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Gloomhaven review & jaws of lion giveaway!

 


Quick Look: Gloomhaven

Designer:  Isaac Childres
Artists: Alexandr Elichev, Josh T. McDowell, Alvaro Nebot
Publisher: Cephalofair Games 
Year Published: 2017

No. of Players: 1-4    
Ages:14+ 
Playing Time: 60-120 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com  

From the Publisher:

Gloomhaven is a game of Euro-inspired tactical combat in a persistent world of shifting motives. Players will take on the role of a wandering adventurer with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for traveling to this dark corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. 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.

This is a game with a persistent and changing 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, kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Playing through a scenario is a cooperative affair where players will fight against automated monsters using an innovative card system to determine the order of play and what a player does on their turn.

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.


Review:

The dungeon-crawl genre has always been my main go-to when it comes to tabletop gaming. While I undoubtedly prefer a real pen-and-paper style RPG, the reality is that parenting has diminished my ability to meet up and play a long multi-session game with a group of friends. So when Gloomhaven came out, I kept it on my radar and watched the hype train for it grow until it achieved a rapid ascension to the number one spot on the BGG charts. I eventually caved and went out to buy it, but not without a fair amount of skepticism and trepidation ; the concept of a fully-fledged Dungeon Crawler in a box seemed like an impossible accomplishment at the time. 

Now that we had purchased the game, it was time to see if it could pass my muster. 

As noted, Gloomhaven is a cooperative dungeon-crawler game for 2-4 players. It promises story, adventure, companionship and more on a series of adventures that span a continent rich with environments to explore.

Visit towns. Buy and sell goods. Hunt for treasure. Destroy the evil denizens of a multi-level tomb. All this and more, in a box that weighs in at almost 20 pounds.

I need to make it clear that the point of this review will not be to cover every aspect of gameplay in the fullest. Since the game has been out for a while now and the gameplay is complex enough to require a description that would be biblical in proportions, I will do my best to summarize the gameplay in as succinct a manner as possible in order to better focus on a summary of our overall impressions of the Gloomhaven experience. 


Commencing your quest in the city of Gloomhaven will involve choosing one of six basic starting classes ; the Brute, the Mindthief, the Cragheart, the Spellweaver, the Scoundrel, and the Tinkerer. While I have heard it said that these characters are “unique”, I would add that they are all pretty much the standard fill-ins for classic dungeon crawls with just a different skin. For example, the Scoundrel would most closely parallel the classic rogue class, and the Spellweaver could be substituted for just about any wizard or sorcerer class ; the Tinker would correlate with gnomish inventors and Brute would be the fighter/barbarian of the bunch. You get the idea.


In the Dungeon :


Each character class has a distinct set of cards, and each class truly does feel like its own beast to master, with none of them feeling the same as the others. Moreover, even though each class has a roughly similar amount of cards available to them in total throughout their character development, each character will be limited to a differing and class-based number of cards while in a dungeon ; a Spellweaver might be able to bring a comparatively paltry handful of cards into a dungeon in direct comparison to the Brute, who has substantially more. But circumstantially speaking, this can be offset by the fact that Spellweaver’s cards pack a heftier punch while the Brute may focus on distributing (and taking) damage over a longer period of time.

Each turn is played within a round of combat. The layout of the each dungeon is determined by a 140 page setup guide that will set the foundations for  the story, dungeon and victory conditions for your sessions. Throughout a round, monsters and players will take respective turns based on their initiative ; lower numbers on the initiative value for players or monsters take their turns first.

On a players’ turn, they may choose two of their cards to play. Each card has a top and bottom half, and they must use the top ability of one card and then the bottom ability on the other card. The initiative values are in the middle of each card, and prior to monsters/players taking action, this is the number that is used for determining player/monster activation order. This provides some flexibility allowing you to chose a higher number if you want to go later in the round, or a lower number if you want to act early in each round.




Abilities on cards can include movement, damage, special effects and more. 

But choose your cards wisely, because you will eventually extinguish your supply through using these cards. When this happens, you are exhausted and no longer able to participate in the dungeon you are in. If all players are exhausted, it is game over, but you can jump right back into the same dungeon if you so desire.

Each monster type has a deck of cards that determine what it does each round ; movement and attack are pretty typical cards that comprise this deck, but be wary of special abilities that also infuse each monster type with powers that hit hard!

Additionally, both players and monsters must have their damage output modified with each attack by drawing from a randomized modifier deck. Some cards may give you more damage, some will give you less damage (potentially negating damage altogether), and other cards will either double damage or make the attack a complete miss!



Completing a dungeon may unlock more story and dungeons, reward you with items, treasure, or experience. Interestingly, even if you die, you still, retain any accumulated experience.

In between adventures, you can also go to town. This lets you buy weapons, armors, and other trinkets.  


In addition, while in the city or traversing to a dungeon, you may trigger one of several hundred city / road events from a respective deck of encounters designed for such scenarios. These present choices to you that may be helpful or detrimental to your journey.


Character and Story advancement :

Contrary to the norm, killing monsters does not give you experience ; rather, performing specific actions on your dungeon ability cards is what gives you experience to level up , which will grant you access to higher level dungeon cards and abilities. 

Experience and hit points are tracked via a set of cardboard dials that each player receives.



You can even upgrade your dungeon cards to hit more enemies, grant more movement or even flying, do more damage, and more!

Eventually, your character can turn into a true powerhouse, however they will not be with you forever ; completion of the main game story requires you to eventually retire characters to unlock subsequent dungeons and characters that unravel the narrative. 


Critical Analysis: 

The preceding description of gameplay is just a synopsis ; as mentioned earlier, there are plenty of online examples depicting the gameplay in more precise nature, but given the rule set for Gloomhaven is actually complex, from a reviewers’ standpoint, I wanted to focus more specifically on what works for this game and what does not rather than breaking down each specific rule.

I want to start by stating that even though my overall assessment of the game is positive, much of what I have to say is going to sound negative. Because while Gloomhaven is essentially aiming to be a DM-less RPG experience and largely succeeds in this endeavor, it sometimes falls flat on its face as a result of the sheer excess of what it tried to accomplish.

This review is also going to be adversely impacted by the fact that since Gloomhaven made its debut, several other huge epic fantasy games have been released, and appear to have learned from Gloomhaven’s pitfalls. Some of these newer games ended up doing certain things better in our opinion. What this means for my critique is that while I may have initially ended up rating Gloomhaven higher 2 years ago, the fact that the gaming world has evolved  would most likely end up diminishing the accomplishment of Gloomhaven when it comes to my final thoughts. 

Now for the dirty nitty-gritty...






This game takes up way too much space. And I realize that Tainted Grail is just as guilty for taking up a huge amount of shelf space for the box that contains it. But for Gloomhaven, the problem ends up being that if you want to be efficient with time, the game simply cannot be contained in just the one box that it comes in, requiring the spending of more real-life money potentially. Tainted Grail did not have such a requisite for us. Please see the attached screenshot to see what our “optimal” solution ended up being!




Note that the game contains so many tokens, cards, characters to unlock, tiles, icons, and goods that you really need to spend more money to effectively make the game organized enough to play on a whim. This ends up meaning laying out cash for an expensive Broken Token insert or another self-made storage solution, but I seriously doubt that even though the Broken Token insert can technically (perhaps) store everything the game has to offer (unsleeved, at least), it probably is not going to be effective for locating exactly what you need when you need it. Hence the need for many boxes of various sizes and shapes, medication holders, accordion files, Plano boxes, and whatever else your mind can concoct to make your life easier.  At one point in time, we found that we were even buying boxes of gourmet chocolates to eat and then using for storage since each type of chocolate usually had its own dedicated space that could be used for storing enemy standees. This is a ridiculous amount of content that can potentially kill a dedicated area of your home and make it inaccessible for years to come unless you have a separate storage closet or garage for it when it is not in use.

We ended up buying a dedicated board game table just to leave this game set up.


Along the lines of too many components is the fact that I feel that many of the components are redundant and unnecessary. Rather than 8 different looking sets of obstacle or trap tiles that functionally do the exact same thing, it would have been better to have just one generic tile type from a standpoint of efficiency.  

The huge fold up board game map, in our opinion, just takes up space, and would be better substituted with a simple paper map with check marks that can denote what quests and statuses you have already completed. Several fan made files of such nature are available on BGG, and these are much more functional, and best of all, it means you do not have to potentially ruin your game board with legacy stickers that may never come off once placed (unless you spend yet more money on a set of peelable, reusable stickers that is sold separately.)

And speaking of things that are sold separately, you may note that enemy Hit Points are tracked with dice. The pictures of gameplay that I am posting here may show a fancy set of standees that contain a special dice tray that easily denote each enemies’ hit points and status, but I had to buy these from a separate, third party vendor, and this added yet more cost to my base game, which was already at $100 dollars when I had purchased it. Using the more ordinary method of putting dice onto each enemy sheet make the task of tracking enemy HP and status much more arduous, infuriating and frustrating.

The story itself is a bit of a letdown. While it does progress from a natural beginning to end, it is nowhere near the complexity of Tainted Grail in terms of branching paths. In essence, it feels like each dungeon only has text preceding it just to string you on from one dungeon to the next, and as a result, it can end up feeling like just a pack of 100+ one-off adventures. 

In terms of gameplay, one thing I find laughably ironic is the fact that the game creator opted to use a card-based random modifier deck instead of dice because of his personal disdain for the swingy and unpredictable nature of dice that can lead adventuring parties to their doom. The irony lies in the fact that the card-based randomness ends up being just as swingy and wild, if not more so than a traditional dungeons-and-dice game, as often times you will find that enemies can through good (mis)fortune draw their special abilities so often that you may be forced to repeat a dungeon 5 or more times only because of luck. As much as Isaac may have wanted to eliminate luck through his design choice, it is nevertheless in full effect and can lay waste to your dungeon session that lasts 3+ hours.

We could not stand the fact that you cannot share items and gold with fellow party members. 

Compared to an experience like Tainted Grail (that expects you to play the game with the seriousness that seeks to make you play the game without dying a single time), Gloomhaven ends up being too much like a video game in the sense that if you die in a dungeon, you just need to do it over and over again until you complete it, diminishing the sense of urgency and the need to take the game seriously, which from a narrative standpoint ends up making the story feel a bit more inconsequential. 

As you unlock more and more of the 20 or so odd characters in the game, while they may each feel different, some of them feel outright useless and unplayable within a party. 

Component quality is mediocre. The minis for player characters feel rough and undetailed, and were harder to paint for me as a result. The standees for enemies eventually tear if inserted into their bases too much.

The massive story/dungeon book becomes unbound way too easily, and it can be hard to fix when it comes unraveled.

There really is no role playing, or anything of that nature. You are pretty much going to be resigned to reading text for a sense of the game world, which is fine for if you only care about the fighting portion of the gaming experience.

Replay ability takes a hit because you really will not need to play this for a loooooong time once you finish the campaign, as nothing you do will dramatically alter the ending or storyline. 

 

With so many negatives, is there anything positive to say about the game?

In a nutshell, if you like dungeon crawls, for the time being this is the best board game implementation of the classic square/hex based tactical strategy role playing that I have yet encountered in a box. The negatives that I have mentioned will in fact drag the score down a bit  because they are notable, and I do not think these issues can realistically be ignored. 

While there may be some gameplay aspects present that are commonly used in traditional role playing games, such as items, gear, town visits, these features are not at all prevalent ; At its heart, Gloomhaven is all about tactical combat. 

From this standpoint, it is marvelous, and it excels in that it requires constant planning, assessment, and reactive ability (adjustment) to pull off a victory — do not expect to win by simply exchanging blows with the monster that is directly in front of you, winning will always require strategy and planning. If I were to rate Gloomhaven for combat and strategy alone, it would certainly be well-deserving of a score of at least 9/10. It creates thrills and very tense moments where your chance of success teeters and keeps you at the edge of your seat. I can think of several examples that will forever stay burned into my memory, but perhaps the best I can think of are the boss battles, which are truly epic.




My favorite encounter was one in which the boss battle (all of which feel like a traditional epic video game boss battle, which works in its favor this time around) involved a setup where we knew that the entire party would have to run through the dungeon and several rooms flooded with monsters to get to an inner chamber where the boss resided. If we did not reach the sanctum in time, the entire area would essentially become a living death trap that engulfed us in flames that would surely mean our demise if we dallied too much, and worse, if one of us reached the sanctum too far in advance, the door would seal itself shut leaving some of the party to deal with the boss while everyone else essentially was doomed to die outside of the now locked door. The boss himself looked deadly and would be summoning hordes when we entered. 

And as frustrating as the luck aspect can be, when your decide to push your luck, it can be amazing when it works in your favor. I will never forget the thrill of having my Scoundrel run to this boss as fast as he could with his invisibility cloak past the swarms of minions into the bosses chamber and unleashing a vicious stealth attack that ordinarily would have dealt a good enough chunk of damage on its own, but never would have finished the boss up. But Lady Luck shined through, and after drawing several great modifier cards, I ended up drawing a card that essentially enabled me to quadruple my damage, making it a one-shot, insta-kill against the boss, and ended the scenario in a flash of sheer, spectacular awesomeness. So as much as luck can work against you in this game, such a thrilling boss fight only could have happened as a result of having fortune in a game.

It is also fantastic that I do not have to be a DM , as no one else ever wants to do that for my RPG games, and I always feel like I miss out on taking part in great tactical battles against dungeon denizens, so in this respect, Gloomhaven scores big points for me, as the AI is tough and terrific, even though it takes a while to get used to all the many nuances that impact the way enemies move and react.

And the sheer amount of content for the game can mean years of playing. I had the good fortune of being able to play almost every night since we bought the dedicated board game table for it, and we were able to resolve the game in 3 to 4 months, but if your game group can only play once a week, and one game per sitting, we calculated it would take at least two years to complete the game. That is just insane!

But I do have to put everything into a holistic context, and I do have to consider all elements outside of the otherwise outstanding combat. 

We love the enemy charts with slide in stats that make it so it is easy to determine what level enemies function at and what innate abilities they have.




Enemies scale in difficulty as you level up, and can really beef up the challenge if you decide to level up your character at the wrong time. Again, I love challenges, so this can make make the strategic element to this game shine even more.

The negatives do weigh it down a bit in the end, and unfortunately are detrimental. I know that the newer Jaws of the Lion game set for to simplify the setup a bit, but this does have the drawback of not having tiles that can be used in a multitude of ways. 


In the grand scheme of things, once we were finished with the campaign, we did not feel like we would benefit from Frosthaven or Jaws of the Lion, the latest entries in the Gloomhaven world. Gloomhaven itself ended up being satisfying enough that we do not feel like we would benefit from another incarnation of it. We would rather see that some new world would be created that would take the lessons learned from Gloomhaven and build upon them rather than making what seems to us to be Gloomhaven 1.5 or 2.0 for the newest sequels. And do not get me wrong, I have seen the previews to Frosthaven and Jaws of the Lion, but as of now, even with the “improvements” that I see being developed, overall it seems like it will be more of the same. And in our honest opinion Gloomhaven was good enough to stand on its own two feet and end in a grand manner without a successor. We are satisfied, but nevertheless looking for the next revolution of RPG’s in a box, and I think good things are around the corner. Only time will tell.

I know we will keep this game and play it again. But for now it will remain on our shelf for the next ten  years or so while we wait for our kids to grow old enough to enjoy the experience with us.


Art : 7
Story : 5
Component Quality: 5
Gameplay : 9.5
Setup : 3
Fun : 8
Replay ability: 3 
Bang for buck : 9.5

Overall score 6.8 (not an average)
Adjusted score of 9.0 if just assessing combat/gameplay 

Need more Gloomhaven? Enter to win a copy of Cephalofair Games Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion Strategy Boxed Board Game for ages 12 & Up (that appears to be #13 on BGG's Hotness at the time of this posting) by commenting to let us know what you thought of Gloomhaven if you've tried it & if you haven't if you'll be trying it after reading Jazz's review of it.

Note: your comment has to be approved, please be patient with us!

Giveaway will end on the 7th of March 2021 at 11:59PM PST. GOOD LUCK and thanks for entering.

One lucky commenter will win this game!

Note: This giveaway is sponsored by Everything Board Games

Are you a publisher interested in giving one or more of your games away in 2021? (Stats from last month's giveaway of ISS Vanguard had 3,711 visits and 436 comments) Send an email to lake@everythingboardgames.com





Check out Gloomhaven and Cephalofair Games on:

             






Jazz Paladin- Reviewer


Jazz Paladin is an eccentric at heart — When he is not learning to make exotic new foods at home, such as Queso Fresco cheese and Oaxacan molé, he is busy collecting vintage saxophones, harps, and other music-related paraphernalia. An avid music enthusiast, when he is not pining over the latest board games that are yet-to-be-released, his is probably hard at work making jazzy renditions of classic/retro video game music tunes as Jazz Paladin on Spotify and other digital music services. 

See Jazz Paladin's reviews HERE.



Gloomhaven review & jaws of lion giveaway! Gloomhaven review & jaws of lion giveaway! Reviewed by lake on February 05, 2021 Rating: 5

178 comments

  1. I have not tried it but I think this is still something my husband and boys would play on a hot summer day when they cannot do anything else. Thank you

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  2. Loved the base but want to see the expanded universe. Oh and the comic rocked too

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  3. Also Issac just seems like a genuinely nice mab

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  4. I really like GLoomhaven and believe that it actually evolves really well after a couple of plays. The combat mechanic is engaging, and the character progression is both intutive and rewarding, as players get to know their hands and possibilities. The bookkeeping is the downside that is also an upside, there is a lot of it, but the in between scenarios play is really compelling and impactful, with players really feeling they are participating in a larger world. I'd love to say we've finished it, but we havent, this is a game that rewards constant play with a group, and its just difficult to achieve that. but truly, its worth all the hype.

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  5. Haven't played the game but would like to

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  6. I love gloomhaven, the only problem is the setup that takes hours, I know that jaws of Lyon resolves this, finger crossed for. The giveaway

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  7. Have been very curious to play, have many friends that love it. Thank you for a fair, balanced review - it will not dissuade me from trying it, but will not buy it without trying it out myself first!

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  8. I have not played it, but I loved finding my nephew new board games! I think he'd like this one.

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  9. I haven't tried it. But it looks like a lot of fun! I'd love to win so I can check it out and enjoy it with my family. Thanks

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  10. I agree that story wise it's not awesome, but the card play and how all classes I have seen are so unique keeps this game hitting the table. I believe I have been through about 35 scenarios and just started my third class.
    Game is an 8 for me, but if I only consider the card play (which is the main feature) I say is a solid 9.5

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  11. I have not played the original, but my brother in law owns it, so I probably will get to try it at some point. Jaws of the Lion seems like an easier starting point, though!

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  12. It is a favorite with my game group...all of us look forward to Gloomhaven night. I will agree that setup is a beast, but it is vastly improved if you’re willing to invest in an insert.

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  13. I have tried it and I like it, although it can take a while to set up the main game. The Jaws of the Lion version is easier to quickly set up with the booklet format.

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  14. Thanks for reviewing this game. I've been interested in Gloomhaven for some time but it's a bit overwhelming. This version might be what I'm looking for.

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  15. I have not played it yet, but many of my gamer friends have highly recommended it. I appreciate the in-depth review and breakdown!

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  16. I'd be interested in trying it, though think I'd be more likely to get Jaws of the Lion played than the original Gloomhaven.

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  17. I have not played it yet, but I do appreciate an even handed analysis of the games shortcomings. Most reviews I have seen gloss over some of the issues the game has. I do want to try it, because, just like the reviewer mentioned, having children/family limits my time for rpg sessions.

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  18. Just got it the other day and we have only played a few missions but we're addicted!

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  19. I have not played it yet, but I do appreciate an even handed analysis of the games shortcomings. Most reviews I have seen gloss over some of the issues the game has. I do want to try it, because, just like the reviewer mentioned, having children/family limits my time for rpg sessions.

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  20. I have not played it yet, but I do appreciate an even handed analysis of the games shortcomings. Most reviews I have seen gloss over some of the issues the game has. I do want to try it, because, just like the reviewer mentioned, having children/family limits my time for rpg sessions.

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  21. Thanks for the review. I have not tried Gloomhaven and think the original game may be a bit too much, but Jaws of the Lion looks like a great intro into dungeon crawling. (Not sure why my name is showing as Unknown, my name is Matt).

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  22. I think it's a great way to pass the time. This was my first dungeon crawler. I recently got into the board game hobby and I was looking up to buy, and at the time gloomhaven was #1 on bgg. Since then I've gotten other dungeon crawlers and other genres of board games. It did help me realize dungeon crawlers are my favorite. I have to play it with the apps people created. Some might say that's a bad thing or whatever but at the end of the day I enjoy it. I still need to finish it like many other people yet I still backed the frosthaven ks. I'm set for life on dungeon crawling with those.

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  23. I've started learning some of the rules in order to try it out on Tabletop Simulator - although it'd probably be more fun to spread out on the table and play with my boy!

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  24. My gaming group really enjoys it. Jaws of the Lion might be a good way to get my wife into it though.

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  25. I adore Gloomhaven and have played many scenarios that came down to the final play to determine whether we won or lost. Great game to discuss strategy if you lose a scenario to try a different approach. Well-balanced gameplay and unique characters kept us coming back to the table. Highly recommend the Broken Token insert to help with setup.

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  26. Finished Gloomhaven online (the last quarter of it) because of the pandemic. Looking forward to getting and playing Jaws of the Lion this Fall in person for realz :)

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  27. I'd love to try this version. I loved the original, but it was a pain to set up and tear down. This sounds a lot more accessible.

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  28. I have to agree with all the negative points about components and storage, and I hope that Frosthaven is better organized.

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  29. Setup and upkeep keeps us from playing more Gloomhaven. Would love to try Jaws of the Lion!

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  30. I haven't tried Gloomhaven yet, but it hits every keyword that I like -- co-op, dungeon crawling, tactical card gameplay, variable player powers. I can't wait to play it.

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  31. I really enjoyed the game, and just joined a new group to play through it again with different people.

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  32. Own and love Gloomhaven! The set up and breakdown is definitely a little daunting and the main reason it sits on my shelf a lot. Hopefully I'll get an insert someday to speed it up but I backed frosthaven and am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

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  33. I haven't played Gloomhaven yet. Our family have been gamers for decades, and we'd really be interested in playing it. It looks to be highly recommended.

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  34. I've played a few scenarios of Gloomhaven. I love the card systems for modifiers and for actions. The setup was kind of a slog. I like that JotL has a map book. I'd also prefer to play with the app for keeping track of everything. I'm tempted by the new features in Frosthaven.

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  35. I backed the game in the Kickstarter but haven't gotten the nerve (or time) to sit down, sort through it and play it. It's daunting and I've heard that Jaws of the Lion is a better place to start with Gloomhaven so maybe I'll have a chance to play that one first. Thanks for the in-detail review!

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  36. I love Gloomhaven but seldom get it to the table due to the setup time and remembering where I left off. The app on Steam though is fantastic and gives you the same feeling just with a few less characters.

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  37. Love Gloomhaven! I'd love to try Jaws of the Lion.

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  38. Love Gloomhaven! I'm stoked to try Jaws of the Lion.

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  39. Hoping to win so I can see if it is a game my brother-in-law will play with us.

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  40. I'm looking forward to playing this one eventually. This review helped me understand exactly what it was and why it's so popular. Very intriguing to say the least. I've got quite few other tactical dungeon crawling type games if like to play through. Can't wait. I'm sure Frosthaven will be fun as well.

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  41. I really do like Gloomhaven a lot and it would be among my favorite games but you're absolutely right about the setup. It totally kills the appeal of the game. I have a similar storage solution for it with the Plano boxes and it helps but even so I have to consider if I want to spend 3-4 hours with the game, including setup and packup time. I think JotL could be really great in that regard.

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  42. I'd say the review is pretty spot on. The only thing I'd consider adding though is that Gloomhaven Helper is kind of an essential app for it, at least for me. It streamlines so much of the game, reduces the table clutter and bookkeeping, and lets you get back to making interesting choices with your characters.

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  43. Gloomhaven? Love it - there was no more satisfying moment than nearly being crushed under a Kickstarter fulfilment :)

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  44. I have played about 7 scenarios. I do like the game play. The card mechanic is really good. But it does feel a little to big for our group. The 70+ playable scenarios that we would play would take us over a year to play. So something a little shorter would be nice. It has me interested in Jaws of the Lion. The idea of having a game where you feel like that is the only game you can play isn’t really to my taste. But I think the game play is fantastic.

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  45. Played it solo! Well, half of it. It's an emotional investment, but a great one. Like Diablo, but more strategy and less button mashy.

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  46. I really want to try this one. Seems simple and short enough to get through the whole campaign.

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  47. I have a copy of Gloomhaven but I have not been able to play it yet. Looking forward to it though!

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  48. I have played a dozen or so scenarios bit Covid has killed the group. We are hoping to be able to finish up before Frosthaven releases.

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  49. I really enjoy Gloomhaven a lot. I got into gaming through Descent 1st edition, and have a soft spot for dungeon crawls. I love how Gloomhaven plays differently from other games in the genre. It really sets it apart.

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  50. I have played a single mission of the board game and enjoyed it quite a bit. Recently, I was able to play a little bit of the video game version. It seems to be a bit more thinky than most of the dungeon crawler games I have played but I really want to dive in for a deeper experience before I can tell just how much I would truly like it.

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  51. I have never played the base game (maybe a bit overwhelming for me) but I would love to try the "short" version JOTL :D

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  52. I haven't played it yet, but my friend has it. Once we're vaccinated, we'll get together and give it a try.

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  53. Interesting review. I have to agree with the negative aspects of the game (storage, standees, the map, etc.). The story is fine, could be better. But the game shines when it comes to the combat part. Just pure fun, such a smart system.

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  54. On a whim, I bought Gloomhaven some time ago, but I have not opened it just yet. It just seems a bit intimidating and overwhelming, particularly for my group. Once I heard about Jaws of the Lion, I figure it would be a great intro. Would love to add it to my collection!

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  55. I've been a little afraid of the commitment of such a long campaign game, I don't have a regular group to play with and my wife and I typically play shorter games. I'd love to try it out just because I like trying new games to get the feel of it. And 40000 BGGers who rated it can't be wrong, it must be alright!

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  56. I participated in the second KS campaign of the Gloomhaven, so I have the game. But I haven't tried it yet. Why? I still have to find the players who intend to play it. I have been thinking about to try it alone, but I have many other problems with other things (ie. building a new house, moving to there, etc.).

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  57. My husband and I love this with our friends! Would love to try Jaws of the Lion with our son :)

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  58. I will certainly be trying it after I read the review. Thank you for the in-depth comments.

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  59. I have not played it but will certainly give it a go after your review. Thank you!

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  60. No DM so we all can play, win win.

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  61. I have not had the opportunity to play Gloomhaven and Jazz's review certainly reinforces my interest in it, but I fear it's too much of an investment, especially during lockdown. I'll keep waiting for a chance to try someone else's copy.

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  62. Really enjoyed it, although I haven't gotten very far yet.

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  63. Glommhaven is one of the biggest, most extensive games I’ve been lucky enough to encounter. It basically contains a lot of game elements, a lot of time can be put into the game, but there is a reason. If anyone is there a little bit for this kind of games, or for this world, its although expensive but I can only recommend this game. It's also a bit difficult to work with everyone to get to the game, but I think it's possible to put some opportunities together. I have an acquaintance who plays with him alone and still loves it. Someone once said that the gameplay will get a little monotonous over time, but we haven’t perceived that so far.

    I can really only recommend it to anyone who has access to it in some way or has the opportunity to play with it. We love it very much, I hope it will cause many, many happy hours for others as well.

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  64. We played Gloomhaven 2-player and it was fantastic. The system worked very well, and we were always interested in what came next. I'm looking forward to it's predecessor!

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  65. I love the game! You get a lot of video game vibes from it while still maintaining the board game atmosphere. Would love to try the Haws of the Lion standalone/expansion!

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  66. I haven’t tried this, but absolutely would after having many questions answered by this review! Thanks for the opportunity, Jazz!

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  67. A close friend of mine from another city got a copy of Gloomhaven, but since the start of pandemic we couldn't manage to get together. When all of this is over, we will surely dive into it.

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  68. Gloomhaven is still gathering dust on my gameshelf. The time required for set-up and tear-down have stopped us from playing this thus far. I am, however, looking forward to the day when we can finally sit down for a session. Thank you for the insightful and in-depth review.

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  69. I played a full set of scenarios with the base game, and really enjoyed the character progression and innovative game play. The initiative system is particularly interesting.

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  70. I certainly want to give this version of Gloomhaven a try if its really a smaller/easier to spread on a table. Costs a lot less than regular Gloomhaven too, so what's not to love.

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  71. I have played Gloomhaven and it was a good time. Look forward to getting it back on the table.

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  72. I love Gloomhaven. I've played over 35 games, and can't wait to play 35 more. It's one of my favorite games of all time. I love combat, the story and everything involved. Thanks for the review!

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  73. I have not played Gloomhaven yet, and life constraints of young children, limited space, and limited gaming time certainly are obstacles to me owning this behemoth. That said, this review certainly made me want to at least try the game out, and I will have to arrange something with a friend who I know owns the game to try it out sometime. Maybe I can just come over after it has been set up so I can avoid some of the more unsavory aspects of owning Gloomhaven!

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  74. I haven't played the original Gloomhaven but it's in my bucketlist of games. I've heard similar things stated In your review - like the components being lackluster and simply too much for the space(box). Still I'm in to dungeon crawls and the gameplay is supposed to be excellent. I've heard that the new gloomhaven actually does a better job of teaching gameplay and preparing to play the original gloomhaven so know I want to play it first (and the price tag isn't so hefty, if the gameplay doesn't meet expectations). Great review, Thanks!

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  75. I haven't played the original Gloomhaven but it's in my bucketlist of games. I've heard similar things stated In your review - like the components being lackluster and simply too much for the space(box). Still I'm in to dungeon crawls and the gameplay is supposed to be excellent. I've heard that the new gloomhaven actually does a better job of teaching gameplay and preparing to play the original gloomhaven so know I want to play it first (and the price tag isn't so hefty, if the gameplay doesn't meet expectations). Great review, Thanks!

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  76. I've played the original and really enjoyed it, but I'm very interested in a slightly smaller sized campaign like JotL so that it doesn't overstay its welcome.

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  77. Thanks for the giveaway and the review. I haven't played Gloomhaven, and I probably never will partly because of how much effort goes into setting it up and tearing it down making it difficult to get to the table for me personally. Also, it looks like quite the tablehog. I'd be more interested in Jaws of the Lion just by it's more streamlined nature.

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  78. I've gotten in on a couple of my friends' Gloomhaven quests! Would love to get a copy of Jaws of the Lion to play with the family!

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  79. Not played gloomhaven nor Jaws ... Dunno if I'll really have the time to play it through the real core or if I'll get enough after some time. Still curious btw

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  80. I have not tried it or but have been very keen to. Currently its easier to get friends to play a board game than a rpg and this sits right in the middle, something for all of us

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  81. I've not played Gloomhaven, but I've heard nothing but great stuff about it from people who have. I've also heard that Jaws of the Lion is a great way to get into the world and the system without breaking the bank. After reading this review, and from what I know of the game already, I'm not sure I'd buy the original version. I don't get a chance to play with others more than once a month. However, Jaws of the Lion may just do the trick.

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  82. More interested in trying it now that I know what pro's and con's to expect.

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  83. I bought Gloomhaven, opened the box, got intimidated, and put it away. I do still want to play it, but because it will likely call for a large gaming table to stay set up. I don't have the space now, so it probably won't make it to the table until I move to a different house.

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  84. I played Gloomhaven once at a demo table at a SaltCon gaming convention. Gameplay was really fun and interesting as opposed to simply rolling dice and hoping for the best. I would like to experience the storyline rather than a one-off demo scenario.

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  85. I haven't played it yet, however is is nice to see an objective review amidst all the hype this game gets on BGG. I'm more likely to give Jaws of the Lion a try first.

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  86. I really enjoyed the campaign aspect from the little I've played.

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  87. I haven't played Gloomhaven before but our whole family loves games and this one looks perfect for us. We love fantasy games!

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  88. Gloomhaven has been an all star In our community with people consistently banding together to play. It is an excellent game which really puts people in control over the character optimization.

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  89. I have played some of the first fights in Gloomhaven. I have really enjoyed the hand management skills this game requires. I definitely have to consider a long term plan and try to work in sync with my teammate as much as possible. I also love the versatility of the cards (choosing top or bottom action or using basic action). I have really enjoyed it so far, even when we lose fights!

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  90. Have not played it, but after hearing about how much space it takes and the redundancy of components, seems like Jaws of the Lion is a better option. Also considering that since Corona I barely get to play games anymore...

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  91. We were just starting our campaign when covid-19 started!

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  92. Gloomhaven is one of the best games ever. It is hard ot keep it played, though, especially during the pandemic, but we can't wait ot continue.

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  93. I play it for more than a year, twice a mont usually, and the game is amazing!

    We dont have any insert for storing the game, just a box to keep tokens separated, and it is ok.

    And the use of cards for enemy "randomness" is WAY better than using dice, in my perspective...

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  94. I played it one night with three other guys. Went fast. Was fun and very little set up and take down.
    Enjoyed it a great deal.

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  95. I haven't played the big original Gloomhaven, and I don't think I will just because it is so big. The Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion seems like a much better and less intimidating entry point for me.

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  96. Have played a few missions but had to put it on hold as I traumatised my partner (pace of the game, lots of book keeping and lots of rules check and re-check).

    Overall it has a great ambience and thematic (the art is gorgeous).
    I love the dynamic (city <-> travel <-> dungeon) very much, as it reminds me of Warhammer Quest and gives it more flavour than simply (dungeon -> dungeon -> dungeon).

    Combat wise I'm not so fond with the lack of dice, but might get used to it.
    As mentioned above, there is a LOT of book keeping and things to keep track of, which can slow down things, and the card selection dynamic while unique is personally harsh on me as I overthink things.

    I find especially harsh simply moving around, standard moves, leads to discarding cards and our own end.
    In the few missions I played, with a Tinkerer and my partner with a Mindthief, I always ended up with the feeling the plays have to be min-maxed in order to meet the objectives, much less picking up the coins without using the dedicated abilities for it.


    Summary: so far not a great experience with the pacing, min-maxing in order to finish and rules checks but still an interesting game with lots of potential once we get more used to it.
    (Somehow this still did not stopped me from backing Frosthaven)

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  97. I have a copy sitting on my game shelves. I'm super intimidated by it, but also super excited to play it!

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  98. Haven't played it but really want to. Think it could get my wife into dungeon crawlers!!

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  99. My family hasn't played it, but I have a 17 year old that's really into playing games with us right now! This would be a fun one!

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  100. I haven't played it yet but I've watched game plays and I really want to.

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  101. I haven't played it yet. Maybe after I'm able to get together with a game group again, it could be great.

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  102. I haven't played yet. I'm really interested to try it as my wife isn't into traditional RPG's but she's liked some dungeon crawlers.

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  103. I haven't tried GH yet. I've always been intimidated by the commitment to such a long campaign. I'd love to try it to see what the hype is about. JOTL with streamlined setup and takedown might work great for my wife and I!

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  104. I've only played a couple scenarios of Gloomhaven but would like to try the full campaign. JOTL seems a bit more manageable and a good way to set into the world.

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  105. Having used the Broken Token organizer for awhile now, I can attest that is doing a very good job at keeping everything organized and making it easy to find. As for having to purchase a lot of add-ons to help keep track of monster health, I find the far easier solution for that is to grab a laptop, a tablet, or smartphone and fire up the Gloomhaven Helper: http://en.esotericsoftware.com/gloomhaven-helper

    I played Gloomhaven shortly after its first edition was released and managing monster health and keeping track of status effects and such was a real pain. Gloomhaven Helper has changed the game, literally.

    My biggest gripe about Gloomhaven is that I don't get to play it enough. I had a pretty solid once-a-month group and then my wife and I had a child and then, just as he started being able to entertain himself, COVID-19 came along. I look forward to a day when I can get it back to the table once again.

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  106. You make some good points about the drawbacks of the game. Our group found that the theme of the game - heroic dungeon crawling - was so powerfully at odds with the exhaustion mechanics - you die a little bit every turn - that we just haven't been able to enjoy playing it. Three or four times we played it, and each time two or more players were left disgruntled well before we lost, their characters exhausted because they tried to explore the dungeon or pick up treasure. I like the idea of a tactical race through opponents, but it just feel heroic or adventurous as a dungeon crawler when every step you're dying a little bit. That's foremost in my mind every time I think about playing it again - it's why we haven't played the game for the last two years - but reading your review has reminded me how complicated it is to set up every time we have played. Setup adds at least a half hour to the already-extended game time. But a perfect RPG-board game hybrid is a bit of a Holy Grail for me: I don't expect to ever find one, but I don't think I'll ever stop looking, either. I'm curious about Jaws of the Lion, which seems like it's designed to reduce both setup and play times. Even if nothing else was changed, that would be a huge improvement over Gloomhaven. As you wrote, it is exhausting to sink hours and hours into a game and just lose for a stupid reason. I feel like the best co-op games play much faster.

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    Replies
    1. I do think there is still potential for an ultimate RPG in a box. I have Tanares Adventures, Stars of Akarios, Isofarian Guard and more all high on my list for this year!

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  107. I've played it 3 times so far I love it! I only needed one playthrough to convince me to buy some upgrades for ease of play and setup. I only wish I could get my gaming group together more often to play it.

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  108. I haven't tried it yet, but I want to.

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  109. I bought this as soon as I possibly could and had no one to enjoy the experience with, so after playing many rounds alone, I sold this and will one day have a group that will play through the whole thing with me. Absolutely fun with friends. Good luck to everyone in the contest :)

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  110. I have played both the original and Jaws of the Lion. I like the boards being on the books. It makes things a lot easier for setup and tear-down. I already have dice stands and use an app for keeping track on things. It is one of the best dungeon crawlers.

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  111. Just looks and sounds way too much, the review makes it easy for us novice players to stay away from this one!

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  112. I have played Gloomhaven for quite some time now. I feel that the game is so vast that I always read people's thoughts on the game and discover that they had a completely different experience than I did. This is a very well done review. Thank you for the good work.

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  113. I have not played Gloomhaven. I don't think my game group and I would have time for it. But we'd very likely get into Jaw of the Lion as that seems a little more accessible to us.

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  114. The only drawback for me is the setup/teardown of each scenario. That's why I'm very interested in JotL. I hope there will be expansions for it in the future!

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  115. tried it, got killed. tried again, died some more.

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  116. I have not played it yet but consider Jaws of the Lion to be an entry level more accessible way to try it out.

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  117. I haven't played Gloomhaven yet. I'm super interested but I worry about the time/play investment as I don't think my normal group of gamers would be up for it (some weeks, I might not be up for it *grin*). Jaws of the Lion may be an easier one to get to the table...but will still have to see.

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  118. I have seen a few plays but Haven't played it myself

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  119. My wife and I really love playing through gloomhaven. While like everyone says the setup, tear down and storage is tedious the game itself is awesome. The concept, story ability to unlock and upgrade characters and items is just too awesome to ignore. The rules take a bit to get down pat and the rulebook is extensive, but once you are in it.. Man o man... We would love to play Jaws of the lion.. We have forgotten circles sealed and waiting for the gloomhaven completion.

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  120. I have Gloomhaven set up on my game table ready to start. It’s daunting, but I’m looking forward to diving in.

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  121. I love gloomhaven and really wants the sequel

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  122. I know folks who have Gloomhaven, but haven't been able to try it myself yet. Would love to!

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  123. Really love Gloomhaven but I the movement and looting system leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I love everything else, especially the dual use card and battle deck system.

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  124. I even bought the Daedalus container for it and then Covid :(

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  125. Loving Gloomhaven so far. We are about 10 scenarios into our first campaign.

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  126. I get the majority of my games through trades/swaps and the occasional giveaway, I haven't been able to get my hands on any Gloomhaven stuff, but I'm trying...

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  127. I’ve played most of Gloomhaven and love it.

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  128. I’ve played most of Gloomhaven and love it.

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  129. I'm definitely looking forward to trying it out :)
    So much so, I've already started printing out props with my 3d printer!

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  130. Still keen to play it! Especially if I win it 😉

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  131. I haven't played Jaws of the Lion yet, though I have played Gloomhaven and enjoyed it. The card combat took some getting use to though...kinda odd.

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  132. I love Gloomhaven. Working through a campaign with my brother now. We're having a blast!

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  133. Been thinking about getting this game and your article is definitely food for thought.

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  134. I can't wait to try out Gloomhaven. I've seen this review before and I remember commenting then as well. Still a great review and explains everything you need to know before diving in.

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  135. I haven't played it but look forward to giving a try considering it seems to be a game that is very strategy and tactical. Games that keep you on your toes, having to change up approach tend to be very engaging and for me, enjoyable. I've also heard lots of positive reviews from friends, I'm somewhat surprised I've never played it.

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  136. I own Gloomhaven, but haven't been able to get a group together to play through the campaign. I've considered picking up Jaws of the Lion, as that might be less intimidating, easier to recruit players.

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  137. Yeah love Gloomhaven! I played a couple of scenario’s with three players, and then bought the game myself. Playing it mostly in two player mode, have about 35 scenario’s played. Currently on pause due to corona, unfortunately...
    So now I am trying to beat the Cragheart solo mission. :-)

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  138. I played 15ish scenarios of gloomhaven with my partner and a friend and i agree with you! Tactically this game is amazing and really shine in multiplayer battle where you cant really optimize 100 percent your move (as you cant say out loud your tactic) and at the same times think of your own quest and looting (and act more for you than the party in sime circonstances). The story so far is really "go here", "go there", and random things happen on the way. I was ok with that even if i prefer deeper story like Tainted grail, but what really frustrated me is the fact that you resolve events depending on your class! It made it as you cant roleplay your character at all! A brute is a brute, a scoindrel is a bad thief character and that is clearly sad! Ypir character is stuck in a class that will always act one way or the other. This was a big bummer for me...

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  139. We have played Gloomhaven at 2p count for a few scenarios. We love it, although it really takes up some time to set up and tear down! But it has so much content and story depth, it's well worth the effort!

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  140. I have not yet played any gloomhaven. I have heard many positive reviews and reading this review has gotten me more excited to try it out.

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  141. I’m a big fan of this game and love playing it. I agree with the component aspect of it, but for me, worth it.

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  142. Bought Gloomhaven (2nd printing) but it has not made it to the table yet. Have all the official additional scenarios (including the ones from the Secret Cabal). Looking forward to see if my game group has the same thoughts as those in this review.

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  143. Gloomhaven is too much for me. Jaws of the lion is simpler to set up and play, so I guess thats for me and my group is more interesting.

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  144. What you thought of Gloomhaven if you've tried it & if you haven't if you'll be trying it after reading Jazz's review of it?


    I have know about Gloomhaven for some time, i was already wanting to try it , but my opportunities were broken because of the Pandemic.

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  145. Have started, completed first 2 scenarios and like it so far.

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  146. I have yet to get gloomhaven to the table. Is it going to trump d&d? Not likely.

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  147. Haven't played but have always wanted to! I'll certainly play if I win the contest ��

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  148. Loved Gloomhaven. However that first scenario was a brutal introduction to the game. I'm pretty sure we failed 3 or 4 times before finally managing to win it. It was pretty smooth sailing after that.

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  149. I have purchased it and it is sitting on my shelf while I go through the 800 Youtube videos trying to figure out how to play it.

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  150. Haven't tried yet, but it is on my wanting to play list. Priority has risen after reading the review!

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  151. Thanks! Ive wanted to try it for awhile now but this review made me want it even more!

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  152. Been interested in GH for a long time but don't think I could find the time to complete the campaign. JotL I think is the perfect compromise! Thanks for the review!

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  153. Gloomhaven is one of those big games that its better to set up, play a bit and leave alone to come back ready after session. Jaws of the lion seems simpler and easier to get into.

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  154. I haven't tried it, but will be up for it when/if it shows up on my gaming table.

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  155. I own a 1st KS edition of the game and have yet to play it. It holds the top spot on my shelf of shame. Hopefully, it will see the game table in 2021.

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  156. I think I'm at about 44 plays of Gloomhaven. That is approx. 110 hours of entertainment. Most of them are solo, but about 15-20 are at 2 or 3 player counts. Without a dedicated space for this one, along with a good storage solution, the setup and take down can certainly be detrimental to getting this one to the table regularly.

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  157. The legendary Gloomhaven is my to do list. I just haven't bought a copy to play yet.

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  158. I do have Gloomhaven but the complexities got to us when trying to play. Nowadays there are lots more tools available to help you in your but everyone says JotL is the best gateway of entry into the GH world.

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  159. I haven’t had a chance to try this yet, but someday would like to learn and play.

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  160. Would love to try Gloomhaven myself sometime.

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  161. I haven't played it yet but have heard great things about it. While the original game of Gloomhaven might intimidate me I feel like Jaws of the Lion would be the perfect opportunity to start.

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  162. I like it but I don't get to play as much as I like.

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  163. I have not tried it but is one my "to play" list.

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  164. It looks awesome but the price point and long set up/tear down is the killer. Jaws of the Lion may be more my speed.

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  165. The game looks great and the character progression is impressive. What kills it for me are the price point and long set up/tear down. This make me sad. Jaws of the Lion seems more my speed.

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  166. Almost bought Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion the other day. This sounds like a really cool introduction to the world of Gloomhaven!

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  167. I wouldn't mind trying it but money is tight right now, so it's on my wishlist. ����

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  168. Gloomhaven rocks! playing for more than a year... Not many games I played so much!

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  169. I haven't even tried Gloomhaven, but I've been tempted multiple times. It looks awesome.

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  170. I have not played any Gloomhaven yet, but definitely interested in trying it out!

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  171. I think Jaws will be my favorite game of all times after reading Jazz review

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  172. Super looking forward to it. Especially love all the pieces. While some hate that, I love it when a game includes so much material and art!

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  173. I've gotten about halfway through the campaign, love your review.

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  174. Was the winner chosen for this?

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