As you already know, Gloomhaven gives the player the possibility to choose between different characters that have unique skills and gameplay mechanics.
It is important to choose the correct class at the beginning of the game, otherwise, you could get bored of playing with a character that you might not like as much as you would have thought, or being stuck in a role that doesn’t fully suit you.
Imagine playing a character with crowd control duties when you really only wanted to smash some skulls like the most enraged berserker. It is not fun, isn’t it?
Of course, you can always take a level hit and start with another class, but from a pure roleplaying point of view that would not make much sense and it’s definitely not my favourite option.
Hopefully, this overview of the Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion classes will help you out in deciding for which class to pick up.
Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion Classes – Brief Overview
There are 4 characters in the game:
- Inox Hatchet
- Valrath Red Guard
- Quatryl Demolitionist
- Human Voidwarden
All these characters can also be used in the original Gloomhaven, so if you really like one of these four guys you could definitely carry them over and enjoy their unique abilities for a quite good number of hours.
Just keep in mind that some of the classes may not perform in Gloomhaven’s dungeons as well as they do in Jaws of the Lion (cough cough… Demolitionist).
Gloomhaven jaws of the Lion – Classes Ranked
Let’s get into the action and what a better way to do so than giving you a ranked list of all the Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion characters?
This list is entirely based on the vibes that each character gave me while playing the campaign.
Just a quick premise, I played and finished the campaign three times so far, always playing solo and controlling 2 characters each time, so my thoughts on the classes are also influenced by that.
4th | Human Voidwarden
The Voidwarden is a support class that covers multiple roles in that spectrum.
She excels in debuffing enemies by afflicting negative status and by cursing their modifier deck.
She also has useful crowd control abilities, where she gets enemies to attack each other or make them move under her control, and finally, she can heal the allies (but this comes often at the price of poisoning them).
Very low – she has 6 hp at level 1 and 14 hp at level 9. Don’t move too close to the enemies unless you want to get easily killed.
Amazing – with 11 cards in your deck is unlikely to run out of cards. You can play loss action cards with less pressure.
Pretty bad – in a common build deck you will probably have just a couple of cards with fast initiative. You will move last most of the time.
Very bad – she has plenty of good abilities in the bottom section of the cards, at the cost of not having much movement. Anyway, you don’t really need that much movement as you mostly play away from the enemies.
Pretty bad – she lacks good direct damage, it’s not her role.
She deals a good amount of indirect damage by forcing enemies to attack each other or granting your allies extra actions.
Bad – she is far away from the action and most of the time she will only pick up what others players leave behind.
Pretty good – many of her actions grant experience even though most of them are strictly related to the correct usage of some elements.
How to play the Voidwarden
Voidwarden can be a powerful class if played in the correct way.
She is the classic support character that stays behind the action and buffs allies while debuffing enemies.
You will have to carefully study the board for best positioning and plan ahead your moves to use all the abilities on your cards at their full potential.
Try to play Master Influence as soon as you can to make the effects last longer; also try to use the actions that add Curse in the enemies’ modifier deck in the first phase of a scenario to increase the possibilities for them to draw those cards.
Voidwarden Cards Overview (starting cards only)
Is this class suited for you?
Voidwarden is suited for players who like taking their time to study the dungeon and planning the actions for a few following turns.
Keep in mind that this class can stall the game a bit if the player who uses it fell into analysis paralysis, so you have to be a fast thinker person to play the Voidwarden in a good way without actually annoying your friends.
Very difficult to pull it out at the beginning, but once you gain more experience this class is actually very fun to play.
Final Thoughts on the Voidwarden
She is positioned 4th in this list for the main reason that mastering her abilities can take a very long time.
I always love support classes and she is very fun to play, but the learning curve is quite steep and you can get easily tired of its mechanics if you don’t play with the right mindset.
I only played 2 characters solo campaigns, where she didn’t always shine as other classes did.
In 3 or 4 players campaigns I’m sure that she will make everything easier and this class could possibly be one of my first choices.
3rd | Quatryl Demolitionist
The Demolitionist is a melee damage character with very high damage output, thanks to his cards and the thin modifier deck.
He also has abilities that let him destruct obstacles and buff himself while doing so.
It’s a very selfish type of character that enters a dungeon and rushes through it punching everything in his line of sight.
Quite good – he has 8 hp at level 1 and 20 hp at level 9 so he can endure quite a few attacks, but the lack of heal actions in the deck make him rely mostly on his allies healing abilities.
Very bad, with only 9 cards in the deck he is always the first to get exhausted.
Kind of ok – you must balance fast and slow initiative cards at lower levels, but while the game progresses, you can unlock some powerful fast cards and the slowest cards are always in an acceptable range.
Average – he has some good big movement cards, but he also has too many “move 2” actions in the bottom half of his cards and the lack of jump doesn’t help to always play him with perfect timing.
Really good – direct damage itself isn’t that great, but thanks to the many ways he can buff himself, take advantage of the obstacles or manipulate the board, he can hit really hard.
Average – he doesn’t have a lot of cards with the loot ability, but the fact that he is always adjacent to enemies makes it easy to grab some coins.
Pretty good – many of his actions grant experience when you satisfy certain conditions, such as destroying obstacles or hitting enemies against walls, which is what you should do anyway if you want to use the Demolitionist’s abilities at their best.
How to play the Demolitionist
The Demolitionist is a fun class to play and one of the most straightforward characters if the scenario has a certain condition: the presence of obstacles.
If the dungeon has obstacles, you can blow the whole thing up and do some serious damages to all the adjacent enemies.
If the scenario doesn’t have any obstacles, you have to really play around with those abilities that trigger extra damage when you hit enemies adjacent to walls.
Luckily his abilities are very different and you can come up with different builds suited for every possible situation
Demolitionist Cards Overview (starting cards only)
Is this class suited for you?
The Demolitionist is perfect for everyone that approaches Gloomhaven for the first time, as his deck is pretty easy to understand and quite fun to play.
You will always be in the centre of the room and surrounded by enemies, so if this is the kind of situation you want to get yourself into, this class would be a good choice.
Just make sure to bring a healing potion with you!
Final Thoughts on the Demolitionist
He is ranked 3rd in my personal list of the Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion classes for 2 principal reasons:
- 9 cards hand – having such a fun class to play but constantly fighting against yourself to choose whether or not to use that powerful loss action card is a bit of a disappointment. I understand the game balance, but still.
- Not enough fast initiative cards – being a melee damage dealer without being very tanky, means that he should be able to hit and run before the enemies can attack him, but the low number of fast cards (under 15) makes this strategy very difficult to realize. You have to rely on a tank or a healer.
2nd | Valrath Red Guard
Red Guard is the tank of the team but he brings much more value to the party than simple tanking.
He can easily absorb multiple attacks thanks to his shield while dealing some good damage to the enemies that surround him.
He has both melee and ranged attacks, plus multiple board control abilities that make him perfect for any type of enemies he faces.
Top notch – he has 10 hp at level 1 and 26 hp at level 9 so he will never be seriously in danger. Combining the high health with the fact that he can heal himself, and you have a great tank on your side.
Average – with 10 cards hand you have to carefully choose when playing loss action cards, but at the same time, you can use them with fairly good freedom if the situation requires to.
Amazing – he is the fastest character in the game and this is good because you always want to move first.
Average – he has some good movement cards but also many “move 2” cards which don’t always help to let him reach the wanted position on the board.
Really good – similar to the Demolitionist, the direct attack itself isn’t that high, especially at low levels, but the correct use of elements and indirect damage let him kill low-health monsters quite easily.
Average – he doesn’t have a lot of cards with the loot ability, but the fact that he is always in the front line makes it fairly easy to grab some coins.
Decent – almost all the cards that give experience points are subjected to the correct use of elements, so if you can’t infuse them at the right timing your chances to get experience points will drastically decrease.
How to play the Red Guard
As a Red Guard player, your main duty is to stay on the front line and protect your allies.
You can achieve that by building the class in a few different ways; a more defensive one, built around cards that give you shield every turn or a more offensive approach, for which you have to carefully plan when to infuse fire and light elements to trigger certain effects.
This class is also capable of pushing and pulling enemies quite frequently, therefore positioning your character on the correct tile at the correct timing will be very important in order to deal extra damages.
Red Guard Cards Overview (starting cards only)
Is this class suited for you?
Red Guard is one of those classes in Gloomhaven that requires a good understanding of the game mechanics, as being a tank means that you are always ahead of anyone else and your duty is also to carry the team through the dungeon.
Probably not the most beginners friendly as you always have to play first and take important decisions; but if you like those things, this is definitely the class you want to play.
Final Thoughts on the Red Guard
This Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion class is very powerful and second to none (almost).
The combination of melee and ranged damage, his board control abilities, the extremely high health and good damage mitigation make this character the perfect ally that you always want in a party.
Having the Red Guard around let everyone else play safer and with more freedom.
1st | Inox Hatchet
Hatchet is a character specialized in ranged damage and he does it amazingly well.
It is the most straightforward class to play as his only focus is to deal damage from the distance and nothing else.
His core gameplay mechanic revolves around his favourite axe being thrown to the enemy guaranteeing some good extra damage and then picking that up again in order to throw it against someone else.
Very good – he has 8 hp at level 1 and 20 hp at level 9, like the Demolitionist, but compared to him Hatchet is almost always outside of enemies’ range and in the remote case he gets hit that won’t be a huge issue.
Below average – for the main reason that your hand is basically a 9 cards hand due to the fact that you always play a loss card (the Favourite) in the first rounds. With only 9 cards hand you have to carefully choose when playing loss action cards.
Fairly good – he has some fast initiative cards that can let you move first not so rarely.
Movement ★★★ ☆ ☆
Good – but it depends on how you play. Generally speaking, the movement speed itself isn’t that great, but it’s functional to his core gameplay: kill an enemy and run to where the enemy was to collect his favourite axe and loot the coin.
Amazingly high – with the right combination of cards and the +3 bonus damage given by “The Favourite”, he can one-shot a lot of enemies.
Very good – he has a few cards that let him loot coins and treasures even from an adjacent hex. Looting for the Hatchet is as easy as killing foes.
Pretty good – this character has a handful of cards that let him gain experience quite easily if you play the Favourite in a correct way or take advantage of the wind element.
How to play the Hatchet
As I said in the overview, Hatchet is a very straightforward class to use, probably the easiest among all the Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion classes.
In a nutshell, you want to use “the Favourite” card as soon as possible and from there go nuts with your offensive abilities.
Just remember to always throw your favourite axe towards those enemies that are on your path to your next goal. The last thing you want to do is waste turns (and cards) throwing your favourite axe on enemies that are behind you or far away from where you are supposed to go to complete the scenario.
Hatchet Cards Overview (starting cards only)
Is this class suited for you?
If you want to be the one who takes down most of the enemies and to be the ace of the team, this is the class you want to play.
Its extremely high damage output, combined with the fact that it’s very easy to play, makes it perfect for those who want a really good character without having to think too much during the game.
Experienced players might find him a bit boring.
Final Thoughts on the Hatchet
Hatchet is the first class in my personal ranked list because he is simply a powerhouse.
He can deal an incredible amount of damage while keeping himself away from the enemies.
Pair him with a good tank and your campaign will run smoothly for most of the time.
Even though his main gameplay of throwing the weapon and picking it up again can be a bit boring, I found very rewarding the
Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion Classes Combinations (2 player campaign)
I tried different combos during the past few months, while I was in between one campaign and the other and as expected I found that not all the classes work well with each other.
Actually, you can finish the campaign with all the combinations, but some of the classes clearly work better than others.
Hatchet – Red Guard
Strongest combo. Red Guard attracts enemies’ focus while Hatchet deals massive damages from the distance.
It was the first pairing I tried and it was an absolute blast.
Red Guard – Demolitionist
Same as above, Red Guard pairs very well with anyone and in this combo the Demolitionist can really shine by unleashing his incredible damage output.
Red Guard – Voidwarden
This combo is a very solid choice if you want to try the support class. In fact, the Voidwarden wants a melee character to perform at her best and the Red Guard is a better choice than Demolitionist because it has more survivability so Voidwarden can focus on buffs and debuffs instead of constantly healing the ally.