Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion board game

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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  • This is Gloomhaven! It’s the game I know and love but in a more convenient form and with new content.
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Upcoming Gloomhaven: Fallen Lion Comic and Online Co-Op Mode for Gloomhaven Digital image
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In the end, I think my main question is: What's the most popular game of 2020? A game that had everyone talking about it all throughout the year?

2017 had #Gloomhaven, 2018 had #Root, and 2019 had #Wingspan. Which game matches that level of popularity for 2020? At least according to our google analytics, all three of those games hit absolutely huge spikes in traffic that outclassed all others within their respective years. And for this year, I remember seeing #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion having a decent peak during the Target release, but it's still far behind the level of popularity of all those other games in my opinion since in the end, it's a "sequel". And while #Fort is doing well staying within the top 10 most visited game pages and sometimes top 5, it doesn't have that same level of excitement for me.

On another note, I'd really like to try out #The One Hundred Torii and #Tang Garden. Have you reviewed #The Court of Miracles yet?

Edit: Also, if #Nemesis had come out in 2020 instead, I think it would've been the most obvious candidate in terms of popularity (according to the metrics at least)

I think I agree with these choices.  I haven't had a chance to play #On Mars but I like the designer and while it's not on my list it's a game I'd love to play someday.  I think #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion might end up winning if the award was given today.  It is a great adaptation of the base game without losing anything and appealing to both experienced players and newcomers alike.  I plan to get #Raiders of Scythia and #Viscounts of the West Kingdom is backed and coming later this year.  As much as I love the series I just don't see these winning any game of the year awards.  

I can empathize with playing next to none of these. I own Sorcerer City but it's definitely not a game of the year to me. As everyone else is saying #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion seems the most likely based on accessibility and popularity alone.

It all depends what sort of "game of the year" you are asking about. Are you asking for Dice Tower's game of the year? or the Spiel pick? or Heavy Cardboards golden elephant? or something else?

Of course I think that #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion will win a lot of aclaim. As I believe #Fort will.

I am sure that there are other games, not yet mentioned, that will be in the running. But, I feel a little less confident about what games will be in the general running than I have been other years.

Of course I'd hope that my personal favorite, #Oceans, would win, I think it hasn't gotten the attention to win. Fort got the hype but I don't know if the reception has been high enough to win it. My money is on #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, with the combination hype, reception, and accessibility.

IA seems so fun! I enjoy #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion but having a Star Wars themed one would be so great. I wonder if getting into this game would make me want to get the expansions haha

My first impressions were based on watching review videos and skimming through playthrough videos. In general, they all seemed like good games, but comparatively, Outer Rim came off as the one that fits us the least because of the theme and focus of gameplay. For surface level Star Wars fans, a game focused on bounty hunters/mercenaries/smugglers would be very outside of what you'd expect when you think of a Star Wars game. She's never even seen a bounty hunter. And same goes for me that the theme doesn't interest me as much as the other two games.

What I'm wanting is a game that features many of the Star Wars references that are commonly known among anyone who's watched TV--lightsabers, blasters, droids, stormtroopers, Darth Vader, Jedi, etc.

IA seemed like the best and safest game that we'd enjoy together. It gave the impression of just a very fun game where you can be a part of the Star Wars universe. It seemed like the most immersive game in terms of character focus and I like that. And as you said, setup and length of gameplay will likely be an issue so I'd only get the game after doing more research. I gotta say though, I am way more attracted to this than the theme of #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, and wish there were a retheme of Jaws of the Lion for Star Wars.

IA is more attractive to me than Gloomhaven theme-wise, so I just wish there were a Star Wars equivalent of #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. That would be so awesome :)

I like the idea of playing as a single character like in IA and Outer Rim, as opposed to a sprawled out game like Rebellion. I also think IA captures more of the entertainment-focus of the new trilogy, even though it's not deep in theme. And that's really what I'd want out of a Star Wars game I could play with my wife, especially if it keeps it at a reasonable time.

It was a campaign heavy weekend for the game group. Played two sessions of #The King's Dilemma where things in the story took quite the turn towards "whoops, is that what we just did?" Between 30 and 50% through at this point and just loving the game. Then we started a #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion campaign. Got through the first 4 scenarios, and pulled out a last minute victory on #4. 

Hmm.. I guess it really depends on the game for me. When presented with characters in eurogames, I think I typically take whatever strategy route I want to try out. And it won't always be maximizing the character's powers either. Depending on the variable setup, I could go for a strategy that could potentially go against the character's preferred tactics. As I say this, one example I'm thinking of is #Architects of the West Kingdom, where you have characters with variable powers and starting resources and level of virtue. There's that princess looking characer who is the most virtuous in the kingdom, and I typically go the almost fully virtuous route, or take advantage of her benefits and dip into the darkness to reap the benefits.

But when it comes to games such as #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, the character deck is already tailored for that character's style/personality that there isn't that much room for branching off from it.

I agree with most of the commentary below about Wingspan. It's a game I enjoy and really admire it but when I personally think of highly thematic games I don't think it's as good as others. I think the most spot on point is that while some of the mechanics are thematic (predator birds, birds that migrate habitats) plenty are not and it always feels like an engine builder for points rather than running a bird sanctuary. With that said, I think it does a great job setting a fantastic mood for the type of game it is, and the eggs, the wooden dice, the dicetower, the unique bird cards, the art on the player boards etc do a fantastic job of that. I do think it's important to remember what a great place Wingspan exists in in terms of being an inviting gateway game and I believe that how thematic it is is going to depend greatly on what your experience in gaming is up to that point.


I think Wingspan exists in an area of strategy games where the components themselves do a great job keeping it from being a dry game and giving it a mood and then the more the mechanics match the more thematic it feels. I think of #Viticulture: Essential Edition and #Agricola (Revised Edition) as games that do a great job of this with both mechanisims and components. I think #Root #Everdell #Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar and #Teotihuacan: City of Gods all do a great job setting the scene with their art and then matching it in varying degrees with mechanics. 


I can think of countless "Ameritrash" games that are highly thematic but skill checks often ruin that dynamic for me personally. Even a game like #Forgotten Waters which drips with story and theme after awhile didn't feel like much of a game to me and lost its immersiveness. While still not in my wheelhouse I found #Gloomhaven and #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion to be much more immersive because the card play makes you feel like you are really dictating what happens and controlling your character. Conversely #Scythe was a game where the theme was almost non-existent to me until I played #Scythe: The Rise of Fenris and from then on the game was far more thematic in my mind than it had been previously. The most thematic game I've ever played would have to be #Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 and much like with Rise of Fenris, that experience has made other #Pandemic games feel more thematic just because I have seen how immersive it can be. 


A game that hasn't gotten any mentions yet that I've seen that's both a strategy game and highly thematic, in my opinion, is #Brass: Birmingham the historic accuracy that went into that game is remarkable and it really comes through in the most unique aspect to the game- the sudden switch from canals to rails. The included history of the characters in the rulebook is also a nice touch. I would contrast that with a game that I also love but don't find thematic which is #A Feast For Odin which, in true Uwe fashion, comes with what is essentially an entire book explaining the history that exists in the game but if you never read the book you would never really know and it's dry enough that you really don't need to and it becomes vikings playing tetris. 

Arrgh, it does sound so good! I just know I would never get/make the time to play it enough to do it justice. I may well give #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion a try some time though

I was trying to find this post to see which one you might go with :)

I really need to get in some games of #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion soon. And I've been thinking more and more about getting #Nemo's War (Second Edition) some time next year.

If I'm not 100% sold that the game will become one of my wife and I's top 5 games to play together, then it needs a great solo mode. If it's not our favorite to play, then it's almost guaranteed that it won't see more than say... 2 plays in a year because we only play together maybe 2 times a month. This includes:

I have an unopened copy or #Architects of the West Kingdom: Age of Artisans (expansion to #Architects of the West Kingdom 

I also have opened but unplayed copies of #Charterstone and #Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (Blue Box).  

Games I'd love to trade for are #The Gallerist, #Cooper Island, #DinoGenics, #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, #Marvel Champions: The Card Game - Thor Hero Pack, or #Brass: Birmingham.  I'm open to other offers as well as this is a fairly specific list.  :)

I live in Texas for the purpose of calculating shipping costs

I haven't gone to that side just yet. Yet. YET. I always go for games that I know for sure will be good for both 2p with my wife and solo. Even if the game will only see maybe 2-4 2p sessions in a year, it makes me feel good knowing that it'll be an option haha

There are games that have come close though:

#Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion - We ended up getting a copy for Board Game Atlas, but if we hadn't, I probably would've gone for it even if it's only for solo.

#Maracaibo - I've considered after hearing about its campaign. In the end though, it gives the impression of a game that's more complex (with many parts) than I typically prefer.

#Pax Pamir (Second Edition) - Another game we got under Board Game Atlas. In hindsight, after experiencing the solo mode, I would've gotten this just for the solo mode. I know for sure that I don't have the right group for a multiplayer session.

#Too Many Bones - I'm definitely hoping to try this out with my wife, but I know that it'd be more of a treat I'd be giving myself.

In general, I think I'm usually attracted to the idea of a game from Chip Theory Games or Alexander Pfister (and why #CloudAge is on my radar.) Cole Wehrle's works will always be on my radar too.

My son and I played the first five sessions of #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. It is designed pretty well to play into Gloomhaven by teaching you the full ruleset over 5 sessions. It is a great entry into the system, and for the price of the game, there appears to be a great amount of play.

Yeah totally.  I think it'd be hard to sell me on a coop unless, like you said in another post, I was planning on playing it only solo.  It's something that attracts me to #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.  I think I'd play it just as a solo RPG adventure by myself.  Almost like a tabletop video game.

That's a whole lot of gaming! I'm jealous haha

What was the verdict on #Petrichor? And that's awesome that the two of you are able to share the rulebook burden. I do it all myself and while I have no problems with it, diving into ones for heavy games can be overwhelming xD (I'd dare not touch #On Mars..)

Oh and I've heard that #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion's difficulty jumps up when you get into scenario 4. I've yet to get into the 2nd scenario myself but want to when time permits..

On vacation with the family and In-Laws so gaming has been plentiful so far this week.  First night I was on a team with my five year old playing#Ticket To Ride First Journey against my daughter, wife and father in law.  Little man did fantastic matching up the locations by picture (just starting to read and the city names are still too long for him) and made excelllent draws and we ended up winning.

Last night I got to play my second ever game of#Wingspan and we played with 4 players.  I'm totally hooked on the game now even though I came in last but my wife took the prize on her first time playing.  I hope to get one or two more rounds in this week.

Tonight I am playing scenario 7 of#Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion with my four solo characters and so far so good.  Since we are on vacation I can leave everything set up to get at least one more round in before we leave.

Tomorrow we are going to play either#Carcassonne or start the #Scythe: The Rise of Fenris campaign with 3 players.  I can update later on how it plays out the rest of the week.

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