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Subject: A mini-review by someone who owns both Gloomhaven and Kingdom Death. rss

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Tom W -
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I just wanted to share my thoughts on Gloomhaven in a shorter format that the typical review. Imagine we already went over the structure and components and are now in the Impressions/Summary.


My impression is: cute/interesting/somewhat intriguing.

The Game itself is card Hand management; setting up combos with yourself and teammates based on the geography of the board. No dice rolls anywhere. It's is wrapped/skinned in a well written campy-fantasy frame that works.

The strength of the game is the unbelievable level of replayability/upgrades, and entertaining writing. A good romp-in-the-woods D&D substitute. The card mechanic is intriguing too, makes the game easy+challenging at the same time. It has a simple way to adjust difficulty to be as hard as you want it, with commensurate rewards. This is always a major plus in my book.

Gloomhaven is definitely a different game than Kingdom Death, which is more hardcore tactical, persevering against hopelessness. In KD you feel like you are building a guerrilla insurgency against all odds, and a more steep but powerful learning curve. In Gloomhaven, you feel more like you are playing a card-driven 12-year-old-run (but great) D&D campaign. But the card mechanic has enough action paths/combos to keep it intriguing to an experienced older gamer.

The mechanics of the two are so completely different, and both fun, and I am glad to own both. They are very very different experiences. Although both have a 'campaign' structure, that is really where the similarities end. I would encourage those who have been interested, and can afford it, to get both.

I was on the fence a long time about buying one vs the other vs none, until I basically decided to happily spend my available income on designers' "Magnum Opus" creations, and go ahead and buy both, if only as a patron of their creativity. Ironically, they ended up not cutting to far into my bottom line because I found I spend hardly anything on video games since I got these. From a basic cost to value you can't beat Gloomhaven, but again, if you can afford it, get both.

So far I'd give Kingdom Death a 9.8 and Gloomhaven a 9.3. I would definitely be enthusiastic to play both anytime anyone asked.


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John B
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Thank you for providing your perspective on these two games. I was curious about a comparison with these two, and your mini review was timely.
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I own both too, and have to agree with the OP in the fact that even though both games are often compared, they actually have little in common. My vote would also lean towards KD:M, which in my opinion provides a more grandiose and ambitious experience (including the amazing minis and the tons of expansion content that is expected to arrive in the coming years).

GH is another gorgeous game. I'd say something like D&D meets Mage Knight in a boardgame. But as good as it is, it lacks the component quality, aesthetics, originality and even the scope of KD:M. It costs a fraction of the latter for a reason.

All in all, I concur with Tom: get both games if you can afford them and have the vast amount of time which these two beasts require to get the most out of them. They provide two very different (though awesome) gaming experiences.

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Tom W wrote:
I just wanted to share my thoughts on Gloomhaven in a shorter format that the typical review. Imagine we already went over the structure and components and are now in the Impressions/Summary.


My impression is: cute/interesting/somewhat intriguing.

The Game itself is card Hand management; setting up combos with yourself and teammates based on the geography of the board. No dice rolls anywhere. It's is wrapped/skinned in a well written campy-fantasy frame that works.

The strength of the game is the unbelievable level of replayability/upgrades, and entertaining writing. A good romp-in-the-woods D&D substitute. The card mechanic is intriguing too, makes the game easy+challenging at the same time. It has a simple way to adjust difficulty to be as hard as you want it, with commensurate rewards. This is always a major plus in my book.

Gloomhaven is definitely a different game than Kingdom Death, which is more hardcore tactical, persevering against hopelessness. In KD you feel like you are building a guerrilla insurgency against all odds, and a more steep but powerful learning curve. In Gloomhaven, you feel more like you are playing a card-driven 12-year-old-run (but great) D&D campaign. But the card mechanic has enough action paths/combos to keep it intriguing to an experienced older gamer.

The mechanics of the two are so completely different, and both fun, and I am glad to own both. They are very very different experiences. Although both have a 'campaign' structure, that is really where the similarities end. I would encourage those who have been interested, and can afford it, to get both.

I was on the fence a long time about buying one vs the other vs none, until I basically decided to happily spend my available income on designers' "Magnum Opus" creations, and go ahead and buy both, if only as a patron of their creativity. Ironically, they ended up not cutting to far into my bottom line because I found I spend hardly anything on video games since I got these. From a basic cost to value you can't beat Gloomhaven, but again, if you can afford it, get both.

So far I'd give Kingdom Death a 9.8 and Gloomhaven a 9.3. I would definitely be enthusiastic to play both anytime anyone asked.


I think the different foci of the two games sets them apart the most. In Gloomhaven, you're focused on your particular character, while occasionally glancing back at Gloomhaven itself. In KDM, you're focused on your community, and the character you happen to play in any given game is just one part of that community that you may not be particularly attached to. As such, Gloomhaven directs your focus to character development, getting new abilities, items, and perks. In contrast, KDM directs your attention to the community, and you're focused on getting new material, weapons, armour, skills, for the community as a whole. In my experience, the character development is strongest in Gloomhaven, but the community development is strongest in KDM.

...now if only there were some way to combine the two, such that I could develop a community, develop basic skills, retrieve resources, craft new items using those resources, etc, while also focusing on my particular character and their development...that would be AMAZING!
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Michael T.
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Amnese wrote:

...now if only there were some way to combine the two, such that I could develop a community, develop basic skills, retrieve resources, craft new items using those resources, etc, while also focusing on my particular character and their development...that would be AMAZING!


Gloomdom Death!
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Panwuan Panwuan
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Amnese wrote:
Tom W wrote:
I just wanted to share my thoughts on Gloomhaven in a shorter format that the typical review. Imagine we already went over the structure and components and are now in the Impressions/Summary.


My impression is: cute/interesting/somewhat intriguing.

The Game itself is card Hand management; setting up combos with yourself and teammates based on the geography of the board. No dice rolls anywhere. It's is wrapped/skinned in a well written campy-fantasy frame that works.

The strength of the game is the unbelievable level of replayability/upgrades, and entertaining writing. A good romp-in-the-woods D&D substitute. The card mechanic is intriguing too, makes the game easy+challenging at the same time. It has a simple way to adjust difficulty to be as hard as you want it, with commensurate rewards. This is always a major plus in my book.

Gloomhaven is definitely a different game than Kingdom Death, which is more hardcore tactical, persevering against hopelessness. In KD you feel like you are building a guerrilla insurgency against all odds, and a more steep but powerful learning curve. In Gloomhaven, you feel more like you are playing a card-driven 12-year-old-run (but great) D&D campaign. But the card mechanic has enough action paths/combos to keep it intriguing to an experienced older gamer.

The mechanics of the two are so completely different, and both fun, and I am glad to own both. They are very very different experiences. Although both have a 'campaign' structure, that is really where the similarities end. I would encourage those who have been interested, and can afford it, to get both.

I was on the fence a long time about buying one vs the other vs none, until I basically decided to happily spend my available income on designers' "Magnum Opus" creations, and go ahead and buy both, if only as a patron of their creativity. Ironically, they ended up not cutting to far into my bottom line because I found I spend hardly anything on video games since I got these. From a basic cost to value you can't beat Gloomhaven, but again, if you can afford it, get both.

So far I'd give Kingdom Death a 9.8 and Gloomhaven a 9.3. I would definitely be enthusiastic to play both anytime anyone asked.


I think the different foci of the two games sets them apart the most. In Gloomhaven, you're focused on your particular character, while occasionally glancing back at Gloomhaven itself. In KDM, you're focused on your community, and the character you happen to play in any given game is just one part of that community that you may not be particularly attached to. As such, Gloomhaven directs your focus to character development, getting new abilities, items, and perks. In contrast, KDM directs your attention to the community, and you're focused on getting new material, weapons, armour, skills, for the community as a whole. In my experience, the character development is strongest in Gloomhaven, but the community development is strongest in KDM.

...now if only there were some way to combine the two, such that I could develop a community, develop basic skills, retrieve resources, craft new items using those resources, etc, while also focusing on my particular character and their development...that would be AMAZING!


Kdm has some expansions in the pipeline that seem to be poised to fill that niche. So kdm will indeed be thw ultimate bpardgame and hobby experience.

My group ended up commiting to kdm over gloomhaven, we dont seem to muster the will to setup GH , and having kdm to setup faster and mor variation... Well. I kinda feel that the only way i will finish GH will be solo playing
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panwuan wrote:

Kdm has some expansions in the pipeline that seem to be poised to fill that niche. So kdm will indeed be thw ultimate bpardgame and hobby experience.


The KDM pipeline eh? So due for release in roughly 2032? :-P

I'll keep my eyes open for this.
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Starla Lester
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Amnese wrote:

The KDM pipeline eh? So due for release in roughly 2032? :-P

I'll keep my eyes open for this.


C’mon, man. Do you think that’s really a fair assesment? Since you live in Australia, it’s much more likely to be 2033.
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Alex Russo
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So far I played GH close to 50 times (still to finish the campaign) and KDM 12 times in my view, as game mechnics, I see GH having an edge over KDM due the sheer amount of options and gameplay variance without having to rely on luck.

GH also has an edge over KDM in terms of setup / gameplay ratio. For me takes 15 minutes to set up GH and play it for 2-3 hours, and KDM the showdown takes about half the playtime everything else is about managing resources, rolling dice and reading tables, it still part of the experience but it can be a chore if you have to do it by yourself or only another player.

However, KDM has the hobby component which is amazing, the minis, all the weapons, the expansions, painting etc etc etc which makes this game unique.

At the end both games were developed by a two crazy dudes that deserve all the praise, rewards and accolades of the industry.
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Peter Strait
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I tend to agree with the general assessment that one is a better world where the other is a better game. ("Better" in the former assuming you like K: DM's world, of course.)
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Michael Debije
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panwuan wrote:
Amnese wrote:
Tom W wrote:
I just wanted to share my thoughts on Gloomhaven in a shorter format that the typical review. Imagine we already went over the structure and components and are now in the Impressions/Summary.


My impression is: cute/interesting/somewhat intriguing.

The Game itself is card Hand management; setting up combos with yourself and teammates based on the geography of the board. No dice rolls anywhere. It's is wrapped/skinned in a well written campy-fantasy frame that works.

The strength of the game is the unbelievable level of replayability/upgrades, and entertaining writing. A good romp-in-the-woods D&D substitute. The card mechanic is intriguing too, makes the game easy+challenging at the same time. It has a simple way to adjust difficulty to be as hard as you want it, with commensurate rewards. This is always a major plus in my book.

Gloomhaven is definitely a different game than Kingdom Death, which is more hardcore tactical, persevering against hopelessness. In KD you feel like you are building a guerrilla insurgency against all odds, and a more steep but powerful learning curve. In Gloomhaven, you feel more like you are playing a card-driven 12-year-old-run (but great) D&D campaign. But the card mechanic has enough action paths/combos to keep it intriguing to an experienced older gamer.

The mechanics of the two are so completely different, and both fun, and I am glad to own both. They are very very different experiences. Although both have a 'campaign' structure, that is really where the similarities end. I would encourage those who have been interested, and can afford it, to get both.

I was on the fence a long time about buying one vs the other vs none, until I basically decided to happily spend my available income on designers' "Magnum Opus" creations, and go ahead and buy both, if only as a patron of their creativity. Ironically, they ended up not cutting to far into my bottom line because I found I spend hardly anything on video games since I got these. From a basic cost to value you can't beat Gloomhaven, but again, if you can afford it, get both.

So far I'd give Kingdom Death a 9.8 and Gloomhaven a 9.3. I would definitely be enthusiastic to play both anytime anyone asked.


I think the different foci of the two games sets them apart the most. In Gloomhaven, you're focused on your particular character, while occasionally glancing back at Gloomhaven itself. In KDM, you're focused on your community, and the character you happen to play in any given game is just one part of that community that you may not be particularly attached to. As such, Gloomhaven directs your focus to character development, getting new abilities, items, and perks. In contrast, KDM directs your attention to the community, and you're focused on getting new material, weapons, armour, skills, for the community as a whole. In my experience, the character development is strongest in Gloomhaven, but the community development is strongest in KDM.

...now if only there were some way to combine the two, such that I could develop a community, develop basic skills, retrieve resources, craft new items using those resources, etc, while also focusing on my particular character and their development...that would be AMAZING!


Kdm has some expansions in the pipeline that seem to be poised to fill that niche. So kdm will indeed be thw ultimate bpardgame and hobby experience.

My group ended up commiting to kdm over gloomhaven, we dont seem to muster the will to setup GH , and having kdm to setup faster and mor variation... Well. I kinda feel that the only way i will finish GH will be solo playing


Ultimate boardgame experience my ass.
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I have to agree that both are excellent games, but I find Gloomhaven more compelling. I feel it will come down to each person's personal preferences.

Someone else mentioned that Gloomhaven focuses more on your character, and KDM focuses more on the world and your settlement, which is true. This is probably why I like Gloomhaven more. I tend to consume media based on the depth of the characters, not the detail of the setting.

Playing KDM, I feel like there's little point on getting attached to any of the settlers, because chances are the game will randomly kill them off without giving me any recourse. There are literally rolls in that game where if you roll a 1, your favorite character dies, and if you roll a 10, that character gets a permanent stat boost. And these aren't always incidents where you can choose to make that risk: you draw an event and have to do what it says.

In short, while both games can be challenging, I feel like KDM's challenge comes more from luck than from it being particularly well-balanced. By comparison, I feel like every scenario in Gloomhaven is perfectly balanced to make sure you win or lose on a knife's edge, with your party only being a turn away from victory or exhaustion.

Also, the fact that Gloomhaven takes me through a variety of different scenarios, whereas KDM has me fight the same monsters over and over, makes the gameplay of Gloomhaven more compelling as well.

KDM definitely has a more robust 'town phase', though, with interesting decisions, events, and upgrades that give it more depth than a shop and a couple of city/road event cards. Crafting your own items is more satisfying than buying them in town, and the things you make have a greater impact than Gloomhaven's items, most of the time.

So I guess I'd do the reverse of someone else's rankings, and give Gloomhaven a 9.8, with KDM a 9.3.
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patrick mullen
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So basically, KDM is Ultima Online and Gloomhaven is WoW?

If I could get back all of the hours I spent playing mmos... I could use those hours to play more board games.
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Peter Strait
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Nah. KDM is very, very much Monster Hunter The Board Game (excepting theme). Like, I'm shocked someone from Capcom hasn't already asked to option the core mechanisms for a licensed product.
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For me it's Gloomhaven that wins easily.

Firstly, it's a huge amount cheaper.

Secondly, no "And your character is randomly dead for no reason"

Thirdly, KDM has a LOT of fiddly bookkeeping and tracking stuff on many bits of paper.

I like KDM and am happy playing it an owning it. But I love Gloomhaven and the above points is what makes it better for me personally.

When it comes to huge edge of the seat "Oh NO!" dice rolls, and tracking things in tiny detail, then KDM is definitely worse/better for you as appropriate :)
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I also own both and yes, they are very different games, however Kingdom Death wins by a million miles. The expansive campaign is amazing in KD and develops attachment to the settlement and characters. Gloomhaven is fun, but character growth is like any and every rpg (reminds me of Dragon Age a lot actually) and I feel zero attachment to my characters. I’m not sure where people are getting that Gloomhaven focuses on character, there are very, very few lines in the game that develop a character at all. Compared to an arc of just one of my survivors in KD:M becoming immortal, losing an arm, escaping three vicious encounters with death only to finally be instantly devoured by a giant worm.

Combat is hugely different, as OP said. KD:M is tactical and Gloomhaven is fundamentally hand management.

Overall KD’s settlement phase adds a lot to the game that Gloomhaven’s city phases are missing. And while both focus on repeating a core gameplay loop, KD’s is more interesting. You can fight ten white lions and have totally different fights in KD. You can do ten different scenarios and have largely identical experiences in all of them in Gloomhaven.

And component quality there’s no comparison. A decent pile of cardboard from Gloomhaven with average card stock versus immaculate miniatures and thick card stock from KD:M.

Finally, and astonishingly to me, Gloomhaven is fiddlier and more tedious to play and set up than KD:M, even with an insert.

I enjoy both games, and I’ll be living in my Gloomhaven box until January, but I’m already excited for my next KD:M campaign. KD:M is certainly a timeless 10. Gloomhaven is neat but I’m not sure my 10 rating will stay as a 10.
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:


Combat is hugely different, as OP said. KD:M is tactical and Gloomhaven is fundamentally hand management.


Rolling a bunch of dice is not what I would call tactical.
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GoldSirius wrote:
boardgamesdotEXE wrote:


Combat is hugely different, as OP said. KD:M is tactical and Gloomhaven is fundamentally hand management.


Rolling a bunch of dice is not what I would call tactical.


You also have a board on which you employ movement tactics with characters whom you tactically load out.

(and then die due to a random card draw)
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that Matt
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GoldSirius wrote:
boardgamesdotEXE wrote:


Combat is hugely different, as OP said. KD:M is tactical and Gloomhaven is fundamentally hand management.


Rolling a bunch of dice is not what I would call tactical.

If you're rolling a bunch of dice, you're probably playing poorly. whistle
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Daniel James
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Gloomhaven is cute...

CUTE? surprise
 
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Scott

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I wonder how many people love Kingdom Death based solely on the miniatures. Yeah they are great, but I don't understand all the love for the minis. They're expensive and really don't add that much to the experience for me. One of the reasons I'm so impressed with Gloomhaven so much is the amount of content for the price. If it had minis instead of cardboard, it would cost three times as much with half as many monsters.

Games like Blood Rage and KDM would never have gotten so much love if they didn't have great minis. If people love great minis for painting, etc, good for them, but that love needs to be separated from actual gameplay.
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I would gladly have paid $300-400 for a Gloomhaven with minis.
I like Gloomhaven how it is, but the standees sort of add nothing at all to the experience, whereas for me the miniatures in KD:M add a helluva lot. Yes, to the gameplay.

My biggest gripe with the standees is that they fray on the bottom, terribly. One of my Living Corpses started splitting in half from the bottom yesterday for no reason.

tumorous wrote:

If you're rolling a bunch of dice, you're probably playing poorly. whistle


Also, this guy gets it. Try running up to any monster (including the White Lion above Level 1) and just whacking away with "a bunch of dice". Enjoy four quick deaths and a loss penalty. There is a ton of important equipment management that should go into even a single die roll. Rolling dice is a teeny tiny portion of what goes into playing KD:M.

Double-also, regarding the random card draw, the AI in KD:M is drawn equally as randomly as Gloomhaven. Shuffle a deck, draw a card. The difference is in KD:M the decks are far more nuanced. Monsters do a TON more than just "move +0, attack +1".
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Well, I agree about the standees fraying a bit. It's a small but not insignificant problem. And if paying $300 more for minis improves your experience that much, more power to you. Not for me. Different floats for different boats.

And also, sidenote, the monsters in Gloomhaven simply don't move +0, attack +1 - sometimes they don't attack or move at all, they heal themselves, take damage, stun, poison, fly, etc. I think it works well without adding too much complexity (aka downtime, fiddliness)
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I admit I oversimplified. I've seen some interesting things in my play so far. Oozes and Imps in particular present a fairly nasty combination. However, I still haven't been loving that if you're fighting 10 skeletons, all 10 of them do the exact same thing on their turn. I'd love to see identical monsters do different things in one round. Or that essentially every flavor of demon is close to the same, with different sprinkles. The variety to me still feels very similar.
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Scozar52 wrote:
I wonder how many people love Kingdom Death based solely on the miniatures. Yeah they are great, but I don't understand all the love for the minis. They're expensive and really don't add that much to the experience for me. One of the reasons I'm so impressed with Gloomhaven so much is the amount of content for the price. If it had minis instead of cardboard, it would cost three times as much with half as many monsters.

Games like Blood Rage and KDM would never have gotten so much love if they didn't have great minis. If people love great minis for painting, etc, good for them, but that love needs to be separated from actual gameplay.


I beg to differ.

Component quality is in my opinion a consistent part of the experience you get while playing/organising/handling your game, otherwise instead of buying a boardgame we could print&play, or even play a videogame.

Under this aspect Gloomhaven is, for me, disappointing: gameplay-wise I'm finding it very pleasant, but I've played only about 10 scenarios, so I'm waiting to judge it in this aspect. What I can right now say is that Gloomhaven feels really, really cheap component-wise, and I get that for this price we get a lot of stuff (cheap, thin, often unalligned, sometimes badly glued stuff), but I would have happily paid something more for the same game with components of even a little higher quality.

As for KD:M, I haven't had the time to play it yet, but its components are of the highest quality I've ever seen in a boardgame, and this in my opinion raises the overall quality of the game.

Maybe Gloomhaven deserved to cost more, in my opinion.
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