Gloomhaven Cragheart Guide – Ranged Build

emily mini profile pic By Emily

The Savvas Cragheart was the second Gloomhaven character I played. It is so much fun. There are many build options, but this Cragheart build guide focuses on the ranged build.

Cragheart ranged build guide structure

This article is a complete guide to a ranged Cragheart build from level 1 to level 9. For each level look at the cards available, assess each one for usefulness to a ranged build and then choose the deck for that level. 


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The guide follows this structure: 

  • Why a ranged Cragheart build? 
  • Interesting Cragheart traits
  • Level 1 – 9 cards and decks
  • Cragheart perks
  • Cragheart items
  • Cragheart enhancements
  • Cragheart experience
  • Cragheart combos
  • Cragheart names
  • Conclusion

This guide does not contain campaign spoilers or items beyond starting items. 

Cragheart miniature gloomhaven
Savvas Cragheart character board and miniature

Why a ranged Cragheart build?

One of the reasons I love the Cragheart is that it is a versatile character to play. Ranged, melee, healing and even some tanking abilities allow for a lot of options. 

This versatility is brilliant because you can go any way you like with your character. But it does make sense to focus your build on one style of play to gain the benefits of synergies between your cards. You don’t want to be a Cragheart of all trades but master of none. 

I think the Cragheart is most at home as a ranged damage dealer so that’s what this build guide focuses on. s

Interesting Cragheart traits

Direct damage

The Cragheart has several cards which use phrasing like, “targets take 1 damage.” No modifier cards need to be drawn to deal the damage because it is something that just happens as a consequence of the ability being carried out.

The advantage of this is that the damage is dealt to the monster directly, regardless of whether they have a shield or not. Nice! 

Obstacle creation and demolition

Creating obstacles and destroying them is an interesting aspect of the Cragheart class. Its ability to use Earth to manipulate the map to deal damage and force movement in particular directions is incredibly powerful. 

As a ranged build Cragheart, you may find yourself creating obstacles in one turn so that you can destroy them in the next to cause damage. 

Friendly fire

The Savvas take great pride in their ability to master the elements and Savvas who fail are exiled. 

Even when a Savvas has mastered an element, the element is still a natural force and so may be difficult to control. 

Take our ranged build Cragheart who draws on Earth, for example. 

A boulder may shatter into a few too many pieces, running through a room may damage the floor and falling rocks may not land in the right places. Just hope that your allies know you have good intentions at heart!

Cragheart cards

There are 30 ability cards to choose from for the Cragheart from level 1 to level 9. With a hand limit of 11 cards, you’ll only be using just over a third of the cards at any one time. 

So let’s make those cards count! 

Level 1 Cragheart cards

Level 1 is where you get to look through a lot of cards at the same time and really get a feel for the Cragheart as a character. For each card at this level and all other levels, I evaluate it from a ranged Cragheart perspective. 

Avalanche

Cragheart Avalanche card
Cragheart Avalanche card

Top ability

For level 1, a melee of 4 with a two hex area of effect, as well as an additional +1 damage if you consume Earth, this is a pretty good ability. But it’s a loss. So you pay for it. 

And you only get the maximum benefit if the monsters are exactly where you need them to be and you have Earth to consume. 

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But is it worth it? Not for a ranged Cragheart build, no. If you find yourself in a pinch with monsters in your face, you could always use the basic 2 melee instead. And you won’t lose your card in the process. 

Bottom ability

Creating obstacles is a unique Cragheart ability, and it makes for an interesting build option. But as a ranged Cragheart, creating obstacles isn’t an important focus for you. At least at level 1 anyway. It’s a shame to lose the create Earth bonus but you’d be better off with a different ability. 

Overall Avalanche card rating

A melee ability and a create obstacles ability. Leave this card out of your starting hand. There are better choices available for your ranged Cragheart at Level 1. 

Backup Ammunition

Cragheart Backup Ammunition card
Cragheart Backup Ammunition card

Top ability

An extra target for each of my ranged damage-dealing actions? Yes, please! And an experience point each time? Extra yes! Yes, it’s a loss, but it’s worth it for the four uses you get before you lose it. 

Just think of the possibilities with the extra target. Play it before you use Forceful Storm and you get to deal 3 damage on another target, disarm them and get an extra experience point. 

You can make the Dirt Tornado area of effect even larger. Or use it with Massive Boulder to throw two massive boulders instead and do adjacent damage to two groups. 

Bottom ability

Nothing very exciting with a move 3. But let’s face it, you’re going to use the top ability every time!

Overall Backup Ammunition card rating

Put this card in your hand. It is a vital building block for a ranged build. Yeah, it has an initiative of 77, but pair it with a lower initiative card if you really want to do something quickly that turn. Otherwise, going late in the round is kind of our thing so you just get used to it.

Crater

Cragheart Backup Ammunition card
Cragheart Crater card

Top ability

Crater is a solid, one target ranged ability. The Push with experience bonus is nice especially if there are traps to push monsters into for additional damage. 

But with Earth elements being difficult to come by at lower levels, you may not want to waste one on this Push. 

Bottom ability

Just to clarify, if you consume Earth, the damage is not issued twice, only once.

This ability could be great if you want to run through, or away from, a group and deal some damage as you go. Given that top abilities are usually damage dealing and lower abilities are usually movement, this ability is a nice way to do some additional damage with your second action. 

It’s not so good if your allies are in the way too. Friendly fire always issues groans from my group. So it’s a very situational ability and a loss too. 

Overall Crater card rating

The top ability is ok. The bottom ability is ok. In the right situations, this card is slightly better than ok. Given the other choices we have right now, this card makes it into our starting hand but we will swap it out at later levels. 

Crushing Grasp

Cragheart Crushing Grasp card
Cragheart Crushing Grasp card

Top ability

This top ability is a solid option. The 3 melee damage is fine in case you find yourself at close range. Immobilize is useful. But the thing that’s really great about this ability is that it generates Earth. Earth is hard to come by at level 1. 

Bottom ability

A loot ability is absolutely not essential to collect some gold. However, a 1 hex ability can come in very handy. If you use Unstable Upheaval to target all adjacent monsters and wipe out a bunch of them, then follow up with this ability you’ll feel pretty rich. 

Overall Crushing Grasp card rating

Crushing Grasp is an ok card choice. The ability to create Earth is much needed at level 1 and even though you’re concentrating on ranged abilities, a melee ability is useful.

The 35 initiative is your 3rd fastest card available at level 1, so it’s useful to have in your hand for that. 

Dirt Tornado

Cragheart Dirt Tornado card
Cragheart Dirt Tornado card

Top ability

Dirt Tornado is an awesome ability and a must for a ranged Cragheart. To make the most of it, you want to make sure you have Backup Ammunition out and Earth in the room. Then it goes from dealing 7 damage across 7 hexes, to 16 damage across 8. 

The area of effect is pretty big so unfortunately you may catch some of your allies in that area. You’ll need to judge if friendly fire is worth it. 

The earlier you can play Dirt Tornado in a room, the less chance that too many of your allies have got mixed up with the monsters and that the monster group has broken up too much.

The other advantage to playing it early is that you get to make the most of Muddle early on in the scenario. 

This card really comes into its own when you upgrade it. Add Curse as the upgrade, and suddenly all those monsters are now Cursed and Muddled. 

To top it off, you can use Dirt Tornado over and over again because it’s not a loss card. 

Bottom ability

You may need this move to catch up with your group. The Cragheart is slow, not just in initiative, but in movement too. So you may find yourself using this move 3 if Dirt Tornado doesn’t work for a situation you find yourself in. 

Overall Dirt Tornado card rating

Dirt Tornado is a great card for us. At level 1 it’s pretty good at weakening a bunch of monsters right from the start. But when you add the Curse upgrade, it becomes a Curse Tornado force to be reckoned with.

Yes, it’s initiative 82, but you are playing the Cragheart so expect to go late! Put this card in your hand and keep it there. 

Earthen Clod

Cragheart Earthen Clod card
Cragheart Earthen Clod card

Top ability

A weaker, longer-range version of Crater, Earthen Clod’s top ability is good for when you first enter a room and can’t reach the furthest monsters. 

If you’re lucky enough to have Earth in the room at an early stage, consuming Earth to immobilize the toughest monster and keep them at bay for another turn is really handy. It leaves you free to focus on other things. 

Bottom ability

A heal is always useful. A heal as a bottom action is really useful. You can deal damage with a top ability from another card and then heal with the bottom ability of this one.

Overall Earthen Clod card rating

With an initiative of 38, Earthen Clod is the Cragheart’s 4th fastest starting card which makes this card even more useful. This card makes it into our hand.

Massive Boulder

Cragheart Massive Boulder card
Cragheart Massive Boulder card

Top ability

Just from the name of this card, Massive Boulder, it sounds like a great fit for a ranged build. And it is! The top ability of 3, range of 3 is just ok. But when you consider the additional direct damage of 1 to everything adjacent, this ability is great. 

Creating Earth seals the deal and makes this ability even better. 

Bottom ability

It may not sound very fast, but a move of 4 for the Cragheart is pretty good. You need this in your hand. 

Overall Massive Boulder card rating

A decent card for our build, with some nice fallout damage and a much needed move of 4. When it’s lined up with the additional target ability of Backup Ammunition you throw two massive boulders at a time. Who doesn’t want to do that?! 

Opposing Strike

Cragheart Opposing Strike card
Cragheart Opposing Strike card

Top ability

As a melee ability with situational hex positions, the top ability is not what we’re looking for in a ranged build. 

Bottom ability

Another melee focused ability. You aren’t planning to be the tank with a ranged build. 

Overall Opposing Strike rating

It’s a shame to lose the 46 initiative of this card (which is actually still quite fast for a Cragheart!). But the abilities are both melee and rely on you being up close and personal with monsters which is what we don’t want. 

For an alternative build that occasionally tanks, this card would be great. 

Rock Tunnel

Cragheart Rock Tunnel card
Cragheart Rock Tunnel card

Top ability

Manipulating obstacles is a great Cragheart ability. But if I want to destroy an obstacle, I’d rather do it by throwing a monster into it using Heaving Swing, dealing them damage and gain experience too. 

But there are odd occasions where destroying an adjacent obstacle helps you with line of sight for ranged abilities and you’ll get an experience point for causing some chaos.

Bottom ability

Imagine your Cragheart jumping from one side of a room to another. Now that’s a sight to behold! The monsters are so in awe that they’ve gone weak at the knees and can’t move. No wonder you get an experience point for looking so epic!

The movement of 5 is the highest movement of all the cards you can choose from at level 1. It’s a loss card but it can help you to run away from a bunch of monsters and stop them from chasing you down. 

Overall Rock Tunnel rating

An initiative of 41 is pretty good for your hand. Both abilities are situational, but both can be useful. 

Rumbling Advance

Cragheart Rumbling Advance card
Cragheart Rumbling Advance card

Top ability

A heal of 4 is pretty good for level 1 and is always handy to have in your hand. But more than that, this ability is one of only five potential create Earth abilities you have at level 1. 

You’ll find yourself dishing out heals because you want Earth in the room even when people don’t really need healing! 

Bottom ability

Another create Earth ability makes up for the slow movement of 2 on this ability. 

Yeah, the friendly fire is a little annoying to your allies. Maybe you can cryptically encourage them to move out of your way when everyone is selecting cards. If they don’t pick up on it, their loss. Literally. 

Overall Rumbling Advance card rating

Fast initiative. A useful ranged heal. Two of the five level 1 create Earth abilities. Seeing as we’ve already left one create Earth out by excluding Avalanche, we want Rumbling Advance in our hand. 

Unstable Upheaval

Cragheart Unstable Upheaval card
Cragheart Unstable Upheaval card

Top ability

This ability has the potential to hit 18 hexes in one turn each for 3 damage. That is insane! 

It does depend on you being in the centre and ideally with no allies in the area, but even so, it’s amazing when you pull it off. Even your allies caught in the way will understand your decision to use it. 

Make sure you save this one for when you can consume Earth, or you’ll only hit a maximum of 6 hexes instead of 18. 

Bottom ability

This ability doesn’t seem worth ever using. Everyone takes 1 damage to gain a shield of 2 for just one round. And it’s a loss. No thanks. 

Overall Unstable Upheaval card rating

Unstable Upheaval is the fastest initiative card we will ever have. So it’s worth considering it in our build on that alone. If the situations don’t play out for you to be able to use the top ability, you can just use the bottom for a standard move 2 and the low initiative.

Level X Cragheart cards

If you’re reading this guide, I’m assuming you’re going to create your level 1 build using both the level 1 cards and the level X cards. So that’s what this build guide uses to form the level 1 deck. 

Cragheart Level X cards - Forceful Storm, Heaving Swing and Nature's Lift
Cragheart Level X cards – Forceful Storm, Heaving Swing and Nature’s Lift

Forceful Storm

Top ability

A great ranged ability with area of effect, Disarm debuff and a nice way to rack up some experience points. A great thing about this area of effect is that it doesn’t deal friendly fire to allies! 

Adding Wind to the room is only useful for Nature’s Lift (which we’re going to leave out of the level 1 deck) so it’s not a priority for you. 

Bottom ability

You’re not a melee focussed Cragheart so this is not a hugely useful ability to you. The only time this would be great is if you used it to boost the top ability of Unstable Upheaval. That could be an impressive combination. Taking it to a potential 5 damage, 16 hex ability. 

Overall Forceful Storm card rating

The ranged ability is good. The lower ability is useful if you plan on doing a melee hit with your other action.

It’s an ok card, so it makes the Level 1 hand. 

Heaving Swing

Top ability

Monster in your face? Pillar nearby? How about you introduce them? 

The top ability of Heaving Swing is an awesome ability for dealing a nice bit of melee damage and getting a monster off you. You get an Experience point for style too.
The additional 2 damage is direct too, so shields will be ignored for it.  

Bottom ability

A small +1 bonus to ranged damage? Yes please. Enough said. 

Overall Heaving Swing card rating 

Useful at range for the +1 bonus, but also handy to have a decent melee ability up your sleeve especially for when there are obstacles around. Definitely worth taking this card. 

Nature’s Lift

Top ability

For a ranged Cragheart build, healing isn’t a priority and you already have a top heal with Rumbling Advance which also generates Wind for you. You don’t need this ability unless your group is starved for healing.  

Bottom ability

The main issue with this ability is that you need Wind in the room for all six actions. Seeing as you only have Forceful Storm that can generate Wind once and then it’s lost, you’re reliant on others to make the most of this card. Even when you do, it only adds 2 range, which isn’t an amazing buff. And it’s a loss too. 

Overall Nature’s Lift card rating

A ranged Cragheart doesn’t need another top heal, you can’t really take advantage of the bottom ability. Leave this card and take a more useful one instead. 

Level 1 Cragheart Build

For our Cragheart ranged build at level 1, we have 22 abilities across our 11 cards. While, yes each card has two abilities, generally speaking, our choice of cards is based on one main ability. 

For a ranged Cragheart we want to focus on abilities which offer ranged damage, ranged damage boosts, a heal just in case and any other unique cards that can help us. 

Cragheart ranged level 1 build
Cragheart level 1 and X build cards

Ranged damage

We have taken all 5 ranged abilities across 5 cards. They are the easy choices. 

  • Crater
  • Dirt Tornado
  • Earthen Clod
  • Forceful Storm
  • Massive Boulder (Creates Earth)

Ranged damage boost

  • Backup Ammunition 
  • Heaving Swing

Heal

  • Rumbling Advance (Creates Earth)

Other cards

From the remaining cards, we don’t want the melee focussed abilities from Avalanche and Opposing Strike. We also don’t need the heal and the Wind bonus from Nature’s Lift. 

So instead, we take: 

  • Unstable Upheaval – yes it’s melee but with a potential 18 hex area of effect. 
  • Rock Tunnel – for the high movement ability.
  • Crushing Grasp (Creates Earth) – for Earth generation.

Level 2 Cragheart Cards

Cragheart Level 2 cards
Cragheart Level 2 cards – Explosive Punch and Sentient Growth

Explosive Punch

Top ability

This is a really interesting ability but it’s situational. You won’t deal the 4 damage if there’s no obstacle to destroy. If you have an obstacle, you also need to be next to it with allies also next to it. 

That is a lot of conditions to meet! 

And it’s a loss too. No wonder you also generate Earth and get 2 Experience for the rare occasions when you manage to use it. 

Bottom ability

We already have a couple of move 4 abilities in our deck. Another would be nice, but not essential. 

Overall Explosive Punch card rating

The 28 initiative on this card is awesome. That would be a welcome addition to the deck. But the top ability is based on a situation that your ranged Cragheart won’t be in very often so it’s not worth it.

Sentient Growth

Top ability

A nice area of effect ability with the ability to also heal any allies in the target area. It makes a nice change for the Cragheart to heal an ally as a by-product rather than damage them!

Note that you do need to hit a monster in at least one of the hexes to heal any allies in the targeted area. 

Bottom ability

This is a fancy move 2 ability. Has a couple of nice bonuses if it works out for your situation. If not, it’s no worse than the basic move 2 action. 

Overall Sentient Growth card rating

It’s good for us to get another ranged damage ability. It’s not fantastically strong, but the bonus heal ability makes it versatile. The initiative is poor so pair it with a lower card if you need to, otherwise enjoy going later in the round after everything has settled.

Level 2 Cragheart Build

What to pick up

Sentient Growth.

What to drop

Rock Tunnel. It doesn’t do any ranged damage or generate any Earth and we can live without the 5 movement. 

Level 2 deck

Cragheart level 2 build

Ranged damage

  • Crater
  • Dirt Tornado
  • Earthen Clod 
  • Forceful Storm
  • Massive Boulder (Creates Earth)
  • Sentient Growth

Ranged damage boost

  • Backup Ammunition 
  • Heaving Swing

Heal

  • Rumbling Advance (Creates Earth)

Other cards

  • Unstable Upheaval
  • Crushing Grasp (Creates Earth)

Level 3 Cragheart Cards

Cragheart cards level 3 - Blunt Force and Clear the Way
Cragheart cards level 3 – Blunt Force and Clear the Way

Blunt Force 

Top ability

This has the potential to be a very powerful melee ability if you have the Earth boost. For us though, it’s not hugely useful. Especially because it’s a loss. I don’t think it’s worth hanging on to just in case you find yourself in a melee situation. 

Bottom ability

Great if you’re playing a supporting tank role or find yourself surrounded by monsters. But the retaliate of 1 isn’t hugely powerful and it only lasts for the round. 

Overall Blunt Force card rating

The melee and close range focus of this card makes it an obvious leave for our ranged build. 

Clear the Way

Top ability

The text on the card is a little ambiguous, is the 2 damage on Clear the Way ranged? According to the FAQs on BoardGameGeek it is.

That makes this card a really interesting one. So long as you have an obstacle adjacent to you, you can pick it up and fling it into a group of monsters and deal splash damage to everyone adjacent to it. Nice!

Consume Earth for a damage bonus and an extra experience too. It’s not even a Loss. So you can fling stuff to your heart’s content and manipulate the map as you go. 

Bottom ability

The move 5 is welcome as a slow-moving Cragheart. The next part is very situational though. There may not be any obstacles and traps for you to move through. Plus, it’s a loss. 

But if you’re in the last room and you want to get to the treasure chest before the end of the scenario, this ability could be perfect! 

Overall Clear the Way card rating

The top ability of Clear the Way is worth taking this card for. The bottom could be useful for dashing to get something you really want at the end of a scenario. I wouldn’t waste the loss earlier on though. 

Level 3 Cragheart Build

What to pick up

Now that we want to manipulate obstacles even more, we want to pick up Avalanche from Level 1 for the create obstacles ability and the Earth generation. But to make room for Avalanche and Clear the Way we need to drop 2 cards. 

What to drop

Get rid of Earthen Clod (weak ranged ability and weak heal) and Crushing Gasp (melee focus, earth generation replaced by Avalanche). 

Level 3 deck

Cragheart level 3 ranged build cards
Cragheart level 3 ranged build cards

Ranged damage

  • Crater
  • Dirt Tornado
  • Clear the Way
  • Forceful Storm
  • Massive Boulder (Creates Earth)
  • Sentient Growth

Ranged damage boost

  • Backup Ammunition 
  • Heaving Swing
  • Avalanche (Creates Earth)

Heal

  • Rumbling Advance (Creates Earth)

Other cards

  • Unstable Upheaval

Level 4 Cragheart Cards

Cragheart level 4 cards - Kinetic Assault and Rock Slide
Cragheart level 4 cards – Kinetic Assault and Rock Slide

Kinetic Assault

Top ability

It’s unusual to see a move 1 at the top of a card. It’s a shame it’s not a higher movement really!

This card would be super helpful on a melee build for those times when you’re frustratingly 1 hex away from a monster. No longer a problem. A little step forward and then, bam! 4 damage! 

Bottom ability

Retaliate is great if you’re on the front lines. Otherwise, it’s a situation you hope not to find yourself in. No point having this ability when your plan is to hurl things at monsters from afar. 

Overall Kinetic Assault card rating

The low initiative and melee focussed abilities on Kinetic Assault make it a fantastic card for melee build Craghearts. Not so much for us. 

Rock Slide

Top ability

What a lovely take on a ranged ability! Create a rock wall and cause damage to anyone in the way!

This ability deals 2 direct damage to everyone too. No need to draw a modifier for this so you can go straight through those shields. 

There is nothing on the card to say that the obstacles you create must be adjacent… So creating three single hex obstacles with an area of effect of 6 per obstacle means the potential to damage 18 monsters and allies. It’ll only deal 2 damage to each one because the damage doesn’t stack for monsters next to multiple obstacles. It’s still worth it. 

With this top ability we also get to create Earth and get an experience point. Brilliant! 

Bottom ability

Finally, a decent movement ability! It’s not a loss and none of our allies will get hurt when we run past them! We just have to run in a straight line. As a big burly Cragheart, once we get momentum it’s difficult to change direction. 

Overall Rock Slide card rating

Take this card. It’s a flexible ranged ability for the deck, has a high movement option and it can generate much needed Earth. 

Level 4 Cragheart Build

What to pick up

It’s an obvious choice. We pick up Rock Slide.

What to drop

It’s getting tough to know what to drop now. Looking at the deck, we still have a couple of melee focussed abilities. The top of Avalanche for example, but it has the ability to generate Earth on the bottom and to create obstacles. 

We also have Unstable Upheaval with the potential to deal massive melee damage to adjacent monsters. Right now, we want more obstacles and Earth more than we want a situational melee ability. So we drop Unstable Upheaval and pick up Rock Slide. 

Cragheart level 4 cards - Kinetic Assault and Rock Slide
Cragheart Ranged Build Level 4 cards

Ranged damage

  • Crater
  • Dirt Tornado
  • Clear the Way
  • Forceful Storm
  • Massive Boulder (Creates Earth)
  • Sentient Growth
  • Rock Slide (Creates Earth)

Ranged damage boost

  • Backup Ammunition 
  • Heaving Swing
  • Avalanche (Creates Earth)

Heal

  • Rumbling Advance (Creates Earth)

Level 5 Cragheart Cards

Cragheart Level 5 cards - Petrify and Stone Pummel
Cragheart Level 5 cards – Petrify and Stone Pummel

Petrify

Top ability

Well that’s an interesting way to create an obstacle. Petrify a monster and turn them into a statue! 

Any instant monster-defeating ability is worth having in your deck. Granted, it won’t deal with elites or bosses, but having one less monster to deal with always a good plan. It’s a loss so save it for later in the scenario when everyone in your party is getting close to exhaustion. They’ll really appreciate it then.

The generate Earth bonus is great too. It’s a nice way to line up your next action. Perhaps throwing the newly formed statue at someone? 

Bottom ability

Nothing hugely exciting about the bottom ability really. We don’t want to put ourselves in melee range too often. But the Immobilize is a nice touch and can help for those few times we do need to step in and take a hit to protect allies. 

Overall Petrify card rating

You’ve got to pick this card up for the immediate monster removal ability, really. Use the movement at the bottom of the card until you’re in a position in the scenario to take the loss of the top one. 

Stone Pummel

Top ability

A situational melee ability is not what we want. It does do 3 damage in each hex so up to 12 damage over 4 monsters in your turn, but we will rarely be in a position to use it. 

Bottom ability

Another great bonus for a melee focussed Cragheart. But as a ranged Cragheart, we want to leave the obstacles alone so that we can throw them at monsters! This ability isn’t for us. 

Overall Stone Pummel card rating

Too melee focused for our ranged build.

Level 5 Cragheart Build

What to pick up

We want Petrify.

What to drop

Given that Avalanche has a top melee loss ability, I think it has to go. It will be a shame to lose the Earth generation and the obstacle creation. But have enough obstacle creation abilities and the Earth generation has been replaced (granted on a loss action). 

Level 5 deck

Level 5 Cragheart Ranged Build
Level 5 Cragheart Ranged Build

Ranged damage

  • Crater
  • Dirt Tornado
  • Clear the Way
  • Forceful Storm
  • Massive Boulder (Creates Earth)
  • Sentient Growth
  • Rock Slide (Creates Earth)

Ranged damage boost

  • Backup Ammunition 
  • Heaving Swing
  • Petrify (Creates Earth)

Heal

  • Rumbling Advance (Creates Earth)

Level 6 Cragheart Cards

Cragheart Level 6 Cards - Cataclysm and Dig Pit
Cragheart Level 6 Cards – Cataclysm and Dig Pit

Cataclysm

Top ability

A fabulous melee area of effect and it’s upgradable too. Yes, it is a loss, but it’s worth it to deal up to 36 damage on one turn. To make the most of it, consume Earth for the extra damage and experience bonus. 

You could always hit and run with this card too. Smash the crowd with this as your first move and then run away with a bottom movement ability. The monsters are immobilized and can’t follow you! 

Bottom ability

It’s always good to have more movement abilities in our slow Cragheart hand. I feel that consuming Earth to move an additional 3 is quite expansive. However, there may be situations where Earth is waning and you need to use it up. 

Overall Cataclysm card rating

The low initiative of 26 on Cataclysm makes it a very useful card. There are only 4 cards with a lower initiative than Cataclysm in the Cragheart’s entire card set. While the area of effect is a melee, it’s very powerful. 

Dig Pit

Top ability

Creating a 2 damage trap on one turn and then pushing a monster into it on another action is a lot of effort for only 2 damage. Yes, you’ll get Muddle on the adjacent monsters, but that relies on them being around. It’s too situational and involves too much setting up to be worth it. 

Bottom ability

I understand that if you’re in a real pickle and need to get away from monster hits that this ability would be useful. But there are better options in your hand featuring melee abilities with immobilize so I just can’t see this ever being used. 

Overall Dig Pit card rating

Traps and invisibility? Dig Pit looks like a card from the Scoundrel deck. It doesn’t fit with the ranged Cragheart we’re building. 

Level 6 Cragheart Build

What to pick up

The melee ability on Cataclysm is brilliant. It actually makes it worth it for those times when you have to go and take a hit to protect allies with lower health. Pick it up.

What to drop

The obvious comparison card for Cataclysm is Dirt Tornado which is starting to look weak at level 6 with a maximum damage of only 2. However, if you have enhanced Dirt Tornado with Curse, then it can swing any situation to your group’s favour.

Sentient Growth is my preference to drop because the 2 damage is looking weak. Only keep it if you are expected to heal in your group. In which case, drop Crater.

Level 6 deck

Cragheart ranged build level 6 cards
Cragheart Level 6 Ranged Build

Ranged damage

  • Crater
  • Dirt Tornado
  • Clear the Way
  • Forceful Storm
  • Massive Boulder (Creates Earth)
  • Rock Slide (Creates Earth)

Ranged damage boost

  • Backup Ammunition 
  • Heaving Swing
  • Petrify (Creates Earth)

Heal

  • Rumbling Advance (Creates Earth)

Other cards

  • Cataclysm

Level 7 Cragheart Cards

Cragheart Level 7 cards - Brutal Momentum and Meteor
Cragheart Level 7 cards – Brutal Momentum and Meteor

Brutal Momentum

Top ability

Brutal Momentum is like Heaving Swing boosted. It gives you an extra push hex along with stacking damage and the obstacles aren’t destroyed in the process (so you can still throw them at monsters!). 

Remember that damage is direct damage too, so it ignores shields and there’s no need to draw a modifier. 

Bottom ability

The bottom ability is also an upgrade to Heaving Swing. It gives you +2 to your ranged damage abilities instead of +1 if you consume Earth. Plus an experience point too.  

Overall Brutal Momentum card rating

A welcome card to see at level 7. As with some of our other cards, 2 damage and +1 to ranged damage have less effect against monsters with higher health. It’s nice to have an upgrade to Heaving Swing. 

Meteor

Top ability

This is an awesome ability with the potential to do 4 damage to 9 monsters and immobilize them all! That’s a potential of 36 damage. And with a base damage of 4, it can actually get through some shields.

However, the hexes need to be empty and within range 3 of you. That’s quite a large opening in the middle of a monster group. How many times have you seen that come up? Hardly ever. 

Plus it’s a loss. We have 6 loss abilities in our hand already and we’re going to find ourselves getting exhausted too soon if we take too many. 

Bottom ability

A good simple move. Shame it doesn’t do any of that additional movement damage we love, but it’s still handy. Jump may help us to shortcut some distance too. 

Overall Meteor card rating

The low initiative of 23 is great. The top ability can deal some serious damage. But how often will we have the opportunity to use it? 

Level 7 Cragheart Build

What to pick up

We take Brutal Momentum. We’ll leave Meteor. It’s awesome but is too situational and we can’t take another loss card in our hand without getting rid of a different loss ability. And they are all better for us than Meteor. 

What to drop

We drop Heaving Swing because Brutal Momentum is an upgrade to it.

Level 7 deck

Cragheart Level 7 Ranged Build
Cragheart Level 7 Ranged Build

Ranged damage

  • Crater
  • Dirt Tornado
  • Clear the Way
  • Forceful Storm
  • Massive Boulder (Creates Earth)
  • Rock Slide (Creates Earth)

Ranged damage boost

  • Backup Ammunition 
  • Brutal Momentum
  • Petrify (Creates Earth)

Heal

  • Rumbling Advance (Creates Earth)

Other cards

  • Cataclysm

Level 8 Cragheart Cards

Cragheart Level 8 Cards - Lumbering Bash and Rocky End
Cragheart Level 8 Cards – Lumbering Bash and Rocky End

Lumbering Bash

Top ability

Unusual to see a Move action as a top ability. It allows you to dash in, smash the monster for 5, generate some Earth and an Experience point, then use a bottom move ability on another card to get out of there. 

Better still, it’s not a loss so you can pair this with any of your other moves and do this several times per scenario. 

Bottom ability

A heal a turn for the next 5 turns is a great ability. We’re not focussing on a healing build, but healing is useful for everyone. 

Overall Lumbering Bash card rating

The create Earth and top movement plus damage-dealing ability of this card is very helpful because we need as much Earth as we can get. 

Rocky End

Top ability

This is a highly situational ability because you need obstacles within range. Granted, you can help create that situation by creating your own obstacles. But even so, it’s melee. It’s a loss too. 

Bottom ability

Rocky End is tied with Rock Slide for our highest movement of 6. It’s conditional and we need to stop next to an obstacle, which isn’t a bad thing for us! 

Overall Rocky End card rating

The top ability has the potential to be great, but there’s no guarantee. It’s also a melee ability. The bottom ability gives us a high movement. Overall Rocky End is an ok card. 

Level 8 Cragheart Build

What to pick up

Right now, we need more Earth so Lumbering Bash is the card for us. We also don’t need another loss ability that Rocky End would give us. 

What to drop

At this stage, Crater is our weakest card. It only deals 3 damage to one target and we have other movement ability options so we drop Crater. 

Level 8 deck

Cragheart Ranged Build Level 8
Cragheart Ranged Build Level 8

Ranged damage

  • Dirt Tornado
  • Clear the Way
  • Forceful Storm
  • Massive Boulder (Creates Earth)
  • Rock Slide (Creates Earth)

Ranged damage boost

  • Backup Ammunition 
  • Brutal Momentum
  • Petrify (Creates Earth)

Heal

  • Rumbling Advance (Creates Earth)

Other cards

  • Cataclysm
  • Lumbering Bash (Creates Earth)

Level 9 Cragheart Cards

Cragheart Level 9 Cards - Blind Destruction and Pulverize
Cragheart Level 9 Cards – Blind Destruction and Pulverize

Blind Destruction

Top ability

A great ability for dealing decent ranged damage to multiple monsters. It has the potential to damage up to 7 if you have one monster in the centre and the rest surrounding it. 

This is pretty common when you enter a new room. Even if not every hex is full, a lot of them are likely to be. The range of 4 helps with making it more usable too. It’s also not a loss so you can use it several times per scenario. 

It’s also worth noting that the splash damage is direct damage which ignores shields. So hopefully you’ll draw high on the modifier and deal a good amount of damage to your main target! 

Bottom ability

A super helpful Earth generation movement. Ideally, you’ll also walk past some monsters on your way and do some bonus damage too. 

Overall Blind Destruction card rating

A really useful card for our build. The top gives you a nice multi-target ranged ability that’s not a loss, and the bottom gives you a damage-dealing movement that generates Earth. 

Pulverize

Top ability

The top of Pulverize is a situational ability. It relies on you having more than one monster adjacent to you and obstacles within 2 hexes that you can push them into. That’s a few too many requirements for this ability to be used all that often. 

It’s a loss too and we don’t want any more of those. 

Bottom ability

An interesting way to get an extra couple of hits and a move. However, the hits are quite low values for level 9 (even if they are multi-target) and you’d need to be in a melee situation to use it. It’s a loss too. 

Overall Pulverize card rating

Two one time, loss abilities on this card. We really don’t need any more of those, especially when neither of them generate Earth. 

Level 9 Cragheart Build

What to pick up

Blind Destruction is a clear choice for a ranged Cragheart. Two useful, non-loss abilities and an Earth generator. 

What to drop

What do we choose for our final card to drop? The obvious thing to do is look back at which Level 1 and X cards we still have and go from there. Backup Ammunition, Dirt Tornado and Forceful Storm are all still really useful cards. 

That leaves Massive Boulder and Rumbling Advance. If you need the healing and are feeling short on Earth generation then keep Rumbling Advance, otherwise drop it. You do have the 5 small heals over 5 turns on Lumbering Bash if a scenario really calls for it. 

Level 9 deck

Cragheart Level 9 Cards - Blind Destruction and Pulverize
Cragheart Ranged build level 9

Ranged damage

  • Blind Destruction (Creates Earth)
  • Dirt Tornado
  • Clear the Way
  • Forceful Storm
  • Massive Boulder (Creates Earth)
  • Rock Slide (Creates Earth)

Ranged damage boost

  • Backup Ammunition 
  • Brutal Momentum
  • Petrify (Creates Earth)

Other cards

  • Cataclysm
  • Lumbering Bash (Creates Earth)

Cragheart perks

cragheart perks gloomhaven
Cragheart Perks

To maximize the conditionals on each ability and the lack of Earth you feel especially in the lower levels, I’d suggest taking a generate Earth perk first.

Then you want to reduce the chances of drawing a poor modifier so you want the three replace one -1 card with one +1 card perks. To keep pesky Curse cards out of your deck, you’ll want to take the Ignore negative scenario effects perk next. Then, if you want some armour, get the Ignore negative items effects perk so you can wear it without penalty. 

Then boost your modifier deck with the +2 Muddle and +1 Immobilize cards. After that, remove the +0 cards to increase the chances of drawing these great modifiers. 

Then, add the next two Earth cards and finally take the Push and Muddle cards. Don’t take the add -2 card and two +2 cards if you don’t want to have a more variable draw deck. 

I’d recommend taking the perks in the following order. 

  1. Add two Earth cards
  2. Replace one -1 card with one +1 card
  3. Replace one -1 card with one +1 card
  4. Replace one -1 card with one +1 card
  5. Ignore negative scenario effects
  6. Ignore negative item effects
  7. Add one +2 Muddle card
  8. Add one +2 Muddle card
  9. Add one +1 Immobilize card
  10. Add one +1 Immobilize card
  11. Remove four +0 cards
  12. Add two Earth cards
  13. Add two Push cards
  14. Add two Wind cards
  15. (optional) Add one -2 card and two +2 cards

Unless you’ve retired a character the maximum number of perks you can have from levelling up and achieving your personal scenario objectives is 13. 

Cragheart items

I’m not going to go into higher level items because I don’t want to spoil anything. Just pay attention to what benefits you most as a ranged build and how you can overcome the frustrations you come across when playing. For example, if (despite your best efforts) you find yourself getting hit a lot, consider taking a shield. 

Cragheart Level 9 Cards - Blind Destruction and Pulverize
Cragheart ranged build items

Boots of Striding

Aww man, I love the Cragheart but it is slow! So, use items to overcome that weakness. 

Buy yourself some Boots of Striding to help you keep up with your companions. They’ll give you a +2 to your movement and they refresh on a long rest. 

Minor Stamina Potion

A Minor Stamina Potion effectively gives you an extra turn per scenario by recovering up to two of your discarded cards.

Minor Healing Potion

A Minor Healing Potion for 3 health is always helpful, especially because with your high health points you’ll be expected to take the occasional hit over squishier allies.

Heater Shield

I’d suggest taking a Heater Shield for the same reason as the health potion – you will be expected to take the occasional hit. It’ll save you one health each use.

Eagle Eye Goggles

Seeing as we’re focussed on a ranged build, the Eagle Eye Goggles will give you a really useful advantage on those crucial ranged abilities that really need to hit. 

Cragheart enhancements

Upgrading your abilities is a fantastic way to get the most from your Cragheart ranged build. If you follow this ranged build guide, you’ll only want to add upgrades to the cards that you’re going to keep to make it worthwhile. 

Add Curse to Dirt Tornado

Such a useful upgrade! As soon as you have 150 gold, spend it to add Curse to Dirt Tornado. The effect is incredible. Up to 7 monsters are immediately Cursed and Muddled. (8 if you use Backup Ammunition to add an additional target)

Every time you encounter a new group of monsters, make it your priority to send a Dirt Tornado their way. Every monster caught in it is now cursed. That means a Curse card is added to the monster modifier deck for each Cursed monster.

Shame the Curse card limit in the monster draw deck is 10! 

As you know, when a Curse modifier is drawn it is immediately removed from the deck. But no worries. Dirt Tornado is a non-loss card, so you can cast it multiple times per scenario. 

+1 Range and Poison to Massive Boulder

From Level 1 to Level 9, you’ll use Massive Boulder frequently for the Earth generation and the directly dealt splash damage. So it makes sense to upgrade this with additional damage and increased range. 

I’d suggest adding the +1 Range for 30 gold first enhancement, and add Poison for your second enhancement at 150 gold. +1 Range may not sound like much, but it can really help you deal damage to groups that are further away from you when you enter a room. 

I suggest Poison instead of a +1 damage upgrade because a +1 damage only benefits you on your turn. Whereas Poison gives everyone in your party a +1 damage against the monster while it remains Poisoned. That can be the difference between a hit making it through a shield or not which becomes more and more important as you encounter higher level monsters. 

Add Poison to Clear the Way

Gained at Level 3, Clear the Way will be with you from then on. Adding Poison to the top ability of this card will Poison all monsters next to the obstacle you target. That can be up to 6 monsters in one go! 

Further enhancements

After these enhancements, look at: 

  • Increasing the range of your abilities
  • Adding Jump, +1 or generate Earth to your move actions
  • Adding Poison to damage

Cragheart experience

You’ll generally pick up more experience when you consume Earth on your abilities. So the key to gathering a lot of experience is making sure you’re setting up your turns effectively. 

Always aim to create Earth and then consume it. Factor this into your card selection on every turn. Always set yourself up to gain as much experience as you can. 

An added extra for experience is Backup Ammunition. It will always help you to pick up some experience – Earth or no Earth. Play it early in the scenario to get 4 points just for doing what you’re good at – throwing rocks. 

Forceful Storm is another great way to pick up experience because you gain 1 point for each monster targeted. If line that up with Backup Ammunition you’ll pick up 3 for each monster, plus 1 from using Backup Ammunition, plus another 1 for having an extra target. 5 Experience from one action is awesome. 

Cragheart combos

Your combos will change from level to level as your cards change. But here are some of my favourites from the level 1 Cragheart deck. 

Forceful Storm (bottom) followed by Unstable Upheaval (top)

Use Forceful Storm to +2 to melee damage this round, then use Unstable Upheaval +3 damage, ideally consume Earth from your previous turn too and deal a +5 hit to every monster within 2 hexes of you! I did this very successfully once and wiped out a load of monsters in one go! 

Backup Ammunition (top) and Massive Boulder (top)

What would you say if I said you can throw two Massive Boulders instead of one? Well you can with Backup Ammunition! 

That means two hits of 3 damage on two separate targets with directly dealt splash damage of 1 on anyone next to them. That’s a potential of 14 targets. 

All you need to do is plan 1 turn ahead and get Backup Ammunition on the table for your next turn. 

Rumbling Advance (bottom) and Dirt Tornado (top)

On your first turn use Rumbling Advance to move within range of Dirt Tornado, line up your area of effect and generate Earth. Then at the start of your next turn, lead with Dirt Tornado to gain a +1 and effectively double the damage you deal. 

If you have Backup Ammunition in play too, you’ll gain an extra target on Dirt Tornado and deal damage to 8 hexes instead of 7 that turn. 

Cragheart names

Just for fun, I thought it’d be cool to share some Cragheart name ideas. 

My Cragheart was called Buried Deep. Other name ideas I had were:

  • Rocky Bouldoa
  • Cobble Stone
  • Terrance Gaia
  • Boulder Dash
  • Bold Over
  • Roc On
  • Core Nelius
  • Granit Grip
  • Geo Crater

Conclusion – Cragheart ranged build

The Cragheart ranged build is so much fun to play. As a giant Savvas it feels really fun to throw boulders, raise the very earth itself to thwart monster plans and destroy obstacles at will. 

I hope you have as much fun playing a ranged Cragheart as I did!

If you love Gloomhaven as much as I do, you might want to check out this 3D scenery set on Amazon designed especially to hold the Gloomhaven tokens.

For more upgrade ideas, check out my 15 Awesome Gloomhaven Accessories & Upgrades article.

I’ve written build guides for all the Gloomhaven starting characters. If you like this Cragheart guide, check out: Brute tank build guide, Scoundrel single target poison guide, Spellweaver Area of Effect guide, Tinkerer crowd control build guide and Mindthief damage with stun build guide.

I’ve also created a guide for the locked Sun class.

More Gloomhaven articles

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Emily
Hi, I’m Emily, the tabletop gamer behind My Kind of Meeple. If this article helped you, I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

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