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Gloomhaven» Forums » General

Subject: Please explain this game to me! rss

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Robert Hafley
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Hello,

Let me say that dungeon crawls are my favorite genre. They are what brought me to board games--the first game I owned was HeroQuest, which was purchased around 1993 from Walmart.

However, I do not see the appeal of this game?
I do not like the component quality in regards to standees and tokens. Also, from what I have watched, the game appears to be extremely slow and fiddly.

The element saturation mechanic as well as card decks for every character and monster group turn me away--I imagine this inflates play time many times over. The thought of setup & maintenance during play are hindering my excitement.

What is a realistic average time for a single dungeon/scenario? Setup?

Thanks so much!
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Eric Bridge
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No need to explain. There are some fantastic videos out there already. In my opinion you will not like this game (even though I love it).

Our sessions (3+ players), including setup and takedown, run about 3 hours.
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Vince R.
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There have been a sudden influx of topics of people begging for others to convince them to buy this game. I understand wanting to hop on the hype train, but there is an overabundance of videos, articles, reviews, posts, etc about Gloomhaven.

If you consume this and still don't think you like it, it's not for you. This game was right in my wheelhouse, I pre-ordered before production (was too late for kickstarter), and I've spent over 60 hours playing it and love it more and more every time. But when I saw it the first time, I said "oh yeah, that's for me".

If you have an opposite reaction when seeing what I saw, then don't buy it. Wait until you get a chance to try it through someone. The game is successful now and Isaac has stated his plan is to now steadily produce this game through traditional means (aka not KS) now that he will be able to afford to.

If you discover later that this game is for you, it should be readily available.
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William Korner
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Our three player sessions take between 1.5 and 2 hours per scenario so far (including set-up/tear down). If we lose and replay same scenario again it takes about another hour. Organization helps big time. The standees are fine.
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Andy Kerrison
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It's basically a dungeon-crawler for Eurogamers. The card play is fantastic and combat feels meaningful and low on randomness. The card decks give all enemy types unique behaviour patterns. If this sounds appealing, you'll like Gloomhaven. If you're more keen on a thematic dungeon experience with a bit of dice throwing, you're better off looking elsewhere.
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Kristabelle Du Bast
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I have been finding the monster standees very refreshing. I can just enjoy playing without the guilt of not having painted. Also means there is a very good variety of monsters right out of the box. I don't find the gameplay fiddly at all, I am using a small tin of counters that have covered 95% of the needs of my 17 plays. This is much less fiddly than Myth, which I also love.
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Lawrence
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Your ratings say that you love the simplicity and randomness of dice. The best thing about Gloomhaven (for us Eurogamers) is that the ability card and attack modifier systems allow for much richer tactical decisions, while mitigating the reliance on luck.

If you're looking for a simple dice chucker, this isn't the game you're looking for.
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Kurt R
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Kristabelle wrote:
I have been finding the monster standees very refreshing. I can just enjoy playing without the guilt of not having painted. Also means there is a very good variety of monsters right out of the box. I don't find the gameplay fiddly at all, I am using a small tin of counters that have covered 95% of the needs of my 17 plays. This is much less fiddly than Myth, which I also love.

If this were a minis game, I highly, highly doubt I'd be backing it. I love that he had the confidence in the design to forego using miniatures to attract people. Minis are fine (I'm painting my MoM 2nd edition ones now), but so is using standees and making the focus of the game about the gameplay and not plastic on the table. Plus it reduces the cost and saves storage.

As to the OP, it's a particular intersection of elements (the way any game is) that may or may not appeal depending on your tastes. For me, I finally decided to KS this edition because I've tired of the Descent/SW:IA model. The decisions seem false to me in those games as the dice play too big a part. As a fan of complex card games, the gameplay here vastly appeals to me over the relatively simplistic play of Descent.

And the way the story is presented evolves here is more sophisticated than Descent. So for me, the intersection is one of "more interesting gameplay married with a richer story/world development" than Descent.

In addition, I like that players pursue their own goals and level up at different times. It adds a slightly competitive dimension (for ex, I want to be the first to unlock a new character class) to the otherwise cooperative aspect. More dimensions equals more interesting in my book.
 
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Nathan Stiles
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ebridge wrote:
No need to explain. There are some fantastic videos out there already. In my opinion you will not like this game (even though I love it).

Our sessions, including setup and takedown, run about 3 hours.


This! There are so many reviews and videos, what else is needed??
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Aegith wrote:

I do not like the component quality in regards to standees and tokens.



So I'm a Minis guy, I LOVE minis. I've been disappointed in recent dungeon crawlers and I love Gloomhaven and the standees are a big part of why.

Most modern dungeon crawlers can only include only a few monster types because they are limited by the number of minis they can pay to manufacture and fit into the box. This limits the variety of the scenarios and I get tired of fighting the same 4 or 5 enemies.

Because Issac chose to use standees instead of minis, he was able to include 40+ monster types. Each monster type has it's own ability deck so they all behave quite differently, have different weaknesses and require different strategies to defeat. This does an excellent job in keeping the game fresh. I would hate to imagine what 70+ plays would be like with the same 4 or 5 enemies.

Just something to consider.
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Justin Boehm
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Dungeon crawlers are also my favorite type of game, and Gloomhaven is far and away the best I've played!
 
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Eric Bridge
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FatherSyn wrote:
Aegith wrote:

I do not like the component quality in regards to standees and tokens.



So I'm a Minis guy, I LOVE minis. I've been disappointed in recent dungeon crawlers and I love Gloomhaven and the standees are a big part of why.

Most modern dungeon crawlers can only include only a few monster types because they are limited by the number of minis they can pay to manufacture and fit into the box. This limits the variety of the scenarios and I get tired of fighting the same 4 or 5 enemies.

Because Issac chose to use standees instead of minis, he was able to include 40+ monster types. Each monster type has it's own ability deck so they all behave quite differently, have different weaknesses and require different strategies to defeat. This does an excellent job in keeping the game fresh. I would hate to imagine what 70+ plays would be like with the same 4 or 5 enemies.

Just something to consider.

THIS, for me. Variety, in my opinion, always trumps components. If this was a minis game it would cost even more and have half as many enemy types. And the artwork on the standees is terrific, which also helps.
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Jeff M
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I find many of the 162 videos (currently) on the Gloomhaven page do a much better job of showcasing the game than a few sentences by faceless strangers ever can.
If you haven't seen them, here is a link;

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/174430/gloomhaven/videos...

If you have seen them and are still up in the air, the game probably isn't for you. Avoid the urge to buy to "not be left behind!" and save yourself some money.

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Drew Olds
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To be fair, Myth is notoriously fiddly, so there's that.


I feel that I should put forward the argument against Gloomhaven.

Andy_K wrote:
It's basically a dungeon-crawler for Eurogamers. The card play is fantastic and combat feels meaningful and low on randomness.



"Dungeon Crawler for Eurogamers" is how the game was originally pitched, and seems to be what makes Gloomhaven a big deal. People who normally avoid thematic games are getting to play their first ever really good dungeon crawler.

And a lot of the features of this game are things that appeal directly to the Eurogamer crowd in order to "fix" things that aren't broken in your average dungeon crawler: hexes instead of squares, cards instead of dice, Legacy instead of campaign, standees instead of minis.


From what I have heard from people who play many dungeon crawlers- it sounds like it is a very good dungeon crawler with some cool new mechanics- but don't expect too much out of it if you don't have a problem with every other dungeon crawler.
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Drew Olds
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I feel that I should put forward the counter argument for some of these folks.


mavericklancer wrote:
Your ratings say that you love the simplicity and randomness of dice. The best thing about Gloomhaven (for us Eurogamers) is that the ability card and attack modifier systems allow for much richer tactical decisions, while mitigating the reliance on luck.

If you're looking for a simple dice chucker, this isn't the game you're looking for.



Ah, this tired old argument. The trouble with it is that it isn't true.





Sop Cards vs. Dice. And I'm not talking about the activation cards (that's a really cool concept, actually). We're talking about the random modifier decks that are litterally replacing the role of dice.

Eurogamers have learned that dice "feel" random, so the idea of a diceless dungeon crawler is very appealing, and contributed to this games' sucess. But the "feels random" isn't because dice are inherently more random than cards.


Most dungeon crawlers use three dice at a time. That gives you a very stable and predictable curve that players should plan around (ie- you pair up heroes with monsters based on what they need to roll, or choose to use boosts to your rolls).

Many dungeon crawlers also use custom dice and/or modifiers to the rolls- which keeps the stability of the curve with a huge variety in customization.

Conversely, the 20 card hit modifier deck gives you even odds across all of the cards. Naturally, if there are five of a given card, it comes up 25% of the time. If you add in a single card for a terrain effect, it will come up 1/21 of the time in an even spread.


Isaac himself cited Settlers of Catan as an example of why he doesn't like dice, but I think it is a very good example of poor usage of dice and creating a really random game (since the best odds you can bet on come up less than 14% of the time, and there's really no way to manipulate the rolls to give yourself a better chance of success- while a game like Super Dungeon Explore or Undercity will give you plenty of opportunity to add a modifier or otherwise manipulate your attack roll to give yourself a higher probability of success).


Of note- cards do have their advantages, but I can't imagine that most people turning their noses down at "random dice chuckers" really understand how dice can be done well.

 
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Drew Olds
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enzo622 wrote:

If this were a minis game, I highly, highly doubt I'd be backing it. I love that he had the confidence in the design to forego using miniatures to attract people.



Most of the "no minis" argument is exactly the same as the argument against good graphics in videogames.

Basically- you don't need a game to look nice in order for it to play well. However, I don't really see how having a game look uglier is necessarily contributing to the gameplay.

Isaac cited almost missing Blood Rage because of the minis- then he found out it was Eric Lang and was all in. Presumably he did miss out on Arcadia Quest, The Others, Siege of the Citadel and Rising Sun because they each had nice minis.


Most dungeon crawlers do expansions and alternate versions of monsters- which is a really good way to get more variety out of the game as you continue to play it. In fact, the way expansions are done usually is by replacing monsters in existing scenarios- giving you a lot more variety in your game than the scenario number seems to indicate.

But the game does feature more monsters per dollar than other dungeon crawler games, so it does have that going for it.
 
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Drew Olds
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The Legacy aspects of this game could easily be accomplished without the Legacyness going on. In fact, it has with the Map App and the removable stickers.

It could just as easily have been presented as a campaign dungeon crawler without using a term that alienates a lot of dungeon crawler players (who play their games a lot for many years). But the term Legacy does get mileage among Eurogamers.

By the way- this is not to say that the campaign itself is done poorly. Quite the opposite- it just wouldn't have been significantly different if it had been done the other way.

 
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Eric Bridge
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The fact that, via Perks, the modifier deck can basically become a customized d20 (or 3d6) for each individual class is a HUGE draw for me. Yes, the deck starts out very random, but I can make it give me much better odds. I can even make the monster deck worse for the monsters!

In all the dice-combat games I have played I never felt I had this level of "control" over the randomness. Even if/when it is an illusion - we are enjoying the illusion
 
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Drew Olds
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Lastly, and probably least important are the hexes.

Some gamers just love hexes, and on some maps I can see the point that they have.

But not really in the Dungeon Crawler. Yes, hexes will give you a more close to reality version of the game map's geometry, but this advantage is usually lost completely with the small confined spaces in a dungeon crawler.

I find hexes to be just a bit fiddlier when dealing with larger monsters or games that track facing.




With this series of posts, I do not want to make the argument that Gloomhaven is a bad game. I haven't played it, but I honestly believe that it is a very good game.


But I don't think that people understand -why- they like it. It is like the opposite of the Jar Jar Binks phonomenon (Episode 1 was a bad movie, and we all hated it, and blamed Jar Jar. But the fact is, the movie was bad for a LOT of reasons, and most of them were more subtle).

In that way, I feel that Gloomhaven is succeeding at something more subtle (good game design) that it could very well have succeeded at had it been using good design with dice, minis, squares and the term "campaign."
 
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Drew Olds
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ebridge wrote:
The fact that, via Perks, the modifier deck can basically become a customized d20 (or 3d6) for each individual class is a HUGE draw for me. Yes, the deck starts out very random, but I can make it give me much better odds. I can even make the monster deck worse for the monsters!

In all the dice-combat games I have played I never felt I had this level of "control" over the randomness. Even if/when it is an illusion - we are enjoying the illusion


Ok, I can see that- and I'm glad that you can accept it as possibly an illusion.


I think the comparison between the cards to a D20 is where it loses me- there's a world of difference between 3d6 and a d20. A D20 is super random- every side has a 5% chance of coming up.

In D&D our group moved to 2D10 because it creates a nice probability curve towards the center, making crit hits or fails into a 1/100 chance.
3D6 is an even more stable probability curve (you can see the chart). On 3D6, you get the highest or lowest number 1 in 216 rolls, while the D20 (or 20 cards) gives you that number 1 in 20.



But you can manipulate it- and that's cool and fun, and I think that's really why you like it.

What I'm saying is that people don't really love Gloomhaven for its lack of luck (because it has just as much or more than other dungeon crawlers). People love Gloomhaven for other cool reasons.

I just wish people would talk about the other cool reasons more- that's really what I'm saying.



(By the way, I can give you some good examples of dice combat games and how to manipulate them strategically, but I think that's just a red herring to the topic here).
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Eric Bridge
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odinsgrandson wrote:
In that way, I feel that Gloomhaven is succeeding at something more subtle (good game design) that it could very well have succeeded at had it been using good design with dice, minis, squares and the term "campaign."


You make some fair points, but I can't agree with this conclusion. The lack of dice as opposed to the customizable modifier decks, the individually numbered and beautifully drawn standees (and costing us less money and allowing for more enemy types), and the freedom of movement offered by hexes instead of squares could not be adequately or afford-ably duplicated by dice, minis, and squares. If they could have they would have been, as I don't think Isaac had a quest to deliberately alienate Ameritrash fans. I believe that he saw that he could not fit the diverse options and variety that he wanted, AND the lower pricepoint, into those parameters.

I'll grant you "campaign" versus "legacy", although I never really understood the big controversy. It's not like anyone will want to buy my played through "campaign" game after I'm done with it, have placed all the stickers, marked up the books, opened all the secrets, and enhanced a bunch of cards. Call it what you will, but a finished game of Gloomhaven will NOT be easily played by the next group without some major alterations and/or spoilers.

P.S. I assume you intend to get yourself a copy?
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Kurt R
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odinsgrandson wrote:
enzo622 wrote:

If this were a minis game, I highly, highly doubt I'd be backing it. I love that he had the confidence in the design to forego using miniatures to attract people.



Most of the "no minis" argument is exactly the same as the argument against good graphics in videogames.

Basically- you don't need a game to look nice in order for it to play well. However, I don't really see how having a game look uglier is necessarily contributing to the gameplay.

This is a false correlation. Saying one is happy to not have minis does not correlate to arguing that "having a game look uglier is necessarily contributing to gameplay." Is that really the limit of your understanding of the choice here?

There are good reasons for preferring minis and reasons for not.

 
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Pietro Pomella
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odinsgrandson wrote:

I think the comparison between the cards to a D20 is where it loses me- there's a world of difference between 3d6 and a d20. A D20 is super random- every side has a 5% chance of coming up.

In D&D our group moved to 2D10 because it creates a nice probability curve towards the center, making crit hits or fails into a 1/100 chance.
3D6 is an even more stable probability curve (you can see the chart). On 3D6, you get the highest or lowest number 1 in 216 rolls, while the D20 (or 20 cards) gives you that number 1 in 20.



Don't want to derail the focus much further, but while your points are sensible, the comparison between 20 cards and a d20 doesn't seem accurate here.

The deck probabilities do change over time (as opposed to dice), as more cards are pulled from the deck, which is only shuffled when a 2x/null is drawn, or when it runs out. So overtime, it does become more predictable and less random in its outcomes
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Joshua Reubens
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Hiding the randomness is an important part of good game design, however the decks ARE less random than dice. This is simply a fact. You can not care, that's all well and good, but to try to argue that they are just as random is silly.
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Ken Campbell
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Given the reshuffle icon on at least two cards in each hit deck (and multiple times in each monster AI deck), the randomness of Gloomhaven's cards is frequently understated on these forums. This is a problem I've consistently seen in reading threads regarding Gloomhaven's perceived superiority due to its use of cards, rather than dice.
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