Last Updated on Samuel Franklinby
Gloomhaven Scoundrel Guide – Cards, Builds, Perks, Enhancements & Items
This Gloomhaven guide to the Scoundrel will set you up for success from level 1 to 9 as you take this high damage character through the difficult and diverse scenarios of the campaign. In this Scoundrel guide we detail each of the cards, the associated builds, perks, enhancements and items to maximise your power as the character and in turn be an important party contributor in both 2, 3 and 4 player party sizes. Serving as a rogue the Scoundrel takes clear inspiration from familiar role playing archetypes and fills the role of a nimble damage dealer in Gloomhaven that is always interested in acquiring gold along the way. As a result the Scoundrel is a master of damage output with an emphasis on dealing damage that is empowered by nearby allies or the lack of nearby enemies. Other themes include invisibility, status effects, high move values, looting and ranged throwing knives with the main trade off being a limited hand size that puts you at risk of exhausting earlier than other characters. This hand size also hinders the potential to play loss cards as part of our core strategy as you simply won’t be offering enough damage to your team outside of short scenarios.
With this design in mind the Scoundrel is best placed in a party with other melee characters that can both absorb the attention of enemies but also allow you to flank their enemies for the additional damage this provides to Scoundrel cards. The Scoundrel has medium durability overall although their smaller hand size than other similar characters means absorbing damage is far from your priorities in a scenario. It is also worth noting that despite the high damage this human character does lack area of effect attacks and are designed to be a single target specialist. In smaller parties in particular your positioning is vital as the Scoundrel as your quick movement, low initiatives and general requirements for attacks often have you on the knife’s edge of taking damage from enemies.
Designed as the only human starting character in base Gloomhaven the Scoundrel is portrayed in game as a human that has cast aside any resemblance of complex human society in favour of a self serving approach that is part of their combat theme of capitalising on opportunistic situations. Leaning into this design is the best way to build your Scoundrel by focusing on single target damage and grabbing negative status effects where possible to boost our own damage or that of allies. Building from your level 1 cards the Scoundrel is one of the more straightforward classes for card choices often having a clear stronger card that serves as a replacement to a themed card from earlier levels that either adds better move, damage or status effect but seeks to serve a similar role in your hand.
If you are unsure of your choice of Gloomhaven character refer to our Gloomhaven classes summary article or Gloomhaven tier list to help make your decision.
Gloomhaven Scoundrel Guide Overview
This section of the Scoundrel guide is designed to be a quick reference sheet for how to build a Scoundrel while playing and selects the options that are generally going to be the best for a broad range of playstyles, party sizes and party dynamics. It does not cover other potential options which are discussed in the detailed section where applicable for players who are on the fence about certain card build choices and want to dive deeper into the reasons for certain choices which may or may not apply to your circumstances. As noted in the introduction to this Scoundrel guide you’ll find the best results by optimising your already strong focus on single target damage and having a melee ally fighting alongside you to help your damage output. This guide and in particular this overview section assumes you have met this prerequisite and are focused on maximising your damage role rather than attempting some of the small other niches the Scoundrel can explore.
Scoundrel Cards Overview
- Level 1: Remove Backstab, Trickster’s Reversal and Sinister Opportunity to create your starting deck
- Level 2: Open Wound replaces Venom Shiv
- Level 3: Duelist’s Advance replaces Quick Hands
- Level 4: Flurry of Blades replaces Throwing Knives
- Level 5: Visage of the Inevitable replaces Thief’s Knack
- Level 6: Burning Oil replaces Duelist’s Advance
- Level 7: Stick to the Shadows replaces Single Out
- Level 8: Select Spring the Trap (level 7 card) but leave it out of your hand unless its useful for a specific scenario
- Level 9: Long Con replaces Swift Bow
Scoundrel Perks Priority Overview
- Remove two -1 cards (take twice)
- Replace one -2 with +0
- Replace one -1 with +1
- Remove four zeros
- Ignore negative scenario effects
Scoundrel Enhancements Priority Overview
- Add +1 move to the bottom of Swift Bow
- Add jump to bottom of Flanking Strike
- Add jump or +1 move to bottom of Flurry of Blades
- Add dark generation to the bottom of Open Wound
- Add strengthen to the top of Smoke Bomb
Scoundrel Items Priority Overview
- Minor Stamina Potion
- Cloak of Invisibility
- Boots of Striding
- Iron Helmet
- Minor Healing Potion
Gloomhaven Scoundrel Guide Detailed
This section of the Scoundrel guide dives into the individual cards and their use cases for players to consider in designing their hand as they progress scenario to scenario. The Scoundrel’s progression is somewhat unique in Gloomhaven in that they have some of the easiest choices upon level up that makes each of their card decisions quite straightforward overall. That being said which cards you swap out for these Scoundrel card unlocks along the way actually has a lot of flexibility based on your playstyle and party members. As a result you might prefer to keep a useful card to you for a few extra levels and drop another card in its place from the summary guide above. When playing the Scoundrel players should also play close attention to the scenario objectives as some of your sideboard cards are fantastic to swap in and out regularly when the time calls for it and something you need to pay attention to as the Scoundrel more than other Gloomhaven characters.
Scoundrel Cards Detailed
The Scoundrel cards detailed below are presented in level order and includes discussion of party mechanics and scenarios that the cards excel in and why certain cards provide more value as level up choices.
- Backstab (Starting): Actually quite a strong card and one that can easily slot into your deck during the early levels given the fantastic initiative and high movement value it offers us. The top creates a nice combination on a turn following Smoke Bomb although the loss action of this card means there are generally better default Smoke Bomb combos simply because we can’t afford the double loss as the Scoundrel. While you might consider holding this to the final room you may yourself lacking in attacks and over stacked on movement throughout the rest of the scenario if you limit yourself to the bottom action only.
- Flanking Strike (Starting): A staple card to our theme as the Scoundrel and one that should stay with us from start to finish. This card has so much going for it with a strong attack 5 when you meet the simple requirement and an experience point on top of that. In addition you’ll find a large move 5 on the bottom that is paired with one of the fastest initiatives within Gloomhaven at 4 which allows us to basically always go first when necessary.
- Quick Hands (Starting): Providing us with another looting option to make our friends sad when we steal all the gold under their feet this card is more about the flexibility of the move and attack top that is a useful utility to have. A direct upgrade to this card becomes available at level 3 in Duelist’s advance though so this card is often quickly sidelined from that point onwards as the two cards serve similar purposes but until that point it will be a your go to flexible card to move and attack in a single action.
- Single Out (Starting): Single Out gives us the exact same top action as Flanking Strike although with worse initiative and a bottom that we can’t really use regularly given our small hand size. The bottom is also slightly harder to setup as opposed to the top given it relies on enemy positioning rather than that of our team mates and in anything but a party size of 2 is simply unlikely to occur given enemy numbers quickly increase. Playing into your Scoundrel theme perfectly though this card still gets a showing in your deck for some time.
- Smoke Bomb (Starting): Our best loss card given the setup it provides to so many combinations of high damage for a final room in a scenario. Until the time comes to use this top action you’ll have a reliable and low initiative card for the 2 default movement or an easy to use pull for trap damage or to setup one of our other attacks that rely on enemy positioning relative to our allies. For scenarios where you don’t expect to face a boss enemy or other high health objective to destroy it is completely reasonable to pass on taking this given the niche (but highly effective) role it provides to the Scoundrel.
- Special Mixture (Starting): Adding to our survivability with a reusable self heal when we accidently make a misstep Special Mixture is a nice card to have in our deck. The bottom is equally useful as it allows us to step into position while laying down some poison to boost our damage or that of our allies. If you have a strong healing party member or one that regularly inflicts status effects already it does lose some value to us and can potentially be a swap out for something else later in our Scoundrel journey based on these party dynamics.
- Thief’s Knack (Starting): Thief’s Knack is a card that can be quite good or just average depending on your party composition and how much movement you need. Having a bottom attack is useful in most situations in Gloomhaven though where you don’t need to move in that turn and adds to our potential for burst damage nicely. While the top isn’t something you’ll want to use regularly it’s not a terrible way to create some experience in the early levels for traps that can’t be used against an enemy or to help clear the way for your allies.
- Throwing Knives (Starting): Giving us a ranged backup attack option this is the first of many knife themed attacks of the Scoundrel that each have similar design and purpose. While you can build around these as a themed build you’ll be doing less damage than a standard melee build focused on other damaging attacks. That being said early on this flexibility is nice to have while also giving us an easy source of experience, low initiative card and a grab all the loot button in a final room.
- Venom Shiv (Starting): Another one of the solid but not amazing starting cards that is quickly overshadowed by a superior option in Open Wound at level 2. Until that time or if you want to hold onto it for a little longer for playstyle reasons you’ll have a reliable method to create poison, deal damage, acquire experience and a large move bottom. The biggest negative of this card is the middling to late initiative that is an awkward turn range to play so needs to be paired with something lower or higher so we know what to expect from the turn order that round.
- Sinister Opportunity (Starting): While on first read you might find this card to be on theme for the Scoundrel it has some usage issues that means this won’t be a first pick although a stronger variant later can see some usage. The biggest issue with Sinister Opportunity is our lack of dark generation that effectively kills the top action in terms of power that even the unique utility provided by the bottom can’t overcome. That being said in some party compositions you might appreciate this utility over another starting card which combined with the late initiative you can leverage for double turns by going fast the next round.
- Swift Bow (Starting): One of our incredible loot cards that we get straight from level 1 and allows us to quickly accumulate gold at early levels unlike most other classes. Paired with boots in particular this is a devastating combination that allows the Scoundrel to ensure no gold is left untouched in a scenario and this helps us achieve our power goals faster through items and enhancements. When there isn’t any loot on the ground the top is a solid ranged attack for when there isn’t an enemy nearby or one we would rather not get close to.
- Trickster’s Reversal (Starting): A card that will sit on the sidelines for a long time but is ridiculously overpowered in certain scenarios where high shield makes an appearance on enemies where we are happy to trade the top loss for some insane damage numbers especially when combined with our Smoke Bomb setup. In these situations the initiative provides plenty of opportunity to go early which ties into the niche bottom where we can avoid at least one attack although the usefulness of that is fairly limited given it’s limited to whatever the next source of damage we receive is.
- Flintlock (Level 2): The top of this card provides us more looting which we don’t really need although a top loot is no doubt useful and not the common side that you’ll find loot actions on. With the bottom being a loss though we really cannot justify this card as a Scoundrel as our small hand size needs to be carefully selected and the alternative level 2 card is just all around better.
- Open Wound (Level 2): Providing us a direct upgrade to Venom Shiv this often replaces that card although can replace something else if preferred. Every part of this card is something we want with a decent damage of 4, the wound status effect to add on more damage, great initiative and a strong bottom move when needed which all makes Open Wound a staple of our Scoundrel build.
- Duelist’s Advance (Level 3): A straight upgrade to Quick Hands that make that an obvious replacement choice and while we do lose a loot bottom action for this swap we gain another source of damage and better initiative that suit us much better. That being said this card doesn’t compete with our strongest options so might eventually be dropped for something more suitable to dishing out damage with our small hand size but until then you’ll love the flexibility or ability to empower your burst.
- Hidden Daggers (Level 3): Another one of the cards that play in the flying dagger fantasy side of the Scoundrel this top is unfortunately a loss otherwise it could have been potential competition for our level 3 choice. While you may definitely find the bottom invisible as tempting you actually don’t need invisibility that desperately with careful flanking positioning as intended by your character design and your medium health pool. The bottom invisible can also be more awkward to play than you might expect given that you’ll often be trading your movement action unless played with Quick Hands.
- Flurry of Blades (Level 4): Yet another card in the Scoundrel’s arsenal that leans towards the theme of throwing blades through the air at enemies this once again serves as an upgrade to an earlier card (Throwing Knives) that make it a clear swap out option. For this upgrade we’ll add another target to the top attack that makes it an effective option when there are many low health enemies in the way or simply soften up larger targets from range. The bottom is a significant upgrade to Throwing Knives as well with a movement action that gives us advantage when necessary with the fantastically low initiative of 3 in addition to that.
- Gruesome Advantage (Level 4): The bigger brother of Backstab this card has a massive move value of 7 and a potential 9 damage against a single enemy that can be buffed with some of other cards for even more damage. While a nice fantasy in theory in certain scenarios where you have to bring a tough enemy down it is hard to pass up on our other level 4 option with Backstab more than adequate at already fulfilling that fantasy in the scenarios that warrant it.
- Cull the Weak (Level 5): Offering an upgrade to Single Out and Flanking Strike this card adds an additional attack point which is a small upgrade designed to help us to keep up with enemy health scaling although you give up an extremely strong card in our other level 5 option. Add in the fact that the bottom is simply too inconsistent to pull off this is a card that can be easily skipped without a second thought. Even if you’re party has a bunch of disarm, immobilise and stun potential this really doesn’t add as much damage or utility as other cards and we need to carefully consider loss cards on the Scoundrel.
- Visage of the Inevitable (Level 5): An amazing top and bottom that makes level 5 cards an easy choice for the Scoundrel. With this card instead of simply damaging enemies that stand alone we take them out of the game completely to significantly speed up our party progress. For situations where this is difficult to pull off we can lean back on the bottom that gives us some party and self utility to buff damage against a large number of enemies. Like Single Out and Flanking Strike before it this card can make fantastic use of the Smoke Bomb bottom action for you to separate an enemy from its friends before playing this top action.
- Burning Oil (Level 6): Burning Oil has a lot going for it with the card giving us an easy way to create wound on a target at range with decent damage as well for when we can’t get into position. In addition this top action provides us some element generation that while not useful for ourselves can be invaluable to some of our allies allowing us to pay back our debt for all the gold we’ve looted from them to date. Especially given this bottom action is a reusable loot 2 that gives us even more potential to steal the loot from our friends in each room of the scenario.
- Crippling Poison (Level 6): A decent card if we want to build into a niche poison build although the effectiveness of this is debateable as we simply don’t have enough poison in our build yet until we acquire some enhancements or equipment. It also suffers from the weakness of other loss cards in that we really can’t afford to play it as a Scoundrel most of the time and it’s competing against Burning Oil that is such a reliable card.
- Spring the Trap (Level 7): A unique mechanic on the top of this card that can actually be quite effective in particular scenarios that are littered with traps as you can throw them at the enemy with enough range on this card ensuring that you’ll likely always have a target. This top is perfectly paired with a bottom that you’ll want to save for the final room and gives us even deadlier potential combos of massive single target damage. Despite all these benefits it’s hard to justify as a regular card in our hand as it can be really weak in scenarios that lack traps or a big boss enemy. I do still recommend you grab this card (but at level 8) where you’ll want to swap it in as necessary when you think it will be effective for the scenario ahead.
- Stick to the Shadows (Level 7): The better generalist card of the level 7 options that significantly grows in power when we have the ability to empower our own dark through card enhancements as we have an easy to use 8 attack based on the theme of our class. If you haven’t quite managed to enhance dark yet on a card or don’t have an ally that is happy to share their dark generation it is of course significantly weaker until you can build the necessary enhancements. Regardless even in this weakened state you’ll enjoy the decent attack 4 and bottom action that opens up plenty of aggressive plays with the move and invisible combination.
- Pain’s End (Level 8): An odd card design for our Scoundrel theme as the top loss is only useful when we’ve failed at our task of dealing damage and minimising the return damage we take. The heal is also often easily replaced with having a healing potion or two in our pocket that can serve the same purpose for us. Until you use the top it’s effectively just another move card that we don’t need and while guaranteeing a kill is nice on some tough enemy types the 3 health requirement won’t come around often at this level of play. If your party dynamics are seeing you take reasonable damage without an ally to help you recover health or you’re finding your party struggles to finish off high priority targets this can still be a viable option though.
- Stiletto Storm (Level 8): The last of our dagger themed cards we get an upgrade to targets from 3 to 4 compared Flurry of Blades although even in 4 player parties it can be rare that we have the ability to get 4 enemies in a single turn. The bottom is also a downgrade as retaliate is quite a weak mechanic overall in Gloomhaven so it is easier to pass on this choice.
- Long Con (Level 9): Your ultimate level 9 card with an incredible top at an insanely fast initiative that allows you to walk into any room or situation and simply shut down the enemy from attacking that opens up all manner of aggressive plays that support your team clearing the scenario. The bottom is an interesting concept in Gloomhaven but even in the last room of a scenario you’ll likely prefer the ability to disarm than playing this loss.
- Watch It Burn (Level 9): A card that gives us the ability to add two deadly effects to all of our attacks and designed to pair perfectly with Crippling Poison although realistically we are unlikely to be able to play both losses for our hand size. Playing Watch It Burn itself has potential though and where all of our multi-target dagger attacks can turn us into a deadly debuff machine. Unfortunately this card is competing against the top action of Long Con which is simply straight up more powerful most of the time.
Scoundrel Perks Detailed
Scoundrel perks are similar to other Gloomhaven character choices with your goal to take out all the negatives that we can and replacing them with either zeros or positive numbers to ensure our damage has greater consistency. Once you build up the deck enough you can trim away the zeros and also look to add negative scenario effects ignore into the mix that can help you counter any potentially crippling scenario debuffs that you might start with.
Beyond this point players need to be careful of adding too many rolling modifiers to the Scoundrel so limiting it to the plus ones and invisible are good choices. This is because the way rolling modifiers function in Gloomhaven in that they can actually turn an attack into a miss as they keep rolling modifiers after the first which can be painful when triggered on one of our big combos against a boss or similar deadly enemy.
Scoundrel Enhancements Detailed
Scoundrel enhancements are designed to fill some gaps in our hand that give us an easier time to deliver on our goals of looting the map and dealing damage to anything that stands in our way. Initially adding a move to the bottom of Swift Bow is a cost effective option that is both a useful addition to our movement and an investment in the future as it gives us greater loot potential which we can leverage for future necessary enhancements. Second to this we can add jumps to the likes of Flanking Strike and Flurry of Blades which stay with us for our adventure and help to overcome our weakness of high movement cards that lack jump which can be situationally useful for positioning.
Timing of adding a dark element the bottom of Open Wound is an important highlight though as it helps us setup the deadly Stick to the Shadows when empowered so this should be your goal just prior to level 7 and takes precedence over other options. The last important enhancement to acquire although lower priority than the others here is boosting our Smoke Bomb combo with strengthen which adds just a bit more teeth to this although is a one time per scenario play.
Scoundrel Items Detailed
Scoundrel item choices are what you would probably expect from this class in Gloomhaven although the order may be slightly different to your usual character building. In this case the Minor Stamina Potion is number one priority as the Scoundrel desperately needs it early on to give our small hand a little more longevity before purchasing other items. Cloak of Invisibility is a clear second buy for the Scoundrel as it allows us to deliver some of our combos with ease while allowing us to recover from a mistake in position as well.
Next we can look towards boots such as the Boots of Striding but only if another party member doesn’t need them as the Scoundrel already has a wealth of movement and this is a greedy play to empower Swift Bow more than anything. Failing this we can take Winged Shoes to help us until we enhance jump on our cards or wait until one of the higher prosperity shoes becomes available. Following this we will want to grab the usual Stamina and Healing potions that melee characters want for the added card usage that we are desperate for and a way to recover some of the damage we will likely have to take.
The head slot for Scoundrel is less of a priority (dependent on party composition) but the Iron Helmet is a cheap effective option early game before higher prosperity options become available while also considering a Minor Health Potion around this time. The Scoundrel’s character design does allow it to make use of a range variety of unlockable items and without spoiling these you’ll want to keep an eye out for equipment that rewards you with added bonuses for long moves, allow you to summon an ally to empower your attacks when in a pinch, add area of effect to your attacks or allow you to manipulate enemy movement.