Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, November 02, 2021
How long should a board game campaign be?

This weekend I played Destinies with my wife, and digital Gloomhaven solo. In a way, these are two extremes if you consider the length of their campaigns. The base box of Destinies has only 5 scenarios, with another 3 in the expansion. The core Gloomhaven box has 95 scenarios. On a dollar per scenario score, Gloomhaven is the much better deal. But does that matter?

When my wife and me played the non-digital Gloomhaven, we played through 16 scenarios before we kind of lost interest and moved on. Gloomhaven as a board game is difficult to set up, and also not a very easy game. There are not a lot of people out there who ever finished the campaign. I'm not sure I am even going to finish it in digital, where obviously the setup is a lot easier.

Gloomhaven does not only have a lot more scenarios than Destinies, it also has a lot more replay value per scenario. Replaying a scenario is Destinies doesn't make much sense, because a lot of the game is about exploration, usually trying to find some specific items. Even if you just vaguely remember where the items were from a previous playthrough, you would get through the game much faster, and the first player reaching his objectives wins.

Destinies is not a very deep game, but it is entertaining to play through a scenario you don't know yet. As the basic structure of each scenario is the same, and only the narrative changes, it is well possible that after playing the 5 scenarios in the base box you don't feel a huge urge to play this again. It isn't so bad if you both feel you finished the game and ran out of content at the same time. Gloomhaven is something of an albatross around many board gamer's neck, that huge game that we never got around to finishing. I didn't back Frosthaven, because it will be more of the same, and I know that I would never finish that one either.

I wouldn't say that Destinies is a great game. The writing is sometimes a bit obscure, the game mechanics are a bit too simple for my tastes, and when not playing solo the necessity to rush to get to your objectives first jars with this being a game about exploration and story-telling. But Destinies is quick to bring to the table, my wife and me are having easy fun playing through a scenario in an afternoon, and we won't mind when we are through and it's over. Maybe a board game doesn't need to be more than that.


We did finish Gloomhaven, but it took awhile, and we looked online to find the quickest path to the end once we'd spent a few months in it.

Similarly, we declined to back the Kickstarter for Mythwind, because not only does that game not have any end game, there isn't even an end to a session -- it just continues on forever. Talk about necks and albatrosses.
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