Founders of Gloomhaven

I’m sorry to break it to you, but this is not a dungeon crawler, and you really don’t need to have previously played Gloomhaven, to enjoy this one – you know, in case you’re looking for excuses not to buy it. Technically, it could be any other theme. But THANK GOD it is what it is.

Founders of Gloomhaven is a competitive co-op, if there is such a thing. You are working together to build the city of Gloomhaven, however, you compete to have the ownership of buildings and resources, because this is what scores you points.

You start with pretty much nothing, and I’m not gonna lie, the game drags a bit in the beginning. There isn’t much you can do, as you lack in money and resources, but after some time you’ll find yourself having to choose the best possible option among quite a few available. Do you build a resource, that will allow you later to build a building, or maybe you build a road, that connects your existing resource to a building, which then is delivered and scores you points? The options are a-plenty.

In a two player game (which we experienced) you get 6 starting cards, and like in Concordia, you play one on your turn, and said card determines your action. Then your opponent gets to do the follow up action, which is I’d say at least half as good as your option. If they can’t afford it, there is always a simple action, like get a coin, influence token, build a road or place a worker.

Worker placement? I would’t go that far. Each player has got 3 available workers (once they build the houses), and they allow them to do their special action (different to every race), or the action on Prestige buildings. But you may not even use them at all.

I’m not gonna go into details of each card (I’ll save that for the video), but you can choose between buildings, getting income (in a 2-player variant), recruiting helpers, trading or getting all your discarded cards back to your hand. There is an element in this game (and Dice Forge) that I really appreciate – you do get to do something even if it’s not your turn. Great stuff!

The card, that gives you back your hand, is an interesting one. That’s the one, that reminds us of Concordia. You get your discarded cards and used workers back, foe each of the remaining cards in your hand you get money/roads/white influence, and your opponents get income, and then you vote. Vote? Yes, well the prestige buildings won’t build themselves. So how does that happen? There are always three of them available, under three symbols, a circle, a square, and a triangle. When you call for a vote, everyone in secret chooses the shape, and add influence tokens if they wish so, to empower their vote, and then you reveal. The building with the most votes gets to get build by the person who had the most influence during the vote. And the vote is necessary, because different buildings are in need of different resources, and you want your ones to be delivered, to score you points. Choices!

Anyway, you are probably half way through building the city, and it looks like nothing. Two random gatherings of resources and buildings, you are running out of space in the area.. oh, didn’t I mention? You can only build one building of each type in one area, and some of the buildings can only be build on a certain terrain type. Here’s where things go wrong. Here is where you can actually get analysis paralysis.

But where is the competitiveness in this co-op? You start with the ownership of three (two in a 3 and 4 player game) resources, and to build tier 2 or tier 3 buildings, you need more resources. And guess what? The other ones are owned by your opponents. So you need to trade to get access to them, which is not going to score you any instant points, but later in the game it is going to be very useful (and will score some points to your opponents). So, again, it doesn’t have to be your go, for you to get points.

And as the city grows, and the prestige buildings’ orders are filled up, the game is nearing the end, and before you know it, someone places that last road connecting required resources to finish the last building, and boom, game over.

There is not much hidden scoring in Founders, if any really. You get extra points for red influence tokens, and money, and that’s about it. It’s awesome!

Alicja’s Thoughts

Man this is a monster of a game! I always feel a bit intimidated by big games, that offer a huge range of actions (like Feast for Odin), but this one was such a pleasant surprise! I was also worried, because the YouTube videos with rules explanation were all just soooo loooooong, and made me lose interest in the game. But Nick at the Ludoquist made it so easy and QUICK, that I just couldn’t wait to start playing. And as soon as we finished, I wanted to play it again. And you know what? We bought it. This is definitely one of the ‘try before you buy’ games, which I strongly recommend to you, seeing how many copies can be found put up for sale online.

9/10

Matt’s Thoughts 

I was apprehensive of this one at first. After watching a 45min how  to play video on YouTube, I fell asleep 30mins in and couldn’t remember much before we played. However, the Game Guru at the game cafe we went to (Ludoquist, Croydon), was able to teach us the rules in about 10 mins and off we went without too many rule clarifications needed throughout the game. After about 90mins of play, we had built a sprawling city and I had lost horrifically. However, I loved playing this game. You really do feel like you are working together to build a city and creating networks of resources. There is pretty much no luck in the game and only a little hidden information, so this could be quite a competitive game, with certain crowds. Even with more players there shouldn’t be too much down time as you get to do an action everyone’s turn, allowing you to set up things for your turn. This game had little features adapted from other games which come together to create something truly unique. Can’t wait to ply this again!

9/10

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