Keyforge is a "Unique Deck Game." That means that every deck you buy is completely different from every other deck. You don't need to worry about deck building or keeping track of a meta. You won't come up against someone who's spent a lot of money on powerful cards. Decks have gone for a lot of money on Ebay, but buying a good deck won't make you a good player.
So, theoretically, this game is perfect for casual players who don't have the time or money to play Magic the Gathering to a high level.
How to Win in KeyForge
The winner in KeyForge is the first person to forge three keys. You collect Amber by playing and using cards. The standard cost to forge a key is six Amber. The game will end before the third key is forged as a player will realise they can't prevent the third key and concede.
Before you play KeyForge, you need tokans to represent armour, damage, stun, power and, of course, keys. Other game pieces make good stand-ins, the starter set does come with almost everything you will need, but is hard to get hold of at the moment. Each player will need a unique deck.
Starting the Game
Each player shuffles their deck. The first player is randomly decided and draws seven cards. The player going second draws six cards. Both players can mulligan; shuffle their hand into their deck and draw one less card. The first player to take their turn may only play one card, all later turns take place as normal.
- If you can forge a key, you must forge a key at current cost.
- Declare a house. You can only play and use cards from that house this turn.
- Declare if you're going to return your achieved cards to hand. You must return all or nothing.
- Play/Use your cards.
- Discard any cards of the active house.
- Ready all your exhausted cards.
- Draw cards back up to your current hand size.
There are seven houses, or factions, in KeyForge. Each deck will have three houses and each house in a deck will have 12 cards inside. Each house has a theme and can have a play style. As you will have 12 cards from a house in your deck, you may get cards that;
- Brobnar - The barbarian hordes, made up of violent high-powered giants. Artefacts and actions cards that generally deal damage or stun.
- Dis - Demons, punishing effects. Can cause opponents to discard, be able to play less or be able to draw less. Also, can have access to archiving.
- Logos - Scientists with hi-tech gadgets. The main house with draw and archive effects. My favourite house with card like Crazy Killing Machine and Neutron Shark.
- Mars - Little aliens and big robots. Very war of the worlds. Lots of reap effects that can add up to a real problem. The house where timing of plays is the most important. They also have some access to forging keys out of the forge key step.
- Sanctum - Big knights. A lot of armour, a lot of taunt, and some very nice action cards and artefacts. This house features the The Four Horsemen, who are causing decks to go for silly money online.
- Shadows - Rogues, prepare for your amber to be stolen, constantly. Great effect on cards like Bait and Switch, and fun cards like Bad Penny. You will have a hard time saving up Amber to forge a key and once you've got a enough, they'll make you skip your forge key step. You can never relax against them.
- Untamed - Lots of animals, high Amber gain and great combo interactions. With of the Eye can get any card back from discard when you reap and will create a nightmare.
There are four type of cards. Any card with an Amber symbol gains Amber when played. Then, resolve the effect of the card.
- Creatures - You put them in your battle line, always adding them to one flank. On your turn you can fight with them, reap to gain Amber, or do an action that's on the card. Each creayure has power, which is both the amount it hits for and the health it has. As the creature takes damage its health decreases but the amount of damage it causes remains the same. Creatures can have armour, this needs to be dealt with before causing damage and repairs at the end of each turn.
- Upgrades - These attach to creatures and add a variety of abilities.
- Artefacts - Played back from your battle line, providing a passive ability or an action.
- Actions - These cover a wide, wide, variety of effects. All are fun to play and can create enjoyable combos. They can be very situational and often be played only for the Amber they provide.
KeyForge has overarching rules. These are very useful for deciding card interactions;
Do as much as you can
Whatever the card or ability says, you resolve as much of it as possible. This allows for neat manipulation of some effects. For example, if a creature is exhausted and an affect that says; "Ready and fight with a friendly creature," you would firstly ready a creature, then check to see if there were any targets to fight. If there is an enemy creature to fight, then you must fight. If there are no enemy creatures then the effect is resolved but the creature remains readied.
It could then us an action, or it could reap. This makes a lot of the cards more versatile and allows you to order your plays in more interesting ways.
Action Player decides order of Simultaneous Events
This is a simple way to resolve simultaneous effects. It rewards big plays and players who order events more advantageously.
Card Text takes Precedence over Game Rules
If a card tells you that you can do something that the game says you can't, e.g forge a key not in the Forge Key step of your turn, then the card takes precedence.
Negative Effects beat Positive Effects
If I play a card that says you can only play two cards on your turn and you play a card that tells you that you can play more cards, my negative effect beats your positive one. This makes it easier to set harder puzzles for your opponent.
Rules as a Living Document
The rules are not supplied with the game, there is only a Quick Start guide in the starter set. This is because they are a living document and will be changing as different judgements are made. You can also submit questions to Fantasy Flight Games and regular rule updated will be published. These FAQs should help the community all play to the same rules and have the same interpretations of cards.