bought the Eagle-Eye Goggles with my gold. It enables me to get an advantage on my attacks (I can choose the better combat modifier card when attacking). Through progression in the main story the prosperity of the town rises and new equipment begins to show up in the adventuring store.
You could go for a defensive build and invest into a shield, armor and some potions. On the other hand, the same character could become a more aggressive version of itself through different equipment choices. In combination with the advancement of the character through experience points, you have a lot of options in one and the same character class.
For now I’m really happy with my choice (the Tinkerer). He seems to be very versatile and you can change your play style even during a scenario if something doesn’t go according to the plan. I like that in my characters. Of course he is not as tacky as the Brute and he doesn’t have the damage output of the Spellweaver, but you can’t have everything, right?
The Road to Mission 1
Let’s jump into the game: We are just some mercenaries sitting around in a bar enjoying our beer, when a “lady in red” is addressing us with an interesting job offer. We should get back some documents stolen by a group of bandits. Well that doesn’t sound too hard.
But not so fast: While hanging around in the city of Gloomhaven, the party can decide to be confronted with one random City event. This is optional as opposed to the inevitable Road Events happening to us when we travel to our next adventuring site (usually a dungeon).
This event system is a great way to mix things up. You never know what happens on the way to your goal and while the reputation we got in the city was a nice bonus, the curses got us on the wrong foot. Considering that this is a board game, the world feels really alive through these nice details and I can’t wait to see what other events are in the mix (as you can see by the torn card symbol on the events, we will not come across these two event cards ever again).
Head into the action!
After the road event we arrive at the bandits hideout. Time to head into the first mission. In the scenarios the enemies use their own deck of cards and special rules when they act against our party. After some skepticism at the beginning I have to say this works out pretty good. It feels really alive and you get on the edge of your seat when the success of the mission is in jeopardy.
In the first scenario we have to punch our way through three rooms to take out all the bandits, just to find out, that their leader is hiding somewhere else with the documents we are searching for. While the battle is raging we even find some time to open a chest, which contains a map to a random side quest (see “Loot” below). But we decide to stick with our original mission and go on to mission two.
While playing the second mission we slowly found out, that we misunderstood some parts of the rules and made some pretty big mistakes (see “The mistakes we made” below). So after one failed attempt, we decided to make another run against the Bandit Commander. This time we are succesful and the game feels even more “smooth”.
The Bandit Commander was talking about something called “The Gloom”, but we never heard of anything like that. After his death we find a box with the documents we were searching for. Our curiosity gets the better of us and we can’t resist taking a tiny look into the documents. The language is unfamiliar to us, but it seems that “The Gloom” is a concept or being mentioned over and over again. We even find a map with a “point of interest” (guiding us to mission #4, the “Crypt of the Damned”). Maybe this will be our next station. But first we should go back to Gloomhaven to get our promised reward.
Our employer takes the documents and pays us our agreed upon amount of gold. She is also telling us about the trouble she is having with some “Inox” raiders (one of the species in Gloomhaven), who are ambushing her caravans. She offers us another job: We should pay this “Inox Encampment” (scenario #3) a visit.
We haven’t yet decided which scenario we will try next. Right now it’s possible to go to scenario #3, #4 or even #63 (see “Loot” below) next. But whichever it will be. You can read about it right here on NerdWords.
Besides gold and experience points we found a chest containing a random side mission. The “Magma Pit” (scenario #63) in the Watcher Mountains sounds like a inhospitable place, but we could surely find some treasures there. These side missions bring a lot of options into the game. Now our party can choose between three missions!
The mistakes we made
Well… to be honest: the rulebook isn’t the best part of the game. It’s not that it’s not nice to look at or that it doesn’t have everything you need to play the game inside its pages. It’s just badly organized. A lot of people have the same problems with the rules in their first few rounds of playing. You can find a good overview of common mistakes and easy to miss rules here.
We even used the wrong combat modifier decks for our characters after creating them at the beginning. This resulted in some really interesting (and weird) combat situations, in which we generated a lot of crazy special effects, but nearly no damage at all.
I think all in all this is still not too big of a problem. You just need to invest a little extra time in searching the rulebook (or the internet) and you will be fine.
Conclusion after two Missions
We had a lot of fun with the set-up and the first two missions and we will come back for some more action, slaughtering and LOOT! It’s a great game with interesting new mechanics.
What about you? Do you think about getting the game? How did you like the first two missions? Did you have some trouble finding the rules for certain situations, too? Let’s talk about it in the comments!