Kinfire Chronicles: Night’s Fall Review (My Top Legacy Pick)

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Welcome, fellow adventurers! Today I’ll be looking at Kinfire Chronicles: Night’s Fall, the debut cooperative campaign game by an all-star new team at Incredible Dream Studios. Led by legendary game designer Kevin Wilson (of Game of Thrones, Arkham Horror, and Descent: Journeys in the Dark fame),  the game features gorgeous art by Katarzyna Redesiuk and an intriguing world fleshed out by Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz and Jakub Szamalek, all three previous employees at Poland’s most famous company, CD Projekt Red.

So, does a star-studded team of gaming industry veterans guarantee a memorable debut for Incredible Dream? Check out my Kinfire Chronicles review below to find out.

Playing time:45 – 60 minutes
Number of players:1 to 4
Genre:Legacy deck builder
Release date:2023
Publisher:Incredible Dream 



Game Overview

Kinfire Chronicles: Nightfall is a cooperative, story-driven legacy board game that combines good old-fashioned fantasy role-playing and storytelling with a fairly simple but challenging and fun combat system. Set in Atios, an intriguing world beset by a magical darkness, the game is steeped in atmosphere and rich in lore waiting to be discovered over its 21-scenario campaign.

Our spoiler-free unboxing of Kinfire Chronicles: Night’s Fall

Players will take on the roles of six unique seekers, traditional fantasy fare heroes equipped with magical kinfire lanterns capable of piercing the magical darkness of the Starless Nights. This motley crew of daring adventurers is, in typical fantasy fashion, the realm’s last line of defense, each bringing to the game a unique backstory and gameplay style.

Together, they will embark on a quest to thwart an encroaching darkness threatening the entire realm. The gameplay is structured around scenarios, in which players must make choices that affect the story’s progression and dictate the order in which the story will be played out. 

As you’d expect, battles are a significant aspect of the game, pitting our heroes against all manner of foes, from typical fantasy rogues, bandits, wyverns, and bears, to more fantastical mutated monstrosities. The game’s combat system revolves around small-scale challenging battles with a small number of tough foes in each scenario, where players will not only have to utilize their action cards well but also work together, devising strategies and combining their characters’ strengths to overcome increasingly difficult challenges. 

Kinfire Chronicles Night’s Fall - box content

Unlike many similar games in the genre, the combat encounters in Kinfire Chronicles are resolved at a brisk pace, allowing entire scenarios (exploration phase, adventuring phase, and combat) to be wrapped up in around an hour, which means you can play several of them in one night and even have time for a party game or two in-between.

The core game mechanics are simple to understand and well-explained at every step. The gameplay evolves around three core pillars: questing, combat, and town exploration. The game’s quests and NPC interactions feature plenty of reactivity and several “choose your own adventure” type story conundrums where the players will have to decide how to proceed forward. Although not world-changing, these encounters and decisions made in them can affect how the story will move forward and which scenarios the players will tackle next, shaping how the game’s story develops.

Much like a well-run fantasy roleplaying campaign, discovery is a  big part of the joy of playing this game, so I’ll try my best to explain how each of these core gameplay pillars works while keeping the spoilers to a minimum. Let’s start with the game’s most prominent and fun activity – the combat.

Combat: Approachable, Challenging, and Fun

The combat gameplay is essentially a card-based battler, with each player possessing a personal deck that grows throughout their adventures. Players have action cards for inflicting melee or ranged damage on their turn and can play boost cards to help other players on theirs, allowing them to do bonus damage, make additional move actions, or shrug off some of the damage inflicted by the enemies.  

Kinfire Chronicles Night’s Fall - first combat

Additionally, each player has a lantern card which is charged when a player runs out of action (non-boost) cards. These knifire lanterns have unique effects for each Seeker and are easily the most powerful cards in their arsenal that can turn the tide of any battle in an instant.

During combat, turn order is determined by drawing chits from the so-called destiny bag, which includes both player and enemy tokens. The enemy’s actions are guided by the numbered chits drawn, with each number from one to twelve linked to specific abilities that vary between each enemy. These can be anything from single and multi-target attacks to passive effects and boosts. 

Kinfire Chronicles Night’s Fall - bag tokens or chits

There are also numerous status cards such as armor which can help or hinder both the players and the enemies and play a large part in the game’s strategy. The unpredictability of the system forces players to try to keep track of the chits already in play and try to combine their skills to counter potential bad luck streaks.

It also means that some combat scenarios may get steamrolled if the players get lucky with their initial chip distribution, but remember that chits only get returned to the bag under very specific conditions, so any combat scenario will likely balance itself out regardless of which side it strongly favors at the outset.

Although a scenario is over as soon as a single hero falls, there are multiple ways to prevent this, such as boost and armor cards, or even unique abilities that allow characters to share damage between the heroes. If everything else fails, the players can utilize limited-use fate tokens, which allow them to turn the tide of the battle by drawing four chits from the bag instead of one and choosing the most beneficial one to play.

Kinfire Chronicles Night’s Fall - Khor's character sheet

The game also features a “fail forward” approach, meaning the narrative progresses regardless of a battle’s outcome, with different rewards and slightly different story developments based on how the combat ended. It’s a nice touch that gets rid of one of my least favorite aspects of combat- heavy legacy games – having to perfectly play the battle scenarios or getting absolutely smoked and having to redo them over and over until you succeed.

Questing and Exploration: Engaging, Story-Rich, and Rewarding

One of my favorite aspects of this game is its approach to quest design. It invokes a sense of exploration and wonder rarely seen in board gaming, and is reminiscent of a good tabletop fantasy roleplaying game. You will genuinely get interested in the world and its characters. Although the decisions you’ll make ultimately don’t drastically change the game’s narrative, they do make the adventure feel more personal and affect the order in which the scenarios will unfold.

The general gameplay loop is as follows: after they lose to or defeat the enemies in the battle phase, the players will return to a city, where they’ll finish up quests and explore various locations to buy new gear, meet new and old friends, and learn more about the game’s world and characters.

Kinfire Chronicles Night’s Fall - resting in a town

Kinfire Chronicles: Night’s Fall features several cities and towns that serve as the game’s primary story and world-building hubs for picking up main and side quests. They are also places to buy new powerful equipment cards, rest up between fights, and customize character decks to better prepare for the upcoming challenges. Town actions between quests are limited, with one always being a rest at the local inn, which makes the order of unlocking new adventures unique to each playthrough.

Throughout their adventures, players will encounter various challenges, requiring skill checks by flipping cards from their decks. The outcome of these checks can lead to different story paths and quest difficulties, influenced by the characters in the party. The skills are split into red, green, and blue varieties, mirroring traditional RPG tropes of might, agility, and wisdom. As you can guess, each character excels in a particular area and has more red, green, or blue cards in their deck, making them better suited to certain challenges, meaning they’ll have better chances of succeeding at them.

Additionally, players and their characters will face moral and tactical dilemmas, with decisions that can not only make encounters more or less difficult but also earn kinfire tokens, which represent a character’s personal growth and can be used to equip more powerful items as the game progresses. These tokens are awarded when choices align with a character’s personality, which is a nice touch but also led to one of the rare legitimate gripes I have with the game.

Kinfire Chronicles Night’s Fall-asha

Let me explain: while it’s fantastic to have characters that each have their own unique world-view, values, and ideas, in practice this somewhat limits your roleplaying abilities, and, in at least one instance, I was very much not convinced that my sneaky rogue character would wish to do as the game implied she did. You can, of course, ignore these and play however you want, but the real problem comes from the fact that the kinfire tokens are only given to players when the party agrees on a certain action that their character would support.

In practice, this meant that some of my fellow boar gamers ended up with tons of tokens because the decision their characters supported matched our party’s choice, while the one my rogue was going for – didn’t, leaving her with significantly fewer tokens. It’s a two-fold problem: not only do players have to balance between what they would do vs what their characters supposedly would, but they’ll also be tempted to power-game the system and pick choices based on getting the most kinfire tokens for the party.

We solved both of these problems by simply having whoever reads the conundrum cards not mention which character would react in which way, and making decisions based on what we, as a group, felt was the best course of action. 

We also house-ruled an option for sharing these tokens if the need arose, which significantly improved our experience and returned a legitimate sense of adventure and spontaneous roleplaying to the proceedings. In the end, we had more kinfire tokens than we knew what to do with, so it ended up being less of a problem than it first appeared, but it was still a system I felt could use some improvements.

Artwork, Packaging and Design 

Kinfire Chronicles is an absolutely beautiful-looking game that comes in an imposing-looking but very cleverly designed box. The magnetized cover doubles up as the game’s playmat and base for both combat and town scenario maps. The game has a beautiful booklet that not only shows the layouts of the various cities you’ll be visiting but also acts as a physical battle map once things start heating up.

There are also lovely boxes for each scenario and playable character, along with a massive loot chest containing new powerful item cards for the heroes.

Kinfire Chronicles Night’s Fall- quests and other goodies

Despite the massive box, Kinfire Chronicles: Night’s Fall employs a clever system that minimizes desk real estate when playing. In addition to the aforementioned cover that will house the map, fate tokens, and reminders about the game’s core mechanics, everyone will also have their own player board housing all the important information such as the character’s current health and armor. 

There are also the monster HP indicators and the twelve numbered tokens which will determine what abilities enemies will use during combat. Each scenario comes with several plot-related cards, one of which will have a detailed description of how to set up the enemies, including telling players which tokens affect which abilities, and how many health points each enemy will start the combat with. 

Kinfire Chronicles Night’s Fall - roland wordforger

All of this means that despite having by far the smallest board gaming desk in our team, I was able to host our gaming sessions without much trouble, and the game took up half the space of titles coming in similar-sized boxes, such as Nemesis or Gloomhaven. 

Finally, I have to mention how brilliantly the game onboards new players, practically walking you through the entire setup and combat system in the tutorial scenario, while still managing to keep it fairly challenging. (no spoilers here!)

It also establishes that what you’ve learned is just the beginning, and then goes on to gradually introduce more complex mechanics as they become relevant, such as resolving your first quest, visiting your first town, or the multi-choice dilemmas your characters will frequently have to face during the campaign. 

Overall, it’s an industry-leading example of beautiful, practical, and well-thought-out game design, so kudos to the entire team at Incredible Dream.

Is Kinfire Chronicles: Night’s Fall for You?

I may have mentioned it already, but Kinfire Chronicles is one hell of a game. Whether we’re talking about its beautiful art design, approachable but challenging combat, or the grand sense of adventure that its campaign evokes, there is honestly very little to dislike here. 

In a market saturated with increasingly complex and difficult-for-newcomers board games like Frosthaven, it is nice to get a title that can appeal to beginners as well. While the combat might feel a little simplistic and random at times, it has far more depth than you may notice at first and only gets better as the characters improve their decks over the course of the campaign. New enemies and gameplay mechanics are progressively introduced, easing players into increasingly challenging scenarios while not completely holding their hand and offering a stiff challenge when required.

Kinfire Chronicles Night’s Fall-welcome

More than the combat, though, the game’s world truly feels well-realized and alive, with NPCs you’ll actually want to meet, converse, and befriend, and tough choices that your characters will have to make along the way. It’s not perfect, as I mentioned, with the destiny bag and the handling of the kinfire tokens sometimes being too random for my taste, but there was never a moment during our entire campaign where I didn’t find myself thoroughly enjoying the game or eagerly awaiting to see what comes next, and that’s really all that you could ask from any game, regardless of the medium.

Kinfire Chronicles: NIght’s Fall is a phenomenal debut for Incredible Dream and makes me excited for what this talented team has to offer in the future. It’s easily my favorite game of 2023 and a title any RPG lover owes it to themselves to give it a shot.

Ivan Stevanovic

Ivan Stevanovic

Ivan is our wordsmith extraordinaire and a passionate board gamer and RPG veteran. A gaming nerd since an early age, he got started with computer gaming back in the ZX Spectrum days (yeah, he is that old) and with board gaming while playing Monopoly as a kid.