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Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

RRP: £49.99
Now £40.99(SAVE 18%)
RRP £49.99
Expected Restock Date 30/04/2024
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Like its famous predecessor, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a dungeon crawler where players work together as a group of mercenaries, the titular Jaws of the Lion, to complete increasingly difficult scenarios. Anyone who has played a fantasy computer game, or D&D, will recognise the format: Enter the lair of increasingly tougher monsters, fight them, loot treasure and defeat the…
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Like its famous predecessor, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a dungeon crawler where players work together as a group of mercenaries, the titular Jaws of the Lion, to complete increasingly difficult scenarios. Anyone who has played a fantasy computer game, or D&D, will recognise the format: Enter the lair of increasingly tougher monsters, fight them, loot treasure and defeat the Boss. In addition to the usual skull-bashing and spell-slinging chaos that you would expect from a fantasy game, Gloomhaven added an ingenious element of hand management to the mix. This means that players need to carefully manage their dwindling action cards and items or risk defeat through exhaustion before the scenario ends. Some actions are quicker than others and some are one use “big hitters” which need to be deployed sparingly. Other actions are reliant on specific Elements being present in the

atmosphere to be more effective, leading to interesting synergies to be discovered with your teammates. It’s a puzzle that needs a combination of strategy, cunning and a little bit of luck. There is also a healthy dose of competition thrown into the cooperative mix as players earn more experience from gold they pick up along the way and have their own individual secret goals which may not always benefit the mission at hand. It’s a heady mix of theme and strategy which has helped Gloomhaven retain the position of number one game on Board Game Geek since ts release in 2016. In Jaws of the Lion, this winning system remains the backbone of the game, but has been streamlined to ease new players into the world and help the action flow better than in the original game. Players of Gloomhaven will immediately notice some differences in Jaws that are designed to help beginners find their feet quickly. Firstly, all four characters in Jaws feel strong and interesting from the very first scenario. Meaning that when you start playing, you feel like your character is a hero- in-waiting rather than an elderly relative in danger of collapsing if a skeleton warrior sneezes on you. Secondly, the first five scenarios are tutorials designed to introduce players gradually to the rules and themes of the game. By level five they will know all of the mechanics within the scenarios and also how to level up characters, purchase items and improve their chances of survival next time. Thirdly, the rules themselves are pared down from the main game meaning there is less Upkeep involved. Trickier elements such as Summoning and rolling modifiers have been removed to make gameplay feel more like an adventure, and less like a bookkeeping exercise when the enemies are piling on.

Perhaps the biggest improvement, however, is in the physical layout of the game. Jaws does away with the multiple map tiles that make Gloomhaven, and many other dungeon crawler games for that matter, so fiddly to set up and instead uses the scenario books themselves as a playing board. Turn to the correct page, put your models on the start spaces and you are pretty much ready to go. Additional features are still required, such as removable terrain, and enemy standees, but it makes set up and tear down very straightforward.

Jaws of the Lion is still a big game and will require a time commitment from players to get the most out of it, as with all “Legacy” games. However, it can be played solo or by up to four players and the difficulty scales easily to each different player count, changing the number and toughness of monsters during the setup, so if a player needs to dip out of the game at points, the others can still complete the campaign.

Jaws is a smaller box than Gloomhaven but is still packed with different components, feature tiles, enemy card decks, standees and secret boxes yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Instead, it all adds a sense of genuine anticipation to the Campaign. As for the Story in the game, this has also been streamlined, stripping away the often confusing, branching quests within quests that could make Gloomhaven a headache to follow. Jaws of the Lion concentrates on moving players along with the story rather than encouraging exploration for the sake of it, but what you lose in freedom is gained in urgency and impetus to see how the story unfolds. Which is how an adventure should feel. Jaws of the Lion is still challenging, although you can increase the difficulty level at any time if ever it feels too easy, but is never a slog to get through. Reaching the end of the game is a realistic goal but still a genuine achievement. For anyone who has ever considered getting into Gloomhaven, or just wondered what the fuss is about, Jaws of a Lion is a must-buy. And with Frosthaven, the full-sized sequel to Gloomhaven, just around the corner, now is as good a time as any to dip your toe into this genuinely exciting and original world.

Player Count: 1-4
Time: 30-120 minutes
Age: 14+

Awards

Golden Geek
Dice Tower

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The sense of adventure within the game
  • The absorbing story that will grip you from the very beginning
  • The brilliant ease of entry to the brilliant Gloomhaven world

Might Not Like

  • The initial set up before game one
  • Playing in a book instead of using tiles
  • The box is hard to keep tidy with all the components
  • May be too simplistic for experienced dungeon crawler fans
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Description

Like its famous predecessor, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a dungeon crawler where players work together as a group of mercenaries, the titular Jaws of the Lion, to complete increasingly difficult scenarios. Anyone who has played a fantasy computer game, or D&D, will recognise the format: Enter the lair of increasingly tougher monsters, fight them, loot treasure and defeat the Boss. In addition to the usual skull-bashing and spell-slinging chaos that you would expect from a fantasy game, Gloomhaven added an ingenious element of hand management to the mix. This means that players need to carefully manage their dwindling action cards and items or risk defeat through exhaustion before the scenario ends. Some actions are quicker than others and some are one use “big hitters” which need to be deployed sparingly. Other actions are reliant on specific Elements being present in the

atmosphere to be more effective, leading to interesting synergies to be discovered with your teammates. It’s a puzzle that needs a combination of strategy, cunning and a little bit of luck. There is also a healthy dose of competition thrown into the cooperative mix as players earn more experience from gold they pick up along the way and have their own individual secret goals which may not always benefit the mission at hand. It’s a heady mix of theme and strategy which has helped Gloomhaven retain the position of number one game on Board Game Geek since ts release in 2016. In Jaws of the Lion, this winning system remains the backbone of the game, but has been streamlined to ease new players into the world and help the action flow better than in the original game. Players of Gloomhaven will immediately notice some differences in Jaws that are designed to help beginners find their feet quickly. Firstly, all four characters in Jaws feel strong and interesting from the very first scenario. Meaning that when you start playing, you feel like your character is a hero- in-waiting rather than an elderly relative in danger of collapsing if a skeleton warrior sneezes on you. Secondly, the first five scenarios are tutorials designed to introduce players gradually to the rules and themes of the game. By level five they will know all of the mechanics within the scenarios and also how to level up characters, purchase items and improve their chances of survival next time. Thirdly, the rules themselves are pared down from the main game meaning there is less Upkeep involved. Trickier elements such as Summoning and rolling modifiers have been removed to make gameplay feel more like an adventure, and less like a bookkeeping exercise when the enemies are piling on.

Perhaps the biggest improvement, however, is in the physical layout of the game. Jaws does away with the multiple map tiles that make Gloomhaven, and many other dungeon crawler games for that matter, so fiddly to set up and instead uses the scenario books themselves as a playing board. Turn to the correct page, put your models on the start spaces and you are pretty much ready to go. Additional features are still required, such as removable terrain, and enemy standees, but it makes set up and tear down very straightforward.

Jaws of the Lion is still a big game and will require a time commitment from players to get the most out of it, as with all “Legacy” games. However, it can be played solo or by up to four players and the difficulty scales easily to each different player count, changing the number and toughness of monsters during the setup, so if a player needs to dip out of the game at points, the others can still complete the campaign.

Jaws is a smaller box than Gloomhaven but is still packed with different components, feature tiles, enemy card decks, standees and secret boxes yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Instead, it all adds a sense of genuine anticipation to the Campaign. As for the Story in the game, this has also been streamlined, stripping away the often confusing, branching quests within quests that could make Gloomhaven a headache to follow. Jaws of the Lion concentrates on moving players along with the story rather than encouraging exploration for the sake of it, but what you lose in freedom is gained in urgency and impetus to see how the story unfolds. Which is how an adventure should feel. Jaws of the Lion is still challenging, although you can increase the difficulty level at any time if ever it feels too easy, but is never a slog to get through. Reaching the end of the game is a realistic goal but still a genuine achievement. For anyone who has ever considered getting into Gloomhaven, or just wondered what the fuss is about, Jaws of a Lion is a must-buy. And with Frosthaven, the full-sized sequel to Gloomhaven, just around the corner, now is as good a time as any to dip your toe into this genuinely exciting and original world.

Player Count: 1-4
Time: 30-120 minutes
Age: 14+

Reviewing Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, the new standalone game in the Gloomhaven world, is a difficult task. Inside this jam-packed box is all you need to play 25 scenarios in a legacy style experience. This review will not spoil any of the story or surprises contained within this amazing game. But in avoiding such delights, there is only so much that I can talk about. What I can say is this: I predict Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, will become a top 10 game on BGG within the year, perhaps even number one. So, is that enough to make it worth your consideration?

Gloomhaven has sat proudly on top of the tree for a long while now, and rightly so. It is an amazing game. But it has three issues that stop many from playing it. One: the price. Gloomhaven is not a cheap game. Two: time. This game requires you to give it a lot of your time, ideally with a group of friends who you can regularly play with. Not everyone can commit to that. Three: accessibility. Gloomhaven is not an easy game to learn, play, or set up due to the modular boards and many, MANY tiles!

None of these things are an issue with Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. The game is less than half the price. There are 25 scenarios, which is still a huge amount of game, but a manageable commitment. And most importantly, the mechanics of set-up have completely changed. Learning and playing this game is as slick as a greased up Vermling Raider in a whistle factory.

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion retains a lot of the things that make the original game great. But all the things that make it inaccessible are gone! This is why I predict it will climb the ranks so quickly and maybe even all the way to the top. Of course, this is not the full Gloomhaven experience, more a taster for the main course! But it is the best starter I have ever had! And still a very satisfying one. This is the sort of starter you finish and think you can’t manage your main course now! But if you love it and do have room for some more, you know what to do.

There has been no other game I have ever recommend as much as this. And I don’t think there will be again for some time. Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a brilliant game. But is it right for you?

A Box of delights!

Opening Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is an intimidating thing at first. There is a lot packed inside the box. The first thing you are greeted with is a sheet of paper telling you to stop and prepare yourself for something you may not have experienced before. You are asked to set the game up. Prepare it for its first outing. This involves grouping the monsters with their associated cards and name tags into bags. Not a massive task, but you are looking at about 30 minutes of admin before you even open the rule book. But once this is it out the way, the fun can begin. And because you have ordered everything in this way, the game flows incredibly smoothly for all later games.

The rule book is a thing of genius. You will be quickly assured about how easy it is to learn this game. Even for someone who knows nothing about Gloomhaven, you will be playing the first game within minutes. Scenario one is underwhelming in truth. But you must remember that at this point, you have the training wheels on and are only experiencing about 5% of the game. But the next four training scenarios ramp up the excitement very quickly, gearing you up for the next 20 missions. New rules, mechanics and cards are brought into the game, teaching you the full world of Gloomhaven in an incredibly smooth and easy-to-process way.

As new elements come into the game, there is a real sense of excitement to be able to try new things. You are not bombarded with excessive choices from the get-go. Rather you are eased into this world, all while being absorbed into the story with the brilliant narrative. I won’t go into specifics here, other than to say some heavy stuff goes down and you will be captivated more than that Netflix boxset you just binged! Every game I play, I want more.

Sounds great! But what do you actually do?

For anyone who hasn’t played Gloomhaven, you may still be wondering how this game actually works. It’s very simple really. Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a fantasy adventure game with a brilliant narrative. The experience is intertwined within a smooth dungeon crawler experience. What does this actually mean? You move your character through hexes, fight bad guys, loot treasure, and generally go on a rip-roaring adventures.

From the off, you are thrust into a deep, dark story that only you can solve. You will feel a part of the Gloomhaven world from the very beginning. But some of you may not know what Gloomhaven is. Well, other than the brilliant game this spins off from, Gloomhaven is a town. And you play as either The Red Guard, Hatchet, Voidwarden or The Demolitionist. Four brilliant characters you can pick at the start to act as your gateway into this world. You are a member of The Jaws of the Lion, a group of mercenaries who take jobs for money, helping those less able to fight!

Very much like the base game, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion sees you exploring and fighting your way through various scenarios. But unlike in Gloomhaven where you need to lay the specific tiles out for each mission, here you simply open the scenario book. The maps are all there for you, ready to explore and have fun with. Add your characters and any monsters present, and away you go. Oh, and any other things that may be present such as traps, money, treasure, etc. I don’t want to spoil anything for you! But it is all very easy to learn. You are walked through the first five scenarios with ease. And once you have completed these, you will be very familiar with the rules and mechanics for the rest of the game.

But is Jaws of the Lion for me?

With all that out the way, I want to address this point. Is this game for you? Well, firstly, I don’t know you! But, if you are anything like me, then I would hazard a guess that yes! Yes, this is for you! Whether you are looking for a new game to play solo, with friends or in a two, this is for you, so long as you enjoy these three things in board games: adventure, freedom and a good story. If you are a Dungeon crawler veteran this may come across as a little basic, especially the first five scenarios.

If you want a game with a load of miniatures, this will disappoint with the standees that are used. Finally, if you want a game that will absorb you for hundreds of hours, again, this is not the one for you. But for an entry level game in this world and using this mechanic, I would say this is almost flawless.

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is full of adventure. From the very beginning you feel like you are on a Tolkienesque quest. The theme is dripping from this game, although in a much darker way than anything you may find in Lord of the Rings! Disemembered limbs, sacrifices and murder are rife from the off. But not in an in-your-face way. It’s all part of the narrative, so you can edit as you see fit. But the story is gripping and the sense of adventure is second to none from my current experience.

This is not a sand box game. Each scenario has a very specific task and requirements, and you cannot move outside the walls of the map. But there is a sense of freedom here in the way the turns play out. This game is not reliant upon the luck of a dice roll or constrained by the mechanics of set actions. You feel like you are a rounded 360 character with the ability to make your own decisions. Mechanically speaking, the game is simple. And of course, you are restricted by the rules and cards available to you. But when you play, you feel free and part of this world

All of which leads me to the story. The game itself as a dungeon crawler is relatively simple. Move. Fight. Heal. Use an item. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything with some of the other things you will get up to, but you get the picture. But the story you are a part of is why this game is so engrossing to me. It makes all the actions I do so absorbing. They matter as I am invested. I found myself thinking about the game a lot between plays.

I was talking with a lot of people about what I had experienced. And each thought and conversation always gravitated to the story. It was like discussing a film I had just seen, more than a game I had played. Now, again, I must stress, for a hard-core gamer, this may not be the case. This is designed to bring new players into the world of fantasy exploration games. But I think you would struggle to find a better example of a game to introduce new players to this type of game.

As such, I am left with this final thought. If you have not played a dungeon crawler before, but are eager to try one, buy this game. It is the best example of an entry-level game of this type around. For the more experienced gamers out there, be mindful that this is not designed for you. The first five scenarios will feel slow and you may be left frustrated by the kid gloves around you. But I would say there is still enough game in the subsequent 20 scenarios to get your money’s worth from this game.

For anyone who has always wanted to try Gloomhaven, but been put off by the price, time commitment or complexity, this is your answer. Neatly packaged in an affordable box, Jaws of the Lion will guide you into the world of Gloomhaven in a way that will make you never think the same about board games again. Welcome to the world of Gloomhaven!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The sense of adventure within the game
  • The absorbing story that will grip you from the very beginning
  • The brilliant ease of entry to the brilliant Gloomhaven world

Might not like

  • The initial set up before game one
  • Playing in a book instead of using tiles
  • The box is hard to keep tidy with all the components
  • May be too simplistic for experienced dungeon crawler fans