In the adventure last night we had some choices about where to go. Some of the choices would have required us to figure out which NPC we believed and pick sides, but we elected to go into a dungeon that we knew was full of undead. Killing undead and the people that summon them *has* to be right!
I felt great emerging from the dungeon as I managed to vacuum up 8 loot tokens, get 19 XP (before story award), and also collect the big chest at the end. I also got my checkmark for completing my battle challenge. In fact 8 loot tokens and 19 XP are both records for my group. Everything's coming up Milhouse.
The funny thing is that getting a ton of XP is actually a penalty. The monsters scale with your level, and so as you level up things get harder. That might sound like it doesn't matter what level you are but that isn't quite the case, because the monsters are more difficult at higher levels and that is normally offset by having more perks, gear, and upgrades. If you want to be as effective as possible you want to get as little XP as possible and as many other improvements as you can because the difficulty of the game does not scale with gear, perks, or upgrades.
You can't avoid getting XP. You get some just for completing adventures and your abilities inevitably generate more. The thing is that you can play the game attempting to maximize your XP gain or you can avoid it. In nearly all other games maximizing your XP is the way to go, but not in Gloomhaven. I really should be doing everything I can to avoid XP so as to keep the monsters weak relative to my character power.
Obviously I am not doing that! XP is a number and I can make that number bigger so I am damn well going to make that number as big as possible. What else do we play RPGs for but to make numbers bigger?!?
It does feel weird though to know that I am actively pursuing something that will make encounters harder and my character less effective against my foes.