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Gloomholdin’ Is A No-Table-Needed Shrunken Down Version of Gloomhaven

3 Minute Read
Jun 28 2021
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“I love Gloomhaven, but it’s so hard to find time or to get a group together.” Sound familiar? Here’s your answer.

Before we get too far into this, I want you to re-read the title of this article, because I worry you didn’t really fully register what I said. Today, I will be presenting to you, a version of Gloomhaven, which does not even need a table. The entire game, played with a small handful of cards, is designed in such a way that you can play while keeping all of the cards in your hand. What a glorious day to be a board gamer.

Gloomholdin’ is designed by Joe Klipfel, who has a habit of designing games designed to be played in hand. He’s also designed a game called Griphold Tower, which is essentially a tower defense game. And like Gloomholdin’, it can be played entirely through by holding the cards in hand. His website, Mythfield Games, has many more games designed in a similar fashion. And while Griphold Tower is also very impressive, that’s not the focus of today.

Gloomholdin’ in broad strokes is probably best explained by watching the following video. If you know Gloomhaven, you’ll recognize all the same elements, albeit with a very new design. And if you’re looking for a more in-depth look, this video details the full How to Play.

Essentially, Gloomholdin’ relies on the player organizing, stacking, and layering the cards in their hand in certain orientations and positions to indicate the current state of the game. As the player moves around the map card, it will be pushed further into the pile of cards, using the red arrow on the top of the front-most card, to point to whichever hex the player currently occupies.

In this example, Joe is using the leftmost red arrow to indicate he’s in the starting hex for the scenario.

If you’re currently thinking that seems awfully risky to be holding the entire gamestate in your hand, never fear! You can just as easily play on the table, which a much smaller footprint than a full set of Gloomhaven requires.

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The game is currently in active development. But I highly suggest you follow the progress on the WIP Forum Thread or the Board Game Gook page, where the rulebook, scenario book, and cards are all available for free as print-n’-play. The game is meant to be played solo, but there’s also a 2 player variant in the works.

If you’re like me and think this is just a great project and what to learn more, I suggest giving a listen to Board Game Design Lab’s interview with Joe, also just follow that podcast anyway. They are great and I’ve been a listener for a while now.

And before you go worrying that this is all for naught, since this will inevitably be hit with a copyright claim and get taken down, quell those fears!

“I want to say a huge thank you to Cephalofair Games for giving their blessing to post Gloomholdin’ for free download, and for granting permission to use original Gloomhaven art, characters, lore, etc. Please be respectful of Cephalofair Games’ generosity and only use Gloomholdin’ as a free print and play game for personal use.”

We’re in the clear! I’m so excited to be following this project and I love the idea behind it. I’m a big fan of microgames, but also of huge sprawling RPG-style board games. And somehow, through the dichotomy of it all, I’ve found a game that satisfies both!

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Suffice it to say, I’m not the only one paying attention.

Thanks for reading!

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