Gloomhaven Spellweaver Guide – AoE Build & Strategy

emily mini profile pic By Emily

The Spellweaver is the mage of the Gloomhaven starting characters. She harnesses the power of elements to deal damage. This Spellweaver guide focuses on the area of effect build and strategy. 

Spellweaver Area of Effect build structure

This article is a complete guide to building a Spellweaver focused on area of effect damage. It goes through every level from 1 to 9, and assesses the cards at each level for how well they fit with the AoE build, and then we choose the deck for that level. 


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The guide follows this structure:

  • Why a Spellweaver AoE build? 
  • Spellweaver AoE strategy
  • Level 1 – 9 cards and decks
  • Spellweaver Perks
  • Spellweaver Starting Items
  • Spellweaver Enhancements
  • Spellweaver Experience
  • Spellweaver Combos
  • Spellweaver Names
  • Conclusion

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

Spellweaver class miniature gloomhaven
Spellweaver miniature and class board

Why an area of effect Spellweaver build?

In the 4 player group I play in, it’s pretty common for us to have characters that are great at dealing damage to single targets. What is rarer, is a character that can consistently hit several monsters at once. 

For my group, it was more effective to have the Spellweaver play as an area of effect damage dealer. My role was to get in some damage across monster mobs steadily weakening them over time, while my allies focus on getting rid of bad guys one by one.

Because I play as part of a 4 player group, there are plenty of monsters in the rooms so it’s reasonably easy to pull off an area of effect ability that hits a monster in every or almost every hex. 

Spellweaver AoE build strategy

Focusses on two elements

Generally, you’ll be creating elements on turn 1 to consume them on turn 2. If the spells in your hand rely on too many different elements it gives you much less flexibility in what you can play to setup spells. 

For example, if you only had one card in your hand that generates Light, and one card which consumes it, you must always play that Light generating card in the turn before even if doesn’t suit the situation. 

With a build focussing on just two elements, in this build, Ice and Fire, you have several ways to generate each element and several spells which consume them. This gives you more flexibility in what you play on each turn so you can play spells which better suit the situation and still generate elements. 

Help from your friend

I kept a summon with me from level 1 to level 9. It’s a useful way to deal additional damage on every turn and when your summon is upgraded at level 6, every time it causes damage, it creates Fire. 

And if things get really bad, you have a meat shield you can use to help you get out of there! 

3 is a magic number

Range 3 or higher is the sweet spot for us. We don’t want to be anywhere near that melee damage! 

Little and often

We’re not out there to do some epic single-hit damage. We’re there to do reasonably high damage over a wider area. Then our allies with higher damage single target abilities can pick off the monters after we’ve weakened them. 

Enhance early

While it’s tempting to buy lots of shiny gear (and some of it is definitely useful!) what you really want is the Strengthen enhancement on Mana Bolt. It’s 50 gold and will be with you till you retire your character.

It gives you Advantage on your until the end of your next turn. Play it early in turn 1 and enjoy choosing your preferred modifier for every monster in your AoE zone on that turn and the next! 

Spellweaver stamina and exhaustion

Hand management tips

The Spellweaver has a really interesting ability – to recover all lost cards. Even with a hand limit of 8, she actually has higher stamina than characters with more cards if played effectively. 

But such a small hand limit still needs really careful management!

There are a few key things to remember that will help with hand management.

  1. Don’t be scared of using short rests. If you short rest and choose Reviving Ether as your random card to lose, don’t panic! You can take 1 damage and randomly lose a different discarded card instead. 
  2. Save using your loss abilities until just before playing Reviving Ether and towards the end of the scenario. If you play your loss cards too early, you will need to take more long rests because it reduces the number of turns you have in a scenario. 
  3. If you find yourself exhausting before your allies regularly, take a long rest instead of a short one. You’re effectively resting for a round so that will extend the rounds before you exhaust too. 
  4. It’s OK to get exhausted in the last room! 

One loss per rest approach 

If you used no loss cards at all in the scenario, only took short rests (and you never selected Reviving Ether and had to discard another card) and used your Reviving Ether when you ran out of cards completely, you would last for 28 turns. 

However, that’s not realistic at all! You want to play those loss abilities! They are beasts. 

A more balanced way to play (and an easy rule to remember) is to play one loss card per rest cycle. It looks like this. 

  • Rounds 1-4. 8 cards. Use 1 Loss ability. Rest, lose 1 card. 
  • Rounds 5-7. 6 cards. Use 1 Loss ability. Rest, lose 1 card. 
  • Rounds 8-9. 4 cards. Use 1 Loss ability. Rest, lose 1 card. 
  • Round 10. 2 cards. Use Reviving Ether. 
  • Rounds 11-13. 7 cards, use 1 Loss ability. Rest, lose 1 card. 
  • Rounds 14-15. 5 cards, use 1 Loss ability. Rest, lose 1 card. 
  • Round 16. 3 cards, use your best cards! Exhaust. 

With a Stamina potion you can gain 2 discarded cards back to add another round to this sequence. Taking long rests instead of short rests can increase the number of rounds too. 

Discard and Loss hand balance

Even though we’re going to select the best cards at each level for our build, it doesn’t mean you can take them all with you on every run. Nope. You won’t have enough reusable ability options if you do that. 

3 is the minimum number of repeatable abilities you need to take with you on every run so you can play just 1 Loss ability in the opening rounds and the rounds after Reviving Ether. 

But remember, you’ll lose some of your repeatable cards during rests… 

Ideally, you’ll want to take 4, or even 5 repeatable abilities if you can. But it’s up to you how many Loss abilities you want to leave out. You may just want to take the chance on not losing them, or take more long rests so you can choose which cards to discard. 

In this build guide, the deck at each level has at least the minimum number of 3 repeatable cards.

Spellweaver cards

There are 27 cards in the Spellweaver deck across levels 1 to 9. The Spellweaver has a small hand limit of 8 cards so you don’t have many cards to choose from to create your hand. 

With such a low hand limit, it’s really, really important that every single card works hard for you! 

As I look at each of the cards I’ll be evaluating them from the perspective of an area of effect build Spellweaver. Some cards fit better for this build than others, but that’s not to say the other cards are useless. It’s just that they may not be right for this particular Spellweaver playstyle. 

And even with that, you may want to switch up your deck from the card pool you’ve built up, according to the challenges in the scenario that faces you. 

For example, if you know there will be several elemental monsters that really like some of the elements you’ll be generating, you could choose to not run the risk of creating those elements just to have them used by monsters. Or you could take the chance of putting cards in your deck that need those elements hoping that a monster generates them for you! 

Level 1 Spellweaver cards

There are exactly 8 level 1 cards, the same as the Spellweaver hand limit. If you want to get a feel for the class without thinking too much you can just grab all the level 1 cards and go. 

Fire Orbs

fire orbs card spellweaver gloomhaven
Spellweaver card Fire Orbs

Top ability

Fire Orbs is a great foundation for the AoE deck. While not strictly an AoE ability, it comes with the benefit of being able to choose your three targets. That makes it such a flexible card to use because the monsters don’t need to be in a little cluster. 

And it’s not weak either, especially at level 1. It’ll dish out a nice 9 damage across three monsters and net you an experience point too. 

The range 3 is also great because you can keep your squishy self away from the bad guys. 

One final awesome thing about Fire Orbs is that it generates Fire. And there are two perfect partners at level 1 – Flame Strike and Frost Armor. 

Bottom ability

Move 3 is always useful. Yeah, you’ll be hanging out at the back, but you still need to be in range and when a room is cleared you want to catch up. 

Overall Fire Orbs rating

This card is your old faithful. It’ll serve you very well for a long while. The initiative means you’ll be going late in the round which isn’t such a bad thing. By that time, your allies and some monsters will have already taken their turn so you can target the monsters that make the most sense. 

Flame Strike

Spellweaver card Flame strike
Spellweaver Flame Strike card

Top ability

One great thing about the top of Flame Strike is that it’s not a loss. 

As a discard, this ability is ok. It only hits one target which isn’t the focus for our build, and the range 2 isn’t ideal. It’s great to use in the turn after Fire Orbs, to consume fire and get the Wound bonus. 

At level 1, Wound is a fine modifier, at higher levels less so. That one point of damage won’t make much impact as the health of monsters increases. 

Bottom ability

A damage-dealing ability in the bottom card slot is one thing that makes Flame Strike useful. You don’t always need to move between turns. It’s low damage and one target, but it’s better than using a move action when you don’t need to. 

The main thing that holds it back is that it’s only a range 2. 

Overall Flame Strike card rating

The range 2 on both abilities is not ideal for us, nor is the single-target feature. But having a non-loss ability is helpful for our stamina. Overall, it’s just ok for what we’re looking for in this build. 

Freezing Nova

Spellweaver card freezing nova
Spellweaver Freezing Nova card

Top ability

Eek a melee ability! But I don’t want to be in melee range!

Well yes, but it’s one of those abilities where you think, “If I am surrounded, I can hit everyone and run away!” And in that situation you’ll be very grateful you had this card! 

The issue is whether it’s worth having this card in your hand just in case. Immobilize only stops monsters from moving, not from using ranged abilities, healing or doing any specials. It’s no Stun! 

Bottom ability

We’re not focussing on a healing and support build and for a loss 4 healing doesn’t seem like very good value. However, it does generate Light which can be used by Frost Armor and Mana Bolt. 

It just doesn’t seem worth playing this loss to set up a +1 damage bonus on either of those. 

Overall Freezing Nova card rating

The top of this is situational and the bottom half feels very expensive for a heal. If we do find ourselves in melee range we can always run away with Ride the Wind. 

Frost Armor

Spellweaver card Frost Armor
Spellweaver Frost Armor card

Top ability

The top of Frost Armor is exactly the same ability as the top of Mana Bolt. 2 damage isn’t great unless it’s boosted. Fortunately, we can boost it with any element that’s around. 

The range 3 is something we do want that plays well with our other ranged abilities. 

Bottom ability

This is a handy SOS card! If a couple of bad guys try to whack us, we can use this to make sure their hits bounce straight off. 

But given that you can always put one card from your hand, or two cards from your discard pile, into your loss pile to negate all damage from that one source, this bottom ability doesn’t compare quite so favourably anymore. 

Overall Frost Armor card rating

The 20 initiative is really great on this card! 20 is the third-fastest initiative value we have in all the Spellweaver cards. So it’ll be a shame to not include it, but the obvious card to compare it to is Mana Bolt which has our fastest initiative and a more useful bottom ability. 

Impaling Eruption

Spellweaver card Impaling Eruption
Spellweaver Impaling Eruption card

Top ability

Yes, please! 3 damage, range 4 over multiple monsters. Even if we assume we can only hit two bad guys because we’re usually within range 3 of them, that’s still two in a turn. It has the potential to hit 3 monsters without taking a -1 penalty for being in melee range.

It is a situational card, but you can raise your spikes in any way you want to – they don’t all have to be in a straight line. That makes it far easier to find more monsters to hit. 

This card is a great one for picking up some experience and creating the Earth element is useful to us for Mana Bolt. Or very handy for a Cragheart or other Earth user in your party. 

Bottom ability

Great high-value move, always useful. Especially as a non-loss. 

Overall Impaling Eruption card rating

It’s a situational top ability, but the high range and flexibility on the path your spikes take make it easy to find situations to use it. 

Mana Bolt

Spellweaver Mana Bolt card
Spellweaver Mana Bolt card

Top ability

The twin to Frost Armor’s top. As with Frost Armor, a good range of 3, you want that any element boost to the top ability to make it useful really.

Bottom ability

Don’t be deceived by this heal. It’s so much more than that. 

You can use this heal on yourself as well as your allies, which means you can also add a buff enhancement to this ability and cast it on yourself. And what enhancement do we want as an AoE caster? Strengthen of course! 

Strengthen gives you Advantage on every single target you aim at until the end of your next turn. 

You get to choose the best of the two modifiers you draw for each target. That can add up to a lot more damage over two AoE abilities!

Overall Mana Bolt card rating

Check out that initiative! This is our fastest card for those times when we really, really need to go first. And we can also add that incredible Strengthen buff. This card will be in your hand forever. 

Reviving Ether

Spellweaver Reviving Ether card
Spellweaver Reviving Ether card

Top ability

The one card that will always, always be in your hand. Without it, you’ll get exhausted far too early in a scenario. But with it, you have the potential to have higher stamina than the Brute, Mindthief and the Scoundrel, even though they have higher hand limits. 

Bottom ability

Such a good ability to use until you need to play the top ability of this card. I love Jump, by ignoring obstacles, difficult terrain and monsters, you have a lot more movement options. 

Enjoy it while you have it in the first half of a scenario! 

Overall Reviving Ether card rating

Essential for playing a Spellweaver of any build type. This unique ability is what sets the Spellweaver apart. 

Ride the Wind

Spellweaver Ride the Wind card
Spellweaver Ride the Wind card

Top ability

A top loot is a nice way to pick up some shinies. You can use a bottom move ability to get to the loot and then use this to top action to scoop it up. But really, a damage-dealing ability would be so much better here for our build. 

Bottom ability

This move is a class act. It’s really the only way you can run from behind the pack as a Spellweaver and dash towards the treasure chests. Or you can use it run away from bad guys that get too close! 

At level 1, the only ability that uses Wind is the top of Crackling Air and your any element consumers – Mana Bolt and Frost Armor. 

Overall Ride the Wind card rating

A super fun card to use. The reaction from everyone is hilarious every time I pull this card out. “What?! But I was heading for that chest.” Hah. Not now, losers. 

Level X Spellweaver cards

The level X cards are the other cards available at level 1. For the AoE build, we want to take at least one of these. 

Spellweaver level X cards - Aid from the Ether, Crackling Air, Hardened Spikes
Spellweaver level X cards – Aid from the Ether, Crackling Air, Hardened Spikes

Aid from the Ether

Top ability

Nothing wrong with a heal. It’s helpful for everyone. Because it’s a repeatable ability, your allies will like it whenever you use this. Go on, make some friends. You might as well if you’re saving your Mystic Ally until later.

Bottom ability

Say hello to my little friend! And he is quite little. I like to think of this summon as a ‘he’ anyway, in my head he looks like an ethereal archer.

However, he’s not there to be a meat shield for you. His 2 HP means that he’s gone from one hit. Instead, he’ll keep you company at the back of the pack and fire from just in front of you. 

As starting allies go, 3 damage every turn is pretty good. And as your modifier deck improves, he gets better too because you draw from there for his damage. 

The main trouble I’ve found with the Mystic Ally is that he often gets left behind. His two movement isn’t good at keeping up with the pack and he is controlled by the monster AI which doesn’t help. One way you can get around this is by using Reviving Ether. 

When you play Reviving Ether you can swoop his card back up into your hand even if it’s still in play. Then just play him again in the room you’re currently in. 

Overall Aid from the Ether card rating

Aid from the Ether has a high initiative value of 91, but that’s actually a good thing for your Mystic Ally. You don’t want to summon him early in the round and have him just stand there doing nothing because he can’t hit in the round he’s summoned. 

Crackling Air

Top ability

I really like Crackling Air. It potentially deals 8 damage from one loss card providing you consume Wind when you play it. It nicely sets up Fire Orbs or Impaling Eruption. 

You only need to consume Wind on the turn it is played to provide the damage bonus across all four hits. 

The tricky thing is getting the Wind in the first place. At level 1 you only have that on Ride the Wind and if you dash across a room when it’s cleared to get to the door to the next one, you may end up creating your Wind element in the wrong room!

Bottom ability

A reusable Move 3 is always going to be helpful. 

The Retaliate is interesting. For us, we’d rather consume the Fire element on Flame Strike or Mana Bolt and the last thing we want is to take damage to deal damage. With 6 health, two hits could finish us off. Although, I feel like there’s an interesting melee mage Spellweaver build in here somewhere…

Overall Crackling Air card rating

The top ability is brilliant for dealing more damage when we line it up with the Wind from Ride the Wind. If you have a Brute in your starting group, he can occasionally create Wind too. 

This is one of our faster initiative cards, so it’s a useful one for our hand if we want to go earlier in a round. 

Hardened Spikes

Top ability

Another Retaliate ability. It’s fine for support, but that’s not the playstyle we want for this build. We can’t afford to take hits to deal damage and we don’t want to hang out next to allies hoping that they hit us. It’s a loss too. Definitely not what we’re looking for. 

Bottom ability

Another Move 3 won’t hurt us. The Shield of 2 is interesting, but if we were consuming Frost for defence, we’d use Frost Armor to negate damage completely or even Freezing Nova to hit and run. And even those cards aren’t in our level 1 hand. 

Overall Hardened Spikes card rating

Not a good card for our build. It’s too melee focussed. Walk on by. 

Level 1 Spellweaver build

To form the basis of our deck, we’re looking for ranged area of effect abilities ideally, but also multi-target abilities to target monsters that aren’t all clustered together. We also need to pay attention to our element generation to make sure whatever we choose, we can actually use! 

Even though cards have two abilities on them, often the decision to take a card is driven by one of those two abilities so I’ve sorted them by that primary focus. 

Level 1 Spellweaver deck

Spellweaver level X cards - Aid from the Ether, Crackling Air, Hardened Spikes
Spellweaver AoE build – level 1

Area of Effect or multi-target

  • Fire Orbs (Top: Creates Fire)
  • Impaling Eruption (Top: Creates Earth)

Single target

  • Flame Strike (Top: Consumes Fire)
  • Mana Bolt (Top: Consumes Any Element) 
  • Aid from the Ether

Support actions

  • Crackling Air (Top: Consumes Wind. Bottom: Consumes Fire)
  • Reviving Ether (Top: Creates Dark)

Movement

  • Ride the Wind (Bottom: Creates Wind)

Level 2 Spellweaver cards

Spellweaver level 2 cards - Flashing Burst, Icy Blast
Spellweaver level 2 cards – Flashing Burst, Icy Blast

Flashing Burst

Top ability

A pretty good single-target ability. But because it’s single target it’s not the most perfect fit for us. At the moment, we also don’t need the Light that it creates. 

Bottom ability

A nice repeatable, fast move. 

Overall Flashing Burst card rating

A perfectly decent card with uses in every scenario. But it’s just not as attractive as the other card on offer at level 2…

Icy Blast

Top ability

Wow! Now we’re talking! This is just the type of card we’re looking for!

It’s got a great area of effect, deals no friendly damage, creates Ice, gives us 2 experience points, muddles everyone in the area, has the lovely range 3 we want… Such a great ability! 

Bottom ability

A heal for 6 is a huge value to get on a level 2 card. However, for our damage dealer build, if we’re using a loss ability, we want to use the area of effect ability on the top. 

Overall Icy Blast card rating

Lovely, lovely top ability. It’s upgradable too! This will be delicious with Curse on it. 

Level 2 Spellweaver build

What to pick up

Icy Blast!

What to drop

At this point, Flame Strike is a bit awkward for us to use. It’s the range 2 that lets it down. The lower additional damage 2, range 2 is only good if we’re in range to use it and more often than not, we aren’t. 

Level 2 Spellweaver deck

Spellweaver AoE level 2 build cards
Spellweaver AoE level 2 build cards

Area of Effect or multi-target

  • Fire Orbs (Top: Creates Fire)
  • Impaling Eruption (Top: Creates Earth)
  • Icy Blast (Top: Creates Ice)

Single target

  • Mana Bolt (Top: Consumes Any Element) 
  • Aid from the Ether

Support actions

  • Crackling Air (Top: Consumes Wind. Bottom: Consumes Fire)
  • Reviving Ether (Top: Creates Dark)

Movement

  • Ride the Wind (Bottom: Creates Wind)

Level 3 Spellweaver cards

Spellweaver level 3 cards - Cold Fire, Elemental Aid
Spellweaver level 3 cards – Cold Fire, Elemental Aid

Cold Fire

Top ability

The fully powered up version of this ability is awesome! The tricky thing will be generating both Fire and Ice and use both at once when you play this card. But that will be resolved in the next couple of levels…

At lower levels, the increased damage of +2 by consuming Fire is great, but it’s the Stun you really want. Stun will put all the targeted monsters out of action for a whole turn no matter what level you’re at. 

It’s great that this is multiple-use too. You can put bad guys out of action for a turn several times per scenario. And it fits with our range 3 distance. 

Bottom ability

A quick way to get some shinies for your pockets! The only issue is that you have a much, much better ability on the top of this card. 

You might use it if just the right situation arises just before you play Reviving Ether for you to scoop the loot, but that probably won’t happen too often. Same for using it at the end of a scenario if you haven’t used the top ability by then. 

Overall Cold Fire card rating

The top of this card is so, so helpful. The Stun buys your team time to dish out more damage before the monsters get another go.

Elemental Aid

Top ability

For a more support-focussed build, this is a solid reusable heal. It’s just not our focus. 

Bottom ability

Shields are so melee focussed they just don’t really fit with our build. If you’re in more of a support role, this can be a super useful ability to help your tank out or to protect yourself and another squishy ally if you’re trapped in a corner. 

Overall Elemental Aid card rating

A great card for a Spellweaver with more of a support focus but not for us. 

Level 3 Spellweaver build

What to pick up

Cold Fire. That Stun is really helpful and the multi-target ability is what we want for our build. We can boost it with the Ice generated by Icy Blast and the Fire from Fire Orbs. 

What to drop

We have a few options here. To get the most from Crackling Air, we need to keep hold of Ride the Wind because it’s our only Wind creating ability. Crackling Air also has a lower Retaliate ability we just don’t use so it’s time to drop it. 

Level 3 Spellweaver deck

Spellweaver AoE deck level 3
Spellweaver AoE deck level 3

Area of Effect or multi-target

  • Fire Orbs (Top: Creates Fire)
  • Impaling Eruption (Top: Creates Earth)
  • Icy Blast (Top: Creates Ice)
  • Cold Fire (Top: Consumes Fire and Earth)

Single target

  • Mana Bolt (Top: Consumes Any Element) 
  • Aid from the Ether

Support actions

  • Reviving Ether (Top: Creates Dark)

Movement

  • Ride the Wind (Bottom: Creates Wind)

Level 4 Spellweaver cards

Spellweaver level 4 cards - Forked Beam, Spirit of Doom
Spellweaver level 4 cards – Forked Beam, Spirit of Doom

Forked Beam

Top ability

The damage from this card is pretty low. But it is multi-target, repeatable, matches our preferred range and give us an experience point. 

Bottom ability

A solid move 4. That’s always a welcome addition. 

Overall Forked Beam card rating

Our current deck only has one card with an initiative below 66, so we’ll really welcome the initiative of 20 on this card! It is a weak damage-dealing ability on the top but hopefully that will be boosted by good modifiers.

Spirit of Doom

Top ability

Ooh, now we have an instant eliminate option! Given that we will always, always be using Reviving Ether in a scenario, we’ll always generate one Dark per scenario. The issue is that you can’t generate Dark at any other time. 

That means we’d have this card taking up one of our precious eight card slots for an ability we can use only once per scenario. 

Bottom ability

This healing ability is problematic for our AoE build. We can’t create Light and without the ability boost, this heal may end up healing for less than the heal we have on Icy Blast.

Overall Spirit of Doom card rating

Both of the abilities on this card are single use and to get the most from them, we need Dark and Light. These elements are not central to our build and the abilities don’t align with our AoE approach. 

Level 4 Spellweaver build

What to pick up

Forked Beam. It gives us another multi-target reusable ability and a 20 initiative card option!

What to drop

Ride the Wind goes. We don’t need the Wind element anymore and the Move 8 and Jump is great, but at least we’re replacing that loss ability with a Move 4 repeatable. 

Level 4 Spellweaver deck

Spellweaver AoE deck level 4 cards
Spellweaver AoE deck level 4 cards

Area of Effect or multi-target

  • Fire Orbs (Top: Creates Fire)
  • Impaling Eruption (Top: Creates Earth)
  • Icy Blast (Top: Creates Ice)
  • Cold Fire (Top: Consumes Fire and Earth)
  • Forked Beam

Single target

  • Mana Bolt (Top: Consumes Any Element) 
  • Aid from the Ether

Support actions

  • Reviving Ether (Top: Creates Dark)

Level 5 Spellweaver cards

Spellweaver level 5 cards - Chromatic Explosion, Engulfed in Flames
Spellweaver level 5 cards – Chromatic Explosion, Engulfed in Flames

Chromatic Explosion

Top ability

So many pretty colours! Remember that issue we had with getting both Fire and Ice for Cold Fire? It’s not a problem anymore!

The top ability is such a great fit for our build, it’s multi-target, range three and boosts another of our multi-target range 3 abilities. 

You’ll always run the risk of monsters consuming some of the elements you create with this to boost their own abilities. But that risk is usually worth it. 

Bottom ability

You are getting so powerful that you can generate elements just by moving! You can’t move very far with this ability, but there’s plenty of other moves in your deck if you need to move further. 

Overall Chromatic Explosion card rating

The main thing this card brings us is options. With a hand of only 8 cards, options really matter! 

Engulfed in Flames

Top ability

This is a solid ability for a different Spellweaver build type. Damage of 4 which generates Fire against one target that you can repeat is pretty cool, or should I say, hot? 

Bottom ability

Taking damage to deal damage is not something we want. No way do you want to put yourself in harm’s way to get hit 5 times to dish out 3 damage in return. 

Overall Engulfed in Flames card rating

The top ability is pretty solid. The bottom one makes me think again that there must be a melee mage build in here somewhere…

Level 5 Spellweaver build

What to pick up

Chromatic Explosion. It gives us so many options. 

What to drop

Impaling Eruption. We want to play range 3 away ideally and we need to get in pretty close to get the most from Impaling Eruption. 

Level 5 Spellweaver deck

Spellweaver AoE level 5 deck cards
Spellweaver AoE level 5 deck cards

Area of Effect or multi-target

  • Fire Orbs (Top: Creates Fire)
  • Icy Blast (Top: Creates Ice)
  • Cold Fire (Top: Consumes Fire and Earth)
  • Forked Beam
  • Chromatic Explosion (Top: Creates all elements. Bottom: Creates any element.)

Single target

  • Mana Bolt (Top: Consumes Any Element) 
  • Aid from the Ether

Support actions

  • Reviving Ether (Top: Creates Dark)

Level 6 Spellweaver cards

Spellweaver AoE level 5 deck cards
Spellweaver level 6 cards – Frozen Night, Living Torch

Frozen Night

Top ability

Look at that lovely triangle area of effect! It’s a perfect ability to tempt you into getting into melee range. Whacking all those bad guys for 4 and getting an experience for each one is awesome.

You can always stay 1 away from the monsters and just target those 3 on the back row.  

Ice will allow us to get the Stun bonus on Cold Fire too. 

Bottom ability

Invisibility is your friend! It’s our way of dodging damage! Even though we’ve got our Invisibility Cloak, it’s super useful having another invisibility action up our sleeve.

However, we can only create Dark when we use Reviving Ether or Chromatic Explosion, so it’s not like we’ll get that many opportunities to use the invisibility boost. The Chromatic Explosion elements will most likely be used to boost Cold Fire which means we’ll only really get the invisibility bonus once per scenario after playing Reviving Ether. 

However, the move 3 without the boost is perfectly fine for the rest of the time. 

Overall Frozen Night card rating

That top melee ability is so, so tempting to use even as a ranged Spellweaver. The bottom invisibility and move bonus looks awesome but realistically we’ll only have one chance to use it per scenario. 

Living Torch

Top ability

A pretty strong single-target ranged ability with Immobilize even without the Light boost. But it’s with the Light boost that this ability comes into its own. 

With Light all adjacent monsters take 2 damage! That’s direct damage too. No modifier card needed, it ignores all shields and deals damage to targets directly. Light takes this ability from single-target to multi-target which is exactly what we want for our build. 

We only have Chromatic Explosion that can create Light for us, so even though this is a repeatable ability, we may not always get to have the multi-target bonus. 

Bottom ability

Burning Avatar is awesome.

Summon them early in a room and have them fire stuff from range 3. Then, before the time comes to play Reviving Ether, charge them into the middle of some monsters as ball of fire!

Then play Reviving Ether and they miraculously return from the, erm, ether!

The 3 movement means they can keep up better than Mystic Ally ever could, meaning that you don’t need to resummon them just to get them to catch up sometimes. 

The Fire generated by their hit each turn is great. You can cast a fully boosted Cold Fire any time you play Icy Blast and hit with Burning Avatar in the turn before. 

Overall Living Torch card rating

Both abilities give us some useful options. The repeatable top ability is always going to be helpful, more so when it’s boosted. Then Burning Avatar is there for the start of the scenario and for the final room. 

Level 6 Spellweaver build

What to pick up

Living Torch. It fits more with the build we’re aiming for. But don’t worry, Frozen Night may make it into your hand at later levels… 

What to drop

As an upgrade to our Mystic Ally, Aid from the Ether is the card we swap out. 

Level 6 Spellweaver deck

Spellweaver AoE level 5 deck cards
Spellweaver AoE level 6 deck cards

Area of Effect or multi-target

  • Fire Orbs (Top: Creates Fire)
  • Icy Blast (Top: Creates Ice)
  • Cold Fire (Top: Consumes Fire and Earth)
  • Forked Beam
  • Chromatic Explosion (Top: Creates all elements. Bottom: Creates any element.)

Single target

  • Mana Bolt (Top: Consumes Any Element) 
  • Living Torch (Top: Consumes Light, Bottom: Creates Fire)

Support actions

  • Reviving Ether (Top: Creates Dark)

Level 7 cards

Spellweaver level 7 cards - Stone Fists, Twin Restoration
Spellweaver level 7 cards – Stone Fists, Twin Restoration

Stone Fists

Top ability

As a melee ability, it’s not really something we want. The multi-target bonus is great, but we can only create Earth from Chromatic Explosion. 

However, that means we need to plan a turn ahead to make this fit better with our build. And it’s still a melee ability. 

Bottom ability

Move and Shield can be helpful for us if we’re within range of monsters. The bonus does no harm if Earth is in the room. Might as well use it. 

Overall Stone Fists card rating

A melee focussed top with a Move and Shield bottom that we can use whatever situation we’re in. A Shield won’t do us any harm. The bottom is fine for our AoE build, the top less so. 

Twin Restoration

Top ability

The main benefit of Twin Restoration, is that if you play an awesome combo you can immediately recover the cards and do it again! Take that bad guys! 

You’re effectively carrying this card to swap this one card for 2 cards later on. 

It cannot be recovered with Reviving Ether either. 

Bottom ability

A nifty little ranged heal across two targets. It’s not for an amazing amount of hit points though. 

Overall Twin Restoration card rating

I’d rather have another damage dealing spell in my hand than Twin Restoration and I have the Icy Blast heal if the party really needs it. 

Level 7 Spellweaver build

What to pick up

The options at Level 7 are not great for our build. 

Instead, let’s look back to what we left at level 6. It’s the Frozen Night melee AoE with potential Dark boosted invisibility on the lower half. That’s better than our level 7 options and the top creates Ice that Cold Fire uses. 

Given the area of effect on Frozen Night, we could always stand 1 hex away and still hit 3 monsters with the top ability. 

What to drop

We lose Forked Beam. We will miss the 20 initiative, but Frozen Night is twice the strength and allows us to hit more targets, gain more experience and Create Ice. 

Level 7 Spellweaver deck

Spellweaver level 7 cards - Stone Fists, Twin Restoration
Spellweaver AoE level 7 deck cards

Area of Effect or multi-target

  • Fire Orbs (Top: Creates Fire)
  • Icy Blast (Top: Creates Ice)
  • Cold Fire (Top: Consumes Fire and Earth)
  • Chromatic Explosion (Top: Creates all elements. Bottom: Creates any element.)
  • Frozen Night (Top: Creates Ice. Bottom: Consumes Dark)

Single target

  • Mana Bolt (Top: Consumes Any Element) 
  • Living Torch (Top: Consumes Light. Bottom: Creates Fire)

Support actions

  • Reviving Ether (Top: Creates Dark)

Level 8 Spellweaver cards

Spellweaver level 8 cards - Cold Front, Zephyr Wings
Spellweaver level 8 cards – Cold Front, Zephyr Wings

Cold Front

Top ability

I love imagining the Cold Front spell. Sometimes I breathe ice like an Ice Dragon, sometimes I blast a wall of ice, and sometimes a freezing mist whirls and rises from the ground. It is an epic spell worthy of an awesome description. 

5 monsters for 5 damage each, yes please! I’d like to be range 3 of course, but it’s still fantastic. If we don’t want to move, we can just use the first hex to extend the range and hit 4 monsters instead of 5. 

Bottom ability

Now that’s unique! A ranged Retaliate. And it’s a range 3 too. Perfect! It’s ideal against ranged monsters. 

The main issues with it are that it won’t deal as much damage as the top ability, that you need to take damage to deal it and finally that monsters will need to actually target you. 

Overall Cold Front card rating

Where do I start? I love this card! 

The top ability is awesome. The bottom is useful if you’re in a bit of a sticky situation. At least you can go down swinging!

Zephyr Wings

Top ability

Want to be rich? This will get you part of the way there.

I really wish that the ‘not more than four’ restriction wasn’t there though… To persuade me to take this card over another in my precious 8 card slots I’d want this to really count. And I’m not sure it does because of that. 

You may be able to loot 4 from 2 hexes away though, so perhaps you wouldn’t need to consume Wind to grab the shinies. 

Bottom ability

That boost is insane. By consuming Wind you could move 11 in one go! If you’re playing a scenario that needs you to get to a particular location, or you just really, really want some treasure then this is the ability for you! 

Overall Zephyr Wings card rating

If you want to give the Scoundrel a run for their money, then this card will drive them crazy. These abilities give you the power to grab a reasonable amount of loot and dash around rooms for treasure. 

Level 8 build

What to pick up

Cold Front. It’s just too cool. Haha!

What to drop

Everything in our deck is multi-target, with a nice balance of element creation and consumption. The only exceptions are Reviving Ether and Living Torch. Our summon gives us such a nice way to generate Fire every turn which we’ll be very thankful for at level 9…

Because Cold Front is a loss we’ll ideally want to swap it for another loss card because we have five top loss cards in our deck now. Frozen Night is the one that fits our build the least because it’s a melee range ability that we’ve been fudging to keep at least 2 away. 

Frozen Night goes. 

Level 8 Spellweaver deck

Spellweaver AoE level 8 deck cards
Spellweaver AoE level 8 deck cards

Area of Effect or multi-target

  • Fire Orbs (Top: Creates Fire)
  • Icy Blast (Top: Creates Ice)
  • Cold Fire (Top: Consumes Fire and Earth)
  • Chromatic Explosion (Top: Creates all elements. Bottom: Creates any element.)
  • Cold Front (Top: Creates Ice)

Single target

  • Mana Bolt (Top: Consumes Any Element) 
  • Living Torch (Top: Consumes Light. Bottom: Creates Fire)

Support actions

  • Reviving Ether (Top: Creates Dark)

Level 9 Spellweaver cards

Spellweaver level 9 cards - Black Hole, Inferno
Spellweaver level 9 cards – Black Hole, Inferno

Black Hole

Top ability

Instantly taking out up to 3 normal monsters is pretty cool. You could use it twice per scenario realistically, once after Chromatic Explosion and the second time after Reviving Ether. The Invisibility bonus on Frozen Night would be competing for the Dark element though. 

The instant eliminate ability only works on normal monsters though, which generally aren’t as annoying as elites. 

Bottom ability

The crowd control potential here is useful. You can send monsters where you want them to go. Great if there are a few traps around so you can drag monsters through a few different ones, or you could pull monsters into hazardous terrain. 

Overall Black Hole card rating

With the top of this card you can take down 6 normal monsters in a scenario if you play your cards right and the monsters are clustered together for you. That’s a lot of damage! The bottom also brings a nice crowd control ability. 

Inferno

Top ability

Burn baby, burn!

What an epic ability! With the 19 initiative on this card you can blast the room with fire on your 2nd turn. Use turn 1 to generate Fire, then blast everyone on your next turn. 4 damage isn’t huge, but with the better modifier deck you have by level 9 plus your items, you can easily boost this value. 

And it’s repeatable so you can play this card several times per scenario! 

With a stamina potion you can get this card right back and do it again if you want.

I wouldn’t suggest that you prevent the rest of your party from entering the room while you spend a turn setting this up though. Protecting your allies from 2 damage is not worth it if they can’t do anything on their turn while they wait for you to create Fire. 

You’ll do loads of damage to compensate for their health loss!

Bottom ability

If things really aren’t going the way you want in a scenario, then you may want everyone to have Retaliate instead of dishing out the flames of pain. But those situations will be few and far between. 

Overall Inferno card rating

You want this card for the top for sure. What an amazing repeatable ability! 

Level 9 Spellweaver build

What to pick up

Both of these cards are great choices at Level 9. 

For me, Inferno won out because it’s repeatable and just has such a huge area of effect. The 19 initiative is also very welcome! 

Every time you boost the Inferno base value, even by +1, you deal so much more damage. That +1 gets multiplied for every monster in the room. If there’s one spell to use power potions on, it’s this one! 

What to drop

Fire Orbs. Inferno is effectively a massive upgrade to Fire Orbs and we don’t need the experience bonus from Fire Orbs any more! 

Level 9 Spellweaver deck

Spellweaver aoe build deck cards
Spellweaver AoE build level 9 deck cards

Area of Effect or multi-target

  • Icy Blast (Top: Creates Ice)
  • Cold Fire (Top: Consumes Fire and Earth)
  • Chromatic Explosion (Top: Creates all elements. Bottom: Creates any element.)
  • Cold Front (Top: Creates Ice)
  • Inferno (Top: Consumes Fire)

Single target

  • Mana Bolt (Top: Consumes Any Element) 
  • Living Torch (Top: Consumes Light. Bottom: Creates Fire)

Support actions

  • Reviving Ether (Top: Creates Dark)

Spellweaver Perks

Spellweaver Perks

Let’s get those negative modifier cards out of our deck first, shall we? Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the -2. But we can get rid of the -1 cards. 

Then we want those lovely looking +2s with element creation. Take the ones with Ice first because they give us the Stun boost to Cold Fire. 

Then, take out all the +0 cards to increase the rate at which we draw our good modifiers. 

Next, add the +1 with Curse followed by the other debuffs. 

Then it’s time for the two +1s, and finally the rolling elements. Take Light and Dark first because at later levels they are more useful to us than Earth and Wind. 

  1. Replace one -1 card with one +1 card
  2. Replace one -1 card with one +1 card. 
  3. Add one +2 Ice card
  4. Add one +2 Ice card
  5. Add one +2 Fire card
  6. Add one +2 Fire card
  7. Remove four +0 cards
  8. Add one +1 Curse
  9. Add one +1 Wound
  10. Add one +0 Stun
  11. Add one +1 Immobilize
  12. Add two +1 cards
  13. Add two +1 cards
  14. Add one rolling Light card and one rolling Dark card
  15. Add one rolling Earth card and one rolling Wind card

Spellweaver Starting Items

Spellweaver starting items
Spellweaver starting items

I’m only going to look at starting items here so as not to spoil the wonders you’ll uncover in the shop at later Prosperity levels!

Cloak of Invisibility

The best shield you can buy. Go invisible and nothing can touch you. You’ll need this to get your squishy face outta there if things get too much. 

Eagle-Eye Goggles

Use the googles on those big area of effect spells so that every time you draw modifiers for the target you get to draw two modifiers and choose the best. It’s an awesome way to get those great modifier cards you add through perks into play. 

Piercing Bow

Pesky monster with several Shields? Not a problem, thanks to Shield Away! 

Minor Stamina Potion

With a small hand limit of 8, you need the Stamina Potion more than your companions to recover those two discarded cards! 

Minor Power Potion

This is an awesome +1 boost to all your large AoE abilities!

Boots of Striding

Your movement isn’t amazing, and you’ll spend your time hanging 3 hexes away from monsters most of the time, so the +2 Move from Boots of Striding will help you to get to the door quickly after a room has been cleared. Or they will help you to get out of harm’s way! 

Get them if you can, but you may find other classes also want these…

Spellweaver Enhancements

To get the most bang for your buck, enhance the cards that will be with you for a long time. 

Add Strengthen to the Mana Bolt Heal

50 gold

This enhancement is a great deal! 

Play the heal action on Mana Bolt on yourself first, then do your AoE ability as your second action to gain Advantage on that action, and the actions on your next turn. 

It’s a fantastic way to ensure you deal the best damage you can to every monster you hit. As you improve your modifier deck you’ll see those improved modifiers and element generation cards coming up more frequently too! 

Add Any Element to the Move of Reviving Ether

150 gold

Elements mean options and with eight cards we want as many options as we can get. This card will be with you for the entire game and you’ll always need elements so it’s a great enhancement. 

Add an additional target to Fire Orbs

100 gold

Usually, I wouldn’t want to spend money on an enhancement for a card that I’ll retire later, but Fire Orbs is with you till level 9 so it’s worth it. 

Add Curse to Icy Blast

175 gold

This ability is so similar to the Dirt Tornado ability that the Cragheart has. Add a Curse debuff to the damage-dealing ability on this and you’ll Curse and Muddle every monster in that zone. That’s 8 Curse cards added to the monster modifier deck. 

Enjoy watching the monsters deal zero damage! 

Add an additional hex on Cold Fire

116 gold

Seeing as you can’t add the Stun debuff as an enhancement, adding another hex to Cold Fire is as good as you can get. Now you can put another monster out of action for a turn. 

Spellweaver Experience

Like any class, how quickly you level is hugely influenced by how much importance you place on gaining experience over dealing damage or supporting your group. 

Fire Orbs a consistent way for you to gain 6 experience per scenario, right up to level 9. Crackling Air will give you another 4 and Impaling Eruption between 4-8 per scenario. Use those multiple experience point abilities wherever you can at earlier levels. 

Also, always make sure you have an element lined up to boost your abilities because it’s often consuming the element where the experience point comes from. 

Spellweaver Combos

The combos will change as you level as you’ll have different abilities available at different times. But you’ll usually spend one turn creating elements to set up what you want to do on your next turn. 

You’ll usually want to use Mana Bolt with the Strengthen enhancement prior to any AoE ability and as much as possible, you’ll want to generate Ice and Fire in turn 1 to set up Cold Fire in turn 2. 

Level 5

Turn 1

Strengthened Mana Bolt (Bottom) followed by Chromatic Explosion (Top)

You get to go early in the first turn with your 7 initiative on Mana Bolt. Strengthen yourself, then gain Advantage on Chromatic Explosion. 

Turn 2

Cold Fire (Top) then Aid from the Ether

Then in your second turn, you go late in the round, get your summon safely, and Stun those monsters putting them out of action for the next turn. Dealing the Stun last in the round allows your allies to plan their next turn effectively knowing that those bad guys will be out of action. 

Level 6

Turn 1

Chromatic Explosion (bottom) followed by Icy Blast (top) 

This will allow you to generate a Fire element from the bottom of Chromatic Explosion and Ice from Icy Blast. Now you’ve got a cluster of Muddled (and if you’ve enhanced, Cursed) bad guys. 

Turn 2

Mana Bolt (bottom) followed by Cold Fire (top) 

Use your ideally enhanced Mana Bolt to strengthen yourself, then cast Cold Fire on the cluster of monsters not caught in your Icy Blast on your previous turn. 

Spellweaver Names

Mage and elementalist names are always really fun to come up with! Given that our build is ranged, area of effect and uses mostly Ice and Fire and is an Orchid, I’ve taken inspiration from there for these Spellweaver name ideas. 

  • Flame Eon
  • Hotch Old
  • Kindra Nova
  • Kol Dot
  • Erif Eci
  • Kraft Elementis
  • Orchi Mist
  • Magmi Sizz
  • Blaize Flurri
  • Hex Thawe

Conclusion

The Spellweaver AoE build is so much fun to play! The spells are so varied and really fun to imagine and describe to your group! 

Ice and Fire are your main friends with this build, although you do sometimes hang out with Dark. Strengthen on Mana Bolt, Curse on Icy Blast and taking monsters out of action with Stun on Cold Fire are super cool abilities that give your team major advantages in a scenario. Enjoy! 

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

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

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

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

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

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