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KeyForge: Age of Ascension Preview

Age of Ascension KeyForge Preview

Fans of KeyForge got the news they’d all been waiting for this week: Fantasy Flight Games announced KeyForge: Age of Ascensions, the game’s first expansion set.

Since the release of KeyForge - the world’s first unique deck game - in November 2018, almost 600,000 decks have been registered on the game’s official app. These were all made up of the 400 or so cards from the first set, Call of the Archons.

Set for a second quarter release, Age of Ascension will add 204 brand-new cards to the game. These will be combined with 166 cards from Call of the Archons to make a brand-new pool of 370 cards, from which billions of new unique decks will be generated.

What does this mean for our Call of the Archons decks?

Age of Ascension doesn’t change anything for the Archon decks you already own. Fantasy Flight Games has stated that the sets are designed to be played together; the new release is not a replacement. They say that games between decks from the two sets should be just as balanced as games contained within one set.

As far as sealed organised play goes, we can most likely expect that Call of the Archons will be phased out. I imagine that local stores will use Age of Ascension for sealed events. However, Archon formats should allow you to use decks from either set.

What’s new in Age of Ascension?

Age of Ascension brings more of what we’ve seen in Call of the Archons, lending weight to Fantasy Flight’s assertion that it is not a replacement, but an extension for the existing set. All seven houses that we saw in set one will be represented again, with the same mechanics and overall flavour unchanged. The 166 cards from Call of the Archons will lend some continuity, so you’ll be familiar with the broad strokes of what the cards do.

However, the new set introduces three new mechanics: Alpha, Omega and Deploy. Alpha and Omega are two sides of the same coin. Cards with the Alpha mechanic must be played as the first action of a step, while Omega cards must be played at the end of a step. Playing a card with both keywords would be the only action you could take that step.

Age of Ascension KeyForge Preview - Cards
Age of Ascension KeyForge Preview - Cards (Credit: Fantasy Flight Games)

It looks like these keywords will be used as a limiting factor, mitigating more powerful effects in a similar way to how chains are used. I’m excited for the extra depth they’ll add to the decision of which house to play each turn and when to play cards from your hand, building on an already excellent feature of the game.

The third new keyword is Deploy, which allows you to place the creature anywhere in the battle line, not just on a flank. These creatures will have natural synergy with existing cards that care about position, and also seem to have influential effects that can bolster their neighbours. Early previews show the mechanic in Shadows and Sanctum, where it ties in very well mechanically. I like the way that KeyForge has built in positioning mechanics with effects that care about them and Deploy looks like an interesting shake up to established strategies.

New card types will also be introduced, building on the flavour of each house. Locations and vehicles have been teased for Brobnar, and we can expect many more to appear when the set is released in full.

Fantasy Flight has shown that they’re not afraid to mix things up mechanically to create cool cards. For example, Culf the Quiet has been revealed for Brobnar. He’s a peace-loving giant who has six power and Elusive, making him the biggest Elusive creature in the game and a tricky proposition to tackle.

Finally, a new starter set will come out with a few minor changes from the first starter set. It will still contain two Archon decks and a set of tokens, but the pre-built intro decks will no longer be included. In addition, the power and stun cards are now cardboard tokens and two paper playmats will be included to help with the game’s layout. It’s probably not worth it if you’ve already bought the Call of the Archons starter set, but it looks like a great entry point otherwise.

Age of Ascension - Coming Soon

We’re still awaiting an official release date, but it’s exciting to see things moving quickly for KeyForge. It was my top game of 2018 and I, for one, will be ordering a few Age of Ascension Archon decks as soon as I can! Keep an eye out on the Zatu store in the coming weeks and get your pre-order in!