Frosthaven Review

Last Updated on April 5, 2023 by FauxHammer

prepare to get really cold as you travel to the frozen Northern Coast, battle dangerous foes and establish your settlement in Frosthaven. But is Cephalofair’s latest board gaming opus a worthy successor to 2017’s Gloomhaven? Find out in our Frosthaven review!

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Frosthaven Review – Summary

Frosthaven takes Isaac Childres’ award-winning, card-spinning, standee-killing board gaming formula and reminds everyone just why Cephalofair make some of the best board games available. A thorough, complex, and minutely detailed gaming experience, Frosthaven fills the cavernous shoes passed to it by its predecessor with surprising ease – though only time will tell if it becomes quite the sensationalist hit that Gloomhaven was.

Frosthaven Review – Introduction

Ooh, boy. We are very, sehr excited about this one.

You’ll have heard of Isaac Childres’ magnum opus: Gloomhaven. It’s been in the news fairly recently as having just lost its much-coveted, five-year top spot as best board game on to Brass: Birmingham. Gloomhaven , which seamlessly balanced complexity, innovative design, and darn good fun, is one of the most important releases of its type from the last decade – heck, maybe ever – so any follow-up will have some seriously big shoes to fill.

Well, enter Frosthaven.

Set in the same world as Gloomhaven, Frosthaven taken the fundamental gameplay that made Gloomhaven so great and drops it in a new setting. You and up to three friends take control of a band of wanderers who have come far into the frozen north and have that discovered Frosthaven – the only settlement there – is on the verge of collapse. It’s up to you to turn its fates around.

Unlike Gloomhaven, Frosthaven spices things up with the addition of settlement management mechanics, as well as a heap of new classes, new quests, and a new main storyline.

We can’t wait to get stuck in. In fact, we at Team have been caught up with Gloom/Frosthaven fever of late. We recently reviewed Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion – Frosthaven’s slimline sibling. In spite of the fact that Jaws of the Lion was a streamlined experience with certain extras pulled out to make the game more beginner-friendly, the team here at had an amazing time playing it – so much so we all immediately turned to the Gloomhaven on Steam in order to continue playing together.

It’s safe to say that we’re expecting very big things from Frosthaven!

Frosthaven Review – Unboxing

Frosthaven was definitely one of the most difficult and time-consuming unboxings I’ve ever done here at Let me explain.

Frosthaven Unboxing 1

First off, we’re back at the kitchen table for this one and there’s no way this monstrous 16 kilo box was every going to fit in my lightbox – so we’re somewhat at the mercy of the waning late-winter/early-spring daylight in the images below. Secondly, there’s a step-by-step guide that has to be followed when unpacking the box for the first time to ensure that it is set up correctly for all future games.

Frosthaven Unboxing 2

When you open Frosthaven for the first time, you are presented with a set of instructions that are designed to walk you through everything in the box. Frosthaven is absolutely bursting with cards, tokens, and other gaming pieces, and it’s important it all ends up in the right place.

Frosthaven Unboxing 3

The guide – which is four A4 sides in length – directs you to take things out in a certain order, put things in certain places, replace things, and so on.

Frosthaven Unboxing 4

You’ll be instructed to remove the books on top (of which there are quite a few) and then continue to delve into the box to find certain things and set them up as you go.

Frosthaven Unboxing 5

And, boy oh boy, there’s viel of stuff in here. In fact, Frosthaven is so big Cephalofair hired a submarine engineer to pack the box.

Frosthaven Unboxing 6

There are a stack of books, campaign sheets, a gorgeous board (more on that later) as well as sheets of stickers and token trays.

Frosthaven Unboxing 7

There are also alchemy sheets – a new system to support crafting in Frosthaven.

Frosthaven Unboxing 8

…And 27 token Boards.

Frosthaven Unboxing 9

Yes, 27. Twenty-seven. That’s an unbelievable amount of tokens.

With the token boards aside, we finally get towards the bottom of the box, where we find cards and character packs.

Frosthaven Unboxing 10

And, of course, miniatures (in those little boxes you can see on the right of the image below).

Frosthaven Unboxing 11

This is everything, tokens sorted and boards punched out. Believe it or not, there’s a kitchen table that comfortable seats four under there.

Frosthaven Unboxing 12

Strap yourselves in, folks – this review is gonna be a big one!

Frosthaven Review – Contents

So, in written form, everything you’ve seen above constitutes:

  • 1 x Map Board
  • 6 x Sticker Sheets
  • 5 x Books
    • 1 x Regelbuch
    • 1 x Scenario Book
    • 1 x Section Book
    • 1 x Setup Guide
    • 1 x Sealed Puzzle Book
  • 1 x Alchemy Chart
  • More Tiles and Tokens than you’ll ever know what to do with…
    • 38 x Map Tiles
    • 225 x Overlay Tiles
    • 327 Monster Standees
    • 1 x Element Board with Round Marker and 6 Element Tokens
    • 49 x Monster Initiative Tokens
    • 25 x Scenario Aid Tokens
    • 60+ x Damage Tokens
    • 20+ x Loot Tokens
    • 100+ x Condition Tokens
  • 5 x Scenario Flowcharts
  • 17 x Sealed Envelopes
  • A mountain of Cards:
    • 4 x Reference Cards
    • 29 x Building Cards
    • 10 x Personal Quest Cards
    • 24 x Random Room Cards
    • 24 x Random Setup Cards
    • 247 x Event Cards
    • 379 x Item Cards
    • 25 x Random Item Cards
    • 15 x Random Item Blueprint Cards
    • 60 x Battle Goal Cards
    • 59 x Loot Cards
    • 7 x Random Scenario Cards
    • 45 x Challenge Cards
    • 344 x Monster Ability Cards
    • 55 x Town Guard Cards
    • 165 x Attack Modifier Cards
    • 13 x Divider Cards
    • 32 x Boss Stat Cards
    • 48 x Monster Stat Cards
    • 6 x Monster Stat Sleeves
  • 30+ Plastic Standee Bases
  • 4 x Character Dials
  • Organisational Trays
    • 1 x Token Tray with Lid
    • 1 x Tile Tray with Lid
    • 2 x Card Trays
  • 18 x Small Tuck Boxes containing Character Miniatures
  • 17 x Large Tuck Boxes containing:
    • 17 x Character Mats
    • 503 x Character Ability Cards
    • 85 x Character Tokens
    • 303 x Character Attack Modifier Cards
    • 30 x Special Character Tokens
    • 51 x Perk Reminder Cards
    • 24 x Character Overlay Tiles
    • 18 x Character Standees
    • 45 x Character Summon Standees
    • 17 x Character Initiative Order Tokens
    • 17 x Pads of Character Sheets

That’s a lot of stuff – and we’ll be looking at it all in a moment!


Let’s dive right in with a quick look at the various books that come with Frosthaven, starting first and foremost with the most important.


Frosthaven’s rulebook is a fairly weighty affair, clocking in at 83 pages – however, this isn’t quite as bad as it may first seem.

By way of an immediate point of comparison, Jaws of the Lion came with a very succinct and easy-to-follow Learn to Play Guide, which was designed to act like a tutorial and gradually drip-feed new rules and concepts to players as they became more familiar with the game. There’s none of that here. Frosthaven encourages you to get stuck in from the word go.

Frosthaven Rulebook 3
Frosthaven Rulebook 2

However, Frosthaven’s Rulebook is formatted very well, walking players through each individual stage of playing a round – both during a Scenario and during the settlement management phase of the game, in all the detail you could ever need. Rules are well-written, language is clear, and there are also plenty of pictures and diagrams to ensure that key points are well-illustrated and as clear as can be.

Frosthaven is a large, daunting, and complex game – but with a rulebook as well-written as this, the game becomes far more accessible than it otherwise may be. There’s definitely still a sense that you’re being thrown in at the deep end, but the rulebook does all it can to make the plunge as comfortable as possible.

Scenario Book

The Scenario Book provides players with all the setup and information they need for their narrative missions.

Frosthaven Scenario Book 1

That it’s ring-bound is very useful. You will likely have a lot of stuff on your table at any one point when playing Frosthaven, so having the option to completely fold the scenario book in half to keep it A4 size is really useful.

Inside, you’ll find the appropriate map setups for whatever scenarios it is that you and your friends encounter as you fight to keep the settlement of Frosthaven alive. Once again, as with the Rulebook before it, everything is very clearly laid out, obviously signposted and well-written.

Frosthaven Scenario Book 2
Frosthaven Scenario Book 3

Again, by way of an immediate point of comparison, where with Jaws of the Lion players would actually play the scenarios out in the Scenario Book itself (which came with printed maps that were ready to go as soon as the book was opened), Frosthaven used tiles and boards for scenarios – which you can see in the image above. Here at, we really enjoyed using the Scenario Book in Jaws of the Lion as the gaming board as it saved a lot of space and kept all the information you needed for that particular encounter in one place.

However, Frosthaven’s encounters are much larger and much more complex, requiring space for a great deal more additional rules and conditions than we saw in Jaws of the Lion previously. Scenarios also tend to take place across much larger map areas with a great deal more going on, so the return to map tiles makes a lot of sense. The alternative would likely be two or three supplemental Scenario books. And we don’t want that, because…

Section Book

…The Section Book is a supplement to the Scenario book.

Frosthaven Section Book 1

The Section Book focusses on different information, however, tending to contain more rules and narrative elements than map layout and setup – as well as your all-important rewards for completing a mission. It also contains the resolutions or developments to certain choices you may or may not make throughout the course of your campaign, or developments to missions that are kept out of the main scenario book so you can’t cheat by looking ahead early.

Frosthaven Section Book 3
Frosthaven Section Book 2

Like the Scenario Book before it, this is something you’re going to need to have on hand on the tabletop, so it helps that it’s ring-bound as you can keep it to A4 dimensions. Again, it’s very clear, information is formatted nicely, and everything is very well written. I must admit, however, leafing through the Section Book for this review does feel a bit like cheating, as I’m seeing stuff I’m not supposed to before playing the game. With that in mind, let’s move on to…

Sealed Puzzle Book

Oh, come on.

The Seal Puzzle book is, as you’ll likely have worked out, fastened shut by a little padlock-shaped sticker.

Frosthaven Booklet 1

Here at, when we’re reviewing products, we like to try and ensure we retain that sense of mystery and wonder that any purchaser would have when receiving a product like this. We feel this lends a sense of authenticity to the review: why is this sealed? Why can’t I look at it? Why is this making me more interested to look at this single component than I am to look at any other part of this box?

Frosthaven Booklet 2

As such, we’re going to keep the Sealed Puzzle Book closed for now.

Isn’t it funny how just by saying “don’t look at that yet” can make you all the more excited to look at it? I’m more excited to look at what’s in the Puzzle Book than I am to look at any of the miniatures that come in this box – they aren’t sealed, after all!


Books and other reading materials set aside for now, we’ll move on to the deluge of tokens, cards, boards, and other bits and pieces that come in the Frosthaven box.

Tokens, Counters and Standees

There is – quite literally – a dining table’s-worth of tokens and standees in the Frosthaven box. Spread across 27 A3 punchboards, popping out these things will keep you busy.

Frosthaven Tokens and Cards 1 (2)

By the time I was done, there was a very perceptible layer of grey boad card dust covering my table (and me).

Incredibly, however, the vast majority of these tokens package down into these two trays – which can also be inserted into one-another for further ease of storage.

Frosthaven Tokens and Cards 2

If you’re the kind of person who loves sorting all their gaming pieces, Frosthaven will provide you with one of the most satisfying organisational experiences of your life.

I didn’t have too many snags or tears when removing the tokens from their boards, either. There were a few, but given the sheer volume of tokens in the Frosthaven box, it’d be a miracle not to have any snags at all. The overall print quality on the tokens is very good, too: everything is vivid and clear, with lots of satisfying and detailed bits of artwork on all of the tokens to make them really obvious when on the tabletop, mixed in with dozens of other playing pieces.

The only things that don’t get sorted into the trays above are the monster standees. You can see these in the bottom third of the above picture.

Standees are used to represent the enemies you will be fighting as you undertake your adventure in Frosthaven. To assemble a standee, all you need to do is take the appropriate token and insert it into the correct-coloured base (bases of different colour represent different toughness – I’ve used a yellow base below because it shows up really well against a white background).

Frosthaven Standee 1
Frosthaven Standee 2

We’ll return to the standees briefly in a little while as these need to be sorted away slightly differently to everything else.

Also included in the Frosthaven box – and only loosely falling into this particular subheaded section – are the gaming tiles.

Frosthaven Tokens and Cards 3

These are designed to be slotted together as per the specifications in the Scenario and Section Books to create the map you and your friends will play on. As with all the other tokens and card-based goods we’ve looked at so far, the quality of these is excellent. The artwork is appropriately detailed – interesting enough to keep you and your players immersed, yet not so festooned with intricate bits as to distract you from everything else going on on the board.

Last but not least, we have the HP/XP Trackers.

Frosthaven Tokens and Cards 5 (2)

These rotating dials will look familiar to anyone who has played either Gloomhaven or Jaws of the Lion previously. These are designed to keep tabs on your character’s hitpoints and the experience points they lose and accumulate throughout a particular scenario. They’re easy – and really satisfying – to use.


If you thought that Frosthaven came with a lot of tokens, feast your eyes upon the avalanche of cards that come in the set.

Frosthaven Tokens and Cards 4

There are cards for everything. Abilities, loot, buildings, quests, random encounters – you name it. Also, because Frosthaven operates via a diceless combat system (players draw Modifier Cards – those packs with crossed swords on them that you can see above – to determine just how effective a strike with a weapon or a blast with a spell really is), there are cards for that as well.

Thankfully, also included in the set are divider cards, as well as a system that outlines how best to stack and store your cards when playing, using the trays that come in the box. This is walked through clearly with accompanying images in the setup guide we saw at the top of this review.

Now, remember when we said we were going to return to the standees in a moment? Well, here’s why.

A key part of setting up your Frosthaven box (and, therefore, every game you play henceforth) is organising the packs your enemies come in. To save you rooting around for a different set of cards, tokens, and standees that could be jettisoned anywhere in Frosthaven’s cavernous box every time you are setting up a new scenario, Frosthaven’s setup guide also directs you to sort certain cards and tokens into ziplock baggies. Don’t worry, the game comes with a huge wedge of them.

The game instructs you to use the Enemy Stat Cards – pictured below – to match up the appropriate ability card decks, standees, and initiative tokens.

Frosthaven Tokens and Cards 6

There are, however, quite a few of them to get through…

Frosthaven Tokens and Cards 7

Eventually, with the provision of the wedge of plastic baggies, you should be able to have everything neatly tidied away into its own little packet, like so.

Frosthaven Tokens and Cards 8

As we’ve mentioned already, any remaining cards and tokens are then sorted into the Frosthaven box and separated out with the appropriate divider cards.

It’s a very clever system and user-centric approach – one other games could do with adopting. That provision is made to ensure that the overwhelming – and, potentially, the not very fun – parts of the game are made as easy as possible counts a great deal in Cephalofair’s favour.

Sheets and Character Packs

Because Frosthaven is part turn-based tactical board game extravaganza and also part RPG, there are a lot of extra bits in the box to help facilitate both parts of the game.

First off, there are a ton of reference sheets – including an Alchemy Sheet for use during crafting.

Frosthaven Alchemy Sheets

These are designed to be used by players during the game to better keep track of their experience. That they’re also themed to look like tatty bits of parchment is a nice touch to help ensure you remain immersed in the grim fantasy world. Perhaps the next iteration of Frosthaven can come with an air conditioning unit that’s always stuck on a really low temperature to simulate freezing in the cold norther provinces?

There are also a wedge of Campaign Sheets. These are simply used to record what is going on in your particular campaign, including the statistics related to your town as well as what’s going on with your characters – who can retire from adventuring.

Frosthaven Campaign Sheets

Last, but by absolutely no means least, for this section are the all-important character packs. There are 17 of these in the Frosthaven box, so we’ve pulled out one at random to give you a breakdown of what you can expect to find in each.

Frosthaven Character Packets 1

Character Packs, as you might have surmised, contain all the individual bits related to one particular character. These include their tokens, their initiative tile, standees where appropriate, as well as their own card decks and character sheets.

These are really neat, and remain one of my favourite parts about the Gloomhaven/Frosthaven franchise. There’s something really satisfying about these little packs – and that it’s then so easy to store all the information relating to your character away at the end of a session, all ready to be picked up again right away at the start of the next. After all, there’s no way you’ll play an entire Frosthaven campaign in a single sitting.

Map Board and Stickers

The Map Board of the Northern Coast is quite possibly my favourite part of the Frosthaven box.

I mean, look at it.

Frosthaven Map Board 1

It is absolutely beautiful.

Frosthaven Map Board 2
Frosthaven Map Board 3

Reminiscent in part of a late medieval tapestry and covered in lots of fun little motifs and details, the Frosthaven Gaming Board looks like it should be mounted in a frame in pride of place in your hallway.

Frosthaven Map Board 4

And you certainly shouldn’t be covering it in stickers.

Frosthaven Map Board 5

I get it. I do. And they are ultimately quite a good idea in theory. You can use the stickers on the sticker sheets to track the progress of your story and how the world around you is changing as you continue on your adventure in Frosthaven. It adds a visual element to show your settlement growing and the world around you evolving following your actions during the campaign, and ensures your progress is recorded between sessions. Heck, the stickers can even be removed and re-applied to their sheets for future use (though this doesn’t work brilliantly well as the stickers do lose their adhesive and are liable to curl or tear at the edges).

But I really don’t want to do it.

It feels so wrong – like sticking chewing gum on the Mona Lisa. When Team sat down to play Frosthaven (which we’ll cover in more detail later in the review), even just proposing using the sticker sheets elicited revulsion from everyone present.

And yet I can’t propose an alternative beyond either cutting the stickers out and using a small amount of tack – though that’s just as likely to damage the board as well – or just noting down what areas you have developed and explored as you go.

The pain.


Finally, we arrive at the miniatures that come with Frosthaven. There are 18 in total, and each comes packaged in its own unique box emblazoned with the class logo for that figure.

Note that this section may contain some mild spoilers for your Frosthaven campaign progression. At the start of the game, not every class is unlocked, and many have to be obtained by furthering the story. If you don’t want to see what’s waiting for you, you might want to skip over this section.

Then again, if you’re a typical reader, you’ll have a serious interest in the miniatures, so will probably have skipped ahead to this section anyway!

The miniatures themselves are really nice and carry a good level of detail. Sure, they might not quite be Games-Workshop quality, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these figures.

Frosthaven Minis 2

Each is completely unique – there are no duplicates at any point. The sculpts are also really nice, with each class and character’s style hinting at what they’re like to play in game.

Frosthaven Minis 3

There’s an absolutely fascinating spread of figures too, of all kinds of different races with interesting and varied sculpts. There’s a huge amount of differentiation from figure to figure, and each miniature also bears a nice level of detail which will appeal to anyone wanting to get crafty with their paints.

Frosthaven Minis 4

These miniatures do offer a glimpse into the weird, wonderful, and notoriously gloomy world of Frosthaven. As your adventure develops, you’ll come into contact with more monsters, all sorts of different peoples, and even a couple of automaton-type creatures. There are also a couple of crustaceans thrown into the mix!

Frosthaven Minis 5

They all come straight out of their boxes as they are, too. There’s no assembly required at any point, so if you’re not interested in painting your figures you can just pop them straight out of their boxes and start playing!

Top marks from us.

Frosthaven Review – Gameplay

I won’t lie, here at, we’ve been dying to get our hands-on with Frosthaven for weeks. Following reviewing Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, we’ve been dying to crack Frosthaven open and see if it’s worthy of the hype. Now, at long last, we have done.

Note there are a few mild spoilers for the first couple of scenarios in the game below.

We were also provided with a copy of Frosthaven’s audio narration via the Forteller app which was great (and saved me having to read everything out to the rest of the group!). We really enjoyed using the app – it made a huge difference, as some scenarios come with hefty bits of story text that accompany them – for example, the passage at the end of the Town in Flames scenario clocks in at just shy of five minutes long on the Forteller app.

What’s more, the voice acting is excellent, and the accompanying sound effects in audio snippets really help set the dark fantasy mood for the game. If reading out loud to a group is something you struggle with, then the Forteller app is a must. The only thing we felt the app may have benefitted from is some kind of ambient playlist to have in the background whilst you are playing an encounter to help ensure the mood established by the excellent narration persisted through the rest of the scenario. Everyone just had to listen to my Spotify during encounters, and a cheesy heavy metal YouTube cover of Burn Butcher Burn doesn’t necessarily fit the atmospheric bill!

We’re pleased to announce that Frosthaven is very much still the same core Gloomhaven experience that previous players will know and love. The core combat and scenario mechanics – as well as the various road and other random encounters – all remain in place. For experienced players, you can very much pick up where you left off with Gloomhaven and dive straight back into the action with a system that will feel welcoming and familiar, but there are a few new added bits to keep you on your toes.

Frosthaven Playtesting 1

For the completely uninitiated, Frosthaven essentially has two “sides” to gameplay. There are the Scenarios, where players pull cards, fight enemies, and acquire loot, and there are also the new settlement management mechanics. The Scenario mechanics will be familiar to anyone who has played Gloomhaven or Jaws of the Lion before, as these remain largely unchanged. At the start of each round, players draw two cards from their hands: each card contains two abilities and an Initiative value (which determines where in the round you get your go). You can choose either initiative value, but can only choose to use the top ability from one card and the bottom from the other. You can’t use both top or both bottom abilities. Players then sort the initiative order for that round, also drawing a card for each type of enemy unit on the field which dictates their initiative and what they’ll be doing that round. Everyone then moves, fights, heals, summons, or does whatever it is they want to do, and the round then restarts. There’s a great deal more nuance to it than this, but you get the picture.

Frosthaven Playtesting 2
Frosthaven Playtesting 3

However, Frosthaven is not a newbie-friendly game. If you’ve never played a Isaac Childres game before, Frosthaven is not the place to start: we would recommend Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion as your first port-of-call for its excellent introduction and tutorial to the Gloomhaven/Frosthaven system. See, there is no How to Play or Beginner’s Guide with Frosthaven – you are introduced to the game with one slightly easier mission, in which your characters are making their way through a mountain pass towards Frosthaven and you’re attacked by a pack of wolves – and even this isn’t Das easy. Sure, the wolves you’re up against keep the same initiative and do the same moves every turn, making them a predictable foe to work around, but everyone in your party will also start the game with a reduced hand size (we assumed this was to simulate the exhaustion your characters are feeling following a ten day slog through the mountains).

Frosthaven Playtesting 4

After this sort-of-but-not-really practice scenario, the gloves well and truly come off and you’re plunged head-first into the icy waters of Frosthaven. The subsequent encounter, which sees you fighting to defend the titular town from an Algox raiding party, is tough. The amount of enemies on the board, as well as their varying types, will easily overwhelm anyone not already familiar with the system. There’s a lot to keep track of – including Town Guards who don’t technically take turns but do occupy an initiative and do fight back if attacked – and in order to exploit the mechanics of the encounter, players need to be aware of how to use the handful of stationary Town Guards to their advantage, which is easier said than done.

If you haven’t got your turn-based tactical cap on, you will absolutely flunk this encounter. However, the sense of achievement you get when that final enemy falls and the victory conditions for a scenario are met is hitherto unmatched. Part of what makes Frosthaven such a rewarding playing experience is seeing whatever tactical tricks you can come up with – such as shunting an enemy into a trap of seeing that Curse card you slipped into their Attack Modifiers deck – pay off. We very nearly blundered the Town in Flames scenario, but when our Blinkblade – one of only two foes not exhausted – killed the final enemy with his final two cards and we succeeded, there were cheers around the table.

Frosthaven Playtesting 5
Frosthaven Playtesting 6

In terms of the classes available to play in Frosthaven, the diversity and individuality of each is phenomenal. Each is completely unique and relies on players approaching combat in a different way. For our test, we played the Bannerspear, the Deathwalker, the Blinkblade, and the Drifter in order to give us a sense of the different complexity ratings assigned to each class as well – and, as a word of warning “low complexity” does not mean “easy to play”. The Bannerspear, for example, whilst billed a low-complexity class, has a vast array of things they can do, and their move set revolves around using summons and buffs in order to control board positioning and set themselves up for some big attacks. We gave this class to the most inexperienced member of the playtesting team, and whilst they did an admirable job impaling enemies, they did say it was far more complex than they expected.

Frosthaven Playtesting 15

Much to my surprise, however, we found ourselves falling out with the boards and tokens. There is a huge amount of set up needed for each Frosthaven encounter, and so many different bits and pieces that need to be found for each, that this can really jar and disjoint the session. This wasn’t such a problem between scenarios, as setting up the next encounter provided our players a chance to have a break, but in game, when doors were opened and new areas revealed, we would often have to cease play for a good few minutes whilst we expanded the board, tracked down more tokens, and placed everything else needed out. Play did not feel quite as fluid as it could have, and we all agreed that, quite to our surprise, we found ourselves harkening for the Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion Review Scenario Book instead, which had all this already set out for you.

Frosthaven Playtesting 10
Frosthaven Playtesting 7

However, this should not detract from just how good-quality the boards, tokens, and their respective storage is. Without the accompanying trays to store the tokens in particular, this would have taken twice as long and would have driven us all mad. Provision is definitely in place to make this as easy as possible, but we would advise making you sure you have absolutely everything you need for an encounter to hand before starting – perhaps have one player read ahead in the Section book to see if there’s going to be anything else needed, and allow them to prepare that in secret.

We didn’t get much of a chance to look at the settlement management side of the game – Frosthaven is a huge game, meant to be played across multiple sessions, and we barely even made it to the town before calling it quits for the day after close to seven hours of play. However, the settlement management is the new big thing for Frosthaven – and it plays an important role in your ongoing character development, as well as the direction that your campaign progresses in.

As you develop your settlement, you will unlock new shops, craftsfolk and merchants who will be able to provide your characters with gear and upgrades. This is different from Gloomhaven, where you had to spend your hard-earned gold in order to get new gear (though this remains an option in Frosthaven), but Frosthaven offers you an alternate means of procuring new gear: as you continue your adventure, you’ll continue to gain more loot – including resources such as metal, lumber, and so on – that help you craft new gear for yourself. Keep your hard-earned cash for another day!

Frosthaven also has an alchemy crafting mechanic perhaps reminiscent of Skyrim’s, where instead of being given a list of ingredient and being told “this’ll craft this potion!” you’re instead urged to collect certain herbs, but won’t know what kind of potion they create until you’ve made the thing. This utilises some of those reference sheets we saw earlier, as you punch out a counter to find out what it is you’ve made.

Beyond the walls of Frosthaven, there are also Seasonal Events. These are similar to the Road Events anyone who played Gloomhaven will be familiar with, except after you’ve returned to the town 15 times, to represent the passing of time you have to switch out the Summer Event Deck for the Winter Event Deck – which is altogether more nasty. It’s not all doom-and-gloom, though, as certain scenarios are only available in certain seasons, so be sure to stick around (if you can!) and take full advantage of your settlement in order to see what new quests and encounters you and your party can unlock for yourselves.

In all, we really liked Frosthaven. That core Gloomhaven experience that made the franchise so popular is as clear and as crucial to the game as you could possibly want it to be. Combat remains devastatingly challenging and unbelievably rewarding, and the new classes are heaps of fun – and with so many more to unlock as the game progresses, this alone should be enough to keep you interested.

The new settlement and seasonal elements are interesting too, and provide players with an extra level of consideration to their campaign. Whereas you may have previously bumbled around Gloomhaven buying stuff from the merchant or getting blessed at the temple, in Frosthaven the responsibility lies with you to set up these kind of opportunities for yourselves – and, again, this can have a huge impact on how your adventure develops.

It’s a good thing that Frosthaven comes with tuck boxes to stash all your character’s info away in at the end of the session, ready to be picked up and played with again, as this is definitely a game to which we will be returning.

Frosthaven Review – Price and Availability

Frosthaven‘s Kickstarter was a thing of legend. Racking up over $12,000,000 (about £10,750,000), it is without doubt one of the most successful Kickstarters of its type to have ever taken place.

But it’s no small wonder it raised as much cash as it did. A base-level pledge just for the box would set supporters back $100, with other tiers reaching close to the $300 mark. It is not a cheap product.

Right now, Frosthaven is only available through retailers who are backers of the Kickstarter. It is not available to the general public just yet, as Cephalofair are still in the fulfilment stage. They estimate that in a few months it will be available on a more general level. 

Those FLGSes that have had/do have copies tend to be snapped up as soon as they come in stock, so you are best checking with your local retailer to see if they will have a couple of boxes available. They also seem to vary wildly in prices, but tend to average around the £150/$200 mark.

If you’re put off by the price but don’t want to miss out on the Cephalofair experience, consider nabbing yourself a copy of Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. This slimline Gloomhaven spin-off takes all the essential criteria that comprise Gloomhaven and Frosthaven and boils them down into a much more succinct (and more cost-effective) experience. Whilst this set can’t claim to be quite the sprawling odyssey both Gloomhaven and Frosthaven are, it is still seriously good fun and will go a long way to scratching the itch.

Frosthaven Review – Final Thoughts

Beautiful artistic direction
Captivating story
Various systems, mechanics and settlement-building features work together well
Nice miniatures
Character progression keeps you invested
Tons of fun
Steep learning curve for new players
No introduction/how to play

As we’ve said previously, here at, the initial 2017 Gloomhaven ship had sailed before any of us found ourselves plunging into the grimy waters of board gaming, so it’s difficult for us to make too many comparisons to the original game – though evenings spent chunking through the game’s PC version provides a little insight into the original experience..

However, having come straight from Jaws of the Lion, we can safely say that Frosthaven is absolutely everything anyone who enjoyed Jaws of the Lion could want it to be.

The box itself, and each individual component therein, as well as the packaging that contains it all, is also a labour of love. Everything has been assembled with the player in mind, and with a view to making the game as easy to set up and get started with as a product of this size and complexity can be. It is also of the highest quality: tokens, cards, and miniatures alike are all the product of a great deal of care and attention. There is absolutely no sense that anything has been skimmed over or rushed.

There is a learning curve attached. Forsthaven isn’t an easy game to get your head around at first as there’s a lot going on and a great many different systems and mechanics to learn. However, once you’re into the swing of turns, combat rounds, and all the other events you’ll encounter, you’ll find hours flying by as you get deeper and deeper into the adventure.

Sprawling, immersive, and delightfully complex, Frosthaven is a punishingly challenging and yet wondrously rewarding game that demands a lot from its players, but gives a lot in return. That core combat experience that has made Gloomhaven and Jaws of the Lion so popular remains unchanged, but the additional settlement management systems encourages players to invest in the game’s plotline for more reasons than the development of their characters.

It is a magnificent product to behold, and also just so happens to be absolutely loads of fun to play.

We love it.

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Rob has spent most of the last 20 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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