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Subject: The Broken Meeple - The Mother Of All Hype Trains - Gloomhaven Review rss

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Luke Hector
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http://brokenmeeple.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-mother-of-all-h...

NB: - those of you contributing to the debate with constructive opinions, you can stay. Those of you who are just here to launch personal attacks, please leave. We'll know if you've ignored this. But despite this review actually resulting in a non-negative score, some of you are going to go ape over the fact that isn't going to rate the game a 10/10. I know that's hard to take in, but guess what? WE ALL LIKE DIFFERENT THINGS! laugh But seriously if you have good things to debate, then please do, but too many will resort to attacks and the hobby doesn't need any more of that then it already does. Please be respectful even if you disagree.

Which gamer hasn't heard of Gloomhaven? Now if you're new to gaming or more casual then perhaps the name doesn't ring a bell, but right now you cannot walk past an award ceremony or Top 10 list or Facebook forum without seeing a mention of Gloomhaven. Whether you want it to or not, it will never leave your mind, it's a bit like the Ducktales theme song in that respect. The designer is now more popular than Jesus and despite only receiving a small number of ratings, it's shot up to #1 on BGG quicker than even the likes of Pandemic Legacy. I could go into detail into how broken the ranking system on BGG is, but I digress, that's a whole essay in itself.

I had to get in on this - you know me, I leap on to every hype train where possible and see what's what. Sometimes I'm transported to a world of wonder and amazement, other times the train derails and I'm mangled in a pile of scrap metal at the bottom of a cliff. Hype is one of the biggest enemies in gaming after all. Now of course Gloomhaven has been out long enough for hype to become "buzz" but they're both as high as each other. I gave the game a full can of beans plus a long demo a while ago, but never did a review for it as I was swarmed under and didn't have my lair defense systems in place yet - because any rating other than 10/10 for this game is regarded as heresy I've noticed so some preparation was required. . .




Designer: Isaac Childres
Publisher: Cephalofair Games
Age: 12+
Players: 1-4
Time: 120 - 180 Minutes
RRP: £134.99


From Board Game Geek

Gloomhaven is a game of Euro-inspired tactical combat in a persistent world of shifting motives. Players will take on the role of a wandering adventurer with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for traveling to this dark corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. In the process, they will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions they make.





NOT A D&D COPYCAT



I won't be going into spoilers don't worry, after all I've played 10 full scenarios so it's not like I'd have loads of plot points to reveal, but that's around 30 hours of time digging into Gloomhaven which is plenty long enough (and yes if a game can't entice you after 10 plays, playing another 10 isn't going to suddenly change the fabric of space, time and reality). But there's definitely a lengthy campaign with many branching paths here depending on your choices made between scenarios and your upgrades chosen.

The theme is not your run of the mill D&D copycat or "generic fantasy" tropes, thankfully, it's got a unique universe of its own borrowing ideas from other systems, but creating its own world to explore. Granted you can equate every class in the game to something you've seen before (that's the rogue, that's the wizard, that's the tank, that's the healer, etc) Still, it's certainly a refreshing change from the norm, though don't go into it thinking it's the most compelling story every told. A lot of the time (so far anyway) you're fighting humans/bandits etc and the odd undead which is nothing new or interesting (I want to fight monsters, not Robin Hood and his Merry Men) and the story, while ever changing, isn't one that I'm going to walk away from the game going "ooh I wander what's going to happen next"? It does the job fine of carrying the players through the game, but isn't a gripping tale. If this were a movie, it would be your adequate Fantasy epic with some good visuals, but nothing Oscar worthy.

The classes themselves play very differently to what you'd expect. Every character has their own set of cards and limits tailored to their expected role and these can also be upgraded as the campaign progresses allowing for a high level of differentiation among players - not to mention you will also unlock brand new classes as the campaign moves on, which is really cool, you don't see that in other RPG's. I kept trying to do the classic trope of stating who was the tank, who was the healer, etc, but it's not quite so clean cut as that and you have the opportunity to do your own thing without being type-casted. Very nice.

EDIT - If character progression is your thing, expect the usual parameters that you can change, including a small deck of cards that represents your combat modifier in a battle situation. It's basically a glorified custom die, but you can tweak this deck to suit your needs as you progress through the campaign, but I'm sure you're more interested in other aspects. . .




WE'RE ALL SPOILED FOR COMPONENTS


So you get this giant box that you could kidnap someone in which certainly adds to your shelf presence (assuming you can physically store the thing, it is huge), but what's in it? Well a ton of boxes and tiles and boards and cards, enough to make your mouth . . . .droop slightly? Yeah for a game costing over £100 and raising a large fortune on Kickstarter, it was a little underwhelming to see that the game boards and cardboard standees were pretty generic and unappealing especially when players use miniatures so you get that odd combination that should not mix in games. We've been spoilt in this category I'll admit, but then that's only the more reason for people to really step up their game in components. Descent 2.0 is 6 years old and yet I'd much rather stare at everything in that game over this - it really does not pop on the table at all, lots of the same colours repeated over and over - seriously does the designer have his house painted in nothing but reds and browns? But wait it has hexagons instead of squares, whooo waaa you've just changed everything! They're not horrible by any means, I've seen far, far worse, but expectations were high and it just turned out to be "adequate".

Rules wise, the book is decent enough though you can expect to be doing a ton of rules checking as you play your first few scenarios. It's not that the game is that complex, it's actually probably medium weight at best, but there's a lot to keep track of around the table and it's a pretty big book that doesn't make it entirely intuitive where you should be looking for specific rules queries. You want proof of this, head over to the BGG Gloomhaven page and look at the number of question posts in the rules section, it's ridiculous. Don't put this near a brand new gamer that's for sure - but then it's probably the long-term gamers that are playing Gloomhaven anyway and the number of BGG ratings kind of reflects this.




ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?


But how does it play? Well you know how other dungeon crawls work? Yeah? That. But with cards. You don't get dice in this scenario, instead you're managing a hand of dual purpose cards that not only give you specific tailored actions, but also represent your fatigue or life as it were. I like multi-use cards, but wish they used something else to handle your life points. And instead of a die, you get a small deck of modifier cards that you can adjust between scenarios....so a custom die then. Beats a generic D6 any day, but it's not a revolutionary new concept!

What these cards do however is put a different slant to what most expect from a dungeon crawl. You know in advance what the enemy is going to do and then it's done in initiative order so you essentially plan out the whole turn by way of utilising these action cards and being partially aware of what your teammates are going to do (you don't discuss card terminology directly, but you still say what're you're going to do in general). It's an interesting puzzle......which is both good and bad. When I think of a dungeon crawl, I'm thinking cinematic and tense fights with die rolling and speedy resolution where possible. Like an actual Star Wars trooper fight if you're playing Imperial Assault. Running up to the big dragon dodging attacks from multiple minions by the skin of your teeth and planting your sword in its head in a climatic stand-up moment (I've actually done that once!). Gloomhaven doesn't provide any moments like that.

As interesting as the puzzle is, it basically makes Gloomhaven a Euro game with a dungeon theme attached to it. Remember Legends of Andor? Looked the business, fantasy theme, but yet had the most theme-destroying puzzly nature to it where killing monsters actually made you lose? I don't want my dungeon crawl to be a giant puzzle and that's what Gloomhaven is. You'll spend an eternity with your friends planning out the entire round piece by piece (more on that later) before watching it all resolve - like if you were playing X-Com on the PC or resolving that V.A.T.S targeting system in Fallout.



It's also weird and a little infuritating how the enemies do the same thing all at once via a card based system. 10 skeletons and their actions are all the same like one big synchronised swimming team (what a weird thought). AI like this on a video game would get panned for being overly simplistic or practically brain-dead, but yet again, this gets a free pass it seems. Nearly 50 different enemy types and yet this simplistic mechanic stops them from feeling very special. If each type had their own deck to represent aggressive types, cautious types, ranged types etc that would be a bit better.

So the game lurches to a halt as you discuss the plan, and then it speeds on again as you actually perform the moves, then rinse and repeat until the game ends. We'll get on to the length issue this causes in a moment, but know going in that this game is going to feel more "Euro" than any other dungeon crawl you've played and if that's your style then you're going to be right at home here. The decision making with the cards is very engaging.


THIS ROOM HAS BEEN CHECKED, MOVING ON!!


Now one of the biggest issues with nearly all dungeon crawls is the time it takes to set up, play and take down the game. Most will comfortably go beyond 2 hours sometimes passing into the 3 hour mark and that's just too long for what should be a "drop down and beat up monsters" experience. A lot of this comes down to group discussion and the sheer number of components to sort out. Unfortuately that trope is repeated here. There is so much stuff in this box that even if you have the best organisation possible (before pimping out for an insert) it's still a lengthy affair before you're commencing Turn 1 and it's only worse when you're trying to pack everything away so that it all fits again.

On top of that, the scenarios aren't short. I kid you not, the first game took over 4 hours to finish after setup/teaching. Yes you're still learning the game, but that's insane when you consider the first scenario has three rooms.......THREE. Over an hour per room. And it's not like you explore very much as they were just corridors basically. Nothing of interest to find, just enemies. And this is a common theme during the campaign for at least the short term.
Many scenarios boil down to the same old "waltz in and either steal from or kill J Tolkien" objective and that got old in other dungeon crawls, it certainly gets sterile here. Don't quote me on this but I heard that the designer said he hasn't played other dungeon crawls. I don't know if that's 100% true or not, but if it is, it would explain a lot. By the time I felt like quitting the campaign it had already got samey.




Now subsequent games you speed up a bit, but a 3-4 player game can still easily suck up over 3-4 hours per scenario including setup and takedown. And you will experience downtime because even though you may only take a short time to decide on your cards, doesn't mean the others do and so you'll be waiting around. The gameplay doesn't really change much during a scenario either. Each round is a rinse-repeat affair and eventually becomes repetitive when you just want the scenario to hurry up and end while you try taking out those 1-2 last minions.

My regular game nights don't last more than 4 hours tops, I want to do more than just 3-4 rooms of light exploration and heavy combat before I go back home. "Long" is subjective among people, but we have jobs, families, lives, I don't have time to get through this campaign if every session requires an entire evening to "possibly" complete. I just want a dungeon crawl that gives me 60-90 minutes tops per scenario every time and even solo you're struggling to meet that here.


NEVER ENDING STORY


I'd be lying out of my black goblin teeth if I claimed there wasn't value in Gloomhaven. The amount of content that lies in this nuclear bomb crate is staggering and you'll certainly get your money's worth assuming you enjoy the game. However there are a couple caveats with that. Firstly for this value you are spending typically over £125 (varies by supplier) on the outset and that's before you inevitably need to spend some money pimping it out for easier setup/takedown (an insert is HIGHLY recommended because bizarrely depite being a giant box, everything doesn't fit in it easily.....HOW?!). In terms of content you're getting over £125 worth of game, but I would like to have seen better component quality and even then it's a lot of money to ask someone to cough up on a single game. We go ape at other publishers on Kickstarter for expensive campaigns, but yet this gets a free pass? Many claim that because of the value in content, it's somehow justified, but if this is going to be a game you play relentlessly for months on end - don't you want it at least look a little better more appealing? I play Lord of the Rings LCG a ton and I can tell you, if it had rubbish artwork, it wouldn't have anywhere near the immersion factor. . .

The second issue is more . . . unique. I love variety in games, it's nice to have lots of different things within so that the games feel different each time. But you can go too far with these things. Take an example of some great variety games currently. Sentinels of the Multiverse has a ton of heros/locations/villains now. I won't play every combo, but I'll at least be able to use them all and experience them. Spirit Island has a ton of variable ways to customize each game, but again, I will get to experience them all. Gloomhaven it seems has a campaign that will take forever to end, longer than most people have in terms of time available in their lives and yet you won't scratch the surface. If I was continuing with this game, I would never see all the content I've paid for, I'm a busy man. I doubt I'd even finish a campaign. It's one thing to have a ton of variety, it's another to pay a high cost for content I'll never see that is essentially wasted.

In terms of difficulty, you can tailor the experience to suit, but oh my word, make sure you play the first scenario on the easiest mode. For whatever bizarre reason the difficulty spikes considerably in the first one or two scenarios and this can put off a lot of players.
Don't let it, stick with it for a while longer before making up your mind.



VERDICT ON GLOOMHAVEN


Gloomhaven is going to one of those games that for many has defined the future of board games. I'm not one of those many. There is stuff to like here, don't get me wrong though - I've played bad games, Gloomhaven is not bad,but I also don't see the buzz factor here. I gave it a solid chance to impress me even since the first demo experience and yet all I see is "another dungeon crawl" game, but using cards rather than dice. Other than that it still carries many of the same tropes and issues that plague dungeon crawl games such as high price, select appeal, lengthy scenarios and the like - except now you have the fact it's now a giant puzzle rather than a cinematic experience.

You've got a unique universe that's different from the normal generic fantasy, even if it's not the most compelling story ever, the production is adequate enough if not stellar and it's got a lot of value in the box despite the high price tag. Some aspects of character progression are welcomed and the puzzle as mentioned is still engaging and fun to do. . . until it starts getting a little repetitive. There's some aspects of Gloomhaven that feel modern and forward thinking, but they are overshadowed by the more numerous aspects that feel dated.

After we've had so many of these games released over the years it's time to see something different and more innovative. I didn't hate my experience of Gloomhaven, if anything I was more disappointed given the high buzz despite enjoying some aspects of it. It's definitely going to appeal to some gamers though, but I'd still argue that it's a small group of die-hard fans and not a expanded consensus on a global scale. A game like Ticket To Ride has been an evergreen since 2004 - I don't see Gloomhaven having the same life cycle.

At best I can only call the #1 game on BoardGameGeek......average and for a game that is buzzed so much and has earned the designer a popularity level greater than Jesus, average isn't going to cut it for me. It hit my Top 10 Overrated Games last year and if I did the list again, it would remain, probably even climb it. And as a result I've now switched on the new security lasers on my secret lair.



Personal BGG Rating - 5 (Yes, sorry it's not 10/10, but you can take the night off and not grab your pitchforks on this occasion!)




YOU WILL LIKE GLOOMHAVEN IF:



You're a big fan of dungeon crawls and want more of the same.


You want a different universe to the typical D & D style that's usually prominent.


You want plenty of lifetime in the game, even if you will most likely never experience it all.




YOU WILL NOT LIKE GLOOMHAVEN IF:



You hate repetition in your quests / scenarios.


You don't like your RPG experience essentially feeling like a puzzle game.


You want a game that's easily approachable or easy to store.


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Daniel Nedeljkovic
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From the perspectiove of somone who has finished the campaigna and is midthrough another one
farmergiles wrote:

it really does not pop on the table at all, lots of the same colours repeated over and over - seriously does the designer have his house painted in nothing but reds and browns? But wait it has hexagons instead of squares, whooo waaa you've just changed everything! They're not horrible by any means, I've seen far, far worse, but expectations were high and it just turned out to be "adequate".

For me if the game is as good as Gloomhaven, it could be written and painted by a monkey, and I'd still love it.

What do you mean by:
farmergiles wrote:
low number of ratings it has in proportion to other more accessible titles?

It is just outside the top 100 by the number of votes (105 to be exact). As a comparison Gaia Project, 7th Continet, War of the Ring 2nd edition have almost 10.000 votes less than Gloomhaven.

farmergiles wrote:
It's also weird and a little infuritating how the enemies do the same thing all at once via a card based system. 10 skeletons and their actions are all the same like one big synchronised swimming team (what a weird thought). AI like this on a video game would get panned for being overly simplistic or practically brain-dead, but yet again, this gets a free pass it seems. Nearly 50 different enemy types and yet this simplistic mechanic stops them from feeling very special. If each type had their own deck to represent aggressive types, cautious types, ranged types etc that would be a bit better.

I have no problems with this, Isaac had to cut some corners and this was an OK place to do it. If he tried to make the monster more thematic, we would have had ASL the Dungeon Crawl game on our hands.

But I do have problems with monster AI: they usually behave like idiots if played by the rules. Might be houseruling this if we play the expansion.

farmergiles wrote:

but I heard that the designer said he hasn't played other dungeon crawls.

Don't know about this but he said he played D'n'D (or other RPGs) a lot.



farmergiles wrote:
What these cards do however is put a different slant to what most expect from a dungeon crawl. You know in advance what the enemy is going to do and then it's done in initiative order so you essentially plan out the whole turn by way of utilising these action cards and being partially aware of what your teammates are going to do (you don't discuss card terminology directly, but you still say what're you're going to do in general). It's an interesting puzzle......which is both good and bad. When I think of a dungeon crawl, I'm thinking cinematic and tense fights with die rolling and speedy resolution where possible. Like an actual Star Wars trooper fight if you're playing Imperial Assault. Running up to the big dragon dodging attacks from multiple minions by the skin of your teeth and planting your sword in its head in a climatic stand-up moment (I've actually done that once!). Gloomhaven doesn't provide any moments like that.

If you asked me before Gloomhaven came out I would have agreed, but now that I've played Gloomhaven I can't play any other dungeon crawl that fits your definition.

Now I get to one big issue with your thoughts on the game. You say that it's too different from other dungeon crawlers (in the last quote) and then you say:
farmergiles wrote:
I gave it a solid chance to impress me even since the first demo experience and yet all I see is "another dungeon crawl" game, but using cards rather than dice.

How can it be too different from other dungeon crawls and yet be just "another dungeon crawl"?
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HenningK
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I should warn you that I am one of the "Heresy!"-criers that will hunt you down with my pitchfork and torch and thus will probably realize too late that your secret lair's lasers will be my downfall.

So with that out of the way: Thanks for the well-written review! I can see why you are not impressed. You certainly have a point about scenario variety, though it gets a little better later in the campaign. Component quality also seems of great importance to you, and yes, this is not up to FFG's quality. It gets a "free pass" from me because I simply don't care all that much about it and still think that Gloomhaven is "good enough".
Regarding the scope, I think it's fantastic to have a game with so much content instead of spreading it out over dozens of expansions, but of course it feels wasted if the basic gameplay doesn't appeal to you.

I think your central point is this one:
farmergiles wrote:
I also don't see the buzz factor here.


, and I think you already saw it, maybe without realizing it:
farmergiles wrote:
As interesting as the puzzle is, it basically makes Gloomhaven a Euro game with a dungeon theme attached to it. Remember Legends of Andor? Looked the business, fantasy theme, but yet had the most theme-destroying puzzly nature to it where killing monsters actually made you lose? I don't want my dungeon crawl to be a giant puzzle and that's what Gloomhaven is.


Gloomhaven is a dungeon crawler for Eurogamers, and that is a match made in heaven for lots of people, me included. (I also love Legends of Andor.) When you say Gloomhaven is "another dungeon crawl game, but using cards rather than dice.", I think you undervalue just how different this feels compared to, say, Descent. The way the card system works is radically different from anything I've seen in other dungeon crawls, though I will freely admit I haven't played all that many - mostly because I stereotype the gameplay decisions to "I move and attack, let's roll some dice!", which doesn't always excite me. Of the games I know, only Mage Knight scratches a similar itch as a fantasy RPG-ish game with emphasis on hand management. And yes, I love Mage Knight, too.

Anyway, as I said, great review though our opinions about the game differ. Maybe we can put it this way: Gloomhaven is a fantastic game if it clicks for you, and an overblown, slow, repetitive, too-ambitious-for-its-own-good mediocre one if it doesn't. Lucky me that I fall in the first camp.
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J Mathews
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Having played a ton of dungeon crawls, I'm not sure how Gloomhaven counts as "more of the same". It is unique in that it actually presents meaningful tactical decisions during games with far more character build options and class distinctiveness than pretty much any other similar game (WoW:tBG is the only one I have seen that comes close). Game time and setup are consistent with its peers.

I would rephrase your conclusion as such:

You May Like Gloomhaven If:
1. You've played dungeon crawlers, enjoyed them, but want deeper gameplay decisions.
2. No change, the non D&D world is awesome to see, even if some tropes still remain.
3. You want a durable campaign experience that will last over 20 sessions.

You May Not Like Gloomhaven If:
1. You don't enjoy dungeon crawls.
2. You want to play an RPG instead of a dungeon crawl because a deep story is important to you.
3. You are not interested in, or don't have, a regular campaign group interested in committing to a single game for over 20 sessions.
4. You like throwing dice and object to the idea of card-based combat resolution.
5. You really like minis and insist on them as a core aspect of the dungeon crawl experience.
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farmergiles wrote:
What these cards do however is put a different slant to what most expect from a dungeon crawl. You know in advance what the enemy is going to do and then it's done in initiative order so you essentially plan out the whole turn by way of utilising these action cards and being partially aware of what your teammates are going to do (you don't discuss card terminology directly, but you still say what're you're going to do in general). It's an interesting puzzle......which is both good and bad. When I think of a dungeon crawl, I'm thinking cinematic and tense fights with die rolling and speedy resolution where possible. Like an actual Star Wars trooper fight if you're playing Imperial Assault. Running up to the big dragon dodging attacks from multiple minions by the skin of your teeth and planting your sword in its head in a climatic stand-up moment (I've actually done that once!). Gloomhaven doesn't provide any moments like that.

In addition, I'm not sure what game you were playing but, 40 scenarios in, we have seen all sorts of cinematic, tense fights like you say Gloomhaven doesn't have. Long runs across the room to sink a dagger in the back of a demon that would have killed a companion, one final attack while exhausting to kill the elite enemy while the rest of the party goes on, walking into a room and getting surrounded while the other parties rush to your aid, etc. I honestly don't understand how you found that missing, unless you got distracted by the abstractions presented by the puzzle and couldn't ever get past that.
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Stephen Glenn
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Enjoyed your review. My thoughts:

1. I don't care about the lack of minis. In fact, it's refreshing. And the cost of the game would have been that much higher if every monster in this game had its own mini. The cardboard standees don't bother me in the slightest.

2. I am four scenarios in and I'm already starting to wonder if the scenarios are all going to be this samey. March in a room and kill all the monsters. Don't get me wrong, I like it, but will the campaign's "story" be enough to inspire me to play it regularly? I think this is the type of game that needs to be played regularly in order to maintain the narrative. I'm already thinking that the game itself will be a keeper, but I may just play the random dungeons and skip the campaign entirely.

3. I really like the system, and the fact that it's not a dice chucker. I played a few game of Descent and it was not my cup of tea. But Gloomhaven's combat/movement structure is very appealing. In small doses (see #2).

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Jonathan C
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What other dungeon crawlers play like Gloomhaven? I'm curious because I'd probably enjoy those too. Rotating available actions, etc. Because every other of the 6+ dungeon crawlers I've played generally has the same actions available each turn. I mean, 'clear each room of monsters' is the same general objective for most dungeon crawlers most of the time, but there are vast differences in the way you accomplish that. Nothing I've seen does it the way Gloomhaven does, with most being just 'use your weapon's modified stats and chuck dice' and involving a far lower level of decision making. Then again, OP doesn't really seem to like the thinkiness of Gloomhaven combat (too 'puzzly') and I'd agree that it's not the optimal game if you're looking for a dice-chucker hack and slash experience. That level of puzzle to the combat is exactly what I like about it over others though.
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Stephen Glenn wrote:

2. I am four scenarios in and I'm already starting to wonder if the scenarios are all going to be this samey. March in a room and kill all the monsters. Don't get me wrong, I like it, but will the campaign's "story" be enough to inspire me to play it regularly? I think this is the type of game that needs to be played regularly in order to maintain the narrative. I'm already thinking that the game itself will be a keeper, but I may just play the random dungeons and skip the campaign entirely.

There are some variations, but it will mostly be some variation of "kill all the monsters". Monster variability is significant though, as are the boss fights, which are generally shorter dungeons and play out differently. There are some fetch quests, some escort quests, and some other kinds but dungeon crawls are about killing monsters so you aren't going to get away from that in any meaningful way.
 
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Jon G
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Skozen wrote:
What other dungeon crawlers play like Gloomhaven? I'm curious because I'd probably enjoy those too.


Vlaada's Mage Knight Board Game. It's a very Vlaada game: complex/messy, deep puzzles, pressing your luck, and sometimes failing hard.

You power up through deckbuilding, play non-standard tropes, combat is card puzzle, and damage dilutes your deck unless you play the character powered by damage. On the face it's pretty similar... the main difference is that Gloomhaven is about campaigning and gradual power-up, which Mage Knight is more single session.

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dr.mrow wrote:
Skozen wrote:
What other dungeon crawlers play like Gloomhaven? I'm curious because I'd probably enjoy those too.


Vlaada's Mage Knight Board Game.

You power up through deckbuilding, play non-standard tropes, combat is card puzzle, and damage dilutes your deck unless you play the character powered by damage. On the face it's pretty similar... the main difference is that Gloomhaven is about campaigning and gradual power-up, which Mage Knight is more single session.


Mage Knight is not a dungeon crawler, it is competitive (or at least designed to be so, despite the cooperative variant), and has far less variation between characters. To put it simply, Mage Knight:RuneBound::Gloomhaven: Descent. But they are nowhere near the same kind of game. And I say this owning and really enjoying both games.
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Carsten Neumann
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"Ugh", Hail sighs. "Dispatch these simpletons quickly. I am already bored with them."
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If you, the OP, have to play scenario 1 on the easiest level - maybe you are simply not good at GH.
It is not easy, but you win it on normal the 2nd or 3rd time you play it. No problem.

But you also write that you don't like to be "punished" in Andor. Maybe you did not get the concept of Andor either.

From what I get, you should play Zombicide - or Doom/Quake/BattleField :-)

Interesting review (and you wrote a lot and wrote it well), but your taste in games differs a lot from mine.
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Luke Hector
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horstderadler wrote:
If you, the OP, have to play scenario 1 on the easiest level - maybe you are simply not good at GH.
It is not easy, but you win it on normal the 2nd or 3rd time you play it. No problem.

But you also write that you don't like to be "punished" in Andor. Maybe you did not get the concept of Andor either.

From what I get, you should play Zombicide - or Doom/Quake/BattleField :-)

Interesting review (and you wrote a lot and wrote it well), but your taste in games differs a lot from mine.


A first scenario of any game should not be harder than other scenarios after it, nor take 3+ hours to play. Also you clearly misunderstand what I meant about being punished in Legends of Andor. I'm talking about the fact that you get punished for killing monsters in Andor. A game about defending your castle from threats like most fantasy tropes and yet the game punishes you for defending your castle. Thematically that's all over the place.
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farmergiles wrote:
A first scenario of any game should not be harder than other scenarios after it, nor take 3+ hours to play.

I have to disagree with you on your first point here. I thought it was refreshing that I felt challenged in the first scenario of gloomhaven. I often dread starting a campaign in other games, knowing I'll have to cakewalk through the 'introductory' scenario.

Regarding the play time, I think that the more you play this game, the quicker the games get. The first time I played, I think it was about 2 hours for the first scenario, but I was figuring out strategies and looking up some specific rules. Now that I understand the majority of the rules and I'm familiar with how my character's play I can get through some of the quicker scenarios in a little over an hour. I'm playing solo with two characters though, higher player counts will probably still take over two hours.
 
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farmergiles wrote:
A first scenario of any game should not be harder than other scenarios after it, nor take 3+ hours to play.

Scenario 1 isn't harder than the scenarios after it. It's pretty straightforward and pretty tame, assuming you have read the focusing rules and don't position your character so everything in the first room runs up and ganks them. Go quick, make sure you split the damage, and you should be fine. Outside of that first turn there isn't anything scary in the 1st scenario. Certainly not compared to what comes after. As for play time, if a game takes that long, it's fine and consistent with the genre. What I got out of your review the most was that you aren't too thrilled with the dungeon crawl genre, in general. Which is fine, but explains why you missed the innovation in Gloomhaven. Innovation is relative to your peers and compared to what else is out there, Gloomhaven has it in spades. It's more of an indictment as to how stagnant the dungeon crawl niche has been than praise for GH though.
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Well done, on being honest with your views. Not easy, when some people have become committed to it. As far as I can figure, that's all it is - committment. The kickstarter generated huge interest because of the scope. The dedication allowed a massive campaign to rate the game a 10 on BGG, BEFORE anyone actually played it. Because of the expense, people became even more committed. Who wants to spend $$$ to realise its not what you expected. So it must be great. How dare anyone criticise it? The game is decent, but the hype around it is an example of how social media etc. has an influence. As a final point. To those reviewers who rated it so highly, how much did you actually enjoy it, or actually play it?
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Matrix999 wrote:
Well done, on being honest with your views. Not easy, when some people have become committed to it. As far as I can figure, that's all it is - committment. The kickstarter generated huge interest because of the scope. The dedication allowed a massive campaign to rate the game a 10 on BGG, BEFORE anyone actually played it. Because of the expense, people became even more committed. Who wants to spend $$$ to realise its not what you expected. So it must be great. How dare anyone criticise it? The game is decent, but the hype around it is an example of how social media etc. has an influence. As a final point. To those reviewers who rated it so highly, how much did you actually enjoy it, or actually play it?

This analysis is flat incorrect. First off, the initial Kickstarter run didn't even raise $400,000 and cost those of us who bid $80. There are a half dozen other games I have purchased or traded for, sight unseen, that are worth more. $80 just isn't enough money to drive the kind of mass cognitive dissonance you are proposing. The large KS campaign was the second printing, and came after people had played, reviews had been written, and ratings had come from people with experience. That campaign was successful because people said the game delivered on what it promised. It wouldn't have been successful otherwise because the game just did not have much hype until after people got it in their hands. So your timeline is off.

This was the first game I KSed (now up to 3, none pending, this was the cheapest and my favorite of my KS games) and I did so because the demoed gameplay looked like it involved actual decisions and required actual strategy, which is unique for a dungeon crawl. My group had been through 4 other dungeon crawls and their campaigns without finding one we liked, from Heroquest to Galaxy Defenders. Now? I am running two Gloomhaven groups concurrently in the same game world and have been for the past year and a half. Both groups meet regularly and have survived the departure of group members (1 in one group, 3 in the other) and have continued. this hasn't happened for me for any other game since I started playing games. As a result of our gaming sessions, 3 people who can play regularly at my house have purchased their own copies. I purchased, as a present, a copy for a friend who lives in another state where we moved from. We had played Descent: RtL 1.0 and many other dungeon crawlers while we lived there. I sent it to him because I knew it would hit the spot for him. He got it in January and he says they haven't played a different dungeon crawl since. So even if my personal feelings were 100% cognitive dissonance from spending $80 on the game, there are 4 other copies that have been purchased and/or enjoyed by people either before or without spending the money.

I haven't rated it on BGG because I don't rate games on BGG, but if I did it would be a 10. I don't have any reason to buy any other dungeon crawl, and have since traded away the ones I had. I play it 2 or 3 times a month and enjoy it every time. It's not my favorite game, but that is only because Combat Commander is still awesome. I totally understand and get that there will be people who don't like it for one reason or another, and good for them. But to dismiss its reception just because you don't get it is just lazy and incomplete analysis.
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Matrix999 wrote:
Well done, on being honest with your views. Not easy, when some people have become committed to it. As far as I can figure, that's all it is - committment. The kickstarter generated huge interest because of the scope. The dedication allowed a massive campaign to rate the game a 10 on BGG, BEFORE anyone actually played it. Because of the expense, people became even more committed. Who wants to spend $$$ to realise its not what you expected. So it must be great. How dare anyone criticise it? The game is decent, but the hype around it is an example of how social media etc. has an influence. As a final point. To those reviewers who rated it so highly, how much did you actually enjoy it, or actually play it?

The game has also had many glowing reviews from reputable reviewers including dice tower and SUSD. I was not a kickstarter backer, I bought a third printing and had many professional reviews to base my purchase on.
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Michael Debije
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Luke- I hear you, man. Pretty much the same thoughts here.
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OP your liking of a game should not affect your review, if, you plan to keep reviewing games as another hobby.

Seems to me you are not a fan of a dungeon crawler, so why do you think GH would change that. GH is just another dungeon crawler that brings to the table so much more than any other of the genre.

Rolling dice is nothing like the card system, not only in terms of probability but mostly the capacity to enhance your deck of cards according to your strategy, something that dice games can't do at the same level, even if you Dice Forge it.

Not having minis for the monsters was a great call, the biggest problem with GH is the set-up/pack up time, and having another few dozen minis would make things even worst. Besides, the minis are awful.

Most missions are about killing all monsters, and this was an oversight from Isaac, no doubt. He admits, and expansions will bring many other goals to the scenarios according to him.

Although you put your thoughts in a coherent manner, I don't agree with most of your points and your final score is biased imo.
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Matrix999 wrote:
Well done, on being honest with your views. Not easy, when some people have become committed to it. As far as I can figure, that's all it is - committment. The kickstarter generated huge interest because of the scope. The dedication allowed a massive campaign to rate the game a 10 on BGG, BEFORE anyone actually played it. Because of the expense, people became even more committed. Who wants to spend $$$ to realise its not what you expected. So it must be great. How dare anyone criticise it? The game is decent, but the hype around it is an example of how social media etc. has an influence. As a final point. To those reviewers who rated it so highly, how much did you actually enjoy it, or actually play it?


No offense, but I am sick and tired of reading this argument. It's factually wrong and condescending towards people who genuinely like the game.

Gloomhaven's first Kickstarter was rather modest at about 387K. The buzz started after the first Kickstarter was over, when more and more enthusiastic reviews came in and word of mouth spread to those folks who usually ignore Kickstarter.
There are other games that had more hype before being launched and/or raised more money on Kickstarter, but none of them proved to be as popular or had as many enthusiastic reviews as Gloomhaven.

As for me, I usually ignore Kickstarter and was oblivious to this game before it started shipping. I had the chance to play a friend's copy and was immediately impressed, so I kickstarted the second printing. The game arrived on October 20th, and my wife and I started the campaign. We finished it shortly before Christmas, so about 2 months later. We sometimes played it 5 times per day. We played as guest players in friends' campaigns. We played the two mini campaigns and are in the middle of our second full-fledged main campaign. I started designing my own campaign. I am now at 193 plays, which equals 400-500 hours of playing, and I'm not tired of it yet.

I know it's hard, but please accept that there are lots of people who genuinely love Gloomhaven. Hype or commitment alone do not explain the amount of love this game gets; to many people, it really IS that good.
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horstderadler wrote:
If you, the OP, have to play scenario 1 on the easiest level - maybe you are simply not good at GH.
It is not easy, but you win it on normal the 2nd or 3rd time you play it. No problem.

But you also write that you don't like to be "punished" in Andor. Maybe you did not get the concept of Andor either.

From what I get, you should play Zombicide - or Doom/Quake/BattleField :-)

Interesting review (and you wrote a lot and wrote it well), but your taste in games differs a lot from mine.


Sorry Carsten, if someone wants to play a game on the easiest level, that does not mean that they won't be good enough to play the game..... The game should be (and I believe GH is) accessible to as many people, with different levels of gaming experience, as possible. If playing on an 'easy' level allows someone to enjoy a game more, then that is better than someone ending up being frustrated with the game.
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carkara wrote:
OP your liking of a game should not affect your review, if, you plan to keep reviewing games as another hobby.

Seems to me you are not a fan of a dungeon crawler, so why do you think GH would change that. GH is just another dungeon crawler that brings to the table so much more than any other of the genre.

Rolling dice is nothing like the card system, not only in terms of probability but mostly the capacity to enhance your deck of cards according to your strategy, something that dice games can't do at the same level, even if you Dice Forge it.

Not having minis for the monsters was a great call, the biggest problem with GH is the set-up/pack up time, and having another few dozen minis would make things even worst. Besides, the minis are awful.

Most missions are about killing all monsters, and this was an oversight from Isaac, no doubt. He admits, and expansions will bring many other goals to the scenarios according to him.

Although you put your thoughts in a coherent manner, I don't agree with most of your points and your final score is biased imo.


Don't like dungeon crawlers? Ok I'll just pull out the list of dungeon crawlers I love, oh why should i even? O hear that excuse from the fan boys so often it's unreal. You don't think Gloomhaven of the best game ever, you must not like dungeon crawls. That's such a poor argument. If I di didn't like dungeon crawls I would say it. If you disagree that's fine but before the personal attacks start flowing you need to understand it is actually possible that this game might actually be overrated.
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Matrix999 wrote:
Well done, on being honest with your views. Not easy, when some people have become committed to it. As far as I can figure, that's all it is - committment. The kickstarter generated huge interest because of the scope. The dedication allowed a massive campaign to rate the game a 10 on BGG, BEFORE anyone actually played it. Because of the expense, people became even more committed. Who wants to spend $$$ to realise its not what you expected. So it must be great. How dare anyone criticise it? The game is decent, but the hype around it is an example of how social media etc. has an influence. As a final point. To those reviewers who rated it so highly, how much did you actually enjoy it, or actually play it?


Money and dedication does certainly have an effect. For me I didn't have to pay the price up front so they didn't influence it though I still had to call outr that it's a high price tag despite the content within being substantial. Tom Vasel loved the game but I respect his opinion greatly, SuSd much less so. As I said there are reasons to like this game, just not enough to justify #1 against every other amazing game out there.
 
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farmergiles wrote:
...you need to understand it is actually possible that this game might actually be overrated.

This is the problem. If you write a review with the stated aim of arguing the point that a game is "overrated" you end up with something like the review above. What other people think about a game they have played is not something you have much influence over. You should be addressing people who haven't played the game with a view to conveying your own impressions. Instead you end up with a lot of "you are all so wrong, and here's why", which doesn't come across very well. Not a terrible review. 5/10.

FWIW I also think Gloomhaven isn't as good as at least a dozen other games that I like more, but there's no denying it is rated as it is because enough people liked it enough to give it that rating...
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Ok, add the words "for some people" after that quote.
 
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