About game:

After playing over 50 Gloomhaven scenarios and finishing the whole campaign, I think it is good time to create the full review of that great game. So what the Gloomhaven is? It is a tactical combat boardgame where players will take on the role of a wandering adventurers with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for traveling to this dark corner of the world (personal goals allowing retirement!). Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins (yes, this is cooperative game!). In the process, they will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions they make (a fantastic, RPG element of the game).

This is a game with a vas and expanding world that is ideally played over many game sessions. After a scenario, players will make decisions on what to do, which will determine how the story continues. It can be path of righteous or nefarious, you can focus on main story line or many additional quests – you and your group decide!

Mechanically, each turn, a player chooses two cards to play out of their hand. The number on the top card determines their initiative for the round. Each card also has a top and bottom power, and when it is a player’s turn in the initiative order, they determine whether to use the top power of one card and the bottom power of the other, or vice-versa. Players must be careful, though, because over time they will permanently lose cards from their hands. If they take too long to clear a dungeon, they may end up exhausted and be forced to retreat.

Would you stand-up to the task and manage to prevail against the odds, leading your merry company to victory over various monsters, enemies and adversaries?

Number of players:

The game allows 1 to 4 players to take part in the adventure. My personal experience is that 3 is the best set-up – with four it takes too long to play scenario, with two you do not have team versatile enough and with one, you miss fun of social cooperation which is great with that title!

Playing time:

We need to differentiate here if we talk about one scenario or campaign 🙂 In our case, with three players, it took about 2 hours of pure play plus 45 minutes to set-up / pack the game (of course per scenario). But that was only when we were experienced enough. In the beginning that might be more.


This is medium complexity game – it has its nuances, biggest of which is of course Artificial Intelligence movements (i.e. monster turns). There are some areas which you need to be aware of – for this, just check my most often errors analysis. Still, all in all this is very approachable game!

What I like:
  • The retirement mechanics – this is fundamental aspect of the game which is seamlessly incorporated into the whole adventure. And this is so much refreshing, intriguing and motivating to progress through the game!
  • Variable difficulty and resulting exciting sessions. After couple of initial sessions we learned it is too easy for us and started to play on Hard and Very Hard levels. What a satisfactory experience it was – and even if we failed sometimes!
  • Adventures not connected with main story line and random scenario generator. That gave our team so much additional fun, being able to do some very interesting and challenging side quests.
  • Definitely I appreciate the components! The game is beautiful, sturdy, breath-taking – and because you travel through the whole word the surroundings and monsters change.
What I do not like or would like to see in the game:
  • We were following the main story for some time – especially till one climatic moment which I am sure you will not miss – but later on we truly lost interest in it. We were much more attached to our characters than to what was happening in the world of Gloomhaven.

  • The game allows you to solve a mysterious puzzle. But that one is so cryptic and pretty difficult to tackle that after some time we also lost interest in this. We hear that it should be improved in Frosthaven and I truly believe for more fun with that element in the next installment.
For whom?

Definitely for all Role-Play Gaming fans who like to spend time with cooperative titles, explore unknown words, shape the tempo and direction of the campaign and… can devote significant amount of time over many sessions to finish at least one campaign!  

More about the game:

And now let us have a look at the components – all pictures taken during my plays:

A detailed material on most common errors in Gloomhaven
#10 Plane of Elemental Power and our first true meeting with Daemons. We had so many problems with them that I created special guides how to deal with this type of monsters.
There is always this first time when you lose. Why have we failed to win #28 Outer Ritual Chamber (twice!)? Just look above and see what Cultists can do…
In #21 Infernal Throne we met Prime Demon – our second boss we had to tackle. It was really hard to catch him but in the end we did him in first attempt!
The pizza scenario – #40 Ancient Defensive Network – was super-difficult due to the distances we had to cover. But Scoundrel really excelled here!
The #41 Timeworn Tomb was scenario to be remembered – because we had 4 simultaneous retirements! From the next session we felt like playing completely new game and it took some time before we adjusted.


I spent more than 50 sessions over 3 years with that great game and I definitely feel this was a time well spent. It has that fantastic mechanism – which I was lacking in many RPG games – of retirement and starting with the new character. Oftentimes this is complete change of your game style, skills, abilities and matching items. It is like starting afresh after already knowing all the rules and environment.

It requires devotion from the team – as you can see in my summary of our campaign, only few of us played from the start till the conclusion. Still, this is the best part of it – the continued growth of your characters, their development, and how that interacts with the team and the world. Really, highly recommended!

See you in another game review!