Venture Into the Depths in Kinfire Delve: Vainglory's Grotto | Casual Game Revolution

Venture Into the Depths in Kinfire Delve: Vainglory's Grotto

Kinfire Delve: Vainglory's Grotto

Either solo or with a teammate, venture into the depths of Vainglory’s Grotto to defeat its master and protect the world.

Kinfire Delve: Vainglory's Grotto is a 1-2 player, cooperative card and dice game published by Incredible Dream Studios.


Each player chooses a character deck and takes that character’s card and kinfire lantern. The character card, with its unique ability, is kept face-up on the table, and the lantern is kept face-down. Each player draws a hand of cards (the number varies based on the player count).

One of the three variations of the villain’s card is placed face-down in the center of the table. The well deck is then shuffled, and four well cards are drawn and placed around the villain’s card.

Well cards are either events or challenges. Each challenge has a number value and is also one of three colors: green, blue, or red. Some challenges also have special abilities — for example, some are more difficult to beat if multiple copies of that challenge are currently on the table.

On a player’s turn, he chooses which of the four face-up well cards he wishes to encounter. If he chooses an event card, the text written on the card is triggered, and then the event is placed face-down in the completed pile and a new card is drawn to replace it.

If a player encounters a challenge, he may choose to play one card from his hand. The card’s color must match the color of the challenge (or be a white card, which acts as any color). Cards have both a number on them and sometimes an ability that triggers when the active player plays that card on his turn. The number on the card automatically adds that many progress tokens onto the challenge card. A face-up lantern card can be used instead of playing a card, and will be flipped face-down afterwards. Different abilities in the game will flip a lantern face-up.

Next, the other player may play up to two cards as a boost. Each card has an additional number (that is typically lower than the card’s usual value) for how many progress tokens it adds to the challenge when played as a boost.

Then the active player must roll the four dice. For each color that is rolled that matches the challenge’s color, you add one progress token onto the challenge card.

If the progress tokens equal or exceed the challenge’s value, it is defeated. The reward is resolved (which typically means discarding cards from the well deck), the challenge is moved to the completed pile, and a new card is drawn to replace it. If the progress tokens are less than the challenge’s value, it remains on the table (all progress tokens stay on it as well for future turns), and the penalty is resolved. Penalties might be forcing the active player to discard cards, adding cards from the well’s discard pile back into the deck, or forcing players to lose health. Players have a shared 10 health points, and if it ever reaches zero, they lose the game.

Players do not automatically draw cards at the end or beginning of their turns. Instead, at the start of his turn, a player must choose to draw cards. If he does, he discards any cards still in his hand, draws back up to his full hand limit, and an exhaustion card is drawn. Some card abilities will allow players to discard exhaustion cards. They have negative effects while on the table, and too many of them can even force players to lose the game.

When players attempt to draw a well card and there are none left, it is time to defeat the villain. Any challenges still on the table are discarded, the villain is flipped face-up, and the four gauntlet cards are placed around him. The villain is immune to all damage until certain gauntlet cards are defeated, which make him vulnerable to different colors. If players then defeat the villain, they win the game.

Kinfire Delve: Vainglory's Grotto Components


Kinfire Delve: Vainglory's Grotto is a difficult game. We didn't even reach the final boss on our first playthrough and failed to defeat him on our second. But that difficulty is not combined with overcomplexity. The rules are straightforward. Some of the iconography isn't entirely intuitive, and when learning the game, you do have to double-check the rulebook, but the core rules are easy to learn.

The mechanics have some familiar elements but mix them up in ways that make them feel unique and put their own spin on them. The fact that players have to be so careful about each card they play, because drawing back up forces them to draw an exhaustion card, moves the game into push-your-luck territory as they try to decide how many cards they can afford to spend while still having good odds of successfully rolling what’s needed to defeat a challenge.

Players have to pay close attention to what the fail conditions are since health is also such a limited resource, which makes the choice of which challenges to tackle, and in which order, quite important.

We encountered a few moments in the game in which the order of resolving actions was not very clear. An FAQ just to go over some of the abilities on the cards would have been a helpful addition to the rulebook.

We did enjoy the mechanic of working through the deck of well cards, and the fact that the reward for defeating an enemy is often discarding cards from that deck. It’s both a satisfying way to make progress towards the villain, and nicely evokes the idea of the party making its way down into his lair, while also leading to a lot more replayabiltiy — there are a lot of cards in the deck that players won’t come up against every time they play.

This is intended as the first game in a series, with future games introducing different enemy and player decks. I can definitely see it being fun to try the different sets and see how the different enemies work. Also, while it’s only playable for 1-2 players (and works well at both those player counts), you will be able to add additional players once there are more sets available, and additional hero decks can be added to make the game playable with up to four.

In terms of aesthetics, this is a gorgeous game, with artwork that stands out with a unique style and excellent card quality. There is some fun flavor text that builds the world a little and gives the heroes some character. It also doesn’t take up massive table space, and the box is fairly compact.

If you’re looking for a harder solo or cooperative game that still has simple rules, Kinfire Delve: Vainglory's Grotto is well worth the play. It strikes a nice balance between simplicity of gameplay and challenging skill, all while looking beautiful doing it.

Pros: Very beautiful-looking game, challenging without being too complex, works well at both player counts, fun to work your way down through the well deck

Cons: Some of the iconography takes a bit of learning, a few minor rules questions are left unanswered

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.