Gloomhaven is coming to PC via Steam in 2019

Gloomhaven Digital Feature

It’s true – Gloomhaven is going digital

Gen Con has been going strong again.  By the time this article is up, the annual event will be wrapped up.  Wallets will think themselves safe for another week after the purchasing frenzy of new releases and wishlist additions grows ever longer.

It’s no surprise there has been new game announcements that have had me reaching for my credit card yet again.  There are a few games I have been waiting for, and a few that have come out of left field for me.  Nothing strange there, and you will be reading about some of these titles over the next few days.

Board Games in general though have almost taken a similar place in my game times as some of my Video Games.

The Witcher 3, for example, is a game I will play, and play at my pace.  This massive world will be explored fully, with every piece of lore I can find studied to the nth degree.  But right now, Octopath Traveler is being played in its place.

Nowadays I have board games that find themselves in similar positions.  Legacy of Dragonholt is a game I have been happy to put on hold, but will probably knock over for in two days.   Arkham Horror LCG is a game that is starting to get at least a fortnightly play session in, but it won’t take much to displace this.

And then there is Gloomhaven.

Gloomhaven Box
It looks like a normal game box. Then you realise it's 10kg and takes up a shelf on its own.

Gloomhaven is a 10kg box of legacy adventuring goodness.  It is a game that is simply described – a dungeon crawler with legacy like elements.

And that description is somehow accurate but in every important way completely wrong.

It is a game that takes hours to punch and sort.  I ended up buying a wooden insert, making my game now closer to 14kg or now organised gaming goodness.

But it has the problem of I want to play the game and give it the attention it deserves.  Each game takes an hour or three?  Fine.  But each game is a part of an estimated 100+hour board game and from all reports a unique experience for each player.

Now there are plenty of times that such hype is given, however Gloomhaven has a few points going its way.  In its first year with a limited print run, it became the number 1 game on Board Game Geek of all time.  It has sold approximately 120,000 copies as of the time of writing, with another 60,000 being printed – and there is already concern that this third printing won’t be enough.

That’s right – a game that came to Kickstarter because its designer Isaac Childers didn’t think anyone would buy the huge expensive game that makes up Gloomhaven can’t stay on the shelves.

Well this Gen Con, Asmodee Digital has come up with an interesting halfway solution.

That’s right – Gloomhaven is going digital.

Now I know I called this a halfway solution, and for the moment I am going to stick with this.

Initially Gloomhaven Digital will be a solo dungeon crawling experience, with campaign elements and multiplayer to come.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and is a quicker way to get it into gamers hands.

However, the huge box and cost of Gloomhaven is justified by the fact that a campaign that exceeds some video games is fully included in the box.

Gloomhaven Digital Gameplay 1
No table space or setup required - Gloomhaven Digital edition

With all this goodness comes the issue for players like myself where this much content makes the game difficult to just play.

Setup has been a good 20 minute affair, and then once everything is done and ready to put away up to 40 minutes to resort and put away.  The two initial games I have played were easily an hour longer hour than they had to be simply because I had to look up a bunch of rules again.

Taking Gloomhaven digital means that none of this needs to be.  No parts can be misplaced or lost, and the games bookkeeping elements are handled by the game itself.

And even better for a lot of people – no rulebook to read.  The game keeps track of all that itself, you can’t get a rule wrong that can have lasting impact throughout the campaign.

Gloomhaven Digital Gameplay 2
Playing through a dungeon will definitely move quicker though

So there is a lot to be said for the transition to digital.  This will open up the world of Gloomhaven to many new players for a much lower price point.  But Asmodee Digital have already said they are only aiming for the spirit of Gloomhaven, not a true digital conversion, so does this make Gloomhaven Digital a side game type of affair?

I have added Gloomhaven to my Steam wishlist and will be keeping an eye on it in the months to come.  But I would be keeping this as a new Gloomhaven experience until a lot more information comes out, rather than looking forward to a true Gloomhaven experience in digital form.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce – a weirdly fun dungeon crawl

Secret Unknown Stuff - Box Art

Think of any escape type exploration game you may have played.  Now pretend it was designed by the guys from MST3K and RiffTrax.

Dungeon Crawlers have been coming on strong over the last 18 months or so. It has gotten to the point that it is easy to dismiss a lot of games now as ‘Just another Dungeon Crawler’. This oversimplification is pretty unfair, as the term itself has started to become so generic that some truly unique ways of approaching these adventures are being overlooked. Sentient Cow Games has decided to tackle this in a way that tickles my fancy with the newly launched Kickstarter Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce.

Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce is the first in a planned trilogy of games that all seem to be carrying very similar themes, with the second game being on the Moon and the last being adventures through Time. But that is jumping ahead of myself – let’s talk about this game a little bit.

The premise itself is nice simple – players play cooperatively to escape the top-secret Dulce base (essentially Area 51) so that they can find their freedom. You explore the base and conquer level by level trying to find both the route and equipment required to complete the challenge. This is done in a 3D environment with actual levels that are explored. The vertical board seems to have plenty of room and is a great way to allow large amounts of exploration while keeping table space requirements low – always a welcome design.

While the player boards look like walls of text, the rules themselves are also simple and straightforward. While there is an experience system to allow character growth and a variety of enemies and situations you can find yourself in, there are a minimal number of mechanics and caveats to remember as almost everything is shown on the boards themselves. This means you can have new players in a game within about 5 minutes as you can expand or clarify rules as you play.

On top of streamlined rules, the humour in this game is amazing. For example, player characters range from the cryo-frozen Amelia Earhart to the mutated nuclear Smith family, all the way up to Snippy Von Bell – a two-headed cow with heavy weapons.  All of the characters seem to be parodies of sci-fi characters, some popular and some a little more niche.

Also, replayability seems to be quite high as well. There are stand-alone or campaign missions, and all tiles are double sided allowing different combinations to be used to create new bases each time. The component quality looks great even at the prototype level, and the miniatures all look amazing as we expect these days.

At its core, this is a fun dice chucking game with dungeon crawler elements and looks like it will be a fun addition as well as probably a gateway type adventure. While there are many great and deep games coming out, Sentient Cow Games seems to have gone back to what makes gaming fun in the first place – a fun experience where everyone can enjoy themselves all the way through without having to worry too much about rule interactions in situation X.

Check out the Kickstarter page here for more information, or the Board Game Geek page here.

Secret Unknown Stuff - Components
Secret Unknown Stuff - Character Folders
Secret Unknown Stuff - Amelia Earhart
Secret Unknown Stuff - Adam Starblaster
Secret Unknown Stuff - The Smith Family
Secret Unknown Stuff - Dr Donna Haskin
Secret Unknown Stuff - Hattori Hanzo
Secret Unknown Stuff - Raylock G'ylax
Secret Unknown Stuff - Reb Buford
Secret Unknown Stuff - Snippy Von Bell

Until next time,

JohnHQLD