Last Updated on Samuel Franklinby
Frosthaven Starting Classes Overview – Guide To Starter Classes
Frosthaven offers players a fresh and diverse set of six starting classes to select from when beginning their adventure in the much awaited Gloomhaven sequel. On this page I will provide an overview of these classes from my experiences without significant spoilers to help individual players or their Frosthaven party find their best starting class that is most likely to hold their interest for the challenges and trials that lay ahead. Given my thousands of hours of play time in Gloomhaven I will also be making a number of comparisons to those classes in this article as reference points for explanations.
While Gloomhaven starting classes mostly had alignment with traditional RPG archetypes and relatively simple gameplay players will find that the Frosthaven starting characters feature advanced gameplay mechanics and unique themes that might not align clearly with archetypes you’ve seen before in other games. For this reason picking the right starting class for you and the associated party dynamics is even more important than Gloomhaven to ensure you have an enjoyable role playing adventure until retiring at the end of your adventuring days. This also makes it more difficult to have the starting classes ranked against each other in comparison to Gloomhaven as in my opinion the balance of starting classes in Frosthaven is much closer together provided you are playing them optimally.
On this page I will cover only the starting classes of Frosthaven with minimal spoilers. These Frosthaven spoilers will include details on the respective Frosthaven character card (lore, complexity, theme, class notes, hand size, traits) along with the themes of their level 2-9 cards without specific details to keep this page to light spoilers only. By reading on players can also expect full Gloomhaven class spoilers given this is the basis of much of my analysis to hopefully provide a relatable reference for fans that are transitioning from Gloomhaven to Frosthaven.
Frosthaven Starting Classes Overview
The section below provides a quick reference table for players that want a quick overview in one place if you have Frosthaven in your hands and want to start playing as soon as possible. This information is all from the respective character cards included within the Frosthaven box.
|Symbol||Name||Race||Main Roles||Hand Size||Health (Level 1 / 10)||Complexity||Traits|
|Banner Spear||Human||Defence / Melee||10||High (10 / 26)||2||Armoured
|Blinkblade||Quatryl||Melee / Mobility||10||Medium (8 / 20)||5||Educated
|Boneshaper||Aesther||Defence / Melee||12||Low (6 / 14)||4||Arcane
|Deathwalker||Valwrath||Ranged / Melee||11||Low (6 / 14)||3||Arcane
|Drifter||Inox||Melee / Ranged / Support / Defence||12||High (10 / 26)||1||Outcast
|Geminate||Harrower||Melee / Ranged||7 + 7||Medium (8 / 20)||5||Arcane
Frosthaven Starting Classes Detailed
The below section dives deeper into the starting classes that Frosthaven offers players with a focus on the lore related information for those that value the story elements of playing Frosthaven as a particular character, the impacts of the class hand size, health pool and complexity rating of their playstyle and in turn details around core game mechanics and card themes which drives the role they play in a team.
Banner Spear Class Overview
The Banner Spear is a human warrior that belongs to the northern settlements and has played a vital role in the defence of human settlements and expansion of their Merchant’s Guild during eras long past. In the current Frosthaven story they are the sign of human resilience and survival that no matter the odds continue to forge forward.
The Banner Spear is rated as a 2/5 complexity character with an affinity for the element of wind who prefers to be in melee range to enemies while also having appropriate defensive tools for themselves and allies. With a middling hand size of 10 and a high starting health pool of 10 you can afford to burn some cards during a specific scenario and soak up some damage when required.
The specialty of the Banner Spear is area attacks with many of these requiring an ally to be in a specific position for your attack which gives the Banner Spear some similarities to the Scoundrel in Gloomhaven although the positioning of allies has harsher requirements in Frosthaven. Another central mechanic to this class is their banner summoning abilities that provide aura benefits to yourself and allies although cannot move by themselves. Throughout your cards players will find the opportunity to summon other support units onto the battlefield, strong conditional attacks, cards that allow you to move others and some basic healing options. Given this the Banner Spear pairs well with allies that are comfortable being in the front line alongside them with high levels of co-operation maximising this class potential.
Blinkblade Class Overview
Offering players a Quatryl option who like the other Quatryls of Gloomhaven is a specialist in strange technology which they wield in Frosthaven to turn their small stature into a devastating technological themed assassin. Utilising familiar and new equipment the Blickblade pays homage to the technical advancements of their race while adding experimental temporal drives as a key mechanic to their assassination technique.
The Blinkblade is rated 5/5 for complexity with no elemental affinities. The Blinkblade has a heavy focus on melee and mobility which is in stark contrast to some other Frosthaven starting classes like the Banner Spear or Drifter that have a more rounded approach. With a hand size of 10 the Blinkblade has plenty of cards to get the job done and even comes with a medium sized health pool that starts at 8 to give players some room to test and learn the class mechanic.
This class mechanic is the manipulation of time with players swapping between fast and slow modes which not only impacts on your cards but also their initiatives. Generally players will find that fast mode results in higher damage and larger moves while slow often offers players the opposite although there are some beneficial slow cards that reward the player for slowing down at the right time. With going fast limited to your availability of time tokens that are primarily gained from going slow for a round players will find it is a constant balance to the Blinkblade as you think many turns ahead. Given the assassin theme your team role is focused around dealing high damage to enemies with card themes of large movements, high damage, status effects and even the occasional heal to correct for mistakes given the high skill cap of the Blinkblade that is definitely rewarding.
Boneshaper Class Overview
The Aesther Boneshaper like the Aesther Summoner of Gloomhaven focuses on bringing living things into the world to do their bidding although this time focuses on undead summons. Having once been a human who fell to a great tragedy the Boneshaper like the other Aesthers has travelled along the infinite planes seeking knowledge while occasionally returning to the plane we know for a specific task.
The Boneshaper is a 4/5 complexity rated class driven by their mechanics which inflict damage on themselves and a low health pool which starts at 6. To somewhat counter this the Boneshaper does have a hand size of 12 which makes it one of the larger options in the starting classes of Frosthaven. Elemental affinities include earth and dark with a focus on defensive play that is paired with a balance of melee and attacks through summons.
A core mechanic to the Boneshaper is the ability to summon Shambling Skeletons that serve as disposal summons that you can resummon as uniquely the card can be recovered. Where the complexity of the Boneshaper lies though is that many of their abilities do self damage and while you do have several heal abilities available the majority of them cannot be used on yourself. As a result without another ally or source of healing players may initially struggle with the Boneshaper especially given your attacks are melee orientated. With levels though players will find themselves unlocking new summons, abilities to grant their summons actions and some conditional self heals to help balance the damage taken when summoning skeletons. With these cards available the Boneshaper plays a defensive role in the team through their summons to soak up damage but also deal respectable damage through initiative control but does prefer a party where they have appropriate support to take monster aggression or provide an alternative healing source.
Deathwalker Class Overview
The Valrath Deathwalker is a character that arrives in the wake of tragedy to ensure that the dead find rest while also seeking to atone for the Valrath’s historically aggression towards other races, in particular their war in the south against the humans. While this Valrath is far from the lands of the Red Desert that they call home they see their role as vital which has led them to a nomad life wherever tragedy takes them.
With a middle complexity rating of 3/5 the Deathwalker has a low starting health pool of 6 and a hand size of 11 that provide a range of tools for your core mechanic to utilise. With these cards in hand players primarily focus on ranged attacks although still have a reasonable array of melee and mobility options that allow you to attack swiftly and avoid retaliation.
The core mechanic of the Deathwalker is the shadow tokens which are tokens that fill up the battlefield and can be activated for a range of powers. Be it empowering your attacks, damaging enemies that land on shadows or attacking as if you were one of the shadow tokens the potential manipulation of the battlefield is high with this Frosthaven starting character. Players can also move the shadow tokens with many of these featured on the bottom of your cards rather than movement abilities that create a constant balance of your own positioning and that of the useful shadows and also requires some ramp up time as players get shadows out on the game board. Themes that appear through cards as you level up include summons and status effects from attacks that double down on your battlefield control and leads to the Deathwalker playing a control and damage role that steadily builds during the course of a scenario.
Drifter Class Overview
The familiar Inox clans in Frosthaven are represented with the Inox Drifter who has drifted to the north of the world and comes from the clans of the Great Cove where strength and self-reliance are valued. Like others in the Inox species the Drifter brings great size and strength to a party that enables them to offer a simple but flexible and effective warrior theme for Frosthaven players to command.
With a complexity rating of 1/5 the Drifter is easy to play while having ample depth to optimising this playstyle for players that want to push them to perfection. With a high starting health pool of 10 and a large hand size of 12 the Drifter is also a forgiving option that can be a good choices for players who haven’t played Gloomhaven before in particular. This pairs with great flexibility across support, defence, melee and ranged options so players will always find a combination of cards that meets their goals.
The primary game mechanic of the Drifter is persistent effects that allow you to buff your attacks, healing, ranged attacks, movement values, defences and many other effects for the next six turns which allows you to leverage the high hand size of this class. Importantly the specialisation of the Drifter allows these effects to extend beyond the base six turns though with a mechanic that can push character tokens on these persistent abilities backwards to provide greater mileage and potentially with careful management permanently have these persistent effects active during a scenario. Upon most level ups players will have the option to add a new persistent effect to their deck alongside a number of consistent attacks, movement and heal cards that are intended to be buffed with these persistent effects to be on par with other characters. While it can tempting to have all the persistent effects a balance of 2 or 3 is generally advised given they can quickly reduce your effective hand size when playing as the Drifter. Ultimately the Drifter can slot into any team with roles across damage (both melee and ranged), tanking and support available based on the cards you select and bring to the fight.
Geminate Class Overview
The Geminate belongs to the rare breed of Harrowers where the swarm of insects have been unable to decide on a single mind and instead operate on an equilibrium of two wills. This phenomenon known as a Geminate results in two vastly different configurations that have their own abilities and desires which adds another complex element to the usually hermit nature of the Harrower species.
Rated as a full 5/5 complexity the Geminate uniquely provides two 7 hand sizes that need to be carefully managed to avoid exhaustion which pairs with a middle of the range starting health value of 8 and an elemental awareness of fire, ice and light. With these two hands being focused on melee or ranged respectively players will want to be both in and out of fights depending on the specific turn with some elements of mobility, defence and control to achieve that goal.
As you might have expected the dual hand mechanic is the core element of the Geminate with players switching between ranged and melee forms based on the cards they play or during a long rest cycle. As a result players will need to balance the switching of forms to ensure both forms remain relatively balanced in terms of hand sizes as exhausting either form will result in your total exhaustion. Another minor mechanic of the Geminate is specified ranges for their attacks which require monsters to be at particular ranges for an attack compared to being within a certain range like other classes. As players level up you’ll still only have two cards to select from (one for each of your forms) where you can acquire elemental generation, support options and area of effect attacks. The team role for the Geminate is a flexible one with players able to balance melee and ranged or lean a little deeper into one to cover for a gap in your Frosthaven party.