Last Updated on Samuel Franklinby
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Guide – Cards, Builds, Perks, Enhancements & Items
This Gloomhaven guide details how to build a tanky and supportive Sunkeeper for your mercenary party for the board game and digital game mode variants. Serving as the character closest to the traditional tank archetype the Sunkeeper is often a welcome sight for a team when it is unlocked given her ability to be a reliable party character while equally empowering allies. Detailing how to build the Sunkeeper from starting cards all the way to level 9 and including my recommendations for perks, enhancements and equipment options players have the necessary template to follow with some additional discussion on alternative pathways for experienced players.
The Sunkeeper (Sun) can be unlocked by players in Gloomhaven and is one of several Valrath characters that are seen by many as tough and demon like. Despite their appearance the gentle problem solving and diplomatic Valrath race are a great asset in the struggles of Gloomhaven where they have taken up key positions in human society such as merchants or influential politicians. Few Valraths empower this more than the Sunkeeper who calls on their power of healing to defend and bless those in needs while also being a consistent fighter throughout your travels. When playing as the Sunkeeper players can expect to find recurring themes of damage sharing, shields, bless and strengthen with the element of light a consistent source of empowerment for your actions. The result is a hero in Gloomhaven that shines particularly in the larger team sizes given many of your abilities can affect multiple allies although still able to hold their own in a smaller team with a slight shift of focus towards attack actions. Your weaknesses though are a lack of effective range attacks, a slower experience gain and some minor issues with movement and initiative although careful planning can mitigate these.
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).
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Guide Overview
This overview section is designed to provide a quick reference to building your Sunkeeper and provides an ideal standard operating methodology that will be suitable in the majority of Gloomhaven game situations. It will guide players through level 1 to level 9 that can be referred to while playing to help you make quick decisions that are always optimal. That being said the Sunkeeper has a few notable decision points that can switch your focus from the tank to support spectrum and is a personal decision you will need to make based on your party specifics.
In this overview section I’ve recommend a tank and damage focused build as its effective in the majority of situations with these card, perk, enhancements and equipment options as players can absorb hits while still dishing out some pain to enemies. It assumes you’ll be regularly playing the bottom persistent action of Defensive Stance that trades 1 movement value on all of our movement actions for 1 shield with a priority upgrade on this to 2 shield that is incredibly effective at allowing us to soak up damage for the team.
Should you want to lean into the supportive cards (primarily bless and strengthen in addition to some heals) of the Sunkeeper instead these decisions are included in the detailed section for players to create something unique to them. With 11 cards available and a few persistent card choices there are a surprising number of minor tweaks when playing the Sunkeeper you can make despite the simple core character formula.
Sunkeeper Cards Overview
- Level 1: Remove Brilliant Prayer, Lay on Hands and Purifying Aura to create your starting deck of cards
- Level 2: Practical Plans replaces Beacon of Light
- Level 3: Mobilizing Axiom replaces Protective Blessing
- Level 4: Righteous Strength replaces Glorious Bolt
- Level 5: Path of Glory replaces Daybreak
- Level 6: Illuminate the Target replaces Empowering Command
- Level 7: Weapon of Purity replaces Tactical Order
- Level 8: Cleansing Force replaces Dazzling Charge
- Level 9: Angelic Ascension replaces Holy Strike
Sunkeeper Perks Priority Overview
- Ignore negative item effects and add two +1 cards
- Replace one -2 card with one +0 card
- Remove two -1 cards (take twice)
- Replace one +0 card with one +2 card
- Remove four zeros
- Add rolling stun card
- Add two rolling light cards (take twice)
- Add two rolling +1 heal cards (take twice)
- Add two rolling +1 cards (take twice)
- Add two rolling shield self cards
Sunkeeper Enhancements Priority Overview
- Add Shield to the bottom of Defensive Stance
- Add Move to the bottom of Cautious Advance and/or Hammer Blow and/or Righteous Strength
- Add Stun/Wound to the top of Hammer Blow and/or Mobolizing Axiom
Sunkeeper Items Priority Overview
- Minor Stamina Potion
- Boots of Striding
- Minor Healing Potion
- Hide Armour
- Iron Helmet
Gloomhaven Sunkeeper Guide Detailed
In this detailed portion of the Sunkeeper Gloomhaven guide I break down the recommendations in the overview section and discuss some of the alternative choices that players have a long the way when developing their Sunkeeper character. This includes exploring some of the supportive focused cards that are largely ignored in favour of greater consistency in damage and tanking ability in the overview section and while they aren’t listed in the standard build I suggest above some of these are quite powerful in the right team of players.
Sunkeeper Cards Detailed
The cards in order from level 1 to 9 are discussed below including why certain choices may change based on your party specific situation or playstyle intentions. It also discusses some alternative card swaps at particular levels based on this to ensure players have sufficient information to deviate from the overview recommended path.
- Starting Cards: Most of our Sunkeeper cards are decent at level one with only a few standing out as obviously bad when designing our starting hand. The most notable of these is Brilliant Prayer with its double burn actions that like most cards in Gloomhaven of this design are simply not worth the paper they are printed on. From the other three weak cards we have being Beacon of Light, Lay on Hands and Purifying Aura we have to find 2 other cards to put to the side. For me this almost always means Purifying Aura and Lay on Hands are left behind given the general weakness of retaliate and the fact we prefer to be moving with our bottom actions. This also has the benefit of keeping the large area of effect heal on Beacon of Light which while a small heal 1 is good for keeping a party at high health or removing wound or poison. Regardless of what you select to sneak into your 11 hand size it won’t be sticking around for long from this grouping of weaker cards.
- Level 2 Cards: Level 2 provides us the powerful Practical Plans that is well ahead of other heroes with an attack and move 5 on a single card at only level 2. It will stay a staple of our hand all the way to level 9 with its flexible actions that can either allow us to hit hard or catch up if we fall behind and regardless of our playstyle is far superior to the Unwavering Mandate alternative.
- Level 3 Cards: Mobilizing Axiom is our level 3 choice and while it seems like a basic card its the bread and butter of our light generation for a long time yet. The bottom action also isn’t particularly terrible and can be played in certain scenarios where the objective is based on movement or simply at the end of a scenario to claim an easy experience point. As if all that wasn’t convincing enough it also adds one of our faster initiative cards at 23 which is always welcome to ensure we can kill an enemy with an attack or shield up before the attacks come our way.
- Level 4 Cards: Once again we find ourselves with a clear decision to optimise our card choice around the card that provides two good actions with Righteous Strength although they do start to diverge from this point onwards. This card allows us to bless all our allies if we can co-ordinate with them while also giving us a great card to move into the fight with a solid 3 move (2 move when we have Defensive Stance active) and provides a shield. Once again we also find an attractive initiative in 18 that starts to give the Sunkeeper some potential for surprising speed.
- Level 5 Cards: Path of Glory is my default recommendation as damage is always nice and generally effective at reducing damage by defeating enemies through taking them off the game board entirely. if you aren’t playing the bottom of Defensive Stance this card can also serve as an upgraded version of that as an alternative replacement card at this level. That being said Scales of Justice is an interesting card and while you shouldn’t expect it to outperform Path of Glory using the retaliate is fun in certain scenarios with the right enemy mix if you want to try an alternative build based on retaliate damage although this is something the Jaws of the Lion Red Guard is more adapt at if that interests you.
- Level 6 Cards: At level 6 the Sunkeeper has two different supporting cards that provide support in different ways and its at this point players really need to analyse their current party and also their expected party on the way to level 9 as the Sunkeeper as both can be highly effective. For default choice Illuminate the Target is the winner with a powerful 5 damage and an amazing bottom attack of 6 provided we have the necessary melee ally to utilise it. Where we don’t have a melee ally the Supportive Chant starts to look attractive as the initiative of 11 allows us to buff every attack of our allies that can create some powerful attacks when paired with multi target attacks in particular.
- Level 7 Cards: For a tanking focused hero its surprising to find a move and attack bottom action given this makes for some strong turns where we can output up to 8 base attack and even move while doing it. For this reason it is the default choice as it offers the most flexibility of our level 7 options but Bright Aegis is perfectly viable if you are taking a beating in a larger Gloomhaven party size with its high base shield, sometimes useful retaliate and the potential for another source of light generation. The bottom of Bright Aegis also isn’t terrible when light is available to sacrifice our cards for a powerful damage dealer that could allow them to access cards they should not be able to use twice in a scenario which is of course party dependent.
- Level 8 Cards: With the double burn actions of Inspiring Sanctity it is easy to look elsewhere as neither of these are particularly impressive for that trade off. Instead we look towards Cleansing Force which is taken and put into our deck for the bottom that gives us another good movement card, simple light generation to empower another card and a decent 25 initiative.
- Level 9 Cards: Level 9 as a Sunkeeper is not particularly exciting in comparison to some other Gloomhaven heroes which can leave players feeling a little lacklustre and keen to move onto retirement. From our options I will always lean towards Angelic Ascension as it gives us our best move yet for the bulk of the scenario before we can spike our power for the last room in a scenario.
Sunkeeper Perks Detailed
Sunkeeper perk options are mostly straightforward until we reach the rolling decision points that can make for different decision priorities depending on your specific campaign factors. As a tank focused character the ignore negative item effects is a clear choice to remove the negative attack modifiers that the defensive armour purchases add. From here on it’s a familiar perk loop that focuses on removing our negative values, adding positive ones and eventually removing all the zeroes that creates a surprisingly potent modifier deck for a tank focused character.
Where things become complex for the Sunkeeper is the rolling cards and these choices should always be informed by your current feel of the game as there are many factors at play. Personally I’ve found the stun and light are good first options given a stun is generally going to reduce incoming damage while the additional light means we can use access the higher power in some of our cards. While these rolling modifiers are never guaranteed if players are finding their team already has an abundance of control or elemental methods but lacks healing the rolling shield or healing choices may be slightly favoured.
Sunkeeper Enhancements Detailed
The Sunkeeper has many potential enhancements although we really don’t need to spend the gold to be effective so be considerate to our allies and the pace of gold income when playing friendly with others. One exception to that is if we decide to play the recommended Defensive Stance style of play as the extra shield is absolutely necessary given it provides an incredible amount of value to saving on damage. Following on from this players will want to look to buff some of their movement cards although this is less important when not playing Defensive Stance as our movement options are actually solid at their default value. Beyond these considerations you’ll want to look at adding some of the useful debuffs to some of the Sunkeeper’s core attacking cards in the form of stun or wound and poison that provide another element to our support and should be informed by our party needs.
Sunkeeper Items Detailed
In terms of non spoiler starting items the Sunkeeper like most melee characters benefits from the high cost effectiveness of the Iron Helmet and the Hide Armour although hopefully you’ll have higher tier chest armours available by the time you unlock the Sunkeeper. Boots of Striding or similarly higher tier boots are also nice for the Defensive Stance style of play and the regular combination of healing and stamina potions. Beyond starting items players will want to look for items that provide shields, interact with the light element and allow us to mitigate some of the damage risks we will face with our shield focused build (wound and poison).