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Subject: Gloomhaven Mini-Session -- Week 1 rss

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Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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After a solid hour of punching and sorting, Gloomhaven was humming and ready to go. Anastasia and I played the first mission in the campaign, "Black Barrow," which (spoiler free) involves picking up a job from a high-class lady to go and retrieve some stolen documents from a known bandit. He has been traced to the Black Barrow, a shallow anteroom complex of an old crypt north of town.

First, we needed to create a party and associated characters. I let Anastasia field the party name, which she dubbed 'Dandelion Junction' (deeply intimidating for a mercenary troupe, I know). I created Bart Sprocket, Tinkerer, and Anastasia whipped up Audraia Filidee, Spellweaver. Bart bought an Iron Helmet and Minor Healing Potion and Audraia bought Leather Armor.

Our first play was a bit shaky, though I was generally firm on the rules. Spellweaver is a hard class to start playing without appreciating the gravity of the exhaustion mechanic in the game (which is brutal and brilliant!), as most Speallweaver cards are massively OP and thus are all lost after using them. Anastasia managed to use her back-pocket ability to recover all of her lost cards, but she did so early enough in the scenario that she still ended up exhausted in the last room. However, it was only on the last turn of the game, as Bart was able to immolate the remaining enemies and complete the scenario successfully.

We then took Gloomhaven with us to our friends' house around the corner. Sam and Eee are consistent gaming partners with us and Sam has been as excited as I was for this game, if not more. Sam created Ambrosia, the Scoundrel, and Eee created Fezzik, the Brute ("You ARE the Brute Squad..."). We had two choices to progress:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
1. Barrow Lair (#2), which is mission two in the primary story line (basically, Bandit thief dude from mission one flees into a deeper part of the crypts, where we find him doing all sorts of creepy necromantic stuff).

2. Sulphur Mine (#65), which was a random side scenario unlocked by a treasure chest tile during Black Barrow (#1).

We opted to progress the storyline from the first mission's conclusion. I'll spoiler the specific content but provide a general synopsis which is (hopefully) spoiler-free. (and will follow this format in future weekly posts).

Overall, Fezzik was excellent at cracking skulls and debilitating enemies. Bart saved all of his biggest tricks for the end of the round, whereupon he brought some serious and conniving pain to many a target. Audraia managed her card economy far better this round than the previous mission, and played very skillfully. Finally, Ambrosia won MVP for landing an absurdly powerful rolling combo of effects onto the goal target for the mission, which single-handedly provided enough breathing room for the rest of us to finish the job before becoming exhausted.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Our City Event included ripping off tavern patrons while the lights went out, courtesy of Ambrosia being a Scoundrel. The Road Event included a Bandit "toll" which we refused to pay. We decapitated the rogue leader and got through it, but we all started the scenario with three damage each! On top of that, the scenario effect was to add three curse cards to each of our modifier decks. Fezzik drew two right off the bat and his awesome attacks were wasted. Eee was PISSED. Audraia and Bart also whiffed on big attacks, and Ambrosia did, too. Curse cards are ROUGH.

The main room spawned the Bandit Commander Boss and two Elite Archers, all standing behind three sarcophogi. Boss Effect 1 is that he jumps to the door of one of the four perma-locked rooms and opens it up, unleashing beefy Living Corpses from within--slow, shambling, and strong. Boss Effect 2 summons an elite Living Bones. Thankfully, effect two never came up, though the Bandit Commander popped two side chambers and let loose five zombies. The second room featured a treasure tile, and my battle goal was to loot any treasure tile found on the map. As a result, Bart layeth the smacketh down, but always made progress moving towards that treasure. Fezzik wanted it for himself, and tried to keep Bart from getting it. Ambrosia went invisible with Smoke Bomb and combo'd several other effects to make a big attack (sixteen!) on the Bandit Commander. We waited with painful, bated breath as Sam flipped six modifier cards over due to rolling modifiers.* We were certain he was going to whiff on a curse and waste the massive wombo combo. He flipped them slower and slower. Everyone stood up and leaned over his deck. He flipped the last card... +1! He landed sixteen damage out of forty HP on the boss, which was incredible. However, Ambrosia was quickly exhausted the next turn, but Sam chose a long rest to ensure that the Scoundrel could remain an invisible meat shield for another turn, blocking the corpses.

I was so close to the treasure chest, but Audraia unleashed a big attack then moved EIGHT spaces and took the chest out from underneath Bart's next turn. I was irate. I couldn't believe it. Everyone burst into laughter. Anastasia was beside herself. We wrapped up the mission and won after Fezzik delivered the killing blow to the Bandit Commander and we polished off the remaining corpses. We revealed our battle goals... mine failed because I could not loot the chest... and Anastasia failed because she DID loot the chest! What?! She said she wanted to be a "real" "selfish" mercenary. Incredible. I loved it, despite being shafted. Eee didn't get her goal, but Sam did. In the end, we all decided we loved it.

Gut reaction? After playing twice and sifting through the rules and components quite a bit, I'm enamored. The combat is so good. The choices are agonizing and critical. The story is already interesting and the unique fantasy setting is original and engaging. The worldbuilding with events, stickers, and global effects is really, really excellent. I said it before, and I agree with it all the more--this game smacks of a a solid board game which implements an MMO feel in terms of scope. It's quite impressive.

Eee and Anastasia said that despite Gloomhaven being akin to a video game or D&D (both of which they don't care for), they really had a fun time once they understood how their characters worked. All of us are enamored with the legacy and worldbuilding. We're playing again this Thursday. We can't wait.



* We realized that we inadvertently used the perk modifiers rather than the standard modifier deck for this session. Due to other circumstances in the mission, we agreed that this was not much of an advantage (especially since we were still wrapping our heads around the game weit large). We have since corrected this error for all consequent plays.
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Ben Baker
Canada
Taber
Alberta
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Great session report (although, I did skip the second spoiler tag).

Sounds like a great experience!
 
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Jason Murphy
United States
Wilsonville
Oregon
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You might be using the wrong battle modifier decks as your starting decks should have no rolling modifiers. Otherwise great read.
 
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Jim Parkin
United States
Stow
Ohio
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fllicker wrote:
You might be using the wrong battle modifier decks as your starting decks should have no rolling modifiers. Otherwise great read.

I noted this with an asterisk at the bottom of the post. We realized this after the fact but due to [spoilery reasons] the benefit of those cards was dramatically reduced in the given scenario. We've amended the issue for all subsequent plays.

Thanks for the read!
 
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