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Gloom of Kilforth isn't quite what I expected it to be. I expected it to be a streamlined, board game version of Dungeons and Dragons, which is what the designer, Tristan, said he wanted to create. I've never played Dungeons and Dragons, but I've played computer games based on that system, so I was really expecting something like that.

It IS something like that. It's just not like that in every concievable way. It's ALSO something like Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, and Shadows of Malice. I've never played Arkham Horror, I didn't like Eldritch Horror, and I love Shadows of Malice. (You can read my Shadows of Malice review here.)

The main thing I wasn't expecting is the night deck which is a timer counting down to the day on which the world is overcome by Gloom. Locations are overcome each night, making them more dangerous for the player and causing various (almost alway bad) events to occur.

The other thing I didn't expect, but probably should have expected, is that the ultimate goal of Gloom of Kilforth is to defeat an ancient, powerful monster that personifies something evil. (In coop mode, there will be more than one monster.)

These two things combined with the idea of powering up characters over time and using dice for skill checks are the primary reasons for the comparisons I'm making.

It isn't reasonable to compare Gloom of Kilforth to Mage Knight or to most dungeon crawl games. It's not a dungeon crawl and it's not a puzzle Euro. It is puzzly some of the time, which is wonderful in a game that uses dice for combat resolution and other checks. Please don't be blindsided by the dice checks - they do not prevent meaningful decisions.

--Eldritch Horror Opinion Summary--

Eldritch Horror is too random, too long, and it gives the player too little control over the outcome of the game, even with the dice mitigation added by expansions. It also pretends to be a story-driven game, but the story is told by flavor text more than it is told by mechanics, resulting in a strange, choppy story with inconsistent plot points and inconsistent characters. For me, that means that it does not have a story at all. It's mechanical and the mechanics support a story experience more than they support gameplay - yet the story experience is false and thin.

--Shadows of Malice Opinion Summary--

Shadows of Malice is the best example of storytelling by mechanics (instead of flavor text and scene-depicting game art) that I've played. Robinson Crusoe and Space Hulk: Death Angel do the same sort of thing to a certain degree, but they don't create a sense of epicness or character development at all. Shadows of Malice doesn't quite do that either, but it PUSHES you to do that. It makes you really want to immediately and automatically convert game mechanics and keywords into specific plot events and character traits, which inspire decisions. It's brilliant.

Gloom of Kilforth is most like Shadows of Malice of all the other games I've played. It does most of the same things right and manages to be very different anyway, so much so that I'll probably keep both games despite hating overlap. They don't really overlap very much. Shadows of Malice is much more epic and a little more random than Gloom of Kilforth. It's more vague. Shadows of Malice wants you to use more of your imagination.

Good play will probably result in a win, but I believe luck can prevent or enable a win, if your dice rolls are very lopsided. I believe good play will always result in a win in Gloom of Kilforth, regardless of your rolls.

The story of my first play of Shadows of Malice echoes in my head here and there, months later. The story of my Gloom of Kilforth play felt very cool at the time and was enjoyable in the way that a particularly generic RPG videogame story is, but it isn't resonating in a long way. I'll enjoy the story next time I play, but it will never be a story I'm thinking about days later.

--Gloom of Kilforth Opinion Summary--

Nothing else can accomplish as many RPG and storytelling things as Gloom of Kilforth does in the amount of time it does, unless I've missed something really fantastic. I haven't played everything, but I've investigated quite a lot. It's amazing, thematic, beautiful, thrilling, and satisfying.

The moment you realize that you finally don't have to play it safe and have powered up enough to fight an enemy you've been avoiding is fantastic. Arguing with yourself about whether or not a particular rumor is worth traveling through dangerous lands to investigate it in order to get the reward is fantastic.

Before a player can confront the boss-monster at the end of the game, the player's character must level up by completing each chapter of a personal quest assigned to that character at the beginning of the game. In my first game, I was a vampire war mage and needed to steal from a dragon's horde before I was ready to move on to the ruinous, demonic monster-thing at the end. (I failed miserably because I didn't peek at my chapter cards to see what I would need to do to prepare.) This plot/game structure works wonderfully to create a sense of smaller, more personal struggle against a backdrop of the world gradually ending. Your character will see that happening but will continue on a personal quest because it's currently higher priority due to not being the sort of person who is capable of making a difference in an apocalyptic struggle - until experiences prepare him/her.

The rules are consistently elegant. Things work the way they ought to, in much the same way that FFG's Lord of the Rings LCG rules are consistent. Gloom of Kilforth's rules are, naturally, much simpler than those of Lord of the Rings LCG, and they're simpler than either of the other games I've mentioned, but the gameplay is richer than Eldritch Horror or anything else I've played of this game length and theme.

--Art--

All of these games have good art and good components.

I'm in love with the art in Shadows of Malice (though some think it's very plain and therefore lackluster - it's actually wonderfully representational in a clean, iconic, graphic design sort of way.)

I'm also in love with the art in Gloom of Kilforth. I'm 90% certain I've never seen a better overall collection of art in a game, and nearly every component is unique and wonderful. (About two or three cards are mediocre in comparison to the rest.) It's amazing that so much visual beauty can fit into a game at the price it's received.

Eldritch Horror has good art with some exceptions, but I don't really remember it when I'm not looking at it because it's not particularly impressive.

--Solo Play--

Eldritch Horror 's solo play works just fine. It's basically the same as coop. You'll have to play more than one character (if you're going to have a good time, anyway), and that's not quite a burden, but it's certainly not desirable either. Controlling multiple characters adds to the experience only in enabling a better balance of stats and enabling the player to visit multiple locations at once.

Shadows of Malice also requires using more than one character to be at its best. I find this enriches the story as well as the mechanics, so I have nothing to complain about. It's a great solo game to leave on the table and play every time you have another 20 minutes or so until you finish.

Gloom of Kilforth is carefully designed for solo play. It's not an afterthought, but something it's been playtested for at length. The game is perfectly complete with only a single character, but scales perfectly to any allowable player count, despite that. If you prefer playing games in which you can have the immersion that comes with being a character instead of controlling several characters, Kilforth does the job wonderfully. I normally don't care about this sort of thing, but for this genre, it's a really nice feature.

--Final Comparison--

If I could only keep one storytelling-by-mechanic-RPG-countdown-to-apocalypse game, Gloom of Kilforth would be the one. Eldritch Horror is for sale/trade (let me know if you're interested - I made a perfect foam insert to organize and fit the two expansions I own), now that I've discovered the other two games. Shadows of Malice won't see as much play (especially multiplayer) as Gloom of Kilforth will due to its length - which doesn't honestly even have to be that horribly long. It could probably be played in about two hours if I choose a simpler setup next time.

Gloom of Kilforth might even be an equivalent experience to Shadows of Malice for me in the long run, after I've played them both a few times, particularly once the expansion is released. It has a lot of content already, allowing for replayability depth by way of randomized board layouts, a variety of character classes and races, a variety of sagas (the personal quests) different ways to build a character during the game, and various ways to build the four end-game bosses. Additionally, there are a few variants in the rulebook AND already in the forums as well. The designer, Tristan Hall (aka Ninjadorg) is known for contributing large amounts of fan content for games across the last decade or so on BGG, so I trust he'll keep his word and continue to work on Gloom of Kilforth as much as he is able to.

The satisfaction-per-minute value of Gloom of Kilforth is higher than an Shadows of Malice for me. I have exciting moments of regret, discovery, exploration, and triumph at a rapid pace. The most exhilerating, satisfying moment of Shadows of Malice might be at a higher level than Gloom of Kilforth, however. That, combined with the epic stories it tells will probably keep it in my collection despite my OCD need to find a reason to cull it.

Play Gloom of Kilforth if what appeals to me appeals to you.

Back Tristan's next game, 1066, Tears to Many Mothers, if you're concretely sold on Kilforth. It's on Kickstarter until June 29 2017 at 5:00 PM MDT. He's been consistently good at game design across the years, and he's using the same fantastic artist and emphasizing great component quality at the best price possible. I expect it to be good.

You can read my Shadows of Malice review here.
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Nicely done review!
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Wow.
And also: thank you. wow
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AnimalMkIV wrote:
SoM needs an imaginative person to tease a story out of it whereas GoK's encounter cards just fit wherever they are placed and really reward you with an interesting story hiding just beneath the surface.


I actually find it more difficult to use my imagination in Kilforth than in Malice, though I find both are excellent at inspiring it. Malice leaves me the right amount of room to do that, but Kilforth feels more constrained, so it's harder to see the story. That's a personal reaction, I suppose.
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I'm not sure I agree with your critique of EH as being that random or that the narrative is any less coherent. EH's randomness is all about the evolution of the board state and the rolling of the dice, which is pretty much the same for GOK. Further, in the later expansions of EH you get the added dice mitigation and story content that allow you to tie together VERY story driven games of EH (see the Dreamlands expansion especially). That said, I do agree that GOK plays better as a solo game then EH. I'd rather play EH with a group of players and customize our game's story. For a solo experience, GOK is wonderful.

I would also put it out there that the variety in EH is FAR greater then GOK. The obvious downside here is that the cost to "get it all" is far higher if you are into EH.

My 2 cents is that both games are worth owning.

For me, GOK does fire Shadows of Malice. I've got a nice deluxe set of everything listed for sale on the BGG market BTW.
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valzi wrote:
AnimalMkIV wrote:
SoM needs an imaginative person to tease a story out of it whereas GoK's encounter cards just fit wherever they are placed and really reward you with an interesting story hiding just beneath the surface.


I actually find it more difficult to use my imagination in Kilforth than in Malice, though I find both are excellent at inspiring it. Malice leaves me the right amount of room to do that, but Kilforth feels more constrained, so it's harder to see the story. That's a personal reaction, I suppose.


I agree. Like I said in an addendum to my own review, the flavor text, particularly on the saga cards, is sometimes too specific and can therefore clash with the story told by the gameplay itself. SoM only gives you a minimal narrative framework that defines your goals and actions and lets the mechanics and your imagination do the talking. In GoK, the flavor text sometimes "steps in" where it shouldn't, IMO. That said, I love the keyword mechanic itself because it allows for dynamic/random goals which SoM didn't really have. The quest expansion, while fun, always felt a little "tacked on" to me.

Anyway, good review and (despite this minor gripe) great game!
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Even with expansions, EH is incredibly repetitive to me, and luck is much more important in it than in Kilforth. Kilforth never forces you to lose. EH does.
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valzi wrote:
Even with expansions, EH is incredibly repetitive to me,and luck is much more important in it than in Kilforth. Kilforth never forces you to lose. EH does.


Well, if a raging vampire or Minotaur come out at the wrong time or wrong place against a non-combat build it is pretty much a forced loss.
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scottatlaw wrote:
valzi wrote:
Even with expansions, EH is incredibly repetitive to me,and luck is much more important in it than in Kilforth. Kilforth never forces you to lose. EH does.


Well, if a raging vampire or Minotaur come out at the wrong time or wrong place against a non-combat build it is pretty much a forced loss.


I disagree. I can't think of a way that would cause a loss if the player didn't already wedge him/herself into an unfavorable situation by poor choices earlier on. Can you explain?
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valzi wrote:
scottatlaw wrote:
valzi wrote:
Even with expansions, EH is incredibly repetitive to me,and luck is much more important in it than in Kilforth. Kilforth never forces you to lose. EH does.


Well, if a raging vampire or Minotaur come out at the wrong time or wrong place against a non-combat build it is pretty much a forced loss.


I disagree. I can't think of a way that would cause a loss if the player didn't already wedge him/herself into an unfavorable situation by poor choices earlier on. Can you explain?


I'd have to agree with Michael on this - you should have a whole bunch of alternate locations to explore instead until you're powerful enough to tackle them.
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GoK isn't a totally strategic game (and I don't think it's trying to be!), but I've played EH extensively, and it is definitely several orders of magnitude more luck driven, even moreso with expansions. There are Mythos deck compositions that are literally unwinnable. I haven't had a GoK game yet that I felt was doomed from the start, even if there are definitely harder and easier games depending on how the decks are shuffled.
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I agree with C A Sinclair...none of my GoK adventures have felt doomed from early on...there have been long struggles at times but there is usually a way to work round obstacles thrown in your way...even with the night deck timer running out there is always that "well I might just make it" feel (in conjunction with the absolute terror of "aaaaaah times running out")
Knowing what's on the levelling up cards helps with planning a good strategy (might be nice to have a sheet with them all on as a character development tree). E.g. My last game was with a human warrior (random character pick) so I was building up the 'fight' strength knowing that one of the level up abilities was to use 'fight' skill to make other skill checks...once I got to this stage, things really sped up in my character development...but even then I only had 1 night left to challenge the final Evil...sadly with the Abbess down to 1 HP, I got wiped out
As for EH, I've not played it (only played Arkham Horror) but runthroughs I've seen on YouTube left me with similar feelings to those mentioned above. The luck element is not so damning in GoK (and having the fate points available can always negate that dreadful dice roll at a crucial moment)
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Ango the botty flap wrote:
I agree with C A Sinclair...none of my GoK adventures have felt doomed from early on...there have been long struggles at times but there is usually a way to work round obstacles thrown in your way...even with the night deck timer running out there is always that "well I might just make it" feel (in conjunction with the absolute terror of "aaaaaah times running out")


I'll jump on this bandwagon.

I recently played a game that got off to a rough start. Human Priest started with a great ally in hand. Immediately got hit with a discard effect. On the way to a great grouping of locations, surely my keywords will be there. Yes, but as slowly as possible. Some bad weather, another rumor discard effect, a defeat, 2 turns wasted resting in a field. At about midgame, I finished my first saga.

At one point I was thinking, "I should reset." Instead, I buckled down to see what I could salvage. I had managed to get and keep a rumor I needed for the second chapter. With the additional action point, I was able to get to a location to discover an ally that gave me +1 move ap.

Then I hit the second chapter. Then I went quickly through 3 and 4, kicked over the fortress and killed the ancient with a measly 28(I think) points.

Making good choices about which assets to go for and which keywords you can grab on the way is vital.

Setting yourself up for success helps too. If your character has high influence, jump over to the plains and make a couple friends. Look for the encounters where you get to roll more dice. Always roll more dice.
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To add to the EH luck discussion, the resolution mechanic and action point system just feels a lot more fair and manageable in GoK. In EH you normally draw an encounter card at the end of your turn and resolve a random skill test. If you fail that test, that's it, you've basically wasted your turn.

In GoK you

1. See what the required stats are before you resolve the tests

2. Get to "retry" a number of times per turn and decide how many actions you want to spend on beating an encounter (other than enemies and the rare events that is).

3. If you know you probably won't defeat an encounter before night falls, you can use the rest of your actions to move somewhere else and heal up, for example.
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ninjadorg wrote:
valzi wrote:
scottatlaw wrote:
valzi wrote:
Even with expansions, EH is incredibly repetitive to me,and luck is much more important in it than in Kilforth. Kilforth never forces you to lose. EH does.


Well, if a raging vampire or Minotaur come out at the wrong time or wrong place against a non-combat build it is pretty much a forced loss.


I disagree. I can't think of a way that would cause a loss if the player didn't already wedge him/herself into an unfavorable situation by poor choices earlier on. Can you explain?


I'd have to agree with Michael on this - you should have a whole bunch of alternate locations to explore instead until you're powerful enough to tackle them.


Actually, I had issues with a raging vampire the other day... Not often you get to say that in real life.

He had appeared on the location required to complete my "take the fortress" saga. I had the strength to batter him senseless, but only limited book smarts and insufficient sneak to avoid him automatically. I kept failing the initial test, which meant he took no damage during the battle.

By the way - what is the correct test for a raging vampire? The icon on the card is for study, the text is for influence. My stat was three for each, so it didn't matter either way.
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
Actually, I had issues with a raging vampire the other day... Not often you get to say that in real life.

He had appeared on the location required to complete my "take the fortress" saga. I had the strength to batter him senseless, but only limited book smarts and insufficient sneak to avoid him automatically. I kept failing the initial test, which meant he took no damage during the battle.

By the way - what is the correct test for a raging vampire? The icon on the card is for study, the text is for influence. My stat was three for each, so it didn't matter either way.


Yeah, this has been pointed out, but thanks for catching it - it should be an Influence test. If he's blocking your Finale it's definitely worth gearing up to take him down -
Spoiler (click to reveal)
there are a number of Allies in the Market for example that could help you out there.
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ninjadorg wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
Actually, I had issues with a raging vampire the other day... Not often you get to say that in real life.

He had appeared on the location required to complete my "take the fortress" saga. I had the strength to batter him senseless, but only limited book smarts and insufficient sneak to avoid him automatically. I kept failing the initial test, which meant he took no damage during the battle.

By the way - what is the correct test for a raging vampire? The icon on the card is for study, the text is for influence. My stat was three for each, so it didn't matter either way.


Yeah, this has been pointed out, but thanks for catching it - it should be an Influence test. If he's blocking your Finale it's definitely worth gearing up to take him down -
Spoiler (click to reveal)
there are a number of Allies in the Market for example that could help you out there.


Yes that is what I was referring to. He can block a finale OR an ancient. There are also events that can really entrench him too. Yes there are work around allies, items & spells. But those aren't guaranteed and require a bit of deck milling.

GOK is not without its "sh!t happens" moments.
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scottatlaw wrote:
ninjadorg wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
Actually, I had issues with a raging vampire the other day... Not often you get to say that in real life.

He had appeared on the location required to complete my "take the fortress" saga. I had the strength to batter him senseless, but only limited book smarts and insufficient sneak to avoid him automatically. I kept failing the initial test, which meant he took no damage during the battle.

By the way - what is the correct test for a raging vampire? The icon on the card is for study, the text is for influence. My stat was three for each, so it didn't matter either way.


Yeah, this has been pointed out, but thanks for catching it - it should be an Influence test. If he's blocking your Finale it's definitely worth gearing up to take him down -
Spoiler (click to reveal)
there are a number of Allies in the Market for example that could help you out there.


Yes that is what I was referring to. He can block a finale OR an ancient. There are also events that can really entrench him too. Yes there are work around allies, items & spells. But those aren't guaranteed and require a bit of deck milling.

GOK is not without its "sh!t happens" moments.

As I understand it, he doesn‘t fully block a finale in the same way as he would an Ancient; for the finale you could go in hidden and evade him, whereas assaulting an ancient requires that all encounters are defeated (and being a deed would also break hiding).
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scottatlaw wrote:
ninjadorg wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
Actually, I had issues with a raging vampire the other day... Not often you get to say that in real life.

He had appeared on the location required to complete my "take the fortress" saga. I had the strength to batter him senseless, but only limited book smarts and insufficient sneak to avoid him automatically. I kept failing the initial test, which meant he took no damage during the battle.

By the way - what is the correct test for a raging vampire? The icon on the card is for study, the text is for influence. My stat was three for each, so it didn't matter either way.


Yeah, this has been pointed out, but thanks for catching it - it should be an Influence test. If he's blocking your Finale it's definitely worth gearing up to take him down -
Spoiler (click to reveal)
there are a number of Allies in the Market for example that could help you out there.


Yes that is what I was referring to. He can block a finale OR an ancient. There are also events that can really entrench him too. Yes there are work around allies, items & spells. But those aren't guaranteed and require a bit of deck milling.

GOK is not without its "sh!t happens" moments.


To be fair though, it's usually very possible to mill the deck. You may need to know what's in which deck, but checking is more of a personal choice.
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scottatlaw wrote:
GOK is not without its "sh!t happens" moments.


This is good. devil
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