Gloomhaven Sun Guide – Build & Strategy – Locked Class

emily mini profile pic By Emily

The Sunkeeper is a versatile tank, melee damage and support class from the Gloomhaven unlockable characters. She is tough, deals decent damage and can support. You can build her to focus on any of these strategies. This Sunkeeper guide focuses on building and playing her as a damage focussed character who also offers some support to others.

Sunkeeper Damage + Support Guide Structure

This article is a complete guide to playing a Gloomhaven Sunkeeper that excels in dealing damage and offering occasional support and buffs to allies.


Hi! This post may link to online stores. If you click a link and buy something, I may get a commission. Learn more.


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

This Sunkeeper guide follows this structure:

  • Why a Sunkeeper Damage + Support build?
  • Sunkeeper Damage + Support strategy
  • Level 1-9 cards and decks
  • Sunkeeper Perks
  • Sunkeeper Items
  • Sunkeeper Enhancements
  • Sunkeeper Experience
  • Sunkeeper Combos
  • Sunkeeper Names
  • Conclusion

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

Sunkeeper mini and character class board Gloomhaven
Sunkeeper class miniature and character board

Why a Sunkeeper Damage and Support build?

The Sunkeeper is a versatile class. With my experience of the Sunkeeper, there are three main ways you can play her.

  1. Tank + Damage – If you’ve got allies who can keep your health topped up, then this build is really viable and epic.
  2. Damage + Support – Most viable when you have another tank to absorb hits from monsters. You can help take down the most problematic monsters and make use of the ally buffs too.
  3. Tank + Support – This build can be awesome if you already have a healer in your party. With no other healer, you spread yourself too thin and do a mediocre job of both tanking and supporting.

My Gloomhaven party has four players. I played the Sunkeeper alongside Cthulhu, Two minis and Lightning bolt. Because of how my friends built their classes, I played alongside another melee damage class, a ranged caster, and a tank. What we mostly lacked was some support.

On my first couple of runs, I tried to be everything to everyone. I tried to play tank and support at the same time. It was a disaster.

It would have worked out perfectly with another healer in our party. But we didn’t. So I struggled to play enough cards to mitigate the damage done to myself and heal myself and my team. I ended up on 0 HP.

It was time for a different approach.

Instead of a tank and support build, I went for a damage and support build. My main focus was on dealing supplementary damage to get rid of monsters faster with very occasional support buffs and a minor heal every round. Because the faster we get rid of the monsters the less damage they can do, and the fewer heals are required, right?

This build worked out great for us because it removed the expectation from my group that I’d be taking as many hits, leaving me free to help with the monsters causing the most problems while also buffing people to max out their damage. It made for a fun character to play and I felt like I was useful on every turn. Win, win!

Sunkeeper Strategy for Damage + Support

As a damage dealing, support hybrid, your main focus is on causing damage and helping your allies to cause more damage too.

If a monster is causing trouble, get in there and sort them out! If an ally is better placed than you to do more damage, then help them to do that. If things are looking bad and you need to issue a heal, you’ve got one tucked away!

With this build, you need to be on your toes. You aren’t tanking so you can’t get stuck at the front taking all the hits but at the same time, you need to be adjacent to allies to make the most of your buffs. It’s a balance.

Stand by your friends

A lot of your support abilities rely on an ally being adjacent to you, so stick close to them. But there’s another benefit to sticking with another party member. You can both focus on the same monster and get rid of them quickly!

Bless you!

So Bless isn’t the only buff you can give out, but it is one that you can reuse over and over. At early levels when modifier decks have loads of cards, the likelihood of drawing the Bless double damage modifier is reduced. But at higher levels, Bless really shines.

Because you can use it multiple times, if you focus each Bless on the same ally you’re increasing the percentage of Bless cards in their modifer deck, and therefore their chances of drawing one!

It’s why this build is so satisfying to play. You focus not only on doing more damage yourself, but also increasing the damage of your allies.

Going first isn’t always best

We really don’t want to attract the attention of the monsters. Our high hit points will help us somewhat, but we aren’t focussed on shields and tanking.

To ensure we aren’t the focus of hits, aim to go after your melee counterpart. This will usually mean second in the party. Thankfully, melee damage classes generally have faster initiative than you so this works out well.

When it’s the monster’s turn, if you’re both standing next to the same monster, it’ll go for them instead of you!

Moving is a valid defense

The other tactic we have to reduce the damage we take is our positioning. If we’re not the closest to the monsters on their turn, they will go for an easier target. Just make sure you use movement as a secondary tactic to initiative.

Because we have two ranged damage-dealing abilities in our entire deck, and one is a loss, we don’t want to move out of melee range too often.

Sunkeeper Damage and Support card analysis

All the cards in Gloomhaven have the potential to be good or bad depending on the situation, party composition, and the character you want to play. For this Sunkeeper build, I wanted cards that gave these three things, generally following this order of priority.

  • Damage
  • Support
  • Heal

All my card evaluations are with these criteria in mind.

Sunkeeper cards

The Sunkeeper has 30 cards to choose from across levels 1-9. With a hand limit of 11, we’re not the most easily exhausted, but we haven’t got the highest stamina either. Especially because we’ll likely want to use the persistent bonus on the bottom of Defensive Stance in every scenario which reduces our hand to 10, really.

Her cards feature melee abilities, some Stun, and Muddle, but mainly the cards have Shields, Heals and buffs like Bless, Strengthen and card recovery abilities.

Level 1 Sunkeeper cards

There are 11 cards at Level 1 for the Sunkeeper which is the same as her hand limit so you can just use them to get to know the class. Whenever I play as a new character, I like to look through the starting cards because they often provide really valuable clues to the different build options for the class.

Anyway, how well do the level 1 Sunkeeper cards fit with our Damage and Support focused build?

Brilliant Prayer

Gloomhaven Level 1 Sunkeeper Brilliant Prayer card
Level 1 Sunkeeper Brilliant Prayer card

Top ability

Recover all lost cards? That’s a pretty powerful ability. But oh wow, do you pay for it!

You’d essentially need to carry this card around with you for pretty much the whole scenario so a team mate can build up that loss cards pile. Until that point you’re stuck using the base 2 damage action.

For me that trade off isn’t worth it. I want to help my team mates, but I’d be more of a help doing something else.

Bottom ability

A Heal of 5 is awesome for a Level 1 card. But it’s another loss. Ugh. It’s a shame too because the Light generation and the 2 Experience points are useful.

For me, it’s not worth carrying this around and waiting for the perfect moment to do a large heal.

Overall Brilliant Prayer card rating

As a double Loss card, it’s not hugely useful. You’re stuck with the basic actions until you use just one of these abilities. You’re better off bringing along a card with more useful reusable abilities.

Cautious Advance

Gloomhaven Level 1 Sunkeeper Cautious Advance card
Level 1 Sunkeeper Cautious Advance card

Top ability

That top shield is pretty good. It’ll only last for a round, but it’s not a loss so you can bring it back out again.

Given that you’ll be spending a lot of time upfront, having a shield tucked away isn’t a bad option. After all, if you can reduce the damage you take, the more frequently you can give out your heals to your allies.

The experience point for a non loss is nice too.

Bottom ability

A move 3 is better than a Move 2, right? It’s not amazing, but there aren’t many decent moves you get access to at level 1 anyway!

Overall Cautious Advance card rating

Overall, Cautious Advance is just an ok card. But it’s solidly ok. You can always find a use for a Move 3 to get to the monsters, or a Shield if you’re already next to them!

What really makes this card worth having though is the 23 initiative. It’s the second fastest card you get at level 1!

Dazzling Charge

Gloomhaven Level 1 Sunkeeper Dazzling Charge card
Level 1 Sunkeeper Dazzling Charge card

Top ability

Nice! A reusable heal with range 3 and Light! This is definitely worth having in your hand for this damage and support build.

Bottom ability

That Loss icon jumps out doesn’t it?! So is it worth it? Well, it can be.

The high movement means that you can dash over to a monster that will be especially tricky to deal with or one that has an amazing special coming up on it’s next turn, and then Stun it so that it’s not a problem anymore!

You’ll get an experience and generate some Light for being awesome too!

Overall Dazzling Charge card rating

That top heal is what you’ll use this card for most of the time. The Move and Stun ability is a nice option though if you’re in the final room and it’s race to take the monsters down before everyone is exhausted or runs out of HP!

Defensive Stance

Gloomhaven Level 1 Sunkeeper Defensive Stance card
Level 1 Sunkeeper Defensive Stance card

Top ability

A 4 damage reusable attack at Level 1 is awesome! With Light you can get a tasty bonus 1 damage, Advantage and 1 Experience too! And you know what gives you Light? The Dazzling Charge heal!

It’s why I love this build. It’s so cool to be able to heal on one turn, then hit on another turn. You feel like such a valuable party member AND you get rewarded for healing people!

Bottom ability

A persistent Shield of 1 is fantastic! Ping! Ping! Can you hear those hits bouncing off your armour?

But as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. If you use this ability too early in a scenario, you decrease your hand size to 10, and you’ll miss out on that top 4 damage ability.

So, given that our primary focus is damage, not tanking, we’ll likely only use this later in the scenario. We also need to weigh up whether preventing damage to ourselves is more important than getting rid of the monsters quickly. If they aren’t there, they can’t harm you or your team mates!

Overall Defensive Stance card rating

A really versatile card. The top reusable damage ability is awesome, especially when boosted. Then you also have the lower persistent Shield too if it’s the right time to use it.

The 65 initiative is a bit of a let down, but you can just pair it with a lower initiative card.

Empowering Command

Gloomhaven Level 1 Sunkeeper Empowering Command card
Level 1 Sunkeeper Empowering Command card

Top ability

What an interesting idea! A reusable stamina potion that you give to someone else.

It’s not a bad option as a damage and support Sunkeeper. The Light bonus is a nice to have really. Any ally would be grateful to receive two cards back. Of course, it means you don’t get to do damage yourself, but this card can be the difference between an ally getting exhausted in the final room, or not.

That’s a very situational use of course, but that doesn’t matter, because you can always use the bottom ability instead!

Bottom ability

Damage-dealing abilities in the bottom card slot are always going to be useful! While you can’t deal the damage yourself, you can have an adjacent ally do it for you instead. This is like the ultimate in a damage support card!

It’s even better if your ally has bonuses to their damage from a weapon or a special ability.

Overall Empowering Command card rating

The bottom ability on Empowering Command is what we’re here for really. Dealing extra damage from a bottom ability is rare and always useful. The 32 initiative isn’t terrible for us either.

Hammer Blow

Level 1 Sunkeeper Hammer Blow card Gloomhaven
Level 1 Sunkeeper Hammer Blow card

Top ability

The top ability of Hammer Blow is the same as the top of Defensive Stance. It’s a solid damage dealer and a great reusable option.

Bottom ability

This Move 4 is the highest non-loss Move we have at level 1 so it’s worth having in your hand just for that! Generally, we don’t have a lot of move options so it’s very welcome!

Overall Hammer Blow card rating

Hammer Blow is a solid card. You will always find a use for it, whether that’s charging at the monsters or hitting them!

Holy Strike

Level 1 Sunkeeper Holy Strike card Gloomhaven
Level 1 Sunkeeper Holy Strike card

Top ability

Simply stunning! Bam! No turn for you monster!

The damage isn’t huge, but it can potentially prevent a lot of damage being dealt by the monster! It’s nice balance of damage and support.

Bottom ability

Ok, so we can see that big Loss symbol! Is it worth it?

Well, it’s one of very few ranged abilities we have so in that respect, yes. And 5 damage is pretty good for level 1.

Overall Holy Strike card rating

The top of holy Strike is great. It’ll cause some damage and mitigate damage against team mates too. The bottom ability is good to have in your hand as a ranged option.

The 85 initiative isn’t fast, but the good news is that it’s high enough to make sure you can go late in a round if you want to.

Lay on Hands

Level 1 Sunkeeper Lay on Hands card Gloomhaven
Level 1 Sunkeeper Lay on Hands card

Top ability

The top of Lay On Hands is just about as selfless as you can get! Completely healing an ally at your own expense.

The main issue I have with this is that it’s very situational. It needs to be a situation where one player has really low health and yours is high. In my experience playing on the front lines with this build, my health is getting knocked down too. So I’m not in a position to share!

Bottom ability

Loot 1. Hmm. Not great. I’d rather just use the standard Move action.

Overall Lay on Hands card rating

This card will take up precious space in your hand. The top is a Loss that you can only play once per scenario and only when the timing is right, and the the bottom ability is less helpful than moving most of the time. This doesn’t make it into the starting hand.

Protective Blessing

Level 1 Sunkeeper Protective Blessing card Gloomhaven
Level 1 Sunkeeper Protective Blessing card

Top ability

This is a great support ability and it’s reusable too! The Range is really handy because it means you send the buffs to a caster or another ranged friend behind you while you’re face to face with the monsters.

Big fan.

Bottom ability

What an amazing card for when the heat is on! Just throw it down and be like, “Nope!” No damage for you and your adjacent front line allies this turn. It’s amazing.

Especially for that final room when you’re so, so close to winning and everyone needs to use their final few turns causing damage rather than healing! Just may sure you keep your friends close!

Overall Protective Blessing card rating

A really awesome support card that will scale well too. At level 1, or level 9 Bless, Strengthen and ignore all damage work brilliantly. The only thing that would be nice is a more useful initiative number rather than a somewhere in the middle 61.

Purifying Aura

Sunkeeper card Purifying Aura Gloomhaven
Level 1 Sunkeeper card Purifying Aura

Top ability

This Retaliate has the potential to do 10 damage over 5 hits. While damage is our thing with this build, Retaliate is never my favourite way to do it, epically when you’re not tanking. With Retaliate, you have to take damage to do damage and it’s likely not going to go in your favour.

There is another issue with this build specifically. As you play, you’re going to be careful not to attract the attention of too many monsters. You want them to go after your tanking teammate instead. So in reality, you aren’t going to get hit to deal the damage anyway. Which is what you want!

Bottom ability

This Strengthen ability looks great. And it is. But lets read carefully.

It only applies to adjacent allies. In my group, that was usually one, maybe two others. That’s still pretty cool, though. The Light bonus makes it far more usable. But it’s still situational.

Overall Purifying Aura card rating

I really wanted to like Purifying Aura more. But Retaliate is not a good tactic for our build and the lower Strengthen is situational and not really as useful to us as a Move.

Tactical Order

Sunkeeper Tactical Order card Gloomhaven
Level 1 Sunkeeper Tactical Order card

Top ability

“Hey, you, Move!” This ability is surprisingly useful! If you’ve got a slow character in your group, it can really help them to catch up with the rest of the group.

Or you can use it to help another ally to get into a good position to make the most of their next turn.

Bottom ability

The other reusable Move 4 you get at level 1. Always going to be useful!

Overall Tactical Order card rating

Both Move abilities are helpful here and that 29 initiative comes in handy too!

Level X Sunkeeper cards

At level 1 we can choose to use the level X cards in our starting hands. So let’s take a look at them!

Sunkeeper Level x cards, Beacon of Light, Daybreak and Glorious Bolt
Sunkeeper Level X cards, Beacon of Light, Daybreak and Glorious Bolt

Beacon of Light

Top ability

At first glance, this Heal 1 looks too weak to be useful. But if you’ve all just been caught in a Poison cloud, it’s exactly what you need. There’s no need to waste stronger heals to just banish the Poison.

The range 4 makes it especially helpful. It usually means you can reach all your party.

When people aren’t dealing with Poison, a sprinkling of a 1 heal for everyone is nice.

Bottom ability

At Level 1, we’re massively lacking in Light generation because it mostly comes from Loss abilities. So it can be helpful to use this just before a boss or before entering the final room to boost your damage.

Overall Beacon of Light card rating

It’s a useful card for level 1 because we need more Light and the top can be really helpful for when people are Poisoned. The 36 initiative is

Daybreak

Top ability

One of our few negative status effect cards, Muddle can help to give you the edge. The Dark boost to this card is good, but you’ll only be able to use it when a monster has generated Dark. Don’t take Dark from an ally that’s just put in the room! That’s a quick way to lose a friend.

I like the metaphor on the bonus condition. Consume Dark and turn it into Light. Just lovely!

The 3 damage isn’t amazing, but it the Muddle status makes it more helpful.

Bottom ability

So much more than a Move 2! Bless is a great way to get double damage into an ally’s modifier deck! The more thinned out their deck, the higher the chance they will draw it, of course.

Seeing as moving adjacent to allies opens up other supports too, it works out quite neatly. Move alongside them and give them your blessing.

The best thing about it is that it’s reusable. Grab those Bless cards out of the Gloomhaven box and just keep them near you. You’ll be handing them out like they’re candy!

If you’re already next to the ally you want to Bless, simply move one hex away and then move back alongside them to Bless them!

Overall Daybreak card rating

A solid card with reusable top and bottom abilities. The high initiative number can help you to go late in a round if you need to.

Glorious Bolt

Top ability

A glorious ranged heal 5 with the opportunity to expand this to two targets with Light. Which of course you want to do because it’s a Loss ability. You want to make the most of it!

Healing 10 points in one turn is amazing at Level 1, and pretty handy at higher levels too. With a Light boost, you’ll also get 2 Experience points, instead of 1, so just another reason to boost it!

Bottom ability

A damage-dealing ability on the bottom of a card is always going to be amazing for those turns where you don’t need to move and just want to do more damage!

The 2 damage isn’t amazing, but the Range 3 makes it versatile and the Muddle makes it more powerful.

Overall Glorious Bolt card rating

The reusable lower damage 2 will be used over and over again until /unless you need to use the top heal.

Level 1 Sunkeeper build

So with this build we’re looking for damage, heals and other support abilities. In that order.

In our starting hand we have a good mix of all three, though it could be better. But that’s what levelling up is all about, right?

And we need a good smattering of Moves in there too. In the level 1 deck, every card with a Move ability on is in our hand!

Level 1 Sunkeeper deck

Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 1 cards
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 1 cards

Even though each card has two abilities, I’ve generally chosen it for one ability more than the other. That’s how I’ve categorized the cards here.

Damage

  • Defensive Stance
  • Hammer Blow (Top: Consume Light)
  • Holy Strike (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Daybreak (Top: Consume Dark, Create Light)
  • Glorious Bolt (Top: Consume Light)

Support

  • Cautious Advance (Top: Consume Light)
  • Empowering Command (Top: Consume Light)
  • Protective Blessing (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Tactical Order

Heal

  • Dazzling Charge (Top: Create Light, Bottom: Create Light)
  • Beacon of Light (Bottom: Create Light)

Level 2 Sunkeeper cards

Level 2 Sunkeeper cards Practical Plans and Unwavering Mandate
Level 2 Sunkeeper cards Practical Plans and Unwavering Mandate

Practical Plans

Top ability

5 damage? Reusable, you say? Sign me up!

Bottom ability

Move 5? The highest we have seen so far. Also great.

Overall Practical Plans card rating

This is like your standard top hit and bottom move abilities but so much better! You will always, always find a use for them!

Unwavering Mandate

Top ability

An ally taking an extra turn sounds great, but it’s at the expense of you playing your second ability so in reality, your party only gain an extra one ability played overall.

Plus, it’s a Loss so you’ll be carrying this around with you for a long time before you play it.

Bottom ability

A heal 3, range 2 is useful. When boosted with Light it’s even better.

The trouble is, Light is in high demand and low supply right now. So you may only be able to pull off healing one target most of the time. Plus, if people need healing they need it now, not on the next turn after you’ve had a chance to set up Light.

Overall Unwavering Mandate card rating

The top you’ll be carrying around until the time is right and even then the benefit is not really worth it. The bottom is only really great if it’s boosted and you’ll likely want to use it faster than that.

Level 2 Sunkeeper build

What to pick up

Practical Plans. It’s always going to be useful and it’s damage focussed which is our primary criteria.

What to drop

What Losses are cluttering up our hand?

So what is that we’re lacking? We generally feel like we need more movement so we’re not going to swap out any of those. We don’t want to get rid of any Light generation at the moment either which means we have Glorious Bolt, Empowering Command and Defensive Stance to choose from.

Defensive Stance has a great reusable top action, Empowering Command does 4 damage when we’re adjacent to an ally or acts as a Stamina potion. Which leaves Glorious Bolt which has our only reusable ranged ability that can be surprisingly helpful. It’s not an easy choice at level 2, is it?

In the end, I decide to replace Glorious Bolt, accepting the fact that I’d just need to charge right into every fight. The 2 damage didn’t do a lot and the heal is a Loss we’d have to carry around that would need to be boosted by precious Light to be worth it.

Level 2 Sunkeeper deck

Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 2 cards
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 2 cards

Damage

  • Defensive Stance
  • Hammer Blow (Top: Consume Light)
  • Holy Strike (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Daybreak (Top: Consume Dark, Create Light)
  • Practical Plans

Support

  • Cautious Advance (Top: Consume Light)
  • Empowering Command (Top: Consume Light)
  • Protective Blessing (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Tactical Order

Heal

  • Dazzling Charge (Top: Create Light, Bottom: Create Light)
  • Beacon of Light (Bottom: Create Light)

Level 3 Sunkeeper cards

Sunkeeper Level 3 cards Burning Flash and Mobilizing Axiom
Sunkeeper Level 3 cards Burning Flash and Mobilizing Axiom

Burning Flash

Top ability

4 damage across all adjacent monsters, and 1 experience for each one and Light! This is a huge move! No wonder it’s a Loss.

But let’s break it down. How many monsters will be next to you at any one time? Well, if you’re sensible you’re not going to be right in the middle of an entire group! So perhaps two?

Plus, because it is a Loss, you can only use it once per scenario. So all the rest of the scenario, you’re not going to be doing damage with this card, you’ll be using the bottom ability instead.

Bottom ability

A good, trusty heal 3 with an occasional extra heal and Light. It’s great that it’s on the bottom for those times when you don’t need to move and we don’t have a heal in the lower slot at the moment.

It’s a shame that Light isn’t generated every time.

Overall Burning Flash card rating

A pretty decent card to be honest. It lends itself more to a support build than a damage spec.

Mobilizing Axiom

Top ability

Finally! The first reusable damage-dealing ability we have come across that can create Light every time. Having that Light source on demand gives us a lot of flexibility and we don’t need to feel like we’re lessening our impact on a turn to create Light.

The damage is in line with our other melee abilities too.

It means that we can use Mobilizing Axiom to hit on one turn and create Light, then we can Consume it to boost the damage we deal with Hammer Blow or Defensive Stance on our next.

Bottom ability

You will rarely need this ability. It’s cool to have your entire party rush forward at once, though!

I can think of a couple of scenarios where we were racing to the exit that it was useful, but most of the time I just used the top ability to deal damage.

Overall Mobilizing Axiom card rating

It’s all about that reusable Light creation! Oh, and the 23 initiative is great! It means you’ll like get to go second which is what we want. Going first only attracts the monsters!

Level 3 Sunkeeper build

What to pick up

As nice as the heal on Burning Flash is, we are focussed on damage with support as secondary so we pick up Mobilizing Axiom.

What to drop

What does Mobilizing Axiom give us? Well, another melee ability mainly and Light generation. We want to keep all our Move abilities and ideally our damage dealers which leaves: Beacon of light and Protective Blessing. Bless and Strengthen on Protective Blessing and the no damage for the entire round ability is just too good. So we remove Beacon of Light.

Remember, you can always swap it back in if you’re heading into a poisonous encounter to quickly take it off your fellow adventurers!

Level 3 Sunkeeper deck

Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 3 cards
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 3 cards

Damage

  • Defensive Stance
  • Hammer Blow (Top: Consume Light)
  • Holy Strike (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Daybreak (Top: Consume Dark, Create Light)
  • Practical Plans
  • Mobilizing Axiom (Top: Create Light)

Support

  • Cautious Advance (Top: Consume Light)
  • Empowering Command (Top: Consume Light)
  • Protective Blessing (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Tactical Order

Heal

  • Dazzling Charge (Top: Create Light, Bottom: Create Light)

Level 4 Sunkeeper cards

Sunkeeper Level 4 cards Engulfing Radiance and Righteous Strength
Sunkeeper Level 4 cards Engulfing Radiance and Righteous Strength

Engulfing Radiance

Top ability

So healing everyone for 3 is pretty cool. So up to 12 health points in one go. Sounds good right? Well, at level 4 have a maximum of 16 health points. That 3 doesn’t look so amazing after all for a one use ability.

Granted, it has more of an impact for classes with lower health. However, you can only use it once.

Bottom ability

If you need to use this ability, you’re already in trouble and you’d be better off using the negate all damage ability from Protective Blessing. Disadvantage will help to reduce the damage everyone takes, but it people will still take damage. The best thing you can do is not to get in this situation in the first place!

And you know what will help with that? Causing higher damage and taking out the monsters that cause it!

Overall Engulfing Radiance card rating

A very support focussed card to reduce damage and heal. If there’s a damage-dealer on offer, we’d be better off taking that.

Righteous Strength

Top ability

Bless! Yes! Increasing the overall party damage output! That’s the kind of support we’re talking about.

Of course, it’s best used when allies are adjacent so use it before you enter a room when you’re all bunched up! Remember what I said about hanging onto the Bless cards from the Gloomhaven box? You’ll be glad you did after adding Righteous Strength to your hand!

Bottom ability

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, shield up! Very nice!

And you may well need that Shield with the initiative of 18 on this card! It’s fun to go first and sometimes is needed but it does make you an attractive target for the monsters!

It’s so nice to have a move and an auto Shield. If you have the bottom of Defensive Stance active at the same time, you’ve got a Shield 2. If you play it with Cautious Advance top as well, you’ve got a Shield 3.

So you can have a round playing the tank if you need to!

Overall Righteous Strength card rating

Look at that 18 initiative! Lovely! It gives us a really nice early initiative option. The card isn’t damage focussed directly, but Bless absolutely is. Allies doing double damage soon adds up.

Level 4 Sunkeeper build

What to pick up

Righteous Strength is most closely aligned with our build. It increases the damage output of our party overall.

What to drop

Cautious Advance. We still have a Shield, and a Move 3 but now we gain a Bless ability too, oh yeah and an 18 initiative card!

Level 4 Sunkeeper deck

Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 4 cards
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 4 cards

Damage

  • Defensive Stance
  • Hammer Blow (Top: Consume Light)
  • Holy Strike (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Daybreak (Top: Consume Dark, Create Light)
  • Practical Plans
  • Mobilizing Axiom (Top: Create Light)

Support

  • Empowering Command (Top: Consume Light)
  • Protective Blessing (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Tactical Order
  • Righteous Strength

Heal

  • Dazzling Charge (Top: Create Light, Bottom: Create Light)

Level 5 Sunkeeper cards

Level 5 Sunkeeper cards Path of Glory and Scales of Justice
Level 5 Sunkeeper cards Path of Glory and Scales of Justice

Path of Glory

Top ability

Epic! A 5 damage reusable with the potential to boost for an extra a damage, Advantage and 1 Experience! Nice!

Not much more to say really. It’s the highest damage ability we have come across so far!

Bottom ability

Not an amazing ability for our build, especially because we have a reusable Move 5 on the bottom of Practical Plans. But to be honest, you’ll always be using the top ability anyway!

Overall Path of Glory card rating

An amazing top ability and a lower Loss that you’ll hardly ever use.

Scales of Justice

Top ability

Exactly what we don’t want for this build! A persistent Retaliate that makes all our other damage weaker. No thanks.

We don’t want to be putting ourselves in front of monsters just so that we can take damage to deal damage. If we were playing a tank, this card boosted by a few Shields could be pretty sweet!

Bottom ability

Move 2 and Stun as the basic action on this ability is actually pretty cool. Stun is awesome! Consuming Light for extra 2 Move and an Experience point seems like a high price to me, though. There are better places to shine our Light.

Overall Scales of Justice card rating

Not ideal for our build, but a great option for a tanking Sunkeeper.

Level 5 Sunkeeper build

What to pick up

Path of Glory! We want that reusable 5 (potentially 6) damage!

What to drop

Path of Glory is a direct upgrade to the top of Hammer Blow and Defensive Stance so our mind naturally thinks on those.

Because we’re damage focussed and we rely on shifting out of the way and careful positioning to avoid taking hits, wedon’t want to get rid of the Move on the bottom of Hammer Blow.

We drop Defensive Stance.

Level 5 Sunkeeper deck

Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 5 cards
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 5 cards

Damage

  • Path of Glory (Top: Consume Light)
  • Hammer Blow (Top: Consume Light)
  • Holy Strike (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Daybreak (Top: Consume Dark, Create Light)
  • Practical Plans
  • Mobilizing Axiom (Top: Create Light)

Support

  • Empowering Command (Top: Consume Light)
  • Protective Blessing (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Tactical Order
  • Righteous Strength

Heal

  • Dazzling Charge (Top: Create Light, Bottom: Create Light)

Level 6 Sunkeeper cards

Level 6 Sunkeeper cards Illuminate the Target and Supportive Chant
Level 6 Sunkeeper cards Illuminate the Target and Supportive Chant

Illuminate the Target

Top ability

Ooh! Gimme! Damage-dealing and supportive all in one! Yes, please!

5 Damage that doesn’t even need boosting and can be used over and over, plus Strengthen on adjacent allies and a precious Experience point too!

Bottom ability

As good as a second hit but dealt by our ally. It’s an upgrade to the bottom ability on Empowering Command with a damage boost of 2.

Overall Illuminate the Target card rating

That top is amazing for our build. Damage with a sprinkling of support. The bottom is going to be useful too if we aren’t in a position to make use of the top. That 91 initiative is high enough that we can almost guarantee going last in a round if we need to.

Supportive Chant

Top ability

There’s a maximum of 3 allies that can benefit from this because you are not your own ally.

It can work out really well if you have a couple of area of effect classes in your group, or those with multiple target abilities. Otherwise, it’s just a +3 damage which is less than Illuminate the Target’s top ability of 5 damage.

Bottom ability

Everyone adding +2 Move to their Moves this round can be useful if you need allies to catch up, but you have the bottom of Mobilizing Axiom for that which gives them all a bonus Move 4 as a free action.

Overall Supportive Chant card rating

It’s not a great card for our build. And it’s likely not for a lot of people unless you have area of effect classes in your group.

Level 6 Sunkeeper build

What to pick up

Illuminate the Target.

What to drop

Empowering Command. The bottom of Illuminate the Target is an upgrade to it.

Level 6 Sunkeeper deck

Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 6 cards
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 6 cards

Damage

  • Path of Glory (Top: Consume Light)
  • Hammer Blow (Top: Consume Light)
  • Holy Strike (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Daybreak (Top: Consume Dark, Create Light)
  • Practical Plans
  • Mobilizing Axiom (Top: Create Light)
  • Illuminate the Target

Support

  • Protective Blessing (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Tactical Order
  • Righteous Strength

Heal

  • Dazzling Charge (Top: Create Light, Bottom: Create Light)

Level 7 Sunkeeper cards

Level 7 Sunkeeper cards Bright Aegis and Weapon of Purity
Level 7 Sunkeeper cards Bright Aegis and Weapon of Purity

Bright Aegis

Top ability

A perfect ability for a tank! You get the benefit of the Shield 2 so that you can brush off a lot of the damage you’ll take while making full use of Retaliate.

For us though, it’s not helpful. We don’t want to be taking the hits.

Bottom ability

Recovering a lost card is incredibly helpful. Especially if your ally has an epic burninate one! However I suspect if you’d take this card as a tank that you’d always be using the top to keep yourself afloat!

Overall Bright Aegis card rating

Fantastic tank card. Terrible damage dealing card.

Weapon of Purity

Top ability

Ooh very shiny! What a delicious persistent damage bonus!

Ahh, but it needs Light. Where did Beacon of Light go again? I’m kidding of course. Most of the time we’ll be using the bottom ability on this card anyway. And if we do find ourselves bathing in Light, we can take advantage of it!

Bottom ability

My favourite kind of ability! The Move, hit combo. Every time you use this you will feel like you get an extra half a turn.

I love that it gives you the flexibility to finish off one monster with the top of another card, then move to the next one and get a hit in there too. Or you can use it first, Move to a monster, do some damage and then do some more damage or hand out some support.

Above all, it’s options that we get.

Overall Weapon of Purity card rating

Super awesome for the bottom ability! The top is nice and we may occasionally use it, but it’s all about the lower half of this card.

Level 7 Sunkeeper build

What to pick up

Weapon of Purity. It’s more aligned with what we want.

What to drop

Hmm. Which of our cards is bringing the least value to the table? Tactical Order is looking a little shabby. It’s nice to allow an ally to Move an extra 4, but it’s not as useful as us dealing more damage. We’ll need to lose one Move point, but the trade off is worth it to gain the bonus damage combo.

Level 7 Sunkeeper deck

Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 7 cards
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 7 cards

Damage

  • Path of Glory (Top: Consume Light)
  • Hammer Blow (Top: Consume Light)
  • Holy Strike (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Daybreak (Top: Consume Dark, Create Light)
  • Practical Plans
  • Mobilizing Axiom (Top: Create Light)
  • Illuminate the Target
  • Weapon of Purity (T op: Consume Light)

Support

  • Protective Blessing (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Righteous Strength

Heal

  • Dazzling Charge (Top: Create Light, Bottom: Create Light)

Level 8 Sunkeeper cards

Sunkeeper Level 8 cards Cleansing Force and Inspiring Sanctity
Sunkeeper Level 8 cards Cleansing Force and Inspiring Sanctity

Cleansing Force

Top ability

Wow! 6 damage plus Stun and Wound and 2 Experience! No wonder it’s a Loss.

Of course this is a great ability, but you do pay for it. Fantastic in the final room though in a defeat everything scenario.

Bottom ability

Wonderful! Now we can walk in the Light.

So helpful to have another Light generating ability. It makes it a lot easier to take advantage of our boost damage abilities.

Overall Cleansing Force card rating

A nice 25 initiative card with a reusable Light generating lower ability and a top we can burn when the time is right. It’s a classic formula of one half reusable and one half Loss that can work really well.

Inspiring Sanctity

Top ability

What a heavy hitter!

But it’s situational! To set up the instant monster removal bonus we’d need to plan a turn in advance to create Light and then make sure we’re adjacent to an ally on the following turn. It can be done, but as you know, things don’t always go to plan in Gloomhaven!

Bottom ability

This can be effective if you have a group with a lot of melee allies. If not, the card doesn’t say it’s ranged damage so it may well be wasted.

Overall Inspiring Sanctity card rating

Double Loss cards have to be amazing to earn their place because you’ll be lugging it around until you can use just one of the abilities. In this case, it’s not worth it.

Level 8 Sunkeeper build

What to pick up

Cleansing Force. No contest.

What to drop

Decisions, decisions… So which of our cards has a Move that we can bring into the Light? Oh yes, Hammer Blow. But we will lose the top 4 damage ability.

The other option is Daybreak, but we’ll lose the top 3 damage ability with Muddle and our nice little sprinkling of Bless each time we do a short Move.

We could always get rid of Dazzling Charge at this point because a heal 4 is weak at level 8. However, weak as it is, it’s always, always welcome and has saved my party members many times.

I opted to swap out Daybreak. Now we’ve gained a Move 4 instead of a Move 2, albeit at the expense of losing Bless but we gain Light in trade that we can use to boost Hammer Blow. We also have another high damage ability for the final room.

Level 8 Sunkeeper deck

Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 8 cards
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 8 cards

Damage

  • Path of Glory (Top: Consume Light)
  • Hammer Blow (Top: Consume Light)
  • Holy Strike (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Cleansing Force (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Practical Plans
  • Mobilizing Axiom (Top: Create Light)
  • Illuminate the Target
  • Weapon of Purity (Top: Consume Light)

Support

  • Protective Blessing (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Righteous Strength

Heal

  • Dazzling Charge (Top: Create Light, Bottom: Create Light)

Level 9 Sunkeeper cards

Level 9 Sunkeeper cards Angelic Ascension and Divine Intervention
Level 9 Sunkeeper cards Angelic Ascension and Divine Intervention

Angelic Ascension

Top ability

What a wonderful boost when heading into the final room! Save it till you get there, then throw it down and go all out! Spread those hits around 4 different monsters to maximise the impact of Wound!

Your group will get off to a fantastic start!

Bottom ability

Finally, a high Move with Jump! If you hadn’t already added Jump as Enhancement by now on another card, you’ll see what you’ve been missing out on!

Given our nee

Overall Angelic Ascension card rating

An amazing top ability for the final room and a high Move with Jump that we can use in the meantime. Great card for us!

Divine Intervention

Top ability

I actually really like how smart this ability is and how powerful it can be over the course of a scenario. It’s very nice for a tank build.

Reducing overall party damage by 1 several times during the course of a scenario can save a lot of health points! If, despite your best tanking intentions, a monster has made its way to the squishy member of your party, you can just absorb the damage! Saving them, and keeping the overall party health points up!

Bottom ability

With this you can literally be the Shield for everyone and live out your tanking dreams! Well, for one round anyway.

Overall Divine Intervention card rating

A great card for the tank build. Incredibly high initiative, a reusable party Shield and a spongy damage absorption. And all those things that make it so amazing for the tanking build, are exactly why we don’t want for ours.

Level 9 Sunkeeper build

What to pick up

Angelic Ascension.

What to drop

So at level 9, it’s a good idea to check what we still have from Level 1 to see what is looking weak. Dazzling Charge’s heal and Light generation is the only heal we have and it creates Light on demand so we’ll keep it.

Protective Blessing has Bless and Strengthen which is reusable and Bless is even more effective now that allies have thinned out their modifier decks. Plus it has the amazing no damage for a round ability for when things get dire.

Holy Strike gives us reusable Stun and ideally Wound if you have enhanced it.

Which leaves Hammer Blow that offers a good reusable Move 4 and a solid damage top.

Because my role in my group was to deal some damage but also support because we had no other support roles and other classes could deal higher damage than me, I chose to swap out Hammer Blow. If you are not bothered about support at all, you could take out Dazzling Charge or Protective Blessing.

Level 9 Sunkeeper deck

Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 9 cards
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Damage Build Level 9 cards

So here’s our final deck. You can see that we haven’t always replaced our support actions with more damage whenever we’ve had the opportunity. Sometimes we have replaced damage abilities with upgraded damage abilities so we can keep support actions in there.

The beauty of this build is that as your party changes and you adventurer alongside different classes, you can always choose to put more of the damage-dealing abilities in and take the support ones out, and vice versa.

Keep an eye on the roles your party has and adjust it according to what works best for your group. The one thing you can’t do though with this build is tank!

Damage

  • Path of Glory (Top: Consume Light)
  • Angelic Ascension
  • Holy Strike (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Cleansing Force (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Practical Plans
  • Mobilizing Axiom (Top: Create Light)
  • Illuminate the Target
  • Weapon of Purity (Top: Consume Light)

Support

  • Protective Blessing (Bottom: Create Light)
  • Righteous Strength

Heal

  • Dazzling Charge (Top: Create Light, Bottom: Create Light)

Sunkeeper Perks

Sunkeeper perks sheet Gloomhaven
Sunkeeper perks sheet

Although we aren’t tanking, we’re hanging out on the front lines so we’ll want to grab some hide armour, but we don’t want to add the add two -1 modifiers to our deck! So start with the Ignore negative item effects and add two +1 cards.

Like with all Gloomhaven classes, improving your modifier deck is a high priority thing to do. Remove the negatives first to make your damage output more predictable. Then remove the +0s to increase your chances of drawing a good modifier.

Then you’re ready to add in the rolling plus modifiers. 

Then, I like to take the Ignore negative scenario effects perk because I really dislike having to start a scenario with negatives! If this doesn’t bother you, move right onto the next perk.

After that, it really depends on what your primary focus is within your group. For me, it was damage so I added the rolling +1s next.

Then I went for Stun, Light, Shield self and finally heals.

  1. Ignore negative item effects and add two +1 cards
  2. Remove two -1 cards
  3. Remove two -1 cards
  4. Replace one -2 card with one +0 card
  5. Remove four +0 cards
  6. Replace one +0 with one +2 card
  7. Ignore negative scenario effects
  8. Add two rolling +1 cards
  9. Add two rolling +1 cards
  10. Add one rolling Stun card
  11. Add two rolling Light cards
  12. Add two rolling Light cards
  13. Add two rolling Shield 1, Self cards
  14. Add two rolling Heal +1 cards
  15. Add two rolling Heal + 1 cards

Sunkeeper Items

Sunkeeper starting items - Minor Healing Potion, Heater Shield, Hide Armor, Minor Power Potion, Poison Dagger
Sunkeeper starting items – Minor Healing Potion, Heater Shield, Hide Armor, Minor Power Potion, Poison Dagger

For this Sunkeeper build, these are the starting items I recommend. I’m not featuring any items beyond those available at the start so I don’t spoil anything.

Minor Healing Potion

It’s inevitable that we will take some hits being on the front lines so a healing potion is a nice thing to have tucked in our pocket just in case. Plus, it means we can save our heals for our allies.

Heater Shield

Again, we will sometimes have to take damage so this shield will help stop some of that.

Hide Armor

Grab this Hide Armor and use the Ignore negative item effects perk so you don’t need to add those negative modifiers to your deck!

Minor Power Potion

It’s cheap and a nice little boost to your damage. Perfect when a monster is on really low health and you just need this ability to go well to finish them off!

Poison Dagger

It’s the only one-handed melee weapon available at the beginning and while it’s not absolutely necessary, if someone no-one else wants it, you might as well have it!

Sunkeeper Enhancements

It makes sense to spend your hard-earned gold on enhancing abilities that you’ll have with you for a long time and that are reusable abilities so you get the benefit multiple times per scenario.

Jump on Hammer Blow bottom

50 gold

One of the main things missing from our Sunkeeper is a Jump. Given that we need to get to the front to deal our damage, we absolutely cannot be stuck behind a group of monsters or obstacles!

This happened to me several times before I got a Jump enhancement and it was incredibly frustrating!

I recommend putting Jump on Hammer Blow. We have it in our build from level 1 to Level 9 so you’ll easily get your money’s worth. Then, when we replace it at level 9, we replace it with Angelic Ascension which has Jump on the Move anyway.

Heal on Dazzling Charge top

30 gold

This upgrade is incredibly good value. You’re primary role is not healer, but you will always use that heal. At level 1, a heal of 3 is fine, at higher levels, 4 is needed to keep pace.

Wound on Holy Strike top

75 gold

Holy Strike isn’t in our hand for the damage, it’s there for the Stun. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be way more powerful.

Add Wound to it and every time that monster begins a turn, they will take a damage. Effortless.

Sunkeeper Experience

The trick to levelling as the Sunkeeper is to never miss a Light bonus that gives Experience. It’s especially important because otherwise, our experience comes from Loss abilities.

You’ll feel like you aren’t gaining much experience during the scenario because you’re being cautious with your Losses. But in the final room as you burn your losses to defeat the final monsters or boss, you’ll see that experience dial tick upwards.

Sunkeeper Combos

The Sunkeeper doesn’t have as many epic combos and sequences as other classes. Instead, she is consistenly good every round. The level you’re at and the cards you’ve selected obviously effect which combos are available to you, but here are a couple of my favourites.

Boosting Defensive Stance (Level 4)

Turn 1

  1. Use Righteous Strength bottom to move in front of a monster, and hold a Shield up.
  2. Use the top of Mobilizing Axiom to hit them for 4 and generate Light.

Turn 2

  1. Use the top of Defensive Stance to hit a monster for 5 with Advantage and scoop an experience point
  2. Use the move 4 on Tactical Order to shuffle away from the front or position yourself better for your next turn

Boosting Weapon of Purity (Level 7)

Weapon of Purity will give you a bonus +2 damage to your hits, plus Advantage and 1 Experience if you consume Light. So this is all about getting Light!

Turn 1

  1. Use the Move on the bottom of Daybreak to move just out of monster range and ideally end your turn next to an ally who you can Bless.
  2. Use the top of Dazzling Charge to Heal an ally within Range 3 and Generate Light (someone will need it!)

Turn 2

  1. Use the bottom of Righteous Strength to Move 3 to a safe position and hold up a Shield just in case.
  2. Use the top of Practical Plans and Consume Light to hit for 7 with Advantage and gain 1 Experience!

Sunkeeper Names

Our Sunkeeper is a diplomatic and powerful Valrath who uses her dark powers for good. She smites monsters while helping allies. My Sunkeeper was called Valerie Lightwalker which I made up really quickly! Here are some more Sunkeeper name ideas along the same lines!

  • Astrid Dawnbringer
  • Alva Sky
  • Ida Goldspire
  • Amber Peaceglade
  • Esme Lumin
  • Sofia Summer
  • Leigh Hammershine
  • Rey Lightsong
  • Erin Hopeshaper
  • Eshi Starmore

Conclusion – Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Guide Damage + Support

This Sunkeeper build prioritizes damage with some support mixed in. As you level, you’ll see that the deck shifts more and more to damage-dealing and even the support abilities we include help our allies to deal more damage!

But we never let go of that minor heal – it’s just too useful! For Light and health!

I hope you enjoy the mix of damage and support as much as I did! Just remember to go second and try not to attract too much attention from the monsters!

Do you want to know what all the Gloomhaven unlockable characters are? Don’t want any campaign spoilers? Then check out my Gloomhaven Locked Classes article!

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

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

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, this organizer insert, and these awesome 3D door, chest and rubble pile tokens on Amazon.

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

More Gloomhaven articles

emily sargeantson profile pic

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.

Buy me a coffee at Ko-fi
Get the My Kind of Meeple newsletter!

Exclusive email updates! New Strategies, Kickstarter Picks, What I'm Playing + Special Extras every month!