Gloomhaven vs Scythe | Which Board Game Is Better?

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Gloomhaven and Scythe are both excellent games and as you will see there are quite a lot of differences between them. However, if you are on the fence on which one to buy then we will look at both.

In Gloomhaven vs Scythe you find out what the differences are and which game will best suit you and your friends. You’ll be able to make an informed choice and have hours of engaging fun as you play through your new games.

Your choice on which to buy will purely come down to which game fits best with what you want to play. Gloomhaven is a dungeon crawling campaign based game seeing you play 1-2 hours per dungeon you explore. The entire campaign will last for years. 

Whereas Scythe is a repeatable game where you will need to strategize to beat your opponents and claim leadership over Eastern Europe. Each game will last 90-120 minutes and will have the same objective and story.

First off let’s take a look at the differences between Gloomhaven vs Scythe.

TitleGloomhavenScythe
DesignerIsaac ChildresJamey Stegmaier
PublisherCephalofair GamesStonemaier Games
Release Date20172016
Players1-41-5
Age14+14+
Playtime (m)60-12090-115
StyleCoopCompetitive
ExpansionsYesYes
ComplexityMedium/HardMedium/Hard
CampaignYesNo
Gloomhaven vs Scythe

Table of Contents

  1. Gloomhaven
  2. Scythe
  3. Conclusion

Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is an epic dungeon crawler cooperative game for 1-4 players and follows the classic dungeon and dragons storyline. You are a band of mercenaries who have arrived in the city of Gloomhaven to seek fortune and fame.

The game has a storyline that will run throughout your campaign. When you start there will be items, scenarios and even new characters you will meet as you unlock them. 

Each scenario you play will be a tactical skirmish with a specific goal for you to complete. You might have to defeat all the enemies or loot a chest. You won’t find out until you embark on the quest.

The scenario has flavor text to start you off and explain the next story and what your objective is. It will also have instructions on how to set up the scenario which comes in the form of multiple rooms. You get 30 different floor tiles that you can build the rooms with, giving each scenario a unique layout. On top of that there are 155 overlay tiles for things like chests, barrels, rocks, traps, and tables which can also be put onto the floor tiles. These are obstacles and features to the room.

Once completed you will get more story to read out filling in the blanks and possibly unlocking more scenarios for you to play. Typically you will need to choose your direction.

That is if you are successful of course. This is a hard game and you will find you may fail a few times before you understand all the rules and how things play out.

You will also find that your choices make a difference to your campaign. Some scenarios will be closed to you if you make certain choices. So be careful which path you wish to take.

Once you have finished a scenario you can either go on to the next scenario or return to Gloomhaven. Here you will be able to rest and buy items. You may also trigger city events which will also give you choices and depending on your choice you will resolve them accordingly – good or bad.

Similarly to the city events, as you travel between scenarios and/or Gloomhaven you may have road encounters. These work in the same way and will require resolution depending on your choice.

Your endeavors will be reflected in the town of Gloomhaven’s prosperity. As it increases you will be able to level up your characters and buy more items to help you in your quest. Thus enabling you to fight bigger and meaner foes.

This is a great game that will keep you enthralled for many hours over many years. There are ways in which you can bring in and take out players if your group changes for any reason.

It also has a great solo option and is in my 20 best solo board games at number 4. However, the campaign is designed to playthrough once and once only. Things will change during the game and items will be unlocked that are not designed to be undone.

Saying that, once you have unlocked a scenario you can play any scenario you like over and over again. You will not gain from the scenario though or read the flavor text at the end. That is kept for the campaign.

This is a good point to talk about the quality and theme. The theme is great with flavor text that is really well written and gives the player a feel of the world they are in. Sometimes the texts can seem a little out of place and this is to be expected as the idea of the players having choice makes it impossible to know which order you will be playing the scenarios.

The graphics and artwork are superb and the build quality of the game itself is amazing. You also have 18 miniature characters to play with, although some of these won’t be available until they are unlocked. You start with a choice of 6 characters. Brute, Cragheart, Mindthief, Scoundrel, Spellweaver, Tinkerer.

Each of these (and any of the other characters) are absolutely unique and have their own strengths, weaknesses and character. They also each have their own player mats and deck that you can build to increase their abilities.

There are reset packs and stickers that you can buy. These are designed to allow you to reset the game back once played so you can play through again if you wish. Like the Cephalofair Games Sinister Fish Gloomhaven Removable Sticker Set for example.

Seriously though, there is so much to play through in this game you will be kept engaged for a very long time. Superb theme and great gameplay that will have you all working together to tactically defeat the monsters and gather the loot.

Pros

Coop
Campaign based story
Great leveling up system
Well balanced game
Lots to discover
Every character has different attributes

Cons

Long to set up and pack down
Complex to learn

Scythe

Scythe on the other hand is a more traditional board game where you will set the game up, play through, and someone wins. You’ll then rinse and repeat.

It is a competitive game where each player is a faction within a 1920’s alternate reality. You are fighting to gain land across Europe and establish yourself as the leader. This will require popularity and careful control of your resources.

This includes meeple workers and cool dieselpunk mechs. It is a strategy game where each faction has its own unique characteristics that you will need to embrace in order to win.

Each player has a faction mat and player mat specific to their faction. The faction mat holds the Mechs at the beginning of the game as you will need to release them into play before you can use them.

The player mat has four different columns on which you can place your action token. Each column has a top and bottom and a building on it. Unlocking the building provides a benefit every time you play that column.

During a turn you can take the top action, the bottom action, or both as long as you have the resources to pay their cost. The idea is to do both if you can afford it, however you may wish to not do this.

Each column’s top actions are bolster, produce, move, or trade. The bottom actions are upgrade, deploy, build, and enlist.

Each players turn should take the following sequence:

  1. Place your action token on your player mat in the column you wish to activate.
  2. Take the top action
  3. Take the bottom action

The board is made of hexagon spaces over the map of Europe. Each faction has a home base and there are 6 tunnels that enable a player to move through to another tunnel. 

At the center of the board is a special space depicting a factory. During setup factory cards will be drawn from the deck. The number is decided by how many players there are plus 1. So in a 4 player draw 5 cards.

The first person to arrive at this space will pick up the 5 factory cards and may select 1 from them. The second person to arrive will get to choose 1 from 4 and so on. Each following player will get less to choose from. So being the first gives you the pick of the crop.

Once picked these cards will be placed on the right hand side of your player mat and give you another column with top and bottom actions that you can choose to play.

A popularity track on the board records this for all players. The higher your popularity the more you will get coin rewards at the end of the game for each star you have, plus each occupied space, and every two resources.

At the bottom of the track there is a bonus tile space. This allows you to add a bonus tile at the start of the game. At the end you will gain coins depending on the structures. For example, each building next to a tunnel will gain you additional coins.

You will see there are four spaces for the factory, objective, combat, and encounter cards.

There is also a triumph track that will record your accomplishments. This may be how many times you are victorious in combat, or if you have deployed all your worker meeples, or gained the highest popularity. 

As you hit these triumphs you can place a star in that space. Once a player has placed their 6th star token then the game immediately ends. 

This game has combat and resource management and you will need to think very strategically if you want to win. What resources will you generate, where will you prioritize your efforts: deploying mechs, gaining resources, deploying workers.

At the end of the game you will add up your score for coins in your hand, star tokens placed, every territory controlled (factory counts as 3), every 2 resources, and the structure bonus tile. Whoever has the highest score wins the game.

This game’s graphics and artwork are stunning and the components are really well made. You have little plastic faction leaders and Mechs which look great. The quality is excellent.

The game also has a good solo version for those who like playing solitaire. It is number 13 in my 20 best solo board games article.

Pros

Competitive
Unique factions
Great strategy game
Fantastic theme and artwork
Great expansions
Good replayability

Cons

Not much combat despite the cool Mechs
Map never changes

Conclusion

These are two epic games that could both sit well in your board game collection. Which one you should choose I think will come down to the decision of whether you want the cooperative campaign story style that will go on for a long time. Or a game that requires heavy strategy and will have you battling it out with your mates for many hours to come.

If you want the campaign then Gloomhaven, for strategy then Scythe. My personal choice here is Gloomhaven as this game will give me the continuing discovery of the story whilst I gather my wealth. I personally also prefer cooperative games as I would rather be fighting a common enemy side by side than head to head. But that is just me.

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