Thoughts on Backing Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is the first time I witnessed the hype train powering full steam ahead in a similar vein as I’d witnessed on countless occasions in the video game realm.

The Kickstarter campaign for the second printing of, Gloomhaven, is over and done. Forty thousand, six hundred and forty two backers pledging an incredible $3,999,795 over the course of a mere 28 days. Impressive numbers, in fact, staggering numbers.

The tabletop, dungeon crawling, legacy game, that holds within its impressive boxed frame the promise of so much adventure and play, most will likely never actually see its closing moments, has proved something of a modern day board gaming phenomenon.

For myself, as someone with only a little over twelve months of board game love under my belt since returning to this most incredible of hobbies, Gloomhaven is the first time I witnessed the hype train powering full steam ahead in a similar vein as I’d witnessed on countless occasions in the video game realm. It proved exciting, and my desire to dig deep into the contents of the box when it finally arrives in a couple of months time, and then dig even deeper into the stories and adventure that await, is so tantalising that I can almost taste it on my tongue. And I can definitely feel it in my stomach.

Gloomhaven, for me, appears to be the game I’d always dreamed about as a kid. The sprawling fantasy epic where imagination can run wild and players can become lost in the unfolding action on the table. There are others of its ilk of course, but this one, I don’t know, it just has something particularly magical about it. Perhaps it’s the scope and scale of the game I’ve been drawn in by, or the feeling that it’s a couple of years of D&D packaged in a way that allows us all to embark on these stories with no knowledge of what lies around the next corner. As games go, this one has me excited!

Yet, despite embracing the sort of excitement I once felt for upcoming video game releases, I can’t turn off the niggle of doubt that crackles in the back of my mind like a long tired light bulb.

The hype train over the years has carried some seriously disappointing cargo. I’ve been let down far more often than I’ve had expectations met by the games, and films that have been dropped at my door.  And it’s this that left me in a precariously balanced position as the Gloomhaven campaign countdown neared its end. A $99 dollar game, $109 with shipping for those of us in the UK, is an awful lot of money to drop on a game I’d never sampled. In fact, my only real knowledge of Gloomhaven came from a few YouTube video reviews, and the Kickstarter page itself. Oh, and the masses talking about it in forums and on Facebook pages throughout the board gaming land.

Although I went back and forth, sought reassurance from said forumites and facebookers that the game would live up to expectations, skipped quickly past the doubters for fear of having my mind changed, at roughly 5am this morning, May 2, 2017, the decision was taken out of my hands.The countdown reached zero, the game was funded, and I was buckled in for the ride. Thankfully the early UK end time meant I slept through it rather than pacing the floorboards with a Gloomhaven angel on one shoulder, and a bank account devil on the other.

And now I’m in, I admit to being ridiculously excited again to get my mitts on the game proper. I’m excited for a box that big to arrive on my doorstep, I’m excited to open it, to smell the new carboard and fresh paper (not weird at all), to devour the rulebook, and finally to sit at the table one Summer’s evening with my family, and play. After many years of being crushed by the hype train’s weight of expectation versus actuality, I will attempt to approach the game from a perspective of knowing not everything will be rosy in the Gloomhaven garden, knowing that the game has little chance of being the one I envisage in my mind, but, knowing equally, that even if it manages to reach a portion of my hopes, that it will be a much cherished game.

Roll on August.

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