The Oncoming Storm
After a long wait, Keyforge has finally returned to our shores. It’s blowing in like a great storm…well, ok, maybe more like a stiff breeze, but it’s still here! The latest expansion for the unique deck card game of Keyforge, Winds of Exchange, is now available to purchase. Apart from some pre-release packs floating around, the main thing you’ll see for sale is the Winds of Exchange archon deck. But one of the beautiful things about Keyforge is the deck packs are quite simple, so let me first talk about the Winds of Exchange expansion as a whole.
A New Deal
The new house in Winds of Exchange is House Ekwidon. Mainly composed of a race called the Getrookya, they are merchants who operate a network of traders all across the Crucible. They’ll always have a deal for you, it just might be worth a closer look before you agree.
Gameplay wise, House Ekwidon focuses on deals where both players can benefit. Maybe you play an action that destroys a card but gives its controller 1 amber. This could be an even trade, but what if the creature was very powerful? Or had captured amber on it? Or the amber is immediately stolen by another card? Or maybe you just play it on one of your own cards you need destroyed for another effect, gaining both the benefits and none of the drawbacks. It’s all about offering these deals in the most favourable situation to you possible.
It’s also worth noting that as usual some Houses don’t appear in this expansion. This time it’s the turn of Logos, Shadows and Untamed. While Brobnar and Mars return from being away.
A Token Of My Appreciation
Another key component of Winds of Exchange is the token creature. Each deck is assigned a token creature, which will be from one of the Houses in the deck. This creature's card is kept to the side as a reference, and whenever a card instructs you to ‘make a token creature’, you put the top card of your deck face down on the board to represent it.
In some ways this might seem counterintuitive. You can’t use whatever card is turned face down (unless you somehow bring it back to your hand, in which case it becomes a normal card again), and you could be using a fair chunk of your deck this way. So why deny yourself access to a portion of the cards in your deck? Well, it depends on the token honestly, and your deck. Some decks will use them sparingly, others to great effect, but it’s worth noting some things that apply to all situations.
Firstly, you are cycling through your deck quicker, and there is nothing to stop you looking at which card is face down, so with a bit of mental maths you can tell which cards are still in your deck and get to them sooner, or get to the end of the deck so you can recreate it from your discard pile. Secondly, if you have the ability to pick up cards on the field, you have essentially got an extra hand of cards, face down, that are just harder to use and in danger of being destroyed. Not ideal, but there is potential for strategy there. And thirdly, some tokens are just ridiculously good. Prospector, for example, lets you draw a card whenever it is destroyed, so you can just keep running the token creatures into things to draw more and more from your deck, so long as you can generate enough of them. And Blorbs….don’t get me started on Blorbs!
A Splash Of Colour
One last thing to mention about the set as a whole is a new keyword has been added. Splash-attack (X). We’ve seen this mechanic before on a few cards but it’s more straightforward now. When this creature fights an enemy creature, it deals X damage to that creature's neighbours as well.
Talk About The Deck Already!
Alright alright, I’ll talk about the deck itself. Keyforge decks come in a sealed plastic/foil like wrapper, then the deck itself inside that is in clear plastic film. This is honestly a shame, as before the hiatus they had moved to cardboard for the outer packaging, but it’s a different company running things now. I hope they revisit this idea in the future though.
Each deck is completely unique. There is a standard set of cards in each expansion and each deck is made up of a combination of those, with a maximum of 3 duplicates of a single card in each deck. Nobody else in the world will have the exact same deck as you. This is made even more unique by the enhancements some cards have. When an enhancement card is in your deck, during the building stage the program building the deck will add the enhancement ‘pips’ to other cards in your deck at random. These are things like extra card draw or amber when you play the card. Also, and in my opinion the best part, each deck gets a randomly generated name. These are often epic or hilarious, there were even some slightly rude ones when Keyforge first started that slipped through the net!
What you end up with is a pre-made, completely unique deck that you know for a fact nobody else will be playing against you. It makes a nice change from other card games when you can often face the same meta decks over and over. That’s not to say that all Keyforge decks are created equal, there are good and bad ones, but the challenge I have always felt is to make it your own. Own that slightly iffy deck and find ways to use it others might not expect.
The decks can be registered to your account in the Keyforge Master vault, and I encourage you to do so as it confirms ownership if anything ever happens to it. You can even order replacements, or duplicate decks to take to tournaments if your original happens to be very valuable and you don’t want to risk losing it.
The cards of Winds of Exchange in general are of good quality and fit nicely into standard sleeves. The edges of the cards seem to scuff more easily now however, and it does seem to be generally slightly lower quality than previous. But once they are sleeved up, something I always recommend doing, you’ll never notice.
Time To Open The Vault
It’s a good time to either be approaching Keyforge for the first time or returning after a long break. The game looks to be in a good place and there is already a crowdfunding campaign running for the next expansion. While the unique deck concept might not be for everyone, it’s definitely something unique in the card game scene and the game itself is very fun. The game is approachable and the communities that spring up around it are always friendly and passionate about introducing more people to the game, so drop down to your local store and see if anyone else is interested in playing. Have fun, and keep on forging!