A bit of context. None of my friends have played Gloomhaven before. I was lured in by the premise that Jaws of the Lion would be easy to pick up, easy to learn and easy to play, so I recommended this to try on our Friday Board Game Night.
(A bit more context to the earlier context. I only play games with my friends once per week, so the pressure was on, to pick something out that all of us can enjoy).
Gloomhaven was a monster. 10kg, big, bulky and intimidating. Many took weeks to punch out the components, sleeve the cards and organize the box, before starting their first game.
Jaws of the Lion better not be Gloomhaven 2.0
Read This First
Yup, that’s right. The first thing that you probably would be seeing is a Read This First page. Obviously, we were going to skip past that. Who reads instruction manuals anyway?
I’m kidding. Read it! Not only is this one of the best written manuals, it holds your hand steadily and walks its first step with you into the world of Gloomhaven. It gives you the sense of the world that you are in while building up the tension of what’s about to happen.
The reason why Jaws of the Lion is 7kg lighter than its predecessor is the cutting down of cardboard tiles. Instead of forming maps with cardboard tiles, just flip to page 4 for the first map.
Do you need to refer anywhere else for the story or the enemy? Nope. Everything is written on page 4. The map and scenario book being 1 entity is brilliant.
My friends feedback that the 1st 2 scenarios were easy. Well, they are meant to be. It’s the tutorial. Jaws of the Lion doesn’t force everything down your throat at once.
What it does is to take its time and introduce you 1 mechanic at a time. Scenario 1 teaches you about movement and combat. Scenario 2 teaches you about looting and traps and shopping. Scenario 3 teaches you about gaining XP and unlocking perks.
It feels like it’s a tutorial but yet, it’s letting you have fun kick ass while playing the tutorial. It’s like amobile game, where you play for the first 5 minutes and you think that the game is not too bad and decide that you are not going to uninstall it.
Don’t open all the cards in shrink wrap at once. Be smart. Download the official Gloomhaven Helper app.
Open the app, select the scenario, add the characters that you are using and viola, you just saved 30% of table space. Wound tracking, status tokens, enemy modifier deck. The app takes care of it all!
The gaming table would then only have:
- Scenario-map booklet with standees / hero miniatures
- Your character sheet
- Your own starting hand of cards.
The table had so little items, I had space to eat my sushi. (Don’t do that by the way. I spilled sauce on the scenario booklet 😅 )
The Biggest Challenge
After 3 hours well spent on 3 scenarios, it was time to save our game and head back before our wives / girlfriends gave us the death stare.
So comes our biggest challenge. Can we fit everything back into the box, especially with sleeved cards?
Well.. The answer is barely. The trick is to squeeze all the monster standees in the corner of the insert (beside the space holding the hero miniatures).
Also, don’t stack the HP / EXP dials. Simply lay them flat beside each other and you should have a box that closes perfect.
Best of all, it appeals to a wide audience, from causal to hardcore gamers.From a Store’s Point of View
(From a Gamer’s Point of View) Jaws of the Lion is almost as perfect as a dungeon crawling game that you can get today.
It is precise yet delicate, never overloading you with too much game content at once. With a strong core mechanic from its predecessor, there’s little luck involved and great tactics are rewarded.
That’s what a good game should be, rewarding the gamer for good decisions.
(From a Store Owner’s Point of View) I can understand the decision to print 10,000 copies in their first print run and I predict that these will sell out before Christmas this year.
I understand that Singaporeans usually shy away from role-playing / dungeon crawling games due to the fact that these games have a steep learning curve.
Also, we do have limited time to meet up to enjoy a game due to our hectic lifestyle.
Jaws of the Lion addresses all these issues. Best of all, it appeals to a wide audience, from causal to hardcore gamers. It’s looking well to be one of the top 10 games for this year.
PS. Tuck Boxes
An alternative we found is to print custom tuck boxes to store all your minis and cards. That way, the original insert can be disposed of and you won’t have any trouble putting your cards back into the box.
Link to print Tuck Boxes (credit to Nathan Eck): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1BB6uMtsbpPpdOBBrVaomtNhnrCK9odKl