Keen for some spice in your TCG life? Here's four reasons to play KeyForge!
KeyForge is a "unique deck game" from the mind of Richard Garfield. In it, you take the role of an Archon - a being of great power who is treated as a god - and duke it out in the Crucible. It's fast, easy to pick-up and play, and did I mention that Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: the Gathering and King of Tokyo, made it? Without further ado, here's four reasons you need to get in on KeyForge:
The house system
One of KeyForge's great strengths is its house system - a unique blend of flavour and function.
Within the Crucible, KeyForge's fantasy arena of choice, there are seven houses with their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the members of the Shadows house are elusive types who stick to the... lightless areas (there's a lot of words you can use for describing KeyForge's flavour - subtle is not one of them). While low in health, the rogues of Shadows excel in avoiding damage and stealing your opponent's Æmber. This style of play aligns with their art, too - a noticeable draw towards tiny creatures and hooded figures gives the members of Shadows a ninja clan-esque vibe. Think Ravnica's Dimir guild, but with more goblins.
Beyond flavour, the house system gives KeyForge a unique style of play present in no other card game. Instead of using a resource system like Magic: the Gathering's mana or Pokémon's energy, KeyForge has you select an active house from the three that your deck offers at the beginning of each turn. Until the next turn, you can only play, discard, and use cards from your active house. This gives you a tough choice to make every turn. Which cards in your hand are worth playing? Which ones are worth saving for the next turn? Would you rather play cards from your hand or use your creatures from a different house? Having a full hand at the start of every turn further complicates this decision, making for interesting games rife with decision making from beginning to end.
It's no secret that playing trading card games can be a very expensive hobby. What begins as a few bucks for a beginner's deck quickly snowballs into regular events at your local game store, booster packs, higher level pre-constructed product, individual cards for deck building and accessories galore. By the end of it all, you might be sitting down for a game with a deck that cost you thousands and has no more cards in it than the initial deck you began this journey with.
While these costs are entirely optional, this does tend to give those with cash to burn a noticeable advantage. In my experience, playing a game of Magic: the Gathering where your opponent has a turn one that's more expensive than your entire deck sets an unpleasant mood for the next hour or so.
When Richard Garfield was building KeyForge, he wanted to re-create the sealed deck play that he missed from days of yore. Thus, each KeyForge deck is procedurally generated and sold as a complete unit with a unique deck name (to prevent swapping in cards). For no more than the price of starter product, anyone can pick up a KeyForge deck that's ready to take to the big leagues, opening the playing field for more than just those with a few extra zeroes in their savings to spare.
Easy to pick up and play
KeyForge is a unique game. Its focus on stripping away deck building, and its combat-free win condition set it apart from everything else on the market. However, many of its smaller elements bare resemblance to another Richard Garfield product, Magic: the Gathering. Taking into consideration how Magic has affected the trading card game landscape, it's not hard to draw parallels between a mechanic in KeyForge and similar ones in whatever your favourite card game is.
While some may see this as an inherent negative, these similarities make KeyForge a great game to pick up and play for TCG veterans. When I sat down to play my first game of KeyForge, it only took a few minutes for my brain to link the synapses between what I knew from playing other games and KeyForge - it was like Worlds had Collide...d (this will be funny in a bit). While the aim of the game is unique, it's relatively uncomplicated. Each individual card spells out how it works in a succinct fashion, leaving a new player with only one or two cursory glances at the starter set's convenient Quick Start guide.
If your hairs are standing on end from reading this reason, chances are you've partaken in the Standard formats of popular trading card games like Magic: the Gathering and Pokémon. There's nothing worse than when that special time of year hits and suddenly your pet deck has to adapt or languish in its deck box until you can work up the courage to pull it apart.
Fortunately, KeyForge's adoption of this cursed word is much friendlier. With Worlds Collide (you can now laugh at the joke from before), the game's upcoming expansion, KeyForge is seeing its first rotation occur. The houses of Mars and Sanctum are being temporarily removed to make room for two newcomers - the Grand Star Alliance, a group of space explorers, and the Saurian Republic, an ancient race of dinosaur people. Upon rotation, none of your old decks become defunct, either. KeyForge is an eternal game, meaning your Call of the Archons deck will be tournament legal until the eventual heat death of the universe.
Of course, this isn't everything that makes KeyForge an amazing game. I could be here all day praising many of the game's nuances, but the best way to experience them for yourself is to pick up a couple of decks and give it a try yourself.
If you want to get a game going with as little investment as possible and already have some dice you can use for counters, you can pick up a deck for just $15. The Starter Set comes with two unique decks and a collection of useful tokens for only a bit more than two decks on their own.
For those already playing KeyForge, pre-orders are live for the next set - if you're keen for some dinosaurs and space cadets, check them out here!