Thursday, 25 February 2021

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

My new favorite.

Odd things are afoot at the city of Gloomhaven and it's up to your cooperative party of up to four to solve it and more importantly, beat up those behind it. At its core, this is a tactical battle RPG but the game play is so different to anything I've played before (and no I've never played the original Gloomhaven).

At the start of a turn, each character selects two cards (out of a hand of 10-ish) to play and must use the top part of one and the bottom part of the other. Usually, movement is at the bottom and attacks are up the top. The cards also have an initiative value, and since you aren't meant to talk exact numbers with your allies (and the bad guys get random initiative anyway) the board can change drastically before you get to do your two moves - after which those cards are discarded.

The pages in the books acting as the "board" is brilliant and should be used more!

There's a way to refresh discarded cards, but it means permanently losing one for the mission. You can also opt to lose a card to negate damage and some cards are simply super strong, but one shot - which means you lose them too. Lose all your HP OR go down to one or less cards and that character is down/exhausted/out of the mission.

While being very alien at the start It's a very cool system and one that encourages loads of thinking. Yes, your characters level up (get better cards to swap in), get perks, can buy / sell gear, have random city events, but the main bulk of this is the thinking, and it's great! It's almost like chess, but you don't know when your move will take place so you probably should have a pair of cards that will work in multiple ways. But does that pair have a low enough/high enough initiative value? Are you hoping the baddies move into range first? Or do you want them right where they are now to do an effective combo?

The tutorial of the game is fantastic too as it really helped my gaming crew get the hang of what is going on while slowly adding more and more mechanics. Also, having the maps simply printed in the book is pure genius as well as that cuts down a lot of setup time. I can't recommend this game highly enough and give it six hatchets out of five. Yes, it's so good it broke my scale. Obviously it's my new favorite. :P

Insight: Reach level five before attempting the missions past number 17.

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