Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion DLC – Review
Follow Genre: Board game, turn-based strategy
Developer: Flaming Fowl
Publisher: Asmodee Digital
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion DLC – Review

Site Score
Good: An meaty expansion that ties seamlessly into a fantastic base game
Bad: Suffers from an overall lack of accessibility for newcomers
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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

If you’ve read our review of Model Builder, you may have picked up that yours truly dabbles in miniature painting. Coincidentally, a couple of months ago, this reviewer was commissioned to paint up a set of Gloomhaven miniatures for the recent Jaws of the Lion expansion, so when the digital version of that same expansion came around, it immediately had our curiosity. After all, we had already spent some intimate time with these character designs without knowing what they represented. We had some experience with the Gloomhaven board game already, so we were more than eager to try out its digital counterpart and discover what Jaws of the Lion was about.


The titular Gloomhaven is a city in a fantasy world that serves as both the starting point and the hub for a series of campaigns, and it should be viewed as a world where players craft their own story rather than a campaign setting where everything is laid out in front of you. It’s not a casual experience either. Playing through a complete campaign of the actual board game can take well over a year, and as it is a legacy game, there are persistent effects that last throughout the campaign after they have been determined. The digital version follows this same principle, with two massive campaigns that offer hundreds of hours worth of content that shapes itself around decisions made by the players. Jaws of the Lion now adds a third campaign, although it’s not scaled in the same way. There is a distinct shift in focus between Jaws of the Lion’s narrative campaign and the two campaigns included in the core Gloomhaven game. Set before the events of the main game, Jaws of the Lion delivers a branching storyline, spread over 25 maps (as opposed to the 60 in the other campaigns) set in a previously unexplored part of the city of Gloomhaven. The core premise is that four mercenary heroes are tasked with investigating a series of mysterious disappearances in the city. We can’t really go beyond this initial baseline, because right from the get-go, it becomes clear that things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Jaws of the Lion’s campaign really needs to unfold itself before your eyes. What we can say is that it ties seamlessly into the stories from the main game and that Jaws of the Lion’s 25 scenarios feel a lot more focused and shorter compared to what we’ve gotten previously.


Adapting a board game into a digital title is always a bit of a tricky affair as you want the game to retain the aesthetics of the physical product without feeling too static. Gloomhaven succeeds in threading the thin line between going all-out with 3D models and keeping just enough board game elements in there to preserve the right atmosphere, even in the fully modeled 3D environments. The character models are dead ringers for the real-life miniatures and if you ever find yourself wanting to paint up a set of these, then their digital counterparts should provide ample reference. Performance-wise, Gloomhaven does what it needs to do without putting too much strain on your hardware.


Gloomhaven’s soundscape sets the right atmosphere without drawing too much attention to itself. Given that this is a game perfectly suited for multiplayer, we feel that this is a good thing as a lot of the time, you’ll be focused on discussing tactics with your teammates through your headset. The music is understated but fits the mood of a given scenario and although we did feel like some of the character stock lines grew repetitive, the voice acting itself is more than adequate.


Before we delve into the Jaws of the Lion DLC in detail, we should probably quickly recap what Gloomhaven is all about. The board game that this digital version is adapted from provides players with immersive dungeon crawling action, using card-based mechanics for movement and combat. Players assemble a team of mercenaries to tackle lengthy campaigns with differing objectives, and as we mentioned before, the original title is quite a hefty one, offering hundreds of hours of gameplay. The digital adaptation of Gloomhaven provides players with pretty much the same experience that the physical edition has to offer, although at a fraction of the cost of the board game. Those seeking to expand their game’s already impressive longevity with another campaign, new mercs and more enemies can do so with this new DLC. Of course, if you’re already invested in Gloomhaven, then adding Jaws of the Lion is a no-brainer.

The tabletop version of Jaws of the Lion is a bit of a curiosity: while it’s fully compatible with the original Gloomhaven, it also works as a standalone product -and is probably a better entry point than the base game itself. The same cannot be said for the DLC, however. While the digital version of Jaws of the Lion provides a faithful recreation of the campaign included in the physical box, it’s definitely not a standalone product, and playing through Gloomhaven’s tutorial campaign is necessary before you can even think of exploring the DLC. We wish we could say that playing through this campaign is a breeze, but unfortunately, it isn’t. If there’s one issue we have with Gloomhaven, it is that it doesn’t feel like a very accessible title for newcomers, and it takes a significant amount of time and effort before you can fully wrap your head around the game’s mechanics. We had some prior experience with the actual board game, which did help a lot, but if you’re going in blind, you might want to prepare yourself for a bumpy ride.

Jaws of the Lion doesn’t provide players with a slew of new mechanics or gimmicks but is set on delivering an enjoyable narrative campaign. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any new stuff to be found here: alongside the story, there are a slew of new character classes, events, and items. The four new character classes take up the center position in Jaws of the Lion’s built-in campaign, of course, but they also fit in seamlessly alongside the pre-existing ones from the base title. This extends to the game’s multiplayer mode as well, of course, and up to four players can join in to play through Jaws of the Lion, each taking control of one of these classes.

The four new classes include the Red Guard, a fantastic all-rounder that can soak damage as well as dish it out, and the Demolitionist who -as the name implies- is able to destroy obstacles and cause massive damage, with the drawback that his deck only has nine cards and this becomes exhausted quickly. Then there’s the Hatchet, who provides ranged attacks with throwing axes, and rounding things out is the Voidwarden, a support class. These are arguably the main draw here -alongside the new campaign- and the biggest hurdle in using them lies in their learning curve. Compared to the mercenaries from the base title, these do feel like advanced characters, and using them isn’t as straightforward as you’d think -especially the Voidwarden. We would’ve liked to have seen some additional tutorial levels where players can familiarise themselves with these new classes, because as it stands, getting to grips with them involves a lot of trial and error. As we said before though, the in-game tutorial campaign doesn’t feel very accessible though, so perhaps Flaming Fowl should have taken the opportunity to rework it alongside adding the DLC.

Jaws of the Lion gets a lot right, by adhering to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” principle. It doesn’t introduce new gimmicks or dramatic changes to Gloomhaven’s core mechanics but instead provides players with a campaign that is intense to play through but less demanding in terms of scale. The new content included here makes sense and does exactly what it should: add more Gloomhaven without degrading the foundation of the base game. The only thing we really can fault the DLC for is something that is already an issue with the base game in the first place: a distinct lack of accessibility. Don’t get us wrong, Gloomhaven -and by extension, Jaws of the Lion itself- is a fantastic game, but before you get to the good stuff, you’ll need to get across a few hurdles.


Whether or not you should pick up Jaws of the Lion depends on how much you enjoy Gloomhaven in the first place. What you’re getting here is a very meaty package that vastly increases the longevity of a game that was already bursting at the seams with content. We would’ve liked to have seen a bit more care put into the game’s accessibility through this DLC, which is something where the physical version of Jaws of the Lion is a lot more effective. Jaws of the Lion isn’t going to convince anyone not yet into Gloomhaven to pick up the game, but if you’re already a fan, this is a must-have expansion.

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Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion DLC - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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