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Gloomhaven Cthulhu Guide – Build & Strategy – Locked Class

The Plagueherald (aka Cthulhu / Squid Face) is a ranged class from the Gloomhaven unlockable characters. It specializes in giving monsters Poison, Curse and Muddle. This 2nd Edition Gloomhaven Plagueherald guide focuses on building and playing a damage-focused Poison & Curse Hybrid Plagueherald.

Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Guide Structure

This article is a complete guide to playing a Poison Curse Hybrid Gloomhaven Plagueherald that focuses on dealing damage and giving Poison and Curse to monsters.

The Plagueherald guide covers all levels from 1-9 and evaluates each card for how well it fits with this build. This is a second edition Plagueherald guide.


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This Plagueherald guide follows this structure:

  • Why a Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid build?
  • Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid strategy
  • Level 1-9 cards and decks
  • Plagueherald Perks
  • Plagueherald Items
  • Plagueherald Enhancements
  • Plagueherald Experience
  • Plagueherald Combos
  • Plagueherald Names
  • Conclusion

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

Plagueherald class miniature and character board
Plagueherald class miniature and character board

Why a Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid build?

There are several different Plagueherald build types that I’ve seen, read about and tried out myself. They roughly break down into the following five builds.

Curse

I’ve played this build and it’s extremely effective. It’s awesome when monsters can’t even touch you and your allies because they keep drawing Curses! The great thing about Curse is that it remains powerful as you level. Null damage at level 1 might mean it stops 3 damage. At level 9 it might stop 8.

It’s also effective in a 2 player-4 player party as the number of monsters scales with the number of players. So the number of hits its blocking remains balanced.

Even though the Curse build is a very effective Plagueherald build, I didn’t find it hugely fun. Perhaps because the character I’d just retired focused on damage negation so I wanted a change.

Poison

The Poison build is more damage focused, rather than the Curse build’s support focus. I generally enjoy playing damage and ranged characters more than melee or support, so it naturally appealed to me more. Poison gives all allies including yourself a +1 damage to all hits, so in a 4 player party like the one I play in, this can add up to a lot of extra damage in a turn.

Poison doesn’t level as well as the null damage on Curse does. That +1 doesn’t have as much impact at level 9, but the abilities compensate for some of this by boosting the damage on Poisoned monsters.

You also have to balance the payoff of Poisoning an ally for a bonus. Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes not.

Tank

I’ve not played the tank build myself. The ranged abilities and low HP of the Plagueherald don’t lend themselves hugely well to it. They do have some shields, Disadvantage and Muddle abilities, so they can step in and off-tank occasionally, however, I think it would feel quite intense!

Support

Using a mixed bag of abilities like Heal to help allies, Poison to boost allies damage, Curse to weaken monsters, Muddle to give them disadvantage etc a Support Plagueherald is possible. Which seems a little strange for a buzzing, chirping swarm of insects…

While you can totally run this build for your character, it didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to have more synergies between my card choices and playstyle, rather than a versatile take each turn as it comes kind of approach.

Poison Curse Hybrid

This is the build I went for and the one this Plagueherald guide follows. I found that with either a full focus on Poison or a full focus on Curse you run into the same problem. You’re so good that you max out your impact! You Poison all the monsters in the room easily, or the monster modifier deck is already at the maximum number of 10 Curses. Which wastes your next Poison or Curse.

My build placed the emphasis on Poison over Curse generally as I focused on damage output rather than support. However, it includes both effects for the reason mentioned above. Plus, at some levels, the Curse ability was a better fit or better value than the Poison ability.

Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Strategy

Negate damage by losing a card

With our hand limit of 11, we can afford to lose a card to protect our squishy selves if we need to. Hopefully, this situation won’t arise very often though!

Curse early if you can

If we eliminate a monster while doing damage with an ability that has Curse, we don’t get to add the Curse card to the deck. That’s because Curse is applied after damage. Story-wise if the monster is dead, it can’t be cursed.

The best thing we can do is go early on turns when we’re using a Curse ability. We generally have pretty slow initiative cards though, so try to save your faster cards for Curse turns.

Avoid Poisoning allies

Some of the Plagueherald Poison abilities affect all allies and monsters. While you can occasionally choose to affect allies for boosts it might annoy them if you do this often! So try to save it for when it’s absolutely worth it!

Heal Poisoned allies quickly

For when it is worth it to Poison or Wound allies, make sure you heal them quickly so they aren’t affected long term by your actions! You have an adjacent lower heal action available from level 1 and a ranged heal from level 2. Make sure you remember to use them, lest the monsters gain the upper hand against your allies!

Stay out of the way

Kind of an obvious strategy for a squishy class, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. Even at level 9 our max health is only 14, so we don’t want to attract any monster attention! Luckily, we only have a couple of Range 2 abilities, the rest are range 3 so we can keep a good distance most of the time.

Keep the Curse cards next to you

Just to make your life easier, keep the Curse cards next to you and put yourself in charge of adding them to the monster deck when necessary. It makes for much smoother gameplay for everyone. Plus, you can see how many of the 10 monster cards are waiting to go into the monster deck!

Poison, Curse or Muddle

What you do on each turn for the best impact will change throughout each scenario.

If the monster deck is full of Curses, get some Muddle out there so they flip the Curses faster. If you’ve got a little pile of Curses waiting to go into the monster deck, then spread some Curses around. If your allies are about to dive into a group of monsters, get some Poison on them to give them all a +1 to each hit.

That’s the beauty of this build, you aren’t wedded to just Poison or Curse, you can do both to maximise your impact on each turn.

Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid card analysis

Loads of things affect the evaluation of a card. Such as party composition, build type, and situation. No card is inherently bad or good, some just fit better depending on what you’re looking for.

For the Poison Curse Hybrid build I looked for cards that had (in this order):

  • Ranged damage
  • Poison
  • Curse

At each level, I wanted a decent amount of movement abilities and not too many losses.

Plagueherald cards

There are 30 cards in the Plagueherald deck from level 1-9. They are all in a beautiful shade of minty green!

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. Air and Dark elements are used to boost abilities.

Level 1 Plagueherald cards

We can just grab all 11 level 1 cards and play because we have an 11 card hand limit. Sometimes it can be fun to do this and try out the class with the base cards to get a feel for it before you start making decisions on how you want to build your character.

But let’s see how these starting cards fit in with a Poison Curse Hybrid.

Biting Gnats

Level 1 Plagueherald card Biting Gnats
Level 1 Plagueherald card Biting Gnats

Top ability

Ranged? Check! Decent damage? Check! Two targets, for 2 damage at level 1 and a range 4 is pretty awesome! We scoop up an easy experience point too.

We even have a couple of enhancement dots on the damage and target to boost this little ability futher.

Bottom ability

A reusable Move 4 is awesome at any level and we’ve got one at level 1!

Overall Biting Gnats card rating

Fantastic card and decent damage at level 1. We have a very middling initiative of 47, but good initiatives are hard to come by for the Plagueherald anyway!

Creeping Curse

Level 1 Plagueherald card Creeping Curse
Level 1 Plagueherald card Creeping Curse

Top ability

Sweet! 3 damage at range 3 with a Curse. And it’s resuable! This is one of our staple cards at level 1. We can even enhance the damage if we want to.

The 72 initiative makes it trickly to apply the Curse because we’re hitting the monster after our allies, so we may just finish it off! The best bet is to pair this with a faster card.

Bottom ability

The Curse bonus is nice if you can get it. In reality, you won’t be sidling up alongside monsters that often!

Overall Creeping Curse card rating

The reusable top is awesome! The Move 2 is basically a standard Move with an occasional bonus. Again a poor initiative at 72.

Foul Wind

Level 1 Plagueherald card Foul Wind
Level 1 Plagueherald card Foul Wind

Top ability

This is the first level 1 card that I left behind. I’m happy to play losses if they are worth it, but this one is hard to set up. At level 1, all 5 of our Air generating abilities are losses, and it’s only with Air that we can get the +1 this ability offers. This ability means we need to play another loss card to use this. That’s expensive to me.

We can only generate 5 Air by ourselves and this gives us 6 tracker slots, so we’d need an ally to create another Air for us, or get a loss ability back somehow.

It would be cool adding that +1 to our AoEs, but there are other ways to get damage boosts for those – having Poison on the monsters already or with items.

Bottom ability

Loot 1 is ok, but it’s not like we’re surrounded by dropped monsters and shiny gold. We’re buzzing around at the back hurling Poison.

The only time we’d use this is when we’re leaving a room. But even then, then to be efficient on our turn, we’d want to pair this with a Move action in the top slot on another card so we can Move and Loot in the same turn. We don’t have a top slot Move anywhere in our deck.

Overall Foul Wind card rating

An easy pass. The 35 initiative would have been nice because it’s quite fast for us. But it’s not worth using a standard action to get.

Gathering Doom

Level 1 Plagueherald card Gathering Doom
Level 1 Plagueherald card Gathering Doom

Top ability

Deja vu anyone? That’s right. This is the exact same ability as the top of Creeping Curse. It was good on that card, and it’s good on this one!

Bottom ability

What a nice way to end a scenario! Scoop up all the loot within 2 hexes, get an experience point and create a nice breeze to cool our allies down.

Overall Gathering Doom card rating

Fabulous top action that we’ll use over and over and a bottom action to use at the end. 76 initiative isn’t going to help us apply that Curse, but at least it’s a solid high one for when we want to go late.

Grasping Vermin

Level 1 Plagueherald card Grasping Vermin
Level 1 Plagueherald card Grasping Vermin

Top ability

0 damage? Sigh. It’s ok if the monsters are already Poisoned because we’re actually doing +1 to them all. But that means we need to set this up.

We could play Vile Pestilence on the turn before to apply Poison, then play this on the next turn and hope the monsters are mostly in the same spots. But that’s a lot of set-up.

It would be worth it if the status effect was awesome, but Immobilize is unreliable. Monsters may already be next to allies or they might have ranged abilities.

It doesn’t tick the boxes of what we’re looking for in this build.

Bottom ability

We’re not playing tank or off-tank with this build so we don’t need a persistent Shield from our range 3 position. We really don’t want to be taking -1 from our damage to have it either!

Overall Grasping Vermin card rating

Not a great fit for us. Can see how both abilities could be useful for an off-tank build though.

Paralyzing Bite

Level 1 Plagueherald card Paralyzing Bite
Level 1 Plagueherald card Paralyzing Bite

Top ability

It’s always a special moment when I see Stun on an ability. The only status effect we can’t add as an enhancement because it’s game-breaking at scale!

This is a nice little controller that can give our tank a moment if they need to heal or we have a monster that’s about to do something awful! Oozes anyone?

Bottom ability

This is perfect for sprinting to the end of a get to the exit scenario! We won’t mind losing it at that point either.

Overall Paralyzing Bite card rating

Great supporting top and a good loss for the right situations. The 31 initiative is pretty fast for us as well.

Scattered Terror

Level 1 Plagueherald card Scattered Terror
Level 1 Plagueherald card Scattered Terror

Top ability

There’s a lot going on here! We’re looking at 6 damage across 3 monsters if they’re all in range 3, that is. The Pierce will help us get through some Shields but we can usually get through them without too much trouble at level 1.

It’s quite an expensive loss.

Bottom ability

There usually aren’t that many monsters targeting us on a turn, so we don’t really need this ability. Great for an off-tank though.

Overall Scattered Terror card rating

The top loss does less damage than the other top losses we can choose at level 1, and the bottom isn’t useful for us. The 11 initiative is the best thing about this card. So we could always just ignore the bottom text and replace it with Move 2 and bring it along for the initiative.

Spread the Plague

Level 1 Plagueherald card Spread the Plague
Level 1 Plagueherald card Spread the Plague

Top ability

In the eyes of a Plagueherald, Poison is a blessing, so of course they want to give it to allies as well as monsters!

Your allies may not like you much for it, though. But I think they’ll get over it when you only use it occasionally to boost an AoE targetting 8 monsters and you remove it with a heal afterwards!

In a larger party with another ranged class, it’s usually not too much of an issue to Poison them. They’re safely away from the action like you are and you can always remove it on the next turn by healing them with Winged Congregation. In a smaller party where your ally is bearing the brunt of the monsters hits, it’s a riskier play.

Bottom ability

Wahoo! A bottom ranged ability! Always lovely to see one of these. Now we can do damage twice on turns when we don’t need to Move.

Overall Spread the Plague card rating

The top loss is actually quite fun to use if you’re in the right party. For all the rest of the time, you’ve got a brilliant reusable bottom ability. The 27 initiative is quite quick for us too.

Vile Pestilence

Level 1 Plagueherald card Vile Pestilence
Level 1 Plagueherald card Vile Pestilence

Top ability

I’m seeing red! Lots of it! And it’s wonderful!

This ability will put a smile on your face every time you use it. It’s a fantastic choice when you enter a new room to splash Poison all over the unsuspecting monsters. Use it when you first enter and it’s less likely that your allies will have moved into the area of effect by that point so they won’t be affected.

Ideally, pair Vile Pestilence with a fast initiative card like Winged Congregation or Scattered Terror so you can get it applied before your allies take their turn.

Then you and your teammates get a +1 damage on all your hits in that room. All those +1s over 7 monsters and several allies benefitting from them, adds up to a lot of additional damage!

Bottom ability

You will very, very rarely use this Move 3 because it’s all about the top ability that you’ll use every rest cycle!

Overall Vile Pestilence card rating

Incredible top that’s super important for this build. A middling 61 initiative, but we want to pair it with a faster card anyway.

 

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Winged Congregation

Level 1 Plagueherald card Winged Congregation
Level 1 Plagueherald card Winged Congregation

Top ability

You know those scenarios where uneven ground and traps seem to be everywhere? Well, now you don’t need to care anymore! You can just fly right over them.

This is one of those abilities that seems like it’s not hugely necessary, but you’ll be glad you have it when the ground is covered with stuff!

Bottom ability

I mostly used this for removing Poison from allies after using Spread the Plague. That ability works really well with the Move 2 because I could move up to them first, then remove the effect.

Overall Winged Congregation card rating

A humble looking card but does a lot for us. The 16 initiative is much needed, flying is a great ability to have in our repertoire and the Move 2 with Heal 1 is perfect for removing the Poison we apply to our allies.

Wretched Swarm

Level 1 Plagueherald card Wretched Swarm
Level 1 Plagueherald card Wretched Swarm

Top ability

“No turn for you!” You say as you smugly play this ability. 7 monsters out of action for an entire turn can change a scenario that’s going badly, back into your favour. No wonder this is a loss.

It doesn’t even matter that the damage is only 1. If you’ve used Vile Pestilence in the turn before, they’re all Poisoned too, so that’s really 2 damage to 7 monsters with stun. Amazing!

Bottom ability

Exactly what we want to see on the bottom of a card with a loss on top. A high reusable Move that we can use until we’re happy to play the top later in the scenario.

Overall Wretched Swarm card rating

Love this card! The top feels amazing to play and can give your party the boost it needs to win. The 84 initiative isn’t great for when we want to Stun because we want to do that as early in the current turn as we can, but we can pair it with something faster. And for all the rest of the time, we have a decent late initiative.

Level X Plagueherald cards

At level 1 we can also choose from the level X cards. For this hybrid Poison Curse build, they have some pretty cool abilities.

Plagueherald level X cards - Blistering Vortex, Epidemic, Virulent Strain
Plagueherald level X cards – Blistering Vortex, Epidemic, Virulent Strain

Blistering Vortex

Top ability

3 damage across 3 hexes gives us a 9 damage loss. It’s ok for a level 1 ability – especially if the monsters are already Poisoned because then it becomes a 12 damage ability.

We’ll get a couple of experience points for using it which is always nice to grab and some Air will waft around too.

Bottom ability

Generally speaking, we don’t need the Shield because we aren’t getting hit. Which makes this a Move 2 most of the time.

Overall Blistering Vortex card rating

The top loss is ok for level 1. We likely won’t benefit from the Shield, but we would always benefit from the 21 initiative!

Epidemic

Top ability

Pretty sweet 6 damage reusable ability here. The only drawback is that it’s range 2 which is a hex closer than we’d ideally like. But that’s not too bad. We can just make sure we’re not the monster’s next target by using it after our allies and positioning smartly.

The main issue is that with a range of only 2, it can be tricky reaching 2 monsters while also positioning ourselves in a safe place.

Bottom ability

This is such an interesting persistent ability. After every single move you Poison everyone adjacent to you – friend or foe. For a ranged build, it’s not an ideal fit because we don’t want to be next to the monsters! Plus, if we want to Poison an ally for a bonus effect, we have Spread the Plague which allows us to do it at 2 range.

This ability is only really helpful for an off tank build that’s in melee range regularly.

Overall Epidemic card rating

It’s an ok card at level 1 for another reusable top ability.

Virulent Strain

Top ability

Look carefully at this ability. What’s missing?

Range! It’s rangeless. Very nice.

All the Poison we spread around when we enter a room comes in very useful. A monster with a high shield but almost no health left? Boom! Gone! Thanks to the 3 direct damage this ability does.

Bottom ability

Because we just can’t get enough of the green effect, here’s how we can apply even more of it! I found that I used the top of this card more than this ability though, because Vile Pestilence gets pretty much every monster in the room anyway!

Having said that, in some rooms where the monsters were spread out into a couple of groups, this ability did come in useful. The perfect time to play it was after a monster from the first infected group had started to mingle with the second group.

Overall Virulent Strain card rating

The top ability is a great way for us to get through Shields, the bottom is helpful only sometimes. A 50 initiative is right in the middle so not great for planning.

Level 1 Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid build

With this build, we’re looking for ranged damage, Poison and then Curse abilities. In that order.

In our starting hand we have a bit of all the things we’re looking for. We could do with more abilities that apply Poison and more bonuses for when monsters are affected with it.

It would also be nice to see some higher single target damage options for when we want to take a monster down quickly. Plus, more reusable top damage abilities would be good and some faster initiative cards.

Level 1 Plagueherald deck

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 1 cards
Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 1 cards

At level 1, I found most of the choices straightforward. There were only two cards that I spent a while deciding over – Scattered Terror and Blistering Vortex.

For both cards, we’ll be using the bottom ability as a Move 2. The tops are reasonably similar. They are both range 3, 3 target losses which create Air and 2 experience. Terror will do 2 damage on each target with Pierce 2 so long as they are in range 3. Vortex will do 3 on each target so long as they are within a set hex formation.

Scattered Terror has a faster 11 initiative to Vortex’s 21. So it comes down to whether we want more flexibility with targetting and a faster initiative or 3 higher damage. I went with Scattered Terror for the initiative and targetting flexibility.

  • Biting Gnats
  • Creeping Curse
  • Gathering Doom
  • Paralyzing Bite
  • Spread the Plague
  • Vile Pestilence
  • Winged Congregation
  • Wretched Swarm
  • Scattered Terror
  • Epidemic
  • Virulent Strain

Level 2 Plagueherald cards

Level 2 Plagueherald cards - Rot Maggots and Under the Skin
Level 2 Plagueherald cards – Rot Maggots and Under the Skin

Rot Maggots

Top ability

Ooh, look at that! A Poison icon. That looks like something we want. Or does it?

4 damage on a single target sounds fabulous. It’s a shame it’s a range 2, but we can just be smart about when we use it. Ideally when the monster isn’t also adjacent to an ally!

Following this ability up with the bottom of Virulent Strain can be a cool way to spread Poison through a group of monsters.

Bottom ability

These little heals are perfect for removing the Poison we might apply to our allies from Spread the Plague. We can also use it to top up the health of front line allies that are helpfully keeping the monsters away from us!

Depending on how liberal you are with Poisoning your teammates, you may use this heal more often than the top ability.

Overall Rot Maggots card rating

The top looks awesome initially, but it’s not perfect. We need to be careful when we use it. The lower heal ability is nice and versatile with the range 3 we want. 69 initiative will not help us to plan.

Under the Skin

Top ability

Another reusable 3 damage, range 3 ability just like we have on Creeping Curse and Gathering Doom, but this time we get Pierce instead of Curse.

Another reusable top is fine, and the Pierce helps with Shields, but it’s nothing hugely special. Pierce doesn’t scale as effectively as Curse.

Bottom ability

Move 4 that’s spammable. Always a good thing to see!

Overall Under the Skin card rating

The reusable top is a reliable way to get through Shielded monsters and the bottom is solid too. A decent card.

Level 2 Plagueherald build

What to pick up

Because we have other cards which work well with the top of Rot Maggots, it’s a good choice for our build. Under the Skin is a solid card for damage but doesn’t offer anything hugely special.

What to drop

Scattered Terror. It was our 2nd to last card choice anyway!

Level 2 Plagueherald deck

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 2 cards
Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 2 cards
  • Biting Gnats
  • Creeping Curse
  • Gathering Doom
  • Paralyzing Bite
  • Spread the Plague
  • Vile Pestilence
  • Winged Congregation
  • Wretched Swarm
  • Rot Maggots
  • Epidemic
  • Virulent Strain

Level 3 Plagueherald cards

Level 3 Plagueherald cards - Fetid Flurry and Succumb to the Gift
Level 3 Plagueherald cards – Fetid Flurry and Succumb to the Gift

Fetid Flurry

Top ability

Sweet! A 4 damage, 3 range reusable ability! We even get to add a Curse to the deck providing we don’t deal the final blow.

The 26 initiative will help us with that!

Bottom ability

Unfortunately, we don’t have any use for Air otherwise this would be awesome. It’s the first reusable ability we have that will create Air. All the others are losses until this point. The Move 2 by itself doesn’t give us anything we don’t already have.

Overall Fetid Flurry card rating

The top ranged ability is awesome and we’ll use it over and over again. The 26 initiative is great to have too. The bottom is just a normal Move but we won’t really use it.

Succumb to the Gift

Top ability

An instant monster removal ability provided they are Poisoned. Well, it’s easy for us to get Poison on a monster. But is it worth losing a card to get rid of that monster? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how the scenario is going!

It’s only a normal monster and we have no easy way to get our loss cards back.

Bottom ability

This is a strange one. If we’ve Poisoned our allies for some bonus damage or just because they were in the way, generally speaking, our allies want that Poison removed asap! We do that using a heal on the lower half of a card. So to delay that removal by one more turn to add a Bless to their deck, would be an odd choice.

You could pair this with Vile Pestilence, Poison all your allies and then Bless them all, but that would mean those in melee range are going to take more damage! Taking more damage to dish more out with Bless is like a weird retaliate.

Overall Succumb to the Gift rating

Like all cards with a top loss, we want a good reusable ability on the bottom. Blessing poisoned allies isn’t it. Plus, there’s a 70 initiative just to make it even worse. Not a great card in my opinion.

Level 3 Plagueherald build

What to pick up

Fetid Flurry. The 26 initiative and reusable high-damage ranged Curse is much more reliably usable than either ability on Succumb to the Gift.

What to drop

Epidemic. The range 2, target 2 can be quite troublesome to use and it puts us at a closer range than we’d ideally like. We will do 2 less damage with Fetid Flurry but we will be adding a Curse to the monster deck to make up for it.

Level 3 Plagueherald deck

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 3 cards
Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 3 cards
  • Biting Gnats
  • Creeping Curse
  • Gathering Doom
  • Paralyzing Bite
  • Spread the Plague
  • Vile Pestilence
  • Winged Congregation
  • Wretched Swarm
  • Rot Maggots
  • Fetid Flurry
  • Virulent Strain

Level 4 Plagueherald cards

Level 4 Plagueherald cards - Nightmarish Affliction and Storm of Wings
Level 4 Plagueherald cards – Nightmarish Affliction and Storm of Wings

Nightmarish Affliction

Top ability

The effects went in two by two. Hurrah! Hurrah!

This card is amazing and absolutely perfect for a hybrid build! We get to dish out two Curses and two Poisons with every use. Plus we generate a Dark, which will be extremely useful at level 5 and 6!

We even get some enhancement dots if we want to splash some cash on them. An additional target will set us back 175 gold, but it’s well worth it.

Bottom ability

Compared to the top ability, this pales in comparison. However, it could be helpful if you really need to stop a melee ally getting swarmed with monsters. To be honest, I never used it!

Overall Nightmarish Affliction card rating

It’s all about the top ability! Absolutely amazing. You’ll use it every scenario and love it! We only have a 43 initiative, but you can’t have everything.

Storm of Wings

Top ability

Without the bonus, this is a 4 damage ability and the bonus takes some setting up. Not only would we need to use the bottom of Fetid Flurry (rather than its ranged Curse top) to generate the Air, but we’d also need monsters in the right position to hit extra targets.

With a range of 4, and keeping a range of at least 1, we’d get a maximum of 2 more monsters. So a total of 12 damage but a set up that includes missing out on the 4 damage from Fetid Flurry. I don’t think it’s worth it.

Bottom ability

The highest reusable move we’ve come across so far. But it’s not as though we’re short on movement. We can do without it.

Overall Storm of Wings card rating

The Move 5 is pretty decent if we are hanging onto the top for a while. The 91 initiative is great for going late.

Level 4 Plagueherald build

What to pick up

Nightmarish Affliction. It’s one of the best cards we get!

What to drop

We’re bringing in a card without a Move on the bottom, so ideally we want to swap it out for another without a Move on the bottom. I dropped Paralyzing Bite. We weren’t using the Move 6 loss very often so won’t miss it.

In terms of stopping damage received by allies, the two Curses on Nightmarish Affliction will block the same damage as the Stun. Granted, we can’t control when.

Level 4 Plagueherald deck

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 4 cards
Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 4 cards
  • Biting Gnats
  • Creeping Curse
  • Gathering Doom
  • Nightmarish Affliction
  • Spread the Plague
  • Vile Pestilence
  • Winged Congregation
  • Wretched Swarm
  • Rot Maggots
  • Fetid Flurry
  • Virulent Strain

Level 5 Plagueherald cards

Level 5 Plagueherald cards - Accelerated End and Willing Sacrifice
Level 5 Plagueherald cards – Accelerated End and Willing Sacrifice

Accelerated End

Top ability

For a Poison thrower like us, using this ability after Vile Pestilence which infects 7 and Nightmarish Affliction which can infect another 2, this is amazing. That’s somewhere between 9 and 18 damage! And we can do it again! Because it’s a reusable ability.

It feels epic! And is a great excuse to use a Stamina Potion!

Because it’s direct damage it makes light work of low health monsters with shields.

Bottom ability

Compared to the top, this looks a lot less interesting. But it’s a good secondary option. There are times when we don’t need to move and we want to hand out some more Poison. The 5 range means we can pretty much reach any monster.

Overall Accelerated End card rating

The top ability is ace and never gets old. The bottom is perfectly fine sometimes. 62 initiative isn’t amazing, but we’re used to that.

Willing Sacrifice

Top ability

If there’s a healer in your group, you could use this every turn to do an extra 3 damage per turn. That’s not a bad trade, one of your health for 3 monster damage and that’s on top of the other damage you’re doing. With our hand limit of 11, we can afford to have a persistent loss in play without getting exhausted.

It’s not something I tried.

Bottom ability

Because we’re trying to avoid Poisoning our allies, there are limited opportunities to use this. Plus, we need to set it up with Air from the lower half of Fetid Flurry. This means we’d miss out on using its damage-dealing top.

Overall Willing Sacrifice card rating

If you’ve got a healer, you could give the top of Willing Sacrifice a go. The 84 initiative will help us go late if we want.

Level 5 Plagueherald build

What to pick up

Accelerated End.

What to drop

Virulent Strain. We can now deal significantly more than 3 damage to Poisoned monsters with our new top ability. We also have a more reliable way to deal Poison to 3 monsters with no need for them to be adjacent to each other.

Level 5 Plagueherald deck

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 5 cards
Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 5 cards
  • Biting Gnats
  • Creeping Curse
  • Gathering Doom
  • Nightmarish Affliction
  • Spread the Plague
  • Vile Pestilence
  • Winged Congregation
  • Wretched Swarm
  • Rot Maggots
  • Fetid Flurry
  • Accelerated End

Level 6 Plagueherald cards

Level 6 Plagueherald cards - Black Tides and Stinging Cloud
Level 6 Plagueherald cards – Black Tides and Stinging Cloud

With these two cards side by side, one immediately looks more appealing, but let’s see if it’s true on closer inspection!

Black Tides

Top ability

A single target, range 3, 4 damage ability is something we had available at level 3 on the top of Fetid Flurry. And that hands out a Curse too. It makes the top of Black tides look very underwhelming.

Perhaps if we wanted the Air, it might be worth it, but we’re all about the Darkness.

Bottom ability

Move 4 with a lovely Dark generator. That would be nice to have so we have another option to power Accelerated End.

Overall Black Tides card rating

The top does the same damage as our level 3 card’s top ability and while the Dark on the bottom would be nice, it’s not worth taking because of the top.

Stinging Cloud

Top ability

These big red circles are lovely, aren’t they?

Even if all the monsters in that area of effect aren’t Poisoned we’re looking at a potential 14 damage. If they’ve all been poisoned with Vile Pestilence already, that increases to 21! Boost it with Spread the Plague beforehand and that’s another +1 to each hex. Soo, 28!

You may not get a monster in every hex but you’ll still do a lot of damage. It’s reusable too. Awesome.

And if that wasn’t enough, we can use Dark to power it up, Muddle everything and get them to flip 2 modifiers per turn, doubling the rate at which they’ll draw Curses! Accelerated End will be competing for the attention of that Dark though, so see which works out better for you depending on how many Curses are in the monster deck at the time.

Bottom ability

A perfectly fine Move 3, with a Shield we’ll likely not need.

Overall Stinging Cloud card rating

It’s all about the top here. It’s amazing the amount of damage it can do! You may want to pair it with a faster card like Winged Congregation to use it when monsters are in the perfect position!

Level 6 Plagueherald build

What to pick up

Stinging Cloud.

What to drop

Creeping Curse or Biting Gnats are the two cards I thought about dropping at this level. In the end, I went with Biting Gnats. I wanted to keep the Curse from Creeping Curse more than the 1 extra damage. At level 6, the Curse blocks far more damage than the 1 extra from Biting Gnats deals and I found that I didn’t need the high movement most of the time.

Level 6 Plagueherald deck

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 6 cards
Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 6 cards
  • Stinging Cloud
  • Creeping Curse
  • Gathering Doom
  • Nightmarish Affliction
  • Spread the Plague
  • Vile Pestilence
  • Winged Congregation
  • Wretched Swarm
  • Rot Maggots
  • Fetid Flurry
  • Accelerated End

Level 7 Plagueherald cards

Level 7 Plagueherald cards - Airborne Toxin and Baneful Hex
Level 7 Plagueherald cards – Airborne Toxin and Baneful Hex

Airborne Toxin

Top ability

In the first edition, Airborne Toxin used to have a range of 2. That 1 extra range was a game-changer. With the Air boost, you’d be able to reach all the monsters in the room in a couple of uses. What a way to fill that modifier deck with Curses!

With a Range of 1, we can’t really do much. To make it half useable, we need to boost it with Air from the bottom of Fetif Flurry, and even then, we’re getting a bit close to monsters.

It’s a shame, because Curse and Muddle work wonderfully together! But apparently too well. That’s why it got nerfed, right?

Bottom ability

If we didn’t already have loads of Poison dealing cards with Vile Pestilence, Accelerated End, Rot Maggots and Nightmarish Affliction, we might be interested in this loss. However, we don’t find it very difficult to affect an entire room.

Overall Airborne Toxin card rating

The top has been nerfed so much that it’s quite difficult to affect many monsters with it. The bottom is something that we don’t need. Plus, the other card on offer is much, much better…

Baneful Hex

Top ability

What’s better than a monster drawing a null? Drawing a null AND taking 3 direct damage when they do! Now that’s what I call a critical fail!

The best thing about Baneful Hex is that it’s totally passive. You put in play knowing that you’ll deal bonus damage so long as you sprinkle Curses into the monster deck. If we get 10 Curses into the monster deck and they are all flipped at some point, that’s 30 damage in a scenario. It’s amazing.

Get it into play before you start handing out Curses because you never know how quickly they’ll be flipped!

Bottom ability

I don’t think I ever used this ability! I guess if you’re playing the off-tank it could be fun to use but you’d maybe still want to play the top later.

Overall Baneful Hex card rating

It’s all about the top! This ability is such a damage booster. We even get a pretty fast initiative on the turn we play it. Lovely!

Level 7 Plagueherald build

What to pick up

Baneful Hex.

What to drop

Creeping Curse. The bottom of Baneful Hex is a direct upgrade and so is the top in a roundabout sense. Instead of doing 3 damage once with the top of Creeping Curse, we now get to do 3 direct damage every time a monster flips a Curse. It’s a shame to take a Curse out when we’re adding an ability that benefits from them being in the deck, but it’s still worth it.

Level 7 Plagueherald deck

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 7 cards
Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 7 cards
  • Stinging Cloud
  • Baneful Hex
  • Gathering Doom
  • Nightmarish Affliction
  • Spread the Plague
  • Vile Pestilence
  • Winged Congregation
  • Wretched Swarm
  • Rot Maggots
  • Fetid Flurry
  • Accelerated End

Level 8 Plagueherald cards

Level 8 Plagueherald cards - Grim Bargain and Spreading Scourge
Level 8 Plagueherald cards – Grim Bargain and Spreading Scourge

Grim Bargain

Top ability

Anytime we’re doing something negative to our teammates, it’d better be worth it. And this actually is.

We can add 2 targets to our next ability. Applied to Nightmarish Affliction, that means getting 4 monsters with Curses and Poison in one turn. Do that twice and we’ve almost filled the monster deck with Curses!

However, it’s any ally within Range 2. If you’re in a party like I was, I was within range of one ranged ally most of the time. That poor ally is going to be the one with their deck littered with Curses! You can of course shimmy up to melee allies to spread the Curses around but that means using actions to move more than is really necessary for us.

Plus, we can already keep the monster deck topped up with Curses pretty well by now.

Bottom ability

The best candidate for this ability would be Stinging Cloud. We’d do 4 damage over 7 hexes if just used on the base damage value of 2. That’s a lot of damage! Especially if the monsters in the area are already Poisoned, then we add another 1 to that. 5 x 7 = 35 damage!

But, we can already do 28 damage without needing to lose a card for it by boosting our damage with Spread the Plague and making sure the targets are Poisoned first. We don’t need to carry this double loss card around with us for that big one off.

Overall Grim Bargain card rating

A double loss card with some interesting options. I’d really like to have a seen a reusable ability on one half that we can use until we’re ready to use a loss, though.

Spreading Scourge

Top ability

These red AoEs keep getting bigger! Now we can hit up to 12 hexes in one go! We don’t even need to use Dark to get Muddle on these monsters! Perfect! It frees that Dark up for Accelerated End and the monsters will be flipping through the deck and getting to our Curses quickly.

All these swarming insect abilities make me almost feel sorry for the monsters. Almost.

Bottom ability

A direct upgrade to the bottom of Rot Maggots, now we can heal all our allies in one action from the damage we may or may not have inflicted ourselves! Fabulous.

Overall Spreading Scourge card rating

A great card with two reusable halves. Awesome!

Level 8 Plagueherald build

What to pick up

Spreading Scourge.

What to drop

Rot Maggots. The top of Spreading Scourge does significantly more damage even though we’re going to lose a Poison. But we have more ways to deal Poison now than we had at level 2.

We also have a direct upgrade to the lower heal by way of an additional target. Good job too, we’ll need it at level 9!

Level 8 Plagueherald deck

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 8 cards
Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 8 cards
  • Stinging Cloud
  • Baneful Hex
  • Gathering Doom
  • Nightmarish Affliction
  • Spread the Plague
  • Vile Pestilence
  • Winged Congregation
  • Wretched Swarm
  • Spreading Scourge
  • Fetid Flurry
  • Accelerated End

Level 9 Plagueherald cards

Level 9 Plagueherald cards - Convert the Flock and Mass Extinction
Level 9 Plagueherald cards – Convert the Flock and Mass Extinction

Convert the Flock

Top ability

Getting to level 9 is an exciting moment in any class! “What will the capstone abilities be?” I eagerly think.

Well. I was hoping for better than this.

12 damage across 3 and hands out 3 Curses. And it’s a loss so we can only do it once per scenario. Seeing as we’ve been able to get 2 Curses into the monster deck in one action since level 4 (and it also deals Poison and is reusable), it makes this ability look pretty dull at level 9.

Bottom ability

We haven’t gone with a build that inflicts Poison on allies regularly, so the benefit of this to us is limited. Even if we have Poisoned all 3 of our allies in a 4 player group this only gives +1 for each two allies damaged, so we only get a +1.

The number of potential allies increases with summons, but they tend to be squishy and that 2 damage is quite a lot to them. So yeah, takes some setup to get the damage bonus and we also have the aftermath to deal with removing Poison from our allies.

If we really want a +1 on our damage from Poisoning allies, we can always use the top of Spread the Plague instead.

Overall Convert the Flock card rating

Both abilities aren’t great. Neither offer anything we can’t already achieve with other cards. If we wanted to save the top ability, we’d have to use the bottom regularly to make this card worth it. And it’s not something we’d want to use all that often.

Mass Extinction

Top ability

Woah!

Filling our allies decks with Curses is not something a typical Gloomhaven class would do. But we’re not typical. We’re a swarming mass of insects.

With this ability, we can stuff the monster deck almost full of Curses in one turn at the start of a scenario.

Follow it up with Stinging Cloud and those Curses will be flipped incredibly quickly and we’ll do 3 damage to each monster when they do, plus that additional 1 damage from Wound. 4 damage without us doing anything actively.

To keep our teammates happy, we can use the bottom of Spreading Scourge to heal them all and remove Wound right away. We can’t do anything about their Curses unfortunately, but it’s only one Curse per deck and hopefully, they have something that gives them Advantage for important turns!

After all, 3 Curses for our team, means 6-8 Curses in the monster deck + Wound on them all. So we come off better!

Bottom ability

Wahoo! An upgrade on the top of Accelerated End! But it’s even better because it’s on the bottom so we can use Accelerated End along with this on the same turn.

If we use Nightmarish Affliction top and the bottom of Fetid Flurry on the turn before, we can boost Accelerated End with Dark and Mass Extinction with Air and do 6 damage to every Poisoned monster!

Overall Mass Extinction card rating

The perfect capstone card for our hybrid Curse and Poison build! If the monster deck is already pretty full of Curses, we can use the bottom. If it isn’t we can use the top.

Level 9 Plagueherald build

What to pick up

Mass Extinction.

What to drop

Gathering Doom unless you really want the gold for enhancements. But to be honest by level 9, you’re really powerful even without enhancements!

Level 9 Plagueherald deck

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 9 cards
Gloomhaven Plagueherald Poison Curse Hybrid Build Level 9 cards

So here’s our final deck! I love this Poison and Curse hybrid. Baneful Hex is what makes it. You get to hand out support by way of Curses, but they also do damage when they are drawn. That double-whammy feeling never gets old!

  • Stinging Cloud
  • Baneful Hex
  • Mass Extinction
  • Nightmarish Affliction
  • Spread the Plague
  • Vile Pestilence
  • Winged Congregation
  • Wretched Swarm
  • Spreading Scourge
  • Fetid Flurry
  • Accelerated End

Plagueherald Perks

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Perks Sheet
Plagueherald perks sheet

Like a with all Gloomhaven classes, it’s always a good plan to start by removing the negative modifiers. It increases our overall damage and well as making our flips more reliable.

After those, I took the ignore negative scenario effects perk. It’s always going to give us a benefit we can use.

After that, I added the rolling Curse cards. Most of the time, the monster deck will have space for another Curse when we flip one – especially at early levels when our Curse generation is a bit slower.

Then I added in the Stuns. Drawing one of these and putting a monster out of action is always a welcome bonus!

I took the Poisons after this. Even though we’ll be doing our best to spread Poison far and wide, sometimes we’ll flip one of these that means we can add it to another monster.

I put in the +1s with Air after that. Occasionally, you’ll flip one at level 9 so that you can use it to boost Mass Extinction without needing to use the bottom of Fetid Flurry. Freeing us up to use the top of Fetid Flurry’s 4 damage ability.

Keeping a thin modifier deck increases the chances of flipping the cards you want (namely, Curses and Stun). So it’s up to you if you want to take the add two +1 cards and the Immobilize cards to bulk up your modifier deck. Immobilize is the least attractive modifier to flip because we don’t know if it will be useful or not. It’s pretty useless on a monster with ranged abilities.

  1. Replace one -2 card with one +0 card
  2. Replace one -1 card with one +1 card
  3. Replace one -1 card with one +1 card
  4. Replace one +0 card with one +2 card
  5. Replace one +0 card with one +2 card
  6. Ignore negative scenario effects and add one +1 card
  7. Add two rolling Curse cards
  8. Add one rolling Stun card
  9. Add one rolling Stun card
  10. Add three Poison cards
  11. Add one +1 Air card
  12. Add one +1 Air card
  13. Add one +1 Air card
  14. Add two +1 cards
  15. Add two Immobilize cards

Plagueherald Items

Plagueherald starting item cards - Eagle-Eye Goggles, Boots of Striding, Minor Stamina Potion and Minor Power Potion
Plagueherald starting item cards – Eagle-Eye Goggles, Boots of Striding, Minor Stamina Potion and Minor Power Potion

I take a look at which starting items would be best for our Plagueherald here. I only look at starting items so there are no spoilers!

Eagle-Eye Goggles

30 gold

With our big AoEs, Advantage on every card flip for each hex can add up to a fair bit of bonus damage!

Boots of Striding

20 gold

We do ok for movement. But because we’re often at the back of the room and then need to move forward when the monsters are cleared, a little extra help goes a long way.

Minor Stamina Potion

10 gold

To help us get our most powerful card combos back.

Minor Power Potion

10 gold

A fantastic way to boost our AoEs. For example, 1 extra damage over 12 hexes on Spreading the Scourge is a lot of potential extra damage!

Plagueherald Enhancements

Enhancements can be expensive (especially the best ones!) so we want to make sure we’re getting a good return on our investment. I like to enhance cards that have reusable abilities so I get the benefit of multiple uses per scenario. I also like to enhance cards that are in my hand for a long, long time.

Add Curse on the top of Nightmarish Affliction

225 gold

While we have Vile Pestilence to help us deal out mass Poison, we don’t get a mass Curse ability until level 9, so adding extra Curses helps us to keep the monster deck full of them! 225 gold is a lot of gold to enhance this ability, but we get to deal 4 Curses with each use, rather than 2, so it’s still worth it.

Add Target on Nightmarish Affliction

300 gold

This is the dream enhancement for the Plagueherald! It’ll also have you dreaming of gold! It’s a pricey one because we’ve already enhanced this ability once.

But Instead of dishing out 2 Poisons and 4 Curses (thanks to our previous enhancement), we can now hand out 3 Poisons and 6 Curses! That’s the monster deck over half full of Curses in one go!

Add Curse on Fetid Flurry top

125 gold

For a more affordable option, an extra Curse on the top of Fetid Flurry allows us to put 2 Curses in the monster deck every time.

Plagueherald Experience

Plagueherald class board showing levels and hit points
Plagueherald class board showing levels and hit points

The Plagueheald levels quite slowly because the majority of the experience points are given on loss cards, or when an element is consumed when casting. Biting Gnats, Epidemic, Paralyzing Bite and Virulent Strain will help you to level until they are replaced.

You can see we remain squishy and only have 14 health even at level 9. It’s why we try to stay out of the way!

Plagueherald Combos

My favourite combos are both at level 9 using Mass Extinction top and bottom. One for the Curse led part of our hybrid build and one for the Poison led part. The effectiveness of both combos shows how all the little points of damage stack up as you level.

Cursemonger combo (level 9)

Turn 1

  • Lead with the early 27 initative of Spread the Plague but use the top ability of Mass Extinction first. Get those Curses and Wounds on all the monstgers. The earlier in the turn you get Curses into the Monster deck, the sooner the monsters can start drawing them!
  • Spread the Plague bottom to get a 3 damage ranged hit in.

Turn 2

  • Lead with the slightly better 61 initative on Stinging Cloud and use its top ability to consume the Dark we created on our previous turn to deal up to 14 damage and Muddle up to 7 monsters and get them flipping Curses faster!
  • Use the bottom of Spreading Scourge to heal our allies and remove the Wound we gave them on our previous turn.

Poisoner combo (Level 9)

Turn 1

  • Use the top of Vile Pestilence to Poison up to 7 monsters.
  • Use the bottom of Spreading Sourge to heal any allies caught in the Vile Pestilence Poison AoE!

Turn 2

  • Lead with the 26 initative on Fetid Flurry, but use the top of Nightmarish Affliction first to hand out some damage, Curses and Poison and to create Dark.
  • Use the Move 2 on Fetid Flurry to create Air.

Turn 3

  • Lead with the 62 initiative on Accelerated End, then use the top of ability and consume Dark and deal 3 damage to all Poisoned monsters.
  • Use the bottom of Mass Extinction and consume Air for 3 more damage to all Poisoned monsters.

Plagueherald Names

Our Harrower Plagueherald is a chittering, buzzing, swarming mass of insects with a hive mind. It believes that poison makes a society stronger. I used these traits and the fact that my Plagueherald build focused on Poison and Curse, to come up with my Plagueherald name of Jinx.

I also imagined that family heritage is not really needed for beings made from a hive mind so family names aren’t needed. I also felt that if the Plagueherald had a proper name, it would be pretty much impossible to pronounce for Gloomhaven adventurers so instead, it would go by a given name that was easier to say in Common.

Here are some other Plagueherald names to inspire you!

  • Tick
  • Venin
  • Blurr
  • Ant
  • Moth
  • Speck
  • Bug
  • Hex
  • Ruin
  • Legion

Another party member called their Plagueherald, Plague Harold which made me laugh!

Conclusion – Gloomhaven Plagueherald Guide – Poison Curse Hybrid Build

I really enjoyed my hybrid build Plagueherald. It is amazing how powerful you feel when you affect huge numbers of monsters in one turn or mix in a stack of Curses in one go!

A poison-spreading insect swarm is a creative take on a ranged class which added to the fun for me. I’m not sure why anyone would choose to adventure with a Plagueherald, but Gloomhaven is a strange place!

I’m currently creating guides for all the locked classes! If you enjoyed this Plagueherald guide, check them out! Listed here by their code names, I’ve completed: a Triforce class guide, a Two Minis guide, an Eclipse / Moon guide, a Sun guide, a Lightning Bolt guide, a Circles guide, an Angry Face guide, a Three Spears guide and a Music Note guide.

I’ve created build guides for all the Gloomhaven starting characters – ranged build guide for the Cragheart, tank build Brute guide, Tinkerer crowd control build guide, Mindthief damage and stun guide, Spellweaver AoE guide and a Scoundrel single target poison build guide.

If you enjoy Gloomhaven as much as I do, it’s natural to want to upgrade it to improve your gaming experience. I especially like these cards sleeves and this organizer insert on Amazon, and this incredible 3D 108 piece custom Gloomhaven scenery set on Etsy! Seriously, go check it out!

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

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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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