Gloomhaven Triforce Guide – Build & Strategy – Locked Class

emily mini profile pic By Emily

The Elementalist (codename Triforce) is a ranged spellcaster from the Gloomhaven locked classes. He is a master of the elements who bends them to his will to damage multiple monsters at once. This Gloomhaven Elementalist guide focuses on playing as an area of effect, damage focussed Elementalist who basks in ultimate power!

Elementalist AoE Damage Guide Structure

This article is a complete guide to playing a Gloomhaven Elementalist that excels in casting area of effect spells.


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The Elementalist guide covers all levels from 1-9 and evaluates each card for how well it fits with this build.

This Elementalist guide follows this structure:

  • Why an Elementalist AoE Damage build?
  • Elementalist AoE Damage strategy
  • Level 1-9 cards and decks
  • Elementalist Perks
  • Elementalist Items
  • Elementalist Enhancements
  • Elementalist Experience
  • Elementalist Combos
  • Elementalist Names
  • Conclusion

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

Gloomhaven Elementalist class board and mini
Elementalist class miniature and character board

Why an Elementalist AoE Damage build?

Because I love the image of my Elementalist screaming “Ultimate Poweeeerr” as they throw spells into a group of monsters and watch them all recoil!

That’s the main reason anyway.

It was also the build that worked best for my party. I was playing alongside single target aficionados, so it helped to have someone in the party weakening monsters before they got to them and picking off those monsters with only a few hp left. Then my teammates didn’t need to waste their epic abilities picking off the stragglers.

While the abilities deal low damage, when that damage is multiplied by the number of hexes or targets affected by the spell, it actually amounts to quite a lot. When you add elements into the mix, that damage of course increases!

Elementalist Strategy for the AoE Damage build

The Elementalist is only as good as his elements. Clue’s in the name, really!

If you start out at level 1 with no perks to increase your element generation, it always feels like there aren’t enough elements in the room. At higher levels with more element perks you have plenty.

He’s also pretty squishy so he needs to be well away from the swinging blows of the monsters. But not too far away because he needs to be in good positions and range to make the most of his hex and multi-target abilities.

How do we play to make the most of our Triforce?

Rolling element modifiers

A nifty way to generate additional elements is by taking advantage of your modifier deck. For every monster you hit in a hex in an area of effect damage-dealing ability, you draw a new modifier. How wonderful if some of those just happen to be rolling elements!

Increase the chances of drawing rolling elements by slimming down your deck and adding them in through your perks. Then enhance AoE abilities with advantage! You’ll be swimming in elements.

Of course, drawing an element and drawing the element you want is still due to chance, so don’t gamble your next turn on it! But, it is a nice way to get more elements in the room and give you options and extra boosts to your damage.

As a general guide, different elements are consumed for different effects.

  • Fire – damage bonus, wound, retaliate
  • Ice – stun, immobilize, shield,
  • Air – push, increase range, pierce, add target, jump
  • Earth – add target, poison, immobilize, heal,
  • Light – muddle, retaliate, pierce, recover a discarded card
  • Dark – curse, instant vanquish

Generate and consume in the same turn

Each turn you’re basically looking at doing two things.

  • Generating elements
  • Consuming elements from the previous turn

Try not to view your turns as pairs where on one turn your generate and the next turn you consume. Then you start again with the next two turns, generate, then consume. Otherwise, you’ll only be dealing decent damage every other turn, which isn’t great.

Granted, at low levels, you don’t really have much choice in this. You gotta do what you gotta do.

But, at later levels you can consume and generate in the same turn. Make the most of it!

Positioning is key

As a ranged AoE caster, positioning is key. You need to be in range and in the perfect spot to fill up all your hexes!

I recommend always keeping a decent amount of Move abilities in your hand. Also, adding a Jump enhancement to a staple Move will really help you get where you need to be.

Sometimes moving sideways is just as important as moving forward.

Potions and items!

In later levels (especially after level 7) , a stamina potion will help you to get back an amazing card that can turn the tides of any scenario.

There are also some incredible items that you or your team mates will find along the way. Hopefully you’ll find them yourself so you don’t need to buy them back from the shop if your team mate sells them on! (That no trading items between players rule is frustrating sometimes!)

Master the elements

At the start of our journey as an Elementalist we start with Earth, Air, Ice and Fire.

As we level and our Elementalist powers grow, we start to dabble in Dark and Light.

Then we build a deck that instead of trying to create all the elements for variety and options, we want more Dark to go alongside our other elements to boost our most powerful card.

Elementalist AoE Damage card analysis

All cards in Gloomhaven can be good, depending on the circumstances, party composition and class build. I’m looking at the Triforce cards with these things in mind:

  • Area of Effect abilities
  • Multiple target abilities
  • Damage boosting abilities

As I create the deck at each level, I’ll also be looking at three other attributes to make sure we can do our thing!

  • Movement
  • Element generation and consumption balance
  • A decent number of low initiative cards

Elementalist cards

The Elementalist has 29 cards in his deck from level 1 to level 9. There are no unique card types in the Elementalist’s deck that you won’t find in any other classes’ deck.

Level 1 Elementalist cards

A hand limit of 10, 10 level 1 cards. Perfect to grab and go and just try out the class.

How well do these cards fit with the AoE damage focussed build?

Formless Power

Elementalist Formless power card
Elementalist Formless power card

Top ability

Single target with a shorter default range than the ideal of 3 (like the majority of our other ranged abilities). We can of course boost it with any element which does give us some nice flexibility but even maxed out it’s a hit for 4, range 4. Good for level 1, but expensive.

Bottom ability

This is very tasty. A +1 to every monster hit in an multi-target ability is amazing.

We’re looking for damage boosting cards and we’ve got one, right at level 1. And it’s persistent too.

It represents way better value for consuming an element that the top ability does! But you’ll still need to make sure there’s an element to consume every time you want to use it.

The trickiest thing with Formless Power is the timing of its play. Because it’s a Loss and we have a hand limit of only 10, we don’t want to play it too early and exhaust ourselves. So save it for a big AoE ability to make the most of the +1 on every monster!

Overall Formless Power card rating

The bottom ability is a great booster and can add up to a decent amount of extra damage. But until we’re ready to use it, we have a single target non-loss top.

Frigid Torrent

Elementalist Frigid Torrent card
Elementalist Frigid Torrent card

Top ability

Where is the range? Oh wait. It’s melee. Nope.

Bottom ability

Up to 9 damage ability, which generates ice and air and gives us an experience point. It’s really nice. But. And it’s a big but. It’s a loss.

Overall Frigid Torrent card rating

With a bottom loss ability, we really need a decent reusable top to keep us busy until we can use the loss. But with Frigid Torrent, we don’t. We have a melee ability. And if we’re in melee range, the best thing to do in this build is run!

This card doesn’t work well for this build.

Ice Spikes

Elementalist Ice Spikes card
Elementalist Ice Spikes card

Top ability

Muuch better! Now we have a multi-target reusable. Yes, it’s got a low damage value, but we can boost it with fire.

And would you look at that?! A wound symbol. This is the ability that keeps on giving! +1 damage each turn for the poor souls skewered in an ice spike. So don’t be fooled by that low +1 base damage. This baby is going to be doing an additional 3 damage each turn.

And just to top it off, an experience point for being epic.

Bottom ability

A single target big hitter doesn’t align with the Triforce we’re building, but it’s a nice one! Hitting for 5 at level 1 is pretty good, it’s ranged, immobilize stops your monster from moving and you get a couple of elements and experience to boot.

As losses go, it’s not too bad. You’ll always find a use for it if you really need it in the final room.

Overall Ice Spikes card rating

We’re all about the top ability here. Ice Spikes will be an absolute staple in your hand. You just need to make sure you can create fire.

Infernal Vortex

Elementalist Infernal Vortex card
Elementalist Infernal Vortex card

Top ability

Infernal Vortex is a fun Loss to use. It’s not 100% perfect because it only works at range 2, but we can always move away afterwards!

It is dependent on being in the perfect position like most of our abilities, so doesn’t always do the amount of damage you hope for. But say you only hit two monsters, that’s still +8 damage! Plus you get a fire, air and experience.

Bottom ability

A reliable way to generate ice and move at the same time. Very cool. Hah!

Overall Infernal Vortex card rating

A good multi-target top Loss, a super quick 17 initiative and a reusable move 2 that gives us ice. Nice.

Lava Eruption

Elementalist Lava Eruption card
Elementalist Lava Eruption card

Top ability

Like Infernal Vortex, but with lower damage and a wider range. It’s amazing how many monsters you can reach with a range 4! It works especiaslly well with something like Formless Power, a power potion or an item to boost the damage.

Because of it’s wide-reaching range, it’s not unreasonable to hit 10+ monsters with Lava Eruption. At that scale, even a boost of +2 can mean you’re causing 30 damage across 10 monsters. It feels epic!

Bottom ability

A nice move 2 that creates Air. Cool beans.

Overall Lava Eruption card rating

That top is incredible when you’re in the right place and can boost it. Until then, a Move 2 with Air will serve you just fine.

Pure Augmentation

Elementalist Pure Augmentation card
Elementalist Pure Augmentation card

Top ability

It’s single target and needs elements to boost it to anything decent. But if you have both earth and ice available it is a reusable 5 damage. That’s not too shabby for level 1.

Bottom ability

Funny how a Move 3 looks amazing to our level 1 Elementalist!

But those boosts are what make it super useful. As a new Elementalist, you might feel that using an element for a +2 Move is expensive, but it’s so worth it if it can get you into the right spot to get more monsters with your AoE.

Overall Pure Augmentation card rating

Two reusable abilities which can consume any of the four main elements you have at level 1. You’ll most likely use it for the Move over the damage, but it’s helpful to have the option.

Raw Enhancement

Elementalist card Raw Enhancement
Elementalist card Raw Enhancement

Top ability

Raw Enhancement is like Pure Augmentation, just with the elements in different places. A small but actually pretty big change.

Raw Enhancement consumes fire as one of it’s damage boosters. If you have other damage boosts competing for fire (ahem, Ice Spikes!) then you may want to take Pure Augmentation instead so there is less competition for the elements, especially when you can’t generate them very easily.

Bottom ability

The same element balance stands here. If Ice and Earth are rarely used in your hand for damage, then you don’t mind so much using them to boost your move.

Overall Raw Enhancement card rating

Nice to have the option to take Pure Augmentation or Raw Enhancement depending on your deck. Of course, we may just want to take both until better options come along.

Shaping the Ether

Elementalist card Shaping the Ether
Elementalist card Shaping the Ether

Top ability

Single target, weak, needs boosts. But at least we have options with the boosts.

The thing is, it’s that element balance issue again. We aren’t great at generating elements at level 1, so we need to make sure when we’re using them, we’re using them effectively.

But, it does have Stun. And that can be hugely helpful. We can also boost our damage, Push or make 2 target (though, 2 targets of 1 damage is still only 2!).

Overall, it’s not amazing. But we’ll get an experience point just for using it, with or without an element, and experience is hard to come by!

Bottom ability

Whaat?! Don’t you take my damage away! Nope. No deal. I’ll find other ways to get my elements thank you very much.

Overall Shaping the Ether card rating

With our persistent bottom Loss action from Formless Power for that +1 damage boost when we consume any element, we can’t afford to have another persistent loss in our hand.

The top ability is also a bit underwhelming.

Stoking Hail

Elementalist card Stoking Hail
Elementalist card Stoking Hail

Top ability

So a slightly higher damage with stun than we got on Shaping the Ether. But we need to use the element to get the experience point here. It’s ok.

Bottom ability

Fire! We want that. Nice to generate some fire while we trot across the room.

Overall Stoking Hail card rating

A lowish initiative, Fire generation and a Stun ranged ability make this a decent card to have in your hand.

Tremulant Cyclone

Elementalist card Tremulant Cyclone
Elementalist card Tremulant Cyclone

Top ability

So we start with a base damage of 3 across 3 hexes. But we can boost this to 6 with Air, and 9 if we boost with another element and Formless Power. That’s pretty good output.

It can’t beat lava eruption for potential but it’s reusable!

Bottom ability

A move with Earth generation. We don’t have many abilities that need Earth at level 1 so it’s a good wild element to have around for boosting abilities like the top of Formless Power and Pure Augmentation.

Overall Tremulant Cyclone card rating

That 26 initiative is really helpful, plus we need all the element generation we can get. The top ability is pretty useful too.

Level X Elementalist cards

We can choose to include the level X cards in are starting hands, even at level 1. So let’s see what they have to offer!

Elementalist level X cards - Brilliant Flash, Encompassing Shadow and Malleable Evocation
Elementalist level X cards – Brilliant Flash, Encompassing Shadow and Malleable Evocation

Brilliant Flash

Top ability

For level 1, we don’t have any specific need for Light. But, that Light element can be used by the any element boosts on the top of Formless Power and a heal is always useful to have as an option. Especially as we’re squishy!

Bottom ability

As we’ll often be at the back, we won’t be in the monster’s faces when they drop their loot, so I can see why we have a Loot 1 option. However, we’re way more likely to use the top of this card.

Overall Brilliant Flash card rating

Not totally aligned with what we’re building here, but we can find a use for a heal and Light.

Encompassing Shadow

Top ability

I feel like this card is here for later levels or in case you’re playing alongside a Dark user. Keep it out of your hand for now.

Bottom ability

Disadvantage on all hits against you is pretty cool, but really you shouldn’t be taking hits in the first place! Just move out the way!

Overall Encompassing Shadow card rating

Not for early levels.

Malleable Evocation

Top ability

So many options! That’s how to sum up this card. It’s incredibly flexible, whatever elements you’ve got available. But that’s also the main problem with it. At level 1, we don’t have spare elements flying around!

The top ability has the potential to be a 4 damage ability across two targets that Wounds, Immobilizes and Poisons. You’ll pay a heavy price for it though, and it’s Range 2 not 3.

But I don’t think it’s meant to be used that way. I think it’s there to give you tactical options depending on what you need in your situation. But we’re all about damage!

Bottom ability

Same as the top half, with this Move 2, you can choose what you need.

I’d say that you’re unlikely that you’re unlikely to consume Fire for the move 3 because it’s too useful to cause damage elsewhere.

But the Jump is great to see, the Heal self is also great for bad situations and the Shield is handy if you’re stuck somewhere you don’t want to be! But we really want to use our elements for damage as much as we can.

Overall Malleable Evocation card rating

A real toolbox in one card. But it’s expensive to get decent damage from.

Level 1 Elementalist build

So for our level 1 deck we’re looking for a nice mix of high and low intiative cards to help us move into position and then move out again. We want Aoe damage abilities, multi target abilities, a balance with our element creation and consumption and enough Moves that we don’t get stuck!

Of course, at level 1 we only have 13 cards to choose from for our deck of 10, but let’s see what we can do.

Level 1 Elementalist deck

Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 1
Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 1
  • Ice Spikes
  • Formless Power
  • Infernal Vortex
  • Lava Eruption
  • Pure Augmentation
  • Raw Enhancement
  • Shaping the Ether
  • Stoking Hail
  • Tremulant Cyclone
  • Brilliant Flash

Of the cards we could choose from at Level 1 and X, I’ve left out Malleable Evocation (we don’t have many spare elements), Encompassing Shadow (we don’t need Dark right now) and Frigid Torrent (melee focussed reusable and an AoE loss).

Level 2 Elementalist cards

Elementalist level 2 cards - Boiling Arc and Crystallizing Blast
Elementalist level 2 cards – Boiling Arc and Crystallizing Blast

Boiling Arc

Top ability

Do you want to be standing in that grey hex so close to all those monsters? I don’t!

It is AoE, but it’s a melee ability so isn’t aligned with what we want. Especially when the other card on offer at level 2 is so perfect.

Bottom ability

Ooh, a reusable Move 4! That would be super helpful. But look at that buff. Retaliate 2. We don’t want to be taking damage to deal it.

Overall Boiling Arc card rating

Melee focused so not a good fit.

Crystallizing Blast

Top ability

Ooh yes! A ranged AoE which also generates Ice for us. Look at that 7 hex area! So cool. It turns that paltry 1 damage into 7 instantly if you can get a monster in every hex.

And that’s only the beginning of it. There’s a lovely enhancement dot on both the damage and the range.

There are loads of enhancement options for Cystallizing Blast. Wound is a good way to keep doing damage over time. A nice way to tick down those monsters. Use it early when they’re all clustered together and to make the most of Wound.

Even if each monster was only affected by Wound for one turn, that’s 14 damage. And it’s likely it will do way more than that.

Alternatively, you could enhance with Curse, which will get 7 null damage cards into the monster modifier deck and spare your party from significant damage.

Bottom ability

A Move 4 with a buff that’s a bit more useful for us. A Shield will help us if we’re in a dire situation. But really, you’re going to use the top of this card most of the time.

Overall Crystallizing Blast card rating

Yes please. Give me that top ability!

Level 2 Elementalist build

What to pick up

Crystallizing Blast. Boiling Arc is too melee focussed.

What to drop

The card least aligned with damage dealing is Brilliant Flash. Plus, we can create an Ice element from Crystallizing Blast which is more useful to us that Light, and we can add in a move 4 instead of the loot 1.

Level 2 Elementalist deck

Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 2
Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 2
  • Ice Spikes
  • Formless Power
  • Infernal Vortex
  • Lava Eruption
  • Pure Augmentation
  • Raw Enhancement
  • Shaping the Ether
  • Stoking Hail
  • Tremulant Cyclone
  • Crystallizing Blast

Level 3 Elementalist cards

Elementalist level 3 cards - Burial and Chain Lightning
Elementalist level 3 cards – Burial and Chain Lightning

Burial

Top ability

This ticks a lot of boxes for us. It’s AoE, damage focussed and has a great range. When boosted with Earth and Dark, we’re looking at a 6 x 3 damage of 18. And that’s without any other boosts like Formless Power or items.

You’ll want to save it for the right time because it’s a Loss. But no worries, we have a decent bottom ability we can use in the meantime.

Bottom ability

A reusable damage dealing ability on the bottom of a card is incredibly helpful. It’s single target, but it doesn’t consume any elements and generates Dark for us.

At level 3, the only use we have for Dark specifically is on the top of this card! If we’re smart, we can use a stamina potion on the turn we play Burial to get it right back into our hand so that we can use the top boosted with Dark on our next turn. Or we can take a short rest and hope we don’t discard it!

Until we’re ready to use the top of Burial we can consume Dark on the top of Formless Power if it’s not in persistent play.

Overall Burial card rating

Damage dealing abilities on the top and bottom. Great to have a reusable bottom damage ability in our hand!

Chain Lightning

Top ability

Another great multi-target ability! We’re being spoiled at level 3!

With all the element boosts on the card and getting a monster with each available hit, we’re looking at a damage of 14. It’s not as high as the 18 on the top of Burial, but we have more flexibility with the positioning of the monsters. Plus, we have a Pierce of 2 to help us get through Shielded monsters.

Bottom ability

And here’s where we can get the Light element from to boost the top ability. We can use the same trick with the stamina potion to generate Light with this ability, then get the card back and use the Light to boost the damage on the top in your next turn.

The Heal 3, range 4 is an upgrade on the Heal from Brilliant Flash with a greater range and it’s useful that it’s on the bottom for those turns when we don’t need to move.

Overall Chain Lightning card rating

It’s a valid choice for an AoE Elementalist if your group lacks heals. However, you may miss that Dark element when you get to level 7 and unlock a powerful card that can use it!

Level 3 Elementalist build

What to pick up

For our damaged focussed AoE build, it’s Burial.

What to drop

At the moment, we’re carrying an ability that we never use – the bottom of Shaping the Ether. Yes, the top is good for how versatile it is, but it’s also expensive to use well and we’ve just picked up an ability with higher base damage.

Level 3 Elementalist deck

Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 3
Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 3
  • Ice Spikes
  • Formless Power
  • Infernal Vortex
  • Lava Eruption
  • Pure Augmentation
  • Raw Enhancement
  • Burial
  • Stoking Hail
  • Tremulant Cyclone
  • Crystallizing Blast

Level 4 Elementalist cards

Elementalist level 4 cards - Gravel Vortex and Primal Duality
Elementalist level 4 cards – Gravel Vortex and Primal Duality

Gravel Vortex

Top ability

Gravel Vortex is melee focussed and while it would be very cool to do 2 damage to up to 6 monsters at once, I really wouldn’t want to be surrounded by them! Unless I was flying and they couldn’t touch me!

It does generate Air and Earth though.

Bottom ability

Two elements for a Loot 2 boost seems like an expensive trade to me.

Overall Gravel Vortex card rating

Melee and loot. Not a great fit for us.

Primal Duality

Top ability

2 target, pretty high 5 damage base plus it generates Fire and Ice, both useful elements. It’s a loss so we need to see that what’s on the lower half of the card is going to be useful for the rest of the time.

Bottom ability

Move plus Dark and Light. Nice! Now we don’t need to do the short rest or stamina potion shuffle with Burial to get the Curse boost from Dark.

We can use Light on the top of Formless Power to boost it. Until level 7 that is. Then you’ll be very grateful for Dark and Light on this card!

Overall Primal Duality card rating

This card really shines at level 7 onwards. But is useful in the meantime, especially with that 15 initiative!

Level 4 Elementalist build

What to pick up

Primal Duality.

What to drop

Raw Enhancement or Pure Augmentation are the standouts at Level 4. We’re picking up a Move so we can replace one of those bottom moves.

Viewing these as enhanced Move cards rather than damage cards, removing Pure Augmentation becomes the obvious choice to drop because we aren’t going to want to use Air or Fire to boost a Move when we can use them to boost the damage on Ice Spikes and Tremulant Cyclone instead.

Level 4 Elementalist deck

Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 4
Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 3
  • Ice Spikes
  • Formless Power
  • Infernal Vortex
  • Lava Eruption
  • Primal Duality
  • Raw Enhancement
  • Burial
  • Stoking Hail
  • Tremulant Cyclone
  • Crystallizing Blast

Level 5 Elementalist cards

Elementalist level 5 cards - Obsidian Shards and Winter's Edge
Elementalist level 5 cards – Obsidian Shards and Winter’s Edge

Obsidian Shards

Top ability

Multi target, yep, and at the range 3 we like. However, base damage of 2 isn’t amazing and we need get Fire and Earth to add on the additional 3. it is possible with an enhancement on the bottom of Stoking Hail, but that’s our only non-loss Fire generator which we’ll want for Ice Spikes instead.

Bottom ability

We don’t have many uses for a Shield unless we’ve gotten in a little too close for comfort. But what we do have use for is Ice and Dark! Dark coming along with another element is the perfect set up for our best card at level 7.

Overall Obsidian Shards card rating

The top is weak when it’s not boosted, but it does keep us at range 3 and does 4 damage across two monsters. The 36 initiative isn’t the lowest, but it’s not too high if we want to go before some monsters.

Winter’s Edge

Top ability

A base damage of 5 is great unboosted. It’ll help us get though some shields even without the Pierce boost.

Bottom ability

Nice to see another Fire generation, though, Light less so. We just don’t need it for anything.

Overall Winter’s Edge card rating

Good to see a top ability that can help us deal with Shielded monsters.

Level 5 Elementalist build

What to pick up

The toughest choice yet. Both can be really useful.

Obsidian Shards just nudged it for me because the elements on the bottom are amazing for level 7 onwards.

What to drop

Raw Enhancement. With a top damage output of 2 across 2 targets on Obsidian Shards, we’re beating Raw Enhancement now and we don’t need another ability competing for Fire consumption.

Level 5 Elementalist deck

Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 5
Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 5
  • Ice Spikes
  • Formless Power
  • Infernal Vortex
  • Lava Eruption
  • Primal Duality
  • Obsidian Shards
  • Burial
  • Stoking Hail
  • Tremulant Cyclone
  • Crystallizing Blast

Level 6 Elementalist cards

Elementalist level 6 cards - Eye of the Hurricane and Simulacrum
Elementalist level 6 cards – Eye of the Hurricane and Simulacrum

Eye of the Hurricane

Top ability

Such an interesting loss ability! Heal an ally but then deal the damage! It’s a fun one and can deliver a lot of damage when your poor ally is surrounded.

The Ice, Air and an Experience point are nice too.

With the 4 range on the healed ally and then an additional range 2 for those nearby, it’s a range 6. That’s huge.

It’s low damage though, and a loss.

Bottom ability

A base Move 3 is still pretty good for us even at level 6! But we do have better uses for Fire and Air rather than the +3 Move and Jump boosts.

Overall Eye of the Hurricane card rating

With a lower Move that we likely won’t want to boost unless we have spare elements from modifiers and a top Loss, it’s not looking great.

Simulacrum

Top ability

Super flexible! Or is it? To make the most of it, you’ll need those element modifier cards coming from your deck pretty regularly. And that’s the beauty of this one, it can use any elements you throw at it. However, the odd extra elements floating around are used by Formless Power to boost whatever else we’re up to.

Bottom ability

So with Formless power, we already have one persistent Loss in our deck. We can’t handle another one really without being exhausted too soon. It’s basically a meat shield that gives you access to different positions to cast from.

Overall Simulacrum card rating

Flexiblity at a high cost and a summon that isn’t a huge help. I could see this summon being interesting for a melee focussed build though.

Level 6 Elementalist build

What to pick up

I suggest going back to level 5 and grabbing Winter’s Edge. It’s got reliable element generation for us, and a decent base damage ability.

What to drop

Winter’s Edge’s top is a good upgrade to Stoking Hail’s top in terms of damage output. We’ll miss the Stun, but we gain Pierce as an upgradeable option.

Same with the bottom ability. We’ll miss the Move, but we gain a Heal 2 and a Light. If we use the bottom in the turn before Ice Spikes, we can get the Wound boost and consume the Light for a Formless Power boost.

Level 6 Elementalist deck

Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 6
Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 6
  • Ice Spikes
  • Formless Power
  • Infernal Vortex
  • Lava Eruption
  • Primal Duality
  • Obsidian Shards
  • Burial
  • Winter’s Edge
  • Tremulant Cyclone
  • Crystallizing Blast

Level 7 Elementalist cards

Elementalist level 7 cards - Pragmatic Reinforcement and Vengeance
Elementalist level 7 cards – Pragmatic Reinforcement and Vengeance

Pragmatic Reinforcement

Top ability

A support centered heal which isn’t our focus, but it’s pretty good and offers an experience point too. Great ability for a support Elementalist.

Bottom ability

A lower ranged damage option is always nice to have in our hand. Fire for a double Poison and Wound is good too.

We’d likely rarely use the + 2 damage because we have a better use for Dark from the other card on offer.

Overall Pragmatic Reinforcement card rating

A great support ability on the top and nice to see an damage dealing option in the lower half.

Vengeance

Top ability

This is what it’s all been about! Just wow.

Those monsters will be gone before they even get a chance to hit us! And all because of a non-loss card too!

Everything we do now is about getting Vengeance into play and boosted as often as possible. With stamina potions we can play this card many, many times in a scenario!

It’s not even difficult for us to meet the Dark and one other element requirement because we have Light and Dark from the Move on Primal Duality or the Shield on Obsidian Shards. Both actions we can take with no problem at all.

We’ve also got Dark generation on the bottom of Burial.

And to top it all off, there’s the option to add another hex! It’ll cost you a pretty penny, but is so worth it.

Pair Vengeance with a low initiative ability to get those monsters before they have time to scatter.

Bottom ability

It says something about a Move 3 with Retaliate. But I forgot there was an ability here!

Overall Vengeance card rating

It’s all about the top here. It’s just so powerful. You allies will want to help you knock off those normal monsters as quickly as you can!

Such an amazing card. It feels too powerful really. Everything is so much easier after Vengeance. It’s like you’re playing a different game. But does that make it boring? Not to me! It always feels cool to play!

Level 7 Elementalist build

What to pick up

Vengeance.

What to drop

Now that we have Vengeance, we will be playing quite differently with significant focus on getting that card into play as often as we can. That means we need to be in the right places at the right time with Dark and another element.

With that in mind, we can remove cards that served us well earlier. Looking to our level 1 cards, ideally we want to keep all those with movement because we will never use the Move bottom ability on Vengeance and so we can’t afford to lose another Move.

That puts Ice Spikes in the running for removal. The top has the same AoE as Venegeance, but Vengeance is more powerful. The bottom loss has a single target damage power that Winter’s Edge gives us as a reusable.

We drop Ice Spikes.

Level 7 Elementalist deck

Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 7
Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 7
  • Vengeance
  • Formless Power
  • Infernal Vortex
  • Lava Eruption
  • Primal Duality
  • Obsidian Shards
  • Burial
  • Winter’s Edge
  • Tremulant Cyclone
  • Crystallizing Blast

Level 8 Elementalist cards

Elementalist level 8 cards - Elemental Aegis and Volatile Consumption
Elementalist level 8 cards – Elemental Aegis and Volatile Consumption

Elemental Aegis

Top ability

This is a great card for a melee Elementalist! All those Shields from elements. 6 shields for an entire round is amazing.

Bottom ability

Another perfect ability for an Elementalist that’s on the front lines regularly.

Overall Elemental Aegis card rating

A fantastic card for a different build. Especially with 14 initiative too.

Volatile Consumption

Top ability

We already have a persistent Loss card in play with Formless Power that gives us a bonus to our damage. Volatile Consumption offers us 1 damage on one monster within Range 2. But usually we’re at range 3 and Formless Power does +1 on the whole action meaning a lot more on an AoE ability.

Bottom ability

A Move 3 with Jump is very helpful and the Move boosts are great. But we can use our elements dishing out damage instead.

Overall Volatile Consumption card rating

Doesn’t really offer us anything amazing. We have much better cards already in our hand.

Level 8 Elementalist build

What to pick up

Go back to level 7 and get Pragmatic Reinforcement. It gives us a decent top heal card option incase our group composition changes and we’re really lacking heals and we can still use the lower ranged ability to keep our damage output up.

What to drop

Nothing. The deck is the same as Level 7. Enjoy the extra 1 HP and perk from leveling up!

Level 8 Elementalist deck

Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 8
Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 8
  • Vengeance
  • Formless Power
  • Infernal Vortex
  • Lava Eruption
  • Primal Duality
  • Obsidian Shards
  • Burial
  • Winter’s Edge
  • Tremulant Cyclone
  • Crystallizing Blast

Level 9 Elementalist cards

Elementalist level 9 cards - Eternal Equilibrium and Ethereal Manifestation
Elementalist level 9 cards – Eternal Equilibrium and Ethereal Manifestation

Eternal Equilibrium

Top ability

Well isn’t this a lovely one! Every monster within range 3 sounds like the perfect range!

It sits nicely between the range 2 of Infernal Vortex and the range 4 of Lava Eruption, but it’s better. Why? Because it’s reusable! And we can add Curse and Muddle with the right elements.

Speaking of elements. To set this one up, we’ve got Dark and Light from the Move on Primal Duality which Vengeance is also hungry for.

But we also have a lone Dark from the bottom of Burial which can nicely power the Curse bonus. Hitting 5-10 monsters with this a couple of times will easily max out the 10 Curses allowed in the monster modifier deck!

Bottom ability

The heal 4, range 4 here is really great. We’re highly unlikely to ever use the Retaliate and Shield boosts though, because we’ll be using the top of this card whenever we can!

Overall Eternal Equilibrium card rating

Fantastic top. Sprinkling that many Curses into the monster deck will seriously help out your group. And we get to bring the pain to a whole bunch of monsters too!

Ethereal Manifestation

Top ability

The hovering ball of energy! It drops elements wherever it goes. If only we had had access to this at level 1! At level 9, we’ve already built a deck of element generating abilities that feed our element consuming abilities.

Plus it’s another persistent Loss and we already have one in Formless Power.

Bottom ability

At first glance this looks awesome. But on a closer look, it’s not so great. These elements pay for effects that aren’t amazing. So you wouldn’t really plan to generate ice just for the 1 loot or Fire for the 3 damage.

Instead, it’s more like a way to use up elements that are floating around with nothing better to do and we have Formless Power to scoop up one of them per turn.

Overall Ethereal Manifestation card rating

I love the idea of a little ball sprinkling elements around and the really late initiative is awesome to guarantee going last. However, at level 9, we are actually ok for elements because we’ve been smart with our card choices and perks.

Level 9 Elementalist build

What to pick up

Eternal Equilibrium.

What to drop

Ooh tricky, tricky. So let’s see what Eternal Equilibrium replaces. It’s a reusable damage ability very similar to the top losses of Infernal Vortex (4, range 2, bottom creates Ice.) and Lava Eruption (1, range 4, bottom creates Air).

Both of these cards come with a Move and element generation though. So which Element can we live without? Ice or Air?

We only use Ice for the Pierce on Winter’s Edge and a Shield on Crystallizing Blast. But we can create Ice from Obsidian Shards Bottom (though it’ll be used by Vengeance) and Crystallizing Blast’s top.

For Air, we use it for the same pierce on Winter’s Edge and the +1, Push on Tremulant Cyclone’s top. Right now, the only other way we can create Air is from the Infernal Vortex’s Loss (unless you have an element enhancement). So Air is harder for us to generate than Ice.

So, Infernal Vortex is up for the cut. Plus, it only has a range 2, compared to Lava Eruption’s range 4 which means it’s more difficult for us to use comfortable and it hits less monsters.

We drop Infernal Vortex.

Level 9 Elementalist deck

Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 9
Elementalist AoE Damage deck level 9

So here’s our final deck. We can set Vengeance up with either the bottom of Obsidian Shards or the bottom of Primal Duality. This really helps to get it into play regularly when we use stamina potions to get it back into our hand. We also have decent element generation so we’re not overly reliant on the element modifiers we flip. If anything, we could do with some more movement, but we’ll be moving little and often to generate elements and we can always use the standard Move 2 if we just need to get through a cleared room before a short rest.

  • Vengeance
  • Formless Power
  • Eternal Equilibrium
  • Lava Eruption
  • Primal Duality
  • Obsidian Shards
  • Burial
  • Winter’s Edge
  • Tremulant Cyclone
  • Crystallizing Blast

Elementalist Perks

Gloomhaven Elementalist Perks sheet
Elementalist perks sheet

Usually, with a class, the best thing to do is get those negative modifier cards out. And to a certain extent, that’s still true for this Elementatlist build. But we will want to add some elements in too. Especially at early levels, we really need their help!

So here’s the order I suggest.

  1. Remove two -1 cards
  2. Remove two -1 cards
  3. Replace one -1 card with on +1 card
  4. Add three +0 Fire cards
  5. Add three +0 Air cards
  6. Add three +0 Earth cards
  7. Add three +0 Ice cards
  8. Replace one +0 card with one +2 card
  9. Replace one +0 card with one +2 card
  10. Add one +0 Add Target card
  11. Add one +1 Wound card
  12. Replace two +0 cards with one +0 Fire and one +0 Earth card
  13. Replace two +0 cards with one +0 Ice and one +0 Air card
  14. Add one +0 Stun card
  15. Add two +1 Push 1 cards

Elementalist Items

Elementalist starting items
Elementalist starting items

Only starting items here, so no spoilers. There are of course great items to find along the way and you’ll know which ones work well with your play style when you find them!

Eagle-Eye Goggles

30 gold

Get Advantage on those turns when you really want to do a decent job and avoid that dreaded zero damage card!

Boots of Striding

20 gold

We are slooow! These boots go some way to helping with that!

Piercing Bow

30 gold

With our low damage values over a wide area Shields can mean that our weak AoEs like Crystallizing Blast just bounce right off. Having a bow to ignore the Shields is a big help.

Minor Stamina Potion

10 gold

To help us get the cards back that we love! Best for those big AoEs! And at level 7, carry two of these at least!

Minor Power Potion

10 gold

A +1 damage to our entire action is awesome! A nice add on to our abilities that hit loads of monsters.

Elementalist Enhancements

Enhancements can be very expensive. So for the most value, we generally want to enhance abilities that will be with us for a long time and are reusable.

The Elementalist has one very expensive enhancement that is completely worth it. Save up for it in advance so you don’t retire before you can afford it!

Additional Hex on Vengeance

216 gold

This is the enhancement you really want! Get that 216 gold ready for when you get to level 7 so you can put that sticker on right away!

Any element on Lava Eruption or Tremulant Cyclone

150 gold

Both of these cards will be with you right up to level 9 and retirement. While 150 gold might seem like a lot for any element, it gives you a lot more control over what you can do.

With an any element enhancement on Lava Eruption, at early levels you can use it to power either Winter’s Edge or Formless Power.

With the same enhancement on Tremulant Cyclone, you can power Obsidian Shards, Burial and Formless Power.

Whichever you put it on, at later levels you can use it to generate Dark to power Vengeance.

Curse on Crystallizing Blast top

200 gold

With a 7 hex AoE, this is a quick way to get loads of Curses into the monster’s modifier deck. While not technically aligned with a damage focussed build, the damage mitigation here is well worth it. It’s like the Cragheart’s infamous Curse Tornado.

Jump on Crystallizing blast bottom

75 gold

A cheaper enhancement this time, but a really useful one. We don’t have access to Jump freely and consistently as we level and sometimes you really need it so you don’t get stuck behind a wall of monsters!

+1 Move on Lava Eruption or Tremulant Cyclone

30 gold

Cheap and cheerful to put a spring in your step! Whichever card you don’t enhance with an any element sticker, get an extra movement on it. We’re generally quite slow so every little helps!

Elementalist Experience

It may feel like we’re leveling slowly to begin with because a lot of our experience comes when we use element boosts. But it speeds up as we get better at that and our deck has more synergy.

Elementalist Combos

Obviously the combos change as you level but here are a few sequences that I liked to use.

Level 3

Turn 1

Bottom of Formless Power to allow us to consume any extra elements we create through modifiers for +1 damage to the whole action.

Crystallizing Blast top to generate Ice.

Turn 2

Move on Stoking Hail to generate Fire.

Top of Pure Augmentation to consume Earth for 3 damage.

Turn 3

Top of Ice Spikes, consume Fire for +1 damage and Wound.

Bottom of Lava Eruption Move to generate Air.

Turn 4

Top of Tremulant Cyclone, consume Air for additional damage.

Bottom of Infernal Vortex to Move 2 and create Ice.

Level 7

Turn 1

Bottom of Formless Power to allow us to consume any extra elements we create through modifiers for +1 damage to the whole action.

Use bottom of Primal Duality to move into a good position for using Vengeance on your next turn and to generate Light and Dark.

Turn 2

Vengeance to consume Light and Dark and take down 3 monsters.

Use bottom of Obsidian Shards to Shield Self.

Use Stamina Potion to get back into hand Primal Duality and Vengeance.

Turn 3

Vengeance to consume Ice and Dark and take down 3 more monsters.

Move 2 using Primal Duality to generate Light and Dark.

Use second Stamina Potion to get back Vengeance and Obsidian Shards into hand.

Turn 4

Vengeance to consume Light and Dark and take down 3 more monsters.

A move 2 with an element to push forward and generate whatever element you want for your next ability.

Elementalist Names

We’re a Savvas Elementalist that’s mastering the elements and bending them to our will. With our rocky skin with a glass-like chamber in our chest that contains our energy cores and coming from a society that values power above everything else, it brings to mind golem-like names with a magical finesse.

  • Zagglar
  • Braklo
  • Corelan
  • Vaklar
  • Rhodga
  • Bramask
  • Vobru
  • Grozlin
  • Zindal
  • Breddag

Conclusion – Gloomhaven Elementalist AoE Damage Guide

The Elementalist is not the easiest class to pick up, especially at the earlier levels. But stick with it and as your character grows and masters the elements, you will really feel his power grow. That level 7 Vengeance card really is something else!

Just think ahead and generate and consumeelements on each turn and you’ll be just fine.

I hope you have as much fun playing the Elementalist 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 other upgrade ideas, check out my 15 Awesome Gloomhaven Accessories & Upgrades article

I’ve created build guides for all the Gloomhaven starting characters. If you enjoyed this Elementalist guide, check them out – ranged build guide for the Craghearttank build Brute guideTinkerer crowd control build guide, Spellweaver AoE guide and Mindthief Stunning Damage build.

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

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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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