Gloomhaven’s Brute: An Ultimate Strategy and Builds Guide

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Inox Brute is one of the most entertaining starting characters to play in Gloomhaven. Because of his inherent ability to take and deal out boatloads of damage, there is a ton of variation in how he can be built and specialized. Typically, he would be considered a fighter as an RPG class.

This guide will cover 2 possible builds for the Brute. “The Hero” build will focus on maneuverability and damage output and “The Meat Shield” build is a classic tank guide. We will also cover all of the cards in detail at the end.

So settle in for this guide to end all guides on the Inox Brute.

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Brute Build Variants

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The Hero

This build focuses on versatility and damage output. If you’re looking for a jack-of-all-trades type build this is a great one. It will work excellent in a 2 party team but has the flexibility to be used in larger groups as well.

Level 1 CardsCard SelectionCore ItemsPerk Order
Balanced MeasureLevel 2
Juggernaut replaces Shield Bash
1. Boots of Striding1. Ignore Negative Item Effects (for Hide Armor)
Leaping CleaveLevel 3
Brute Force replaces Sweeping Blow
2. Minor Healing Armor2. Remove two -1 cards
SkewerLevel 4
Unstoppable Charge replaces Provoking Roar
3. Hide Armor3. Replace one -1 card with +1
Spare DaggerLevel 5
Skirmishing Manauver replaces Warding Strength
4. Minor Power Potion
TrampeLevel 6
Whirlwind replaces Grab and Go
5. War Hammer
Grab and GoLevel 7
Defensive Tactic replaces Spare Dagger
Provoking RoarLevel 8
Selfish Retribution replaces Juggernaut
Shield BashLevel 9
King of the Hill replaces Brute Force
Sweeping Blow
Warding Strength

The Meat Shield

The classic tank build. This is going to be best for big groups with lots of squishy teammates (highly discourage going for this in 2 players). The perks order is very similar to the other builds since the Brute has such a bad perk choice.

Level 1 CardsCard SelectionCore ItemsPerk Order
Balanced MeasureLevel 2
Juggernaut replaces Eye for an Eye
1. Heater Shield1. Ignore Negative Item Effects (for Hide Armor)
Leaping CleaveLevel 3
Brute Force replaces Trample
2. Hide Armor2. Remove two -1 cards
SkewerLevel 4
Unstoppable Charge replaces Balanced Measure
3. Healing Potion3. Replace one -1 card with +1
Spare DaggerLevel 5
Skirmishing Manauver replaces Skewer
4. Boots of Striding
TrampleLevel 6
Immovable Phalanx replaces Shield Bash
5. Stamina Potion
Grab and GoLevel 7
Defensive Tactic replaces Warding Strength
Provoking RoarLevel 8
Selfish Retribution replaces Leaping Cleave
Shield BashLevel 9
Face Your End replaces Spare Dagger
Eye for an Eye
Warding Strength

Brute Perks

We want to remove negative modifiers as quickly as possible. However, before we do that for most builds we’ll want to get “Ignore negative item effects and add one +1 card” first so that we can remove the negatives of hide armor.

After we’ve done that, we’ll usually want to go for “Remove two -1 cards” and “Replace one -1 card with one +1 card” next. This is going to give us consistency in our attack modifier deck.

Once you’ve got those, next up on priority is the effects (stun, disarm, muddle, etc.) which will add a lot of value to the character.

After this our choices aren’t great. Going for the “Add two +1 cards” or “Add one +3 card” can help us or hurt us depending on what we are looking for. So just to recap what order we should get the perks:

  1. Ignore negative item effects and add one +1 card
  2. Remove two -1 cards
  3. Replace one -1 card with one +1 card
  4. Add two +1 cards
  5. Add one +3 card
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Brute Cards

This section will cover each of the cards for the Brute in detail.

Keep in mind any card can hold its own in your deck if you build properly to use it, I’ve valued cards based on their prospective damage and ability to mitigate damage through finishing enemies quickly. 

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Level 1 Cards

Good

  • Balanced Measure
  • Leaping Cleave
  • Grab and Go
  • Warding Strength

Okay

  • Provoking Roar
  • Trample
  • Spare Dagger
  • Skewer
  • Shield Bash
  • Sweeping Blow

Bad

  • Eye for an Eye
  • Overwhelming Assault
  • Wall of Doom

Trample

Trample has a top action is very useful for shielded enemies with a Pierce 2 and Attack 3. However, the bottom is good early on but later holds the card back slightly due to it having a card loss with a maximum of 8 damage.

We will have better options to lose a card for later in the game.


Provoking Roar

Provoking Roar combines good initiative (which isn’t too common on the Brute) with a consistent disarm and Attack 2. This is great against a small number of enemies. On the other hand, the bottom action is one of the least efficient actions we can take. Preventing an enemy from attacking or putting out damage should almost always be chosen over reassigning where damage is dealt.


Shield Bash

Shield Bash has a great option on the top action of Attack 4 and Stun which is held back by you losing a card. For instance, Provoking Roar can give nearly the same effect without losing a card. The XP is also not worthwhile since you will generate more from cards that aren’t lost. The bottom action will trail your movement and attack options since they will likely save you more HP. All things considered, this card doesn’t hold up to other options for your hand.


Grab and Go

Grab and Go gives you a Move 4 on bottom which is nice movement for this class and worth it on its own. The loot on top comes in handy (pun intended) but is really just the cherry on top .


Eye For an Eye

Eye for an Eye is going to get left behind. The retaliate on the top action isn’t worth using since you have to be sure the monster will attack you and you end up taking damage if it works.

The bottom action is also lacking since you could probably move to avoid more than 2 damage and have no specific use for the earth.


Warding Strength

Warding Strength will give you an Attack 3 and Push 2 on the top action which can usually push the enemy into a trap. The bottom action can be seen as a Heal 6 and is best used in between battle in the scenario, so you are not doing this instead of a move or attack that would be more efficient.

Anyway, you get 6 health and 3 XP from this so it’s a good one.


Spare Dagger

Spare Dagger will be a solid ranged attack that will add some needed flexibility to the Brutes actions. Plus the bottom action has an attack which can be used to finish off an enemy pretty often.

Topping it off with a low initiative makes this one of the most effective cards in your repertoire.


Skewer

Skewer is another good card that will also scale with your level. If nothing else the top action will work as an Attack 3 with Range 2. Adding in air makes this a killer attack with pierce and no loss!

However, the bottom action is lackluster because it causes you to lose a card for movement. Not very useful most of the time.


Wall of Doom

Wall of Doom probably won’t be one of your go-to cards. The Retaliate 2 and Shield 2 on the top action suffer from the same issue of requiring the enemy to attack you. Also, you could end up taking damage if it works and you end up losing a card. The bottom action is going to require you to attack multiple targets to be worth it, which doesn’t consistently happen. Overall, this is one to keep on the sidelines.


Leaping Cleave

Leaping Cleave is a well rounded card that will make its way into your hand often. The top action can be an Attack 9 (!) but will usually hit 2 enemies for an Attack 6. The bottom action has a Move 3 which is useful and air creation which can combine with Skewer. Pairing this with a low initiative card, this one is a top performer.


Balanced Measure

Balanced Measure combines with Grab and Go and boots of striding for an Attack 6 with no card loss and 1 XP gain. The bottom action, while not as strong, is situationally useful but the top action is where this card shines.


Sweeping Blow

Sweeping Blow is a solid attack card on the top action with a total of 6 damage possible. In addition, the bottom action gives you some movement and a push that will earn you some damage for enemies near a trap. This isn’t an all-star card but it will regularly make its way into your hand at level 1.


Level 2 Cards

Usually Fatal Advance is the best option here. With that said, both of these cards are competitors for any build.


Juggernaut

Juggernaut focuses on a tanking build for the Brute and it plays into this role very well. While the top action is very vanilla with an Attack 2 and Move 2 combo that is sometimes useful, the bottom action is where it’s at. Essentially, the bottom action with turn 3 sources of damage into 1 XP each and that is exactly what a tank wants to do. We’ll overlook the card loss here since this is such a useful action.


Fatal Advance

Fatal Advance is simple yet effective. Allowing an instant K.O of any enemy next to you, there isn’t much that beats this card in terms of damage. Likewise, you can’t ask for much more in the bottom action with a basic Move 4 that will make this card useful in pretty much any other situation.


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Level 3 Cards

Brute Force will usually be a better pick than Hook and Chain. Mostly because the actions on Hook and Chain are harder consistently use.


Brute Force

A good top action with a total of 6 damage and muddle with no card loss.

The bottom action isn’t as helpful because shield isn’t exactly what we want.


Hook and Chain

Good top attack but sets you up for being attacked next turn if you don’t take them out with the action.

The bottom action is more situational but can put out a decent amount of damage if you can pull it off. This action also has a loophole in that you can technically jump back and forth on hexes and have “moved” in a straight line.


Level 4 Cards

At this level Unstoppable Charge will win out over Devastating Hack. Unstoppable Charge just has way more going for it in terms of usefulness and you can get the same XP output with it compared to the other option.


Unstoppable Charge

Unstoppable Charge is a great pick up for this set of cards. An Attack 5 with 1 XP sprinkled on top makes it an easy card to decide to use. All of that without having to lose a card makes this a go-to. The bottom action is situational but overall very useful. At this point you have some options on movement but coupling this Cards Move 4 with a Stun really adds. The loss on this action and low initiative are the only drawbacks and they can be overlooked for this cards power.


Devastating Hack

Devastating Hack has more negatives than positives. It is comparative to Unstoppable Charge but gives an extra 3 damage and 2 XP. Using Unstoppable Charge 3+ times in a scenario will give you the same or more XP. Having a Loot 1 on the bottom is nothing special. Maybe we would get excited for a Loot 2 but this doesn’t compete with the value the other level 4 card gives us.


Level 5 Cards

Both of these are solid choices. Overall, I tend to lean toward Whirlwind.


Skirmishing Maneuver

Skirmishing Maneuver has an okay top action. Separating a couple of Attack 2 with a Move 2 will give you the chance to take some health off one enemy while killing another. Likewise, it works well for giving more chance to draw a good attack modifier.

The bottom action is where this card shines. An Attack 3 with Range 3 is going to bring a ton of versatility to the deck. Couple that with good initiative and an XP point and this is a pretty sweet card.


Whirlwind

Whirlwind is also a good choice at this level. Although you’ll lose a card for the top action, if you can get 3 adjacent enemies the damage and XP gained are worth the loss. Keep in mind that if you have 3 adjacent enemies you may take a good deal of damage, especially at this level, so that is a negative to this action. A solid bottom action keeps this card relevant. Move 4 coupled with Push 3 can land some trap damage and get you away from the enemy.


Level 6 Cards

Immovable Phalanx will hold its own in any build. Quietus will need a consistent stun to be useful. I would lean towards Immovable Phalanx.


Immovable Phalanx

Immovable Phalanx is a card that will fit in to pretty much any build. Attack 4 plus Shield 1 on the top action is a solid choice that will work for a lot of situations. The bottom action for this card won’t prove as helpful since there is a loss involved.

Above all, the top action coupled with a low initiative gives this card some value.


Quietus

Quietus provides a situational kill on the top action. Often this one won’t be useful since we have no consistent stun.

The bottom action is more consistently useful with a Move 3. A coupled +1 Attack to all attacks this round makes it worth about an Attack 2 most of the time which isn’t bad.


Level 7 Cards

Go with Defensive Tactic for the tank builds. Otherwise, you’ll be better off with Crippling Offense.


Crippling Offense

Crippling Offense isn’t a bad choice at this level. The top action is worth the loss here although it doesn’t go above and beyond to create value. The effects added on to it really make it worthwhile.

A solid bottom action really adds worth to this card with a movement option that will stop an enemy attack. All of this on a low initiative card.


Defensive Tactic

Defensive Tactic is slightly lackluster at this level but works for a tank build. A non-loss ranged attack with 2 immobilized enemies is good but you’ll only get 4 damage out of this action.

The bottom action relies on retaliate and shield which aren’t the best options over doing some damage but can be worthwhile on a tank.


Level 8 Cards

Go with Selfish Retribution. The other option just doesn’t give us the efficiency we deserve at this level of card.


Frenzied Onslaught

Frenzied Onslaught is enticing but not really worth grabbing unless you have a very specific group and build. For all of the text on the top action, it’s just a Move 4 combined with an Attack 4. You can get tricky with this and combine it with something like Immovable Phalanx but the efficiency just isn’t there. Likewise, the bottom action isn’t going to add much value to our hand. We have limited use for a card that leverages Stun, Immobalize, and Disarm. Not to mention we probably want prioritize enemies without those status effects.


Selfish Retribution

Selfish Retribution gives us a Loot 2 with some movement sprinkled in on the top action. That’s a pretty good start to making this our choice. Our bottom action here adds in the movement on bottom with some retaliate for good measure and icing it all with high initiative.

Needless to say this is a good choice.


Level 9 Cards

Both of these will end up being decent in your deck. The decision sways slightly to the side of King of the Hill but it is ultimately personal preference.


Face Your End

Face Your End has a top action that was meant to combine with an attack bottom card but it doesn’t work out very well. You’ll end up pulling 3 enemies with minimal damage to each.

The bottom action is more attractive with a free kill and some XP. Overall, this card isn’t a terrible choice.


King of The Hill

Kinda of the Hill is an excellent pick up. Manage to get between 3 enemies and you’ve got an Attack 12 on your hands while pushing them and gaining some XP. Easily one of the best losses you can take.

Heal 5 on bottom gives us a good use for this card until we burn it on the top action.

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