Shadows of Kilforth (SoK) is a one to four player dice rolling, rpg, adventure game, designed by Tristan Hall and published by Hall or Nothing Productions. In SoK you play as a hero, travelling through a dark magical world. On your journey you will visit strange places, meet even stranger people and defeat powerful foes. Follow your Heroes personal saga and eventually take on the ancient one that is plaguing the land. But be wary of the night as this is when the Ancient one will spread Gloom throughout the land making your journey harder with each passing day. Along your way your Hero can befriend powerful allies, find items, learn magical spells and gain various titles.
Cast no Shadow
During a player's turn they will have a set number of action points to spend which is equivalent to your characters health. Action points can be used to move, search, hide, discover, rest, confront, perform market actions, clear obstacles and regale. When a player moves to a new location a new encounter card is revealed from the corresponding location deck. There are four different locations in the game; Mountains, Badlands, Plains and Forests.
Encounters come in various forms such as quests, strangers, places and enemies. Confronting/defeating these encounters require a skill check. Skill checks are dice based and the number of dice rolled is dependent on your skill level. A 5 or 6 is classed as a success. The higher the value you have in the attribute the more dice you roll.
When you defeat an encounter you can choose to add this to your hand as a rumor or discard it to gain a card from the corresponding ally, item, spell or title deck to also add as a rumour to your hand. By visiting a corresponding location these cards can be added in to play as an asset to give you boosted attributes or ongoing abilities/bonuses.
Rumour Has It
Rumours and Assets both contain keywords and a Heroes saga needs a certain combination of keywords to be able to complete it using the Regale action. When a Hero completes a chapter they gain another health point (and subsequently an action point) and gain a new skill, which are powerful abilities and tailor the character you want to create. Once a Hero completes their Saga the Ancient One will appear and the players will have to defeat it before time runs out to win the game.
The various other actions include rest, which recovers health, the market action lets you buy and sell cards, discover lets you convert rumours in to assets and search lets you draw another encounter card.
Once a player has performed all of their actions the night phase occurs. A card is drawn from the night deck and the depicted location will descend in to gloom. Some of the night cards will also have encounters or events with varying consequences. As the game progresses more and more locations will descend in to gloom and if you ever find yourself ending your turn at a location in gloom you have to suffer the consequences.
Shadows of Kilforth has various modes of play such as competitive, cooperative or true solo where you control a single character. Winning conditions vary slightly depending on the type of game you are playing.
Standing Alone Against the Ancient One
I have only played this as a solo game controlling one character. I bought it for the solo experience only. Bear this in mind when reading the rest of my thoughts.
The first thing that stands out with SoK is the art. Man....this is one of the best looking games that I have seen and depicts the dark fantasy theme amazingly well. When I opened this up I just spent some time looking at the card art. But, art alone does not make a game and I enjoy many a game that looks bland (I'm looking at you Castles of Burgundy). So, is SoK a pretty art piece that belongs on a wall or does the game deserve a place at your table? Read on to find out more.
Well, I can safely say that this is not going on my wall and has been hitting my table a lot recently. The game tells a story. You have to add some flavour around it and embellish on the story but it creates the context and the setting for you. The places you go, the people you meet and the monsters you face all add to this. It is not a highly narrative driven game, but still tells an interesting story none the less.
5 O'Clock Shadows
There is also a decent amount of content in the box. A host of different Heroes and classes to choose from meaning you can pick and choose which type of character you want to play. The encounter cards are varied and you will see different ones for your first few plays. The same with the items, spells, titles and allies. After a decent number of plays you may start to see the same cards but how you use them and their value will change.
The game does have a luck element. Skill checks are successful based on fives or sixes. But you can mitigate your chances by increasing the level of your skill. But sometimes you do get some bad rolls. All part of the story though right?
SoK is a really enjoyable game. There is a lot to like with this game and I am looking forward to digging deeper in to the game. It is puzzly, yet feels like a race. The Night deck is effectively your timer. Optimising your moves and taking risks/chances might be the only option. Win or lose it all adds to the immersion and the story. Remember that time when I had a giant spider to kill, needed four successes from five dice and only had one action left to do it. I rolled the dice and only got two. I was going to be eaten alive by the spider but used a fate token to convert one die to a success and then a deed card for another and suddenly, bahm....that spider is no more.
If you are after a dark fantasy solo game that tells a story yet feels like a puzzle then I recommend that you check out Shadows of Kilforth.