Noob Impressions of Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
This is somewhat of a follow-up to my post over a week ago about being a new gamer. I received a flood of welcoming and game suggestions from you all and it was fantastic! Thanks again to everyone who gave recommendations. After researching a lot and taking all of your comments into consideration, I decided to go ahead and dive into #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.
Right off the bat, I have to say that I'm really enjoying the game overall. This was my first time purchasing anything even remotely like this, so I was blown away by how in-depth it is. It was slightly intimidating to pick up the hefty box in the mail and lug it to the table, but once I broke into it I had a great time.
Setup took me quite a while. I’d say I probably spent an hour and a half punching out all of the components, organizing everything, and reading the introductory booklets. I really appreciated the reference sheet for first-time setup which clearly walked me through step by step on exactly where to put everything. I was glad to find that it’s surprisingly easy to set up and put away again between sessions.
Like many of you have said, Jaws of the Lion excels at teaching new players about the game. It was really helpful to have a linear progression through the rules and mechanics. It added on features in small intervals to really ease me over the learning curve. As of now I’ve almost completed the first five “tutorial” scenarios, and I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of how most things work. There were points where I had to re-read the rulebook and glossary multiple times, but I imagine that some ambiguity in these games is inevitable.
The closest comparisons I had to this experience personally were Fire Emblem games, which I liked a lot. To me, they were similar in the fact that both games start you on a grid/tile map and they consist of turn-based tactical battles (though the turn order is always changing in Jaws of the Lion). I’m really enjoying the leveling and equipment systems, as well as looting. I realized that playing solo is essentially playing the role of both characters in a two-player setup as opposed to playing against the world by yourself. That was fine, but I actually got my wife to join in for a few games as well! She was a great sport in learning along with me for a few rounds, and moving forward I’ll probably just tag her in and out of scenarios when she’s up for it.
I found that the main issue for me is keeping track of different abilities and buffs for multiple characters and enemies. Sometimes I would go through two whole rounds before realizing I should have been applying a condition to enemies, removing stat changes, or something similar. There are a lot of moving parts but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I also downloaded some companion apps as suggested to me by @docker37 and those have been really helpful, thanks for the tip!
Bottom line: I really liked my experience with Jaws of the Lion so far! It met and exceeded my expectations and I’m excited to keep coming back to it for more. I even extended the invitation to start a campaign with a couple different groups of people! I realize there won’t be another “first” like this again (as far as getting into board games for the first time), so I’m enjoying it as much as possible. Keep the suggestions coming and I'm looking forward to expanding my gaming repertoire in the future!