Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is a standalone game that takes place before the events of Gloomhaven. The game includes four new characters — Valrath Red Guard (tank, crowd control), Inox Hatchet (ranged damage), Human Voidwarden (support, mind-control), and Quatryl Demolitionist (melee damage, obstacle manipulation) — that can also be used in the original Gloomhaven game.
The game also includes 16 monster types (including seven new standard monsters and three new bosses) and a new campaign with 25 scenarios that invites the heroes to investigate a case of mysterious disappearances within the city. Is it the work of Vermlings, or is something far more sinister going on?
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is aimed at a more casual audience to get people into the gameplay more quickly. All of the hard-to-organize cardboard map tiles have been removed, and instead players will play on the scenario book itself, which features new artwork unique to each scenario. The last barrier to entry — i.e., learning the game — has also been lowered through a simplified rule set and a five-scenario tutorial that will ease new players into the experience.
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Is this compatible with the original Gloomhaven?
All new characters introduced in this game are fully compatible with Gloomhaven. Other elements such as new monsters and items cannot be carried over.
How many scenarios are in this game?
There are 25 scenarios, of which the first 5 are tutorials that will slowly get you up to speed on the rules. While it starts out slow, you'll find a noticeable step up in difficulty on scenario 4.
Can I play this solo?
Yes. In fact, many board gamers regard Gloomhaven as one of the top solo games out there. But beware that the solo rules require managing two characters. This may put off some solo gamers who feel like it's too much work, while others will enjoy the rich tactical decision-making and discovering the synergy between different classes.
Does this game require a Dungeon Master (DM)?
No, but if you'd like to try adding a DM for your group, then take a look at some of the suggestions on this article. The DM could handle admin duties such as moving the monsters and keeping track of status effects, and help accentuate the theme with storytelling.
Should I play this before the original game?
If you're not ready to commit to a $100+ Gloomhaven purchase, go for Jaws of the Lion first. The rulebook "hand holds" you through the first five tutorial scenarios, and the scenario book drastically reduces setup and cleanup time by replacing the traditional map tiles. This solution was so well received by fans and reviewers that designer Isaac Childres is developing scenario books for Gloomhaven and Frosthaven.