[this post contains no spoilers]

My Dearest Gloomhaven,

Over two years ago you arrived on my doorstep, and you were ambition itself. I didn’t know much about you, but I adored you. I placed you on a shelf of prominence. And I thought about you, read about you. I heard about you.

I thought our story was epic. Spanning years and organizers. Cards torn and blood shed.

Life went on. My eyes found you less frequently. And life went on. You became part of the background. And life continued to go on until I didn’t really see you anymore. When I did think of you, I debated selling you since I just wasn’t going to get around to giving you the attention you deserved. No, demanded. And then I met a stranger, someone who claimed to know you. Someone who introduced me to how you think, your quirks, your subtlety, your maddening logic.

It has been over two years since I met you and over one year since we started getting to know each other. And oh boy.

We aren’t perfect, are we? I wasn’t happy with you out of the box, and I bought Plano organizers to make you just a little bit better for me. You bring out the nasty pedant in me. You make me fight with my friends. And honestly, you are kind of heavy. You take up a lot of space, both on my table and in my head.

Yet I take bath time quizzes about monster movement because of you. When looked at closely, all of the rules make sense. Could be no other way. But you make me work for it. Ambition itself.

And just when I think I know you, think I know just what you might do, you show me something new. Sometimes I might catch your move a little early, or more often a bit late, but just when I think I understand you thoroughly you tease more depth and different (but strangely similar) gameplay. I didn’t even realize I was on an upward trajectory until I looked down. And I need a whole new strategy to ride this wave.

Then you introduce me to new characters, new ambitions. And then you take them away. What kind of cruelty is this? Would I know how to love you without this hate? You push me when I don’t feel ready. But I rally.

And my friends love you too, in ways I don’t even catch all the time. Our characters have ridiculous names at first glance, but if you take a closer look they are deeply tied to us. We are bringing ourselves to you in these small ways. We are showing up for you. I parade games from all decades in front of my friends, but they still ask for you.

Gloomhaven, you keep me guessing. You keep me gold-poor. You keep me cursing. You keep me blessing. You keep me occupied. You keep me in the high-highs and the low-lows, often in the same night. You exhaust me. You make me want to paint. You make me want to go back in time and appreciate punching you, all those months ago.

I will send a midnight group text about you. I will marshal my google skills to find an obscure ruling. I will lovingly organize you for hours, and I will protect myself from your secrets. I will be your champion.

I thought our story was epic. Spanning years and organizers. Cards torn and blood shed. And here we are. You are my only 10.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Gloomhaven.