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Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game» Forums » Sessions

Subject: 1st Solo Game Session Report rss

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Carl White
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I picked the game up at Expo, and finally got a chance to sit down for my first game today. Too early for a proper review, but I'll post a brief overview of how it went and my thoughts.

I randomly selected race, class and sex and ended up with a female vampire assassin. Cool! The Abbess of Penance was the Big Bad.

My early turns were very tentative, and I was worried initially that the game was overly luck-based and swingy. With so few action points and the chance of all sorts of nasties lurking at locations, I felt very fragile during Chapter 1. I learned the hard way that mountains can be a very dangerous place for a newbie to go wandering! An early death sent me back to the Sprawl, cashless, to start over.

My opinion started to change as I got to grips with the mechanics and card distributions; mitigate risk by traveling hidden. Run from things you can't tackle. Avoid the most dangerous location types (mountains are full of nasty monsters!) until you have built up a bit.

The leveling up mechanic at chapter completion felt suitably rewarding. As the game went on I started to get an idea of pacing; at which points in the game should I be targeting chapter progression or asset collection, and where did the correct balance lie?

Before I knew it I had burned through the the four chapters, assassinated the evil Lord terrorising the locals and claimed my reward. I had a gang of bad-ass allies at my back, I was bristling with hard-core spells and fantasy hardware, and had accolades coming out of my ears. The people loved me! But the world was close to falling to the Gloom. Time to go and kick Ancient butt.

Even tooled up as I was it was a close run thing. With 4 Quests still out she started with 15 HP, but with only 3 Night cards left I wanted to go for it and leave myself some breathing room if things went south.

I started with a nova attack on the Abbess that got things off to a good start (my allies meant I had enough Study to cast the mighty Battle Elemental for a total of 13 attack dice in round 1). Then it was a war of attrition; I burned through gold (the Gold Baron level 4 skill soaked up 6 HP damage) and spells (Soothing Touch was essential towards the end) to keep myself alive. In the end with all resources burned I took the Abbess down with only 2 HP remaining. A close run thing, and a really exciting and satisfying climax to my first game.

The game probably took 2 hours or so all in. That was largely because I was constantly checking and re-checking the rulebook and taking my time. I think once all the rules are properly absorbed and strategies are established 45-60 minutes seems attainable.

After an uncertain start this grew and grew on me. An elegant system, it ticks the narrative/ storytelling box which is so essential to me, and it gave a tremendous feeling of growth; the character at the end was unrecognizable from the tentative weakling who started out on the quest.

Exceptional. More games required to score this properly, but massively enjoyable, a really epic story feel that I suspect will only get better as I play it more and the mechanics disappear with familiarity. Bravo, Tristan, on the strength of this one session I'd say you've knocked it out of the park.
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Nick Hughes
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It's that narrative that's seen me play again and again. Even writing up an old Session Report in story format.

Can't wait for this incarnation of the game to arrive.
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Ian Girling
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I had my first 'dry run' last night, sitting with the rulebook and having a few turns before realising it was 1am and I had to hit the hay.

I randomly selected a female elf ranger, who had the ability to automatically become hidden when moving into a forrest. Nice. My first few turns involved me moving through said forests, dispatching a few foes and sneaking into a temple. It all went wrong though when I angered a shopkeeper and 'accidentally' threw an axe at him. Ooops.

There's some really neat mechanics in play here, and the narrative aspect, as jokeroz mentions, seems really rich. It's one of those games that will be best played with a group that really get into the spirit of things as opposed to just reading the text off a card.

It reminded me the most of a board game version of Fighting Fantasy books – It was like being eight years old again, hunched over my parents kitchen table. I can't wait to play it more!
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Ayki Don Kyanon
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Very nice session report. Great read.
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Tristan Hall
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Carl, thanks so much for taking the time out to type all of this up, I really enjoyed reading it. My biggest goal for the game is to get people telling and engaging in epic stories and my favourite part is reading them back.
Thanks again, glad you're enjoying the game!
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Ayki Don Kyanon
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Nonetheless, I am still astonished. I really hope to feel the same story unfolding as Carl did.

I am always torn back and forth between the abstract gameplay within every game and its ways on trying to tell a story. That is also the point why I have bought KDM and Gloomhaven.

Now I am very eager to play the game. A campaign is one thing, but to experience this sort of story by just reading some cards...
I hope this sort of report comes from the game as it is coming from Carl.
Don't know if I made myself clear in this last sentence.
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Drake Coker
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I'd thumb this, but I don't have my copy yet, so I have to hate you instead.
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Sky Zero
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So you won your first game?
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A. B. West
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I started my first solo tonight as well - Half-Elf Ranger vs. the Marquis of Pain. Didn't finish (yet), but I'm enjoying the results so far! It has beautiful illustrations which help emmensely. I agree that the story emerges very well - especially the way the Gloom and Plots start to scatter and appear everywhere. You can artfully avoid certain areas (and need to). I found myself beaten down more than once, but always had a way back.

My only take away is the fiddly stacks of cards on the 5x5 card grid. I found myself bumping the display around unfortunately. And one needs to pick up the stack to remind what is there (at least I do). That and some terms are difficult to grapple with (e.g. Map keyword, Veil is an odd term - minor issues such as this).

Not much more to report just yet but the game is elegantly easy - for me (and please don't take this the wrong way) a 'Talisman-esque' killer. It has the sprawling world feeling, event cards based on areas, take down encounters by dice, loads of effects along the way - an adventure in all respects that builds to taking on the Big Bad. I especially love the word-tag method of completing your saga - that's where the story really revolves. Love the reward system too - very good thinking there in several ways. It's for me the best in class in this space. It cuts its own path away from 'dungeon crawlers' and takes head-on games like Runebound (Third Edition) and Prophecy kicking each forever out of my collection.
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Carl White
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@ Sky Zero: Yes, though a subsequent read of the rulebook revealed I had cheated; I missed the limit of 6 asset cards. In my game I think I went into the big bad battle with 9. So I'll count that as a training game rather than a win.
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Richard Dewsbery
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adamw wrote:
Not much more to report just yet but the game is elegantly easy - for me (and please don't take this the wrong way) a 'Talisman-esque' killer. It has the sprawling world feeling, event cards based on areas, take down encounters by dice, loads of effects along the way - an adventure in all respects that builds to taking on the Big Bad.


On Sunday I knew next to nothing about Gloom of Kilforth - I'd just bought Gloomhaven, and really don't need another fantasy campaign boardgame thing. Although the whole "distills and RPG campaign into a single session" sounds neat, most games with similar pitches turn out to be just another ordinary boardgame.

I went across to their stand at the UK Games Expo because I had a few minutes free, and got the "elevator pitch" from Sam. Straightaway, without having heard the comparison with Talisman from anywhere else, I said "so this is like Talisman for grown-ups? Talisman, but with meaningful decisions?"

You see, Talisman always sounded interesting, but if the game presents the players with any real choices I've yet to find any. Where you move has almost no effect on what you do. Whether you win or lose is determined by cards and dice, and not decisions. I wondered if the same might be true of GoK - the gameplay revolves around cards and dice, after all - but I'm assured that it's a lot smarter than that.
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Nevin Ball
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adamw wrote:

Not much more to report just yet but the game is elegantly easy - for me (and please don't take this the wrong way) a 'Talisman-esque' killer. It has the sprawling world feeling, event cards based on areas, take down encounters by dice, loads of effects along the way - an adventure in all respects that builds to taking on the Big Bad. I especially love the word-tag method of completing your saga - that's where the story really revolves. Love the reward system too - very good thinking there in several ways. It's for me the best in class in this space. It cuts its own path away from 'dungeon crawlers' and takes head-on games like Runebound (Third Edition) and Prophecy kicking each forever out of my collection.


I love Talisman for the very reasons you describe. I'll need to check this game out.
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Tristan Hall
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Nevin wrote:
adamw wrote:

Not much more to report just yet but the game is elegantly easy - for me (and please don't take this the wrong way) a 'Talisman-esque' killer. It has the sprawling world feeling, event cards based on areas, take down encounters by dice, loads of effects along the way - an adventure in all respects that builds to taking on the Big Bad. I especially love the word-tag method of completing your saga - that's where the story really revolves. Love the reward system too - very good thinking there in several ways. It's for me the best in class in this space. It cuts its own path away from 'dungeon crawlers' and takes head-on games like Runebound (Third Edition) and Prophecy kicking each forever out of my collection.


I love Talisman for the very reasons you describe. I'll need to check this game out.



If it lands somewhere between a sort of Advanced Talisman and Mage Knight, or full blown Dungeons and Dragons, I'll be a happy man.
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Michael Bacon
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Not at all like Mage Knight. I don't understand the comparisons to Talisman either. It's like a light D&D though, sort of.
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A. B. West
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The comparison to Talisman is in all the goodness of Talisman - a spanning travel of adventure, not a crawl through dark caverns. Drawing cards as 'events' driven by your location. Special characters that acquire items, spells and allies while driving toward a Big Bad resolution. And of course, mechanically using dice to resolve conflicts based on a comparison of stats. I like Talisman! It is a *ride* however, not a series of significant decisions. But as many say, it's a bad ride when everything goes against you.

GoK is much more because you do have decisions to make along the way. And the dice resolution is very thoughtful - it is more a decision of spending time because you do know the odds and you really can succeed whereas Talisman tears you apart if you have bad rolls. And GoK has this very delightful idea of keywords used to accomplish your saga. I really think that is quite clever.

So the comparison is not to deride GoK - far from it! It's meant to celebrate the feeling of an expansive adventure - something Talisman meant to do but so often fails. But GoK succeeds!
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