Tobold's Blog
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Gloomhaven physical, digital, hybrid

I have been playing Gloomhaven in different ways over the last week. At first I only used the content of the big game box. While it is perfectly possible to play that way, the foreseen way to track hit points and statuses of monsters is a bit fiddly. So I followed the advice of one of my readers, and tried out the Gloomhaven Helper app, which helps with monster management. I found that both in solo mode and when playing with my wife, playing in "hybrid" mode with that app accelerated gameplay.

Of course playing the digital version of Gloomhaven on Steam is even faster. The original campaign from the board game isn't implemented yet, but the "Guildmaster" mode plays pretty much like an alternative campaign mode. Playing on the computer allows a few new game mechanics, like achievements that count things like the number of hexes moved overall, which would be really tedious to keep track of in the board game version. The Guildmaster mode also has repeatable missions called job quests, which unlike the board game version are *not* always the same, and thus are less boring to repeat, if you ever feel the need to repeat old content for xp and gold.

One major difference in my mind between the physical board game and the digital PC game is the design of road events. Either I am extremely lucky, or the road events in the PC version are designed much more positively for the players. The road events in the physical version frankly suck. There are a lot of road events in which both possible outcomes are negative for you. And they aren't much fun, because you take a decision and then suffer a consequence which often seems to have very little relation to your decision. In the digital version I never ended up with a negative condition imposed upon me at the start of the scenario from a road event, and if I lost gold, it was because I decided to pay that gold, and then usually got some positive effect out of it. That is a lot nicer. I'd gladly pay for a deck of the PC road events to replace the board game road events with. :)

One other hybrid thing I am using for Gloomhaven is Forteller. That is basically the text of the Gloomhaven board game scenario book in professionally made audiobook format. So instead of me reading a text aloud when playing with my wife, I let the app do that, because the app is better at voice acting and supplying background noises. Your mileage may vary, but for me that is worth $15 for professional voice acting, although I otherwise don't use audiobooks.


The intention of road events is to make travel feel like an effort, and to be a bit difficult. There are several scenarios that are 'linked' from the last one, so that you can choose to continue from where you ended last time, or go back to town first. If you choose to go back to Gloomhaven, you have to draw another road event to get back. So road events are a 'cost', by design.

Having positive road events is probably more fun in isolation, but makes less sense overall - IMHO. Others may disagree!
Somewhat random post: you probably should stay away from the board game called Kingdom Death: Monster. I think almost every card pull there is negative (and there are a lot / can't be avoided), with some just insta-maiming or insta-killing your characters!

Oh, and you have to assemble the minis there too. :P
It seems that Kingdom Death: Monster is A) $400 for the core game and B) sold out, so resellers on Amazon are asking $999 for it. I would say it is unlikely that I would have picked up this game by chance. :)

I am not a big fan of Dark Horror Fantasy. I'm not even playing Darkest Dungeon. In horror games I prefer the much more subtle horror of Call of Cthulhu over the "monsters rip your intestines out" version. And in fantasy I prefer either heroic fantasy, or a version of dark fantasy in which the heroes nevertheless prevail in the end, like in my Out of the Abyss campaign for D&D.

Funnily enough, when I typed Kingdom Death: Monster into YouTube, the first search result was a video titled "5 Reasons to Never Play". Having said that, the concept of playing not a hero, but a tribe defending a village against a neverending onslaught of monsters is quite interesting. But I'd rather play a video game version of this, instead of assembling all those miniatures.
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