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Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion Black Sludge – Overview & Strategy Guide

This post was last updated on September 12th, 2022

Hi dear reader, and welcome to another episode of the Overview & Strategy series, where I write about the possible enemies you will face in the game and try to give you some useful information and tips on how easily defeat them.
Today I’ll be writing about the very nasty Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion Black Sludge monster.

This shapeless amass of sticky substances is one of those monsters you should be inclined to run away from during your exploration.

Bad news, you can’t. Why? You’ll find the answer later in the article.

There will be spoilers ahead, so if you arrived at this page by mistake I’d suggest you stop reading right now.

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Black Sludge

gloomhaven jaws of the lion black sludge image over a background photo

Aaah Black Sludge. What a funny little fella… NO! It’s nasty, evil and, pretty sure, smelly.

This enemy can be found at the beginning of the campaign, after the tutorial scenarios, and it’ll be a fairly common encounter during the adventure (depending on which dungeons you choose when progressing through the campaign).

It is one of those rare monsters that have 2 specials: shield and poison.
This puts the monster already at the very top when it comes to deciding which monster to kill first if there are multiple enemies in the room.

Where you can find this monster? Scenario: 6, 10, 11, 13, 20.

Black Sludge Stat Cards

gloomhaven jaws of the lion black sludge stat cards
Monster Stat Cards

Normal enemy (average values)

  • Hit points: 9 (10 considering shield)
  • Base movement: 2
  • Base attack: 3

Elite enemy (average values)

  • Hit points: 13 (14 considering shield)
  • Base movement: 2
  • Base attack: 3

So, all those catchy phrases that sell the enemy as one of the most dangerous in the game and look at the stats.
By the look of it, this monster doesn’t seem as dangerous as it’s been described.

Correct. The stats aren’t great; hit points and attack are nothing special and movement is ridiculously low.
The strength of this monster, in fact, relies on the ability cards and the 2 Specials.

Shield offers the enemy extra protection against your attacks and poison makes all the attacks targeting your character gain a +1 attack bonus until healed.
Black Sludge usually appear in groups, and having these monsters around you puts your character in a very dangerous situation if they manage to poison you and then attack you.

But this is not the main reason to be aware of them. Ability cards are what make them really nasty to fight.

Black Sludge Ability Cards

gloomhaven jaws of the lion black sludge ability cards
Monster Ability Cards

Average Initiative value: 67.

The first thing to notice is how extremely low is the average Initiative number.
With just 1 card out of 8 being below 50, you’ll most certainly move before the monster. If you don’t, you’re probably playing your cards in the wrong way.

Nevertheless don’t put your guard down, as these monsters have more than one card up their sleeves… ehm, which sleeves?

Anyway, let’s talk about ability cards!
Hasty Assault, Nothing Special and Calculated Strike are three common Move + Attack cards, and similarly to the Giant Viper deck, they can be dangerous as these cards let Black Sludges easily set their ranged attacks.

Toxic Explosion and Plasma Ward are some of the worst cards they could draw when you fight them at low levels since they can hit multiple targets from distance and poison them at once.

Feed is nothing but annoying, giving the monster another card that could heal negative statuses. Also, be aware of this card if you play a character that infuses the dark element.

And now the grand finale: Black Hex and Septic Hex.
These cards are both an Attack + Heal action, giving the enemies other two healing abilities; the attack is very unique and the reason that sets these monsters apart.

The closest enemy in line-of-sight, regardless of range suffers 1+L/2 (rounded up) damage, with L being the scenario level.

It is basically a powerful laser beam with an infinite range that you can’t mitigate by anything since it’s direct damage.

Black Sludge usually spawn in groups and they are often in the back of the room, which forces you to kill other monsters before reaching them.
Try to imagine a turn where they draw one of these 2 cards and start shooting at whatever character is in their field of view regardless of how far the target is.

The room could quickly become a heroes’ graveyard.

Strategy against Black Sludge

  • The way I’d fight them if they would be in the back of the room is by trying to stay out of their sight while dealing with other monsters first, and then go all-in against Black Sludges.
  • If they are at your range when entering a dungeon, always kill them first as they could become a huge threat depending on what card they pull.
  • If there are any traps in the room, try to use them to your advantage.
  • When you have more than one Black Sludge at the range of your attacks always strike the one you could potentially kill to avoid wasting turns in case they pull one of the healing abilities.

What a fun monster that is! Our beloved Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion Black Sludge is the enemy nobody really wants to fight but everybody must fight.
Thanks to their ability cards deck they could give you a very hard time during your campaign

Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion Stone Golem could be a difficult enemy to fight without the right strategy. If you carefully plan your moves to play around their very high damage output you’ll overcome the enemy without any problems.

If you liked this post, you may also be interested in:

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion Classes – Overview & Rank
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion – Monsters Overview