Last Updated on Samuel Franklinby
Gloomhaven Best Class Tier List – All Characters Ranked
In this Gloomhaven class tier list guide we’ve rated every character option to help you build an ideal party for the standard and harder Gloomhaven difficulties. With a total of 6 potential starting classes in the base game and a further 11 that can be unlocked by playing through the campaign understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each class is useful before you commit your time to playing a Gloomhaven class until retirement. This roster was further expanded by 1 in Forgotten Circles and 4 in the Jaws of the Lion expansion for a total of 22 potential mercenaries to build your own Gloomhaven story.
While every character class in Gloomhaven is capable of contributing to the campaign content there are some class options that simply offer a greater chance of success, particularly when you factor in the difficulty selected and your party composition. This guide is equally applicable to the board game and digital version of Gloomhaven (and the applicable expansions) as there are only minor differences between these releases.
Note that this guide contains various class spoilers and if you would rather choose a class based solely on an overview of their party role without significant spoilers or any references to their power level visit our Gloomhaven classes overview instead.
Gloomhaven Best Class Factors
Overall Gloomhaven is a fairly balanced game experience and outside some particularly difficult 2 party sized combos most characters can contribute to a scenario with a capable player controlling them. That being said there are still some classes that either have an easier time at being effective, have greater flexibility to tackle scenario challenges or simply have a higher potential when played at their peak. When rating characters for this Gloomhaven tier list the following factors have been the primary considerations with an attempted balance view across class levels (so not solely level 9 characters at their peak power levels with all cards available). This character tier list also assumes you are playing the base Gloomhaven campaign as these classes given the expansions change some mechanics (such as items) that influence their effectiveness. Expansion characters in particular are slightly stronger in their specific expansion scenarios as these are clearly designed with these classes in mind. Players should also be aware that the best starting class or starting party in Gloomhaven has different dynamics to consider than a party that has unlocked all mercenaries and items.
- Damage: Without damage you won’t be able to defeat enemies that you encounter which reduces the damage your party takes and ultimately allows you to continue moving through the current scenario. Gloomhaven often encourages offense over defence so characters with reliable and direct sources of damage are often more powerful as a result.
- Utility: Not every character needs to deal damage though and in the large parties in particular having utility can significantly help a party on their quest. Be it buffing damage, creating obstacles, forcing enemies to move or inflicting status effects these can give players various options to fight against whatever they encounter.
- Flexibility: There are some Gloomhaven characters that excel in particular scenarios while they feel weak in others due to the setup of the rooms or enemy types. Top tier classes though have the flexibility to be useful in a broader range of scenarios and can fulfil multiple roles in a team when called to do so. Ease of use is also a factor here with a flexible character not requiring turn perfect strategy to reach their peak potential while some characters quickly crumble if not played perfectly or after a single mistake.
Gloomhaven Best Class Tier List Summary – All Classes Ranked
The Gloomhaven class tier list below is rated on a S > A > B > C > D rating system that is summarised below. Each party size (2, 3 and 4) is individually rated as this can have a dramatic impact on character effectiveness and allows you to build the best 4 player party, best 3 player party and best 2 player party. For further detail on the rating for each particular character refer to the end of this Gloomhaven tier list guide. I also recommend you refer to this expansive thread on BoardGameGeek that includes a community poll with over 600 votes for the community view on how powerful each Gloomhaven class is.
- S Tier: The pinnacle of Gloomhaven classes that bring the greatest flexibility to scenarios and can even make the highest difficultly levels feel like a walk in the park when in the right hands. This class simple performs their role better in the given party size and should be considered the best starting class or best unlockable class.
- A Tier: Another powerful tier to consider in your search of the Gloomhaven best character. While not reaching the ranks of S tier these characters are still above average in the pool of potential options and a worthy addition to any team at the right party size.
- B Tier: Your average baseline for character power in Gloomhaven that is neither powerful or weak and provides a normal level of challenge through scenarios. When selecting these for a party you can expect the difficulty option you set to feel as intended.
- C Tier: While a C tier Gloomhaven class can still be used effectively in specific or niche situations having one in your party can create additional difficulty over the course of a campaign. Needing either specific setups or simply having another class that performs a similar role better these are the classes you’ll choose for aesthetic or playstyle rather than raw power.
- D Tier: For those seeking an additional challenge the D tier classes of Gloomhaven have various glaring weaknesses when played at the specific party size noted below. Expect your scenarios to be significantly more challenging when using this class with others having to pick up the slack.
|Class||Source||2 Player||3 Player||4 Player|
|Diviner||Starting (Forgotten Circles)||D||C||B|
|Red Guard||Starting (Jaws of the Lion)||A||A||A|
|Hatchet||Starting (Jaws of the Lion)||C||B||A|
|Demolitionist||Starting (Jaws of the Lion)||C||C||B|
|Voidwarden||Starting (Jaws of the Lion)||D||B||A|
Gloomhaven Best Class Tier List Detail
The following section of this tier list provides further details on the character ratings from the table above.
- Brute: In terms of starting classes the Brute is in fact a fantastic contributor across all party sizes and while not being overpowered should not be overlooked when building your ideal starting party combo. With a good balance of dealing and absorbing damage with tanking utility like shields and moving enemies the Brute fits nicely in various scenarios but is simply overshadowed by other Gloomhaven characters that do some part of his job better which are unlocked later.
- Cragheart: On the stronger side of Gloomhaven starting classes the Cragheart is another class that can do a lot given their flexible cards that are suitable in a range of party sizes. The Cragheart is of particular value in smaller parties where your flexibility shines and you can make good use of the obstacle related cards as hexes are less filled with allies, summons and enemies.
- Mindthief: While difficult to use as a newcomer to Gloomhaven those that utilise the Mindthief’s potential will quickly find a top tier pick once you obtain some core cards in the mid game levels that give you the right mix of tools for the quick playstyle you need to adopt. Even before this though the blend of strong damage, crowd control options and invisibility are potent as you can deal damage with little opportunity for retaliation when you master the mechanics available to the Mindthief.
- Scoundrel: Offering high damage that rivals that of the highest tiers of Gloomhaven damage dealers the Scoundrel can generally find a comfortable home in the larger party sizes where they have the tools and allies necessarily to focus solely on the damage they bring to a scenario. In smaller parties though the Scoundrel’s focus on damage becomes problematic to the point where other damage dealing classes with more utility and less conditions to deal their damage might be a better option depending on your 2 player party combo. This is because the Scoundrel thrives when paired with another melee ally as this allows them to limit the damage they take and play their strongest cards that rely on having an ally nearby.
- Spellweaver: A class that fills a typical glass cannon mage archetype and brings all the pros and cons you would expect as a result. This places the Spellweaver in a balanced situation where you can deal great damage with the right setup and maximising the usage of your recovery card mechanic but is offset by your fragile health and low hand size. While you’ll no doubt have some flashy rounds of high area of effect damage you simply don’t break scenarios with your presence (although your level 9 card choices are notably powerful).
- Tinkerer: The Tinkerer performs better in a larger party where they can utilise all of their support skills to maximum effect and are quite strong as a starting choice in a full 4 person party. Even in a full party though the Tinkerer is quickly outclassed by some truly overpowered support options within the unlockable Gloomhaven classes. In smaller party sizes you’ll find better support and flexibility through other starting class options (like a Cragheart) given the Tinkerer is also reliant on loss cards for damage that make it difficult to be effective in a small party.
- Diviner: Another class that is simply not designed for the needs of a 2 player party so best avoided when playing with that party size as your mechanics often require someone else to hold ground for you. That being said it’s a quick curve upwards in power as the number of players increase as more allies (and enemies) give you the opportunity to take advantage of your mechanics and shine in your intended role. This class is more powerful in Forgotten Circles compared to other Gloomhaven content given a number of scenarios are designed with this character in mind.
- Red Guard: The tank character for Jaws of the Lion that fulfils their role perfectly and one of the better starting characters in this role given their available cards. Flexibility is quite high for the Red Guard with an array of options to shrug off damage, heal or disrupt the enemies and can even output reasonable damage if required. While you won’t lead the team in damage when playing as the Red Guard they still bring enough utility to the table that make them an effective partner in all party sizes and compositions.
- Hatchet: A powerful damage dealing mercenary that can take out a single foe with high burst damage from an unexpectedly long range. That being said the Hatchet does come with weaknesses because of this and generally wants a well rounded team to provide support to them. Of note is the high focus on loss cards and small deck size that might see you exhausting before your friends if not played carefully. The Hatchet pickup mechanic also balances out your ability to deal damage so your party needs to be making steady progress forward for your damage to be maximised.
- Demolitionist: A melee class that finds themselves in an awkward space where they have to get in the middle of the action to deal damage and utilise utility although don’t necessarily have the health or utility to consistently be in there. With careful planning and card usage the Demolitionist is still an effective contributor to the group although needs a little more attention than other characters to reach that point and isn’t quite as self sufficient either. They are stronger in Jaws of the Lions scenarios though as these are slightly smaller and environmental obstacle dense compared to base Gloomhaven scenarios which enables this class to maximise their obstacle related mechanics.
- Voidwarden: A difficult class to master that for many simply won’t be worth the effort as the payoff isn’t even close to some of the S tier rated classes on this Gloomhaven tier list. If you enjoy the aesthetic or design mechanics of this class though the supporting and indirect damage style of the Voidwarden prefers larger class sizes where you’ll have additional allies and enemies to allow for easier use of your mechanics.
- Beast Tyrant: One of the few classes in Gloomhaven that has an inverse relationship to party size with the Beast Tyrant being a wonderful 2 player party member with a slight drop off in power level at larger party sizes as you’ll find limitations in being able to use your bear or other abilities to the fullest. Even in these large sizes though the class can fall back on it’s consistent damage output and durability that keeps it an above average pick particularly given some of their utility makes particular hard scenarios a breeze.
- Berserker: Offering the party impressive damage output, damage absorption and some forms of crowd control allow the Berserker to slot perfectly into all party sizes. They can look after themselves and their party without a clear weakness against most enemies and is in fact one of the best boss fighters that Gloomhaven has to offer. While a strong Gloomhaven character they are designed to live on the knife’s edge so they need an experienced hand to reach their potential and not exhaust early.
- Doomstalker: Offering fantastic range and surprisingly high damage for the distance they can attack from the Doomstalker works well in many scenarios, compositions and team sizes. While this is toned down due to the extent of loss cards you have to play to achieve this damage dealing fantasy your tools are still above average to the point that most enemies will be dead before you find yourself near exhaustion. As a ranged mercenary they are slightly weaker when in certain two party compositions but otherwise are a consistent contributor.
- Elementalist: Another class that struggles with the smaller party sizes due to the squishy nature of this character which is particularly evident at lower class levels and can make the Elementalist difficult to use and rarely achieve their potential in these situations. That being said as an unlockable class you’ll generally start at a higher level anyway when selecting this class which is where the Elementalist starts to offer significant power through level up cards and items. Even once you reach this point though there are a number of similar classes that perform your intended role better which keeps the Elementalist an average choice at best.
- Nightshroud: Considered by many in the community to be the pinnacle of Gloomhaven character power the Nightshroud does not care how many other characters are in your party and is capable of doing everything themselves and scales throughout your encounters due to their mechanics focused on assassination. The only noticeable weakness is low level large parties where you might not have all the tools available to you just yet although even in that state you are above most other classes in a similar position.
- Plagueherald: The Plagueherald has a variety of mechanics that make them deadly across party sizes with flexibility to focus on area of effect attacks, damage or debuffing enemies as necessary to fit the party composition. With few situations they can’t deal with you’re never sad to have one in your team given the damage mitigation through curses they provide is second to none and makes any scenario easier as result.
- Quartermaster: Another one of the Gloomhaven best classes on this tier list that can almost trivialise the entire game once unlocked with sufficient levels and items. Even before this point in your progression the Quartermaster doesn’t have any significant weakness and is also capable of fulfilling many roles in a team. It’s this versatile nature that makes them hard to pass up on with damage, tanking and support all within a single class that can adjust to party size, party dynamics, scenarios and enemy encounters.
- Sawbones: A reliable front line fighter that pairs it with fantastic hard crowd control with light support functions that ensure the Sawbones is always contributing to a team in some regard. Like other support orientated classes Sawbones is not quite as strong in smaller parties as the Sawbones favours larger groups of allies and enemies to ensure they maximise their deck options.
- Soothsinger: Once unlocked there is little need for any other support class in Gloomhaven with the Soothsinger’s powerful ally buffs and ability to either prevent or heal incoming damage from enemies. By removing significant risk from scenarios your need to plan carefully is diminished by having this class in your party and allows for plenty of lazy unoptimised rounds without consequence. You cannot expect the Soothsinger to be a major damage contributor to the team though so small party sizes simply don’t suit your plans where you fall to an average choice and require specific niche build choices.
- Summoner: Summons (particularly melee ones) are generally considered weak in Gloomhaven given they are quickly dispatched by enemies and players lack significant agency over how they spend their turns. As a result the Summoner is on the weaker side of Gloomhaven classes although does have an okay pool of ranged summons and other utility cards that help you fulfil the fantasy of this class design. You’ll have some great moments when the stars align but experience equally frustrating ones that are heightened in smaller parties where you can’t rely on other characters to pick up the slack when something doesn’t go your way.
- Sunkeeper: Filling the tank archetype as close as any other option in Gloomhaven the Sunkeeper thrives on keeping allies safe and absorbing damage for the team. The result is that they have a slightly weaker experience in smaller parties where she has to branch out into a damage role that is simply not her speciality. As a dedicated tank in a large party though she is a powerful ally that also offers a range of supporting utility as well that will make you a favourite teammate of basically all other Gloomhaven classes.