Haupz Blog

... still a totally disordered mix


2022-03-20 — Michael Haupt

A while back, I finally played my first round of Gloomhaven. My son, one of his buddies, and myself have decided to go through this together, and have founded a game group - we'll meet more or less regularly to play the game in campaign mode. Given the game's complexity and sheer size of the storyboard, we should be done when the boys enter their twenties in 6 years.

Gloomhaven is massive. The box weighs 10 kg, there's a vast amount of material. The rule book is 50 pages, complex but not complicated, well structured and presented, and we'll consult it frequently for the time being. The scenario book is equally well done, and the 95 different scenarios should keep us entertained for a while (see above). What's nice is that certain character classes and other materials in the box are currently still sealed and will only become available once we'll have made certain achievements.

Characters don't die, but they retire once they've fulfilled a "life goal", and then a new character has to be created who might change the dynamics quite a bit - a nice concept.

First, we built our characters. I ended up playing a tinkerer; my son, a spellweaver; and his buddy, a plain ol' barbarian (muscle is needed).

We then set out to make our way from the valiant city of Gloomhaven to the first scenario. What's cool about the game is that, in campaign mode, being in the city and on the road are part of the adventure. In the city, we bought some equipment, and saved one person from being hanged by the mob. On the road, we encountered a band of barbarian waylayers and foolishly decided to brawl with them. That didn't end well - we arrived at the first scenario with "reduced health". Too bad.

Our stupidity "paid off": my character didn't even get to making his first move before being incapacitated by the first wave of monsters. The boys stood their ground, defeated said monsters and then some, but eventually didn't succeed in finishing the scenario. We continued to play the next day, making our way back to the city to hopefully improve our general well-being. We eventually succeeded at the first scenario after lowering the difficulty level (general advice: that's a good idea especially for the first scenario).

Some final words about the game mechanics. It's very well done. Some games of this sort require one player to represent the monsters. Not so here; the monsters are fully programmed, their movements, how they focus on the player characters, and aggression follow a certain algorithm that's all written down in the rules and gets some variation from activity cards. What's also nice is the dynamics of each round: there is no fixed order in which characters and monsters make their moves; this is determined at the beginning of each round, also by drawing cards from the action deck.

After some more rounds and scenarios with the game, I'm very happy we finally got started, and pleased with how the game feels. This is going to be fun.

Tags: games