Tobold's Blog
Monday, November 09, 2020
Gloomhaven unboxing blog post

My blog is so old, it predates sites like YouTube or Twitch. When I started, I didn't really have the choice whether I wanted to write or make videos. But of course, later I could have switched media, but didn't. I am a fan of the written word, rather than the spoken word. Editing is a lot easier. So I stuck with blogging, way beyond the point where blogging became irrelevant compared to videos. Having said that, today I am going to talk about unboxing Gloomhaven on this blog, and even I can see that an unboxing video makes a lot more sense than an unboxing blog post. Well, I'm still writing it, and if you need images you can search YouTube for "Gloomhaven unboxing" or "Gloomhaven e-Raptor insert".

Gloomhaven is not only the top ranking game on BoardGameGeek, it is also one of the biggest games I have ever seen. It comes in a huge box of over 10 kg. The first page of the manual describes over 2,600 pieces, cards, and tokens that make up the game. Many of them have to be punched out of 18 large cardboard sheets, which takes quite some time. And once you've done that, if you haven't been warned by a video or blog post like this, you'll notice that there is a problem: There are no inserts in that huge box which would allow you to keep all those punched out tokens separate. At the bottom of the box there is just one layer of an insert, and that one doesn't have all that many separate spaces, and can't hold half of the items you have. Either you come up with an independent storage solution, or you just dump all the tokens into the box and spend hours every setup to sort them out.

As I was warned before I bought Gloomhaven, I ordered an insert together with the game. I took the e-Raptor insert, which is made out of high density fiberboard, a sort of artificial wood. While my own personal "fab lab" at home only has 3D printers, I am aware of laser cutting as alternative fabrication technology. The e-Raptor insert comes in laser cut HDF sheets, and you need to punch those out and assemble them. Due to this manufacturing method, the whole thing smells a bit like burned wood, which isn't unpleasant. The bottom insert has a section in which you need to align 30 spacers in parallel, which is designed badly and very fiddly to assemble. But the rest fits together easily. The e-Raptor insert for Gloomhaven costs around 40 Euro, which, surprising as it may sound, is at the low end of cost for Gloomhaven inserts. It holds together without glue, but I am currently in the process of gluing together the bottom tray for increased stability.

The insert came with 3 pages of assembly instructions, which I found easy enough to follow. It didn't come with instructions what tokens go where, but you can get photos of the final product with tokens in from the website, and that can serve as a guide. While the assembly took some time, and there is a risk of long parts breaking when you punch them out of the sheets, overall I am quite pleased with the result. There are slightly nicer inserts made out of plywood instead of fiberboard, some with labels on which token goes where, but those cost as much as the game itself, up to $100.

I also bought, much cheaper, a set of removable stickers for Gloomhaven. The game comes with sheets of stickers which stick more or less permanently on the game board, showing for example locations you discovered on the map. I prefer a version that I can "reset". However, the Gloomhaven campaign has 95 scenarios to play through, and would take well over 100 hours to completely play through. So maybe those removable stickers aren't strictly necessary. On the positive side, you always only play one scenario at a time. So the desk I am currently using to play (my gaming table having been converted into a home office these days) might actually be big enough to play Gloomhaven. And the insert trays to keep the tokens and cards sorted will certainly help.

That looks like it needs some serious commitment! It's also why I opted to go for the smaller Jaws of the Lion box (stand alone) instead... and it's now my favorite board game in my collection. :)
Oh I should also say, Jaws of the Lion does pack a lot better than what you described with containers and plastic bags included in its own box - I guess the creators had more time to think up of storage and had an easier time since it's much lighter than the original. Just on the off chance you want to expand on your Gloomhaven-verse. ;)
I'd recommend playing the first couple of scenarios with everything that comes in the box, but after that you could save some table space by switching to Gloomhaven Helper (free on web and android, paid on ios). It automates the monster stats and card draws, tracks player health, initiative and coins, plus tracks elements.
I've read your blog post and I had a hard time understanding Gloomhaven, to be honest. Then I watched an unboxing video and I can tell you... I nearly came in my pants. That thing is MASSIVE and gorgeous. Wow!

I'd suggest you to explore the video option. Give it a try. At least once, come on, you old grumpy goat. Maybe you will discover a hidden talent, who knows. TOBOLD'S VIDEOBLOG. Our beloved "pen and paper" blogger embraces the new era and shows himself in video.

Let us dream.
Gloomhaven is the closest I’ve seen to giving you everything you need in a single box to run a multi-year P&P campaign. The “legacy” approach often is a turn off to me (for replays) but I can’t see myself ever actually completing the game.
Been there, done that. You really do need a well thought & efficient out storage solution, if only to speed up the setup & breakdown time required, which is still considerable (at least 15 minutes each, once you know what you're doing). I went with the "plastic fishing tackle boxes" for counters and "alphabetized harmonica folder" for the rooms. Works quite well, although it doesn't all fit back in the box after! Also bought the removable stickers. That seems like overkill for now since I don't see myself starting the campaign over from scratch in my lifetime. Maybe at the retirement home one day :-)...

Curious what you'll think of the game. My gang of 4 is pretty pleased with it, we've lasted over 20 scenarios now, been forced on hold for Covid. There's a third party add-on of many additional scenario goal cards, which we found to be a good investment, as there are far too few base ones, and they start to repeat quickly. There are a number of fiddly or illogical rules, so expect to want to house rule a handful of things in short order. For solo play, I think the Steam version will be far more playable once complete, as you can go through it at several times the speed of the physical game.
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