When starting any game of Gloomhaven, one of the most exciting and often attractive classes for players is the Brute. This B-tier class is capable of helping anyone learn the rules of the game and can be used to eradicate almost any threat that the group may face effectively. As the tank of a party, it can be easy to lose track of the fact that other players can receive more experience simply because they hit harder.
The Brute class in Gloomhaven is considered the best possible for beginners because you can technically start it in almost any way you want. As you progress through each scenario, you will naturally add the cards you need to use to overcome problems, situations, and enemies.
A good start for the Brute, no matter how you and the party plan on using it, will always be to replace Shield Bash with Juggernaut, get Boots of Striding, and add the perk of ignoring adverse effects. Combining these three will ensure that your Brute will survive until the later game.
Players often want to add strength and health to the Brute when they start playing it instead of adding other skills that allow it to negate or even ignore attacks. A brute that can survive a bomb is scary, but one that can survive and then move around after being bombed usually becomes a big problem.
Brute Cards Overview
The Brute cards are some of the more basic and easier-to-understand cards in the game of Gloomhaven, usually because the class is considered easy overall. If you plan on playing the Brute as a support, tanking hits and distracting enemies require fortifying cards to be chosen.
The Brute can also be played as a DPS tank that can take several hits and destroy anything that is even slightly a problem. Getting the Brute to be the right kind of monster for your team means you will need to know each of the cards and what not to choose.
When playing the Brute as a damage-per-second character, you must be ready to attack first and as much as possible. If you have an average-sized party of three or more people, then a Brute tank or the hybrid tank will allow everyone to hit their targets properly. If you can control how much damage is going to who on the field of play, you can prevent unnecessary deaths properly.
You will need Boots of Striding, Healing Potion, Minor Healing Armor, Heater Shield, and War Hammer. As a DPS monster, you will need Boots of Striding, Minor Healing Armor, Hide Armor, Minor Power Potion, and a War Hammer; your Brute will hit hard while soaking up damage.
The two cards you can choose from at level two are Fatal Advance and Juggernaut; your type of Brute will dictate what you need. As a DPS Brute class, you will replace Shield Bash with Juggernaut, giving you the strength to deal significant damage early in the game. We also recommend that you get ready to tank heavily.
When you are playing in a larger party with the Brute, Juggernaut will replace Eye for an Eye, helping you absorb damage long enough for support to attack. Brute players’ big challenge when playing with larger teams is that they won’t ever be the ones that hit the hardest.
When you reach level three, you will choose Hook and Chain and Brute Force. You will replace Sweeping Bash with Brute Force for a DPS, allowing you to deal with one very hard hit amid a group of people causing headaches. The Brute will become the most crucial member of the team at this level, whether in a large or small party.
When playing as the tank made to protect everyone else on the team, you will also need to replace Trample with Brute Force. This will help the Brute attract the attention of all enemies in each encounter and weaken them until the rest of the team can deal damage.
Reaching level four means, you get to choose between Unstoppable Charge and Devastating Hack. When you start playing at this level, you will need to focus on getting the Brute into a state where it can actively absorb and deal damage that the team can’t handle. As a DPS, replace Provoking Roar with Unstoppable Charge, allowing you to quickly and efficiently move through enemies.
You will be used as a tank from this level when playing as a tank, and your damage will become less effective over time. Balanced Measure will also be replaced by Unstoppable Charge to ensure you can adequately grab the attention of everyone attacking and cause them to leave others alone.
Skirmishing Maneuver and Whirlwind will become available at level five. At this level, I have found that the Brute can quickly deal a lot of damage when you play alone or with a team of two. The Your Warding Strength card will have to be replaced by Skirmishing Maneuver, allowing you to deal damage even when surrounded by enemies.
If you find yourself as part of a larger group, you’ll notice that as the Brute, your attacks can rarely land the finishing blow from now on. A Brute tank should have its Overwhelming Assault replaced with Whirlwind, allowing you to grab the attention of multiple enemies fast.
At level six, the Brute can choose between Immovable Phalanx and Quietus. The DPS Brute will start to deal much more damage while its sole ally has a chance to cast its spells. As such, you will have to replace your Grab and Go with Immovable Phalanx to ensure you can deal damage and attack more than once per turn.
When we get to level six, being a Brute with multiple party members becomes challenging; you may find yourself outclassed. Replace your Grab and Go with Immovable Phalanx, allowing you to deal with multiple hits and draw attention away from party members when needed.
At level seven, the Brute gets Defensive Tactics or Crippling Offensive. Many people playing the Brute as a DPS character will note that these two can be beneficial. We recommend replacing your Warding Strength with Defensive Tactic, dealing crippling blows, or allowing you to defend and retaliate immediately when attacked.
From this level onwards, a Brute becomes one of the most ineffective members of a larger party, usually because others have only now started to become effective. Replace Wall of Doom with Crippling Offensive for the most damage, allowing you to keep enemies away from team members.
When your team reaches level eight, the Brute gets Selfish Retribution or Frenzied Onslaught. As a DPS character playing alone or with a friend, the Brute will now start dealing the brunt of initial damage. Replace Leaping Cleave with Selfish Onslaught to ensure you get to move, loot, or retaliate at just the right moment.
When you play as a tank, and your party reaches level eight, the Brute will start to show that it is a beginner-friendly class, as others can cast stronger attacks much faster. You should replace Eye for an Eye with Selfish Retribution to ensure you get what you need from the battlefield.
The final level will give the Brute class King of the Hill or Face Your End. The last skills given to the Brute are widely seen as ineffective overall, and the DPS Brute will find only one skill that appeals to him. Face Your End will replace Spare Dagger, allowing your Brute to punch harder than ever before, even when surrounded.
When playing as a Brute tank, the final level is seen as a bit of a letdown as the Brute is now completely outclassed by almost all other classes. Your Brute tank will replace Provoking Roar with Face Your End to ensure you do a bit of damage to normal or elite enemies, leaving you open when fighting boss monsters.
The Brute perks are easier-to-understand, and use sets are meant to give the Brute health, attack opportunities, or deal damage. There are 15 perks available to the Brute, and you will only be taking 13 of them for all builds.
From start to finish, the Brute perks work to ensure you can deal damage and take damage without too many adverse effects. I recommend the following order of perk selection for the Brute. Ignore negative item effects and add one +1 card, add on +1 shield and 1 self card, remove two -1 cards, and replace one -1 card with one +1 card.
After that, we add ability perks, add one Stun card, add another Stun card, add one Disarm and Muddle card, and then add 1 Target card for the next two. Then add one +3 card, two +1 cards, another two +1 cards, and two Pierce 3 cards.
When it comes to enhancements, a DPS Brute and a Tank Brute will have the same set of enhancements, though I would recommend adjusting these depending on your companions. Many people stick so close to the guides that they lose out on the fun interactions spontaneous decisions can make.
The four enhancements I recommend are Leaping Cleave, Fatal Advance, Brute Force, and Skewer. Each of these will allow your Brute to deal a lot of damage quickly but also prevent you from being impaled on the first enemy with an overly pointy sword.
However, you should note that you can change these enhancements to fit your play style better, as not all players need to have the same cookie-cutter Brutes. Many of the Brutes that are doing more than people expect from them are the ones that are made up at the table from scratch.
I have a guide of items I think you should use when playing the Brute, but it is always better to choose the items as you level and explore. As with all board games, the best items for the Brute are those I know will only work within a vacuum with the perfect support classes.
The essential items I recommend getting for your Brute are the Iron Helmet, Iron Armor, Heater Shield, War Hammer, and Boots of Striding. Get the Minor Stamina Potion and Minor Healing Potion in your potion slots to ensure you can heal independently when necessary.
It should be noted there are other items that will work better for a Brute tank that increases the amount of damage you can receive. Similarly, when playing your Brute as a DPS, you will find that there are weapons that work better than the War Hammer, as it does suffer from slow speeds.
This is the essential guide I recommend for the Brute, with each of the starting cards helping you overcome many earlier challenges in the game that other classes struggle with. I recommend you take a good look at your party and how they are playing to ensure that you always get the best possible playthrough.