How is it at all possible to compile a top three? Ahhhhhh… so many games on my shelf. I could narrow it down to a top three per genre, perhaps. That would be an achievable task, for certain… well, a reasonably achievable task, at any rate.
Maybe it is worth focusing on what most frequently hits my table, which, I must point out, does not necessarily reflect favour. It is more indicative of how my mood seems to change with the wind, and, when I having that gaming itch, that requirement of said itch getting a certain scratching. But so often my brain is on a go-slow, so my choice often turns out to be a less thinky game… but always with a soloish element.
Ok… here goes.
Gloom of Killforth regularly finds its way to the table, and is always in my ever changing top games list. I think that this is not only down to the great table presence, with its sumptuous art work, but also because it has so many throw-back elements to my late teen-hood with Fighting Fantasy books and D&D sessions with my old volleyball team mates.
This high fantasy adventure/exploration game doesn’t really have much in the way of either within its gameplay, but has more of an essence of both. The imagination road trip that both FF and D&D created, can be unearthed once more with adventures in Kilforth Players may take on the role of a wide range of fantasy races, but each race is additionally paired with a trait/special characteristic lending the choice of character combinations not to be endless, but certainly hugely variable, pairing a multitude of interesting skill set and ability combinations.
A personal favourite mechanic is the synergy between health and action points. Directly linked so that, let’s say, getting a black eye from an unruly Hobgoblin could impact on the number of actions for future turns and consequently forcing a well crafted strategy to be rapidly rethought. And thus we, the heroes, are forced to make difficult life choices. Jump into combat and run the risk of losing health and action points or bury one’s head in the sand and ignore everything…or even use the Hide ability to sneak upon or past risky situations.
…did I Mention Gloom?
…each turn a card is turned from the Night deck (and there is rarely anything nice to come out of it) rain, snow, gales, hail, more beasties and each card drawn from this night deck causes a location to fall into Gloom. So! I hear the cynics cry. So Gloom locations are so….Gloomy….they eat away at your health, making life that little bit more tricky to navigate through. It doesn’t stop there. Oh no! there are 25 locations and 25 Night cards. if, by the turn of the last night card (forcing the last location into gloom) Heroes have yet to dispatch the Ancient One, it’s good bye Kilforth. The land succumbs to the despicable influence of the Ancient being and Gloom doth spread all around. An excellent, and certainly during my games, a sphincter squeaking timer mechanic!
There are so many nice little touches I’ve not even mentioned but I’m not about to do a How-to-play narrative, which is probably sensible considering the significant cock-ups I always seem to make…but that’s the beauty of solo play…there is only me, myself and I to witness such events.
I, we, us…well, my whole collective found this thoroughly game entertaining with every play. It does look great, though A5 card size would be even better to see the art…mind you, that would need a football pitch to lay out the components, I’m guessing…but the gameplay is so engaging. It does take a little to get all the small rule details committed to memory, but to actually play, the brain isn’t forced into a melting cauldron of mechanics, modifiers, sodifiers and what ever elseifiers. It is straight forward, and in my case, leaves my brain to firstly enjoy the adventure, and secondly plan what needs to be done. It’s like living a Fighting Fantasy book or playing D&D but without the fuss. Now I’m a little more familiar with Kilforth and its inhabitants, I can make more informed choices about where I go to see a man about a dog…but, after an absolute shed load of plays, it has yet to become boring or predictable. In fact, I may move to Kilforth as some of the locations are much nicer to visit than my house. There is so much to do without being overwhelmed, but at the same time so little time to do it in. It’s such a fulfilling experience with so many varied encounters with all manner of local Kilforthian personalities and even after a crushing defeat against the Marquis just leaves me wanting a revisit. This is a perfect solution to my desire for solo adventuring. No DM required but all the thrills and spills I remember from my youth…playing D&D, that is, as my youth was pretty uneventful…except spilling things quite often.
Some concise-ish scribblings about the game: