Stats at a glance
Publisher: Hall or Nothing
High fantasy is anything but a rare theme among board games. Still, only a few titles pop out as brightly as Gloom of Killforth.
Akin to a DnD game, you will pick the race and class of their character, and then the game will take you on an epic adventure with numerous perils, trials, and rewards. You can work together with other players or alone to achieve goals, all while the world expands and shifts around you.
I suggest sticking around as I explain the setting and the gameplay in more detail. If you’re into DnD/High Fantasy, Gloom of Kilforth certainly has elements you’ll find interesting!
Table of Contents
Brief Overview of Gloom of Kilforth
With the full name of Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game, I’m sure you can figure out what the game is about. The game is set up for 1-4 players and you can play it as a party or against each other.
Playing time is around 1-3 hours depending on the number of players, and it’s rated as a moderately complex game. However, I’d raise that rating up a bit, as there are a lot of things to learn and remember regarding characters and interactions.
Next to the excellent gameplay, the artwork is one of the main selling points of Gloom of Kilforth. The detailed and photorealistic renditions of characters and monsters are among the best I’ve seen in the high fantasy genre.
Versions & Expansions
Gloom of Kilforth: Encounters
Encounters is the first expansion for the game that adds more encounter and reward cards to the game, increasing variety and replay value. The expansion is simply shuffled into the original decks and can be used from there on.
Gloom of Kilforth: Promo Pack 1 & 2
Gloom of Kilforth has an additional two card expansions in Promo Packs 1 and 2. These introduce a variety of new cards that will definitely spice up your gameplay.
Gloom of Kilforth: Pimp My Gloom Expansion
Unboxing Gloom of Kilforth
The game includes the following components:
- 82 Encounter Cards
- 74 Reward Cards
- 25 Location Cards
- 25 Night Cards
- 24 Saga Cards
- 24 Plot Cards
- 8 Race Cards
- 8 Class Cards
- 4 Ancient Cards
- 4 Ancient Abilities Cards
- 32 Skill Cards
- 20 Card Dividers
- 168 Wooden Tokens
- 82 Loot Tokens
- 16 Enemy Tokens
- 1 First Hero Marker
- 8 Hero Standees
- 6 D6 Dice
- 1 Loot Bag
Having glanced over the list of components, you might have missed the fact that Gloom of Kilforth does not have a game or player board of any kind. Cards are the bread and butter of the game, with location cards forming a 5×5 map grid in the middle of the table while the other cards are spread around it.
As far as production quality goes, there’s not much I can say, and none of it is negative. The game consists largely of cards and wooden tokens, with some punchout cardboard pieces. Everything is just fine and I didn’t see the need to sleeve the cards. I’ve always been a fan of metal tokens and seeing them instead of plastic certainly made my impression more positive.
The highlight of the game is undoubtedly the artwork. With 40 or so cards on the table at any point, you’ll be looking at a lot of imagery, so it has to be good.
I’m sure this is not the last time I’ll say it through this review, but Gloom of Kilforth has some of the best card artwork among high-fantasy games, and possibly in general as well. The level of detail is so great that I’ve found myself analyzing the cards on more than one occasion.
How to Play Gloom of Kilforth
Gloom of Kilforth plays a lot like your standard fantasy RPG. There are action points, player & monster phases, combat with dice rolls… Players work towards their goals, moving around the board, collecting what they need and fighting encountered monsters.
Because there are so many nuances and different mechanics in this game, going through all of them in detail is simply not viable. Fortunately, the concepts are easy to grasp even in their most basic form, so I’ll give you a solid rundown of how the game is played.
Setup & Character Selection
To start off, let’s talk about the board setup. There are 25 location cards that form a random 5×5 map, with the Sprawl City always being at the center of it. You’ll place a variety of decks and cards around the map: encounter, reward, skill, plot, etc.
Choose or draw a race, class, and saga. Sagas represent the epic plotlines heroes need to undertake. Every saga consists of four chapters and a Finale & Totem. Next to the characters, players will get a set of 4 health, fate, and action tokens, as well as a few others.
There are eight races in the world of Kilforth:
- Dark Elf
Each race has a different set of attributes and stats, affecting the way you can play it. Like classes and skills, it’ll all be familiar to you if you’ve played RPG games.
Encounters are the monsters and challenges you’ll face as you progress toward completing your saga. Rewards can be obtained by winning the encounter, or by discovering them through other means. When you defeat an enemy, you’ll also receive its card to serve as a “rumor” that helps with saga requirements.
Rounds, Turns & Actions
The journey of heroes takes place over 25 days, which are effectively game rounds. The Days are divided into daylight and night, with the former reserved for hero actions and the latter for game events.
At the start of each day, heroes take a number of action points equal to their current health. This means that as they get wounded and untreated, heroes’ capabilities will diminish.
Players will take one action with their hero in clockwise order until everyone has made camp (passed). When everyone passes, the night phase starts. Enemies can move during the night and enter a location occupied by a hero. During the next daylight phase, that hero must resolve the encounter before doing anything else.
The action points granted at the start of the day can be spent on one of the following actions:
- Move to an adjacent location
- Clear an obstacle or plot and gain a loot token.
- Search to draw an encounter at the current location.
- Hide to prepare for an ambush in the next encounter.
- Confront a quest, place, or stranger to win and gain rewards.
- Rest to heal a health point.
- Discover – play a card from hand.
- Market – buy and sell cards, spend gold to heal.
- Regale – complete a part of the saga.
Sagas & Game End
To complete a saga chapter, you need to spend 5 gold and resolve the keyword requirement(s). The keywords can be resolved by discarding rumor cards or by using asset cards. In both cases, the cards used need to have the matching keyword.
Completing the 4th chapter of the saga opens up the Finale event where your character is put to the ultimate test. Winning the encounter is not the true end of the game though, as now the Ancients will enter the play. Heroes that completed their sagas can challenge the Ancients, and winning against them grants true victory!
Your First Game of Gloom of Kilforth
Gloom of Kilforth offers a lot of liberty in how you play the game. You can play by yourself and control multiple characters, or play with/against other players.
Any scenario would work for the first game, but a somewhat or fully cooperative game would make it a lot easier to learn. There’s so much to take in during your first game, and teamwork would make it less frustrating.
That’s really all the advice I can give you – Gloom of Kilforth is the kind of game you need to sit down and play by yourself to fully understand. Dedicate around 4 hours to the game, get willing participants if you’d like, and give it a go!
Pros & Cons
- Stunning Artwork
- Strong Immersion
- Character Progression
I keep mentioning the art, but I can’t overstate how good it is. I do have minor grievances with it, but I cannot say anything negative about the quality or the level of detail on every card.
You’re probably thinking that there’s no way this cookie-cutter high fantasy game would get you immersed, but I think that’s anything but the case. Trust me — the game quickly sinks its claws in you and gets you involved with the theme.
True to the RPG genre, Gloom of Kilforth does a great job of giving you a sense of progression through the game. You start off weak but get stronger with each day, giving you the power to handle greater and scarier enemies until the big bosses of the game show up.
- Polarizing Experience
- Luck of the Roll
- Lack of Some Context
The only concerning aspect of Gloom of Kilforth is its take-it or leave-it design. I don’t see this game being anyone’s 6/10 — either you love it and play it regularly, or you’ve tried it once and never looked back.
Chance and classic RPGs go hand-in-hand, but relying on dice rolls in a high-stakes game is not going to be for everyone. I didn’t find any balancing issues associated with it — this is more of a heads-up for those that don’t like luck elements.
The brutal early game has put off a lot of people from playing Gloom of Kilforth, and the game is partially to blame for it. Players are not provided enough context as to how the game works, and most jump straight into combat, which tends to end poorly.
In Gloom of Kilforth, characters start from the bottom, so any combat early on is a massive risk. There are ways to gain an advantage or avoid combat altogether — going in head first is not going to work.
Gloom of Kilforth Review (TL;DR)
Gloom of Kilforth: A Fantasy Quest Game is a brilliant roleplaying game that gives players a lot of liberty in how to approach it. The artwork and the immersion really push the game to the next level. The gameplay is challenging and engaging throughout, with excellent character progression and power ramp.
Gloom of Kilforth should appeal to most DnD and classic, high-fantasy RPG players. Even if you’re not big on the genre, it might be fun to try, but I suggest watching a playthrough of the game to get the full picture.
DnD-style games have always been hit-or-miss with me. I can get behind a few, but for the most part, I respect what the game tries to achieve but fail to have fun with it.
Getting through all the rules and mechanics of Gloom of Kilforth was a pain, but once I got to the game, I had a lot of fun with it. I love games where you start at the bottom and work your way up, and in Gloom of Kilforth that’s exactly how it goes.
The game does require a mindset change as you can’t just go and fight every monster you encounter. Fights feel like they have stakes, although the dice add a bit of randomness and frustration to it.
I’ve sung all the praises for the artwork, but there is one minor grievance I have with it. Male characters have a lot of range in design and expressions — they’re handsome, grim, battle-scarred, intimidating, you name it. The same cannot be said for the female characters, at least from my point of view. They’re all gorgeous first and foremost, and then some flavor is added on top.
As I was writing this, I did some forum checks to see if I’m the only one thinking this, and I stumbled upon a controversy regarding the art, where even the game devs chimed in. Personally, I care little for the drama and I just wish there was a greater design range of these characters.
None of this should take away from your opinion to get the game if you’ve liked what you’ve read so far. The art is still top-notch, and it’s the game mechanics and progression that’ll keep you coming back to this game time and time again!
We hope you enjoyed our Gloom of Kilforth review! Have you tried this epic fantasy board game or any of its expansions? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
When I first got into the hobby some 10 years ago, my friend circles didn’t know that board games went further than Monopoly and Risk. Now everyone I’m close with is into board gaming and my collection really has something for everyone.
My favorite games are Terraforming Mars and Lords of Waterdeep and I’m a fan of Euro, strategy, and engine-building games in general. I also enjoy the Warhammer 40,000 universe, which pulled me into the miniature painting hobby.