With seventeen different character classes in Gloomhaven, each of which plays quite differently, it can be really tricky to get a grip on how each of them runs best.
The Nightshroud can be hard to play well, but there are ways to unleash its strengths and make it a top notch character.
The Aesther Nightshroud has the potential to be one of the strongest characters in Gloomhaven. While its movement and modifier deck are initially weak it nevertheless comes with some powerful Level 1 cards, and its ability to consume and create Dark is the key to playing it effectively. Once levelled up it is able to pull off some devastating combos.
If you can work out how to allow your Nightshroud to create the environment in which it thrives you can get around its quirks and use it to wreak havoc on enemies as it slips in and out of the darkness and even turns invisible.
First, though, be warned that Here Be Spoilers, so if you want the adventure of Gloomhaven to come at you like, well, like a Nightshroud then you should simply play and see what happens.
On the other hand, if you want to know how to play this class well then keep reading to discover some hints and tips that will really help you.
As with all of the characters in Gloomhaven, you really do need to read the class description before you start to use them.
In so many games all of that text and background story is little more than fluff and filler, but in Gloomhaven it’s all information that you need to have at hand to play well.
The Nightshroud is part of a class of creatures known as Aesthers who live an existence trapped between the planes of shifting reality.
The Nightshroud is one of the characters in Gloomhaven that begins the game locked and only becomes available later in the game after a certain situation triggers.
As you might be able to guess from its name, the Nightshroud is a class that feeds off the dark, so while it is not the most powerful character in the game, if you can bring the Dark element into play then it really comes into its own.
According to their description they have “a particularly strong affinity to planes of pure darkness” and are able to cloak themselves in shadow.
The background information also mentioned that Aesthers “interact with other races as little as possible” and that they acquire knowledge from their victims “rather than working with other races.”
All this information is fuel for playing the Nightshroud well.
As you might have gathered from its description, the Nightshroud does not like to interact with other classes and is very happy doing its own thing.
In general this character acts without much consideration for the other members of the party so it is not great at supporting.
While this is not a problem if you are just running a single character it can really be an issue if there are two members in the party.
Supporting other characters can mute its qualities, so you need to think carefully about how it interacts with any party it might be in.
With three characters on the board the Nightshroud’s preference for solitude is less of a problem as the other two classes can support each other.
There are some situations where the Nightshroud benefits from having a particular character nearby, but in general they are pretty self-sufficient and rather selfish.
Keep this in mind when playing this character as it will have an impact on the way you play it and how the other members of the party interact with it.
Playing the Nightshroud well is tricky, though, because it has a really tight hand limit of only nine cards, but if you play to its strengths you’ll find that it can be devastating to your enemies.
If you can get a rhythm together with the cards of creating Dark on each turn and then consuming it on the next then you can do some devastating damage to your enemies, hopefully while remaining invisible at the same time.
Are you beginning to see why this stealthy character can be so powerful?
Even at level one the Nightshroud has some amazingly strong cards in hand.
For example, Spirit Of The Night consumes Dark to allow the Nightshroud to kill one normal target and gain one experience point and, best of all, it’s a reusable card so it’s not a one-hit wonder like so many similar cards from other characters can be.
You could use Spirit Of The Night to do Attack 3 if there is no dark around, but why waste it when you can instead consume Dark and kill off an enemy entirely?
Admittedly, the card is not great for initiative with a rating of 84, but if you are invisible then acting late in the round is not a problem and will actually enable you to see what most enemies have done before you decide which one to strike.
That tight hand limit means that burning cards is something that needs to be considered very carefully and really only ever done towards the end of a scenario.
In fact, although there are some great one-use cards in the Nightshroud deck they really should be viewed as a last resort.
It’s much more important to keep playing with a full hand because of that constant rhythm of creating and consuming Dark.
In fact, playing the Nightshroud well sometimes feels like a really delicate balancing act building up to a kill, which is a little like the character itself.
Movement is not one of the Nightshroud’s strong points so invisibility and the manipulation of dark are important ways of being able to move around the board safely.
The basic build sees the Nightshroud as one of the worst movers in all of the Gloomhaven classes.
Thankfully the Nightshroud has that ability to become invisible and transport to other places on the board.
Invisibility is not just handy for moving around with impunity – it also lasts until the end of the turn following the one in which it is created.
So if the NIghtshroud can turn invisible with a low initiative card it can then go for two whole turns without being seen.
This can give the Nightshroud a massive advantage over any enemies on the board, as they will be totally unable to get a fix on it for this turn and the next.
Turn invisible early in a turn and you are setting the Nightshroud up for great things.
The Nightshroud is not great at looting either, but they will need to get their hands on gold in order to beef themselves up early in their campaign.
This can be tricky, and even the Level 1 loot ability on Silent Force is not great, as it’s a card you need to consume, which is something that we’ll be trying to avoid with such a tight hand limit.
When you do get the ability to loot, though, you should do it, but always assuming that it fits into your overall strategy of creating Dark on every turn.
Thankfully the Nightshroud is a pretty nimble character with cards that are generally low in initiative.
If it decides to go after something or needs to get out of the way then it can rely on early initiative if necessary, alongside Dark and invisibility.
One of the great things about the Nightshroud is that they can pick up large amounts of experience very quickly indeed.
Given that they start off with some rather unimpressive stats (apart from Spirit Of The Night, of course!) they need to get some extra abilities very quickly.
Some of this can be done by acquiring gold and spending it on items, but you’ll remember that the Nightshroud is not great at looting.
However, you can also gain experience very easily and spend it on perks to develop your character.
At that stage the upper half of Silent Force begins to come into its own, as long as you have Dark to consume, of course.
In those conditions it becomes a Move +3, Attack +4, which is pretty hefty for a Level 1 card, but it also gains you one experience point as well.
Naturally you’ll be using the bottom half of the other card to do what?
That’s right – generate Dark!
Empowering Void can also become the cornerstone of your late character, consuming Dark to double Attack or Move abilities for a turn while generating experience as well – again, while the other card generates Dark.
Do you begin to see how playing the Nightshroud is beginning to slot together?
I’ve mentioned that it’s important to pick up gold where possible as you’ll need items to develop your character.
The Nightshroud’s attack modifier deck is not particularly strong, and sits balanced at zero when you first get the character, so your priority with perks should definitely be to get the modifier deck on your side.
You should definitely consider “Ignore negative scenario effects and add two +1 cards” as your first perk for the Nightshroud.
Of course, this allows you to avoid any of the effects that might cause you to begin a scenario on the back foot, which is really valuable for a character whose effectiveness is based on such a strict rhythm.
However, it also adds two +1 cards to your modifier deck, which is enough to tip the balance just a little in your favour in a deck which starts off so weak.
Combine those two abilities together and you have a really powerful perk which allows you to get the Nightshroud up and running from a slightly iffy start, so grab this perk as a top priority.
Further perks allow you to remove two -1 cards from the modifier deck, which goes even further to making sure your attacks are more likely to be successful.
After that you can remove four +0 cards and all of a sudden you are looking at a character whose effectiveness in battle has been substantially improved.
Once the modifier deck begins to purr like this the Nightshroud will really begin to excel, flitting across the board and landing some devastating attacks, and that ‘s when things begin to get really exciting.
In terms of levelling up the character cards you really need to be thinking of how you are playing.
Are you running the Nightshroud as a solo character or as part of a two-handed solo campaign?
If there are two characters in the game, is the Nightshroud operated by you or by another player…or are there three characters in play?
One of the many reasons that people fall in love with Gloomhaven is that each character can easily be developed in different ways and needs to grow in a specific way depending on its role in the game.
On its own you can simply play the Nightshroud to its strengths, but in combo with another character you need to decide whether they are going to be operating as part of the team or going their own way?
If there are two other characters, can the Nightshroud do its own thing and let the other two team up together or will it contribute to the group?
All of these are elements that you need to have in mind when developing the Nightshroud, as Gloomhaven ensures that pretty much every decision that you make has a real impact on the style of play.
If you are playing alongside other characters then there are a couple of interactions that are worth looking out for.
The most obvious is that the card Nightfall can consume Light to create Dark.
So if you have another character who can create Light then it gives the Nightshroud another opportunity to get some Dark going and cause some serious damage.
However, if that other character is not in the party then there’s no reason to choose this card.
Also, don’t forget about that tight hand limit when adding new cards to the Nightshroud’s build at higher levels.
Concealed Dominance can be apocalyptic when played for its upper ability and a superb get out clause if played for the lower ability, for example, but it is a burn card when either choice is made.
While this is really strong, in a hand size that is so small you need to consider strongly whether it is worth including it over something less powerful but which comes back into your hand after it has been used.
When you are levelling up the Darkshroud and replacing cards in its build you need to remember that basic cycle of creating Dark in one round and then consuming it on the next.
It’s tempting to take out weak cards from your hand and replace them with some powerhouses, but you always need to consider the Dark side.
A card like Smokestep has a pretty weak lower half, for example, with a base stat of Move +1 but it’s an easy way to generate Dark, so it has value.
You also need to remember not to take out Dark generators when replacing cards in your build as they are fundamental for your character.
If you can end up adding a handful of cards that can provide you with Dark, especially if those abilities are spread over the top and bottom halves of your cards, then you will be looking at a very powerful character indeed who can do some serious damage.
You also don’t need to worry too much about initiative, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, as we’ve mentioned, the Nightshroud is essentially quite a nimble character and, secondly, because they can become invisible then to all intents and purposes they disappear from the board as far as enemies are concerned.
So build up your strengths when replacing cards in the deck and let the Nightshroud do what they do best.
At this point I probably need to admit that I began my Gloomhaven career by trying to build balanced characters who could all move and attack and loot pretty well.
However, I’m now convinced that you should always play characters to their strengths and attempt to work around their weaknesses, either by having those areas covered by another class or by avoiding them entirely.
Thankfully the Nightshroud does not need to carry around huge amounts of armour.
Their speed and ability to turn invisible means that they can simply try to avoid confrontation as much as possible until the moment that they can consume Dark for a really powerful blow.
This means that the NIghtshroud can spend its gold on items that will help it to continue this half hidden way of life.
So items that help to generate Dark, or even Light if you have Nightfall in your deck, are always going to be useful.
Also, if you are playing the Nightshroud as part of a team rather than having them strike out on their own then they can always equip themselves with an item that will help their allies to trigger their best abilities.
As always, you need to think flexibly about what you most want the Nightshroud to achieve and then work out how best to allow it to achieve that aim.
There are some really in-depth guides out there for playing the Nightshroud effectively, and they explore the higher levels of the character in real detail.
However, if you are happy to know what’s coming for this character and to consider some more factors in how to build it then this video by MandatoryQuest is pretty much essential.
Note, though, that he refers to “campaign mode”, which is the version of Gloomhaven that runs on Steam, so slightly different from the board game.
However, most of the information still holds up and it’s hugely valuable.
There’s also a complete playthrough of one of the solo scenarios by Songbirdo which is available here.
As always with Gloomhaven characters, there is so much choice involved in how you do your initial build and where you go from there that the possibilities are close to endless.
However, the general principles always remain the same, and as long as you remember the following guidelines you should be sidling up behind enemies and doing massive damage in no time at all.
- The Nightshroud thrives in the the dark
- Decide early whether it is acting alone or as part of a party
- Invisibility allows the Nightshroud to bypass its weak movement
- Consuming and then creating Dark is the aim for each turn
- Use the Dark to make instant kills from Level 1 and grant extra power to other abilities
- Avoid consuming cards if at all possible
- When introducing new cards don’t throw away Dark generators
- Develop Dark generators across the top and bottom halves of cards
- Avoid adding consumable cards to your deck
- Beef up the modifier deck with perks as soon as you can
- Choose items that help you or your allies, depending on how you are playing the Nightshroud
- Pick up gold whenever safely possible
- Rack up experience points when using abilities