Sometimes you just cannot get a group together and you have a burning desire to play Gloomhaven. Gloomhaven is usually played with friends but you can definitely play alone if you can’t get your friends out to play that night.
Is Gloomhaven Fun Solo? Yes Gloomhaven, is fun solo. You take control of 2 characters yourself and can play as you would with 2 people.
Sometimes when you can’t get a group together playing solo can be just as fun. Or perhaps you enjoy playing solo. I know that at certain times having a little peace and quiet is nice. Some games that can have multiple players are also better solo. Looking at you 7th continent!
Let’s explore what it means to play Gloomhaven solo, how it works and how playing solo can be as rewarding as playing with a group! Read on to the end for some great solo player resources.
Playing solo takes quite a bit of work. If you are playing solo and aren’t against using a little electronic help, the Gloomhaven helper app(link) can really help. Personally when playing alone I think this is a must-have as long as you are not a cardboard purist.
Playing alone is going to take you more time, as setup and take down takes longer, there are more decisions to make and you are going to have more stuff to do by yourself. When you have another player you can split the duties. I created a handy little chart and wrote this article on how long it REALLY takes to play a game of Gloomhaven. Hint: it’s a lot longer than it says on the box or on Wikipedia.
One benefit of playing alone, even though it takes more time overall is that you tend to make a lot less mistakes than when you are playing with other people!
Difficulty and Imperfect Information
Isaac Childres wrote some interesting blogs when he was in the midst of designing and promoting the first edition of Gloomhaven. One that I thought was of particular interest was about the Alpha Gamer.
The Alpha gamer is the guy, or girl, at the table who is always telling everyone else what the best course of action is, how to best play their hand etc. Because of this Isaac put a rule into Gloomhaven around imperfect information.
Imperfect information means you can’t tell each other your exact initiative, damage, move and more. This makes the game harder because you are trying to plan turns around what other characters are doing. Clearly when you are playing multiple characters as a solo player than you have perfect information.
To combat this, it is recommended to turn the difficulty up 1 when playing solo to combat you having perfectly coordinated turns with 2 characters. I would recommend playing a few scenarios at first before you do this. In the beginning you are not going to understand how to optimize and synergize your characters. Wait until you have a few games under your belt and then turning up the difficulty should make it a fair challenge.
Should you Play More Than 2 Characters?
Playing with more than 2 characters is something that you will have to try and see what fits your personality.
For me I don’t like playing more than 2 characters by myself. I find it becomes too fiddly and takes too long and that I end up enjoying the game less because I have so much to think about. That being said, having perfect information and playing 3-4 characters can make some insanely epic turns!
Starting Party for 2 Characters
Gloomhaven is a well designed game and I don’t think there are any wrong choices when deciding what starting 2 characters you will play in your party. Don’t get overly hung up on trying to min max this, at least not at first. As you play you will develop a feeling for what strategies you like to employ and figuring out which characters work best for you will be easier.
Because I don’t want to spoil any of the un-lockable characters I will just talk about my favorite starting party composition.
Spellweaver/Cragheart – Especially early on, this is a powerful combination. The Spellweaver can hit a lot of enemies at a time and with Reviving Ether(recover all lost cards) can last a very long time.
The Cragheart has 11 cards, is pretty tanky and is a jack of all trades. In my opinion, besides being really good, he is actually the most fun of the starting classes to play.
Changing Player Counts
If you will only be playing solo some of the time you may be wondering if you can change up the player counts from session to session. The answer is yes you can and there are a couple of different ways to do that.
The first way would be to use removable stickers and run 2 separate campaigns. It takes a ton of management do to this as you have to track where each group is within the campaign and be very organized around characters and keeping cards separate.
The other way would be to designate which way you are playing, solo or not-solo, as your “main”. This way when you play your main you advance the campaign and use the stickers. When you play the other way you would just play one off scenarios like dungeons.
Previously not many games catered to the solo player, but now with the rise of Kickstarter and a resurgence in board games, I think it’s absolutely amazing how many developers are making sure that solo modes are available within their cooperative games!
Benefits of Solo Play
- Enjoy some peace and quiet. If you are like me and have a high-level, mentally demanding job then you may just want to be alone. I get it!
- Go at your own pace. Think about your turn for as long as you like. Play as fast as you want. Whatever makes you happy. I like to play games on hard, up to a certain point. Games are a bit like hot sauce. You want it just hard(hot) enough. Too much and it’s no good. When you play on hard you usually need to optimize a little more. If you are like me you will appreciate being alone and being able to take some more time to optimize.
- Play whatever you want. Maybe you like some games that your friends can’t get down with. When playing solo, only your own opinion counts.
- Solo only games. Pretty self explanatory. If the game is solo-only and you always play with friends you won’t be playing it. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.
- Play whenever you want. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s schedule. Play when you want, in your pajamas if you feel like it.
- Immersion. Solo games are often very story driven and when you are by yourself you can get into it more.
Board Game Geek is the best place to go for board game information and news. Here is a link to a guild that specializes in playing game solo. If solo is your thing then you will find other like minded people here! Also good information here on solo game variants that are not official. Most of these are created by the community.
Here is a list of the 14 top ranked board games that have an official solo variant from Board Game Geek.
There are 17 solo scenarios, 1 for each character that were created, by Isaac Childres, after the original Gloomhaven went to print. Each one is tailored to a specific character. Warning, do not go here unless you are prosperity level 3 and you have retired 2 characters.
These are extremely hard but definitely worth playing, so I hope you enjoy!