Gloomhaven’s Tinkerer: An Ultimate Strategy and Builds Guide

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The Tinkerer is essentially the only primary supporting class of the class choices at the start of Gloomhaven. Thematically, you’ve got just the right tool up your sleeve to handle any tight spot your group gets themselves into. This also means you’ll end up burning a good amount of cards as your gadgets get used up in battle. Luckily, you have a lot of gadgets which gives you one of the larger hand sizes of the starting classes.

Because of that, this class can be played in a few different ways: ranged, summoning, or healing. We’ll go over a few different build options, as well as the perks, and a rundown of each card to give you a baseline for how to play the class.

The Tinkerer fits pretty neatly into the “engineer” or “priest” roles in other RPG games.

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Tinkerer Build Variants

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Steampunk Cleric

This build focuses on healing which makes it much better in a four-person team. I definitely wouldn’t use this build in a two-person group.

Healing just doesn’t work well in smaller groups. But playing a healer in a four-person group is fantastic and I would highly recommend it. The only situation I could see being an issue is with the Cragheart on a team also focusing on healing (which doesn’t work that well for Cragheart anyway). Anyway, here is the gameplan for this type of build:

Level 1 CardsCard SelectionCore ItemsPerk Order
Reviving ShockLevel 2
Stamina Boost replaces Proximity Mine
1. Eagle-Eye Goggles1. Replace one -2 with one +0 card
ReinvigoratingLevel 3
Crank Bow replaces Flamethrower
2. Boots of Striding2. Remove two -1 cards
Harmless ContraptionLevel 4
Dangerous Contraption replaces Reviving Shock
3. Stamina Potion3. Remove two -1 cards
Toxic BoltLevel 5
Disintegration Beam replaces Ink Bomb
4. Minor Healing Potion4. Add two +1 cards
Ink BombLevel 6
Auto Turret replaces Harmless Contraption
5. Add one +3 card
Net ShooterLevel 7
Murderous Contraption replaces Reviving Shock
Enhancement FieldLevel 8
Noxious Vials replaces Enhancement Field
Restorative MistLevel 9
Lethal Injection replaces Dangerous Contraption
Stun Shot
Flamethrower
Potent Potables
Proximity Mine

Rogue Engineer

This build is much harder to pull off than the Steampunk Cleric build above. However, it’s a ton of fun if not just for the difficulty of pulling it off. You’ll need to have good knowledge of the rules around AI movement/attacks as well as some strategic planning.

This is a thematic build, so it will be one of the worst.

Level 1 CardsCard SelectionCore ItemsPerk Order
Reviving ShockLevel 2
Stamina Booster replaces Reinvigorating Elixir
1. Winged Shoes1. Replace one -2 with one +0 card
Reinvigorating ElixirLevel 3
Tinkerer’s Tools replaces Flamethrower
2. Eagle-Eye Goggles2. Remove two -1 cards
Hook GunLevel 4
Crank Bow replaces Proximity Mine
3. Heater Shield3. Remove two -1 cards
Toxic BoltLevel 5
Noxious Vials replaces Reviving Shock
4. Iron Helmet4. Add two +1 cards
Ink BombLevel 6
Gas Canister replaces Restorative Mist
5. Add one +3 card
Net ShooterLevel 7
Curative Aerosol replaces Hook Gun
Enhancement FieldLevel 8
Harsh Stimulants replaces Enhancement Field
Restorative MistLevel 9
Chimeric Formula replaces Stamina Booster
Stun Shot
Flamethrower
Potent Potables
Proximity Mine

Tinkerer Perks

We want to remove negative modifiers as quickly as possible. This will give us the best chance of drawing a solid attack modifier, or at least one that won’t hurt us. Naturally, we go for the remove two -1 cards twice before we move on to replacing the -2 with a 0. 

Afterward, we can move on to improving our odds by adding a +3 card and two +1 cards afterward. You have a few choices once you’ve done all of that; you could either grab the ignore negative scenario effects (which can definitely be helpful) or start grabbing +1 cards with immobilizing or wound. Really it depends on your team and the scenarios you’re running into at this point.

Here’s a rundown of the highest value upgrades:

  1. Remove two -1 cards (two uses)
  2. Replace one -2 card with one +0 card
  3. Add one +3 card
  4. Add one +1 card
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Tinkerer Cards

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Level 1 Cards

Good

  • Harmless Contraption
  • Reviving Shock
  • Toxic Bolt
  • Ink Bomb
  • Restorative Mist
  • Net Shooter
  • Restorative Mist

Okay

  • Reinvigorating Elixir
  • Potent Potables
  • Proximity Mine
  • Hook Gun
  • Flamethrower

Bad

  • Volatile Concoction
  • Energizing Tonic

Reinvigorating Elixir

The heal on top is great but situational and you won’t be able to use it as often as you would an attack. The larger the group, the more often you will be able to use it. Generally, you want to attack instead of heal because you will do damage and cause less damage to be dealt to your allies.

But that’s the purpose of this class, so this is a decent top action. The bottom loss is powerful but, because of its effect, you’ll want to use it early on. Which is at odds with the fact that it’s a loss and we want to save as many loss cards for later as possible. However, the bottom action definitely doesn’t hurt this card. 

It’s topped off with some decent initiative.

Potent Potables

With some planning, the top action is great. It’s easy to waste charges on overhealing but, on the positive side, it’s super powerful when used in combination with AoE healing. 

The bottom move is nice to have but is nothing special. As always, useful to use when waiting for the right moment for another action.

Volatile Concoction

This card isn’t really worth considering in most builds. The top action allows you to set traps for 2 damage and 2 poison but setting this up is more difficult than just using a card that does that amount of damage. 

 The bottom action essentially trades one of our cards for an allies card. Plus we lose an action for using it. Combining that with the short-range and the need for ice (which we can’t generate) makes this a sub-par card.

Reviving Shock

The top action on this card is pretty good with an attack 4 across 2 targets, provided we can find 2 within 3 range. That’s not too hard to set up. 

The bottom isn’t as helpful since loss healing actions have to bring a lot to the table to make them worth it. Considering it’s only marginally better than Harmless Contraption makes it hard to take. If you have someone within 2 range (again, big groups play better with Tinkerer) some value is added but it’s still not great.

The initiative is good so that adds some value as well.

Proximity Mine

Trap cards are harder to set up than normal attacks which automatically brings the usefulness of this card down. Add in the fact that it’s a loss and we’re really not getting much from the top action. It could be a good source of direct damage but a lot of the shielded enemies fly, so that doesn’t leave us with many scenarios to use the top action. The move 4 on the bottom saves this card from being abandoned entirely. We’ll need some movement and this provides plenty.

Hook Gun

The attack from this move doesn’t match up to how much damage you can put out with other actions but adds pull. Unfortunately, pull is super hard to use to activate traps. You’ll need a long-range (longer than 3) and you’ll spend time setting it up and actually initiating it rather than doing more productive actions. In the end, you have an enemy in melee range with a ranged character. I wouldn’t put much time into figuring out how to use this one.

The loot 2 on the bottom would be awesome if we had a more useful top action. Since it’s a loss and loot, the end of the scenario is the prime time to use it. But we have plenty of better loss actions. So this is kind of killed by the top action.

Toxic Bolt

This is a really good top action. It provides a lot of damage output on the top action as well as creating earth which is great for groups with Cragheart or Spellweaver in them. It also has a good initiative which really adds to the poison that the top action does. 

The bottom loss isn’t particularly useful since it is a loss, although it’s good in certain situations. Luckily, the top action is so good that you can carry this along and have the option to use it without it being a burden.

Ink Bomb

A great attack loss for this class since we don’t have much damage output.  It can produce 8 attacks pretty consistently across 2 enemies. If you can target 3 enemies there is some insane value in this level 1 action. The dark produced won’t really help us much though. A move 4 on the bottom of a great loss action is a great combination. We can use this until we find the right time to use the top action. The initiative isn’t great but we can definitely let that slide for this card.

Enhancement Field

This is a fantastic card for filling in the deck with a basic attack 3 range 3 on top which we can find a use for very easily. 

The bottom action is slightly less exciting but not bad by any means. It’s good for an attack 1 and occasionally an attack 2 or more. Unfortunately, it has a bad initiative so we’ll have to consider which card we will pair it with.

Restorative Mist

This will be a solid healing card to add to our hand. A heal 3 range 3 on top is good in pretty much any situation that a heal will help. The move 2 heal 1 for all adjacent allies on the bottom can be really good value. If you have a 4 party group (which you should), you’ll have trouble hitting 2 and occasionally you’ll be able to get a heal 3-4 out of it. Either way, it will give you a slight amount of movement which is useful in a lot of scenarios. It also has a good initiative which really tops off this already good card.

Energizing Tonic

This will be a solid healing card to add to our hand. A heal 3 range 3 on top is good in pretty much any situation that a heal will help. The move 2 heal 1 for all adjacent allies on the bottom can be really good value. If you have a 4 party group (which you should), you’ll have trouble hitting 2 and occasionally you’ll be able to get a heal 3-4 out of it. Either way, it will give you a slight amount of movement which is useful in a lot of scenarios. It also has a good initiative which really tops off this already good card.

Flamethrower

This is the highest damage level 1 card that we have. We essentially get an attack 4 (the wound is at least 1 damage) on each adjacent target. The downside is that we have to get into melee range. That means we will not only do we have to expose ourselves to some melee damage, but we also have to pair it with a move which will limit us on when we can decide to use it. The bottom is situational and much less useful. Since this card has both a situational top and bottom action, even with the crazy amount of damage, it’s just okay value in your hand.

Stun Shot

The top action on this card is a great support action that can stun a difficult enemy for others in your group to deal with the damage. It’s pretty straight forward and useful. A move 4 on the bottom is what we want to see paired with a situational top action. This definitely improves how often this card is useful. The initiative is great on this card which adds a lot to the value. Additionally, a wound on this card goes great with the stun.

Level 2 Cards

Stamina Booster is probably the best choice at this level unless you’re going with a more interesting build variant.

Stamina Booster

This is a great support card since we have a good heal with range on top. It adds a lot to the support build for this class. The bottom loss is pretty situational but when it does help, it’s worth having. That’s great because the top is awesome. It doesn’t cost us anything to have the option of the bottom.

Disorienting Flash

The top action lets us stun 2 enemies which isn’t bad normally but for a loss, this isn’t worth it. Especially when you compare it to our level 1 card that stuns 1 and does 1 damage with no loss. There are times when it’s nice to stun 2 enemies but not often enough for this to add value to your hand. The bottom doesn’t make up for the top action. It will require you to let multiple enemies near you and taking damage to get the most out of it.

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Level 3 Cards


There isn’t a clear choice on this one, just go with what would give the best support to your group with the current builds they have.

Tinkerers Tools

The top half isn’t great. It’s nice to occasionally be able to disarm a trap but most of the time you’ll want to use them to your advantage. You will gain more out of having a different card in your hand than carrying this one and saving some damage dealt to you. The bottom is fun since you will be able to change enemy AI but it doesn’t add much value and certainly doesn’t outweigh the bad top action.

Crank Bow

The top action seems like it will be more useful than it is. Generally, you will decide to use a better loss card than this one. It does come in handy sometimes though. The bottom on this one does make up for the top action. Most builds will have replaced a movement card in level 2, so getting a move 4 out of this deal isn’t bad.

Level 4 Cards

I would recommend going with Dangerous Contraption in most builds for this level. It isn’t really much of a choice.

Dangerous Contraption

Although the top action is a melee summon, and we would definitely prefer range, this action isn’t bad. It can take a good amount of damage and is pretty consistent at putting out 4-6 damage. This is worth it even for the loss. To top it off we have a move 4 on the bottom which is perfect for any top loss.

Micro Bots

As with all cards with both a loss on top and bottom, we will need it to add a lot of value to make this card worth it carrying. Neither the top nor bottom steps up our deck in a significant enough way to bring a card that is gone as soon as we use it

Level 5 Cards

This one is a toss-up based on the group you have. Usually, Disintegration Beam is more useful.

Noxious Vials

The top action of this card is situational but useful often enough To justify it. You can definitely find a good amount of situations where you would rather have this than deal damage or heal.  The bottom loss is also situational but we get a super-powerful AoE attack.  Although both sides are situational, it’s best to judge what your group needs at this point and decide if this is worth it. If your group just isn‘t finishing off enemies quickly enough, it’s a good choice.

Disintegration Beam

The top action on this card has a pretty weird, but powerful, effect. You’ll be able to kill a good amount of enemies in one shot with it. It’s pretty situational since not all scenarios will be good for it but when it works, it works really really well. It’s great against enemies with a high shield and low hp which can be super helpful if you don’t have a lot of true damage on your team. The bottom action is much more widely useful. Disarm works well against most enemies in the game and you get some movement. All on a non-loss card, which is great. Paired with another stun card, this can hamper 2 enemies in one turn.

Level 6 Cards

Usually you’ll want to with Auto Turret on this one.

Gas Canister

The trap on top doesn’t compete well against Auto Turret. Like I said before, traps generally aren’t worth the trouble. There has to be a good payoff for setting them up and maneuvering an enemy into them, and the payoff is not there for this card. The bottom doesn’t recover any value for this card. You lose a card and an action to have allies grab 4 cards. It’s better 99% of the time to do some damage, heal your allies or yourself, or position yourself for a big move.

Auto Turret

This card is super powerful and fun to play. The catch here is that you need to be sure a target will be there for at least 3-4 of the turns out of the 5 turns that this could be dealing damage. Thankfully, the range on this action really helps you ensure you’ll get the maximum out of it. The heal 3 range 4 on the bottom adds to our already awesome set of bottom actions. This can be used right up to the point that you find the perfect spot to place the turret. To top it off we have some good initiatives which makes this a great card to combine with lower initiative cards.

Level 7 Cards

Curative Aerosol is the more advantageous card at this level. 

Murderous Contraption

This card’s first impression is pretty bad with a melee to summon on the top action, which we don’t like to see. On top of that, it’s pretty weak with only 6 hp. You won’t get much firepower out of this card before it’s killed. The bottom action steps up the value of this card. We get an attack with a decent amount of damage for this level and don’t have to lose a card for it. This is mostly what you will use the card for. The drawback here is the bad initiative but, depending on your build at this point, you should have plenty of good initiative cards to pair it with if you need to.

Curative Aerosol

The top of this card is okay but pretty robust with a move 4 heal 4. This is great for getting rid of poison on allies or yourself. You really want to be taking advantage of move 4 on this card, since the heal is subpar at this level. The bottom action on this card will basically never get used. On top of that, it’s a loss. When you combine this action with the only slightly useful top action, this card doesn’t really shine. One thing you can look forward to if you get this card is the good initiative, which makes combining that top action with a good bottom action very easy.

Level 8 Cards

Again, based on the team it will differ. Don’t forget you can go back and grab a better card from another level.

Jet Propulsion

The top action of this card is okay if you are going against the grain with a summon build. Of course, those builds are the least efficient and pretty hard to play. The bottom action isn’t a bad loss either. Our only problem is that we are starting to pile up a significant amount of loss cards. So adding one more to this can be an issue.  Generally, you won’t want to take this card because of the situational top and not wanting to add another loss. The middling initiative doesn’t help either.

Harsh Stimulants

At this level, the top action is very disappointing. Taking 2 damage and getting in melee range is a terrible trade-off for 9 attack. For comparison, we had a card that gave us 6 attack at 5 range at level 3. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to go for. The bottom is much more interesting. If you have an ally or allies that do lots of AoE damage (Spellweaver, Cragheart, etc.), this could be a big win for your team. If you don’t have an ally that does that, you lose the only interesting part of this card.

Level 9 Cards

Both of these can be really good. Lethal Injection is easier to use. Chimeric Formula can be super strategic.

Lethal Injection

The top action on this card is just as awesome as a level 9 card should be. Killing any elite without situational requirements is really good. We don’t want to add another loss but we have a 12 card hand so this can be overlooked or we can remove a loss for it.  The bottom has what we want for a loss card; a move 4. Of course, the additional effect is welcome when we can use it, but mostly we are looking at this as a move 4.

Chimeric Formula

This is a weird card. Because it’s effects are so difficult to judge without knowing what group you have, you will have to decide whether this is worth more than Lethal Injection yourself. It comes down to this: If you see a combination of another character’s card with this one that can really synergize well, go with it. Some combinations with this card can even go so far as to be considered game-breaking. 

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