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

Last Updated on November 9, 2023 by Samuel Franklin

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

In this guide to the poison and cursed themes Plagueherald you’ll uncover how to maximise your debuff focused playstyle to support a Gloomhaven mercenary team. Filling a supportive role within a team the Plagueherald takes the non traditional path of support that allows them to debilitate enemies to help their allies rather than direct support to their allies. In this Gloomhaven guide to the squid like hero that is the Plagueherald players will learn the best starting cards, level up decisions and corresponding perks, enhancements and equipment to maximise your potential.

The Plagueherald (Cthulhu) is an unlockable Gloomhaven class who heralds in the plague and belongs to the strange race of Harrower beings that are a manifestation of an insect swarm that share a single will. With these nightmarish looks their relationship with the broader Gloomhaven society is tense at best with the Harrowers often choosing to avoid society or being shunned on reputation alone. With the swarm constantly breeding a Plagueherald is in a sense eternal which plays into their philosophy of spreading disease to make society stronger which plays out in their battle themes of poisoning their allies in battle. This pairs with the themes of curse to create a supportive and damage focused playstyle with a flexibly healthy hand size of 11 that allows the Plagueherald to adjust as necessary to the circumstances in a scenario.

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:
Plagueherald Cards, Perks, Enhancements and Items Overview
Plagueherald Cards Detailed
Plagueherald Perks Detailed
Plagueherald Enhancements Detailed
Plagueherald Items Detailed

Gloomhaven Plagueherald Guide Overview

In the overview section of Plagueherald play you’ll find a quick reference point for your journey from level 1 to 9 that provides the template for both board game and digital play. In addition it covers the basics of perk choices, card enhancement priorities and equipment purchases which when combined make a formidable Plagueherald that will curse enemies to reduce the effectiveness of their attacks and in time leverage this for damage output. While there is the potential to acquire some poison aspects along the way this is not a theme I recommend we focus heavily on as the curse playstyle is simply significantly more powerful for this mercenary and in turn our party.

For the reasons behind these specific decisions players can visit the detailed section towards the back of this guide page which also details some of the potential adjustments you may make in response to party specific dynamics.


Plagueherald Cards Overview

  • Level 1: Remove Foul Wind, Blistering Vortex and Scattered Terror to create your starting deck of cards.
  • Level 2: Under The Skin replaces Grasping Vermin
  • Level 3: Fetid Flurry replaces Biting Gnats
  • Level 4: Nightmarish Affliction replaces Virulent Strain
  • Level 5: Accelerated End replaces Paralyzing Bite
  • Level 6: Stinging Cloud replaces Vile Pestilence
  • Level 7: Baneful Hex replaces Epidemic
  • Level 8: Airborne Toxin (level 7 card) replaces Spread the Plague
  • Level 9: Spreading Scourge (level 8 card) replaces Gathering Doom

Plagueherald Perks Priority Overview

  • Replace one -2 card with one +0 card
  • Replaces one -1 card with one +1 card (take twice)
  • Replace one +0 card with one +2 card (take twice)
  • Ignore negative item effects and add one +1 card
  • Add two +1 cards
  • Add two rolling curse cards

Plagueherald Enhancements Priority Overview

  • Add move and bless to the bottom of Winged Congregation
  • Add target to the top of Nightmarish Affliction
  • Add jump to the bottom of Wretched Swarm

Plagueherald Items Priority Overview

  • Minor Stamina Potion
  • Boots of Striding
  • Cloak of Invisibility


Gloomhaven Plagueherald Guide Detailed

In the detailed portion of this Plagueherald Gloomhaven guide I explore some of the alternative decision points that are available during your progression to level 9 and also detail why some of the decisions in the overview section are made (notably since we skip our level 9 card entirely). The Plagueherald decision trees are fairly low in comparison to some other Gloomhaven characters but there are still one or two and several different methods to playing this character and deciding which cards you remove or when you remove them.

Plagueherald Cards Detailed

The detailed section of the Plagueherald card choices details the why behind some of the overview section decisions so that players understand the reasons behind them and ultimately understand how best to utilise the cards in their larger hand size.

  • Starting Cards: The Plagueherald has several weak level 1 cards that give you around 4 or 5 options for the chopping block due to them offering weak burn actions or only one average half to the card. As an unlockable class the chances of starting at level 1 are low but if you do find yourself in this position my recommendations are Foul Wind, Blistering Vortex and Scattered Terror which offer actions that simply don’t fit into our playstyle. If your party is short on effective options to handle shielded enemies then Scattered Terror can sneak back into your hand at the loss of something else like Grasping Vermin although you’ll need to carefully time the usage of this burn pierce attack.
  • Level 2 Cards: Level 2 presents a difficult choice for the Plagueherald with an above average attack 5 card for this level which is tempting while also offering us a multitarget bottom heal. The weakness of Rot Maggots though is in the short two range and poison impact to our allies that makes it exceedingly difficult to use in practice although you may find it easier at particular party sizes and dynamics. Ultimately I recommend Under The Skin for the consistency it provides with one of our larger move cards and an easy to utilise pierce attack that our allies will often call on. If your party needs an extra source of healing or isn’t heavy on melee characters you can get away with Rot Maggots though if preferred.
  • Level 3 Cards: Level 3 gives us a solid attack and curse card with Fetid Flurry adding another method to introduce curses into the enemy deck that makes it a clear winner and also one of our faster initiative cards that we’ll find. The wind bottom also unlocks a critical combo for our future high level Plagueherald which means we shouldn’t miss this card and thankfully with Succumb To The Gift being such a weak alternative we don’t have to think twice at this level.
  • Level 4 Cards: Level 4 gives us a multi target attack that inflicts our primary status effects of poison and curse in one that make it a staple of our combo rotation and while it only comes with a single attack value as our modifier deck improves it can deal some reasonable damage. With the strong top of Nightmarish Affliction it is a great candidate for an enhancement as well to convert this into a three target attack particularly when playing at 3 or 4 party sizes in Gloomhaven. It’s also with this card joining our hand that we can start to remove the poison cards we’ve been holding onto so far given we have another source to apply it and we generally start shifting towards the curse playstyle from here on.
  • Level 5 Cards: Despite the shift away from poison level 5 cards for the Plagueherald are both poison focused although it’s really only one decent option available given the double burn nature of Willing Sacrifice with neither action being particularly exciting. That leaves us with Accelerated End and while we aren’t going deep into poison the ability to poison three targets at 5 range for a bottom action is fantastic for the damage output of ourselves or allies and gives us a useful bottom action for those turns where moving isn’t a priority. Utilising the top also gives us a method to deal with certain enemy types in Gloomhaven where direct damage is a blessing although given we already have pierce shouldn’t be your default choice on this card.
  • Level 6 Cards: At level 6 players have the option of Black Tides that is a perfectly average card with 4 attack and move values while generating the two elements that the Plagueherald is based on and with several enhancement slots can turn into something quite powerful. Looking ahead at our level 7 card though the muddle area of effect that Stinging Cloud offers will provide much greater value to the Plagueherald who maximises their potency of curses when they can muddle enemies regularly.
  • Level 7 Cards: The level which finally allows us to turn our curses to not only a defensive mechanism but an offensive one through Baneful Hex that turns enemy curse draws into damage. From level 7 onwards as the Plagueherald it can feel like a different experience as we now have all the tools to play as a curse focused hero which only get better as we progress to level 8 and 9. While it can be tempting to play Baneful Hex in the first round it’s actually a bit of a trap for the Plagueherald and should only be played once we have sufficiently cursed the enemy (noting the maximum 10 curses that enemies can have) which will generally happen at round 3 or 4 instead. The other level 7 card in Airborne Toxin would significantly help in this goal and you might be thinking if only we could take both level 7 cards.
  • Level 8 Cards: At level 8 we will want to grab the level 7 card of Airborne Toxin given it’s strong potential to curse and muddle many enemies at once. In order to find the wind element players will want to call on the bottom of Fetid Flurry the round before playing Airborne Toxin which creates our base combo at the start of a scenario and can combine with a critical starting item (Cloak of Invisibility) if we find ourselves in a risky situation as a result.
  • Level 9 Cards: The Plagueherald is one of the few Gloomhaven characters where I suggest players take neither of the level 9 cards available as they simply don’t help our Baneful Hex playstyle that we’ve built towards. One of our options (Convert the Flock) is a slightly stronger version of our level 4 card (Nightmarish Affliction) but is a burn action that we can’t consistently utilise with the bottom allowing us to drain our enemies of health if we’ve poisoned them to add a small attack value which makes it an unattractive option. Mass Extinction is slightly more interesting with up to 4 poison damage on the bottom action and the ability to curse and wound literally everyone but we already have enough methods to reach the maximum curses allowed so it is a bit of overkill. It’s for this reason that I prefer to go back to level 8 to take the consistently useful Spreading Scourge which comes with our favourite muddle in a large area and a bottom heal that gives us some added team utility.


Plagueherald Perks Detailed

Like many mercenaries in Gloomhaven the perk choices are relatively straight forward for players although the Quartermaster does have the unique refresh item perks that play perfectly in your playstyle of getting items back by providing another way to return items to our inventory. I recommend taking these after you remove some of your negative attack values and the ignore item effect perk given we generally have an armour focused chest piece though. From this point onwards it is the typical pathway of buffing our attack values to boost our attacks (Catastrophic Bomb starts to feel powerful in particular at this point) and grab the rolling modifiers in the order of stun > target > muddle > pierce which is simply based on the usefulness you can expect when these randomly randomly appear.


Plagueherald Enhancements Detailed

The Plagueherald has a fairly small pool of enhancements that we need to perform at our best with each offering great quality of life to our playstyle albeit not absolutely necessary. From a utility stand point the bottom of Winged Congregation is a great focus area with the ability to relatively cheaply throw a bless onto this to stack our allies with the strong 2x modifier with an extra move helping us reach the important hexes to maximise this effect. If your party already has a blessing and healing focused mercenary you can consider skipping this enhancement and even consider placing something else in your deck depending on the scenario but the ability to fly unlocks some great self utility when needed.

With Nightmarish Affliction being core to our combo it’s an obvious source of enhancement albeit more on the expensive side. It’s not a necessary choice to max out the monster deck in curses but definitely helps if your mercenary group has the gold to spare for you. My last recommendation is to sneak jump into our cards somewhere as we simply don’t have that available to us and once we add bless to the bottom of Winged Congregation it can hurt to use the persistent top so adding jump gives us an alternative.

Outside of these recommendations the Plagueherald really doesn’t need other enhancements although the odd extra base attack, extra target, larger move value or even extra curse on an attack are all options if you have gold burning a hole in your pocket and need to find a place for another enhancement.


Plagueherald Items Detailed

From the pool of starting items the Plagueherald will want to grab the Cloak of Invisibility, Boots of Striding and the Minor Stamina Potion. The cloak provides us with a get out of jail free card or alternatively the option to make an aggressive play which becomes increasingly important at the higher levels with the boots providing similar flexibility. Like many Gloomhaven characters the Minor Stamina Potion is a great way to double dip into our strongest cards for stacking curses faster.

Beyond starting item decisions when playing as the Plagueherald you’ll want to keep an eye out for items that allow you to extend your attack range to help the effectiveness of our multi target attacks and have multiple turns in a single round to stack curses quickly.

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.

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