Shadows of Kilforth: What Lies Beyond the Stories of Gloom
Explore the darkest reaches of Kilforth and find out more about the behind-the-scenes workings of Shadows of Kilforth.
What an interesting time it’s been diving deeper into this world! With Shadows of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game, I’ve had a chance to see a little more that the system has to offer with its slight variations. Not every aspect is perfect, but this is a series I simply adore. The stories change, while the excitement of play never fades! Not even into… Shadow?!
Game Name: Shadows of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game
Publication Year: 2020
Designer: Tristan Hall
Artists: José Salvador del Nido and Ania Kryczkowska
Publisher: Hall or Nothing Productions
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
I’ve explained the game system many times, but it never hurts to go for another brief overview! A character must complete a 5-chapter saga by collecting keywords and using dice rolls to overcome encounters. In the end, a showdown with a terrible ancient determines the winner!
August 24, 2021
August 25, 2021
44" x 28"
A Vampire Ninja?!
As usual, I chose a pair of each type of character card to give myself a few choices. Was there even a question?!
I simply knew I wanted to play as a vampire ninja. The energy drain ability seemed a bit overpowered, and it was to a certain degree, while the ninja ability was excellent.
Actually, this was much less a case of abducting allies and just… Going all vampire on them. Oh, my! Stealthy, too.
Note that ancestry cards, like the vampire, are double-sided with different portraits. Usually, there is a male or female to choose from. Or even the class card character!
Saga Flavor Text
A saga consists of 5 chapters and represents the main quest a character must complete. If time runs out before completing the finale, the ancient never shows up.
Chapters are completed by collecting the required keywords. In the solo game, this is always 3 unique terms.
No epic tale today, I’m afraid! Just some musings on the behind-the-scenes gameplay and mechanics, which I still hope is useful and vaguely entertaining.
I love flavor text, and the cards always deliver! It’s not enough to solidify details, yet it gets the story moving.
Dangers and Comedies
Naturally, encounters can vary wildly. There are 4 decks for each terrain type. The badlands and mountains are typically a little more dangerous, for good reason!
This wolf was none-too-happy to encounter a vampire ninja, but see that note about a weakness keyword? Easily overcome due to this character having rebel skills.
I also had a little laugh at a place that was a literal water slide… This relocated my character elsewhere on the map!
The fun challenge is to weave a tale between the current chapter and the keywords used to advance beyond it.
The Power of Assets
In many cases, a card picked up or earned becomes a rumor. This means that it isn’t tangible yet: Rewards must be sought out in their specific locations.
For example, the constable title could only be picked up at Celestial Tree. At that point, it would become an asset.
Assets are where bonuses come from, and are the key way to move forward with overcoming more encounters. Don’t get too excited… They’re capped at a maximum of 6!
In many cases, any type of bonus early on is great, yet a set of assets often changes a lot before the finale.
Uncovering a Mystery
Every saga is set in stone with the same progression, yet this doesn’t mean that the overall story is identical.
Did my character earn the title of constable, or was it stolen by her ancestors? And who was this militiaman?
It’s quite possible to find the sagas repetitive over time. For me, I can see that happening, yet it’s possible to ignore the flavor text and craft new tales tied to the cards.
Here, maybe my character snuck inside a revered shrine but was caught by its guard, a militiaman. After dueling, she was bestowed the honorable title of constable!
The Last Battle
Ultimately, every play leads up to a grand finale between a powerful character and a diabolical ancient with great powers. Each usually rolls at least 8 attack dice!
The dice-based system grants successes on 5s and 6s. Not everyone likes this kind of luck, though, and that’s OK.
When things don’t go my way, I try to make it a part of the story. Am I unphased? Well, no! I get frustrated when I roll 6 dice and end up with 0 successes. But it happens.
As far as this went, my character started off well but took a lot of damage with her O-Yoroi armor. Survive! Survive!
Take that, Bishop of Pride! She ended with some health and a whole lot of gold. And let’s not leave out the fact that she became a bear rider wielding a katana! Pure awesome. I was happy with this play even if the story was minimal. Such a great system where almost anything can happen!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- The storytelling potential is immense and practically limitless with so many different cards to come across.
- Most of the rules are straightforward and easy to memorize, although a summary sheet provides reminders.
- Creating a character comes down to a simple combination of 2 cards and a saga to form a general concept.
- Traveling throughout the world is all about exploration and discovery, yet there is a timer to add some urgency.
- Siding with the Rosen Knights or Doom Guard is an interesting part of the setup that affects certain night cards.
- Nearly every card is unique and provides a gorgeous addition to the world with artwork and flavor text.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Some elements can feel repetitive over time, especially the sagas where each chapter remains the same.
- Deterministic dice rolls can lead to unexpectedly bad luck that generates frustration when the odds seem good.
- It’s mostly a minor nitpick, but the different art styles contrast a bit too much and can detract from the visuals.
- A good amount of table space is required and placing encounters on locations can get very messy very quickly.
Defeat the Ancient
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Win at least 1 game against the Bishop of Pride.
Win at least 1 game against the Render of Flesh.
Continue the Conversation
What do you like about Shadows of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game and the Kilforth world? There are times when I think I can pick a favorite anything, and then I uncover another card that’s even more breathtaking! Do you have any memorable experiences? Plain and simple, I love this game and the narrative experiences it always manages to create!