Incredible Dream appear to have a vision. Originally I was under the impression that the vision included a series of vast adventures set in huge worlds that require hours in order to fully appreciate them. However, with this latest release, Kinfire’s Delve seems to be running with an idea similar to that of Frank West and their City of Games brand, which is to develop a cohesive world where fun in large and small sizes will be allowed to flourish. Kevin Wilson’s Kinfire Chronicles is a favourite of mine so much so that it might be appearing in a round up list of mine in the near future. My concerns are whether this is merely something to keep the Kinfire momentum going until the next big box is unleashed on the world.
In part, this is guilty as charged, as Kinfire Delve is instantly recognisable as being part of the universe with the same glorious artwork, but more importantly the quality that made me smile in the biggest of boxes has made its way into this small box production, and instantly first impressions are somewhat solid. The box is a solid thick boy, with sides that make other boxes wishing they had maybe not skipped leg day at the gym, and once you get into the box, you’re greeted with printed on dice and slightly disappointing card tokens, but we will let them off because your eyes are instantly drawn to the metallic backed leaf cards.
The card quality and artwork is simply stunning, from the individual illustrations on the character and delve cards to the embossed backing the majority of the cards shine. It gives the impression that there was some real though put into the production quality even though Incredible knew they were putting out a much smaller game.
Kinfire Delve deals with the seekers venturing into the depths of the Wells of Atios, where you are trying to overcome challenges as you descend and make enough progress to succeed and proceed towards the big bad. Players of Chronicles are going to feel at home, as it uses the similar mechanics employed in the larger box to play. On every round you’ll attempt to overcome one of four challenges that surround the central Master card, from combat, to puzzles and traps. Each of the challenges is coloured coded, allowing you to only play certain cards to reach the required progress value. You’ll play a card from your hand and then just like Chronicles, you’ll then be able to call on your partner to boost any cards you have played, or if playing alone, add further cards to your effort. A final roll of four dice will then decide if you are successful or not. Win and you’ll descend further, burning cards from the well deck and getting closer to your target. Lose and you’ll possibly take damage with a chance of heading home early for a tavern shower.
Delve is about calculated risk, playing and holding back cards that you feel are better used as boosts than direct attacks and figuring out when to refresh your hand of cards. Unlike other card games, your hand is only refreshed when you take an exhaustion card which will then have an effect on how follow up rounds play. I’m surprised that no one else ever thought that using all your moves up might tire you out and implemented something similar that I’ve played. The game is about incremental progression, and eventually you’ll reach the end level boss and like something out of a Final Fantasy MMO game, you’ll be carrying out another set of challenges that allow you to make the Boss vulnerable, so you can then take them down and out and claim victory.
There is the constant threat of defeat if you gain enough wounds, but I never found myself in the situation where I couldn’t overcome the challenges ahead without some careful planning. The spread between the different skills ensures that you’ve normally got an option on what four of the challenges that you take on, and it was only once or twice that I felt the need to take a failure on the chine as I hadn’t drawn the right coloured card to allow me to successfully take on a challenge. So Kinfire Delve never comes over as unfair, and it’s unlikely that you’ll get four or five rounds in to a game to find you’ve been annihilated by something you never had a chance to overcome without some kind of previous knowledge. For those who do find it more like a gentle downhill saunter, then they can adapt the game to make it harder for themselves and up the challenge.
My only other concern is that with only two seekers to play as and only three master cards to conquer, that continual repeated plays might have you feeling like you’ve seen most of what the game has to offer if you decide to spend an entire weekend playing this and nothing else. I’ve heard that other characters will be introduced, which certainly gives me an excuse to keep this in the collection for the foreseeable future.
Like its bigger box sibling, Kinfire Delve is trying to bring something different, fresh and unique to the table and for the most part, it’s a piece of buried treasure worth while digging up for a play or two, or five, or ten. excellent stuff.
You can find out more by going to https://kinfirechronicles.com/pages/delve
Game Design – Kevin Wilson
Art Director – Katarzyna Redesiuk
This review is based on the retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid monetary compensation for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.
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