The Journey, The Destination, The Campaign

Welcome to the campaign. We will be playing this game until its completion, and I hope you enjoy it. If not, it may be a challenging journey for you.

Most of my top games are what we call campaign games, these are games that take place over many play sessions. The campaign could last anywhere from 2 play sessions to over 100 play sessions. You may have heard the term “Legacy Game”. In a legacy game, you make changes to the board physically with stickers, and tear-up cards, your game is completely unique to you and your group and can never be replayed again. Whilst I do enjoy legacy games such as Pandemic Legacy season 1 and Betrayal Legacy, you cannot reset a legacy game whereas as a campaign game, you can fully reset it, ready to be enjoyed again and again.

This article is a spoiler free ode to two of my favourite campaign games, Scythe: Rise of the Fenris, and Gloomhaven.

Scythe: Rise of the Fenris

The key to a good Legacy or Campaign game is to have a solid game system to begin with, this is key to why Pandemic Legacy works so well, each game of Pandemic is tense where a flip of a card could be the end. In Scythe the game is already solid and tense. Why not add in a campaign.

The base game of Scythe is a curious one, It plays at 1 – 5 or if you have the expansion, 1 – 7 players. Now if you don’t know what Scythe is, I am going to take the easy way out here and let BoardGameGeek do the talking.

“Scythe is an engine-building game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor. In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europe who are attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction’s stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. 

Scythe uses a streamlined action-selection mechanism (no rounds or phases) to keep gameplay moving at a brisk pace and reduce downtime between turns. While there is plenty of direct conflict for players who seek it, there is no player elimination.

Every part of Scythe has an aspect of engine-building to it. Players can upgrade actions to become more efficient, build structures that improve their position on the map, enlist new recruits to enhance character abilities, activate mechs to deter opponents from invading, and expand their borders to reap greater types and quantities of resources. These engine-building aspects create a sense of momentum and progress throughout the game.”

So that’s the game. Why make this a campaign? Simple. It makes the game even tenser!

Rise of the Fenris campaign has 8 missions in it. That is 8 or fewer gaming sessions. If you already like Scythe, this is a strong recommendation. It does not change the game drastically at all. It gives each game a side goal or two, where you may go for it if you like, or just play the base game and try and earn precious stars.

It creates further tension where you ask yourself, “Should I go for the side goal now, or wait till the next turn? Is the other player going for it? If not, maybe I should…”

That cold war tension that Scythe creates is elevated in the campaign.

There are story elements that work extremely well, it is very well written and brings the setting of the game to life. Creating an atmosphere in the world. You start to care more about the plastic in front of you.

“A universal truth of board gaming is how much you enjoy a game comes down to how much everybody cares about everything that is happening on the table”

Scythe Rise of the Fenris makes the quote absolutely true, Where a turn can have a butterfly effect that ripples through a future game for you, giving you a bonus perk that other players simply cannot attain. It creates the story in front of you, where other players might see you as a target and start negotiating, or you may negotiate to ensure one particular player doesn’t get too far ahead. Creating a social meta during the campaign.

But mostly what I really enjoy about this campaign experience, The final game.

This is no secret, so it isn’t a spoiler.

The first 7 games are masterful, things happen, lots of surprises, new unlocks, perks, and perspectives of cardboard and plastic. You may even win the 7 games!


The game builds up to Game 8. A grand final, a Superbowl of Scythe as it were…. Where it doesn’t matter how well or how badly you performed in the previous 7 games. It all comes down to that last game, to decide the winner of the campaign. And Oh boy… no two campaigns will be the same.

I hope that if you enjoy Scythe already, that you give this campaign a go. It is masterful, rewarding and just at times… Bonkers.

Yet somehow it works, Scythe and Scythe Rise of the Fenris is masterful Game design, and I cannot wait to play this campaign again and again.

A (Non-Spoiler) Ode to Gloomhaven

Where to start with Gloom…

This one is a beast. I started playing this game back in 2018, We had completed the game in 2021. That is 3 years worth of play sessions dedicated to this game, and you know what, it did not drag at all.

First off, what is Gloomhaven? Thanks BoardGameGeek.

“Gloomhaven is a game of Euro-inspired tactical combat in a persistent world of shifting motives. Players will take on the role of a wandering adventurer with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for traveling to this dark corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. In the process, they will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions they make.

This is a game with a persistent and changing world that is ideally played over many game sessions. After a scenario, players will make decisions on what to do, which will determine how the story continues, kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Playing through a scenario is a cooperative affair where players will fight against automated monsters using an innovative card system to determine the order of play and what a player does on their turn.”

I was lucky enough to play this with 3 of my close gaming buddies, It took us 3 hours to open the box and sort it all. At the time, this was the biggest and heaviest physical box for a board game that I have seen. We each took on the starting characters and we started a journey in the city of Gloomhaven, and at first, I did not like it. I was terrible at it, I felt like I wasted hours of my life playing it, however, I am so glad I stuck with it. Once I got a handle on my character (one of the more complex starters), I loved every second of it.

Gloomhaven has you going on a mission, killing monsters in a typical dungeon crawl with fantastic card play. Earning loot and rewards, doing event cards, and then picking your next mission in this open world like board game.It is basically a video game, in a board game. It has all the typical campaign things like unlocks, rewards, engaging gameplay and levelling up your character.

I won’t go into the details, Just want to give you an insight as to the excitement and the rewarding feeling that Gloomhaven has provided my group during this 3-year journey.

First, milestones. Typically in Gloomhaven, you go on missions, get rewards, perks, loot, buy items etc, but all of this is to help you achieve your character’s unique retirement goal. Sometimes in Gloom, that retirement goal isn’t hard to achieve, it’s just that our party of players each had long retirement goals, it’s as if the government were not allowing us to have early access to our super and infiltrated our Gloomhaven campaign. So after we played about 30 games, our first character retired.

When my friend’s Craigheart retired, we got him a real retirement cake and we celebrated, as if he was our captain of the police force. It was quite a real-world moment that I won’t ever forget.

The second moment, the realisation that we can’t beat ’em all, we got smacked by certain missions, certain boss battles… and just had to re-group as a team, change our strategy, swap out cards and really work together, each mission in Gloomhaven is so diverse, challenging and rewarding. It kept us coming back for more.

The third moment, seeing storylines to completion, Gloom has 3 or so storylines in it, when you see one to a close, the conclusion, the world building the escalation, it feels real, whenever you play a game, any game and you realise you were lost in the world, makes that game lift off the table, and you metaphorically carry it with you, There are moments in the story that I will always remember.

And Lastly, the completion of the game. In 2022, Australia was hit hard with lockdowns due to something in the real world. A friend of mine moved our entire campaign into TableTop simulator, I have no clue how many hours he spent doing this!

We played maybe 6 or so missions over TableTop Simulator and it was leading to the final night, the night when we beat Gloomhaven.

I received a parcel in the mail, it was a beer stein with “The sleeping lion” engraved on it. The name of the pub in Gloomhaven.

We each got one sent to us, and we beat the campaign and shared a beer over the webcam. What a moment, what a game and it is a story I will always cherish.

Since then, Gloomhaven has become a fully developed video game, and whilst it is great new players are finding their way into the world of Gloom, I wouldn’t recommend it. There is a charm in playing it physically on the table, earning your cards. Putting stickers on the map and earning your rewards, and just creating the best team of characters that you can. When you level up your character and get to make choices and add a new card to your character’s deck… that choice isn’t the same as when you do it on the computer game.

If you have the right group, and you are keen to try it, I’d recommend buying Jaws of the Lion, it’s my little Gloomhaven as it were, it is about 10 missions, 8 or so play sessions, if you enjoy that, you will definitely enjoy Gloomhaven!

I have recently dived back into this world, starting not one, but two Frosthaven campaigns. This is the sequel to Gloomhaven and somehow the box has gotten even bigger! Would definitely recommend Gloomhaven first, and the best thing is, it is going cheap now! About $100 for what is years of gameplay! The value there is insane!

I hope you get to play and experience a campaign game soon! They are well worth your time…

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