New game publisher Incredible Dream rocketed onto the scene with the release of their first game, Kinfire Chronicles. It’s a really fun dungeon crawler that even made my Top 10 Games of 2023 list (review coming from Brian soon!).
The second game from Incredible Dream is skipping Kickstarter this time and coming straight to gaming stores. Kinfire Delve: Vainglory’s Grotto is a cooperative dungeon delving card game for 1-2 players that takes about 30-45 minutes to play. It plays best with two players.
The goal in Kinfire Delve is to reach the bottom of the well (card deck) and defeat the final boss (Vainglory). Each turn, the active player must attempt one of the four available challenges. You tackle a challenge by playing a skill card (optional) and rolling the 4 dice. The skill card will provide you with successes and a special ability, and the dice will add successes to that tally for each matching color you roll.
If you reach enough success to defeat the card, you send it to the discard and collect its bonus—usually letting you discard extra cards off the top of the well deck. If you don’t quite reach the total needed, your progress stays but you’ll suffer a penalty, usually wounds. Then the next player takes their turn.
Interestingly, you don’t draw cards at the end of your turn. The only way to get more cards is to take an exhaustion card (too many of these and you might also lose), which refills your hand.
Once you’ve made it through all 57 cards of the well deck, you have to take on Vainglory. Defeat him and you win. Run out of life, and it’s game over.
Kinfire Delve is an interesting little game. Despite the overly verbose rulebook, the gameplay is really streamlined and easy to pick up. Choose a challenge, maybe play a card, and roll some dice. But under that simple veneer is a game with some clever decision points.
At its heart, it’s a push your luck game with a dose of resource management. Other than your hit points, your hand of cards are the most vital resource at your disposal. That’s because when your hand runs out of cards, you have to take an exhaustion card. They all have a few different effects, but the end result is the same: bad for you and too many can lose you the game.
So the real question comes down to whether you should play a card each time you attempt a challenge. With only 4 dice at your disposal, most challenges will need a card to boost your progress or else you’ll be suffering quite a few penalties. But the tricky part comes when you are only 1-2 progress away from completing a challenge. Do you save that card in your hand and just go with the roll of the dice? Or do you play one, ensuring you succeed, but costing you one of your precious cards that you may not even need to play?
One of the other things I really liked was how they borrowed the card play from Kinfire Chronicles. Each card can be played to either enhance your challenge attempt, or as a boost on another players turn (or your own if playing solo). This gives you a second way to play a card if you really just need a few points to get you over the top. And letting you play cards on your partner’s turn helps keep you drawn in even when its not your turn.
My main knock against Kinfire Delve is that it’s just screaming for more content. There are 2 heroes in the box, 1 main bad guy (with 3 minor variations), and then a deck of well cards. After playing both heroes a few times, I was really looking for someone else to play and fight. And to Incredible Dreams’ credit, they are advertising two more sets at least coming out next year. So there is support coming in the future.
That being said, I really can’t complain too much because Kinfire Delve carries a price point of around $20. I’ve seen that price range be a small card game with half the content of this one. And add on to that the excellent production values—the hero cards are gold foil—and gamers should feel like they are getting some solid value for their dollar.
Kinfire Devle: Vaingrotto’s Glory is a great little card game that works well with solo or with another player. While it definitely could use some expansions to up the replay value, for its price point, its a really good option for those who enjoy the Kinfire universe, or just want a fun little dice chucker.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A fun little filler game with some excellent production values.
• Needs more characters and bad guys
• Rulebook is overly verbose for such a simple game