March 2020, lockdown. Like everyone in the entire world, I was stuck inside with a lot to do, but none of them truly social. Some people coped by getting a pet, others took a creative hobby – I did something different. I started impulsive-shopping for board games.

When the boxes upon boxes of games came, I obviously had no one to play with. I figured it’d get better after lockdown, but I forgot one thing: I have a toddler and a baby, and my options for easy, spontaneous contacts were inexistent. Furthermore, kids cost energy: Rarely did we have the energy to play games in the evening, so we settled on one game: the excellent Arkham Horror Card Game. So Root, Everdell, Scythe, Eldritch Horror… just stood there, gathering dust.

But then Gloomhaven came. A huge, sprawling tactical dungeon crawler with a legacy-style campaign mode (one in which the game board changes dynamically as you play) that came in a gargantuan box, it was nerd heaven. And it was cooperative. So I could just, you know, play two players by myself. But that would be weird, right? Totally weird.

So I did it anyway. I built the game board, put the minis and standees on it and played the entire thing in complete silence for a three hour session. I alternated between character/player 1, a warrior that looked like a rock, and character/player 2, a crystallized-style mage, defeated the bandits and packed the thing away.

Then, the next night, I did it again. And again, and again. I suddenly found myself shopping for brushes and paint to paint minis. I had Spotify recommend me a good playlist. I looked up guides on the internet, added another character – a rat with mind control powers! – to my party. As someone who spends most of his time on a computer, managing tokens and moving pieces on a game board felt fun, because for once, something was just happening in my mind.

And now, three years later, I defeated the titular Gloom – and finished the campaign. The warrior and the mage have long left the party and were replaced by a barbarian and a ranger, making this huge box feel like a living, breathing thing. I had a blast, and I’m kind of going to miss this game, with its fiddly mechanics, its supertiny tokens, its rules upon rules that just work together like clockwork…

So it’s a good thing this game has a sequel. It comes in an even bigger box. It has even more weird rules. And it’s called Frosthaven. That’s right – Gloomhaven on ice. It’s the nerdiest shit, and I’m having a blast.


Recommended Posts


One of the things I miss here in Germany (or in most of Europe for that matter) is the holy grail of television: The 30 minute comedy. Sure, everyone fawns over Succession or Breaking Bad or whatever high-profile high-stakes drama is coming […]


Liebe Layla, wie geht es dir? Wir haben uns lange nicht mehr gesehen, und ich war zufällig spazieren im Duttmannkiez und dann bin ich zufällig an deine Wohnung vorbei und habe zufällig auf dem Klingelschild gesehen, dass du da immer noch wohnst.  […]

The end of an era

Right. After eight years, this marks the end of my time at “In aller Freundschaft – die jungen Ärzte”, a weekly medical for German public tv, Thursdays 18:50. It was a wild ride. In eight years, we founded an in-house writers room, […]