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Kinfire Delve: Vainglory's Grotto

We recently featured Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall on Board's Eye View. That's a big box cooperative game for up to four players and it's designed as a campaign game to be played over 21 scenarios or quests. Kevin Wilson's Kinfire Delve is set in the same universe, with art similarly by Katarzyna Redesiuk, Katarzyna Bekus, Sandra Chlewinska and Weronika Kozyra but it's a rather shorter game. It's likewise a dungeon crawler but Kinfire Delve is a fully cooperative card game that's playable out of the box for two players, with the additional option of being playable solitaire.

The premise is that your 'Seekers' are adventurers delving down a well before they face off against Vainglory - the Big Boss. The 57 cards in the well deck are all 'challenge' cards and they all have to be disposed of before you can face Vainglory. The Seekers are characters you may recognise from Kinfire Chronicles, tho' Kinfire Delve is a standalone game and you certainly don't need to have played Kinfire Chronicles to play and enjoy this game. The Seekers have hands of seven cards, each of which has a colour and a numerical value. You can play a single card from your hand against any of the four challenge cards that are displayed but your card has to match the colour of the challenge card if it is to have any effect. As in Kinfire Chronicles, the other character can boost your card and add to its value and effect, but only if the boost is applicable to the colour of the card being targeted. Some cards have the added effect of discarding cards from the delve deck. To resolve a challenge you compare your numerical total with that on the card being challenged and you roll custom six-sided dice with colours on each face; the colours you roll get added to your score. If you match or beat the challenge card number it's discarded, and you may also be rewarded by getting to discard more cards from the delve deck, tho' a card from that deck still takes the place of the eliminated challenge card. If you fail, you may well take a penalty (players' health is shared and shown on a ten-sided die) but the damage you dished out remains on the challenge card and so reduces that card's total on a subsequent attempt.

Again, as in Kinfire Chronicles, you don't automatically draw new cards, so the Seekers' hand sizes will be worn down, but some cards additionally let you draw a card. When your hand is exhausted, you'll have to take an Exhaustion card to redraw back to seven cards. The Exhaustion cards are invariably negative and can lose you the game... If and when you succeed in getting to the bottom of the delve deck, you get to face Vainglory. She will be protected, however, by four 'Gauntlet' cards; only when you defeat a Gauntlet card of a particular colour will you be able to direct attacks of that colour against Vainglory, tho' whenever your dice rolls give you a black, Vainglory forces you to take another Exhaustion card...

Although it's good to have the solo play option, Kinfire Delve is at its best with two. It's a challenging game of hand management and attrition that combines a strong puzzle optimisation element with a degree of push your luck. Because you are discarding face-down cards from the delve deck you only actually see a proportion of the many varied challenge cards in the deck, which adds to this game's replayability. Kinfire Delve is an entirely standalone game but those who have delved into Kinfire Chronicles will get an extra kick out of this game's recognisable elements and art. The two Seekers each have their own distinct decks and so each play slightly differently - encouraging some basic role-playing. Publishers Incredible Dream Studios have announced plans to publish more titles in a Kinfire Delve series that should allow you to combine decks, vary the Seekers and/or increase the number of players. We'll endeavour to feature those other titles on Board's Eye View as and when they appear, so watch this space...

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