Context of the review – This review is written after playing Gloomhaven at 2 player count for approximately 10 sessions. The copy of Gloomhaven is the reviewers own.
I write this review after playing around 10 games of Gloomhaven and then having it sit on my shelf for a long time. This Gloomhaven review is spoiler free and will not focus on any elements outside of general game play.
Gloomhaven is a great game that has great character progression, fun puzzly challenges and a great legacy component that will see you move through a story like no other (except maybe Pandemic Legacy).
It is also number 1 for a reason, those reasons above, the amount of content in the core box and the general gameplay.
I would not recommend buying this game because it is simply on the top of the list for board games at the moment – that is too easy. Why? Because it is long, and because it has so much content. If you are going to go into a game like Gloomhaven, you will need to consider a few other things in addition to it’s rank on BGG.
I prefer my games on the medium-heavy side but with the ability to set up quickly, play a game and be done with it. Unfortunately, Gloomhaven does not allow this. Sure, the apps that track health and Monster initiative are definitely a big helper, so is an insert..but the game will still take a good 30-45 minutes to set up.
If, like me, you do not have more than one living space and need your dining table for, well dining, this is going to be an issue for you. The game takes up a lot of table space and is best played when you are ‘on a roll’ and can play several scenarios at once (due to set up).
The other issue is that you are going to want to go into the game with the same team, which means committing to Gloomhaven and nothing else for a while. If someone drops out, or heavens wants to play a different game for a few weeks, then your ability to get through the campaign is going to be seriously slowed.
Unfortunately, despite my love for this game I have found that it continues to be relegated behind other medium heavy games that can be played in a night and the guilt doesn’t build about not having finished the campaign.
Gloomhaven also has a current expansion – Forbidden Circles and I am not seeing this one flying off the shelves here in Australia, but rather that it is seeming to go on clearance. It seems that the shine wore off before the expansion was released or more likely that people just had not finished the base game and could not justify the spending of money on even more content.
I am seeing tons of games released with a narrative or legacy approach like Tainted Grail, 7th Continent, Middara but my prediction is that this trend will run out soon. I feel that consumers will start to get to the point where they can no longer consume all the content for these games and will cease backing them in favour of shorter games that have a guaranteed return.
At the moment, I am seeking out a game that will give me the Gloomhaven feeling without the Gloomhaven commitment – happy to hear suggestions.