Gloomhaven’s campaign – initial thoughts #IntPiPoMo

While we were away recently, Gloomhaven digital’s campaign mode was released as the game left early access and launched fully. From what I’ve read this is directly ported from the original board game, though I only am experiencing it through the PC release. I’ve read that the original is rather a time hog, something that, thankfully, having the computer set up the board and run the rules for you this game avoids. We’ve noticed the subtle impact of this between the two Mysterium board games – the original takes a lot more time to set up, as it has more components, so we’ve tended to play more Mysterium Park since that released as it is simply quicker.

Campaign mode in Gloomhaven is rather different to the ‘Guildmaster’ mode we played up until now. It has a much stronger narrative and more restrictions on which mercenaries you play. It’s been like starting over on a new server in a MMORPG as none of the progress from Guildmaster mode applies. I think we’ll stick at it, since the story is nicely animated with some good voice acting, but I do worry the forced retirement of mercenaries will rather sour my enjoyment longer term. I find that a bit of a bizarre mechanic to put in a game and it is tied to unlocking new mercenaries so there is a cost to refusing to progress these…

Some rare good luck!

The game has some extra polish over the last pre-launch version, in particular a slick animated map that provides a backdrop to the story-telling.

As an in-game tip mentions, campaign mode has difficulty turned up to eleven from the start. We are facing monsters with high health and aggressive attacks right from the first dungeons. Thankfully as experienced players of the game it merely requires us to plan and play in a coordinate fashion to triumph – we’ve not reached an impasse yet. I was slightly surprised that the campaign is basically what I would classify as hard by default. For a veteran it’s no big problem, but for a new player who decided to wait for the release before buying, I would imagine starting the campaign is the expected first step, not playing hours of story-light guildmaster first. I found out after the fact that we are playing on ‘normal’ difficulty – I didn’t host the game so didn’t see the selector. I can’t imagine how challenging the game is if set to “hard” setting.

This post is part of the IntPiPoMo 2021 event. Picture total posted so far this month 5/50.

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