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Gloomhaven» Forums » General

Subject: Gloomhaven vs. Descent rss

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Arthur Howe
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Hi all,

I am considering backing the second printing on Kickstarter and had a few questions. I've watched a few playthroughs and browsed the rules and was wondering if anyone with experience playing both Gloomhaven and Descent could offer some comparisons.

I play Descent with my kids using the Road to Legend app and we have a fun time. What does Gloomhaven offer, if anything, that Descent doesn't? I do have ALL of the Descent 2e content so I have a lot of content to play through, but I don't want to miss the Gloomhaven train if it is a fit.
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Nathan Ehlers
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I've played all the versions of Descent and my campaign group is about 10 games into Gloomhaven...Gloomhaven is much heavier than Descent. Functionally, both games consist of "move there, attack that". Descent makes this relatively easy be giving you a straight forward movement point system and a pretty easy dice system. It's not hard to explain to newbies how they move and how they attack. By contrast, with Gloomhaven, you have a variety of cards that let you move, but not all of them. They'll have different movement values and special effects. To make it harder, several will be out of the game once played. Likewise, attacking and playing special abilities have similar considerations. The thinking in Descent is mostly "what's the most I can do with this turn?" while the thinking in Gloomhaven is more "what am I giving up to accomplish this turn?"

In Descent, the monsters mostly move towards the heroes and throw some combination of dice to do damage. The heroes throw some defense dice and then take some damage. While the app is good, a DM will usually do a better job of punishing the heroes with the best monster plays. Monsters in Gloomhaven are closer to the app in that they don't always function most efficiently, sometimes they even do things that seem silly like standing still and healing while at full life. The trade off is that the monsters in Gloomhaven tend to be more interesting and individually more threatening.

Other thoughts...I find character development in Gloomhaven to be more fulfilling then Descent. There's a kind of deck building thing going on both in terms of what action cards you take into the game and how your attack deck works. Those choices let you build out a given character in some unique ways. I would compare it to something like Diablo where a given class can play in a few different ways as it gets more powerful. With Descent I've always found that the extra abilities let you be more awesome, but in a pretty fixed direction.

Gloomhaven games tend to be a little faster than Descent games.

The overarching story in Gloomhaven is more interesting than Descent, but the 2 Act structure of Descent makes for more interesting individual games. There are no real surprises inside a given game of Gloomhaven.
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Ronald Cruz
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I have played Descent 2e with the Road to Legend app and a couple scenarios of Gloomhaven. I also regularly teach tabletop games with middle-school children.

How old are your kids? Do they enjoy thinking about how to optimize their turns? If yes, then they should definitely try Gloomhaven.

But this could be a negative: Gloomhaven gives you a hand full of 8-12 cards at the beginning of each scenario, each with 4 possible uses. This is a gatekeeper -- some people see this and run, or get paralyzed by the sheer number of choices. But you can ease them in to things by saying they can use the cards for their basic Move 2 and Attack 2 uses. You can easily dial down the difficulty by turning down the Scenario Level by 1 ("Easy" difficulty).

Two things to consider:

Although Gloomhaven doesn't have dice, there is still randomness from the attack modifier deck to give excitement.

Gloomhaven's appeal is that there is a wide variety of things you can do on your turn beyond "move and attack." This actively encourages people to communicate and cooperate to figure out the best way to optimize the party's actions: i.e., "Move ahead and tank those guards and I'll heal you. You should act early and I'll act late." Working as a team is a great thing for kids to learn.
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Arthur Howe
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@sirgalin: Thank you for the overview. Your observations reinforce my take aways from watching the play through videos. I like the idea of an overarching story that changes the world, but I think I need to delve into the rulebook over the next day or so and decide if it is different enough on a gameplay level to justify adding it to my collection.

@ronaldsf: The children who most often play descent with me are my 11 and 10 yr olds. My 11 yr old son likes to charge in and bash stuff while collecting loot, and the 10 yr old daughter tends to be a bit more thoughtful regarding the needs of the party. Sometimes it feels like herding cats getting them to both focus on the task at hand. heh. Our 4th player alternates between my wife (bless her for filling in, because she's more of a Euro fan) and my 18 yr old son who is very analytical and maximizes his turn, while trying to get the other two to do the same.

Thank you both for your thoughts.
 
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Nathan Ehlers
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FWIW, it's a very different and fun gameplay. Any of the Descents (or even Imperial Assault) feel like some big decisions followed by a lot of dice chucking and smashing stuff. Gloomhaven feels more like a euro with puzzley decision making.

I would say that to get the full effect of Gloomhaven, you have to play it as a campaign. One-offs of Descent are pretty fun, while I wouldn't be interested in playing many one-offs of Gloomhaven because the character development and big story are the real magic in the box.
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Martin Röseler
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I also thinking about backing.
In a German Review the person said that Decent has better/more variety in scenarios. He told an example were the players in a Decent scenario has to discover/reveal specific persons on a masquerade ball but in Gloomhaven all scenarios he played until now are smash x monster, smash all monster or discover a room (or so). In conclusion he said the scenarios (until now) are very repetitive. That's sad and I think a big minus, isn't it?
He also said that the Story and the other stuff like going to town is not engaging and the designer missed a big chance.
So I think what he said 90% of Dungeon Crawl and 10% of all other (story, legacy and so on)
He also said that trading items between players is not possible ... what da fuq? so if a warrior gets a magical item his only thing he can do is to sell o.O Are there already functioning trading house rules?
 
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Eike Meyer
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Nathan has described it quite well: Do you like making in depth strategic decisions on every turn and seeing that make a clear difference? Do you enjoy learning your class and its skills over a couple of games and becoming considerably better at playing it? If so, the additional depth that Gloomhaven brings to the table will likely be a good thing. If euro mechanisms go absolutely against your playstyle then I would stay away from it.

However, unless you dismiss Gloomhaven entirely, I would just invest the money. Worst case scenario is you would sell it at a similar price as you bought it. Best case you will have a board gaming experience that no other current game can offer for 200+ hours at the price of roughly 100$.
 
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Jason Kratz
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BountyHuntA wrote:
I also thinking about backing.
In a German Review the person said that Decent has better/more variety in scenarios. He told an example were the players in a Decent scenario has to discover/reveal specific persons on a masquerade ball but in Gloomhaven all scenarios he played until now are smash x monster, smash all monster or discover a room (or so). In conclusion he said the scenarios (until now) are very repetitive. That's sad and I think a big minus, isn't it?

I disagree on this point. While there are a bunch of kill all monsters scenarios in GH, there are also kill a particular unit, get to a location, loot all treasures, kill X monsters scenarios.
In descent 2.0, I found that the scenarios felt repetitive as they were all races to something.

Quote:

He also said that the Story and the other stuff like going to town is not engaging and the designer missed a big chance.
So I think what he said 90% of Dungeon Crawl and 10% of all other (story, legacy and so on)

This is fair, most of the game is dungeon crawl. There is less time spent in town and leveling your character than I might like, but it is consistent with other dungeon crawls. If you want a ton of time in town and character building, I think KDM might be more your thing, set leader from what I've read (No experience). GH is roughly on par with descent here (although I'd say the choices in GH feel more meaningful)

Quote:

He also said that trading items between players is not possible ... what da fuq? so if a warrior gets a magical item his only thing he can do is to sell o.O Are there already functioning trading house rules?

True, and there are. But not being able to trade items is an important balancing mechanic for this game. Some characters are much better at collecting loot, but they are also more dependent on items, so it works well, even if it is slightly athematic.
 
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Chris Marlow
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artybaby wrote:
Hi all,

I am considering backing the second printing on Kickstarter and had a few questions. I've watched a few playthroughs and browsed the rules and was wondering if anyone with experience playing both Gloomhaven and Descent could offer some comparisons.

I play Descent with my kids using the Road to Legend app and we have a fun time. What does Gloomhaven offer, if anything, that Descent doesn't? I do have ALL of the Descent 2e content so I have a lot of content to play through, but I don't want to miss the Gloomhaven train if it is a fit.


Definitely back Gloomhaven if you have even the slightest interest in this type of game. This has completely re-set the bar for the dungeonbash/rpg genre, and is the standard by which all subsequent games of this type will be judged. Frankly, Descent can't hold a candle to this masterpiece.
You'll be playing this with your grandchildren .
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Ronald Cruz
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Just read about your kids. My recommendation now is to pledge! Particularly because this is an important game for the dungeon-crawl genre, as said above.

Your 18 year old will probably like it. In case he has a tendency to spend too much time analyzing things, one of the good things about Gloomhaven is that, while it gives incentive to thinking and maximizing play, the randomness of initiative makes it impossible to calculate everything ahead of time. This also gives players incentive to communicate constantly: people will communicate before the reveal of cards AND after the reveal of cards. This deals with the downtime and "multiplayer solitaire" phenomenon that pervades more analytical, Euro-type games.

And if he takes too much time before choosing his cards, you can always impose a timer on him.

Your wife will probably enjoy the more analytical aspects of play. GH has been described as Euro-style play in a thematic dungeon delve.

Your younger son may or may not like the time spent thinking before each round. Anyway, it sounds like he was made to play the Brute. It will also get him to start thinking about tanking to help the party. Or, if he wants to gather loot, he should be a Scoundrel -- but she is an opportunist and needs to set up her attacks. On the other hand, this can get him to start thinking more about asking teammates for help to get dramatic spike damage.

As for your daughter, all the classes give you an incentive to work with the rest of your party. But of the 6 starting classes the best "Support" class is the tinkerer, who can heal teammates and buff and debuff, but also has his own cool moments (shooting a flamethrower while wearing goggles for example!).

You may need to proactively present your younger kids the different options they have available to them. There is a learning curve to GH in terms of getting to know your own character. But once they get over that initial hump, you might find them preferring GH because the design gives each class their own unique feel. There is more than "move and attack" or "heal" going on here. Your son might enjoy drawing an early initiative as a Brute to stand in the middle of the fray and retaliating against everyone who dares challenge him; your daughter might enjoy the Tinkerer muddling enemies with an ink bomb and summoning mechanical decoys to draw enemy fire.

If they all like the game, then GH might be the thing that your whole family enjoys playing together!
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dave delisle
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Descent (1 and 2) while great games are subject to quaterbacking where as Gloomhaven is not given the unknown card choice each round. Gloomhaven also supports a mixture of regular and cameo players where Descent does not.

Gloomhaven offers much much more and for a lower total cost vis a vis all the Descent (1 and 2)expansions needed.
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Johannes Benedikt
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BountyHuntA wrote:

He told an example were the players in a Decent scenario has to discover/reveal specific persons on a masquerade ball but in Gloomhaven all scenarios he played until now are smash x monster, smash all monster or discover a room (or so). In conclusion he said the scenarios (until now) are very repetitive. That's sad and I think a big minus, isn't it?
He also said that the Story and the other stuff like going to town is not engaging and the designer missed a big chance.


I think it's very hard to compare. Sure in Gloomhaven there is a much higher percentage of "kill x"-scenarios, but simply killing monsters requires much more tactical planning and decisions in Gloomhaven than in Descent (because in Gloomhaven you have to think about which attack-action you use in a given situation whereas in Descent you only try to get in as many attacks as possible). Add in a wide range of traps and obstacles you can jump and shoot through, but not move through and a lot of different behaving monsters (~40) and I think it gets quite hard to argue that the gameplay feels repetitive, even if the scenario-goals are.

There is also a path to play the campaign, where in the first few scenarios you will fight primarily against different versions of scouts/archers/shamans which are part of the few monsters who use the same AI-deck and I guess this can feel a bit repetitive, but this is imo easily avoidable.

I don't really know the reviewer, but if he compared Gloomhaven's story to Descent's story and said that Descent's story is more meaningfull/engaging, I would have a hard time trusting this reviewer.
 
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Nestor Quintero
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Surely I come late into the conversation

But I think whoever is comparing descent to gloomhaven has to consider that gloomhaven is more appealing tactically (battle mechanics alone) and thematically

The 2 things that Descent has in its favor are just:

1) Monster minis, not standees
2) It is not -always- full co-op

To players like me , Gloomhaven is extremely boring because of the full cooperation. There's a sense of single playerness but with a system that is much dumber that you would find on a computer/console game

For the minority I belong it is really a shame that every game now tries ti have Solo and Co op . Even the ones we like and own
 
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Mad Mullet
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SrFinn wrote:
Surely I come late into the conversation


There's 'late' and then there's 'resurrecting a 16-month-old thread with the sole objective of goading Gloomhaven players on a Gloomhaven forum rather than initiating any discussion with the OP' (yawn) You're playing a well-rehearsed theme, buddy.
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Aaron Velox
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I mean... how did you even find this thread to resurrect it? Did you happen to just think about Gloomhaven and Descent similarities and just randomly typed it in 'search' and found this?
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