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Subject: To those that have played both this and Spirit Island solo... rss

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Mark Johnson
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Would the cognitive load of controlling two characters solo in Gloomhaven be less or more than controlling two Spirits solo in Spirit Island?

Thanks!
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Daily Grind
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I would say Gloomhaven is easier on cognitive load, as you're not given perfect information on the enemy's next move so there is more tactical play than strategic. Just my $0.02.
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Jason Kratz
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That's actually a really fun question I hadn't considered. I've played both - normally I do 3 spirits solo on SI, and 3 characters solo on GH.

Actually, now that I sit down to consider it, the two games are fairly similar in the hand management aspect (which may explain why they are my two favorite games right now). The biggest difference in my opinion is that SI increases the options that you have as the game moves forward as you gain additional powers and plays, whereas GH decreases the cards you have available as the game moves forward, and you always play exactly 2 cards.

During the planning phase, I'd say the cognitive load is pretty close to identical. While in Gloomhaven you generally have more cards to deal with, by and large the cards for a given hero are pretty similar (and you don't have the same sorts of concerns for energy and elements). There is the addition of initiative that you don't have in SI, but for me it is pretty much a wash.

I'd say during the play phase, the cognitive load for SI is actually a bit higher, as you need to concern yourself with the optimal order for actions taken by different spirits, whereas in GH the initiative order has already been determined, so you just need to optimize for one hero at a time (mostly).

In the invader phase, which is akin to monster movement, GH has a bit more cognitive load, as the monsters don't always do the same things, and there are corner cases to consider, and sometimes even decisions to be made - this monster could move to 1 of 2 spots, which should I move him to? In SI, the invader phase is pretty much automatic (although adding the event deck does up the cognitive load a bit - probably makes it about even). You also have in GH that the order that the monsters and players go in varies from round to round.

SI has more options for scaling the difficulty up and down, but I also think GH needs it a little less due to the inherent randomness of the monster AI decks.

I hope that answers your question - if you have anything else, feel free to ask.

I'd also note that of the two, I prefer SI as a solo game, and GH as a co-op. The hidden information in GH really provides just a little bit of tension in the party, and makes it so I prefer to actually play with other people. If that isn't an option, it is still a fantastic solo game, just I opine that it really is better shared with others. Once you've played SI enough, there really isn't anything hidden anymore, which takes a bit out of co-op play.

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Mark Johnson
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Thanks for the detailed response. I usually play SI with Two spirits solo, because I feel some spirits (ie Serpent) really suffer without another spirit to assist. I would never play with 3, because I feel that would be too much for me. Despite playing SI over 70 times, I still actually prefer playing a 2-player game of SI with a spirit each the most. If I play GH solo, I was wondering if I should play 2 or 3 heroes. I'm beginning to feel like 2 is the right number.

Both my friend and I have a copy of GH. I think us two and a third are trying his copy when he gets his removable stickers in the mail. If I like it a lot, I was considering playing solo and choosing different paths and characters. Didn't know what the ideal number of heroes would be and thought comparisons to Spirit Island would be good.

You've given me good information, but I'm happy to hear other responses.
 
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Artur Beznosyuk
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I feel opposite to what others said and think Gloomhaven have more cognitive load then Spirit Island.

I'd also say that during character planning/actions the load is similar (GH have initiative to consider, but SI usually have more options for completely different actions).

But when it comes to monster phase, it's really depends on scenario in Gloomhaven. If the number of monster is small, it is usually fine, occasionally you need to calculate obscure focuses/movements, however some scenarios could have 15-20 monsters on board and then it becomes a very heavy thinking procedure. There was one particular scenario where (very mild spoiler about general scenario mechanic)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
some monsters were allies to us and fought with other monsters
every round I spent more than 10 minutes to execute and calculate all of the monster actions. Another time there were like 25 monsters and it became a slow hell. At some point I just stopped executing the monsters that had no chance to reach characters to make things a bit easier.

As a note I play with 2 spirits in Spirit Island. I've started campaign with 2 characters in Gloomhaven, but switched to 3 lately and I would heavily recommend playing with 3 (though you could definitely play few first scenarios with 2 until you feel comfortable with rules)
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Mark Johnson
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“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
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I would put a spoiler tag on that info about that scenario. cry
 
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Rich P
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I find Gloomhaven to be much less mentally taxing than Spirit Island, given the circumstances you've outlined. It could be that I just don't care as much to find the optimal outcome each turn in Gloomhaven and that "good enough" will often suffice but I found myself spending a lot longer deliberating over the possibilities and combinations in Spirit Island.
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Matthew Schoell
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When playing solo for each game, I play three players in Gloomhaven and two players in Spirit Island. I think the cognitive load is actually less with 3 in gloomhaven compared to 2 in spirit island. It's usually pretty clear what you might want to do in Gloomhaven - my cragheart's going to get into the mix, my spellweaver is going to do what she needs to hit a bunch of people, my scoundrel is going to try and wreck somebody next to an ally.

Spirit Island can be that way, but I've also had turns where I am sure that River Surges in Sunlight is going to do something, then I move on to Thunderspeaker and find I prefer it's going to do that thing a bit better, and now I need to decide what RSS is going to do instead.
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Warren Zdan
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Controlling three characters is GH is much easier than trying to control two in SI. FWIW, for as much as I love GH (currently my favorite game, overall), I prefer SI for playing solo.

I tried GH as a solo game a few times, but I have a lot more fun playing it with imperfect information (other players). We played both retirement and battle goals as hidden information, which added a fun wrinkle. It's also sometimes more interesting to try and salvage your turn after someone with lower initiative messes up what you had planned.
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