There are 11 unlockable classes in Gloomhaven. These characters are locked at the start of the game but you unlock one when you achieve your first character’s personal quest. This article looks at all the locked characters in Gloomhaven.
This article reveals all the locked classes in Gloomhaven.
If you want to read about the Gloomhaven starting classes instead, check out my starting character article.
This article reveals more than just the names for each unlockable class. It looks at how they play, what they look like etc.
There are no scenario or campaign spoilers in this article!
If you don’t want to know what the unlockable classes are then look away!
What I cover about each locked Gloomhaven class
For each class, I write a brief overview of the character and what it’s like to play for the most common build. I don’t go into detail about the alternative builds.
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I then look at the damage, experience points, looting, health, initiative, movement, stamina, cards, perks and my overall opinion of the class.
Each class contains photos of the character board, miniatures, cards and perk sheet.
What are the unlockable classes in Gloomhaven?
There are 11 locked classes in Gloomhaven.
- Beast Tyrant
One line overviews of the Gloomhaven locked classes and symbol icons
1. Beast Tyrant – Beast / Bear face / Angry cow
The two mini class is a ranged class who can summon and command a bear and other creatures.
2. Berserker – Lightning bolt
A physical character who depletes her own health to boost her strength.
3. Doomstalker – Angry face with spiky hair
A bow-wielding ranged class that dooms monsters for advantages and can summon animal allies.
4. Elementalist – Three triangles / Triforce
A ranged spellcaster who manipulates the elements to deal damage to multiple monsters at once and support allies.
5. Nightshroud – Eclipse / Moon
A physical character that uses the power of the dark and invisibility to maximize their impact.
6. Plagueherald – Cthulhu
A ranged character who poisons, curses and muddles monsters.
7. Quartermaster – Three spears
A versatile physical class who can also tank occasionally as well as support allies.
8. Sawbones – Saw
A healing support class who can debuff monsters with melee.
9. Soothsinger – Music note
The bard class who uses their instrument and incredible voice to boosts allies and hinder monsters.
10. Summoner – Concentric circles
Summons beings and energy from another plane of the universe to do her bidding.
11. Sunkeeper – Sun
A paladin style character who can deal melee damage while tanking and buffing allies.
1. Beast Tyrant
Beast Tyrant Overview
A character who deals damage via his summoned bear and other summoned creatures.
What the Beast Tyrant is like to play
You’ll cast forth summoned animals like a snake, alligator and a wolf. They’ll charge in and do stuff on their own terms.
But not your bear. Your bear is different.
He’s wild for sure, but you have a special connection with him. You give him commands and he listens.
Beast Tyrant Damage
The Beast Tyrant can deal a lot of damage per turn because he effectively gets more actions when he has more summons. Granted, most of his summons don’t deal a huge amount of damage individually, but each one adds up.
The level 1 summons are effective against lower level basic monsters. However, as soon as your monsters get shields, these level 1 summons are too weak to deal any damage.
The Beast Tyrant’s most dependable summon is the bear. The bear’s base ability of 2 damage doesn’t look like much but it can be boosted by the Beast Tyrant’s Command abilities. Any ability with a ‘Command’ label on can be performed by the bear instead of the Beast Tyrant.
These abilities make for a much stronger bear. Although, as tough as he is, the bear is still not smart enough to open doors!
The Beast Tyrant can deal additional damage with his own abilities. They are mostly ranged so he can stay safely out of the way.
Beast Tyrant Experience Points
You’ll gain experience at a normal rate as the Beast Tyrant. There is a good spread of experience points across regular abilities, loss cards and conditionally granted experience points (like if earth is in the room for example).
Beast Tyrant Looting
You’ll not leave scenarios with your pockets full of gold as the Beast Tyrant. As a mostly ranged class, you’re away from where the gold is dropped, you have very few movement abilities and only 1 loot ability.
It’s shame that the bear is a summon so it can’t collect loot for you.
Beast Tyrant Health and Healing
Looking at the Beast Tyrant from a purely numbers perspective, if you combine the health of the bear and the Beast Tyrant, this class has the highest health in Gloomhaven. You’re effectively playing two characters at once.
The Beast Tyrant has low health, starting at 6 and going up to a maximum of only 14 at level 9.
The bear has high health, starting with 10 at level 1 and increasing to 26 at level 9.
The Beat Tyrant has 8 heal abilities but you won’t be using them to support your allies. You’ll be using them to keep your bear, your summons and yourself alive. One heal ability is pretty unique. It allows you to distribute any damage taken by you and your summons however you like.
Beast Tyrant Initiative
The Beast Tyrant is a pretty fast character. Of his 29 cards, 5 have an initiative of 11-19. 6 cards have an initiative of 20-29.
His slowest cards are his 7 summons. The summons range from 77-95 initiative.
The bear and the other summons always take their actions before the Beast Tyrant. Because summons move using the same AI as the monsters they don’t always end up where you want them to!
Beast Tyrant Movement
A couple of key things to know about the Beast Tyrant that affects its movement.
- The Beast Tyrant doesn’t need to be in line of sight of the bear to command it
- The bear moves according to the monster AI before you take your turn
What this means is that you will spend your movement actions on controlling the bear to get it into the place you want.
The bear also can’t open doors itself so it can be a good idea to get a party member to open the door just before the last monster is vanquished.
This can mean that the Beast Tyrant falls a long way behind the rest of the group. But that doesn’t matter. You can use a very unique ability to sort that out if you need to be in the same room as your group at the end of a scenario.
The ability is Disorienting Roar which says, “Swap the positions of any two figures”. You can just switch places with your bear or another summon!
Beast Tyrant Stamina
With a hand limit of 10 cards, your stamina is average.
All the Beast Tyrant’s summons are loss cards. So you could go for an aggressive strategy and have lots of summons out to deal high damage quickly. But the rest of your party better be on board too. Otherwise you’re going to be exhausted long before they are.
There is a card at level 9 which allows you to recover up to two of your lost summons, but that’s not going to help you when you are levels 1-8!
Beast Tyrant Cards
Concentrated Rage and Patch Fur are level 1 cards that will likely stay with you right up to level 9. They are the linchpin of the Beast Tyrant for controlling and healing your bear.
The level 1 summons are effective against low-level monsters but not so good against higher levels or elites. As you access higher level cards you’ll also notice the purpose of the summons shifting from damage to decoys and support.
Beast Tyrant Perks
Reducing the negative modifiers and increasing the positive numbers in your modifier deck is always a solid option for your first few perks. The Beast Tyrant is no exception.
Especially when the modifiers can be used by the Beast Tyrant and the bear.
Ignore negative scenario effects is one of my favourite perks in all of Gloomhaven and I’ll always grab it when it’s on a perk sheet. Always feels good to say, “Nope, not for me!” to the negative effects.
Wound and immobilize are great especially if you draw them for your bear when it’s tanking.
Beast Tyrant Conclusion
I had super high hopes for the Beast Tyrant in Gloomhaven. I was intrigued by the two boxes, by all the animal summons and the giant bear. And it is fun, at lower levels. Having loads of summons charging in for you is cool. No doubt about it.
What lets it down is that the summons just don’t keep pace with the monsters they are up against at higher levels. This forces you to focus more on boosting your bear and your other summons fall by the wayside.
The Berserker is a physical class who trades her health to boost the strength of her abilities. She is physically tough and can withstand several hits if her hit points haven’t been used up boosting her.
What the Berserker is like to play
You’ll be charging towards the monsters with an angry expression on your face.
With a seeming disregard for your own welfare, you’ll take damage with a smile because it makes you stronger. Monsters will recoil as you turn your pain into strength and hit them harder than ever expected.
Your health will fluctuate up and down as you walk the fine line between wounded and enraged, and hurt and exhausted.
The Berserker damage can be insanely high. But it comes at a cost.
She uses her health to boost her damage. Often, the lower her hit points, the more damage she does.
Many abilities in the Berserker deck say things like ‘Target X’ or ‘+ X’. X is a value like the amount of damage you have taken, how many cards you have lost or the difference between your current hit points and your maximum hit points.
Imagine a character that’s taken several hits and is overcome with rage. That’s the Berserker style.
Berserker Experience Points
You’ll level up at a normal rate as the Berserker. Like many classes, the experience points are on loss cards or experience is gained only when an ability is used in particular circumstances.
You can increase her levelling speed by using more loss cards at the end of the scenario to get the experience gains from those cards.
You’ll pick up a fair amount of loot as the Berserker partly because of your position in scenarios. Being on the front lines means you’ll likely move into positions where gold was dropped.
You’ve also got a couple of looting abilities. One of them is a 2 hex loot but it’s a loss, so you probably won’t use it very often. The other ability is on a level 4 card that comes with a Shield 1 Self that lasts until the end of the round. Now that’s a loot ability you might use.
The Berserker has 10 health at level 1 and increases to 26 hit points at level 9. With that level of health you might immediately think – tank!
And she can tank. But if you tank, you’ll miss out on the crazy Berserker fun.
There are plenty of abilities in the deck that deal damage to yourself as well as monsters. So you can deliberately get your health to the optimum level for the maximum amount of damage on your next turn.
Or you can choose to lower your health during a damage dealing ability to boost the effects of it.
It’s a risky strategy, but fits the character really well. Berserkers aren’t known for being sensible!
The Berserker is pretty fast. You might expect that!
From her 29 cards, 6 are initiative 16 or below. A further 6 have initiative 20-29.
Her highest initiative card is 89 and it’s one of only two cards in the 80s.
If you want to get in there and going at those monsters, no-one can stand in your way.
17 of the Berserker’s 29 cards contain a move ability. That’s 58.6% of them. If you need to get somewhere quickly or dodge out of the way, you probably can.
The highest move ability is 5 hexes without bonuses, with most of them being around 3 hexes.
But the best thing about the Berserker’s movement is that her move abilities usually include something else too like retaliate or push.
With a hand limit of 10 and no abilities to recover discarded or lost cards, you need to be careful not to play all your loss cards too early.
In fact, it might make sense to save some really powerful ones for the last room when your party is getting tired and there’s a boss to take care of.
The level 1 and X cards for the Berserker are very good. The Glass Hammer and Unbridled Power combo is extremely powerful and they are both level X cards. If you are at 26 health, you can do 26 points of damage with this combo!
The Berserker cards focus on damage, health in terms of healing and trading for damage, and moving. There are a few shields, stuns, retaliates and wounds mixed in.
The majority of the abilities are easy to understand and focus on hitting and moving. It’s good that they are pretty easy to understand because balancing your health will take all your brain power!
You’ll be stuck with your -2 in your modifier deck, but it won’t affect you too badly by the time you’ve grabbed the other number modifier perks.
The negative item effects perk is great for allowing you to wear heavy armour without penalty. When you’re carefully balancing your hit points, you don’t want too many hits to mess up your plans. This is a good one to grab early on.
After these perks, I’d grab the wound and stun perks because you don’t have many negative effects on your abilities as standard.
With the Berserker you’re always walking the tightrope of balancing your health with your damage. And it’s a fine balance. One hit can get you into real trouble.
The Berserker is not an easy character to play in Gloomhaven. But the synergies between health and damage dealing are really fascinating and a lot of fun to explore.
A bow-wielding ranged character that dooms monsters for advantages and can summon animal allies.
What the Doomstalker is like to play
The first thing you do when you enter a room is mark your prey with a sense of impending doom.
And then you go after them with your powerful ranged abilities.
There’s no help for those you have marked. You don’t stop until they’ve been eliminated.
You may set traps for them, summon animals to help you take them out, or increase your allies’ damage to take your mark down as quickly as possible.
However you do it, you’ll eliminate the monsters one by one. Then when they’re gone, you’ll charge forward to seek out your next target.
The Doomstalker specializes in dealing high damage to a single target from a distance.
To increase your own damage and the damage of your allies, you can target a single monster with a doom ability. Dooms are unique to the Doomstalker and only one Doom can be in play at any one time (until level 5).
The Doomstalker does have some summons – a jackal, a hawk and a boar at level 1, then a giant toad and a cobra at higher levels. However, the summons don’t deal a huge amount of damage. So to deal more damage in a turn, it’s better to use one of your own damage dealing abilities instead.
Doomstalker Experience Points
The Doomstalker gains experience pretty quickly. The majority of loss cards give 2 experience points and with hand limit of 12 you can use several of these per scenario.
You will also pick up some experience by going after monsters with a Doom token on them. And why would you want to go after anyone else?
While you’ll be standing away from where the monster cluster is, you can collect some loot when you use your high movements to dash forward when they’re dealt with.
As for looting abilities, there are three in the Doomstalker’s deck. A regular 1 hex loot, a loss 2 hex loot and a great one at level 8 that comes with a move and damage dealing ability too.
As with all loot abilities, how much loot you pick up depends on how much you prioritize collecting loot over taking a different action.
Doomstalker Health and Healing
Beginning with 8 health at level 1 and progressing to 20 health at level 9, the Doomstalker can take the occasional hit if needed.
A great level X card is on the bottom of Sap Life. It allows you to heal yourself for 2 points anytime the monster you have marked with a Doom takes damage. That’s damage dealt by you or by an ally. It’s a nice way to heal up quickly. (If you don’t take the monster out in one go that is!)
The Doomstalker takes their turn early.
7 of the Doomstalker’s cards have an initiative below 20, a further 4 are in the 20s. That’s just over a third of the 31 cards! It makes sense for the Doomstalker to go early in the round to maximise the benefits of the Doom abilities in that round.
You’ll stand at the back firing arrows at your targets but as soon as they are down you’ll run forward ready for the next set of monsters.
There are 12 movement abilities in the Doomstalker’s cards. One of these is a move 5 at level 1 that’s a non-loss card. That’s a brilliant ability. It will probably stay in your hand right up to level 9. There is another ability with move 5 and jump at level 4 that you’ll find quite useful.
Perhaps the most interesting movement card is a Doom ability which allows you to move into the hex where a monster is defeated. That’s a great way to dash across a room!
The 12 card hand limit for the Doomstalker is great. You won’t find yourself getting exhausted too quickly if you are generally sensible with hand management.
Of the 15 level 1 and X cards there are 5 cards that have non-loss abilities on them. Be careful with when you use them and you’ll be fine.
All Doom abilities are persistent and they are discards too so you can get them back after a rest or with stamina potions.
The 18 Doom abilities are unique to the Doomstalker. Each Doom affects the environment in different ways. Sometimes weakening monsters, sometimes boosting allies or yourself.
The wide variety of actions on Dooms allows you to be flexible and play whichever one makes the most sense for what’s happening.
The Doomstalker does have some summons and depending on how you want to play the character, you could try a build with a summon focus. However, the summons available are generally quite weak and are perhaps more likely to be used as meat shields.
Your boar can be a reasonably effective mini tank, the jackal can get a wound in early and the hawk can be helpful for a couple of extra damage per turn. The issue is there aren’t many cards you can use to boost, control and heal your summons.
Traps are another thing that the Doomstalker can use. There are three trap abilities he can use. But in my experience, traps in Gloomhaven are not hugely useful unless your allies can support you in getting monsters to activate them.
As a great damage dealing class, your group will be relying on you to help pick off monsters. Fortunately, the perks allow you to modify your deck so that it only has three negative modifier cards remaining in it.
If you remove the -1 cards, changing all the 0s for +1 cards then you’ll only have the -2, -1 and no damage modifiers left.
As most of your damage is single target, the add target perk is brilliant. It lets you deal high damage to two monsters. Wonderful!
I personally always like to take the ignore negative scenario effects perk for the pure joy of rejecting whichever negatives come my way.
The Doomstalker in Gloomhaven is an awesome character. It’s a classic ranger class with an ethereal twist that’s easy to play.
You really feel like you’re having an impact on every turn. There’s something to be said for choosing your goal and going for it rather than shifting to a different monster on each turn.
From a model perspective, it’s one of my favourites and I’m a sucker for anything with turquoise blue!
A ranged spellcaster who manipulates the elements to deal damage to multiple monsters at once with the occasional ally support spell.
What the Elementalist is like to play
You channel the power of the elements to cast spells that crush monsters and support your allies.
You like it when monsters gather together, then you can hit more of them at the same time.
You’ll constantly be putting elements into the room and then using them up as quickly as they arrived. You want the room to be filled with elements so you can manipulate them as you see fit.
The Elementalist can do some awesome damage with the right elements in the room. Without elements, it deals very little damage.
A big reason for the high damage is the Elementalist’s ability to consume multiple elements at once.
For example, the level 1 card Raw Enhancement gives a + 2 if Fire is in the room and + 2 if Air is in the room. If both are in the room, you can consume both of them to gain +4 damage.
A high proportion of the Elementalist’s damage abilities are area of effect abilities or abilities that affect multiple targets at once. So while your damage to each individual monster is not particularly high, you can damage several at once.
Elementalist Experience Points
How quickly you level as the Elementalist is a lot like how much damage you do. It’s dependent on how well you use the elements.
It’s because many experience points are awarded when particular conditions are met, and those conditions involve consuming elements.
The Elementalist collects loot slowly. As a ranged character, it’s away from any gold that’s dropped but can pick up a little loot as it moves through a room.
The Elementalist does have a couple of looting abilities. One of them is a standard loot 1. Nothing to write home about.
The second loot ability is also a hex of 1 but it can be boosted by any two elements to make it a loot 2. Using up two elements to collect loot is very expensive! You’ll want to put those elements to better use.
Elementalist Health and Healing
Hit point wise, the Elementalist is vulnerable. In typical spell caster fashion, it isn’t built for standing on the front lines taking damage.
Its health is 6 at level 1, increasing to a maximum of 14 at level 9.
Healing wise, the Elementalist is pretty good. There are several heal abilities for itself and others, several of which generate Light, so you’re incentivized to use them.
Heals can also be added to other abilities by consuming Earth.
The Elementalist has quite high initiative numbers generally with 20 of their 29 cards having an initiative of 33 or higher.
If you really need to you can go quickly in a turn using one of the 4 cards with initiative 14 to 19, but that would be dependent on you keeping at least one of them in your hand.
Moving is one of the ways you can generate elements. There are 5 move 2 abilities, each generates at least one element.
Other move abilities can be boosted by elements so that you can move further, or take an additional action as well as moving.
The basic movements aren’t brilliant though. The highest abilities are move 4, but the majority are move 2. So you won’t be running through rooms unless you use the elements to boost you.
The Elementalist’s hand limit of 10 is average. Play your elements right and you may feel that you don’t need the loss abilities that much because you’re having so much impact with a boosted standard ability.
Speaking of loss cards, it helps that Shaping the Ether and Formless Power have persistent bonuses so you’ll get the benefit of them turn after turn.
The Elementalist deck is incredibly versatile. Because different elements provide different bonuses to the base ability, you can use the elements you want to achieve the results you want.
While the elements are pretty versatile and each element can be used for different types of effects, there is a general pattern.
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
At level 9, the Ethereal Manifestation Mana Sphere summon is a wonderful way to generate an additional element every turn and do some damage to boot. I like to imagine the Mana Sphere as a little floating ball of energy that hovers near you.
Elements are worth more to the Elementalist than draw deck modifiers.
If you have an additional element in the room, you can do more (usually damage) on your next turn anyway. So drawing another element is like drawing a bonus action.
With that in mind, the perks which add elements to the modifier deck are a must for the Elementalist.
Then, because the basic damage is pretty low, getting rid of the -1 cards is important. Unfortunately, you’re stuck with the -2. I guess not every spell goes right.
The Gloomhaven Elementalist is a difficult class to play.
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 this isn’t so bad.
The versatility of the Elementalist is great though. You can play it with a focus on damage or support. I prefer the damage option with a few support actions here and there.
There are two key things for playing the Elementalist class:
- Plan ahead
- Use mana potions!
I’ve written a full class guide for the Elementalist which you can check out for more details on one way he can be played.
A physical character that uses the power of the dark and invisibility to maximize their impact.
What the Nightshroud is like to play
You’ll use your powers over the infinite plains to hide yourself in shadow and stealthily deliver powerful blows on your opponents.
You’ll vanquish monsters with a single hit.
They won’t know what’s hit them.
Despite being one of the most powerful classes in Gloomhaven, the basic abilities of the Nightshroud are nothing special.
But the Nightshroud really shines in the dark.
With dark in the room these basic abilities become very powerful. At level 1 you have access to Spirit of the Night which has a basic damage of 3, but if dark is in the room you can eliminate one normal target instead. At level 1! That’s an amazing ability. And it’s not even a loss ability!
At level 6 you get Swallowed by Fear which does basic damage of 2 but if dark and any other element are in the room, you can eliminate one normal or elite target instead. This isn’t a loss ability either!
Then at level 9 we see the most powerful ability of all! It deals base damage of 4 which targets all adjacent monsters. But if dark is in the room, you can get rid of all normal targets instead! That is a loss ability though.
Being invisible also gives bonuses to damage values and adds negative status effects.
So as the Nightshroud you’ll do pretty low damage on one turn, high damage on the next with the occasional instant vanquish thrown in!
Nightshroud Experience Points
Only three of the Nightshroud’s experience points are available on non loss cards without any additional requirements needed – like consuming the dark element or being invisible.
That shouldn’t be too much of a problem though. Because as the Nightshroud you’ll be planning ahead to get the bonuses that come from those additional requirements.
The Nightshroud has average looting.
It’s because movement is generally saved for getting into the right positions for abilities and adjacent monster bonuses. This means that there are not many movement abilities remaining to collect loot.
The move 6, loot 1 ability on Silent Force is great. Unfortunately, it’s a loss and it’s below an ability that does high damage. So you’ll be using the top half of that card!
Nightshroud Health and Healing
It’s much more difficult to hit something that you can’t see. And that’s the case with the Nightshroud.
Your invisibility skills mean that you simply can’t be touched. If you are hit, your health of 8 at level 1, up to 20 at level 9 isn’t too bad. You can take a hit or two.
You have a great heal 4 self ability at level 1 with Enervating Wound, but it is a loss card. With a hand limit of 9, you need to be in a dire situation to use it.
The only other heal is at level 3. It’s a heal 4 self if dark is in the room when you use Armor of the Night. That one is much more useful, but then your dark element can’t be used for dealing damage.
The Nightshroud has high initiative.
4 cards have an initiative of less than 10, a further 6 cards have initiative of 10-19 and another 6 cards have initiative of 20-29. That makes for a fast character.
Because you’ll be scooting around to get yourself into the right positions, it always feels like there aren’t enough movement abilities. They quickly get used up.
The good news is that you’re generally near the front so you won’t behind your group.
You just won’t be able to rush towards monsters when you enter a room. Go invisible and creep up on them instead!
Your hand limit of 9 is small. But your instant take out abilities are not loss abilities so you can do a lot with that hand size.
The Nightshroud doesn’t have any abilities to recover discarded or lost cards so a stamina potion would be a good idea.
Like any character with a low hand limit, just be careful how you use your loss cards. It’s in your interest to take out monsters as quickly as possible and fortunately you’re pretty good at it!
The Nightshroud cards are mostly close ranged melee abilities and small movements.
What makes the deck awesome is the additional abilities granted by dark and invisibility.
The negative condition modifiers like stun, muddle and curse will really help to slow monsters down. But if you’re going for maximum damage, then wound and poison are more useful to you.
You can see from the perks sheet that the Nightshroud doesn’t have amazing perks. He barely has any of the usual number perks that increase your chances of drawing a great modifier. But that doesn’t hugely matter when you can take out a monster instantly without even drawing a modifier!
I think the first one anyone would take is the Ignore negative scenario effects and add two +1 cards. That is incredible!
But the game makes you pay for it elsewhere…
Adding a -1 dark perk and then having another perk that allows you remove a -1 dark and add a +1 dark effectively means you have to use two perk points to get to a +1 dark. Now that is an expensive perk!
The Gloomhaven Nightshroud feels very much like playing a stealthy ninja. Tip toeing around to get into just the right position with just the right amount of dark to do the most damage.
It is a tricky to play because you need to plan several turns ahead. With your small hand limit, you want to make every single card count. Mess it up and you’ll barely do any damage and risk the scenario going on too long so you become exhausted.
I like the Nightshroud. It feels very cool to take out monsters in one move, especially when you’ve put together a careful plan to pull it off!
Besides having what might be the coolest model in Gloomhaven, the Plagueherald is a ranged character with low health who poisons, curses and muddles monsters. It has a fair amount of area of effect abilities.
What the Plagueherald is like to play
You’ll be standing behind your allies hurling insects and vermin at monsters while drawing strength from the air and the dark to boost your power.
Your poison will eat away at monsters turn after turn, while curses overwhelm their modifier deck causing them to miss with increasing frequency.
You’ll prefer to spread poison around as many monsters as you can rather than finishing each one off. Your allies can do that for you.
The Plagueherald’s damage is pretty high. The base damage on most abilities is comparable with other classes but there are two things which boost the damage value.
- Poison which deals additional damage per turn on each monster affected.
- Abilities which target multiple monsters through area of effects or multiple target conditions.
Plagueherald Experience Points
You’ll level quite slowly because the majority of the experience points are given on loss cards, or when an element is consumed when casting.
The Foul Wind card is your friend for levelling. Get this card out early in the scenario to gain three experience points by the time you reach the end of the character token track. Foul Wind is a great card to have anyway giving you a +1 to damage whenever air is strong or waining.
You’ll loot a little slower than other classes. You aren’t on the front lines so aren’t there when monsters drop loot and there are only two loot cards in your entire deck.
Both loot cards are level 1 cards but to be honest, I doubt you will ever use them. One is a 1 hex loot on the bottom of the Foul Wind card. You’ll be using the top half of it for extra damage and experience points.
The second loot ability is on the Gathering Doom card. It’s a 2 hex loot which puts air in the room and gives you 1 experience point. Sounds ok, but it’s also a loss card. Plus, on the top half of that card, you have a damage-dealing ranged ability with a curse. It’s also a discard rather than a loss. There’s a clear winner here.
The Plagueherald is squishy. No doubt about it. With a starting health of 6 and a maximum health of only 14, you don’t want to be taking any hits as this class.
You have three Shield Self 1 abilities in your deck. One of these is a persistent shield. It’s on the Grasping Vermin card.
Healing wise you have three very minor heals but they won’t do much to help you if you’re cornered. So get out of there quickly.
The Plagueherald has 30 cards card to choose from in total. Of these, 16 cards have an initiative of 50 or above. So the initiative is fairly slow.
Only two of the Plageherald’s cards have an initiative of below 20. Only four of them are 21 to 29. So yeah, you probably won’t be going first or even second most of the time.
There’s little chance of you falling behind your allies as 13 of the 30 cards contain a movement ability of some kind. Fortunately, three of these have an initiative of 26 or below, so you can move quickly if you need to.
With a hand limit of 11, the Plagueherald stamina is ok. You can afford to lose a couple of loss cards in a scenario. Just don’t go overboard with loss cards, you don’t have abilities to recover cards.
Firstly, I need to say that the colour of the Plagueherald’s cards is beautiful. I can’t get enough of the minty green.
Looking at the abilities on the cards, you can see there are a fair number of area of effect abilities across the deck. Every damage ability is ranged and usually includes some negative effects like poison, curse or muddle.
The air and the dark are your friends when it comes to making the most of your abilities.
As you select your cards through the levels you could focus more on poison or curse cards. Poison cards have effects you can see on the cards like monsters with poison taking additional damage.
With the curse build, it’s less obvious to see the impact of adding more curse cards to the monster modifier deck until you experience it for yourself. It’s a delight when they are cursed!
The + 2 curse cards and +3 poison cards perks are brilliant for the Plagueherald.
When you combine the additional curse cards with the curses on the cards in your hand, you’ll notice just how frequently monsters fail their actions!
Altering the cards in the modifier deck is important, but less so than with other classes. Negative effects apply whether you deal any damage or not. So your target could still be poisoned or cursed even if you didn’t hurt them.
The Plagueherald is a cool Gloomhaven character to play. The theming of a poison spreading insect swarm is a nice take on a ranged spell caster.
It does make me wonder why anyone would want to adventure with it though. That constant buzzing and flapping of wings – I’d never get any sleep!
A physical class that can deal decent damage and tank when needed. Supports allies by helping them to refresh items and providing the occasional shield and heal.
What the Quartermaster is like to play
Carrying an assortment of items including a boomerang (!) you are a versatile tank adept at dealing damage whatever the situation.
But you aren’t out for all the glory yourself. You want to help your allies be the best adventurers they can be.
You use your Quartermaster’s knowledge to enable your allies to get the most from their items. You even repair and refresh their items partway through a scenario.
You’re happy to share your shields and provide protection to yourself and others when monsters get a little too close for comfort.
The Quartermaster is a great damage dealer. Thanks to his multitude of skills he can deal decent ranged and close damage helping you to respond to whatever arises. Even at level 3 you have a 5 damage ability with a range of 3.
Several of his damage abilities are area of effect too, so he can get several monsters at once.
Along with the base damage, he has some nice effects too like wound, muddle, immobilize and stun.
Equipping a power potion early on is a great way for you to give regular boosts to your damage, especially because you can refresh your consumed items.
Quartermaster Experience Points
You will level at a regular rate. The good news is that 1 experience is available on abilities that don’t require special circumstances like a certain element being in the room for you to get the experience. The bad news is, it’s only one experience.
There is also only one ability in the Quartermaster’s deck that is persistent and gains you an experience point each time your character token moves along it. And that card is unlocked at level 8. So it’s a bit late to be hugely valuable for levelling.
You have the opportunity to loot reasonably fast because you have a 2 hex loot available at level 1. However, it depends on whether you use that ability or not.
The other ability on the 2 hex loot card allows you to refresh all your consumed items. So you may want to save the card for refreshing items instead.
You have high health. Starting at 10 points at level 1 and advancing to 26 hit points at level 9. With heavy armour, you can take even more hits. It means that you can be a pretty good tank if you need to.
Of the 28 cards in the Quartermaster’s Gloomhaven deck, 21 of them have an initiative over 40. That means you won’t be going first every turn. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
All of your shield abilities are on cards with an initiative of 19 or below. So if you were going to get hit on your next turn you can do something before the monsters and get a turn in before them.
At level 1 you have a move 5 ability available and it’s a discard, not a loss too, so you can definitely shift if you need to.
Half of the cards contain a Move ability. This makes perfect sense because your support abilities often require you to be adjacent to allies. And several of your damage abilities need you to be next to your monsters.
At first glance, the 9 card limit makes it look like you’ll be exhausted really quickly. However, even from level 1, you’ve got abilities that allow you to refresh consumed items. Get a couple of stamina potions and you can play for longer without being exhausted.
A level 2 ability on the Reforge card allows you to recover up to two of your discarded cards, and a level 3 ability on the Continual Supply card allows you to recover up to two of your lost cards.
Suddenly, that 9 card hand limit isn’t as bad as it first looked. Just make sure you have a stamina potion or two.
Right from level 1, you get a brilliant card that you’ll probably want to keep all the way to level 9 – the Scroll of Recall. This allows you to refresh one of your consumed items and it’s a discard, not a loss card too.
Oversized Pack has an ability which allows you to refresh all your consumed items so you’ll likely want to hang onto this ability as well.
The rest of the cards are a real mixed bag of close, ranged and area of effect abilities, shields, heals and ally support actions. That trend continues all the way to level 9.
The Catastrophic card stands out at level 6 doing damage of 1 across 12 hexes with the option to upgrade to add another two hexes. It’s a discard card too, not a loss, which is very cool.
The Quartermaster has one interesting perk that you can use up to three times – Add 1 +0 Refresh an item card. It makes perfect sense for the character and is pretty useful for maxing out your items and potions.
The Ignore negative item effects and add two +1 cards is brilliant if you’re tanking to avoid the heavy armour penalty.
I’m a huge fan of the Add Target perks. It’s always nice when you do even more damage on your turn.
The Quartermaster is a fun and versatile class to play. Compared to the other characters in Gloomhaven, it’s not the best tank, best support, or best damage dealer but it’s pretty good at all three.
This role is meant to be like that. There aren’t really enough cards in the deck to build it specifically towards one particular type of role. So embrace it. Enjoy being able to respond to different situations and generally doing something useful on every turn.
Sawbones is a healer support class. He carries medical packs and hands them out to allies. He can remove negative effects from allies, shield them from harm and give his cards to other players that need them.
He slows down monsters with immobilize and stun to give allies some time to recover. He can even wound, disarm, stun, poison and muddle them.
What the Sawbones is like to play
You’ll spend your time thinking about others, not yourself. Who needs support? You’ll be dashing to your allies’ aid when they scream “Medic!”
Before the action even starts, you’ll be sharing your medical packs with everyone so they can take care of themselves a little bit. You’re so selfless that you’ll even give your allies your cards and reduce your own stamina to help them.
If you spot that a monster is going to be a problem, you’ll see how you can slow them down and stop them from getting to your most vulnerable allies. You’ll use your abilities to immobilize and stun them to give your allies time to recover.
You can even deliver some high damage to get rid of monsters when you absolutely need to.
Some of the Sawbones’ abilities are really hard-hitting, especially at the higher levels. He even has instant monster defeating abilities!
The wound and poison debuffs included with his abilities are a useful way to deal additional damage at the start of each turn.
Most of the abilities are melee. There are a couple of ranged abilities though with useful areas of effect too.
Sawbones Experience Points
There are experience points on pretty much every card so you’ll level up pretty quickly.
You’ll get an experience point every time you hand out a medical pack to an ally. They are discarded on use but if you use the Teamwork card to recover discarded cards you can get them back and hand out more medical packs per scenario.
The Sawbones doesn’t have any major looting abilities so you’ll collect loot at a normal rate. It matches the selfless nature of the character. You’re just not out for yourself.
Your hit points are not amazing. Starting at 8 and going up to a maximum of 20 you won’t be an effective tank. You’d get hit and then be healing yourself on the next turn.
Focus on healing and get on the front lines only if you need to.
Excluding the medical pack cards, the Sawbones has 8 cards with an initiative of below 20. So you can go first or second if you need to. You may want to save these low initiative cards for when you need to patch up an ally.
Of the 29 cards, 12 have a Move ability. This makes perfect sense because you’re the field medic. You need to be adjacent to an ally to pass them a medical pack. And of course, you’ll need to run to your allies when they scream in pain.
A hand limit of 10 isn’t super high. But your Teamwork card allows you to, “recover up to a number of discarded cards equal to the number of allies adjacent to you”. It’s a loss card but you can definitely use this once per game to get another turn or two in.
The Sawbones’ cards are a little different to other decks. Along with the usual level X and 1-9 cards, the Sawbones has 11 medical pack cards – 7 regular Medical Packs and 4 Large Medical Packs.
The medical pack cards aren’t counted as part of your hand. Instead, you place them to one side of your play area and they are available to you in addition to your regular cards.
When you play an ability card that says for example, “Give one adjacent ally one “Medical Pack”, you pass that player one of your medical pack cards. You get the card back when the card is discarded.
You can see from the cards that the main focus for the Sawbones is healing either from issuing heals or by handing out medical packs.
The perks you choose will depend on how you want to play the Sawbones. If you’re focussing on healing and debuffs, then go for the immobilize, wound, stun and heal perks instead of improving your modifiers.
The themeing of Sawbones is a nice take on a healing and support class in Gloomhaven.
I like that he’s not the conventional white and pure magic-based healer. He is a field medic who runs around to where he is needed the most. And he can smash monsters in the face when he needs to.
I just wish that his miniature didn’t have such unfortunate positioning of his bonesaw and his hands. (ahem!)
The Soothsinger is the bard class of Gloomhaven. Using their instrument and incredible voice, the Soothsinger boosts allies and hinders monsters.
What the Soothsinger is like to play
As the Soothsinger you’ll blast your music to bolsters your allies and hinder monsters.
You’ll bless your allies as you help them to get more out of every turn with higher damage, faster moves and increased range.
You will frustrate monsters as you get inside their heads with your music leaving them cursed, muddled and worse off in many other ways.
While there are some damage focussed builds available for the Soothsinger, generally speaking it’s not a damage focussed character.
More often than not, the Soothsinger’s abilities don’t deal damage, instead they give monsters negative effects like curse, disarm or immobilize. There are also several abilities which allow allies to deal more damage.
The Soothsinger does have some abilities which deal a little damage though. There are 7 damage-dealing abilities from her 56 total. Only three of these available below level 5.
Soothsinger Experience Points
Thanks to the Soothsinger’s songs, experience is easy to come by. As long as she has a song in play, at the beginning of her turn she gains 1 experience point. Every. Single. Turn.
And she’ll pretty much always have a song in play. Songs are persistent abilities with effects that help your party. For example, Shield 1 for all allies, or all allies may Heal 1 Self at the beginning of each of their turns.
The Soothsinger will also collect experience points from regular abilities too, just like other classes.
Looting ability wise, the Soothsinger has a nice little 1 hex loot ability that includes a ranged damage ability.
It’s a non-loss card too so can be used several times per game. That’s a nice way for the Soothsinger to stand behind her allies and still collect some loot each game.
Soothsinger Health and Healing
Beginning with 6 hit points at level 1, and advancing to a maximum of 14 hit points at level 9, the Soothsinger won’t win any prizes for having the highest health.
One of the things that’s very interesting about the Soothsinger is that for a support class, she doesn’t have many heal abilities. In fact, she only has three heal abilities in total.
Two heal abilities are the songs Soothing Lullaby (level 2) and the more powerful version Tranquil Trill (level 8). With Soothing Lullaby allies perform heal self 1 at start of their turns, with Tranquil Trill the heal value increases to 2.
She has one traditional heal of 3, with a range of 4 that’s on the bottom half of the Soothing Lullaby card.
The Soothsinger has a low initiative and will generally take their turn before the other characters. And that’s exactly what you want from a the Soothsinger whose buffs and debuffs affect the entire round.
10 of her 29 cards have an initiative of 20 or below. That includes all of her songs.
Not including the song movement affects, or abilities which only affect allies’ movement, the Soothsinger has 11 movement abilities. They should be enough to keep up with your allies.
The thing that sets the Soothsinger’s movement abilities apart is that they often come with status effects. For example, Unending Chant has a Move 2, Shield 1 for all allies, while Tuning the Outcome has a move 3 and curse with range 3.
The hand limit of 9 cards is not great. But when you think that one of those cards will be a song with a persistent effect for the entire scenario, it’s not too bad.
In general, the Soothsinger only has 7 loss abilities so the small hand limit will get you through most scenarios.
The Soothsinger doesn’t have any abilities to recover discarded or lost cards.
The idea behind the Soothsinger is that you can either slow down monsters and reduce their damage or speed up allies and increase their damage. So you can reduce scenario duration and complete the scenario before becoming exhausted.
Songs are unique to the Soothsinger. With 12 songs to choose from, there is a song in there for every situation.
Curses are an important part of the Soothsinger’s deck. Whenever a monster is cursed, a curse card is added to the monster modifier draw deck. That is a curse for every monster.
You’ve probably experienced how frequently even 1 curse card seems to be drawn from your own deck. Really frustrating right? Well, imagine adding curse cards to the monster deck.
You can add up to 10 curses to the monster deck and the Soothsinger can reach that maximum no problem. A curse card is removed from the deck when it has been resolved.
Obviously the perks you choose depends on the build you want. But remember you’ll only be drawing from your modifier deck when dealing damage. And that’s not going to be very often at all. In that case, the perks don’t hugely matter.
Just take whichever cards make the most sense for the type of Soothsinger you want to play. I’m a huge fan of the curse build so I’d take the curse perks, then stun, muddle and disarm.
At early levels, abilities which specify a particular number for their effects are quite powerful, for example, +1 Disarm. However, as monsters get tougher, these abilities have less impact.
A shield of 1 is great when your average monster is strength 2, but isn’t much good when monsters are hitting you for 5 damage regularly.
At higher levels, status effects like curses, strengthen and disadvantage will continue to have a good return.
The Summoner does exactly what the name suggests, she summons beings and energy from another plane of the universe to do her bidding.
What the Summoner is like to play
You’ll summon beings such as Shadow Wolves, an Iron Beast or a Lava Golem into the room. While summons have minds of their own, you occasionally use your powers to control them and make them do exactly as you say.
You’ll support your summons by flinging spells of fire and darkness at your monsters and healing to your summons when they need it.
The Summoner’s ability cards are mostly ranged. There is only one melee ability which is available at level 7. They do an average amount of damage.
However, the Summoner gets to deal additional damage each turn via their summons. Which can add up to quite a lot of damage in a turn if several summons are in play.
Summoner Experience Points
You’ll level up pretty quickly as the Summoner. You get experience points for every creature you summon as well as for using many of the abilities which heal or control your summons.
It’s a good thing you level quickly. At level 9 you unlock the Horned Majesty Black Unicorn. Yes please! It’d be a shame to retire your character before you unlocked your unicorn!
There are only two cards in the Summoner’s deck with looting abilities. And they are minor looting abilities too. So you’ll collect loot at a normal rate.
The Summoner’s health is pretty low. Starting at 8 hit points and maxing out at 9 hit points at level 10 you don’t want to find yourself taking many hits.
Your summons don’t have an amazing amount of health so they aren’t great at taking more than one or two hits. You’d better hope that you have a tank in your group!
The Summoner has a few heal cards in her deck but you’ll probably need to use these for your summons rather than yourself or your allies.
As the Summoner, you’ll not be going first. She only has one card with an initiative below 20, and that’s 13.
The initiative on the 12 summon cards is 81 or higher. The highest being 98.
There are a reasonable amount of move abilities in the Summoner’s deck and none of them are loss abilities. Even the ones which move 5 or move hexes. So you will be able to keep up with the group.
When a room is cleared and you’re standing a few hexes behind the front lines you can use a move to catch up.
With a hand limit of 9 and your summon cards being loss cards, you need to be really really careful that you don’t get exhausted. It’s a tricky balance between summoning minions to do damage, but making sure you have enough cards in your hand to make it through the scenario.
Fortunately, there is one ability in your level 1 cards – Unending Dominance – that allows you to recover up to four of your lost cards. It’s on the lower half of the Summon Lava Golem ability though, so you can never summon the Golem if you want to recover lost cards at some point.
There are 6 summons available in the level 1 and X cards alone. So even if you start playing as her at a low level you can explore which summons work well for your group and play style.
In total, there are 12 different summons in her deck. A new summon being unlocked at every level apart from levels 2 and 8.
Looking more generally at the level 1 and X cards, she has three ranged abilities, two summon controls, some moves and heals, and perhaps most interesting, a monster control ability. I hoped there would be more monster manipulation abilities at later levels, but there aren’t.
Tear the Fabric is a very useful ability that takes out all normal adjacent monsters with a hit point value of 5 or less. It’s a loss card, but well worth it.
At level 6 and 7 we see a couple of additional party support abilities with Retaliate and Strengthen.
The Ignore negative scenario effects and add two +1 cards is really great. And the regular number modifiers are always useful.
I like the add +2 perks because in the Summoner’s standard damage is quite low.
Additional elements are fine, but there aren’t a huge amount of abilities which consume elements in her deck.
The Summoner is a tricky class to play. You need to be careful not to summon too many beings because your hand limit it so low. You’ll just get exhausted. Then when your summons are out you need to balance going in yourself with supporting your summons.
It’s frustrating that the recover 4 lost cards ability is on the same card as the Stone Golem. For me, that means I never summon it. And that’s a shame.
I wish that she could summon more creatures without stretching herself too thin.
The Sunkeeper is like a righteous paladin. She is a tank who can bless and buff allies. She also deals an awesome amount of damage.
What the Sunkeeper is like to play
You’ll be using your shields and retaliate abilities to buff yourself and then diving headlong into monsters.
On the front lines, you’ll deal some hard-hitting melee damage and buff your nearby allies that have also jumped into the fray.
You’ll find it hugely satisfying to watch hits bounce off you before getting your own back as you retaliate.
The Sunkeeper is a high damage dealer. Even at level 1 she has two damage 4 abilities with a potential bonus for a +1 bonus if Light is in the room.
She is mainly a melee class. There are only two ranged abilities in her entire deck and one of them is a loss.
The good news is that she’ll be mostly on the front lines taking advantage of her retaliate and shield abilities. Given that retaliate bonuses stack you can buff yourself with plenty of these. Then anytime a monster hits you, you will retaliate. Take that!
Sunkeeper Experience Points
You can level quickly as the Sunkeeper if you make sure you keep Light in the room and use it to get experience from your abilities. It’s especially important because a lot of her experience points are gained from loss abilities. So make the most of them.
With only one 1 hex loot ability in her deck you won’t be collecting loot very quickly. But if you go with the tank build you’ll be on the front lines so you could move to a hex with a coin drop fairly often.
The Sunkeeper’s hit points are high, they start at 10 hit points at level 1 and go up to 26 at level 9.
She also has the Ignore Negative Item Effects perk which means she can wear heavy armour without penalty after this is activated. So she’s tougher to cause damage to as well.
She has several shield self abilities as well as heals so she can take care of herself.
It depends on the other characters in your group and how they play, but the chances are you’ll be the 2nd person to take their turn.
Of the 30 Sunkeeper cards, only 4 of them have an initiative of under 20.
There are 7 cards with an initiative in the 20s.
Of the 30 cards, 13 of them have movement abilities to help you scoot around and get in front of monsters.
Beyond getting in front of monsters quickly, the movement abilities will help you to offset the -1 to all your moves that the Defensive Stance card gives you. But you’ll want to use that card for sure because it gives you a Shield of 1 for the entirety of the scenario.
There are also several abilities that give your allies a movement boost.
With 11 cards, the Sunkeeper’s stamina is ok. While she can’t recover her own cards, she does have ability cards that can help an adjacent ally to recover discarded and lost cards.
Looking at the Level 1 and Level X cards for the Sunkeeper, 5 of the 14 cards contain damage-dealing abilities. There are a few stun and muddle effects mixed in that will help to weaken monsters.
As a support class, you’ll see there are a fair few abilities that help your allies like Bless, Strengthen and recover cards.
Moving up through the levels, there are plenty of damage abilities but those with stun or muddle are rare. Generally, there are more cards with shields, heals and ally buffs.
Looking at the perks sheet, the Ignore negative item effects perk is worth getting early on so she can wear heavy armour without penalty. The Shield perk is also one to grab if you’re tanking.
The Heal and Stun perks show that you really can decide which direction you want to take this character. You can focus more on support if you want and go for the Heal perks.
You can play the Sunkeeper as a support class rather than a tank. That’s a viable option if your group already has a tank. However, I think she plays most effectively as a tank that occasionally heals and buffs allies.
I like that Gloomhaven has gone for a female tank character, it’s rare to see in games.
In my group, we already had a tank, so I played as a damage + support Sunkeeper, check out my build guide!
Conclusion – Gloomhaven Unlockable Classes
One thing for sure, the unlockable classes are generally more complicated to play than the starting characters. You may take your new class right away, or it may take you a few games to get the hang of it.
There is such a variety of characters that there is one in there for everyone.
Remember that if you don’t get along with your character, you can change to any other unlocked class whenever you visit Gloomhaven. That’s what I did with my first character. I didn’t play her till retirement because I didn’t enjoy playing as her.
You can read about that and my thoughts on the Gloomhaven starting characters in my other article – Gloomhaven Starting Characters Overview and Rank.
If you love Gloomhaven as much as me, you might be interested in getting some accessories for it. I love these cards sleeves, this organizer insert, and these awesome 3D door, chest and rubble pile tokens on Amazon.
For more upgrade ideas, check out my article 15 Awesome Gloomhaven Accessories and Upgrades.
I’ve created build guides for all the Gloomhaven starting characters, check them out – ranged build guide for the Cragheart, tank build Brute guide, Tinkerer crowd control build guide, Mindthief damage and stun guide, and Spellweaver AoE guide.
More Gloomhaven articles
- 15 Awesome Gloomhaven Accessories and Upgrades
- Gloomhaven Classes – Starting Characters Overview and Rank
- Brute Guide – Tank Build
- Cragheart Guide – Ranged Build
- Mindthief Guide – Damage with Stun Build
- Scoundrel Guide – Single Target Poison Build
- Spellweaver Guide – Area of Effect Build
- Tinkerer Guide – Crowd Control build
- Locked Class – Sunkeeper Guide
- Locked Class – Elementalist Guide