I am a big fan of solo gaming. Well I am a big fan of pretty much all of it, but I often look for games that I can play solo. A few months back, I was tipped off to the Print and Play game Guildhaven City. The one person who was talking about it was singing its praises. They said that if you like solo games, and you like Gloomhaven, but you do not want all the fiddly-ness then this was the way to go.
If you would prefer to watch this review instead of reading then check it out.
I happen to really enjoy Gloomhaven, and have been, for about a year now, working my way through it with a friend and my wife. My favorite thing about Gloomhaven is the car movement, and action mechanics. It is a really fun puzzle and very different than all the dice based Dungeon crawlers out there, though you can easily argue that the card modifier deck is the same basic thing.
Anyhow, I am not here to talk about Gloomhaven, but rather Guildhaven City.
This game is an unapologetic rip off of the mechanics of Gloomhaven. It makes no bones about it. The difference is that this is a solo game, and instead of a fantasy adventurer you are a hero in the Golden age of comics. As far as the mechanics go it is pretty much the same as Gloomhaven, with the following exceptions. Instead of a modifier deck you use two dice and a chart on the right side of your character board
This chart tells you what your modifier is. The other big difference is that there is a third additional basic action that you can take. For those of you who do not recall, in Gloomhaven you can always choose to move two or to attack two without losing your card. Guildhaven adds a third option of a push, which lets you push an enemy away from you. The only other difference is that you do not have different characters, all with different abilities. Rather you select two decks of cards at the beginning of the game, and that is your power profile. So you are creating your hero, with a decent amount of customization. I am playing with a Strength and Martial Arts hero.
As you play through you use the book itself as your map, and your enemy ability chart. On the right side of the page you have your map, and you actually play on it, then on the reverse side you have the scenario, as well as charts that explain how the enemies will act (based on a dice roll), as well as their health and positioning. Otherwise it is just a simple play and choose your adventure type game. The book tells you when to level up, and when you find items or what have you.
Now, enough explanation. What do I think?
This game is fun. It really accomplishes what it sets out to do; it is very much a Gloomhaven- lite. It has found a way to use the card based movement and combat, but streamline it to a much quicker system. I like that you get to create your own superhero at the beginning of the game, and that there is a good variance in just how your hero operates based on the talents that you select. I also like the addition of the third always available action, I think that is very clever.
I am also a big fan of the portability of this game. I play it on my desk every so often and the whole thing fits in a magic card deck box, plus a small folder. I LOVE that I have everything I need on the two pages in front of me. All the info I need on the left and my map on the right. Awesome.
I also think it has a solid story that keeps you relatively engaged, and at the same time feels a little less disjointed than Gloomhaven’s. Though to be fair that is only because you get so many side quest options in Gloomhaven that my game group has gone way off on a tangent and left the main plot behind for quite some time.
Finally, I think the art in the game book is awesome. I really enjoy it.
The mechanics. Now I know I just said that I like the way it plays, but it must be said that it is a straight rip of Gloomhaven. They aren’t trying to hide it, or pretend that it isn’t, but this was created by someone else and they are just borrowing the mechanics. That is fine, and they pay Isaac Childress full credit, but there it is.
This game is hard. No seriously. It is really hard. I have lost so many times on the first few missions. Though maybe I am just really crappy at the game. Who knows. I for one like a challenge in a game, but this is a bit much.
Also, while I understand that this is a print and play, I do wish that I could download and create some standees for some bad guys and heroes. Right now I use dice to represent the villains and an old-timey looking penny to represent my hero. This is fine, but it would be cool to have the option of printing out somethings a bit fancier. It is probably not totally fair to include this in the bad, but there it is.
Bringing it all together
If you enjoy Gloomhaven, and you like superheroes then this is an excellent print and play for you. It is much faster and simpler than Gloomhaven, though I would not say that it is a better game than Gloomhaven, it is just a lighter. You can set up and play a game in about 30 minutes, and there is a small table footprint.
My villainous thugs don’t read so good
*A great superhero homage to Gloomhaven
*Fast and simple to play
*Solid tactical combat and a solid story
*This is a very hard game
*This is a fun Print and Play, and definitely worth your time.
*If you enjoy this, then you should go check out Gloomhaven