The Gloom Tavern organiser from Gaming trunk is too pretty to fill up with card and plastic then keep it inside a box.
I mean it, look at the token tray, it should be permanently on show, displayed on the shelf of a welsh dresser or used as a tiny coffee table for your elephant ornament.
I was sent the insert to review which means I got it for free but if you read any of the reviews I have written, you know that I don’t care about burning bridges or upsetting people and will always tell you what I really think. I feel like I need to tell you this because I am about to gush about this insert and I don’t want you to think this isn’t my unadulterated opinion.
There are plenty of inserts available for Gloomhaven, some of them, like the Smonex insert, are particularly good which means that The Gloom Tavern Organiser is not alone in this market space and actually has some pretty stiff competition.
Made from Birch plywood the first thing that greets you when you open the packaging is the most incredible smell of real wood. It’s laser-cut so it’s precision made and it has a slight smokey scent to it. My first impression was the overwhelming sense of quality and workmanship, this was made with love by someone who cares about their product.
It has been cut slowly so there are very few, if any, burn marks. The wood also appears to have been dried properly before use which means there is no residue to stain your hands or make them sticky.
The four-character trays come pre-assembled and they are beautiful. A clear acrylic lid with flourishes in each corner covers the tray itself which has markings for your tokens, deck, miniature and attack modifier deck and the whole kit and caboodle is closed up nicely, allowing you to save your character in between game sessions. Each player dashboard/cabinet is marked with a player number and sets the standard for the rest of the build.
Putting the six trays together was not easy, I was certainly glad this wasn’t my first build, but working methodically and carefully I managed to get the whole thing built in about an hour and despite the warning, I didn’t need to use any glue whatsoever.
The difficulty did not come from the complexity of the build, oh no, no, it was relatively straightforward. The instructions are unambiguous, concise and very clear, the difficulty came from the tightness of the fit, working out where to apply pressure and getting things like the token tray completed without breaking it was a challenge of the highest order.
Also, finding all the components on the sheets was not simple and I had to be careful to make sure I was not dropping other parts that were coming loose as I shuffled between them.
This happens with all laser cut boards and I am quite used to handling the slippery devils, it is something you should consider when you build this kit though and clear a good, man size, table so you have space to lay things out.
The fit is very tight then, well yes, but it’s designed this way, that said, there were a few times I could have done with more arms on my weak and feeble human torso, failing that another person to help especially when putting the sides of the monster tray on.
The issues weren’t insurmountable obviously and by applying pressure in a sensible manner and only to parts that were supported elsewhere I am pleased to report that the entire build went without a hitch.
As I have already alluded to the token tray is a work of art, however, once its all built and you finally see the entire thing stacked together, you realise, it’s all beautiful.
There are etchings everywhere that show you what to put where, the tray for the standees, for example, has them all stood at an angle facing forwards, the names inscribed next to them and it looks amazing when fully populated.
This is not an insert, it’s a work of art that you can store your game in and it really is a shame that it lives most of its life in a box.
The best part about all the inserts that work well is using them and The Gloom Tavern insert has some serious table presence which will aid you in setting up and breaking down.
I have been using the Smonex insert and I would say set up and break down times are comparable. Smonex makes the only other Gloom Haven insert you should consider buying at this point.
Saving time when playing as you don’t have to search through baggies is something all inserts can do but there are very few that look as good as The Gloom Tavern insert while doing it.
There are six trays in total, and when you stack them in the box some interlock, it’s another impressive little detail that really makes this insert stand out. The overlay tiles tray is etched to show you what to keep where, this tray alone will save you hours of searching.
The token tray, with its removable acrylic lid, has curved sides to make it easy to grab tokens and etchings to make it easy to see what goes where. This needs to be placed within reach of all players, except for that one player who will insist on having their own pool of tokens next to them, they should be banned from your group because look at the token tray, you should be using this for every game you own. It holds the money you haven’t earned yet, element discs, damage, summon, objective, aid tokens as well as element disks
The monster tray can sit on the table too but is better near the player who tends to place everything out on the game table\ (you know who you are) and this also holds the ability cards in a catalogue style. It looks great on the table and as Gaming Trunk themselves say “It is easy to find the necessary monster standee and corresponding ability cards by looking at the top section of the cards. The tray also accommodates Attack Modifier Cards and monsters for four players, Bless and Curse cards. Each section of the tray (except sections for the combat cards) are engraved with the corresponding monster name. Monster stands are stored in the front part of the tray.”
The card tray is also useful to have on the table as it holds the stat sheets for the monsters and the sleeves (trust me but you want to use the Gloomhaven helper app for this) as well as holding the Event Cards, Item Cards, Battle Goal Cards, Personal Quest Cards, Random Scenario Cards, Random Dungeon Cards, and Player Reference Cards. There are three dividers for the large cards that are not locked in place so can be moved where you like and three dividers for the smaller cards. I would like to have seen a lot more dividers included as I tend to want to separate everything but this system works and if you do want more they are $2 Canadian each which is about £1.10.
There is also a tray for your boxed miniatures and the HP/XP dials but no actual tray for the accompanying character packets which sit neatly in the box.
Then finally you have the map tray, again, this is embellished with a pattern that is really in keeping with the overall aesthetic and here you also keep your Element board, party pad and sealed envelopes.
I was sent the unstained version of this set but it also comes in Black or Walnut colours. I do not know how the etching stands out in the flesh but I know if I were to go with a walnut stain I would end up painting the etchings in gold because it would look amazing.
Because the insert isn’t taking up the entire internal dimensions of the box and the character packs are not housed in a tray the lid will still close flush and your investment in the game and the insert will be protected until the next time you want to wow your game group with its presence.
This is a nearly perfect insert in my eyes. It was made with love, the person who designed The Gloom Tavern insert plays Gloom Haven and cares about the product they produce. This is on a par with the Smonex insert and is far better than any insert I have seen produced on this side of the pond.
When I talk about inserts in my various gaming groups, I am often asked is it worth the cost? My answer to this question is always along the lines of,
“You have spent £100+ on a game that will take you an average of 40 minutes to set up and break down, you will do this countless times in the years you will be playing this game. An insert will save you 120 minutes of time setting up and breaking down and while you are playing it will help organise your game so you will probably save another 40 minutes of not searching for tiles and standees, it will also protect your investment for pennies each time you play, is an extra 2 hours per game session worth a few pennies?”.
The Gloom Tavern insert is a remarkably well designed, incredibly well constructed and beautiful tool that will assist you when gaming and protect your game when not.
If you want to check out Gaming Trunks website you can click here or to go directly to the Gloom Tavern page click the banner below.
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