Learning KeyForge is a series of tutorial videos and blogs that teach KeyForge, the Unique Deck Game. This game is a truly unique development in the industry, with mechanics created by Richard Garfield (Magic: the Gathering, Netrunner, Artifact) and an entirely new deck distribution format.
This guide is updated continuously to provide the most current information.
Well, this is the question that all of us are asking! What exactly is this new type of game, and what does it mean for players? Stick with us as we break it down. For those ready to get the scoop right away, watch this video first!
First, KeyForge is a card game. This means that the game is played using physical cards, which puts it in the same category as classic games like Poker, Bridge, and Rummy. Unlike those games, though, cards in KeyForge are unique, and each player’s cards are different. This concept is what exploded tabletop gaming in 1993 with the launch of Magic: the Gathering (which also happens to have been designed by the same person as KeyForge – Richard Garfield)
With games like Magic, or more recent innovations like Star Wars: Destiny or Legend of the Five Rings, you buy packs of cards, build your deck from them, and then challenge other players who have done the same. Those packs might contain a random assortment of cards (CCG) or a non-random assortment of cards (LCG), but either way they contain new cards that you might put into your deck.
Where KeyForge flips the script is that it introduces an entirely new way to buy and play a card game.
Instead of distributing the pieces (cards) that you need to make your deck, KeyForge distributes the decks themselves – and each deck is entirely unique. When you buy a deck ($10), it is guaranteed to be the only copy of that deck in existence.
Imagine that there are 350 different cards in a set, and that those 350 cards are distributed evenly among 7 factions. This means 50 unique cards per faction. Now, imagine that a production algorithm randomly chooses 3 of the 7 factions, and then randomly chooses 12 cards within each chosen faction. That might mean a single copy of 12 different cards, or 5 copies of this card, 4 copies of that card, and 3 copies of another card.
From what we have gathered, that is the process that constructs each deck, with light constraints based on playability – like if the algorithm includes a card that searches for a certain item, that item will be added to the deck.
Each deck has a randomly generated name and avatar, and those two things are printed on the back of all 36 cards in the deck. There is also a 37th card that has the full, randomly generated deck list and a QR code for scanning in that deck for organized play.
So, ultimately, KeyForge is a game where decks are the unit of distribution instead of cards. You cannot combine, break down, or otherwise change any of the decks that you open.
Check out the official announcement on our live stream at the InFlight report (start 27 minutes in) to catch FFG’s take on the model.
For some, this concept is incredibly exciting. You buy a deck, crack it open, and can play it against anyone else without worrying about “the meta” or abusive combos.
The deck you open might be the best deck in existence and you might not even know it – or you might play it poorly while someone else would pilot it to success.
If you do not like the deck you have, you might trade with another player for something that is more your style, buy a totally new, entirely unique deck, or even shop for a “known” deck online.
There is a certain magic to the idea that at any moment I can spend $10 on a deck and potentially find the stack of cards that is the perfect fit for my playstyle. Then maybe I take that deck, learn it inside and out, and play it for the next year. Maybe I become known for having that deck and travel around playing it, and it becomes a defining element of my persona in the game.
On top of that, there are some rarity elements going on, with things called “mavericks” that basically act as “super rares” and are usually a faction-specific character appearing in a different faction.
The other key here is that deckbuilding is a big obstacle to traditional card games, and removing that facet while still keeping the element of discovery could be a game-changer. How many friends do you have who would never dive into a full on “deckbuilding” card game but would pay $10 to join in for a night of fun? Who has a husband or wife who is now more likely to dip their toe into the hobby?
Other games have pre-constructed decks, no doubt, but they are all the same. Every KeyForge deck you buy is entirely unique, waiting to be discovered. The more we think about it, the more revolutionary it becomes. There is something happening here.
But none of it matters if the game itself is not any good – so join us in the next chapter for a look at how KeyForge plays!