Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Kinfire Delve: Scorn’s Stockade Adds New Tools And A Healthy Dose Of Darkness

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The next installment of Incredible Dream Studios Kinfire Delve series of titles is upon us: Scorn’s Stockade. Like its predecessor, it pits 1-2 players against a dungeon (or well) of monsters, puzzles, and more as they dig to the bottom to meet and hopefully defeat the Well’s Master. I loved Vainglory’s Grotto for being a beautiful piece of design and a truly unique example of small game design, so I jumped at the chance to check its sequel out as soon as I could.

What’s In The Box?

  • 64 Well Master cards
  • 40 Seeker Cards
  • 6 Exhausted cards
  • 38 Progress tokens
  • 4 dice
  • 1 Health Tracker
  • 1 Rulebook

I yet again cannot overstate how good these games look, especially for their size and price point. Scorn’s Stockade does a really good job of using the same art direction of the first title but adapting it to a totally new setting. Being set in a jail, the puzzles and monsters you’ll run into are themed more around bondage and oppression than the more ethereally beautiful look that was used for Vainglory’s Grotto. Our two heroes have a lot of really fun energy to their art (as they should being a monk and a bard), and the game retains the beautiful foil accents that help it really stand out on the table.

Enter The Stockade

I won’t go over the gameplay in detail again, I’d check out my review of Vainglory’s Grotto for a more thorough breakdown. The goal of each release in this series is to add new variety with additional characters and enemies to challenge yourself with. Scorn’s Stockade adds in the titular Scorn as the Well’s Master, and the two seekers you can use are the tactician (though she seems more like a monk) Naz of the Windstrikes and Feyn Longstride, a former guard turned bard. You can use these characters interchangeably with the two from Vainglory’s Grotto, as well as use whichever combination you like for each delve.

New Heroes

The two new Seekers added to the game are perfectly complemented, and not just because they’re both rocking the undercut. Naz of the Windstrikes is the most aggressive and forward character of the four Seekers we’ve gotten. Her cards are very much themed around leadership and fighting, with a lot of bonuses to combat. Feyn, by comparison, is even more of a support character than Khor was, being much more “mobile” and oriented around positioning and buffing his allies. The two have a lot of really fun energy to them that meshes well with our previous heroes. I’m excited to play a bit more and see how different Seeker combos work together.

New Enemies

As I referenced, the big bad of Scorn’s Stockade is, well, Scorn. He’s the oppressive jailer of the stockade, with his eyes everywhere keeping track of anyone and everyone who enters. While Vanity was the theme of the previous Well, the new one is all about the dark and oppressive world Scorn has created. All of the strange beauty that threatened Khor and Asha is replaced creepy eyes, wretched tentacles, and a sort of bleak brutalism. Many of the punishments and abilities of the various puzzles, monsters, and traps are themed more around denial and entrapment. Even the Events are less pleasant, having your characters escape into grimy sewers or witness a violent revolution that takes half your health. Scorn himself exemplifies this, punishing you for certain actions…but ALSO punishing you for avoiding action. It’s all incredibly thematic and a testament to how good Kevin Wilson is as a designer that he can make a game with identical gameplay feel so distinct.

The Verdict?

I loved Vainglory’s Grotto, but I think I like Scorn Stockade somehow even more. Maybe it’s the dark theme, maybe it’s the buff orc woman, or maybe it’s just how impressed I am with the thematic growth I see in the game. Everything fits together perfectly thanks to a more straightforward theme and villain, and I really like how well the two Seekers fit together. Once the whole set is out I’ll do a full look at how the different characters work with the different challenges, but as a singular title Scorn’s Stockade is extremely good. If you bought the first Kinfire Delve you’ll want to pick this up, but if you didn’t this is the perfect opportunity to dive in.

Kinfire Delve: Scorn’s Stockade hits stores April 2. You can pre-order it at the Kinfire Chronicles shop and your FLGS at an MSRP of $19.99!

Images via Incredible Dream Studios

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