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Subject: Difficulty of characters and suitability for new players rss

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Matthew Kameron
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Hi all

With 17 character classes, no doubt some are more 'rounded/balanced' while others are more 'niche'. The niche ones are potentially harder for new players to use, and more likely to result in a dissatisfying experience if there is a big discrepancy between what the player wants and what the character can do.

For example, the Mindthief seems to be loved by all and its quirk (Augments) seems reasonably accessible for a new player. Some people have suggested that the Spellweaver is a more intricate starting class than the others because of the low card pool and Reviving Ether. Some of the locked classes, however, seem to be attracting discussion on BGG asking how to use them effectively, suggesting that they might not be suitable for a beginner.

I am interested in this in general, but also because I am about to have a 7th player join our party and I am going to unlock a locked character class for them. Doubling up with another player will not work since we play with a different combination of players each time, and thematically it makes me flinch a little to have to double-up.
Poll
How appropriate is each character for a new player to use? I would consider a character suitable for a new player as one that is relatively straight forward to play, has a good range of abilities, and does not require a niche play style.
  Perfectly suitable for a new player Suitable but challenging for a new player; has some quirks Quite intricate and/or uses niche rules and/or difficult to play; not ideal for a new player Significantly niche or difficult to play; not ideal for a new player and potentially not ideal even for some experienced players
Brute
Tinkerer
Spellweaver
Scoundrel
Cragheart
Mindthief
Sun
3 Spears
Circles in Circles
Circle and Crescent
Mindflayer
Lightning Bolts
Musical Note
Tribal Face
Saw
Triforce / Serpinski Triangle
Flames / Phoenix
      235 answers
Poll created by Fizi
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Eli K.
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Interesting poll, thanks! ... Similar problem I have. Seems we are getting a 7th player now without having unlocked any of the other characters.
 
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Luke
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Great poll question!

In spoilers, some more in-depth reasons why the three non-starting classes I voted for as suitable for beginners.

Tribal Face
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Ranged, single target nuke. Good mobility but can stand in place a lot. Get in position, shoot the monster you want dead the most. Do lots of damage, be a hero.


Sun
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Melee tank with heals. Easy elemental infusion use.


Mindflayer
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Ranged debuff/damage. Two very easy to use debuffs. I also found this class to be one of the more powerful. When I added this class, I needed to bump the difficulty up. It's a game changer. Also a ton of fun.


So hopefully in that trio you can find a role your friend would enjoy.
 
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Paul Johnson
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Interesting poll. I do have to question why anyone would vote the Triforce class as "perfectly suitable for a new player" though. I mean... did they even look at those cards?!
 
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Mike Oehler
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One of things I'd note about the apparent difficulty of new classes is that people are often going from a party that is initially designed with some synergy in mind. Then they learn how to play their character and combo with their allies (hopefully). And finally the character retires and the player is making a new guy of whatever class they unlocked, right? So whatever combo people initially had in mind when making a party is gone, along with all the other tricks worked in play.

For example, if people start with say Brute+Tinkerer+Spellweaver/Scoundrel, they have tank+heals+damage (kind of). Or maybe people picked SW+CH for elements. Then someone retires, picks a new class, and then the party loses one of its trinity. Or the CH retires for a less magic class and the spellweaver needs to learn to live without someone feeding them elements. Etc.

Our group is normally Tinkerer, Cragheart, and Brute, and two of us are now only a few missions until retirement. We could change Crag and Brute to say MT and SC starter classes and still probably flail around at greatly reduced effectiveness for a few missions because we went from a group with 2 beefy people to one with vastly lower health, less ability to deal with obstacles innately, less defensive or chokepoint cards, and less range.
 
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Luke
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Khift wrote:
Interesting poll. I do have to question why anyone would vote the Triforce class as "perfectly suitable for a new player" though. I mean... did they even look at those cards?!


Lol, I did.

Here's my thinking, caveat that I've been playing Gloomhaven like it's my job. This was one of the final classes I unlocked, so maybe I'm seeing it as easier than it might be.

EDIT: Yeah, I went back and played this class tonight. Changed my vote.

For this class
Spoiler (click to reveal)
There are lots of abilities that require elemental infusions, and lots that give them. In a group, or buy itself, it can do a lot of "stand here, shoot." And the elements will roll into each other.


And I'm just now realizing that still might be a little tough for newer players. I think it depends on their euro experience though.


Edit: As long as a player is used to thinking one turn ahead, I think this is fine for a new player.

 
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Luke
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VictimEN wrote:
One of things I'd note about the apparent difficulty of new classes is that people are often going from a party that is initially designed with some synergy in mind...

...We could change Crag and Brute to say MT and SC starter classes and still probably flail around at greatly reduced effectiveness for a few missions because we went from a group with 2 beefy people to one with vastly lower health, less ability to deal with obstacles innately, less defensive or chokepoint cards, and less range.


You're right, there's a learning curve with each new party combo.

It's also tough if you were playing tank/heals/damage and suddenly you have tank/heals/support or something like that.

Having done this numerous times, while not all combos are equal, I've been able to make it work(in most scenarios) with any combo I've had after retiring/unlocking.

 
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Paul Johnson
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I'm surprised people think the Scoundrel is more complicated than the Brute. I had the Scoundrel pegged as the simplest class -- pretty much just run around and do lots of damage. The Brute can actually get fairly deep once you start thinking about actively tanking, mostly due to having to manage the enemy AI as well. I'd still definitely consider them the two simplest classes (that I've seen so far) but I personally rank the Scoundrel simpler than the Brute.
 
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Daniel Berg
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mournful wrote:
I think it depends on their euro experience though.

This can't be overstated. I struggled horribly with the Brute - while his mechanics are relatively simple, my idea of playing him didn't really work out in practice. The mindthief. on the other hand. clicked for me immediately.
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Matthew Kameron
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mournful wrote:
Great poll question!

In spoilers, some more in-depth reasons why the three non-starting classes I voted for as suitable for beginners.

Tribal Face
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Ranged, single target nuke. Good mobility but can stand in place a lot. Get in position, shoot the monster you want dead the most. Do lots of damage, be a hero.


Sun
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Melee tank with heals. Easy elemental infusion use.


Mindflayer
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Ranged debuff/damage. Two very easy to use debuffs. I also found this class to be one of the more powerful. When I added this class, I needed to bump the difficulty up. It's a game changer. Also a ton of fun.


So hopefully in that trio you can find a role your friend would enjoy.

Thank you for this, very helpful... this does provide a clear best option for this player, and an option which nobody is currently progressing towards in their personal quest!
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