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Kinfire Chronicles Board Game Review

Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall was the very first board game I bought on Kickstarter. It was made by some of the developers of The Witcher 3, and honestly that's all it took to sell me. The best way I can describe the game is as a simplified version of Gloomhaven. It's built around a long central campaign, with about 25 missions or so, and they are all part of the same connected campaign. So like Gloomhaven, whoever decides to tackle this game with you better be in it for the long haul.


Complete Kinfire Chronicles set up

The Concept

So the concept of this game is probably it's biggest strength. Each mission is contained to one small container. So when it is time to do mission 1, you open the mission 1 box, and it has most of the pieces you need to play the mission. So unlike Gloomhaven, which requires a LOT of prep for each mission, this game's prep time is probably around ten minutes per mission. There are six characters to pick from, your standard tanks, healers/support, and DPS. Once you have a character for each player, you embark on a mission, which has two phases. Usually it starts with an adventure, where the narrator reads cards, and you and your group have to make choices and pass challenges. The worse you do at the challenges the harder the battle phase is when you eventually get to it. For example, if you fail a challenge to cross a river, you might start the battle phase with two points of damage. Then after enough challenges/decisions, you start a battle. The story cards tell you what page of the battle map to go to, and you fight (which I'll explain later on). Then when all is said and done, you head back to town and usually get 3-4 actions to do in the town, to buy items, rest, etc. It's a pretty good sandbox for you to play in, that really breaks up the game. It's not just "open the map to this page and fight", there is a LOT that can happen before each fight that makes the fight easier or significantly harder. I will say it is a LOT of reading, so give the job to someone who loves narrating, or buy it on Forteller.


Kinfire gameplay example

The Gameplay

The gameplay is very simplified, which is great after playing games like LOTR and Gloomhaven. Essentially you have your own deck of cards that let you attack, do extra moves, or special abilities like healing or taunting. Then you take turns moving and attacking on the map (as shown above) until the completion requirements (usually just defeating all enemies) are completed. The most unique part about the gameplay, and perhaps what makes it shine so bright, is the chit bag, featured below.


The All Mighty Chit bag

The chit bag has 3 chits with your character's face on them (3 for each character you are playing with), chits numbered 1-12 to represent enemy actions, and 3 hero tokens and 3 darkness tokens. Each turn starts by pulling a chit from the chit bag. Whoever's chit gets pulled is up. If it's a 1-12, the enemy associated with that number goes. If it's a hero token, you choose who gets to go. If it's a darkness token, the enemy does an attack. So really it's a game of chance as to who gets to go, which creates a lot of strategy and risk/reward. On the board itself (on the left) is a section to put the chits you pulled already, so you can do the math on what the odds are for an enemy to go or for the ally you need to go to pull their chit. Once it's your turn, chit gets really. On your turn you get to move and play a card. The cards vary, but they usually just do damage or do slight heals. Actions can also apply statuses.


Kinfire Status Cards

There are plenty of statuses in the game as well. You can apply statuses to enemies (and they to you) and you put each status card on the ability of the monster you affected. So once that monster's chit for that ability gets pulled, the effect activates. The effects themselves are nothing new (Stun, Immobilize), but the fact you get to put them on different abilities is novel and adds a new layer of strategy AND chance to the game.


Enemy abilities in Kinfire

The photo above shows how enemy turns work, when you pull the corresponding number from the chit bag you look at the number on the enemy sheet and see what it does. So if I pull a 1 from the bag, I look at the top ability of the deer on the right, and do a 2 attack and a 2 attack on whoever it is targeting (most health character in this case). This system works really well, it lets you know what the exact odds are of pulling a certain number attack, and it guarantees only certain attacks can happen once the numbers run out, which is a great mechanic.


Example of character from Kinfire Chronicles

Here is a quick close up of my character card. She is the tank character, so a lot of her card abilities are based on support. But the decks you can build are pretty customizable, so really I don't have to play her as a tank, if I build the right deck she could be a DPS or even a healer.


Summary

Kinfire:Chronicles plays as a much more simplified long term roleplaying game. The story is interesting, the gameplay/mechanics are innovative, and it's a huge game with plenty of depth to it. If you are looking for a long term cooperative game that's easily picked up this is it. Best played with four people, this game is easy to set up and clean, and is well worth the price. Pick it up here!


Score

9/10


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