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Subject: Massive playtime vs. busy schedules? rss

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Eery Petrol
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Backer of Gloomhaven: 2nd printing here. I would love to hear your feedback on this thread's topic; how to marry Gloomhaven's massive playtime with people's busy schedules.

The game seems to allow a lot of different ways to play it. You could play it with the same group of people every time, but apparantly you could also not... you could try to complete the entire game... but apparantly you could also just try a few branches.

So I'm getting choice overload. Please help me! Before I ask friends to buy into this game, I want them to know what they'll be signing in to. That boils down to these specific points;

* How often should you play at the least to stay in touch with the game? once a week? twice a month? once a month? I'm not sure what the best choice is here... how often do you play?
* Could a drop-in system work where you play the game with whoever is available that day? Or is it possible to break the different story branches out into different player parties? Otherwise the only option I see is to play with the same people all the time, which can be hard with people's changing schedules. Especially over long running campaigns.

So that's my dilemma. Any feedback would be much appreciated!

Thank you,
EP
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Tobias
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We play about twice a month with a fixed group of 3. I think I prefer having a fixed group in terms of immersion. I would like to be able to play more often but this is not possible due to our schedules. However, our goal still is to completely play through the game (i.e. follow the story path to the end)
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Felix Scholz
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I can't really tell which way would be best for you for that largly depends on what you expect of the game.

I started the game with my girlfriend when it arrived sometime in February and we are playing about one scenario each weekend (quite a few more in the first weeks). This works really well in that we progress at a satisfying speed and usually remember what happened last story wise (except when we finish a storyline and have to get back to a previously unlocked one, that usually takes some research along the lines of "How did we get here?").

Since I couldn't get enough of the game in the first weeks I also started a second party in the same game for solo play. I played that one very irregularly and didn't bother too much about the story. They kind of went for treasures the other party left behind and stuff like that. Now that all three characters in that party are close to retirement I will just play them till that happens but not replace them and let that party "die out".

I also started a third party with my gaming group which meets about once a month. We usually get two scenarios into one game night put I have to recap what has happened last before we start. After a few scenarios, once I was sure the group would want to continue with the game, I actually decided to break out the second copy I had and have the Game-Night-Group play in a different "world". Mostly because I find that even though Isaac has worked hard to make multiple parties possible in the same game I find that there are quite a few instance that don't make sense certain situations.

This is mostly tied to the unlocking of city and road events. Basically if one party unlocks an event you can't know which party will actually draw it from the deck. Sometimes that okay. For example (totally made up): First party decides to do something horrible to a tribe of vermlings. After this the Vermlings might distrust all Adventurers in general and do bad things to them in the form of a road event that can hit any party. In this case one party made a decision and another had to suffer the consequences, but in a thematicly sensible way.

However I also remember cases where it doesn not make sense. Another example (again, totally made up): Party A decides to help a beggar by giving him some food and/or money. In the unlocked city event you meet him again and he thanks you by blessing you or paying you back or whatever. Except the event might be drawn by Party B who have no idea who that guy is.

Then there are the global achievements. I do like the concept of the global achievments as a way to save the state of the world and remember what scenarios you can or can't do anymore because of choices you made. With multiple parties these choices were not necessarily yours and while that sound cool to some people, having the world change between your sessions, I think It can be quite frustrating when you are locked out of a quest chain you wanted to do because some other party killed someone essential to that quest chain.

TL;DR:
1I'm not a big fan of multiple parties in the same game world.
2If you plan to get invested in the story I would recommend on session each week. Maybe every second week or even once a month if you are willing to do a "Previously in Gloomhaven...". However You should be aware that that way it will take quite a while to see the "end" of this game
3If you (or any players) don't much care for the story and just want to enjoy the unique combat system and have fun with a dungeon crawler then I would say the play frequency doesn't matter much and player can drop-in and -out however you like. With Prospertiy-Leveling the Player characters should not drift apart so far that it causes problmes.
4If it fits your situation you could start a regular group that plays about once a week or so in "story mode". And to show the game to others you can always use the dungeon generator deck or just repeate scenarios in "casual mode" which doesn't impact campaign play.


Now even my TL;DR did get quite a bit longer than intended. I hope this helps you or at least some of it.
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Eli K.
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The drop-in system works rather well ... we have a set group of 3 regulars and whoever else shows up will take any of the other starting or unlocked characters. The game principle is easy enough to understand and we had rather good experiences that way. (Just plan in some extra 15-20 mins if you have interchanging players who need to get a feel for their character)

We try to get in roughly one game a week. But with family, holidays and work schedules interfering this can't be kept up always.

There is no real disadvantage if any of the players is at a lower level or even much higher level than the others. The game scales perfectly.

Also as you progress new characters will be created at the city prosperity level, so will start at a higher level already.

The real icing in the game are city and road events, leveling and adjusting perks ... oh and of course shopping and unlocking new content ^^ So far it keeps us hooked.

Hope you'll find enough time to enjoy gloomhaven and wish you loads of fun
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Chris Marlow
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My group is 2 regular players, about twice a week, and 2 others who drop in sporadically. One of the great features of Gloomhaven is the way a character can just join for one or two scenarios without being hopelessly out of place in terms of ability and skills.
 
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tobyr21 Pseudonym
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For solo play, the trick is to find some place in your home where you can leave the game set up. Then, you only need a chunk of time that's long enough to play one turn. (Occasionally, I stop in mid-turn, leaving myself a note about where to pick up.)

Currently, I'm playing a scenario with four heroes, and a single turn (planning and execution) takes 20 to 40 minutes. As long as I can "check in" at least every other day, I can remember the rules and maintain continuity.

In between scenarios, the process of selecting the next scenario, putting things away, setting up, deciding which heroes to play, etc., is quite time-consuming, but there is no pressure, and I am happy to do it in several chunks of time, always anticipating - with pleasure - the combat to come.
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Eric Bridge
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Once a week with my wife. Once a week at the local game store with friends. Allow 3 hours each time, and prepare the scenario components in advance. We also use dice for enemy health trackers, and the app for enemy AI.
 
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Alex Russo
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It doesn't matter, when you get your hands on your copy you will make room available in your schedule... you just need 4 hours sleep per night.

On a side note: the key for saving time is organizing all tokens, tiles, cards in bags to quickly set-up the game.
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al cann
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warwick
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I know what I am about to say is probably blasphemous in the gaming world, but this game might be too big and provide too much. For me, the size of the game is not a problem because I play solo and I can play when I want. I've had the game since late February and I have probably registered 50 plays counting repeats of failed scenarios. That probably translates into about 75 hours of gaming. I'm still a long way from finishing, but as I said, I can play when I want to so time is not an issue.

If I were playing as part of a group that meets weekly, and that is probably an overestimation of play time given life's responsibilities, I think I would get frustrated not being able to see an end in sight.

Nonetheless, the game is fantastic and I'm sure no matter how you play it, you will enjoy it.
 
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tobyr21 Pseudonym
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Al cann hits an interesting issue: Gloomhaven could have been published with far fewer monster figures, many fewer dungeon tiles, and many fewer markers. The key to the game is really the two books and the card decks. Everything else helps in two ways:
+ provide terrific atmosphere
+ the incredible variety helps during play to keep track of what is which.

I played Mage Knight and Seafall before Gloomhaven. Those two games show what a difference it makes to take the effort in Gloomhaven to provide all this variety. Mage knight has many different kinds of monsters, but it is hard to take them seriously except for their stats. Seafall essentially dumps the problem of creating atmosphere on the players (by requiring us to name everything). Seafall is otherwise full of repetitive tokens, tasks and pieces of cardboard.

Gloomhaven creates a world full of variety. For many of us who have been sucked into this world, paying for, and managing, the contents of that thick, heavy box has been worth it.

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Wes Holland

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I personally feel that having a set time each week isn't asking too much. I currently have two parties in the same world, one plays on Thursday nights, starting around 7:30 and finishing around 10-11. The other plays on Saturday nights, starting the same time and finishing close to 10pm.

The system can handle people dropping out or in pretty easily. The one thing the system has a hard time with is people hopping parties, or with really large parties of people who don't necessarily play with each other.

The biggest question to ask is whether to play everyone in the same campaign, or to make two campaigns.

Two campaigns in one copy of GH is *possible* but requires extra bookkeeping. The benefit is that each party gets to follow their own story and they don't have to keep track of what's happened while they were gone. The downside is the extra bookkeeping, and keeping the Event decks straight between the two campaigns. Also, some people enjoy having a world that feels more vibrant because things happen that they, personally, had no hand in.
 
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David Latimore
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If you're going to be playing scenarios while some people aren't around, talk about that with them. Make sure they are comfortable with missing sessions and possibly having other people make choices that affect the world.

As long as everyone is cool with that, you're all set really.
 
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