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Frosthaven Preview

Frosthaven Preview

As of the time I am typing this, Frosthaven is the most backed boardgame kickstarter of 2020 with just shy of $13 million dollars in the bank. You don’t get those kinds of numbers without being a bit special, and Frosthaven is just that.

Frosthaven is the big box sequel to current king of boardgame geeks top games of all time. It takes the fantastic card-based gameplay twist on a dungeon crawl as well as the sprawling branching story from the original. However, it now adds in a few new mechanics and systems to keep it fresh.  In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, I’ll explain what the big appeal of Gloomhaven is.

The big hook from Gloomhaven is that it was a diceless dungeon crawl game that doesn’t need a dungeon master player. The players would choose a mission and set up a map with enemies and an objective. Players will each have their own unique deck of ability cards as well as a personal deck of modifier cards. Over the course of the game these ability cards get whittled down. Eventually players may not have enough cards in hand to remain in the game and become eliminated.

This gives the game a really frantic pace as you can’t just take your time and plan everything perfectly. Because then you might run out of cards before you get to the objective. Your modifier cards are a cool feature as well. Different equipment and abilities will allow you to maybe remove a few bad cards or add in a few good ones. Maybe you’ll find something that gives your character a bit of a bonus in battle but will make you place some bad modifier cards into your deck as a balance. It’s a neat system.

Frosthaven has all of this but adds a few new flavours into the mix as well. Whereas Gloomhaven was a bustling city full of character, Frosthaven is just a small, ill equipped, harbour outpost. Players will be tasked with using materials found on their travels to develop the city of Frosthaven. You can focus on building new buildings or strengthening the defences of the city to be able to handle any threats that may come banging at the gates.

There is also a new alchemy system that allows players to try and combine resources and ingredients to produce new potions and elixirs. The events system also gets an overhaul with new events that can take place in either summer or winter. On top of all that there are 16 new characters to play with as well as stacks of new monsters. You can also bring over any characters you may have from Gloomhaven or the newly released Jaws of the Lion.

The core gameplay of the games is near identical, so if you weren’t keen on Gloomhaven or Jaws of the Lion, I can’t see you being that fond of this either. But if, like me, you were a real fan of the almost puzzle-based approach the original takes to tactical combat you are going to want to play this. One thing to mention is that Frosthaven uses the same tile-based dungeon system found in Gloomhaven, rather than the book based one found in Jaws of the Lion. This is a bit of a double-edged sword. Although I definitely prefer the look of the tile-based approach on the table, you can’t argue that Jaws of the Lion isn’t much faster to set up. The book-based approach that it takes makes set up and tear down a breeze.

Personally, I am really looking forward to playing this. I am really looking forward to getting back into this gaming system but having a few new toys and tools to play with. A brilliant thing about Gloomhaven was not only getting to know your character but getting to know how it interacts with your friends’ characters too. You would start to spot ways you can team up and play off of each other’s abilities to really reach some higher-level play. I am really looking forward to doing that all again. This is going to be a big adventure. Players will be writing their own stories inside the world of Frosthaven and personally, I don’t think it can arrive soon enough!