Last Updated on Samuel Franklinby
Gloomhaven Best Starting Party – 2, 3 and 4 Player Party Combo
In this guide to the Gloomhaven best starting party I offer a number of suggestions for players starting a new Gloomhaven campaign to maximise their chances across 2, 3 and 4 player party combinations. Whether it is your first time attempting Gloomhaven or you are looking to complete the campaign on the highest difficulty the starting combinations below provide a strong foundation for your mercenary guild to grow from. Having personally completed the Gloomhaven campaign and guildmaster mode on deadly in the digital version these recommendations are based on those experiences.
Given players will have different playstyles and preferences this page includes a number of options at each respective party size (2, 3 and 4) that Gloomhaven supports so that everyone can find a combination that is also fun for them to control either solo or with friends. It is also limited to the starting character options only to prevent significant game spoilers and given the complexity around party combinations when every playthrough will unlock new mercenaries in different orders. That being said I do provide some general Gloomhaven party guidelines in the overview section below to help players make decisions regardless of your currently available mercenaries.
Gloomhaven Party Overview
When designing your ideal starting party it is important that players understand how the number of party members changes the Gloomhaven experience and the key considerations you will need when designing a party. With this understanding players can take the concepts covered here beyond just a starting party as you unlock new mercenary options with retirements to ensure you maintain a balanced party that can defeat the various Gloomhaven scenario challenges.
In terms of the changes players can expect at different player counts the most obvious one is an increasing number of enemies as additional mercenaries are added to the group along with potentially upgrading a portion of enemies to their elite variant. Players can also expect for modifications to boss health values although this is only applicable to a small pool of the total campaign levels. While this sounds like it may make the scenarios harder on the surface this is not always the case given players have an additional mercenary although some adjustments are required to ensure players aren’t entirely overwhelmed by the larger enemy numbers which are detailed below in the respective party size level that they apply.
For party building in Gloomhaven the core principles revolve around a familiar RPG formula of damage, support and tanking with an approach that doesn’t over commit to a single element often having the best chance for success given their flexibility. Specifically for Gloomhaven I suggest players skew slightly towards damage given the nature of the game encourages killing enemies to prevent incoming damage and also avoiding the mindset where each mercenary only provides one of these elements as many can be effective in two if not three of these elements if built accordingly.
The result is a party party balance that mixes reliable damage sources, some potential for healing or other utility and the ability to absorb damage from enemies when necessary. Additional nice to have options in a Gloomhaven party include the ability to counter shielded opponents, inflict various status effects and have some avenues for looting to ensure a steady stream of gold is available to grow your power level over the course of a campaign through items or enhancements.
Gloomhaven Best 2 Player Party
At the two player combo level players need to be careful with their decisions in finding the best 2 player starting classes as both mercenaries need to be flexible for the scenario at hand. Damage is vital in finding the best duo combo and generally it’s not viable at this party size to have a mercenary focused solely on healing so this should be avoided. Accordingly I recommend 2 player starting parties avoid the Tinkerer entirely for this reason as they simply don’t offer enough damage and are overweighted in healing that makes them more suited to larger party sizes. Other potential traps at this size are having the Scoundrel or Mindthief as the only melee character as they thrive with other melee mercenaries or utilising the Cragheart with a melee character as they often create friendly fire with their best cards.
I recommend the following combinations as the best starting classes for 2 player party setups:
- Cragheart & Spellweaver: With the Cragheart often dealing damage around themselves to both allies and enemies this class is not ideal to be paired with other melee heroes in the smaller party sizes as the low number of enemies will often pull your mercenaries together. However the Cragheart balance of damage, tanking and healing abilities makes for a reliable Spellweaver partner for similar reasons to the Brute below as it allows you to focus on Spellweaver damage output that makes for arguably the best classes for 2 player party selection.
- Brute & Scoundrel/Mindthief/Spellweaver: The Brute is the most flexible of the starting party members available and pairs well with a number of allies given he is a self sufficient character with a good blend of damage and tanking. The Brute is the best tank from your starting options and when paired with the Scoundrel it allows you to maximise her damage output as it is often reliant on having an ally next to an enemy for maximum damage which is often where the Brute will be positioned. When paired with the Mindthief the Brute allows the Mindthief to focus on their high damage and control playstyle while soaking up the damage and supporting with your own damage output. When paired with the Spellweaver you can provide a reliable defensive shield that allows the Spellweaver to stand back and blast enemies with their large damaging spells.
- Scoundrel & Mindthief: Similar to some of the above combinations the Mindthief’s melee focus gives the Scoundrel a reliable ally to utilise for damage maximisation. The Scoundrel also gets the benefit of the Mindthief control abilities and the high damage output that results in a control and damage focused party that focuses on brute forcing through scenarios although needs a little more strategy than the other options at this party size.
Gloomhaven Best 3 Player Party
Like many in the Gloomhaven community I find that the 3 player party size is the best player count due to the pace of play and game balance benefits although I have found myself playing at 4 players for the majority of my game time. The 3 player party size opens up a number of flexible options but also additional threats from an increased enemy count which makes it important for players to have some reliable tanking abilities through either the Brute or a combination of characters sharing the role. I would still be avoiding the Tinkerer as a starting class at this team size although it is not as much of a handicap as the 2 player party and so if you want to include the Tinkerer be sure you include enough damage elsewhere.
I recommend the following combinations as the best starting classes for 3 player party setups:
- Brute, Spellweaver & Cragheart: Building further on the strongest 2 player party this option adds some extra durability and damage through the Brute to ensure that the higher enemy count is kept away from your damage focused Spellweaver. While the Cragheart needs to be careful of not hurting the Brute too much this is generally easier at the 3 party level due to the number of enemies that give you alternative targets for your cards with friendly fire on them.
- Brute, Spellweaver & Mindthief: Another powerful combination that leans towards damage and control abilities that give a well rounded team capable of most challenges that Gloomhaven provides. The Brute once again provides safety for both characters to focus on their strengths while the Spellweaver and Mindthief kill or control enemies at a fast enough pace that the Brute is never in serious danger.
- Brute, Scoundrel/Mindthief & Tinkerer: For those that want to include the Tinkerer in their party this would be the best combination as players are bringing the Brute and a high damage party member for the Tinkerer to support from the rear. While not as strong this combination provides enough damage through the Scoundrel or Mindthief to support the Brute in taking out enemies while the Tinkerer can focus on healing the wounds the team suffers and the occassional attack. If players want a 3 player party option without a Brute you could swap them with a Cragheart in this team although expect a more difficult (but not impossible) experience.
Gloomhaven Best 4 Player Party
The majority of my Gloomhaven play time has been at the 4 party size which presents its own challenges in comparison to the other party sizes available. The most notable thing at 4 player party sizes is the high number of enemies that means players will always want to ensure they have at least 2 classes that are comfortable spreading the damage received between them. With four mercenaries you are all but guaranteed in any combination you’ll have this but it does require all players to be on the same page of their party role and build towards that through items or card choices. The weakest 4 party combination I can think of at this player count would be Scoundrel, Tinkerer, Spellweaver and Mindthief as nobody is happy about taking a hit and the Scoundrel may struggle to setup their best attacks given the Mindthief likes to float in and out of combat with the other two party members having a ranged focus but I still think even this party could make it work.
The value of area of effect damage also goes up significantly at this party size that make Spellweaver and Cragheart useful additions with healing also becoming attractive allowing the Tinkerer to shine. Ultimately I think you can make any combination work at this level with proper play so finding the best 4 player party is less of a consideration here.
I recommend the following combinations as the best starting classes for 4 player party setups:
- Brute, Spellweaver/Cragheart, Scoundrel/Mindthief & Tinkerer: For the best party of 4 I would follow something like this setup with the Brute once again offering flexibility, either the Spellweaver or Cragheart providing ranged attacks, healing and area of effect damage and the Scoundrel or Mindthief bringing a high damage frontline fighter to sit with the Brute while the Tinkerer is available to heal the team. While I would consider the Brute almost mandatory at the four player size the Tinkerer isn’t necessarily mandatory and could be shuffled out for something else based on player preferences.