Escort quests are a pain in the ass. I remember many of them during my years playing WOW, and the old ones were always the worst. The NPC you have to escort would always charge off into the middle of packs of enemies, regularly getting itself or you killed. When the AI wasn't the problem, buggy behaviour would often step in and wreck your day instead, as the NPC would sometimes flat out ignore the fight that was currently going on and go back to walking along its path to find some new stuff to engage.
It turns out escort quests in Gloomhaven are just as bad. Maybe worse.
(Spoilers for scenario 19 and two mini class ahead.)
My Gloomhaven group took its first legit loss last week as we did as escort quest where, Hail, the idiot NPC, walks towards the end of the dungeon, 2 hexes per turn. At least in WOW the NPCs usually stop and punch the enemies as you engage them, but Hail doesn't even do that. She rushes to the end of the dungeon as fast as possible, ignoring all threats to her health and well being. She opens doors and walks into traps and is all kinds of stupid.
We had things seemingly under control in the third room when Hail walked into the doorway to room four. All the monsters in the room activated and took their turns, instantly smashing Hail from full to dead, ending the scenario.
I had completed this scenario with my other Gloomhaven group previously so I knew how bad it would be, but I didn't want to give too many spoilers to the folks doing it for the first time. I did tell them that this is by far the most difficult scenario I had found to date and that we would most likely lose, but Naked Man was convinced that I was simply lacking confidence. The reason I won with my first group is that I am playing the Beast Tyrant class and thus have a card that swaps the location of any two figures on the board. This allowed me to swap Hail back to the start of the dungeon once she was halfway through, and the extra five turns it took her to get back on track was key to surviving. Without that card, we would have lost *hard*.
Even now that we know how the escort quest works and where the enemies will appear it isn't clear to me that we would win on our next try. The internet has lots of stories of people who find this scenario to be heinously difficult, and I quite agree with that assessment. Certainly this escort is drastically more difficult with 2 players because you can't block Hail from walking about as easily. With 4 players you can devote a much greater amount of time to slowing Hail down just by taking up space, and that is an important advantage. In WOW you can't do this sort of thing of course because NPCs will just walk through you, but in Gloomhaven you can keep Hail pinned in fairly easily, if you devote the resources to it.
Now the burning question is: What do we do about this loss? Naked Man thinks that we should roleplay it properly, which means never attempting the scenario again, because we lost it. I don't get that, because if we roleplay it properly it means that Hail died, so we can't use her services as an enchanter again, nor can we do any scenario that references her. That is ridiculous, and would break a lot of the game, so I can't get behind it.
I figure we should just git gud and beat the damn scenario on our next playthrough. We made all kinds of terrible mistakes and I think we can do it just fine so long as we learn from our problems and keep it tight. However, the rest of the group seems to be in Naked Man's court here, figuring that once we lose a scenario we should abandon it. Gloomhaven does have a lot of content, so we can probably do that for quite a while before it stonewalls us.