Review – Kinfire Delve: Scorn’s Stockade

Dive into the Well!

delve-scorn-3

 

Designer Kevin Wilson

Artist Katarzyna Redesiuk

Publisher Incredible Dream

Category Cooperative, Dungeon Crawling, Card Game

Length 60 Minutes

Release Date 2024

Player Count 1-2 (Up to 4 with other Delve titles)

Price $19.99

If you enjoy big games in small boxes, the team at Incredible Dream has delivered the second entry in their cooperative dungeon-crawling card game. It takes everything that made Vainglory’s Grotto such an enthralling experience and adds a few dashes of just the right spice to keep things fresh and engaging.

Review

I’m a big fan of cooperative dungeon crawlers. Games like Gloomhaven revitalized tabletop gaming as a hobby for me as an adult. While I love to sit down for a nice, long evening crawling through dark caverns on my hands and knees with a fistful of minis and a table full of friends, I’m not always interested in the setup or teaching times. With the Kinfire Delve franchise, Incredible Dream has given us an enthralling experience we can set up, enjoy, and box back up in a fraction of the time of other games. They’ve done this while delivering engaging gameplay mechanics that are easy to learn while maintaining a challenge.

For those unfamiliar with Delve, the franchise started with Vainglory’s Grotto, a relatively straightforward dungeon crawl without too many bells or whistles, save the game’s inherent mechanics. In Delve, you’ll take control of heroes who each have their own deck, using abilities and boosting teammates to solve the Well’s challenges before taking on the big bad. The game is no slouch, though, and it’s rarely forgiving.

Players will share a single 10-sided health die. The well’s master is randomly chosen and placed face down so players don’t know what challenge awaits them. Players will then take turns choosing one of four challenges from around the master to attempt using their lanterns or skills in their hands.

Challenges and player skills will be blue, green, red, or a combination thereof. Players will use a card of the corresponding color (or white) to apply progress toward the challenge (not unlike doing damage to an opponent’s hit points). Teammates can then play their own cards to boost that player’s ability. When the cards are all played, you’ll roll four dice with corresponding colors in an attempt to add more progress to the challenge.

If you complete the challenge, you’ll usually get a reward before replacing that challenge with another from the top of the deck. Rewards often involve “delving” a few cards deeper into the well (discarding them from the top of the deck). Failing the challenge can mean lost health, discarded cards, and more. You’ll have to be mindful of card use, too, since drawing a fresh hand requires playing an “Exhaustion” card. These often have situations that can lead to immediately losing the game. Since everyone shares a single health pool and exhaustion can be so dangerous, you’ll have to use teamwork, communication, and a bit of luck to even face the well master, which happens when you’ve delved to the bottom of the well.

While Vainglory’s Grotto was a fairly straightforward experience, Scorn’s Stockade adds some substantial elements to give players more to chew on. The game’s gorgeous art is back, bringing two new seekers to life in the forms of Feyn, the bard, and Naz, the orc strategist. The game has a whole host of brutal challenges to work through, but they add some neat mechanics that give you alternate paths to victory (and defeat) too. For instance, if luck is on your side, you could potentially conquer three specific challenges for an instant but hard-won victory. On the reverse side, pull the wrong combination of Exhaustion cards or make the wrong move while one is on the table, and it’ll spell instant doom.

I love the game’s mechanics, but that’s only a portion of the experience here. The Kinfire universe crosses multiple properties now with the same seekers (heroes) appearing across games. With Scorn’s Stockade, you’re getting a hearty bite of the world of Atios and its lore. You’re also getting a wonderful experience that’s expandable without being expensive. For $20, you’ll get two playable characters (which can be added to with characters from other Delve releases) and a satisfying, replayable game with easy-to-grasp mechanics, as well as incredible artwork and thematic cohesion. With the caliber of the design team (who have titles like Arkham Horror, The Witcher 3, and Arcane: League of Legends under their belts), it should come as no surprise that everything from the lore to the gameplay to the smartly-designed scope of the experience is so enthralling.

Kinfire Delve: Scorn’s Stockade is an easy recommendation. It’s a fantastic experience that respects the players, and for the price, it’s hard to beat. The game will test your mettle and, though I walked away in defeat the majority of the time, it was never without a smile on my face. While I may recommend that newcomers try their hand with Vainglory’s Grotto, you can’t go wrong here. You’ll want to pick them all up eventually so you can mix and match all the characters anyway!

A review copy was kindly provided by the publisher.

The Bottom Line

Scorn's Stockade takes the gorgeous art and deck-crawling formula established by Vainglory's Grotto and iterates on it in some interesting and meaningful ways players will have a great time with.

 

8.5

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Author: Joe Morgan

Husband, gamer, software developer, animal lover. When he's not writing for GeeksUnderGrace, he's probably fishing or working on content with his wife for Coffee and Adventure, their YouTube channel

Husband, gamer, software developer, animal lover. When he’s not writing for GeeksUnderGrace, he’s probably fishing or working on content with his wife for Coffee and Adventure, their YouTube channel