Gloomhaven vs. Descent Board Game: Key Differences To look For

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Despite advanced graphics and interactive games being developed in recent times, board games often have a good place in our hearts. Individuals feel more engaged in board games with the feel of various characters, cards, and their stakes. Almost 44 percent of adults in the United States still feel that board games can be a great choice to play. 

Gloomhaven and Descent are two unique premium board games that come with customized and multilevel gaming offering users a video game sort of feel in the board game itself. Each of these can be a great pick for enthusiasts. However, comparing them can bring about a certain conclusion to make a choice.

Distinguishing the strategy

Gloomhaven is a fantasy-themed game where players have to go through combat-based levels with increasing difficulty as the level increases. There are 95 scenes in this game.

Whereas, Descent is a both-sided game- the hero side and the overlord. Here, heroes attempt to win over the boss monster while the overlord attempts to stop them. Each quest has a different map and thus has various traps, events, and treasures. 

Which of these have an intriguing game method?

Gloomhaven comes with a large set of stakes to use. Due to the huge set, it can be played directly from the map book, scenario book, and rules book. It can be played as an app-driven game, but it is not mandatory to use an app to play.

Compared to Gloomhaven, Descent is an app-driven game where players are mandated to use apps to drive the game forward. The advantage is that the chances of errors get drastically reduced. 

Number of heroes- Which supports more players?

Gloomheaven has a large set of heroes and monsters to choose from and unlock in later levels of the game. It allows up to 17 heroes to come to play with a lot of monsters to constrain. However, the number of players can be up to 4 only. 

On the other hand, Descent can lead up to 4 heroes and thus 4 players to play. For a smaller number of players, it can be a better pick.

Marking out the Intriguing Powers 

Gloom haven comes with a large number of power cards. While some can be accessed right from the first level, the player needs to cross a certain level to access some other advanced weapons. 

However, Descent comes with a set of powers like magic swords, enchanted armor, healing potions, and many more. A player can acquire any number of powers; however, a few can be held at a time.  For instance, a player having two swords cannot hold another sword since the two hands are occupied. 

Tiles shape and sizeWhat’s their game size?

The tiles in Gloomhaven are hex tiles, implying those shaped in a hexagon shape. They are bigger in size, accompanying more grids. This makes it easy to build a level.

Descent comes with smaller square and rectangular tiles, making mass customization of levels possible. 

OrganizationShelving them after use

Gloomhaven comes with a large number of items. What makes it more enticing is that it comes with organizers for all items which makes it easy to store the game safely. Cards come with different organizers, while characters come in specialized organizers. The tiles are larger and thus come stacked. 

On the other hand, Descent comes with a limited set of cards compared to Gloomhaven. The stakes often come in boxes. The tiles here are smaller, leading the player to create yet more customized levels. These come stacked in the box. 

PriceWhich is worth for money?

Gloomhaven comes at a price of around $120, which is considered high for some people. However, the game’s size and quality make some feel that every penny is worth it. 

Different versions of Descent come with different price tags; the latest version is priced at around $80, which is very less compared to that of Gloomhaven. 

Does Luck Factor work?

The Luck factor does not form the entire game in both cases. While the number that arrives on the device is purely out of luck, the players can still plan to make strategic moves to proceed in the game forward.  

Cost of Water Moves

The movement in water is the same in both games. Any character takes 2 points to move one tile forward in water depicting that it is difficult to move in the water. 

Characters in Descent can shrink when required and then get placed as big characters in any end time. 

Proportions of Cards

In layman terms, Gloomhaven comes with two sizes of cards. The larger cards consist of those like scenario cards, retirement cards, road cards, city cards, and many more. Some little cards are also accompanied for reasons like powers and potions. 

Fascinatingly, Descent game’s latest version, Journeys in the Dark, comes with at least four sizes of cards. Based on their relevance in the game, For instance, the player cards are large, while the power and action cards are medium-sized. The potion and life cards are tiny. 

Let’s Tabulate it 

Here we tabulate the crucial difference between Gloomhaven and Descent to comprehend them in layman terms:

A single-sided game with 95 different scenes.A both-sided (heroes and overlord) dungeon crawler game 
Comes with almost 17 heroes and allows four players. Some characters appear on reaching a certain level in the game.Comes with 4 players/heroes, which can be accessed from level 1.
With a huge collection of props like shrubs and tables, the game is heavy and intriguingIt is a comparatively lighter game ensuring simple and smooth gameplay.
This game may or may not obligate the use of a game app.(available in the app stores)It needs the implementation of game app (available in app stores)
Costs around $120 implying it to be a costlier optionThe upgraded version costs around $79.99 making it a budget option

Our Verdict

While both the games need the players to move to a position and attack the monster, Gloomhaven is undoubtedly heavier. Descent is a straightforward game with easy interpretation. For this reason, the character development in Gloomhaven is evidently better. 

Furthermore, gloomhaven can seem faster because it turns out to be interesting as the game goes on. If you are a lover of board games without financial constraints, gloomhaven can be your take-in. 

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