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Subject: Comparisons to Gloomhaven? rss

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Ken Knott
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Ok, Gloomhaven has a campaign and Conan is entirely scenario driven so there's that... But gameplay/system? Which is your preference? I'm surprised to see little comparisons of the two games.
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Stephan Beal
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Javaslinger wrote:
I'm surprised to see little comparisons of the two games.


Because they're apples and oranges. From what little i know about Gloomhaven (i watched about 2 hours of playthroughs, and won't get my copy until at least September), there is little or no comparison which can be made between them, mechanically speaking.

Edit: another thing is that the Gloomhaven author has expressly requested that people not post spoilers about its contents, which might be a reason why Gloomhaven players don't publicly compare the two (because a decent comparison/contrast might(?) require spoilers).
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J P
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I wrote this in your other thread, but figured I'd re-post here as well.

The only similarity I can think of is that they both have an energy/life-force mechanic that determines what you can do. In Gloomhaven this is represented by your cards, which you burn through to take actions and also can discard to absorb wounds. When you run out of cards, you die. In Conan this is represented by gems. You spend gems to do actions, using up your energy, and you must "discard" gems to absorb wounds (they can't easily be brought back). When all the gems are in the discard pile (wound zone), you die. Personally, I felt this aspect was very similar from the first time I played Gloomhaven, but I've never seen anyone else say it, so I may be in a minority. In any event, yeah, the games are totally different otherwise. But, I have them both, and think they're both awesome.
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Stephan Beal
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DancingFool wrote:
The only similarity I can think of is that they both have an energy/life-force mechanic that determines what you can do. In Gloomhaven this is represented by your cards, which you burn through to take actions and also can discard to absorb wounds. When you run out of cards, you die. In Conan this is represented by gems.


That's an interesting comparison. i can see that, but think (based solely on having watched videos of Gloomhaven) that Gloomhaven requires tougher choices in that regard, at least when you get to choose which card(s) to lose. In Conan, all gems are equal, whereas in Gloomhaven each card has situational uses which potentially have to be weighed (painfully) before discarding. In any case, i'm very much looking forward to Gloomhaven's arrival.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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sgbeal wrote:
Edit: another thing is that the Gloomhaven author has expressly requested that people not post spoilers about its contents, which might be a reason why Gloomhaven players don't publicly compare the two (because a decent comparison/contrast might(?) require spoilers).

Gloomhaven is a "legendary" game, like Risk/Pandemic, where most of the content is sealed away and as you play the campaign, those boxes get opened, etc. Talking about the mechanics of the game does nothing for spoiling the campaign of the game. The creator is asking players to not spoil the campaign.

As for the mechanics, our group very much disliked the mechanics of Gloomhaven. It very rapidly moved away from the feel of adventuring in a dungeon killing bad guys and looting, and moved towards a mathematical problem to solve. Which card in my hand will kill this enemy? A lot of the fun of dungeon crawling was staled away in Gloomhaven and we've given up on it.

Unfortunately our group wants to play Conan, we just haven't yet. Non co-op is one reason (my group is really liking co-op games right now). So with that said, I'm not able to compare the two...

-shnar
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Paul Chamberland
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shnar wrote:
As for the mechanics, our group very much disliked the mechanics of Gloomhaven. It very rapidly moved away from the feel of adventuring in a dungeon killing bad guys and looting, and moved towards a mathematical problem to solve. Which card in my hand will kill this enemy? A lot of the fun of dungeon crawling was staled away in Gloomhaven and we've given up on it.

How did it become a mathematical problem? It is for solo play but I can't imagine it being like that with four players. Were you playing it as a full co-op where the party works together on everything and shares? Or as a semi co-op where you don't really know who will go first, or whether a player will be able to kill a specific monster, where there is competition to get to chests and coins, where battle and life goals are high priority and secret, and where playing XP cards is more important than playing efficiently.
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Mark T
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shnar wrote:

It very rapidly moved away from the feel of adventuring in a dungeon killing bad guys and looting, and moved towards a mathematical problem to solve. Which card in my hand will kill this enemy? A lot of the fun of dungeon crawling was staled away in Gloomhaven and we've given up on it.
-shnar


That was exactly my feeling with Gloomhaven. I've only played three dungeons and hated it. It doesn't matter that it was 4 players because it still feels like a puzzle rather than a dungeon crawl. I much prefer Conan even though they are very different games.

I'd much rather roll some dice, smash through a wall, leap over a banister, smack someone over the head with a barstool and just feel generally bad ass in a game than whatever Gloomhaven was. Yes those are all things you can do in Conan depending on the scenario!

Only thing Gloomhaven has for it is the sheer massive scale of the legacy stuff but if the core mechanics just aren't that interesting to me or thematic enough, sorry that game is staying on the shelf or being sold off soon.

The again Conan is a hybrid of euro and american style while Gloomhaven is very much just a euro.
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Stephan Beal
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fusionmonkey87 wrote:
That was exactly my feeling with Gloomhaven. I've only played three dungeons and hated it. It doesn't matter that it was 4 players because it still feels like a puzzle rather than a dungeon crawl. I much prefer Conan even though they are very different games.


Is perhaps the pacing of Gloomhaven's campaign at least partly to blame? i haven't played it yet, but have heard reviewers complain that character improvement/leveling happens way too infrequently.

:-?

fusionmonkey87 wrote:
Only thing Gloomhaven has for it is the sheer massive scale of the legacy stuff but if the core mechanics just aren't that interesting to me or thematic enough, sorry that game is staying on the shelf or being sold off soon.


:-O

i have high hopes for it (i backed the second printing, ostensibly due out in August, but i expect October+ because of the sheer number of backers (40,642!!!)). i particularly like that GH is diceless - i want to give that a try. The reports of its horribly slow pacing trouble me more than anything else i've seen about the game.


fusionmonkey87 wrote:
The again Conan is a hybrid of euro and american style while Gloomhaven is very much just a euro.


What mechanics of Conan do you feel are predominantly Euro? (i ask not to argue, but because i'm a poor judge of such things.)
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Vince De Zutter
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sgbeal wrote:
What mechanics of Conan do you feel are predominantly Euro? (i ask not to argue, but because i'm a poor judge of such things.)


Primarily the gem/resource management system. Since everything is tied to the same resource (even your hit points), you have to really think about every move since bottling your strong attack could leave you defenseless the turn after.

There's also no limit to the amount of actions you can take, so you can choose to play it safe or to go for a more high risk, high reward playstyle.

That's a huge difference compared to most other Ameritrash games (Descent, Zombicide to name a few) where you just use your X number of actions and chuck the dice. Conan takes way more planning.
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Paul Chamberland
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sgbeal wrote:
Is perhaps the pacing of Gloomhaven's campaign at least partly to blame? i haven't played it yet, but have heard reviewers complain that character improvement/leveling happens way too infrequently.

Characters level every 3 to 5 scenarios and gain perks every 2 to 4 scenarios. It is possible to level much slower by avoiding playing XP cards and you can miss the perks completely by not doing your battle cards.

My group has seen character improvements pretty much after every scenario except the first.
 
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Stephan Beal
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Mandor wrote:
sgbeal wrote:
Is perhaps the pacing of Gloomhaven's campaign at least partly to blame? i haven't played it yet, but have heard reviewers complain that character improvement/leveling happens way too infrequently.

Characters level every 3 to 5 scenarios and gain perks every 2 to 4 scenarios. It is possible to level much slower by avoiding playing XP cards and you can miss the perks completely by not doing your battle cards.

My group has seen character improvements pretty much after every scenario except the first.


FWIW, 2-4 and 3-5 seems uncomfortably slow to me, for this type of game. Maybe for a D&D campaign, but not what i'd expect out of a non-RPG tabletop game. Three is borderline too slow, five painfully so.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Mandor wrote:
shnar wrote:
As for the mechanics, our group very much disliked the mechanics of Gloomhaven. It very rapidly moved away from the feel of adventuring in a dungeon killing bad guys and looting, and moved towards a mathematical problem to solve. Which card in my hand will kill this enemy? A lot of the fun of dungeon crawling was staled away in Gloomhaven and we've given up on it.

How did it become a mathematical problem? It is for solo play but I can't imagine it being like that with four players. Were you playing it as a full co-op where the party works together on everything and shares? Or as a semi co-op where you don't really know who will go first, or whether a player will be able to kill a specific monster, where there is competition to get to chests and coins, where battle and life goals are high priority and secret, and where playing XP cards is more important than playing efficiently.

We played as closely to the rules as written (which were a mess) as possible. We didn't share information except in vague ways, etc. The reason it started feeling like a math problem as opposed to a romp in a dungeon is we all started "efficiently" min-maxing our turns. We would spend a lot of time looking at each card, figuring out what damage it does, understanding there is very little randomness in the attack (the randomness is in what card you have), etc. Maybe "math problem" is the wrong term, but rather "memory problem"? We'd have to start memorizing which cards were in our deck, knowing the odds of what we've drawn, knowing what was in the discard pile, etc. It very rapidly became stale and boring.

And yes, we understand that with a deck of cards, you can get much more interesting ways to attack from a thematic perspective. But frankly, as we played, we started completely ignoring the descriptions of the cards, and only looking at the mechanics of the cards. "This card does 3 damage and lets me move 2 spaces, great." Not, "This card is an acrobatic back stab!" A noble attempt at a different way to do a dungeon crawl that just falls flat.

-shnar
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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sgbeal wrote:
fusionmonkey87 wrote:
That was exactly my feeling with Gloomhaven. I've only played three dungeons and hated it. It doesn't matter that it was 4 players because it still feels like a puzzle rather than a dungeon crawl. I much prefer Conan even though they are very different games.


Is perhaps the pacing of Gloomhaven's campaign at least partly to blame? i haven't played it yet, but have heard reviewers complain that character improvement/leveling happens way too infrequently.

:-?


Nah, has nothing to do with the campaign. The campaign was actually interesting, the whole "legendary" aspects. It was the core mechanics of the dungeon crawling that was so distasteful, no matter the campaign it just wasn't fun. Different strokes I guess.

-shnar
 
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Peter Bowie
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shnar wrote:
Nah, has nothing to do with the campaign. The campaign was actually interesting, the whole "legendary" aspects. It was the core mechanics of the dungeon crawling that was so distasteful, no matter the campaign it just wasn't fun. Different strokes I guess.

-shnar


You mean Legacy (as in, it leaves a legacy after you play it). What you say is completely right. It's designed to be a dungeon crawl with Euro puzzly type mechanisms. Closest comparison would be Mage Knight (though they are pretty dissimilar).

It's comparing apples and oranges. Conan's a fast-paced tactical skirmish game, Gloomhaven's a contemplative strategy campaign game.
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I own Gloomhaven but haven't played it yet. From what I have seen, Gloomhaven might feel a bit like Mage Knight, where the game gives you total control. The game looks complicated, and it is like puzzle solving game. I expect to like Gloomhaven because I love Mage Knight.

Conan, on the other hand, is very different; I am not sure you can actually compare Conan against Gloomhaven at all. Conan uses dice rolls, the core mechanic is the gem system (which is a bit like resource management). The fun of Conan comes from the fast paced gameplay, the theme, and while it is simple but it offers surprising amount of strategy.
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Paul Chamberland
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shnar wrote:
Mandor wrote:
shnar wrote:
As for the mechanics, our group very much disliked the mechanics of Gloomhaven. It very rapidly moved away from the feel of adventuring in a dungeon killing bad guys and looting, and moved towards a mathematical problem to solve. Which card in my hand will kill this enemy? A lot of the fun of dungeon crawling was staled away in Gloomhaven and we've given up on it.

How did it become a mathematical problem? It is for solo play but I can't imagine it being like that with four players. Were you playing it as a full co-op where the party works together on everything and shares? Or as a semi co-op where you don't really know who will go first, or whether a player will be able to kill a specific monster, where there is competition to get to chests and coins, where battle and life goals are high priority and secret, and where playing XP cards is more important than playing efficiently.

We played as closely to the rules as written (which were a mess) as possible. We didn't share information except in vague ways, etc. The reason it started feeling like a math problem as opposed to a romp in a dungeon is we all started "efficiently" min-maxing our turns. We would spend a lot of time looking at each card, figuring out what damage it does, understanding there is very little randomness in the attack (the randomness is in what card you have), etc. Maybe "math problem" is the wrong term, but rather "memory problem"? We'd have to start memorizing which cards were in our deck, knowing the odds of what we've drawn, knowing what was in the discard pile, etc. It very rapidly became stale and boring.

And yes, we understand that with a deck of cards, you can get much more interesting ways to attack from a thematic perspective. But frankly, as we played, we started completely ignoring the descriptions of the cards, and only looking at the mechanics of the cards. "This card does 3 damage and lets me move 2 spaces, great." Not, "This card is an acrobatic back stab!" A noble attempt at a different way to do a dungeon crawl that just falls flat.

-shnar

Out of curiosity, what was the purpose of your min-maxing? Was it simply accomplishing the scenario as a group? Or were you acting as individuals and trying to maximize your personal XP, coins, battle goal check marks, and being the one to grab the chest - all of which make the scenario harder?

Also, does anyone really pay attention to card descriptions of attacks rather than the mechanics? Other than a diceless RPG, I can't remember any RPG, board game, or card game were I cared about the attack descriptions.

But what's great about the Gloomhaven cards aren't the descriptions but the huge variety of actions characters can take compared to other dungeon crawls and RPGs.
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Paul Chamberland
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sgbeal wrote:
Mandor wrote:
sgbeal wrote:
Is perhaps the pacing of Gloomhaven's campaign at least partly to blame? i haven't played it yet, but have heard reviewers complain that character improvement/leveling happens way too infrequently.

Characters level every 3 to 5 scenarios and gain perks every 2 to 4 scenarios. It is possible to level much slower by avoiding playing XP cards and you can miss the perks completely by not doing your battle cards.

My group has seen character improvements pretty much after every scenario except the first.


FWIW, 2-4 and 3-5 seems uncomfortably slow to me, for this type of game. Maybe for a D&D campaign, but not what i'd expect out of a non-RPG tabletop game. Three is borderline too slow, five painfully so.

My group plays fairly slow at about 2 hours per scenario so 2 scenarios a night. I work hard to maximize my XP so it usually takes me 3 scenarios to level or 1.5 nights. It feels fast to me, but if you want it faster so you can get everyone to max level, it's really easy to increase XP rewards as a house rule.
 
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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I don't want this to turn into a Gloomhaven bash thread, but I'll answer the specific questions:

1) The purpose of min-maxing? Probably just our nature as gamers. When we play tactical games, we tend to try to optimize our turns. This was amplified to a fault with Gloomhaven's cards and really pulled away from the adventure. As others have said, it became less a dungeon crawl and more a puzzle. We just didn't like that.

2) Do people pay attention to flavor text? Sure, at least to some degree. I mean, when you have that shield in Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) that gives you an extra brown die, you at least know you have a shield. When you use your knife in Level 7 [Omega Protocol] it doesn't feel like you're just doing a generic adjacent attack with 3 dice, you feel like you're stabbing that clone with your knife. Gloomhaven never gave us that feel. It was just, "This card does 4 damage, let's use that."

3) In the end, the "variety" of cards didn't really feel that varied. You still did one attack and one move (yes, sometimes those were mixed up). You still were spending time optimizing this turn and future turns, instead of just romping through a dungeon.

So in short, Gloomhaven as a "dungeon crawler" game just doesn't work for my group. We're too Ameritrash-y I guess. But we're excited for Conan.

-shnar
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anthony
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I have played both games enough (about 20 plays of Conan and around 12 scenarios of Gloomhaven) to know that a comparison is rather pointless; they really are apples and oranges. I love both games for very different reasons.

Gloomhaven is very much a euro style game with each scenario being a puzzle to solve (with many possible solutions) and you have to try to maximise efficiency of your hand and try to synegise with the other players (disscussing specifics is not allowed so they only have a rough idea of your intensions). You dont have a 'deck' you are drawing from, all your cards are in your hand - this means you can try to plan several turns in advance. The only real randomness is the amount of damage you do with a hit (all attacks hit, but you pull a damage randomiser card; usually +1/0/-1).

As Shnar pointed out; a dungeon 'romp' this game is not.

The beauty of Gloomhaven, for us, is the 'selfishness' factor. The theme of Gloomhaven is you are mercenaries out for yourself that have banded with others to survive. The game supports this through having no sharing of loot, individual scenario goals and an overall character goal. This means that during play you will make sub-optimal choices in order to grab loot or further a goal; much to the dismay of your fellow players!

sgbeal wrote:

FWIW, 2-4 and 3-5 seems uncomfortably slow to me, for this type of game. Maybe for a D&D campaign, but not what i'd expect out of a non-RPG tabletop game. Three is borderline too slow, five painfully so.


Gloomhaven is slow progress, deliberately slow. Different characters will advance at different speeds (we have a lvl6 and a lvl3 and levels in between, all have played tge same games). Characters will gain money/loot at different speeds, as some are better at collecting it than others. The fastest levelling characters might after every other scenario, but others might take 3 or 4 scenarios if not focusing on XP gain (maybe focusing on money gain, or perks). You will probably not even reach max level before the character retires and you unlock a new character (my character is level4 and nearing retirement; max is level9).
But Gloomhaven is a long campaign game which will take many many scenarios to complete (though you wont play all 95; there are lots of branching paths) and you will play several different characters through it.

Hope that helps; hard to give specifics without spoliers.
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anthony
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Mandor wrote:

My group plays fairly slow at about 2 hours per scenario so 2 scenarios a night.


No, MY group plays slow at around 3 hours for a scenario, sometimes more! I can only dream of playing 2 scenarios in an evening...
We have a player that has analysis paralysis and usually takes a while to select his cards.
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