Home Videos Games Podcastle

Should I buy Gloomhaven?


I am looking to buy Gloomhaven soon, but before I invest the money I was hoping to get some advice. I would probably be playing it mostly solo as my wife and I are moving soon and she is not interested in the genre. Is it worth it as a primarily solo game? And can I play it solo and in a group with a single box or will that mess with the ‘story’ of my box? Basically, is Gloomhaven worth 110-140 dollars for someone in my situation?
I do love the idea of it, so I’m not looking for a review of the game necessarily. Rather, is it a worthwhile solo experience or will I be missing some of the experience?


I wouldn’t buy it for solo play, but then I don’t tend to enjoy solo play. I’ve seen reports from people who do enjoy it solo, and some from people who don’t. You will miss out on the competition between characters, which I think is an important part of the experience and balance, but again, there are many people who play it as a pure cooperative game and scoff at the idea of competing for loot etc.

I’m guessing that ranked against only other solo games, it is better than the average solo game on the market. YMMV.

You can play it solo and in a group. Depending on your group, they might prefer to keep consistency within their own campaign instead of occasionally playing yours, and you can make that work, it’s just fiddly.


I haven’t played solo, but am running two versions with two different groups.

There is no real “messing” with the story of the box, you are in control of that as you like. It’s more “choose your own adventure” than Pandemic Legacy from that point of view.

In order to have a differing experience with my two groups, one group is acting “good” and the other one “evil” which has lead to diverging story choices and outcomes, so the games are fairly different.

As to whether it is worth it, I would say yes - it is the only game I ever bought two copies of.


It is the best boardgame ever made, and has incredible content-to-price ratio. I can’t vouch for solo play because I never play boardgames solo but I can’t imagine there would be anything about it that would detract specifically in that scenario aside from its main flaw of being a bit of a pain to set up/tear down. (Which is why I never play boardgames solo.)


A single campaign of Gloomhaven can handle multiple simultaneous parties. In this way, you can have one group party and one solo party (when playing a scenario solo, one player controls two characters). Also, party composition does not have to be the same from scenario to scenario. So, for example, you can have one party that’s usually you controlling 1-2 characters plus other people who drop in and out as their schedule/interest allow.

Note that within a single campaign, scenarios get locked and unlocked based on various events that parties trigger. This may have been intended as a feature, as parties react to what the others are doing in the world. But if one party plays way more often than another, the latter may find opportunities opening and closing before they are ready. Also, because the game has a long setup time already, you’ll probably want each character to pack their things in their own class’ box, which means only one character per class at a time across all parties, and the items available in the Gloomhaven shops are first-come-first-serve.

One solution to parties interfering with each other’s story is to run multiple parallel campaigns from the same box. However, it will be hard to get around sharing components (classes and shop items) as mentioned above. Furthermore, the campaigns will probably need to share the City and Road Event decks because keeping track of the contents and order of each deck will be a huge pain. Also, only one campaign will be able to use the board to keep track of global achievements and available scenarios but, as Matt review mentioned, the board is kinda superfluous, and each campaign can keep track of that stuff on paper.

Unfortunately, I can’t really address your questions of whether it’s fun for you as a solo game and is it worth the money. I’ve played a couple scenarios solo, and it scratches a similar itch to playing in a group. I do prefer playing in a group, since everyone has their own way of playing and their hidden battle goal but, as Matt said in the review, the heart of the game is staring at your dwindling hand and figuring out how you’re going to get out of this pickle, and you still get that.

The question I’d pose to you is what do you love about the idea of it, and could you get that in a different game?


I’ve also not played solo, but I think playing two handed would be more fun than true solo. Running two characters would give you more variety and planning, though you’d probably want to take it up a difficulty notch to make up for the perfect knowledge between both characters.

This is generally how I play most co-op games solo (Spirit Island, Mistfall, Darkest Night etc) and find it much more fun than running only one character. Figuring out broken ass team combos is half the challenge :smiley:


I haven’t really played much solo (only the solo scenario) but that one time was a lot of fun. It is way more like a puzzle then, a great one.

Best game ever by the way :slight_smile:

They are also developing a pc version.


I’m finding this all useful information. Got Gloomhaven… and am really struggling to figure out who to play it with. I’ve a few groups I play with regularly, but they’re either too many or too few. Was tempted to go solo, or do multiple campaigns… So this is illustrative. Thanks!


That’s the recommended solo mode: two characters, plus one difficulty level because of perfect information.


Also, the regular scenarios only have setups for 2-4 characters; there is no setup for just one character. I believe only the solo scenarios have solo setups, and those are designed to showcase a particular class, not be part of the narrative of the campaign.


I love the idea of the mechanics mixed with the RPG elements. Basically, I want a single-player D&D campaign with the deck elements Gloomhaven offers in it’s tactical combat scenarios.


I heard about the PC version and I’m tempted to wait until it launches to try the game.


Aside from a learning game at a con, I have only played this solo. Checking my BGG stats, I’ve logged 20 sessions which likely translates to 14 successful missions. I would say 90% of my gaming is not solo, but playing Gloomhaven solo is something I have quite enjoyed. I had a similar experience with both Mage Knight and the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game in the past. Nice and crunchy to mull over options without feeling pressure from friends to hurry and commit to tactics. I suppose I get some social aspect out of it by getting to swap stories with a co-worker who is playing through it with her husband. I find it quite engaging and rewarding and cannot recommend it enough. Definitely run it with two characters. Regarding the difficulty, I found bumping it up one level due to “perfect information” was too challenging in the beginning, though I am now doing it as recommended. I think there are likely many others who would highly recommend it solo as well.


Well that still takes some time…


So this is now back in stock online, and despite some misgivings, I can’t deny my interest in the game. I didn’t want to start a whole new thread on the same topic, but if the OP feels that I’ve hijacked/derailed this thread, please tell me and I’ll start repost a new one.

Anyway, if I was to get this game, I do have a couple of caveats:

  • I’d be playing with my 10 year old son, so I worry the game will be far too difficult; it would likely be shelved for a few months while we work through the Legends of the Alliance Imperial Assault campaigns, so he would have more experience (I may even hold it until Christmas 2019, so he will be closer to 11)
  • Because of the above concern (and my personal feelings about the whole thing) we would likely play it as a full-coop, and possibly with open hands; I’ve heard of groups that play this way, and still love the game and find it challenging

As far as my “misgivings”, I only have one real one beyond the concern over the difficulty; I’m not sure how well the whole “Euro puzzle as a dungeon crawler” will work with my son and I. That said, I do think he would love the characters and the ongoing world that is impacted by our choices.

So, can anyone offer some advice/opinions given the above info?


I play with a kid who was 9 when we started. We have never played with open hands. Give him a class that’s not as complicated and play on easy (one lower level of difficulty). There are lots of things going on but all a player really needs to do on their turn is choose two cards to play.


Since I don’t know of another game with the same deck mechanic as Gloomhaven, sounds like you should get Gloomhaven or the computer game. Note that the RPG elements are the kind where you create a character build. While the campaign has a branching storyline, like many board game RPGs, it isn’t really about collaborative storytelling and roleplaying (though our Mindthief does what she can to act like a sentient humanoid rat).

We’re only five scenarios in, so this is the opinion of a Gloomhaven novice, but I wouldn’t call Gloomhaven a “puzzle.” We do think about optimization: my Cragheart wants to schedule generating earth element to be consumed for XP (and extra damage but, let’s be honest, I’m doing it for the XP); the Mindthief is switching between ongoing buffs/debuffs depending on the situation; the Scoundrel is trying to maximize her spike damage on the big targets. But it’s not like we’ll lose if we’re not playing near optimally, like some co-op games. As @Tika said, you can play on easy difficulty so your kid doesn’t feel like he’s letting the side down. While there is some fun in optimizing how we play our hands, part of the fun is also doing cool stuff and taking names.

We also don’t coordinate our moves too closely, so it’s not a puzzle in that respect either; we may say we’re going late, or who we’re targeting, or ask if someone needs help, but we don’t have the whole turn planned out beforehand. Which is what the rules intended, and this keeps the game moving. There have been many times when we swapped which card we were using for top and bottom or used the default action instead of the primary action because the situation had changed.


Thanks @Tika and @jgf1123 for the feedback. As it’s quite the time commitment, I’m going to mull it over, and maybe mention it to my son again tomorrow, and see if he’s still intrigued. We talked about it once when we saw the game at a FLGS, where I explained the broad concepts of what it was (as far as I know them), and he’s mentioned it a few times since then. Specifically as “that game that has 90 scenarios”!, lol.


For the record, as the OP, I am very OK with this thread being a good place for questions about Gloomhaven in the broader sense. As a return question, should I try Imperial Assault first? Can I play it solo with the app? I already own Imperial Assault (though I have yet to find a group of friends willing to play it with me), which would make it an easy way to try out the psuedo-RPG, tactics-heavy solo experience.


That is very helpful! Thanks!