The perfect guide for beginners, and experienced players too, looking to dominate with the Spellweaver! I’ve played Gloomhaven for 100’s of hours and I have a popular Youtube Channel with 100+ Gloomhaven strategy videos. Make sure you check it out for tons of great content!
This Spellweaver guide will allow you to have a nice powerful synergized build with card picks and card removals for every single level. It is not a min-maxed build but it is powerful with nice flexibility and some margin for error and it will allow you to beat Gloomhaven on the hardest levels.
Also if you are more visual and would prefer to watch my guide on Youtube here is the link.
Level 1 Card Picks
Frost Armor – Early on we need the top attack of Frost Armor so we have another nice reusable top attack other than Mana Bolt. Even though we can get back Fire Orbs and Impaling Eruption with Reviving Ether having enough reusable top attacks is crucial. The initiative of this card also helps us a lot as the Spellweaver struggles with quick initiative early on and we need this and Mana Bolt to go fast. The bottom of this card is not too bad but mostly we will use it for the top. Remember you can always lose a card to mitigate all damage from one source so really this only works on 1 extra source of damage. The Spellweaver is generally in the back slinging ranged attacks so not very often will you use it, unless you are playing 2 player and need to protect your Mystic Ally summon. Also whenever you play a card you have to account for the opportunity cost. When you play the bottom of Frost Armor it stops you from moving into the right position with a move card or it stops you from doing more damage by playing the bottom attack of Flame Strike.
Reviving Ether – Reviving Ether is a core card for the Spellweaver and you can never leave home without it, you must take it 100% of the time. The class is designed around this card and is the reason why the Spellweaver only has 8 cards so if you don’t take it you will have seriously impacted longevity. You will use this card for the amazing move 4 jump on the bottom until you are low on cards, then play it and get back up to full strength. Whenever you short rest make sure that you throw away any card that is NOT Reviving Ether. You cannot risk losing this card so if another card comes up DO NOT take the point of damage to redraw because your scenario can come to an end quite quickly if you have to lose this card and not get the opportunity to play it and refresh.
Mana Bolt – Mana Bolt doesn’t look like much but it’s amazing and for one reason: It is your go first card when you need to go before other players or the monsters. Dealing with middling initiative often means your plans go awry when monsters go when you don’t expect them to and having a card where you can reliably go first most of the time – unless a Scoundrel is around – is crucial. The top attack is not powerful but is ok and is fine at level 1 and the btm heal is reasonably useful but overall this card is taken because of the initiative.
Fire Orbs – At lower levels Fire Orbs is a very good card. The top attack is quite powerful; 9 damage at level 1 is great and if you can add a little bit of attack to this card it adds up fast. It is also nice and flexible because it is not an AOE pattern like Cold Fire, or Icy Blast so it has great ease of use when trying to hit the maximum number of targets. The fact that it creates fire is nice and pairs well with Flame Strike and Cold Fire, even though you can only use it twice per scenario. The bottom move 3 is just a nice standard move that you can use until you fire off that big top attack. I think a lot of beginning players worry about longevity but if you can hit 3 targets with Fire Orbs make sure you go ahead and do it. Losses should be played when you can use them to maximum effect. Here is a video I created on managing stamina that will teach you a lot about managing loss cards: Ultimate Stamina Guide
Aid From the Ether – Summons in Gloomhaven can be problematic unless they have range. Fortunately the Mystic Ally has range and its 3 damage attack is quite powerful at lower and middle levels. The top heal 3 is fine but you should be trying to play this summon early on so that you can up your total damage output for the scenario. Your average damage at level 1 is probably 4-5 per turn and so adding a 3 damage attack from the summon every turn is going to be a powerful boost to your overall damage output. One word of warning though in 2 player the summon is a bit harder to keep alive so it may change how you play as you will need to adjust to keep the summon alive and from taking a hit. This is much easier to do in 4 player with more allies to take aggro and stand in front of monsters.
Impaling Eruption – Our second very powerful loss attack at level 1. This card can hit 4 targets and you can hit them in any pattern. You can zig zag, you can go in a circle, you can hit in a square. Remember though because this is a ranged attack if you are adjacent to any of them you are at disadvantage. The move 4 on the bottom is a nice strong move for level 1 and will help you get around.
Flame strike – This is a good reusable top attack and if you play it after Fire Orbs you will be able to wound the monsters. The range 2 is a bit of a pain but you can usually work around it. The bottom attack 2 is also nice because you can pair it with a top attack to do burst damage and up your turn damage output. Doing damage in Gloomhaven is king because a dead monster can’t damage you! Here’s a video of Essential Beginner Tips that will seriously up your game in just a short few minutes!
Hardened Spikes – The top is super situational but can be very powerful if you plan it right and talk to your party making sure they don’t move, can tank the hits, etc. What you really need this card for though is the bottom move. Fire Orbs and Impaling Eruption mostly get used for their tops, although you can use one of them for the bottom in your first rest cycle. So why take this over Crackling Air? First Crackling Air top is not very good. It is at best, when we consume air, worth 8 extra damage and our only way to create air at low levels is Ride the Wind which is a situational loss. Also the bottom of Crackling Air is retaliate and for the Spellweaver retaliate is not going to be very good, especially at lower levels because we are just too squishy; 6 hp is not a lot to take attacks with.
Current Hand at Level 1
Crackling Air – The top is just not that good. You must have air, and consume it when this card is played to make it even somewhat worthwhile. Never play this card for +1 damage per attack! that is not a very good effect for a loss card. And if you compare against something like Fire Orbs which can be 9+ dmg this is maximum 8 and then its 8 delayed damage. Delayed damage is no good, you want to do direct damage and kill monsters so that they don’t even get a chance to attack you. When you play cards that have delayed damage you are not directly killing monsters. The bottom, as I explained with Hardened Spikes, is just slightly inferior due to us wanting shield over retaliate.
Ride the Wind – This card is not bad as sometimes it can be extremely useful in longer scenarios where you have a lot of distance to cover. Go and surprise your friends by doing a huge move and stealing a treasure chest from them! Make sure you have a Cloak of Invisibility though. The top loot 1 can be useful to sneak some treasure but often you won’t have a good opportunity as you are pretty slow initiative wise and often you will be in the back making ranged attacks, which means other classes are closer than you are. If you do take Ride the Wind get sideboard Frost Armor.
Freezing Nova – The top of this card is situationally quite powerful even though it doesn’t make it into our hand. If you do want to use it go late the turn before and get into position near a bunch of melee monsters. Then the next turn go early, say with Mana Bolt or another card if you think 21 initiative from Freezing Nova will be enough, and attack immobilizing the monsters and using movement to move away so you don’t get attacked. The bottom of this card is awful. 4 heal for a loss is never going to be good.
Level 1 Summary
So for level 1 we have a range of cards that allow us some flexibility and give us balance to thrive in a variety of situations.
Low and High Initiative – It’s more important to be able to go fast but always make sure you have at least 1-2 cards that are 75+ so that you can go late when you need to. Beginning players often underestimate the power of changing up your initiative to manipulate monster AI or get yourself into position AFTER monsters attack so you can go fast the next turn and play cards that would otherwise be very difficult to use.
Loss Cards – Spellweaver can play more loss attacks than other classes due to Reviving Ether but we still have to make sure we don’t get too crazy and burn out early. Also be very careful when you get low on cards that you don’t get badly damaged and have to lose Reviving Ether(because it’s one of your only cards left in your hand) or burn 2 cards from your discard.
Non-Loss Cards – For longevity it’s important that we have a good mix of non-loss cards to balance out our loss cards.
Card Picks Levels 2-9
Now we are going to go level by level and talk about which cards to pick and which cards to remove so that you have a nice powerful template to reference as you level up. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can come back to reference it whenever you need! Also I have done a video guide on every single class in Gloomhaven, Jaws of the Lion and Forgotten Circles so if you want check out this playlist! Don’t worry the thumbnails in this play list are spoiler free so just select the one you are currently looking for!
Level 2 Cards
Flashing Burst – Top is a solid, useful attack that creates an element for us. Initiative at 26 is another decent initiative that you will need so that you can have a good chance at going first. The bottom move 4 is nice as well as having multiple moves for the Spellweaver
Icy Blast – The top is a decent AOE but is functionally inferior to Fire Orbs and Impaling Eruption. Remember always focus on damage first and also cards like Fire Orbs and Impaling Eruption will hit as many, or more monsters on average vs most AOE patterns. The bottom of this card is ok but the main problem here is that both effects are situational and are losses. When you have a double loss card like this it is usually a problem unless both top and bottom actions are very powerful. If you don’t have an opportunity to use the top and there is nobody to heal with the bottom, this card will very often have to be used as a basic action in your first rest cycle and that means that your overall effectiveness in a scenario is reduced. Whenever you see a double loss card be very wary about taking it unless the losses are very powerful.
Level 2 Card Choice – Flashing Burst. Flashing burst has a solid top attack and a useful move 4 which will help us quite a bit. The initiative is also needed because of the card we are removing.
Card to Remove – Hardened Spikes. With Flashing Burst we have a better move, identical initiative and a better overall top so we don’t need Hardened Spikes anymore.
Our Current Hand at Level 2 looks like this:
Level 3 Cards
Cold Fire – Cold Fire is an amazing card! It is our second best card overall behind Inferno. Why is it so good? Well the top is repeatable 3 target AOE that can do some serious work by stunning multiple enemies and doing pretty decent damage as well! Also the bottom is awesome to use in the last few turns of a scenario to snag all of that sweet loot in the final room! At this exact point it is pretty tricky for us to use because we don’t have consistent non-loss element generation for fire and ice but don’t worry we will fix that shortly. If you do have access to items or allies that can produce ice and fire this card becomes even better!
Elemental Aid – This is a pretty good card but overall healing is the weakest ability in Gloomhaven as it is reactive and you are almost always better served by doing damage and killing monsters. The bottom if you can empower and consumer air regularly is very strong though and can prevent some serious damage to the party. Not worth it at all though if you don’t have air.
Level 3 Card Choice – Cold Fire is just too strong to take Elemental Aid.
Card to Remove – Frost Armor. We don’t need the top attack of Frost Armor anymore as we have now added 2 reusable top attacks at levels 2 & 3. We will suffer a little bit initiative-wise but we can fix that shortly.
Our Current Hand at Level 3 looks like this:
Level 4 Cards
Forked Beam – Forked beam has a decent repeatable top attack. It isn’t overly strong but it can be useful for us when there are multiple non-shielded enemies. Also we need the 20 initiative and the bottom 4 move is nice. Most new players don’t factor in that as you play you lose cards. Sometimes you end up having to burn a bunch of your move cards and that means your mobility at certain times later in the scenario may be seriously hampered. Having a little more move than you think you need is a nice way of making sure that you don’t end up basic moving 2 for the second half of the scenario.
Spirit of Doom – Another double loss, but the abilities aren’t really powerful enough unless you are close to max level. The top of Spirit of Doom is actually more powerful the higher level you are as it can instantly kill a normal monster and the higher level you are the more hp the monster will have, hence the damage of this card increases. NEVER play this card for a single curse. A single curse for a loss action is an extremely poor return and is absolute never worth it. The bottom of the card is somewhat similar as the higher level you are the higher level your allies will be and you can heal a pretty insane amount with this card in max level party.
Level 4 Card Choice – Take Forked Beam. It is not super powerful but it is useful and it helps us with longevity, initiative and move.
Card to Remove – Flame Strike. Forked beam does as much dmg, has better range and doesn’t need an element which will now be used by Cold Fire, and it gives us an XP.
Our Current Hand at Level 4 looks like this:
Level 5 Cards
Chromatic Explosion – Because this is a beginner guide I think Chromatic Explosion just makes your life so much easier. Play it for the bottom with the top of Fire Orbs and generate ice and fire for a next turn Cold Fire. And once you are level 6 and you start summoning your Burning Avatar it becomes so easy to create ice and fire and play a full power Cold fire. Play it for the top when you think your party can really use a lot of elements but mostly you are playing this for the bottom so you can get Cold Fire going easily.
Engulfed in Flames – If you can create ice consistently via items or party members, taking Engulfed in Flames can help you output more damage while creating the elements you need to buff up Cold Fire. The bottom retaliate ability can be powerful but only if you play a completely different type of Spellweaver. I created a CRAZY Spellweaver melee retaliate build so make sure to check it out.
Level 5 Card Choice – Take Chromatic Explosion. For 99% of players the ease of use and flexibility of Chromatic Explosion will be superior vs the theoretical optimum damage output from Engulfed in Flames. However if you can create ice easily you may want to take Engulfed in Flames.
Card to Remove – Impaling Eruption. To maximize the attack from Impaling Eruption we need to get close to monsters. It is less flexible than Fire Orbs and is harder to hit maximum targets. It also doesn’t empower an element that we need. You may have noticed we are moving away from our loss cards and you would be right! See down near the bottom for more explanation and strategy.
Our Current Hand at Level 5 looks like this:
Level 6 Cards
Living Torch – The top of Living Torch is a pretty good reusable attack and gives us a use for the light created by Flashing Burst. However we are mostly going to use this card for the bottom summon. So why would we use this when we have Aid From the Ether? Well first it has more movement so it will be able to keep up better. Next it has greater range. 3 range means it will stay further back than the Mystic Ally and will get itself into trouble far less often. And finally it empowers fire every single time it attacks. This is amazing for Cold Fire and Inferno. For Cold Fire having fire every single time you play it is worth 4-6 extra damage every single rest cycle. Not to mention the Burning Avatar attacks all adjacent monsters on death and that is just an extra bonus!
Frozen Night – Frozen night is good but it’s a bit awkward to play as it’s a melee attack. That being said it’s still a good card that can usually do 8-12 base damage and it empowers ice, which is nice. The bottom is also pretty good and I would say extremely good if you have at least some way to empower dark via items or allies. Invisibility is pretty overpowered!
Level 6 Card Choice – Take Living Torch. The summon is so good. Even if you don’t want to use the summon the top is quite good for us!
Card to Remove – Aid from the Ether. Keeping just 1 summon is enough as you only have an 8 card hand size and even though your stamina is good from Reviving Ether, it’s better to just have the 1 summon. Also the Burning Avatar is easier to keep alive.
Our Current Hand at Level 6 looks like this:
Level 7 Cards
Twin Restoration – Twin Restoration is better than most people give it credit for because it allows you to abuse certain loss cards more often. It works really well with this build. However in a standard build it is not really what you want as we are moving away from loss cards and we already have Reviving Ether. The bottom heal 3 on 2 targets is pretty good but Spellweaver should generally stay away from healing and focus on AOE damage and crowd control with Cold Fire.
Stone Fists – The top is pretty good if you have a source of earth but we removed Impaling Eruption so really only Chromatic Orb can empower earth and we will probably be using it to empower ice for Cold fire. Also this top is melee and in a standard build we are not going to be in melee range often. The bottom is kind of the same story. We don’t often need shield as we are in the back slinging AOE spells.
Level 7 Card Choice – Go back to level 6 and take Frozen Night. Neither of these cards really works for us and Frozen Night gives us another source of Ice, does good damage, and has a nice bottom ability where we can move and potentially go invisible. It is superior to either level 7 card.
Card to Remove – Fire Orbs. Frozen night will do more damage at later levels because of shield. Also it’s better for us to empower ice over fire because we have the Burning Torch making fire every time it attacks.. Not to mention the bottom of Frozen Night is objectively better than Fire Orbs; invisibility is awesome.
Our Current Hand at Level 7 looks like this:
Level 8 Cards
Zephyr Wings – The ultimate side board card! Top is really fun for grabbing money and the bottom is an amazing move to blast across a scenario, steal a treasure chest, etc. So use this when you know you will need a lot of movement in a scenario and remove something like Flashing Burst.
Cold Front – Top is ok but a straight line pattern like that is inferior to a more rounded pattern like Icy Blast or Frozen Night. The bottom is not very good in a standard build as we don’t get hit a lot and we would almost never want to play a loss like this. You could take this in 2 player if you needed to absorb some hits though. The other problem this card has is that it’s a double loss which means you either have to play it early or play it for a basic action.
Level 8 Card Choice – Zephyr Wings. This card goes directly into the sideboard
Card to Remove – NOTHING. Zephyr Wings is the ultimate side board card so put it in for Flashing Burst or Forked Beam when you have a large scenario where you need a lot of movement but you won’t really need it in a standard size scenario.
Our Current Hand at Level 8 is exactly the same as at level 7!
Level 9 Cards
Inferno – One of the most powerful cards in the entire game, if not THE MOST POWERFUL. The top is ridiculous and if you focus on items and strategies that add damage to it, you will dominate every single scenario, bar none, even on +2 difficulty. The bottom is… there, but you will probably never use it…
Black Hole – This is actually a pretty good card. When you consume dark you can kill normal enemies and often you will get 2 normal enemies. At higher levels this is good. The bottom is not very good but can be semi-useful in some situations.
Card I’m Taking – Inferno. Black hole just doesn’t stand a chance against possibly the best card in the entire game.
Card to Remove – Forked Beam. Frozen Night gave us some extra move which is one of the reasons we took it over Cold Front and because of that we can remove Forked Beam without causing us too many movement issues.
Our Current Hand at Level 9 looks like this:
You may have noticed that as we go along a lot of the early powerful loss cards are removed and replaced by repeatable attacks. This means that your strategy changes as you get to higher levels and gives you an incredible amount of longevity. Once you get to higher levels you want to make sure you play Cold Fire and Inferno as much as you can.
Be aware of your longevity but if you can get max effect out of a loss you should play it most of the time. Because of Reviving Ether you have a lot of longevity and are meant to play more losses than other classes.
This guide is built so that you can sometimes afford to short rest but you should mostly be long resting if you do rely on combos. You can never lose Reviving Ether to a short rest or it will destroy your life so if any other card comes up during a short rest you have to take it.
These are the perks you should take for the Spellweaver, in order! Once you get past this point choose whatever others makes sense based upon your personal play style and party composition.
- Add one +2 ice x2
- Add one +2 fire x2
- Replace -1 with +1 x2
- Add two +1 cards x2
- Remove four +0
Stay away from rolling modifers as they can really cause problems and you don’t really need them.
Because Gloomhaven is a game about mysteries I will only talk about Prosperity 1 items here. Let’s go slot by slot for the best items for the Spellweaver! If you want to see videos on how items work and which ones are best check out this playlist!
Head Slot – Eagle Eye Goggles – Eagle Eye Goggles apply to the entire attack action so they are great for AOE attacks which we have a decent amount of.
Chest Slot – Cloak of Invisibility – The cloak is amazing for if you need to put yourself in harms way to get in range for a big attack. Go invisible after the attack and stay alive! Don’t forget to use the go fast go slow manuever with invisibility. Go fast and go invisible then the next turn go really slow so you will say invisible for functionally 2 turns! This is one of the reasons why you need late initiative cards.
Hand(s) Slot – Piercing Bow – The Spellweaver struggles with high shield enemies due to her attacks being largely medium damage with multiple targets. Piercing bow allows you to ignore all shields and can really make that big AEO attack effective against those annoying shielded monsters.
Small Item Slot – The Minor Stamina potion is one of the best items in the game. A lot of beginning players don’t realize this and take Minor Healing Potion or Minor Power Potion, but take the Minor Stamina potion and use Cold Fire or Inferno twice in a rest cycle!
Legs Slot – Take the Boots of Striding if you can. These are not necessary but they are better than the Winged Shoes as you already have Reviving Ether and you can Jump with it.
Mana Bolt – The most common and cost effective enhancement for the Spellweaver is to enhance the bottom heal with strengthen. This allows you to go fast, and give yourself advantage on this rounds attacks and the next rounds attacks, adding up to some serious damage! Cost 50 Gold
Cold Fire – Add a hex onto Cold Fire – Make one of your best cards even better! Not quite as cheap as Mana Bolt but still very much worth it! Cost 116 Gold
Reviving Ether – Add empower element to the bottom Move 4 Jump to help you create even more elements. Only do this if you really need elements though as it is pretty costly and you will only use the bottom of Reviving Ether for about half the scenario(ish). Cost 100 Gold