Keyforge has been a hit for Fantasy Flight Games. Mass Mutation is the fourth set to enter the crucible and brings some of the biggest changes yet. The unique deck format is doubled down on with the new 'enhance' keyword, and double sized creatures are introduced. The House of Sanctum, which took a back seat last time out, returns and Brobnar takes a turn on the subs bench. What else does the dark æmber bring to the crucible? Let's find out!
Enter the Crucible
With a game like Keyforge, where you buy decks complete and can't edit them, it's not as easy to excite the user base about buying new content. Once you have your favourite deck, there is no way you can improve it. In Magic: the Gathering you can hunt down individual cards to improve your odds. Keyforge relies on new mechanics and houses to drive its meta. Each deck contains cards from three houses, and each set uses 7 out of a total of 9.
The return of the house of Sanctum fits the theming of this Mass Mutation set as they try to purge the unholy mutations. Mutations are old cards changed by dark æmber. So, Bad Penny becomes Rad Penny with different abilities. While this is good fan service for long time fans, more interesting is the introduction of the enhance keyword.
When a character has enhance, the algorithm that creates the unique decks notes that and adds enhancements randomly to other cards in the deck. These are displayed at the top left of the card. We have only ever had æmber there in the past but now enhance can add one more of æmber, capture, damage or draw a card. That means that my copy of Rad Penny might be enhanced whereas yours isn't. This not only adds a fun new layer of uniqueness but enhancements are also great to use!
Another fun addition is gigantic creatures - massive monsters that cover two cards. These beasts have amazing stats, but you must have both cards in your hand to play them. I'd love to tell you more about these cards but I have found them somewhat hard to get hold of. I've opened at least 6 decks and not had one gigantic creature.
For me this is a slight negative, as it buys into the collectable card game feel more than Keyforge previously has. These creatures are cool - but how much do I need to spend to get one and what if the rest of the deck is bish?
Mass Mutation is definitely my favourite Keyforge set so far. I love the new bonuses the enhancements bring and have fun spotting mutated characters. The new additions do make it more dense, but for the most part they are wrapped up within existing mechanics and so new players shouldn't be too overwhelmed. At least not any more than other CCG, although downloading the most up to date keywords list is probably a good idea!
To be honest, Keyforge is full of keywords anyway; even I have to double check some of them. However, this is overcome by how much fun I have playing the game. Keyforge has been accused of many things - including being too random to be competitive. My experience is the opposite. I'm a very casual player who was unbeaten against my friends. My first tourney was the opposite though - I lost every match. Players who can see the synergies in decks are going to be better at the game. Those who know how each house leans will prevail with what might be considered a 'weak' deck. Every time I lost I felt it was due to skill level of the players rather than luck of the draw.
Lord of the Crucible
Every time I play Keyforge I love it. It feels different to other collectable card games and not just in the 'unique deck' gimmick. The game is not about wiping your opponent out but forging keys. Sometimes the best way to do that is to play creatures to distract your opponent and reap æmber, other times it is best to let them do all the hard work and then steal the fruit!
While the model of collectable card games has its downsides, Keyforge presents a fresh take on that model that literally allows you to buy one deck and compete. Of course, you probably won't stop there, but you won't be seeking out rare cards in quite the same way. While Covid has limited my chances to play, I still relish the thought of a game of Keyforge and can't wait for more opportunities to play!