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Gloomhaven Cover Art.jpg
DesignersIsaac Childres
  • Alexandr Elichev
  • Josh T. McDowell
  • Alvaro Nebot
PublishersCephalofair Games (2017)
Playing time90–115 minutes (per scenario)
SkillsStrategy, tactics, logic

Gloomhaven is a cooperative board game for one to four players designed by Isaac Childres and published by Cephalofair Games in 2017. It is a campaign-based dungeon crawl game including a narrative campaign, 95 unique playable scenarios, and 17 playable classes.[1][2] Since its introduction the game has been acclaimed by reviewers, and has been described as one of the best board games ever made.[3]


Gloomhaven is a fantasy-themed, campaign-based tactical skirmish game, in which players try to triumph in combat-based scenarios which scale in difficulty depending on the number of players.[4] The game is cooperative and campaign driven, with one to four players working their way through a branching story consisting of 95 scenarios.[5] The campaign develops in a legacy format,[6] with stickers that are placed on the board and cards and sealed envelopes that are opened when certain criteria are met.[7]

While it has drawn comparisons to role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons and other dungeon crawl board games, Gloomhaven uses game mechanics similar to modern eurogames.[8]

Characters and monsters move about on hex tiles representing dungeons and cellars. Players simultaneously choose two cards to play each turn, each of which has a top and a bottom half, and choose the top half of one card and the bottom of the other to allow their characters to take actions such as moving, healing and attacking monsters. Randomization is not provided by dice, as is usually the case with such games, but is handled by a deck of cards.[2]

Release and reception[edit]

The game was originally sold via a 2015 Kickstarter campaign which raised $386,104 from 4,904 backers.[5] After strong early reviews, a second Kickstarter campaign was launched on April 4, 2017, and delivered in November 2017 which raised about $4 million from over 40,000 backers. The game was released shortly thereafter to retail for a suggested price of $140.[9][10]

Gloomhaven has received critical acclaim, culminating in the game reaching the No. 1 spot as the top rated board game on leading website BoardGameGeek in 2017.[3] As of August 2022, it has retained that spot since. It also won six Golden Geek awards from the site, including for the best overall game of 2017, best strategy game, best cooperative game, most innovative game, best solo game, and best thematic game.[11] Gaming website Geek & Sundry described Gloomhaven as "a masterful design" and suggested "it belongs in a museum".[12] Matt Thrower called it one of the best fantasy board games available,[13] while noting that "Gloomhaven was the critical hit of the year."[14] Ars Technica similarly praised the game's strategy, action system, gameplay and solitare mode. Games Radar awarded the game five stars and dubbed it as "the ultimate tabletop dungeon crawler", and Board Games Land has described the game as "truly a masterpiece".[15][16] The game was also commercially successful, and sold approximately 120,000 copies as of August 2018.[17]


Year Game Award Result
2017 Gloomhaven Cardboard Republic Striker Laurel Nominated[18]
2017 Gloomhaven Golden Geek Award- Best Overall Game, Best Strategy Game, Best Cooperative Game, Most Innovative Game, Best Solo Game, Best Thematic Game Won[11]
2017 Gloomhaven International Gamers Award - General Strategy: Multi-player Nominated[19]
2018 Gloomhaven Origins Award Game of the Year Won[20]
2018 Gloomhaven Origins Game Fair Best Board Game Won[21]
2018 Gloomhaven Scelto dai Goblin Game of the Year Won[22]
2018 Gloomhaven SXSW Gaming Awards Tabletop Game of the Year Won[23]

Expansions and spin-offs[edit]

Gloomhaven: Forgotten Circles, the game's first expansion, was released in Q2 2019. It includes a new character class, the Aesther Diviner, 20 new scenarios that are primarily focused on that class, and new items and monsters. Its story is set after Gloomhaven's campaign.[24]

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, a smaller, standalone version of the game, which was released in July 2020, initially as a Target exclusive.[25] Designed to appeal to more casual gaming fans, the story in this version is set before the events of the original Gloomhaven, and has players investigate a series of disappearances in the city.[26] The game features 25 new scenarios, five of which comprise a tutorial designed to ease new players into the game.[27] Some, but not all, of the game components are compatible with the basic Gloomhaven game.


Frosthaven Cover Art.jpg
DesignersJason D. Kingsley
DirectorsIsaac Childres
IllustratorsDavid Demaret
PublishersCephalofair Games
Skillsstrategy, tactics, logic

In 2020, Frosthaven was launched as a standalone sequel sold initially via a Kickstarter campaign.[28] The campaign raised almost $13 million, making it the highest ever funded campaign for a game on the platform, from over 83,000 backers.[29] The game is set in a small northern outpost that mercenaries are struggling to protect.[30] Childres changed several aspects of the game's story and setting to address cultural bias.[31]

Frosthaven was scheduled to ship for Kickstarter backers in September 2022.[32]

Digital edition[edit]

Asmodee and Flaming Fowl Studios released a digital edition of Gloomhaven for Microsoft Windows, initially on July 17, 2019. The game was released for macOS on November 25, 2021.[33] It was offered as an early access model, featuring a subset of the characters, and a single-player Adventure mode that uses procedural generation like a roguelike to create encounters. As of 2021, Asmodee and Flaming Fowl have added support for all 17 characters and the full set of 95 missions from the core board game, along with support for multiplayer.[34][35]


  1. ^ Gaynor, Michael (March 28, 2018). "Virtual Reality Will Keep Your Board Game Crew Together". motherboard. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Harry, Lou (August 1, 2018). "THow To Win At Gen Con". Indianapolis Monthly. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Ward, Marshall (March 12, 2018). "Heading into the bowels of Gloomhaven". Waterloo Chronicle. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  4. ^ Hall, Charlie (April 25, 2017). "Dungeon Masters are hard to find, that's why there's Gloomhaven". Polygon. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Zimmerman, Aaron (April 29, 2017). "Gloomhaven review: 2017's biggest board game is astoundingly good". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  6. ^ Law, Keith (August 24, 2017). "Gen Con 2017: The Best Games and More". Paste Magazine. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  7. ^ Power, Ed (December 14, 2017). "Dice, dice baby: return of the board game". Irish Independent. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  8. ^ Zimmerman, Aaron; Anderson, Nate; Mendelsohn, Tom (December 22, 2017). "The best board games of 2017". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Bodon, Sabrina (April 29, 2017). "Pittsburgh gamers say we're living in a golden age of board games". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  10. ^ Law, Keith (July 7, 2017). "How 6 High-Strategy Board Games Fit Into the Orphan Black Universe". Vulture. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Wells, Adam (March 13, 2018). "Gloomhaven Dominates Golden Geek Awards". Kotaku. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  12. ^ Theel, Charlie (March 22, 2017). "Why We Played Gloomhaven For 30 Hours And Still Want More". Nerdist. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  13. ^ Thrower, Matt (February 28, 2018). "The Best Fantasy Board Games". IGN. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  14. ^ Thrower, Matt (December 20, 2017). "Board masters: the 11 best board games of 2017". Stuff. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  15. ^ Jonathan Bolding (2021-08-19). "Gloomhaven board game review: "The ultimate tabletop dungeon-crawler"". gamesradar. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  16. ^ "Best RPG Board Games 2018 (Reviewed Oct. 18) - Top 10 Revealed". Board Games Land. 2018-10-07. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  17. ^ Marks, Tom (August 3, 2018). "Gloomhaven Has Sold Roughly 120,000 Copies, 60,000 More Being Printed - Gen Con 2018". IGN. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  18. ^ "The Laurels: Best Striker Games Of 2017". The Cardboard Republic. 2018-03-12. Retrieved 2022-03-21.
  19. ^ "2017 Nominees - International Gamers Awards". Archived from the original on 2017-09-22. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  20. ^ "Academy | Current Origins Award Winners". Archived from the original on 2018-08-19. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  21. ^ Dean, Jason (July 31, 2018). "Fun and Games at Origins 2018". Twin Falls Times-News. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  22. ^ Roeder, Oliver (April 20, 2018). "Players Have Crowned A New Best Board Game — And It May Be Tough To Topple". 538. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  23. ^ Renovitch, James (March 17, 2018). "SXSW Announces Gaming Awards Winners". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  24. ^ Marks, Tom (August 3, 2018). "Gloomhaven's First Expansion, Forgotten Circles, Is Excitingly Different from the Original Game - Gen Con 2018". IGN. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  25. ^ Gebhart, Andrew (July 8, 2020). "Jaws of the Lion hands-on: Gloomhaven comes to the masses". CNET. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  26. ^ Elderkin, Beth (August 1, 2019). "Dig a Fantasy Grave and Open Schrödinger's Box in the Latest Tabletop Gaming News". Gizmodo. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  27. ^ Dean, Jason (July 30, 2020). "23 of the most anticipated board games this summer". Herald & Review. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  28. ^ Hall, Charlie (March 31, 2020). "Gloomhaven sequel Frosthaven hits Kickstarter, quickly earns $3M in funding". Polygon. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  29. ^ Tinner, Phillip (May 3, 2020). "Gloomhaven Sequel Frosthaven Breaks Kickstarter Record With Over $12 Million". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  30. ^ Elderkin, Beth (December 18, 2018). "Legendary Cats, A Barkham Horror, And More In Tabletop Gaming News". Gizmodo. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  31. ^ Hall, Charlie (2021-05-17). "Gloomhaven sequel Frosthaven will change to address cultural bias". Polygon. Retrieved 2021-12-08.
  32. ^ "Frosthaven Kickstarter pledges to be fulfilled this September". Dicebreaker. 6 April 2022.
  33. ^ "MacOS Release & Development Update". Steam Community. 2021-11-25. Retrieved 2022-09-21.
  34. ^ Tarson, Dominic (July 17, 2019). "Gloomhaven launches into early access with some major bits missing". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  35. ^ Jonathan Bolding (2021-11-05). "Gloomhaven review". pcgamer. Retrieved 2021-12-07.

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