Gloomhaven: The Spellweaver

I’ve talked about the basics of Gloomhaven, but I want to go a little more into my class and how to play the Spellweaver, or at least how I go about it.

As the name would suggest this character is a magic slinger – usually found behind the tank, sending out ranged and area-of-effect attacks while avoiding getting squished.

The real USP of the character is that they are the only class (so far anyway…) that can recover their cards once they’ve been Lost.

As these are the cards with the most fun effects and the most XP, this has made the Spellweaver very fun to play.

How to play the Spellweaver in Gloomhaven

If you are thinking of taking the character in your own game, here is my advice garnered from 20 or so games with her.

  • Manipulate the elements: Add elements to cards. Get a mana potion. Get your team mates to get one too – you don’t need to create an element to use it.
element system in gloomhaven

Certain effects create elements that cards then use up – they are vital to making the Spellweaver effective.

  • Think ahead: This class works best if you think several turns ahead to set yourself up with the right elements and buffs. Think about what the board might look like in a few rounds, and plan around it.
  • Pay attention to your team mates movements: The Spellweaver is VERY squishy. Make sure you know where your teammates plan on going so they get attacked, while you hide behind them.

The Spellweaver in her usual position – cowering behind the Brute.

  • Get something with pierce: The Spellweaver is mostly about low damage, but lots of it. This means that Shields – which discount the first few points of an attack – can be a massive pain in the arse. So I got a Piercing Bow that bypasses shields. It’s one use per game but it counts on ALL enemies targeted by an attack action. Time it right and you can take out three or four shielded nasties at once.
  • Invisibility is your friend: Grab the cloak of invisibility. That way you can jump right into the action, unleash hell, and then disappear to leave the enemy wondering why their liver is now char-grilled on the floor.
  • Running away is also your friend: The Spellweaver doesn’t have a lot of movement, so a pair of boots that help you run far and run fast is a must.
  • Use your Lost cards: The character can get them back so don’t be afraid of running down the clock by using them early. If you can make an epic attack on turn one, do it. It’ll make life easier. That said…
  • Don’t always use Lost cards: If you use two Lost cards every turn, the game isn’t going to last very long. I have a good mixture of reusable cards to play while setting up for a big attack.
  • Try to use Lost cards twice: Especially in your first few games. The faster you level, the faster you get to the fun high-level cards.
spellweaver solo mission

Each character has a solo mission. I attempted The Spellweavers one and died many, many times… she is not a character that does well on her own.

At first, the Spellweaver can play a bit boring as you have to stay out the way, only plinking off the odd hit point.

But now, I’m level 7. There’s nothing like the feeling that comes from setting up the perfect attack and taking out half a dozen enemies in a wave of burning/freezing/brilliant death.

I AM THE SPELLWEAVER! ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR!

Gloomhaven: The Basics

The box weighs 9.8kg. I make the others lift it.

I’m one of the lucky people who have managed to get their hands on a copy of one of the hottest boardgames of the moment: Gloomhaven.

As I’m around dozen games in I thought it was probably time I started talking about it here.

But before I get into my thoughts: What even is Gloomhaven?

Gloomhaven is essentially a miniatures wargame with legacy elements that comes in a literally massive box.

Every game you set up a scenario using a set of hex boards, then move around miniatures representing your characters as you explore and eliminate enemies.

From the end of our last session

Every round you play two cards, doing to top action of one (usually an attack) and the bottom action of the other (usually a movement).

Overtime, these cards become Lost which controls how long the game goes on for as well as forcing you to make a lot of complex strategic decisions.

You chose which cards you are going to play each round in secret, though you can talk about what sort of thing you are going to do.

(Some wise soul has made it a rule that you are not allowed to discuss specifics at this stage, which stops the game from completely seizing up with analysis paralysis.)

What cards you have depends on what character you are.

The unused cards and miniatures are currently still sealed away…

You start the game with six characters to choose from, but there are 17 in total and the rulebook assures me that over the course of the game the other 11 will become available.

Most missions you go on are part of an overarching story.

As you complete them new locations are revealed and you have to make choices about where you want to go and who you want to support.

Your characters gain XP over over time, which lets them level up to gain access to new cards (though how many you take on missions is always fixed), and you all have a private quest that you need to complete in order to let your character retire.

Each of these characters has a class and a race.

With the exception of humans all of the races and classes are unique to Gloomhaven, which is a nice touch, though some of them might look quite familiar to the veteran role player.

The initial six you have are the Brute, the Cragheart (both tanks), the Spellweaver (elemental magic), the Mindthief (status magic), the Scoundrel (rogue) and the Tinkerer (who I haven’t played a game with, so I’m not really sure what they’re like).

So, that’s the game in a nutshell.

I’ve had a lot of fun over the last 13 games, and I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of it so I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next!

New games!

This weekend I had a bunch of people around who brought with them a whoooooole bunch of new games, several of which go up to six players! So here’s a short run-down of what I played, and what I thought of them.

Betrayal of Balder’s Gate:  Betrayal at House on the Hill, but with a D&D theme. There are a couple of rule changes — you can attack mid move, the haunt can’t come out before the third omen — that all help to keep the game moving. Being based on a role play game, the story telling elements were all on point and the inn jokes (I’m so punny) made me smile. Unfortunately, both times we played there was no individual betrayer, which kind of took out half the fun.

Subterra: Forbidden Island extreme. With monsters. My friend had the SuperDuperDelux edition which is very pretty, but I did find it rather hard to see the tiles as they were so dark (which might be half the point. You are supposed to be in a dark cave). We died the first time, then played with the Investigation expansion the second time which seemed much easier. It was fun, but it didn’t seem very different from similar games, so I kind of felt I’d played the game before.

Ticket to Ride, Old WestFinally! A proper six player Ticket map! This is the flip-side of the new France expansion. The new rules require you to put down Towns and you have to build out from those — so everything has to be connected. No more suddenly going on the other side of the board to grow your ever expanding train empire. Also, if you build a route to another person’s town they get the points, not you. Interesting take on the game and the rules really change things up. I just wish I’d realised how important putting down more Towns was. I did not do well…

First MartiansYou are astronauts on a Martian colony. You have to keep it running, complete missions and survive events which are thrown at you by an app. It’s a great mix of good mechanics and strong storytelling. Unfortunately, it has the WORST rule book I have read in a long time, and we were constantly FAQing everything. I was also a bit annoyed that you HAVE to have an app for the events when a deck of cards could also do the job for those without a smartphone (yes, those people do exist). Having got to grips with it however, I would love to keep playing especially as it has a campaign mode and I love me some of that!

Every game is better with a traitor mechanic

I have a friend who maintains that every game — EVERY game — would be improved with the addition of a traitor mechanic if only we could work out how to implement it.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Pandemic: You win if the others lose. Hands are played closed and no one is allowed to say what cards they have explicitly. Convincing your ‘team’ you can’t help and persuading them to make bad choices is how you win.

Flash Point Fire Rescue: You set the fire. You win if the others loose BUT all deaths, including yours, are permanent. If you are in the building when it collapses, you lose. If you get caught in a fire, you lose. The main team only need to find five civilians to win.

Ticket to Ride: There’s a chance that one of the initial tickets is a traitor card. Instead of getting points in the usual way, you get the points of all the tickets your opponents failed to complete.

7 Wonders: Less of a traitor mechanic, more of a being-an-arse mechanic (most of them are from this point to be honest). Your wonder is all about making other people lose points and there are extra black city cards in the deck to help you.

Terraforming Mars: You get your own special deck with all the attack cards in. You win if after a set number of generations (depending on the number of players) Mars has not been terraformed.

Settlers of Catan: You are the robber. You ALWAYS control where the robber moves and automatically roll a seven on your turn. Instead of building settlements and cities, you steal other people’s. It takes eight points to win.

If you can think of any games to traitor-ise, drop me a note in the comments below.