Mixing up the popular franchise, Fantasy Flight Games has brought us a third set of cards to Keyforge, with World's Collide.
If you're not sure what exactly Keyforge is, check out our review for the original deck here for some more information. That said, if you're just starting to meander your way into the world of Keyforge, you can jump right in with World's Collide.
For brief overview of what this is all about, this a 2-player card game with players collection aember to create keys. Each key costs six aember (usually) and three keys wins the game. Decks are randomly generated using an algorithm, so no two decks are the same.
Additionally, each deck uses a unique card back, so no mixing and matching cards between decks. Finally, each deck is comprised of three unique houses, each with their own playstyle. That's the gist of things, so let's dive into the specifics of the World's Collide Starter Set!
World's Collide has made a couple of big changes compared to previous editions and I think it'd be daft to ignore those in this review, as the cards are such a significant part of the starter set.
Firstly, you'll notice the absence of the Mars and Sanctum houses, replaced by the Saurian Republic and Grand Star Alliance. This is already bound to stir up the mix when it comes to your algorithmically created decks.
The Saurian Republic are a dinosaur faction, with a sprinkling of ancient roman culture. They're as tough as you might imagine, rivalling the Brobnar faction, but utilise new abilities to stay ahead - cue "Exalting". This involves capturing aember from the common pool, creating a tempting reward for your opponent if your creature is taken off the field. In exchange for this risk, Saurian cards can become empowered by the aember or can pass this onto the player's own aember pool.
The Grand Star Alliance pride themselves on diversity, bringing all manner of races and species together. This means the Alliance utilises a range of abilities, including the Shadow's "Steal" ability or the taunt/capture abilities of the Sanctum House. Further, the Alliance plays well with others, with a range of cards that allow you to use your other houses during your turn.
Another two abilities for your arsenal include "Warding" and "Enraging". These can be found in cards across all of the houses. The first gives you a catch-all shield, preventing the first instance of damage or ability that might remove your creature from play. The second, Enraging, forces a creature to attack, preventing them from reaping and limiting your opponent's options. Offensive houses, such as Brobnar, also use this to buff their own creatures.
In all, there are 405 different cards circulating in this set and with new houses added and old ones removed, decks are certainly going to be a bit more interesting than before.
I've got a deck with both Saurian and Alliance cards in it and have been pretty impressed with the varied play styles so far. I particularly enjoy the Saurian cards, with their exciting risk-reward strategy of exalt-heavy gameplay. As always, the illustrations are visually appealing, with slightly different art styles between houses.
I've not used all of the new abilities, but do have some Warding cards in my deck. It's something new to buff my cards, but I don't find it as inspiring as Exalting. Perhaps if I played more competitively my views would change.
“What’s in the box?!”
Now for the Starter Set contents itself. Firstly, the contents:
- 2 Unique World's Collide Decks
- 1 Rulebook
- 2 Poster Playmats
- 6 Key Tokens
- 22 Aember Tokens
- 2 Chain Tracker Cards and Tokens
- 44 Status Tokens
- 22 Damage Tokens
I've covered the decks, really. If you like Keyforge, as many people do, they're great.
The poster playmats are okay. They don't really add much and I'd coped fine without them before. They have table presence and look good, so no complaints there, but they aren't essential to your collection. They’re made of poster-like material, so don’t expect them to be incredibly durable, but they’re equally not costing a premium price. Regardless, I doubt these are the reasons people would consider buying the set anyway. I see them as a garnish.
Maybe I'm being too critical on these paper sheets, but it's too late - it's out there now.
A rulebook is always handy to have, but PDFs are available online for this job. I have nothing bad to say about the rulebook, but if you’re weighing up whether or not to get this starter set or just a couple of decks, this shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
How about the Keys and Aember tokens? I'm tempted to call them another luxury, as I've coped fine using mobile apps for most of the heavy lifting. For when creatures were capturing aember, I was using substitute tokens from other games, but it always felt a little dirty, like movie piracy. I feel much better about using the real deal and 22 tokens seems just enough to not run out unless things get particularly crazy. In all, I'm definitely glad I've got them. No more battery-draining, digital crutches to help me get by.
For me, the Damage Tokens are similar to the Aember. I was previously using dice to track damage, but I think I prefer the tactile nature of the tokens. Another welcome addition to my collection.
The Chain Tracker is potentially helpful in the event that a deck actually uses the "Gain Chains" effect, but I find that's a rarity. That said, I'm aware some players bid on decks using Chains to handicap more powerful decks, but that's not something I've dabbled in. So, I've not put this component to use myself, but I'd rather have it and not need it than vice versa.
Lastly, the array of Status Tokens, including for all of the newest abilities, like Warding. Here, I'm especially thankful. As with the other tokens, I was previously scavenging from other games. However, now that so many statuses are available, I think I'd struggle to source appropriate substitutes, without getting muddled on which replacement represented what. Out of all of the little extras included in this set, I find these the most compelling reasonable to get it.
I'd like to make an honourable mention, or rather dishonourable mention to the storage solutions included in the set (i.e. there aren't any). I appreciate deck boxes cost money, but just some baggies or something similar would go a long way. I fortunately have enough lying around, but that doesn't apply to everyone. Granted, flaps of cardboard on the insert can separate the decks, but that's no help if you want to head out and about with them. Pet peeve of mine, now aired out.
So, this isn't the only Keyforge Starter Set on the market. With each new wave of cards, an associated starter set isn't far behind and, at the time of writing, there's three sets to choose from. Let's see how this one compares.
Firstly, this one contains all of the new status Tokens, so if you plan on playing with a World's Collide deck, this is the obvious choice. The rest of the components are very similar to the previous edition, Age of Ascension. Age of ascension has a couple more aember and damage tokens to this set, but I’m not convinced they’d be entirely necessary. As for the original starter set, it uses cards for its status indicators, which are much less appropriate for their task and rectified in these later iterations. So, if you're deciding between the Starter Sets, look no further.
Alright, so there’s the contents laid out flat, with some general commentary on everything there, so let’s piece this altogether.
For a start, Keyforge is a great game and this iteration is no different. It's easy enough to get into, varied enough to stay interesting and cheap enough to just dip your toes in. The gameplay of Keyforge itself is going to carry much of the final score, so it really comes down to whether the additional components included are worth it.
The component quality is good, with no obvious complaints. Tokens are tokens, and are just as sturdy as in any other game, with the deck of cards as pretty and durable as they’ve ever been.
Is this set necessary to play? I would argue not. I’ve coped well for months without any starter set at all and, if you’re determined enough, you’ll find replacements for any necessary tokens. That said, I’m definitely more content having all of the genuine components instead of a slew of awkward substitutes.
How about the value? Okay, so two decks, plus all of the extra bits. Depending on whether you use the RRP or Zatu’s current price, deducting the value of the decks from this set puts the additional components at around £3-4. Let’s call it £3.50. This is for your keys, aember, damage and status tokens, chain tracker board, rulebook and playmats. I don’t think that’s a bad deal. It’d have been nice to have some additional storage solutions, but I guess that’s what the Premium Box is for or you can invest in some cheap deck boxes, like I have.
If you’ve not got a starter set already, I say go for it. If you’ve already got the Age of Ascension Starter Set, then your decision gets a little trickier. Regardless, there’s a great game in here and this set does everything it sets out to do without tagging on too much additional cost.