|Players:||1 - 4|
|Time:||30 - 120 minutes|
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.
Three years ago, I played and completed the original Gloomhaven campaign with two other friends. I remember two things most of all: it was a marathon of a campaign and losing the first scenario. The original game was a hell of learning curve involving perk choices, when to play one-time use cards and how to communicate to the other players when in the initiave order I was going (without actually telling them). What I needed was a gradual easing into the game system, a fact sadly lacking from the original game. Enter Gloomhaven - Jaws of the Lion or JOTL for short. It introduces each core game mechanicsm over the first 5 scenarios, telling you their importance and role in the game as a whole. This helps to set you up for handling the remaining 20 scenarios with confidence. JOTL's other shining innovation is its quick setup courtesy of the scenario book which involves the act of merely turning to the appropriate page number and using the pictures there as the board. The game designer has listened to the players feedback and made the game easily accessible to more players with less setup time. It is not a true Gloomhaven as, understandably for the sake of brevity, some parts found in the original Gloomhaven, such as unlocking new characters (there are only 4 in JOTL) and rolling modifer cards are absent but cuts had to be made somewhere I suppose. However, you have a great dungeon crawl campaign with a teaching system to ease you in before it starts ramping up the difficulty. The innovative use of character ability cards to determine initiave that is so Gloomhaven is still there and there are some locked boxes that only become available later in the game. All this for a game that is less than a $100 and doesn't take up half you board game shelf.