Glooooooomhaven!! We are finally getting to do a Gloomhaven episode and we are so excited! This game would top both of our lists if we allowed ourselves to compare Gloomhaven to "normal" board games, but it is far too special for that. In this episode we will tell you all about the masterpiece that is Gloomhaven and walk you through the starting 6 classes to give you a feel for how the game plays when you first start out. But first, let's look at the Flights!
What's on our Flight:
Dalton’s drinking: Woodford Reserve Rye. This came to me as a recommendation from my dad. Rye's on the whole are growing on me as a spicier cousin to bourbons, and Woodford's is a great place to start. I'm excited to try this soon in my favorite cocktail, a Manhattan!
Nelson’s drinking: Dogfish Head Brewing's Session Sour. Tart and crisp, with only 10 IBUs this is far from my normal selection for beer. So I'm branching out! If a bit grumpily, due to Meijer's limited Pick 6 options.
What's on our Mind:
Dalton tried out Tash Kalar, a 2 player game designed by one of our all-time favorites, Vlaada Chvátil. This game could be described as Go, if in Go you were able to summon monsters to fight for you alongside your pieces. A very fun game, beautiful cards, with a complex meta to offer. Highly recommend it if you are looking to expand your 2-player game collection! MEC: M - 7, E - 6.5, C - 8, Overall: 7.0
Nelson recently acquired Foodchain Magnate and it is quickly becoming a favorite! In this game you are a CEO of a fast food corporation looking to produce, market, and sell food and drinks to a neighborhood faster than your competitors. The depth of this game will keep you up at night! A great buy if you are looking to pick up higher complexity 2-4 player games. MEC: M - 10, E - 8, C - 6, Overall: 8.6
The icebreaker question for this episode was posed by Nelson:
What would you change to increase the score of one of our top rated mechanic or experience games? (You can listen to our episode on the MEC system where we describe these games here).
As a reminder:
Top Mechanics Games: Gaia Project, Terra Mystica, Terraforming Mars
Top Experience Games: Game of Thrones: The Board Game, Codenames
Dalton: Increase the experience of Gaia Project by implementing a way to take turns simultaneously to reduce downtime. Admittedly, this would probably break the game, but if it could be done the game would be perfect!
Nelson: Improve the "Wildlings" mechanic in Game of Thrones: The Board Game to make it more interactive. The mechanic in its current form feels forced ("Oh, we're making a Game of Thrones game, we need to add the Wildlings somehow...") and the players' ability to interact with the mechanic is limited.
In this episode we review the six starting classes for Gloomhaven, the number 1 board game on boardgamegeek.com. If you aren't familiar, Gloomhaven is an epic, campaign-style, fantasy/adventure dungeon crawler. Your party starts in the town of Gloomhaven and accepts missions that are described for you in a scenario book. The missions are cooperative and your party progresses through the story of the game together based on the choices you make. Purchasing the base game is a fantastic way to start weekly get-togethers with close friends that will have you laughing and on the edge of your seat!
Additionally, the followup, stand-alone sequel to Gloomhaven, Frosthaven opened on Kickstarter the week this episode aired! Either game will bring you hours of entertainment that cannot be recommended highly enough. This week, we are discussing the starting characters for the original game, Gloomhaven.
In Gloomhaven, templates are provided for the characters you play, with some customization available for you to make the character your own. Players choose a character, give them a name, and draw a "Personal Quest" that provides context to why the character is driven to adventuring. Players bring a selection of cards and abilities ("Perks") that are designed to be unique to each character. We are discussing the six available starting characters, their strengths and weaknesses, and giving you a feeling for what you will enjoy playing and the challenges you will run in to when starting to play. For starters, here is a table of character statistics for you to reference as you listen through the episode:
Additionally, you will here us reference "trashing" cards from your hand while playing. For reference, this table describes how many turns remain for you in this scenario based on the number of cards left in your hand (not counting rests):
Okay, now that you are overwhelmed with data, let us get started on the characters!
Discussion starts at 28:54 in the podcast
The Mindthief functions as the assassin / magical-rogue in the party. He excels at single target damage, has access to invisibility, and can incapacitate enemies with stun and immobilize abilities. The Mindthief has a unique set of "Augmentation"cards, used to temporarily increase his one of his abilities. This allows the Mindthief to be agile within changing situations and scenarios, though generally you will find that one or two of the augments are significantly stronger than the others. Enjoy supporting your party by sneaking in to the enemy back-line and taking out enemy archers or stunning a major threat until he is stabbed to death with your sneaky little Vermling!
Discussion starts at 40:24 in the podcast
The Brute is your standard tanky character. He is made to soak up damage and deal it back while protecting the vulnerable members of the party. Access to "Shield" allows this character to reduce incoming damage and increase his own longevity. Combined with his high inherent health, the survivability of this character is very high. The Brute is complex in decision but simple in execution, making him approachable to begging players yet rewarding when played well. We believe every party starting should consider bringing a Brute for the survivability he offers to the party and the strategies he opens up to the more vulnerable characters who are susceptible to enemy engagement.
Discussion starts at 49:59 in the podcast
The Tinkerer is your primary support character. With access to healing cards, ally buffs, and crazy traps, this nutty little Quatryl looks to stay safe and let his allies do the heavy lifting. The ability to lay traps is fairly unique in the game and allows a clever player to wall off advancing enemies or set up a strong combination using allied "Push" abilities. The Tinkerer does best on a crowded battlefield where enemies have trouble getting to him, where his use of traps is more potent, and where there are more allies for him to support. He will struggle in a 2-player party where he is more vulnerable and the benefits of his support are less critical. In 4-player parties, however, the Tinkerer is a strong addition to the group (though, personally, not Nelson's favorite to play!).
Discussion starts at 59:45 in the podcast
Ask yourself this question: Do you prefer slugging out one giant enemy, or wiping out small armies with fire and brimstone? If you answered the later, the Spellweaver is the class for you! This magic-wielding Orchid specializes in multi-target and area-of-effect attacks that are devastating to minion mobs (damn you, Oozes!). The Spellweaver is fragile, but quick moving, and can win missions if properly supported. Frequent use of her heavy hitting cards will have her rapidly gaining experience to reach her stronger, higher level cards. It cannot be understated how fun this character is to play, especially when your party thanks you for saving them from certain doom. Be clever in positioning, smart with powerful cards, and the Spellweaver will generate many Victories!
Discussion starts at 1:09:40 in the podcast
The Scoundrel is your go-to rouge/assassin. Second to none in single target damage, this character can take down large threats like they were never there. The Scoundrel draws its power from being alongside allies, so a friendly Brute on the front lines will do wonders for your damage potential. With a low hand count and only medium health though, the survivability of this character is low, especially considering his desire to be on the front lines. Use your high mobility and crazy high initiative to dart in and out of combat, setting up combinations for killing blows. This is a higher complexity character that is both fun and rewarding when executed well! Enjoy saving your party from the troubles of boss fights!
Discussion starts at 1:21:09 in the podcast
FINALLY, we have the Savvas Cragheart! Both of us chose the Cragheart as our character in our first party and absolutely love playing this stony Savvas to this day.
The Cragheart is a true Jack of All Trades, Master of None character. Looking across his stats, he can play most any roll the party needs. Tank, support, multi-target and single-target damage both, the Cragheart can wear any hat, but you will be able to tell it was not made for his head. Without access to shield, the Cragheart struggles to play a tank character well, his access to medium support and damage will not have him winning scenarios alone, and his slow movement means he lacks alpha-strike capability when needed. However, his unique access to terrain altering cards, quirky damage effects, and well-rounded design make him an exciting lone-wolf and flexible support character to play. The phrase you will hear most while playing a Cragheart: "You can do that?!"
Listen to the remainder of the episode (starting at 1:28:27) to hear our discussion on strategy tips and successful party compositions. Hope you enjoy! Cheers!