Keyforge

Keyforge, the first “Unique” card game, has been out for a few weeks now and it’s performing really well, having almost completely sold out (we’ve still got a decent supply at the store because we ordered deep, but it’s going fast). It’s definitely worth a try. You can come in Monday evenings to get demo with me, or just pick up a couple $10 decks to play with your friends!

What’s a Unique Game?

A unique game is something new that Fantasy Flight (Asmodee) is trying out, wherein each copy of the game has a unique assortment of cards, tiles, or something that distinguishes it from every other copy. In Keyforge, the cards have a unique back specific to the deck you buy. Keyforge is the first competitive card game released in this format and was designed by the father of Magic: The Gathering, Richard Garfield. In Keyforge, you don’t build decks at all because each deck has been procedurally generated to have a unique assortment of cards. This is a really interesting take on game design and apparently is what Richard Garfield had kind of imagined when he originally created Magic.

How’s the Gameplay?

The gameplay is really interesting. Keyforge is a very swingy game with a lot of bomb cards and cool combos available. There’s no resource needed to play cards, so each turn you’re deciding which of your three factions will be most useful to you. Card economy and action economy is king in this game. Why do you have to choose one of your three factions each turn? Because you only get to play, activate, or discard cards from the chosen faction (unless cards break that rule).

Each player takes their turn and does their worst. There are no reactions or ‘instant-speed’ cards in the game. Some decks will deny their opponents options on their turn, but the pace of the game is about building advantage over the course of a few turns. The whole goal of the game is to forge 3 keys, which cost a base of 6 Aember (the currency of the game) apiece, so play revolves around gaining Aember by “reaping” with your creatures (different than fighting) and playing cards that gain, steal, or capture Aember.

Since money is the name of the game, combat is used as a control mechanic. Some factions control the game state through combat but fighting is only ever a means to an end. My “pro” advice is that if you’re losing by a little each game, you may be fighting too much and not reaping enough.

Gameplay is all about building advantage when you can. Since there are so many cards that reset the board or make huge changes to the game state, long term strategies can be daunting. Each turn, you should evaluate which cards you can play, which permanents you can use, and what effects your opponent will be able to use against you in the following round. Your first instinct will usually be to choose your faction for the turn based on how many cards you can play but it’s important not to neglect your creatures and artifacts. Both enter play exhausted (tapped), so they need to survive in order to be useful.

Summary

Overall, Keyforge will appeal to many gamers who enjoy the competition of a 1v1 card game without wanting to invest into a CCG or LCG. Literally $10 (plus tax) is all you need to spend to play at the same level as the pros. There are Keyforge official tokens in the Starters, but you can easily spoof these with dice, coins, or tokens from other games. Most players will buy 2-4 decks to try out multiple different factions, play styles, and to have some variety. Regardless of whether you have one deck or one-hundred, Keyforge is an awesome new way for players to experience cards games!

Come test your favorite decks out at our first Keyforge Archon tournament on Sunday, December 30th!

~ Andrew Narzynski