Reviews

Kinfire Delve: Vainglory’s Grotto review — A roguelike card game for two

Kinfire Delve: Vainglory’s Grotto is the first in a series of dungeon delving card games from Incredible Dream Studios. It is set in the same universe as the excellent campaign adventure game Kinfire Chronicles: Night’s Fall. However, it is a much shorter and lighter affair with a single game lasting about an hour.

Components

Kinfire Delve has a mix of component quality ranging from mediocre to the most impressive I’ve ever seen. The cards are super awesome with gold foil on the back. The game box is perfectly sized and ridiculously thick. The progress tokens are small and cheap looking, but functional. The dice, while they feel of nice quality, look very cheap. The symbols are squares like they are stickers that were printed on. With how luxurious the cards are, I think the dice could have been fancier as well.

Everything you need in a perfectly sized small box.

Gameplay

The cardplay in Kinfire Delve is extremely fun. Each character plays differently and has their own strengths and weaknesses. You have to decide where to play your cards most efficiently while conserving your resources. Each card can be played to boost other actions, but doing so too much will increase the rate you gain fatigue. You won’t be able to succeed at every challenge, so deciding when to take failures is part of the puzzle.

Progress your way through the entire dungeon to reach the bottom.

Player Count

The game plays fine solo, but two-player is where it really shines. The two characters in Vainglory’s Grotto are very synergistic. Khor is tanky and great for soaking up the damage from initial challenge failures. Asha does extra damage when going after a challenge that already has some progress on it. Asha is weaker in solo play as she doesn’t have the damage mitigation that Khor has.

Khor’s ability let’s him block most of the damage the dungeon tries to dish out.

Randomness and Replayability

The randomness of the delve deck is great and is what makes this game so replayable. You will only see around a third of the deck each playthrough, guaranteeing that each game will be a new, varied puzzle to solve. The player decks however are small enough that the randomness from them doesn’t have a large impact on the game.

The dice add some variance to your challenge attempts, but it usually doesn’t matter that much. Either you plan on failing the challenge anyways and good rolling is just a bonus, or you make sure you will pass without the dice. There are a few challenges that can cause the dice to have a more extreme impact, however. Particularly, the final boss who has a 50/50 chance of hurting you when you fail, which can feel like uncontrollable randomness.

The randomness of the fatigue cards do feel like they have a large impact on the game. Three of the six cards will lose you the game if they are all revealed. Two of the cards are arguably beneficial.

You don’t know the boss’ final form until you reach the bottom of the dungeon.

Difficulty

As a self-proclaimed “hardcore” gamer, this is my one big complaint with the game: It is too easy. The only time I’ve come close to losing is playing solo with Asha. I had bad luck with the delve deck attaching a bunch of cards to Vainglory and having her be the form that resurrects once for each attached card. All the fatigue cards I drew were the bad ones, forcing me to put extra effort into managing them. I still won with three health remaining, starting from eight. The “hard” mode of the game just lowers your health by two. I suppose you could lower your starting health even more, but that still wouldn’t have a meaningful impact on the game. In two-player games with good, careful play, you can win taking virtually no damage. With Khor tanking and Asha dishing out damage, you are unstoppable. Abilities that let you discard delve cards are extremely strong when timed well. The fact that they work on the boss’ challenge cards seems overly powerful as well.

Asha is a master of sneaking up on busy enemies.

Expansion

The expansion potential here is excellent. Assuming they want all of the original crew from Kinfire Chronicles: Night’s Fall, there should be at least two more boxes. All characters and bosses can be mixed and matched. You will also be able to play with up to four players. Hopefully Vainglory is just the beginner boss, and future expansions will increase the difficulty.

Conclusion

Kinfire Delve is an excellent game with great mechanics, fun gameplay, and a lot of future potential. The variability between games gives me the same feeling that I get from roguelike video games that I can play over and over. Each future expansion will add even more variety, and hopefully more challenge. This is the most value for a board game that I’ve ever gotten out of a box size and price this small.

90

Excellent

Kinfire Delve

Review Guidelines

An excellent solo or two-player dungeon delving game with a lot of replayability and opportunity for expansion. However, seasoned players may find the difficulty too low.

Chris Hinkes

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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