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“In the age after the Demon War, the continent enjoys a period of prosperity. Humans have made peace with the Valrath and Inox. Quatryls and Orchids arrive from across the Misty Sea looking to trade. It is decided that a new city will be built on the eastern shores—a hub of trade and a symbol of many races working in harmony. Each race brings their own specialty to the city, and each race holds a desire for influence over the city by contributing the most to its construction.”
This, the opening paragraph of Founders of Gloomhaven’s bewilderingly dense manual, might mean something to hardcore board gamers—but to anyone who hasn’t played the original Gloomhaven, the current heavyweight champion of board gaming, it’s confusing (to say the least). As you’ll see, confusion and complexity are the order of the day with Founders.
Gloomhaven proper is a colossal package, offering hundreds of hours of dungeon crawling across a persistent campaign that changes the world as players grow. It’s also physically huge, coming in a box with the dimensions of the average London studio apartment and brimming with so much content that most players won’t see a fraction of it. It features an imaginative high fantasy setting that consciously eschews the usual elf/dwarf/orc racial menagerie.
Founders of Gloomhaven, on the other hand, which made half a million dollars on Kickstarter last summer, could not be further from the baroque, sprawling weirdness of its illustrious ancestor. It’s b