Gloomhaven Elementalist Guide – Cards, Builds, Perks, Enhancements & Items

Last Updated on November 9, 2023 by Samuel Franklin

Gloomhaven Elementalist Guide – Cards, Builds, Perks, Enhancements & Items

Master the elements with this Gloomhaven Elementalist guide that allows players to maximise their usage of element based combinations for the progress of their mercenary group through raw damage and an abundance of potential utility. This guide explores each of these pathways in detail from the individual card decisions you’ll make during your journey to the other key components of a Gloomhaven build such as equipment, perk priority and enchantress enhancements. With my personal experience and recommendations across the card choices players will understand when and why to adapt your choices to your party or simply preferred style of play.

The Elementalist (Triangles) is an unlockable Gloomhaven class of the Savvas race who prioritise power in their society with no room for non elemental masters amongst their society. With their rocky outward appearance and energy power core in the middle of their chest based on the elements they have mastered many seek to acquire cores of ice, fire, air and earth in their lifetime with this playable Savvas being one such master. With this design in mind the Elementalist finds themselves with an elemental focused playstyle that features relatively weak attacks and movement actions unless empowered with a particular element which can also sometimes change the utility of a card entirely. In time players can even extend beyond the four core elements and into the powers of dark and light that unlock truly terrifying powers near maximum mercenary level. The Savvas benefits heavily from allies who can generate consistent elements and don’t have a strong need for them with a notable weakness being your slow pace of movement that can quickly see players fall behind if not careful.

For information and build guides on other Gloomhaven character options visit our Gloomhaven classes overview and the related Gloomhaven class tier list. Note that from this point onwards this guide contains full card spoilers for this class and minor item spoilers (general themes only and not specific non starting items).

Table of Contents:
Elementalist Cards, Perks, Enhancements and Items Overview
Elementalist Cards Detailed
Elementalist Perks Detailed
Elementalist Enhancements Detailed
Elementalist Items Detailed

Gloomhaven Elementalist Guide Overview

The overview section of this Elementalist guide explores the powerful damage focused variant that the Elementalist can employ and ensuring we consistently have the elements available when we need them for maximum effect. While this is the most consistent and recommended path here the Elementalist is definitely one of the Gloomhaven classes with several pathways that are explored in the detailed section lower in this guide and even includes the ability to focus on utility and tanking for the dedicated although diving wholly into the playstyle is far from the best way to optimise this class in my opinion given we have so many other great tools. These tools include the ability to self generate elements, apply varying debuffs when required and most importantly dealing damage which is our main role in any party while maximising our potential for support without hurting damage output greatly.

This overview portion of the guide also includes the full template for perks, enhancements and initial equipment purchases that you can have accessible while playing to keep you focused on gameplay.


Elementalist Cards Overview

  • Level 1: Remove Malleable Evocation, Encompassing Shadow and Frigid Torrent
  • Level 2: Crystallizing Blast replaces Lava Eruption
  • Level 3: Burial replaces Raw Enhancement
  • Level 4: Primal Duality replaces Pure Augmentation
  • Level 5: Winter’s Edge replaces Shaping the Ether
  • Level 6: Obsidian Shards (level 5 card) replaces Tremulant Cyclone
  • Level 7: Vengeance replaces Ice Spikes
  • Level 8: Pragmatic Reinforcement (level 7 card) replaces Brilliant Flash
  • Level 9: Eternal Equilibrium replaces Infernal Vortex

Elementalist Perks Priority Overview

  • Remove two -1 cards (take twice)
  • Replace -1 card with +1 card
  • Replaces two +0 cards with one +0 fire and one +0 earth
  • Replaces two +0 cards with one +0 ice and one +0 wind
  • Add three +0 fire cards
  • Add three +0 wind cards
  • Replace one +0 card with one +2 card (take twice)
  • Add three +0 earth cards
  • Add three +0 ice cards
  • Add one +0 stun

Elementalist Enhancements Priority Overview

  • Add an element to the bottom of Infernal Vortex (wind preference)
  • Add an element to the bottom of Stoking Hail (earth preference)
  • Add debuff to the top of Crystalizing Blast (curse preference)

Elementalist Items Priority Overview

  • Minor Stamina Potion
  • Eagle-Eye Goggles
  • Boots of Striding
  • Cloak of Invisibility


Gloomhaven Elementalist Guide Detailed

In the detailed portion of this guide I will be exploring the alternative choices you can make during your progression across cards, perks, enhancements and items with the Elementalist having many of these options. These are going to be predominately informed by your party makeup as we have several healing cards we can work into our hand size if our team is desperate and can also influence how much self elemental generation we want. This is because there are a surprising number of mercenaries in Gloomhaven that have minor elemental generation themes and either don’t use these in their core build or can perform at a reasonable level of power without ever using them. Of course we need to be well aware of our allies that do actually need those elements when playing as the Elementalist to ensure we all stay friends at the table.

Elementalist Cards Detailed

The Elementalist has several different methods of play through their card selection and it is even more important than other mercenaries to consider what cards we remove from our hand when doing so as removing the wrong option to quickly break our carefully designed elemental generation options.

  • Starting Cards: In removing our starting cards we want to hold onto as much elemental generation as possible and seek to remove the melee or ranged attacks from our hand size given we don’t want to be to close to the action. This sees us remove Malleable Evocation as we simple don’t have the elemental generation available to us to benefit from the flexibility this card is intended to provide and while it does get better later we simply have better cards available by the time it offers something consistently. Next on the chopping block is Encompassing Shadow which is unlikely to be something our party specifically needs but can push us towards a support utility build if we want to play aggressive with a particular ally if you want to keep it around (remove the level 2 replacement card Lava Eruption instead). Lastly is Frigid Torrent with its weak bottom loss action and melee top action which is not our bread and butter, in particular scenarios though where pierce is critical we might need this for our team which just goes to show how the Elementalist needs to constantly revaluate their hand choices.
  • Level 2 Cards: Level 2 offers players two similar looking cards with one focused on the element of fire and the other an ice variant while both provide us the best move we are ever going to see with 4. Both of these area of effect attacks are prime targets for later enhancement but we are taking Crystallizing Blast as the way forward given it is the ranged attack choice that is preferable for our playstyle.
  • Level 3 Cards: Level 3 once again offers two sides of the coin with a dark and light focused card with either being viable depending on the pathway we intend to take. For damage the clear choice is Burial with bottom attacks always being a fantastic source to improve our damage per turn with the burn top action potentially a great play towards the end of the scenario. Alternatively if we find ourselves playing a supporting role the alternative of Chain Lightning can play a similar role in our hand size as a bottom heal with a last room attack top.
  • Level 4 Cards: Level 4 give us a key card for our build as it enables our level 7 combo easily and comes with a fantastic initiative which the Elementalist does really need. Players can consider delaying adding this card into their core hand until level 7 when it really gets powerful given we have no use for dark or light yet (other than the +1 attack bottom of Formless Power which we want to play as our persistent loss card) but I generally take this now for the initiative value.
  • Level 5 Cards: Level 5 has two cards I like to have available and why I end up taking both of them in the end in my recommended build as I think they are stronger than some of our future cards in most situations and makes the Elementalist easier to play. When first hitting level 5 the value of Winter’s Edge is my preferred option as it adds a hard hitting attack that is worth risking our health points a little given the 2 range and when empowered our enemies will never see the attack coming from a range of 4. The reason I’ll often come back for Obsidian Shards later is that it powers up significantly when we have fire and earth consistently available to hit two targets and the ability to create two elements on the bottom when we don’t need to move is convenient with relying on the default move 2 not worse than most of our other move cards.
  • Level 6 Cards: Level 6 is on the weaker side of level ups for the Elementalist but it comes right before our large power spike at level 7 so its just something we have to accept when playing this elemental master. Of these two options the Simulaerum would be my preferred choice as it gives us a flexible top attack that can use any element we are able to create and is thus great where we have generated a random element from our modifier deck or had to (or accidently) played our cards out of our preferred combo orders. The reason I prefer to go back to our level 5 choices for Obsidian Shards is the extra flexibility the bottom of this card provides over the Doppelganger action which isn’t useful outside of the experience at the end of a scenario.
  • Level 7 Cards: We’ve finally made it to the fabled level 7 whereby we unlock Vengeance that allows us to simply delete enemies with easily elemental requirements given we have several cards to create dark and can pick up the other random element in various ways. The other level 7 card for the Elementalist is by no means a poor card and why I’ll come back at level 8 to grab it with the card having both healing and attack sides that adds incredible flexibility to our role.
  • Level 8 Cards: Neither of our level 8 cards are particularly useful to the Elementalist and why I’ll go back to our level 7 options as noted above. One the one hand Elemental Aegis provides huge shield potential for ourselves and a strong self heal but neither of these are going to be useful to us outside of an alternative tank build. Volatile Consumption is similarly weak overall with our hand size not supporting another persistent loss and while we do lack move and jump options this move simply isn’t enough to justify it when we can use a default move of 2 on a more flexible card (like Pragmatic Reinforcement from level 7).
  • Level 9 Cards: Ethereal Manifestation could have been an interesting Elementalist card if it was available during our earlier levels as it would have played perfectly into our theme and helped with some of the earlier elemental generation difficulties. At level 9 though the elemental generation is not particularly useful as we have already developed the tools we need through card selection, enhancements and even potentially equipment slots. The bottom of this card does have great flexibility but we already have cards that do each of these things better which means we will want to look at Eternal Equilibrium instead that pairs perfect with Primal Duality to damage and curse everything in range while giving us another heal as a backup action.


Elementalist Perks Detailed

Perks end up as a regular source of elemental generation of the Elementalist although given the lack of control they shouldn’t be relied on for particular combos and instead used flexible as they are generated provided they don’t mess up our carefully planned combos. This source of generation is most notable early on where our other sources are few which makes for an interesting balance of improving our damage consistency by removing the -1s and +0s and getting some elemental generation from perks early on.

I recommend finding that balance by removing the negatives as we do for any Gloomhaven character and then adding both fire, earth, ice and wind to provide some potential for all of our core elements. I then force fire and wind chances higher by focusing on these first as most of our early cards will benefit from them and we have the fewest options to generate these before finishing with earth and ice. At this point we return to what would be the traditional order of perks in Gloomhaven to trim our zero cards and add some utility that should focus on stun and wound which are more likely useful when randomly drawn.


Elementalist Enhancements Detailed

Enhancements are another piece of the puzzle when it comes to elemental generation and a focus for our gold spending. While in an ideal Elementalist world we would simply place choose an element on everything that cost is not something that is sustainable (outside of the Digital Guildmaster mode). For this reason we want to look at pairings of elements on the bottom actions that setup attacks which means ice and wind through Infernal Vortex bottom for Winter’s Edge and then fire and earth Stoking Hail bottom to enable Obsidian Shards amongst other cards. Another expensive option is adding something expensive to Crystalizing Blast with curse or a similar debuff that can quickly dominate at the largest party sizes where we can hit 3 or 4 enemies consistently.

These are just some of the potential options that the Elementalist can find themselves with and if looking to spend less gold you can use a number of cards on simple added movement speed values (like the bottom of Crystalizing Blast) or buffing the base attack values that makes a lack of elements less punishing (like the top of Obsidian Shards).


Elementalist Items Detailed

Items are the last stop on creating our Elementalist build and the starting items we purchase will be fairly obvious with the stamina potion allowing some repeat combos (incredibly power at level 7 in particular) while adding Eagle-Eye Goggles for our multi target attacks and also looking towards Boots of Striding to counter some of our movement issues.

Beyond these items players will want to look for other movement speed options, elemental generation and the ability to recover items that simply allow us to do more of what we want. The Elementalist is also one of the few Gloomhaven mercenaries that benefits from other players carrying supportive items in the elemental generation department and if you can convince your allies to leave a pocket slot available for such an item your time as the Elementalist will feel easier.

Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms.

Gloomhaven is one of Sam’s favourite board games and he finds himself regularly playing the convenient digital version alone and with friends. He enjoys the tactical turn based combat and unique characters that Gloomhaven offers with his favourite being the Spellweaver.

Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.