Yesterday we played our first three-player game of Gloomhaven. Our adventuring party – The Footpads – consisting of Grey Mouse (my vermling Mind Thief level 3) and Charity Cayce (human Scoundrel level 3) were joined for the first time by Lenny, (Inox Brute level 1, played by our friend S.W.).
The addition of a third player, and a third character, greatly changed the dynamic of how the team operated. The Footpads had been a fairly fragile team up to that point – Charity was a hard hitter, but fragile, and I was mostly consigned to act as party healer through the mid- and latter portions of the game. The Mind Thief is a great utility character, but didn’t shine well in the early stages because I was mostly forced to focus my augment on healing, leaving aside the other augments just to keep characters alive. For this game I again focused on taking the healing augment, but discovered I didn’t need it nearly as much.
Even as a level 1 character (compared to our level 3s) Lenny really made a difference in the dynamic of the party. He was able to get out front and perform the meat shield role, had massive hit points, and good solid attacks that put down foes in a hurry. I was able to stay in the rear and focus more on ranged attacks (and scooping up treasure – I am a sneaky little bastard vermling). As opposed to previous missions with just Mouse and Charity, we plowed through the opposition easily and quickly, and weren’t down to our last few cards when we got to the boss fight at the end of the mission. We even had a lot of our alpha strike cards left, and were able to dispatch the boss monsters without taking much damage ourselves.
The big difference here was in the synergey between characters. Despite the fact that we had more opposition because we were playing with three instead of two, we were able to handle it better because there was more powerful synergy between Lenny and the other two Footpads. Lenny’s ability to often make “Retaliate” strikes against foes made him a premium damage dealer who could stand and block enemies from getting into the backfield and hurting weaker and more vulnerable characters (like yours truly). Many of Charity’s attacks do better if there is an ally nearby, and Lenny fulfilled that roll far better than Mouse does. Once that character gets tooled up with some armor and a shield, he will be a very tough customer.
For next time with Lenny, I’ll have more of my Augment cards in my hand, since I won’t have to spend so much time healing, and more ranged attack cards since I have more possibility of using them with someone to stand in front of me.
I should say that Gloomhaven continues to impress, with well-defined characters who provide benefits greater than the sum of their individual abilities through synergy and clever tactics. Scaling also works well.