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Gloomhaven getting newcomer-friendly prequel, Jaws of the Lion, next year

Enjoy a leisurely dungeon sprint.

Hit dungeon-crawler Gloomhaven is getting a new standalone game in 2020.

Gloomhaven designer Issac Childres recently announced in a blog that the game will be titled Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion.

The title itself refers to a mercenary group players will be part of, and also nods to erstwhile tavern The Sleeping Lion from the original Gloomhaven game.

Curiously, Jaws of the Lion is not only a prequel set some years before the main title, but is also shorter, cheaper and somewhat simpler than the base game. As such, Jaws of the Lion is aimed squarely at newcomers to the series.

“It’s kind of funny because it’s like I’m designing Gloomhaven in reverse,” Childres said in an earlier blog post discussing the new title.

“With the original game, one of the core design concepts was a huge, open world, and then I developed all these campaign systems - retirement, prosperity, a multitude of characters and monsters - to support that concept.

“With this new project, I am basically saying, ‘Nope, we don’t need that anymore,’ and then all that other stuff can get stripped away along with it.”

Childres suggested that the price and size of Gloomhaven can be intimidating for new players. Jaws of the Lion’s smaller version requires less time commitment, is much cheaper and easier to organise.

Earlier this month, the designer announced on Twitter that Jaws of the Lion will cost around $40 to $50 (£30 to £40).

In order to scale down, the new title features less monsters and no road events. Instead of playing on bulky cardboard map tiles, scenarios will be played out via an illustrated book.

Jaws of the Lion will have around 24 scenarios - in contrast to Gloomhaven’s 95 - that will take players around 12 sessions to complete.

Lastly, to get past the complex process of learning Gloomhaven, a Learn to Play rulebook will take players through the first few sessions of the game.

The new version will also add three new characters. These include the tanky Valrath Red Guard, ranged damage merchant Inox Hatchet and a Quatryl Demolitionist - who as the title suggests, can blow some stuff up. Recently, Childres also revealed the new human Voidwarden character. She can channel the power of the Void - for better or worse.

Another new character, the human Necromancer, was initially announced for inclusion in Jaws of the Lion, but was removed after playtesting due to being too complex. The character will instead be featured in an upcoming expansion for the original Gloomhaven.

According to Childres, the Jaws of the Lion concept evolved from an initial Gloomhaven card game experiment - which was binned after testing in favor of a Gloomhaven “small box” idea.

“I think it is going to be a real game-changer,” Childres said.

“Bringing a lot more people into the world Gloomhaven who may have been turned off by the commitment required by the original game, while it will also add a bunch of great new content for existing fans.”

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is touted for release during Q3 next year.

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Sara Elsam avatar

Sara Elsam

Former Staff Writer

Sara has been writing since 2017, contributing news, features and more to outlets including Eurogamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, Variety, The Guardian, BBC and Tabletop Gaming magazine. An expert in Dungeons & Dragons, they’re also a fan of all things horror and psychedelia both on and off the table. They are happiest rolling big dice, raising mobs and rocking out with their Bard-Lock.