Mage Knight vs Gloomhaven: Which One Is Better?

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Mage Knight and Gloomhaven are pretty similar. Since these two games compete with each other in many ways, it can be difficult to decide which one is best to get for you or your group.

Both of these games are also pretty expensive, so buying both isn’t really an option for most people. This guide will help you narrow down which game is going to work best for you.

Gloomhaven
Mage Knight
Preview
Cephalofair Games Gloomhaven Multi-Award-Winning Strategy Boxed Board Game for ages 12 & Up,...
Mage Knight Board Game
Player Count
1-4 Players
1-4 Players
Play Time
60-240 Minutes
60-120 Minutes
Age Group
14+
14+
Difficulty
Medium
Medium/Hard
Gloomhaven
Preview
Cephalofair Games Gloomhaven Multi-Award-Winning Strategy Boxed Board Game for ages 12 & Up,...
Player Count
1-4 Players
Play Time
60-240 Minutes
Age Group
14+
Difficulty
Medium
Mage Knight
Preview
Mage Knight Board Game
Player Count
1-4 Players
Play Time
60-120 Minutes
Age Group
14+
Difficulty
Medium/Hard
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Should You Buy Mage Knight or Gloomhaven?

These two games are solid options for any RPG fan. Mage Knight predates Gloomhaven by about 6 years, releasing in 2011. However, Gloomhaven’s release In 2017 shook the board game industry and it continues to hold the top spot on the BGG top 100 list today.

Since these games are both RPG based, they have a lot in common. There are also some big differences between them that should make it easy to decide which one will be better for you and your group.

How are Mage Knight and Gloomhaven Similar?

It’s been mentioned a few times already that both of these games are RPG’s. Because of that, these games both have the same general feel. Players control a character and make decisions with some storyline attached to the gameplay.

Both of these games also involve some hand management and movement is based on a grid. So these games, on the outside, look pretty similar as well.

In addition, both of these games also have a co-operative and solo play. So there are a lot of things that make these games

So here are the similarities:

  • Have RPG elements
  • Hand management
  • Co-operative and solo play
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How are the games different?

These games have some major differences in gameplay, mechanics, and the overall feel of the game. This makes it pretty easy to decide which one you’ll enjoy more.

Let’s start with how the campaign layouts are different. Mage Knight is set up as a really long one-off storyline. There really isn’t any overarching campaign at all. Gloomhaven, however, has a huge overarching campaign that is kind of the central piece of the game.

For that reason, if you plan to play with many different groups, maybe Mage Knight works better. If you have a signal group you’ll play with, Gloomhaven would be a good choice.

In addition to the storyline differences, the games also differ pretty significantly in the way players interact. In Mage Knight, multiple players can either play cooperatively or against each other. In contrast, Gloomhaven only has co-operative play.

Another big difference between these is the solo gameplay. Mage Knight is fantastic to play solo and can be played with only one character. Gloomhaven doesn’t work quite as well solo and requires you to control several characters.

Still not sure which gameplay works best for your group? Check out these how-to-play videos to get a better feel for each of the games:

Replayability

Between these two games, Mage Knight has more replayability but that may not really matter.

Since Mage Knight is based on single scenarios and they are random, it has great replayability. It takes a long time to get good enough at this game that it gets old.

Gloomhaven, on the other hand, doesn’t have great replayability since it is based around a campaign. It can be replayed but you’ll likely want to wait a long period of time before taking the campaign on again so that it is fresh. Although, this isn’t a huge issue because Gloomhavens campaign is around 100 hours of gameplay. So most groups won’t actually finish the game.

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Expansions

As for expansions, Mage Knight has more expansions and most of them are pretty good. In all, there are 3 expansions to the game with The Lost Legion being the most significant. It adds a new Mage Knight to play, a new enemy, and a ton of other stuff including some new scenarios.

Most players consider that expansion a must-have for the game since it adds a great opponent for solo play and makes the co-operative play more fun.

Gloomhaven, on the other hand, only has one real expansion. There have been a dozen or so promo scenarios released but those are pretty much just for collecting. The main expansion for the game is Forgotten Circle. It gives 20 new scenarios to run through along with a new character class, some new monsters, and a few new items.

These scenarios were more challenging than the base game scenarios and the new class is very different than those in the base game. Overall, this expansion definitely livens up the game if you manage to make it through the whole campaign.

Mage Knight vs. Gloomhaven: Conclusion

Overall, these games have a lot in common but enough about them is different to make it easy to choose which is going to be best for the group.

GloomhavenMage Knight
Pro’s• Best for Co-op
• Campaign Based
• Good Choice of Characters
• Great for Solo Play
• Randomized Maps
• Has Co-op and Competitive Modes
Con’s• Preset Scenarios
• No Competitive Multiplayer
• No Campaign
• More Complex Rules
• Longer Playtimes

If you want a game you can play solo, cooperatively, or competitively against your friends, Mage Knight is the easy choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking forward to a long campaign with a big overarching story and the whole RPG experience, go for Gloomhaven.

I wouldn’t let the replayability or expansions sway your decision too much, both of these games are plenty big and offer enough to satisfy any tabletop fan.

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