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A Dad’s Review of Gloomhaven

The Inox Brute, Rex, rushes into the room and manages to take out the Wind Demon before the Cultists overwhelm him. Fizzspark, the Quatryl Tinkerer lobs an ink bomb into the room and manages to clean up what Rex has left behind, but it’s too late to heal the poor Brute before he becomes exhausted. Rey, the Human Scoundrel, throws a few knives at the last two Living Bones in the central corridor. They both crumble to dust and our heroes, the company of “The Golden Lions” stand triumphant! 

My kids have been interested in Dungeons & Dragons and roleplaying games in general for a few months now. While they’ve not yet seen Stranger Things, I have to thank the show for making D&D more popular, bringing it into the mainstream of acceptable kids activities.

Thank goodness we’re beyond the Satanic Panic that surrounded D&D in the ’80s. I would have loved to play D&D as a kid, but it was something my parents would never have allowed!

With the above in mind, I picked up a copy of Gloomhaven (currently the #1 ranked game on boardgamegeek.com). Gloomhaven takes the core roleplaying experience of D&D and turns it into a legacy type board game.

The plan was to surprise my kids with it this weekend, but I was too excited myself so told them about it early, saying we couldn’t play until the weekend. When we got home on Friday night they were super excited and we cracked it out to play our first game.

Gloomhaven is not your typical board game. The setup itself took about 20-30 minutes while we found all the relevant components and created characters. My daughter (14) took the Human Scoundrel and my son (11) taking the Inox Brute. I chose the Quatryl Tinkerer and we played through the first scenario, kids getting to bed almost an hour later than they normally would as we were still learning the rules. After they had gone to bed I kept reading myself and found a few things we got wrong and so in the morning told the kids and went straight into the second scenario. This one went much quicker, but still had a few things to learn from after we had finished.

Overall, we played 4 scenarios over the weekend and would have played more, but sadly we had normal weekend activities & chores that needed doing. The kids loved it and I’m already planning our next few adventures. I loved it because, well it’s a really good game, but also because I was excited about my kids getting into roleplaying. Gloomhaven is a basic but fantastic introduction to the genre.

If you’re looking for a quick basic game you can pick up and play with your kids, then Gloomhaven is NOT for you. However, if you’ve got the time to spend and play this over what I expect will be at least a few months, if not a year of games, then I absolutely recommend Gloomhaven.

Gloomhaven as a great introduction to the role-playing genre if your kids are already familiar with board games.

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