Recently my Scoundrel finally reached level 9 and although I still have couple of scenarios before I will retire, I thought it justifiable to already share my experiences with that great melee damage dealer. As our group is pretty experienced now – and this is my 3rd character in current campaign – I was able to start already at level 5. That of course helped a lot, as from the start I had much more powerful character, more money for items and possibility to play Solo bonus scenario! It took me 11 games to reach from level 5 to level 9 – that is also some indication how fast the Scoundrel can gain experience. Of course, this is my subjective take and preference, but I hope you will find it useful. But first things first – let us talk about her class.

Scoundrel play-mat


That character is a major melee damage dealer among the starting classes of the Gloomhaven. It has great reach due to fantastic move cards – and the longer you play, the better you will be in that aspect. It can go invisible – and with proper items, you can actually prolong it. What is more, with favorable conditions it can deal enormous amounts of damage. This is definitely her greatest advantage and… weakness!

Yes, those favorable conditions are a key and unless you tech your team what is important for you, Scoundrel will not unleash its full potential. So our tank knows he always has to get close to enemies so I can flank-attack. And if possible, my allies should separate the opponents. Then the human killing machine really shines.


  • Health – a rather moderate value – not so much as Brute, but more than Mindthief / Spellweaver. You can take occasional beating, but usually you should be away from your enemies – and my build will be focused on this.
  • Stamina – just 9 cards – so you do not have too much space to lost one’s; still with controlled play and stamina potions you should be fine. Also, sometimes you will rush burning the cards but only to finish scenario quicker.
  • Move – I would simply say it is fantastic – this is by far one of the most mobile characters in the whole game, with long moves which occasionally can be also found on card’s Top’s. The only drawback is lack of jump – but special equipment or enhancement on Move 5 should do the trick 🙂
  • Initiative – for Scoundrel we should not try to only look how fast she is (and very fast she can be – with cards like 02, 04 or 06 initiative) but also how slow too (cards like 88 or 93). As we shall see later in the article, the silent killer moving very late in the turn and then very early in the next one can have two uninterrupted attacks which rarely any enemy can survive.
  • Loot – it has quite decent card for this – for example non-lost, top-loot on Level 2, but I was not using that so much; starting at level 5 gave me enough money for most important purchases. But you can definitely focus that character on Loot trait.
  • Experience – Pretty quick level up, with many non-lost cards giving you tons of easy to get XPs. The lost cards will supplement this with additional amount and you will see new levels every 2-3 scenarios..


You are a melee-attack damage dealer, so you need special equipment for that. But before you start equipping fancy daggers made sure you have enough cards (Stamina Potion) and possibilities to avoid enemies (Cloak of Invisibility) to survive the scenario:

My proposed starting items for Scoundrel

Then you can turn your character into the true killing machine:

A fully equipped Scoundrel

My personal order of priority:

  1. Cloak of Invisibility – acquired as starting item
  2. Minor Stamina Potion – acquired as starting item
  3. Major Stamina Potion – another 3 cards which can be retrieved from discard pile, so additional 1.5 turn in each scenario – and with odd number of cards at the beginning for Scoundrel (9) even two additional turns. I am buying it whenever it is available (and my character has a free slot for a small item). With 9 cards stamina this is a “must-have” for Scoundrel
  4. Winged Shoes – if you still do not have enhancement for jump, they are crucial to allow your character to get from difficult and dangerous situations
  5. Poison Dagger – our build will be focused on Poison so an way which allows us to put that condition on enemy is good!
  6. Silent Stiletto – a very decent weapon which you can get based on Solo Scenario – pretty well complements other one-handed items.
  7. Minor Healing Potion – some additional HPs will be useful, especially in cases where you do not have a classical healer in the team; also good to get rid of wound or poison
  8. Minor Mana Potion – this is a “nice-to-have” – so I can enhance some of my attacks using Dark on higher levels


We are getting now to the “meat” of my build – a close combat, poison focused, melee damage dealer. That required some specific choices in the cards

Basic cards (level 1 choices):

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

It is easier to comment – on Level 1 – what I left behind rather than what I have chosen. So first of all, two range cards were out. As pointed out couple of times, my build is for melee damage dealer and all items / perks / cards will be selected according to this. Trickster’s Advance is a terrible loss at the top – useful only in Solo Scenario (hint!). Bottom is also no good as we do not want to take any damage if possible.

Cards available during level-ups

The cards which I have chosen are on the left, the ones which I discarded – on the right.

  • Level 2 – I took Open Wound over Flintlock; reason: the former is simply fantastic – great top, with exp and wound; very good move at the bottom. Also, pretty fast initiative. The latter had a terrible loss at the bottom. Loot at the top is actually very good should you need money. But not at such a trade-off.
    I replace and remove from the deck: Single Out (without regret).
Level 2 choices
Level 2 Scoundrel hand
  • Level 3 – I took Duelist Advance over Hidden Daggers; reason: the former is a pure upgrade to Quick Hands, and you really need to have that fantastic ability to move and attack at the top – closing on enemy, hitting, and using other card to retreat. I regretted not taking Hidden Daggers only for its bottom, top is not very useful.
    I replace and remove from the deck: Quick Hands (upgrade)
Level 3 choices
Level 3 Scoundrel hand
  • Level 4 – I took Gruesome Advantage over Flurry of Blades; reason: that was actually tough choice. The former is a very nice upgrade to Backstab and has a tremendous move at the bottom. The latter has great initiative, good bottom but range at the top – which my build is not using. With some hesitation I took Gruesome Advantage.
    I replace and remove from the deck: Backstab (upgrade)
Level 4 choices
Level 4 Scoundrel hand
  • Level 5 – I took Visage of the Inevitable over Cull the Weak; that was easy. Visage is such a powerful card – top is fantastic for immediate destruction of all normal enemies, giving exp and being a non-lost! The bottom is superb for poison-based build, as you can approach enemies, poison them and then attack. Cull the Weak has good top and lost at bottom – with Scoundrel stamina we really avoid lost cards!
    I replace and remove from the deck – with deep regret: Special Mixture
Level 5 choices
Level 5 Scoundrel hand
  • Level 6 – I took Crippling Poison over Burning Oil; reason: this is where Scoundrel starts to shine; the Oil has sum advantages – let us be hones, spreading wound is always good; at that moment in game you should have most of items purchased so bottom Loot is useless. On the other hand, Poison is the only lost card which – even if used early – will turn your character in a true killing machine, providing +3 to each attack on enemy with such condition and allow you to finish scenario before you get exhausted. And this is exactly the style of my group – the best defense is to kill enemies so they cannot attack you… and do it quickly!
    I replace and remove from the deck: Thief’s Knack
Level 6 choices
Level 6 Scoundrel hand
  • Level 7 – I took Stick to the Shadows over Spring the Trap card; the choice is pretty obvious – disarming traps is not what we do – we use them as landing spot for enemies 🙂 And that move with invisible is simply fantastic for melee Scoundrel – it will save your skin many times. Attack 4 is decent, and when you have Mindthief in group or Mana Potion it becomes fantastic 8 Attack! So no hesitation here.
    I replace and leave for special occasions:  Open Wound (this is tough choice as I love that card)
Level 7 choices
Level 7 Scoundrel hand
  • Level 8 – I took Stiletto Storm over Pain’s End; reason: simply, this is better card then with other, does not have lost portion, gives VPs. Still, this is much worse than anything I have so far so I put this into reserve.
Level 8 choices
Level 8 Scoundrel hand (no change from Level 7)
  • Level 9 – I took Long Con over Watch it Burn. Both are really nice, but after Tripling Poison I do not have place for another lost card. And top of Long Con is quintessential type of action for Scoundrel – you charge into the group of enemies, attack and disarm all of them! Should they be poisoned – you unleash real carnage.
    I replace and remove from the deck: Flanking Strike.
Level 9 choices
Level 2 Scoundrel hand

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


I had a benefit of choosing multiple perks immediately – being on level 5 plus having two retirements already behind me. Still, I definitely prioritized some things over the others:

  • Remove two -1 cards – to enhance your battle-card deck; always a good choice!
  • Replace
    • one -2 card with one +0 card
    • one -1 card with one +1 card
    • one 0 card with one +2 card
    • another set of perks to simply increase expected value of your attack deck
  • Remove four 0 cards – you really need to understand consequences of such move; it thins out your deck and increases probability for great draws… but for Null too!
  • Add Poison (rolling) – as my build is focused on Poison, this is another great addition – but again, be aware in case you do not have so much cards in the deck – Null probability can be high and if you get rolling and Null, Null it is…


During the game I worked out multiple combos which proved to be a pretty decent strategy for Scoundrel. Some of the generic and specific ideas below:

  • Late card (like Visage of the Inevitable – 88 or Sinister Opportunity – 93) and then quick card (like Long Con – 02 or Flanking Strike– 04); this is great play and main Scoundrel tactic – be late in Turn 1, attack as the last and then be super quick in following Turn 2, to finish enemy off before he can act
  • Accompany above tactic with invisibility, adding this to early attack in Turn 2; watch your team and enemies fight that round, play very late card in Turn 3 (attack) and very early on Turn 4 (attack). That way you should have uninterrupted four moves and/or attacks. And should you have more invisibility possibilities… repeat!
  • Do not be afraid to play Crippling Poison – initially rather after first rest, but when you get experienced with that character – and have enough Stamina Potions – even immediately. Our group prefers to quickly finish scenarios, and the best way is not to linger in the rooms and corridors but to get rid of enemies ASAP!
  • Make sure you aligned your Poison strategy with the rest of group – for example Mindthief – so they can put this condition on your enemies before you attack.
  • Sinister Opportunity bottom (so you can direct adjacent enemy on new hex) and then any card which has bonus for adjacency of target to your allies / lack of adjacency to other enemies
  • Visage of the Inevitable (move + poison) plus any attack after Crippling Poison is on – so you get the +3 bonus to attack.
  • And many more…


I mentioned above that I did not heavily invested in enhancements but two things I deemed as crucial.

Level 9 Scoundrel with marked enhancements

What I did:

  • Smoke Bomb – I added Strengthen on the top. That card can generate one of the most powerful – although one-time – attacks by Scoundrel so you really want this ti be a hit.
  • Venom Shiv – as discussed regarding mobility of Scoundrel, one of missing aspects were ability to Jump. That enhancements addresses this.

I would be interested to hear from you regarding this aspect.


It took me some time before I learned how to play with that character. It requires some preconditions to unleash its full potential, but in a group which understand your needs she really can be a devastating weapon. I loved also all those scenarios, where you had to actually travel long distances – that was really great to see Scoundrel speeding through rooms, using invisibility whenever needed and garbing the treasures. Will miss it for sure but what will probably be my 4th character seems very, very intriguing. Not a base one – more about it later, in one of session reports.