There is no denying that Magic: The Gathering is classic in the genre of collectable card games (CCG) and the card/board game hobby as a whole. The legendary game designer Richard Garfield created a game that is still going strong to this date some 25 years on, it has a huge fan base, regular tournaments and is a game that a lot of people still love, play and attribute to getting them in to the world of modern day board gaming. I personally played this many years ago (not at a competitive level) before taking a long break before getting back in to board games.
Richard Garfield is back with another card game, KeyForge: Call of the Archons, that is boasting to be like nothing that has ever been seen before. Every deck that is produced is unique. There are no two decks in the world that will be the same. There is no deck building or booster packs in this game. Decks can still be purchased but every single deck will be unique, the publishers are boasting a massive 104 quadrillion possible decks in the first set of cards.
This is logistically impressive in itself as the manufacturing process must be something special to be able to pull this off. The deck you purchase is ready to go out of the straight out of the packet with no deck manipulation required. But how does the game actually play?
KeyForge - What We Know!
KeyForge is played over a series of turns where the player will use their pre-constructed deck of creatures, technology, artefacts and skills from a particular chosen House to gather Aember, fight the enemy and use the gathered Aember to forge keys. The first to forge three keys and to unlock the Crucible's Vault is the winner.
A player selects and declares a particular House (seven Houses are present in the game, all with different stories, histories and skill sets - with three being used in each deck) at the beginning of their turn and during that turn they can only play cards from the selected house.
Unlike a lot of deck builders or CCGs, the cards in KeyForge do not have a cost to play them. The House that a player chooses at the start of their turn allows them to play the respective cards for free. Using the cards that you have previously played and that are in your hand wisely to gather Aember and fight your enemey is the key to success. Focus more on fighting with your opponents and neglecting Aember will mean you can not forge the required keys to win. However, focusing just on collecting Aember whilst your opponents are attacking you is not going to work.
Players will have to balance both aspects to succeed. The trick is for players to use the cards they have in their hand, utilising combinations and interaction with other cards. The combination and interactions are going to vary from deck to deck and game to game, making the right tactical decisions all the more important and will be the key to victory. If players fancies a change to their current deck then they can purchase a new Archon deck for a new set of unique cards. The new deck will come with its own challenges in working out how best the cards interact for the most benefit.
Early Thoughts on KeyForge
KeyForge is a very ambitious game. Not from a gameplay perspective, this looks very streamlined and uncomplicated, but the manufacturing aspect. To be able to produce a unique deck every time with the dizzying array of unique decks and still keep it balanced is a feat in itself.
The puzzle of being able to figure out how best your unique deck works is interesting and will keep the game fresh every time a new deck is used or you face off against a new deck. I am very interested in seeing where this game could go with expansions, extra content, how much the different Archon decks play and if they are in fact all balanced.
KeyForge is definitely is a game that is high on my radar and I am eagerly looking forward to the release towards the end of year. Christmas list anyone?