So I have spent exciting 15 sessions with Brute, playing the Gloomhaven campaign and I would like to share some of my ideas and observations regarding that class. What follows is my subjective take on that character strengths and weaknesses, suggested equipment as well as card deck composition. Hope you will find it useful!

Brute play-mat


The name of the character – Brute – speaks for itself. The character is an unstoppable and savage melee creature, who storms into the new rooms, soaking up huge amounts of damage and dealing the same to opponents. While enemies focus on you, more brittle, long-range, high-damage classes can take care of opponents in the meantime.

Other articled in the world of Gloomhaven:
Brute Strategy guide (you are just reading this)
Spellweaver strategy guide
Tinkerer strategy guide
Doomstalker strategy guide
Our Gloomhaven Campaign in chronological order 
Frosthaven – first look – starting classes (1/2)
Frosthaven – first look – starting classes (2/2)
(NEW!) Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion – Voidwarden and Demolitionist
(NEW!) Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion – Red Guard and Hatchet


  • Health – very high at the start and growing rapidly with every level; crucially needed to take all those hits on you instead of allies
  • Stamina – comparatively fine; with 10 cards plus Stamina Potion you should be able to easily play even the longest scenarios; just don’t burn the cards too quickly!
  • Move – more than half of the basic cards give you movement; you have some long-range ones, which enhanced with Boots of Striding can allow you to move up to 8 hexes
  • Initiative – not the quickies character, as you might expected but even on level 1 you have a 10 and 15 initiative cards needed for those turn you really want to be in front of your enemies
  • Loot – very poor abilities in that respect – only one card with range one; still, this is more or less as expected with that character
  • Experience – quickly levels up, having many attack and shield cards with experience; it took me on average 2.14 scenarios to get to the new level


You are a front-liner – and this is true whether you are going more into the direction of a tank or a damage-dealer. Thus your equipment should also reflect this. Also, I find the initial items suggested by the rulebook quite useful and actually started with them:

With time you will gain much more gold which should be invested into:

  • War Hammer – with your multi-hex attacks that is great way to stun enemies
  • Upgrading to Major Healing Potion -you will never regret having some additional HP in reserve
  • Mail – whatever type you are able to get – I finished with Chainmail, giving me 1 shield three times
  • Last but not least – Minor Stamina Potion for recovering discarded cards

Of course, there should be also a piece of equipment for the head – thanks to one of the scenarios I got hold of Pendant of Dark Pacts and I found it much better equipment then any kind of helmet. I was able to refresh two consumed items – great combo with my Potions!

Fully equipped Brute with six ideal items for his class (at least,in my opinion:) )


The heart of the game are cards. They actually reflect the play-style of the character and in what direction you would like to develop it. So let us see what I decided to choose – for sake of readability, all below images when you click on them opens enlarged in the new window.

Basic cards (level 1 choices)

What I have chosen as my core set of cards
What I left behind

As for initial choice, it is easier to say what you left behind as poor cards. Mainly, I discarded all retaliate cards – they are very situational and you never know when you play them, if they will have good usage – I prefer simply attacking then waiting to be hit 🙂 That is why Eye for Eye and Wall of Doom are quickly put aside. As for Overwhelming Assault I had some more doubts. In the end I made a decision that I had enough loss cards in the deck plus low initiative (61) here made it unfit for my playing style.

Cards available during level-ups

Level 2 to 7 cards – front row what I took, bottom row what I discarded
  • Level 2 – I took Fatal Advance over Juggernaut; reason: very useful top in first card, (used it multiple times on high HP enemies) with great move at the bottom. Hard choice, both cards quite good. I replace and remove from the deck: Shield Bash
  • Level 3 – I took Brute Force over Hook and Chain; reason: again, two good cards but first have great area attack (upgrade of Sweeping Blow which I discard), which will be useful with War Hammer. I replace and remove from the deck: Sweeping Blow
  • Level 4 – I took Unstoppable Charge over Devastating Hack; reason: this is no brainier; I rather have multiple 5 strength attacks then one 8. Also bottom of first card (move 4, stun) is much better. I replace and remove from the deck: Grab and Go 
  • Level 5 – I took Skirmishing Maneuver over Whirlwind; reason: non-loss two attacks on top and attack on bottom, ranged? I take it! I replace and remove from the deck (with deep regret but this card is too low on damage): Provoking Roar
  • Level 6 – I took Immovable Phalanx over Quietus; reason: second card has very situational top; first – a great 4 strength attack plus great initiative. No hesitation here. I replace and remove from the deck: Trample
  • Level 7 – I took Crippling Offensive over Defensive tactics; reason: did I say I find retaliate useless?  Also, attack 2 at level 7 is a poor performance, thus first card is chosen. I replace and remove from the deck (again, with deep regret):  Warding Strength
Level 8 & 9 cards – front row what I planned to take, bottom row what I would discarded
  • Level 8 – I would take Frenzied Onslaught over Selfish Retribution; reason: retaliate and loot are not characteristics I deem needed for my style of play; on the other hand 2 moves and two attacks on top is quite interesting, thus choice of the first card.
  • Level 9 – I would take Face your End over King on the Hill (what the names!); reason: killing enemies instantly – including elite plus triple attack with pull is what I like; heal 5 at this level not so useful, and a 6 attack / lost not so compelling.

I finished my gameplay on level 7 and so in the end in my last scenario my hand looked like this:

Brute Level 7 – click to enlarge

With that in hand I felt comfortable facing any type of enemy!


Click to enlarge

As far as perks are concerned, you should definitely start with those three:

  • Ignore negative item effects – really needed for all those armors you are going to use
  • Remove two -1 cards – to enhance your battle-card deck
  • Replace one -1 card with one +1 card – to further enhance your battle-card deck

These three are fundamental – later on you may add +1 cards or some rolling effects. With time, your deck will be much more green and resilient to negative cards but risk of drawing “Null” will always exist.


There are tons of them and I hope you would help me finding more in comments 🙂 The obvious ones which I often used:

  • Skewer bottom + top of Balanced Measure + Boots of Striding – that gives – and already from level 1 – a very powerful attack with strength of 8!
  • Trample bottom + top of Balanced Measure + Boots of Striding – that gives – and again already from level 1 – up to 5 attacks with strength 2 and a powerful smash with strength of 6. Assuming and average 0 drawn from battle deck, that is 16 points of damage – already from the beginning of the game (but rare to achieve).
  • As we have some pulls / pushes it was not uncommon to trigger multiple traps with un-expecting enemies; definitely try this with Brute.
  • Running in the midst of enemies who close on you, and then killing the most powerful one – like Stone Golem or some Elemental – using top of Fatal Advance.
  • And many more…


I will be missing that straightforward class – simply bursting into the enemies, wreaking havoc, slashing around and taking multiple hits. Usually no finesse, quickly closing on monsters and ripping guts from them. That was fun, a lot of fun but now it is time to try more subtle play-style – this time Angry Face.