Adventure Time! Gloomhaven – first impressions

So I got my first game of Gloomhaven in just the other night. After ditching the kids, I hooked up with gaming group for a few hours worth of dungeon crawling. So how was the game? Can you believe the hype?

The short answer – I don’t know. I only played a game so far. I liked a lot of things in the game. It had a lot of great mechanics and cool details but the game is extremely clunky with a million cards, tokens and markers floating around. It is so busy. And I’m a bit iffy about combat based games without dice. I much prefer dice over cards to randomise stuff. All and all, I had a great time playing and I want to have another go at it.

So every player have a character – mine is the Vermling Mindthief. You get some gear and can buy more stuff to customise further. You also get a secret life goal card, that you throughout the campaign strive to fulfil. Nice touch. Finally you have a deck of action cards that you use each turn. The cards allow your character to move, attack, heal, hide and whatnot. Managing your deck is what the game is all about.

This is where you master the game. Each card have a top and bottom ability. Before a turn starts you pick two cards from you deck to use during the turn. You use the top ability from one card and the bottom ability from the other. Once used the cards are discarded but can be recovered.

I picked my deck, not knowing what role my character is supposed to fill in the party and not understanding the combos. Some cards you can use multiple times others are one time only. Understanding when to burn a card is essential I guess and something I didn’t understand at all. I should really do a bit of reading before next game …

The game began like any good 80s style RPG adventure – you’re hanging out in the tavern and out of the blue you stubble upon the opportunity for adventure. This time the party is heading cliff to the south, to Blacksmoke mountain (I can’t remember the exact name, it was very generic). Both in Gloomhaven and on the road to the mountain, we have encounters that could (but didn’t) lead to side adventures. So far pretty cool. I like the nostalgic throwback vibe.

A dungeon is set up for the mission and victory conditions are read. There is a treasure chest in the final room that we must reach and after that do some additional thing to win. In this case escape with the loot or throw half of it down a bottomless pit. Because reasons. Again, I like this, multiple ways to win is great. With a deck of cards in hand we set off on our adventure!

Unpainted mini! Boo! Shame, mate, shame! Hahaha. We entered the dungeon only to be confronted by a couple of daemons. The instructions are clear – Kill the elite and a door open, kill another elite and another door opens. You never know what lurks behind the door so don’t do like I did and go all in killing an elite straight away. You are better off saving the elites for last, so that the group isn’t overwhelmed by enemies.

So this is the way the game goes, you cooperate to defeat the enemies. The enemies act based on their random action cards. This part was very intuitive and easy to understand. As the game progressed I started to get grips of the mechanics. Pulling off combos in conjunction with the others in the crew.

It turns out that Mindthief is neither a thief nor a psyker but hard hitting melee damage dealer. Squishy and feeble, but full of tricks and shenanigans that allow you to punch well above your weight class. A true class cannon. Not at all what I expected.

Our adventure went ok. We managed to secure the treasure chest and we reached the easier of the two victory conditions.

Gloomhaven in short – you kill enemies, kick open doors, let bad things happen, kill more enemies, all while managing your deck of cards and developing your character. Pretty cool game. Try it out if you get the opportunity.

Keep on trucking, boys and girls!

3 thoughts on “Adventure Time! Gloomhaven – first impressions

    1. To make it less tempting, I should mention the price. It will set you back a kidney and your firstborn’s soul. So about the same as three or four random boxes of Warhammer stuff.

      The game have the promise of greatness. I’m looking forward to squeezing in another game or two.


  1. I’m very interested in this game, and even own it – but the rules and long setup times are what have prevented me from playing it so far. After work and on weekends we’ve been doing some of the old D&D boardgames – which have the main benefit of being quick and simple, which is perfect for after work….


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