Opening a door is such a simple thing. Such a fundamental part of the game that can be the difference between making it to the end of the scenario or burning card after card to avoid taking damage as a room full of baddies all pick you as their primary focus. Strategy for opening doors is one of the most imperative, yet one of the most overlooked aspects of Gloomhaven strategy. So let’s go over a few key points that will save you a lot of hurt by learning it here rather than the hard way…
It’s better to have an enemy block the door than an ally block the door.
Each door in Gloomhaven is a bottleneck. It is a point where one character/monster can stand and generally speaking you will have allies on one side and enemies on another. The last thing you want to do is block your melee allies from being able to get hits in on the enemy. You also don’t want to be the only target for every enemy attack. Even characters with the highest hit points can’t tank that damage forever. So much of Gloomhaven strategy is based around damage mitigation and spreading damage across multiple allies (if it can’t be avoided altogether) so please don’t ignore that premise just to open up a new room.
Try to take a step back and let the monsters come to you. It will allow for 2 or 3 hexes from which to attack at melee range, and 5 hexes that can attack from range 2. That’s far better than having an ally in the door where you can melee from 1 hex (the guy blocking the door) and range 2 attack from 2 hexes.
Take one door at a time.
Most Gloomhaven scenarios aren’t linear. It’s not always one door after another, many scenarios give you options of which direction you’d like to go first. It is better to have a couple useless turns than it is to go open the second door and unleash whatever is behind door #2 before you’re ready for it. Especially if the rest of your party is preoccupied with the enemies behind door #1.
Don’t run off…
It’s like a horror movie. Break away from the group and you’re doomed. This is applicable to two main situations; the one mentioned above, where you run off to open up a second door, and the situation where you’re much faster than your allies and you get too far ahead. Good Gloomhaven strategy is based on patience. Only jump into a situation when the conditions are favourable. If you find yourself stuck behind an ally blocking a door and you can’t attack this turn then that’s okay. Try to get a ranged attack in or use a jump movement to get to the other side of the scrum. The answer is not to go open another door so you can attack something…
Use invisibility to buy yourself some time.
This is an age old method that I don’t necessarily love, but is still worth mentioning in case you don’t have any other options. A common usage of invisibility is to open up a door, stand in it, and go invisible. The upside to this strategy is it will keep melee monsters at bay for a turn because they can neither target the invisible character blocking the door, nor can they get through the door to other allies. That’s handy.
But the trouble is you run into the same problems we just talked about above, with an added negative twist… the characters who have invisibility or get the most use from the invisibility cloak are generally the squishiest. You can’t stay invisible forever, and when it wears off that character with low hit points is now at the forefront of the battle, with enemies in his face and allies (hopefully) behind him. And because you’ve spent a turn blocking the door, the enemies in the room have had ample time to move forward, effectively blocking any entrance for your allies. So to avoid this sticky situation with your Spellweaver tanking for your party, I recommend opening the door, and stepping back.
So take it easy. Don’t rush into new rooms unprepared and you’ll be fine. Craziest thing about this advice is if you do it properly you won’t even know that it’s working. It’s not until you make a bad decision and do something foolish that you realize the importance of door strategy.