|Illustrators||Alexandr Elichev, Josh T. McDowell, Alvaro Nebot|
|Publishers||Cephalofair Games (2017)|
|Playing time||90–115 minutes (per scenario)|
|Skills required||Strategy, tactics, logic|
Gloomhaven is a cooperative board game for 1 to 4 players designed by Isaac Childres and published by Cephalofair Games in 2017. It is a campaign-based dungeon crawl game with a branching narrative campaign, 95 unique playable scenarios, 17 playable classes, and more than 1,500 cards in a box which weighs almost 10 kilograms (22 lb).
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. The game is cooperative and campaign driven, with 1 to 4 players working their way through a branching story consisting of 95 scenarios. The campaign develops in a legacy format, with stickers that are placed on the board and cards and sealed envelopes that are opened when certain criteria are met.
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.
Release and reception
The game was originally sold via a 2015 Kickstarter campaign which raised $386,104 from 4,904 backers. 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.
Gloomhaven has received positive reviews, culminating in the game reaching the No. 1 spot as the top rated board game on leading website BoardGameGeek in 2017, and keeping that spot for much of 2018 and 2019. 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. Gaming website Geek & Sundry described Gloomhaven as "a masterful design" and suggested "it belongs in a museum". Matt Thrower called it one of the best fantasy board games available, while noting that "Gloomhaven was the critical hit of the year." Board Games Land has described the game as "truly a masterpiece".
- 2018 SXSW Gaming Awards Tabletop Game of the Year
- 2018 Scelto dai Goblin (goblin's choice) award for best game of the year
- 2018 Origins Awards Game of the Year
- 2017 International Gamers Award - General Strategy: Multi-player Nominee
- 2017 Cardboard Republic Striker Laurel Nominee
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.
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a smaller, standalone version of the game which released in July 2020, initially as a Target exclusive. 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. The game features 25 new scenarios, five of which comprise a tutorial designed to ease new players into the game. Some, but not all, of the game components are compatible with the basic Gloomhaven game.
Frosthaven is a standalone sequel, sold initially via a Kickstarter campaign which launched March 31, 2020. The campaign raised almost $13 million, making it the highest ever funded campaign for a game on the platform, from over 83,000 backers. The game is set in a small northern outpost that mercenaries are struggling to protect.
Asmodee and Flaming Fowl Studios released a digital edition of Gloomhaven for Microsoft Windows, initially on July 17, 2019. 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. Asmodee and Flaming Fowl plan to add support for all 17 characters and the full set of 95 missions from the core board game by the time of the game's final release, along with support for multiplayer.
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