As with every complex, multi-level game, in Gloomhaven there are rules you tend to omit, forget or simply misinterpret. Recently, our company was enlarged by the fourth member, and even though he thoroughly read the rulebook, he approached us with question: Guys, what was the most common mistakes you committed during the initial scenarios of Gloomhaven? I want to avoid them in our play!

Well, we prepared – spontaneously – the list. To be quite honest, we had some laugh seeing what funny mistakes we did in the past. Still, I think it is worth sharing with other players as it might help to avoid those pitfalls. The list is more or less chronological, although with some issues we dealt pretty quickly and some were with us for long time.

Video version of the article:

Other articled in the world of Gloomhaven / Frosthaven:
Strategy guide - Brute
Strategy guide - Spellweaver
Strategy guide - Doomstalker
Strategy guide - Tinkerer
Our Gloomhaven Campaign in chronological order 
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion – Voidwarden and Demolitionist
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion – Red Guard and Hatchet
Frosthaven – starting classes (1/2)
Frosthaven – starting classes (2/2)

Read with understanding

Very simple suggestion but so necessary. Really, read carefully, with understanding, not only rules but cards, FAQ, etc. Especially if English is not your native language. Example: attack is different thing than attacks and completely separate from attack action. We misinterpreted some of the items and action cards initially so be careful with this.


Only damage traps inflict a direct hit to health as per the table at the end of the Rulebook – the higher scenario level, the more sever the effect. Still, there are tons of scenarios where additional effects – stun, wound, poison – are also applicable. There are also such cases when trap has only negative effect, no damage. We sometimes forgot to check and missed that. So please, as mentioned in first paragraph, pay attention when reading!

Scenario level calculation

Such an easy thing to miss. It occurred that some of our scenarios we played on Hard, not Normal level as we made a mistake in formula – we simply did not divide by two the average level before rounding it up! We managed to pass those adventures successfully and then consciously switched to higher difficulty levels, but initially it really puzzled us why it was so hard to win them!

Negating the damage with cards

There is a clear passage in the rule book, that player can choose one card to lose from his or her hand or two cards to lose from his or her discard pile to
negate any damage. We forgot about that crucial rule once or twice – especially easily done in the heat of the battle – which costed us one scenario and very difficult ending of another. Be aware of that!

Healing action vs. poison / wound

  • As per rules, if you are poisoned and the heal ability is used on you, the POISON token is removed, and the Heal has no other effect.
  • On the other hand, when a Heal ability is used on a wounded figure, the WOUND token is removed and the Heal continues normally.
  • Third possible occurrence, is when character is wounded and poisoned. Healing then removes both POISON and WOUND tokens but the heal still does not heal damage.

Of course, in our initial games we messed those things. Nowadays there are no errors during our game-play regarding the Heal ability, but a home-rule was created: we thought it a little unfair that it is so easy to get rid of wound, so in our plays when you are wounded, you spent 1 Heal point on removing the WOUND token and the rest on regular Heal.

Advantage / disadvantaged – rolling modifiers

One of the most troublesome things for us to grasp were correct application of advantage / disadvantage and rolling modifiers.

The rulebook says: An attacker with Advantage will draw two modifier cards from their deck and use whichever one is better. If one rolling modifier card was drawn, its effect is added to the other card played. If two rolling modifier cards were drawn, continue to draw cards until a rolling modifier is not drawn and then add together all drawn effects.

So, when you draw a rolling POISON and “2x” symbol – wow – you not only inflicted double losses but also a poison with advantage. But when you got rolling POISON and “Null” – although it is advantage – you score 0 damage (but poison effect works). That seems counter-intuitive but as designer explained, playing with thin attack deck and making it more powerful by rolling modifiers brings possibility of failure.

I felt it very painfully with my small Scoundrel deck (14 cards) when I added rolling poisons there. Well, Null was not a rare occurrence there unfortunately.

On the other hand, having a disadvantage and drawing a rolling modifier results in cancelling the latter. But if you got x2 and rolling poison – despite this being at disadvantage – you get double damage!

Advantage / disadvantaged – unused blesses / curses

A small thing, which we recently learned but it seems we played it incorrectly previously – again, touching advantage / disadvantage situations. Remember – you should always remove any blessings / curses once you have drawn them; so, unlike the regular Null or 2x cards, the blessings / curses do not get re-shuffled back into the deck after you have drawn them once. They get taken out of your deck after they have been drawn the first time and returned to the common pool. So, when you have advantage and get Curse and +1, you of course use positive modifier but Curse is still removed from the deck!

Difference summon vs spawn

That was somehow tricky form the start and even today we scratch our heads to make sure we play the summons and spawns correctly. I would like to provide some brief differentiation for fellow readers as it also helped us.

Key difference 1: Summoned monsters never act in the turn that they are summoned. Monsters that are spawned in the middle of the turn act just like monsters who are revealed when a door is opened in the middle of a turn.

Key difference 2: When a monster summons another monster, it must be brought in an adjacent empty hex, as close as possible to a character. If there are no adjacent empty hexes, there will be no summon. While when monsters spawn, they must also spawn in an empty hex. If their spawn hex is not empty, they will spawn in the nearest empty hex to it, regardless of if it’s adjacent.

Still, we need to remember about one similarity of those two types – when a monster dies, a money token is only placed on the hex where it died if the monster was not summoned or spawned.

How long the effects last

The conditions – both positive (strengthen) as well as negative (muddle, stun, immobilize, etc.) were source of confusion for us for some time. Especially the question – how long do they last?

The rulebook says conditions lasts until the end of your / monster next turn. The FAQ clarifies that next turn means your next full turn. So, if you start a turn with the condition in effect, then at the end of that turn, it is removed. If a monster stuns you on its turn, then your next turn (whether that happens in the current round or the following round) you would be under the effect of stun, and then it would go away at the end of that turn. If you manage to get stunned on your own turn, you would immediately suffer the effects, then you would also suffer from the effects on your following turn in the following round before the effect wore off at the end of that turn. This also applies to conditions on monsters.

Another tricky thing was with the question – when my positive effects which I put on myself, start to be active? The answer is immediately! Look at the picture above. If in my turn I first play top of Smoke Bomb, the strengthen from this will immediately work on the bottom of Crippling Poison played the same turn. Maybe not the most powerful combination in this case, but I hope you know what I mean 🙂


In many scenarios we played the loot incorrectly. In many that really did not matter. Still, when you perform end of turn loot or a loot action on a treasure, you open it immediately. This is important, as you might encounter a crippling trap! If you get an item, it goes to your backpack, but you cannot use it that scenario.


Sometimes we forgot that if you create the element, you cannot use it yourself that turn! They become strong only at the end of the turn of character / monster which created it. Then, if there are monsters consuming particular elements, all monsters of that type use it, not only one of them! It is just enough it is available at their beginning of turn / initiative.

Just to be clear, you can create element and in the same turn consume the one produced by monsters / your buddies in the group. You just simply cannot do it for yourself.

Prosperity ticks

The Gloomhaven prosperity is one of key elements in the game. While in the end we did not made any mistakes in that aspect, we couple of times had a real issue to understand how it works.

In essence you can get the prosperity ticks by something you will discover after opening envelope B – you are getting a “minor-tick”. Not a full prosperity increase, but one of the minor-ticks leading to it. We had also missions which said at the conclusion+1 prosperity. Again, it was only that small mini-tick, not the full level of town prosperity. You can get used to it with experience.

When scenario ends?

The scenario ends at the end of the round that the objective is achieved. If you have accomplished your mission, you still have until the end of the round to loot coins and open treasure chests. The round does not end immediately when the last enemy dies – if that was your objective. And of course, you can still can have some character exhausted (but if all of them dies, scenario is a failure!) . We missed that rule couple of times – usually to our detriment (as a lot of loot was still available!)


What I presented above was a list of difficulties / errors our group were facing. Familiarizing our new player with them really helped to bring him up to speed. Should you be interesting in more rules explanations, I strongly recommend reading the official Gloomhaven FAQ.

On a side not, if you played Gloomhaven, what were your most common and notorious errors?

PS. I omitted one section completely – monster movement. That is so vast and large topic that requires separate article. But that is for another time!