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KeyForge by Richard Garfield - The first Unique Deck Game (can't modify decks)

Oct 25, 2017
3,102
0
#1
Fantasy Flight Games just announced KeyForge: Call of the Archons




EDIT: Release date: November 15, 2018

From the imagination of legendary game designer Richard Garfield comes a game unlike anything the world has ever seen—a game where every deck is as unique as the person who wields it and no two battles will ever be the same. This is KeyForge, where deckbuilding and boosters are a thing of the past, where you can carve a path of discovery with every deck, where you can throw yourself into the game with the force of a wild wormhole and embrace the thrill of a tactical battle where wits will win the day!

KeyForge: Call of the Archons is the world’s first Unique Deck Game. Every single Archon Deck that you'll use to play is truly unique and one-of-a kind, with its own Archon and its own mixture of cards in the deck. If you pick up an Archon Deck, you know that you're the only person in existence with access to this exact deck and its distinct combination of cards. In fact, in just the first set of KeyForge, Call of the Archons, there are more than 104,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible decks!

So in short, this is a card game where you can't trade cards. Instead, every single deck has a unique mixture of cards that you can't modify, enforced by the fact that each deck has a unique card back , which looks like this:

The fronts of cards also list the deck name on the lower right.

This is a pretty wild concept for a game, and it's a pretty interesting use of modern printing technology, so I thought it would be worth making a topic for. We don't know how much decks will cost, but the secondary market will definitely be crazy to manage if this sees any success. EDIT: Decks are $9.95 apiece.

A lot of people in the MagicEra Discord were aghast about this, but I think this could be appealing. You buy a deck and you just have to live with it, finding the correct strategy to use with it, and growing attached.

Alright, now details about how to play the game.

Game details
Select quotes from the link at the top are italicized. More information at the link.

Every Archon Deck contains a full play experience with a deck that cannot be altered, meaning it's ready to play right out of the box. Not only does this remove the need for deckbuilding or boosters, it also creates a new form of gameplay with innovative mechanics that challenges you to use every card in your deck to find the strongest and most cunning combinations. It is not the cards themselves that are powerful, but rather the interactions between them—interactions that can only be found in your deck. Your ability to make tough tactical decisions will determine your success as you and your opponent trade blows in clashes that can shift in an instant!


Radiant Argus the Supreme unites the Houses of Logos, Sanctum, and Untamed

Within each of your Archon Decks in KeyForge: Call of the Archons, you will find creatures from three of the Crucible’s seven great Houses, each with a unique culture, history, and skill set that makes them exceptional.

The factions


You begin your turn by declaring one of the three Houses within your deck, and for the remainder of the turn you may only play and use cards from that House. For example, if you take on the role of the Archon Radiant Argus the Supreme, you will find cards from Logos, Sanctum, and Untamed in your deck, but if you declare "Sanctum" at the start of your turn, you may only use actions, artifacts, creatures, and upgrades from Sanctum. Your allies from Logos and Untamed must wait.



Next, you must strive to gain the advantage with a series of tactical decisions, leveraging both the cards in your hand and those in play to race ahead of your opponent. If you wish to weaken your rival’s forces, you may send out your allies to fight enemies on the opposing side, matching strength against strength. Otherwise, you may choose to use your followers to reap, adding more Æmber to your pool.

Notably, no card in KeyForge has a cost—choosing a House at the start of a turn allows you to play and use any number of cards from that House for free, leading turns to fly by with a wave of activity! Yet balance is key. If you simply reap more Æmber at every opportunity, your rival may quickly grow their team of minions and destroy yours, outpacing your collection and leaving your field barren. But if you focus on the thrill of the fight alone and neglect the collection of Æmber, you won't move any closer to your goal! If you succeed in finding a harmony within your team and have six Æmber at the start of your turn, you'll forge a key and move one step closer to victory. The first to forge three keys wins!

They will provide starter sets that include two fixed training decks that aren't randomized (meaning they're the same for everyone), two unique Archon Decks, and a ton of accessories for $39.95.

To track your Archon Decks and see how they fit into the community at large, KeyForge will also feature a companion app and website at KeyForgeGame.com, which will go live at the game’s release. Here, you'll be able to record and track each of your unique Archon Decks, watch the meta at large, and easily find tournaments. By incorporating this technology into your experience of the game, you can engage and interact with the game and its community on an unprecedented level. KeyForge will also be supported by Fantasy Flight Games Organized Play, providing you the chance to test your mettle at the highest caliber and prove that your Archons are the greatest in the Crucible! Stay tuned to our website for more information on KeyForge Organized Play, coming soon!

KeyForge will land at shelves on Earth in the fourth quarter of 2018. Pre-order your copy of the KeyForge: Call of the Archons Starter Set (KF01) and your collection of unique Keyforge: Call of the Archons Archon Decks (KF02a) at your local retailer today or on the Fantasy Flight Games website here!

EDIT: Decks are $9.95 apiece and the Starter Pack is $39.95

Rule book is now up.

EDIT: Release date: November 15, 2018
 
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Oct 27, 2017
634
0
#3
Well that’s fucking interesting

On top of MCG, I really enjoyed Spectromancer. Don’t really stan him or anything, but i’m Definitely interested in checking this out.
 
Oct 25, 2017
198
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#4
This seems like a really cool idea.

I’ll probably buy a starter kit and see how I like it. Gotta give him credit for trying to think of ways to make card games fresh
 
Oct 26, 2017
3,749
0
#6
wow that's an insane idea
i like it, most card games right now everyone just follows the meta
hopefully there's a digital version in the future, will definitely check it out
 

piratepwnsninja

Lead Game Designer
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
950
0
#7
I'm in. But I'm also a sucker for card games with interesting concepts. Limited formats of MtG are my favorite, with sealed ranking highest among the types in that format, so in a lot of ways I'm the target audience for this.

One of the questions I have is how they know your deck is legit in terms of organized play. They mention playing your deck more than once, so how is that tracked? Does each deck come with a QR code that knows all the cards in the deck (could be reverse engineered) ? Do you have to buy any organized play decks at an organized play event so that a judge can check your deck entry into the database/ companion app? Maybe this was answered and I missed it.
 

remz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,176
0
#8
Kind of smart for FFg to get richard garfield on board for a ccg right after netrunner ended. Fills the gap for those players probably looking for something new.

the unique deck idea is so fucking wild
 
OP
OP
SigmasonicX
Oct 25, 2017
3,102
0
#9
I'm in. But I'm also a sucker for card games with interesting concepts. Limited formats of MtG are my favorite, with sealed ranking highest among the types in that format, so in a lot of ways I'm the target audience for this.

One of the questions I have is how they know your deck is legit in terms of organized play. They mention playing your deck more than once, so how is that tracked? Does each deck come with a QR code that knows all the cards in the deck (could be reverse engineered) ? Do you have to buy any organized play decks at an organized play event so that a judge can check your deck entry into the database/ companion app? Maybe this was answered and I missed it.
The decks have unique backs.


"The Woman who Often Battles Strength"
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,047
0
#10
Can't say I really understand what makes this concept appealing. Seems like a standard CCG with an added constraint that makes it less interesting. Would MTG or any other CCG be more interesting/ appealing in any way if you could only play with premade decks? I'd love for someone to explain why they think this is a cool idea...
 

Shauni

Banned
Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,728
0
#11
I wonder how they plan to make money on this? Isn't booster packs and boxes CCG makes a lot of money? I guess they'll have a lot of expansions or something
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,406
0
#12
Whoa. Real interesting, reminds me of like, a hero-shooter/moba turned card game?

But those games usually get patches and updates to re-balance to take into consideration new design spaces and expansions (new heroes). How will that work? Sounds real good for a board game, but not sure if this can really go competitive
 

remz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,176
0
#13
Can't say I really understand what makes this concept appealing. Seems like a standard CCG with an added constraint that makes it less interesting. Would MTG or any other CCG be more interesting/ appealing in any way if you could only play with premade decks? I'd love for someone to explain why they think this is a cool idea...
I hate deckbuilding but I like finding strategies within existing decks/finding card combinations and making the most out of what I've got within limitations. I actually kind of like playing with starter decks in TCGs sometimes for this reason.. I imagine the concept was the make a game with the fun of discovering cool card interactions but without the busywork of pouring over card effects to find ones that work then picking ratios, etc because what you have in your deck is what you've got.

I imagine it was probably somewhat inspired by how most TCG games are just about netdecking the strongest deck these days and for everyone but a select few people who come up with the decklists, usually the highest level players, that's all most players experience will be. I presume the intent is to force unique decks via game design (ie you can't just pick and choose the strongest cards, you have to somewhat improvise) and bring pack the creativity and randomness that was the intent behind MtGs booster packs before all card knowledge got dumped in to online databases

does that make sense? not sure if i'm communicating well.
 
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Oct 25, 2017
3,802
0
#14
I hate deckbuilding but I like finding strategies within existing decks/finding card combinations and making the most out of what I've got within limitations. I actually kind of like playing with starter decks in TCGs sometimes for this reason.. I imagine the concept was the make a game with the fun of discovering cool card interactions but without the busywork of pouring over card effects to find ones that work then picking ratios, etc because what you have in your deck is what you've got.

I imagine it was probably somewhat inspired by how most TCG games are just about netdecking the strongest deck these days for everyone but a select few these days, and perhaps was an effort to force unique decks via game design (ie you can't just pick and choose the strongest cards, you have to somewhat improvise)

does that make sense? not sure if i'm communicating well.
Exactly this. If you're playing in any sizable pool of players, you pretty much find one of the competitive decks in the meta at any given time and buy single cards against that. Booster packs are no longer about discovery and more about just finding cards that are worth X dollars. The deck building part of the game gets "solved" and also rather costly fairly quickly into any expansion release.
 

piratepwnsninja

Lead Game Designer
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
950
0
#16
The decks have unique backs.


"The Woman who Often Battles Strength"
That... makes perfect sense.

Exactly this. If you're playing in any sizable pool of players, you pretty much find one of the competitive decks in the meta at any given time and buy single cards against that. Booster packs are no longer about discovery and more about just finding cards that are worth X dollars. The deck building part of the game gets "solved" and also rather costly fairly quickly into any expansion release.
Yup. I'm 100000% more likely to go to a weekly organized play for this and just buy a new deck for $10 (this is how much a deck costs) to play with than spending $15 on a draft every week.
 
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remz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,176
0
#18
I wonder how they plan to make money on this? Isn't booster packs and boxes CCG makes a lot of money? I guess they'll have a lot of expansions or something
It sounds like they're intending players to buy multiple decks in place of buying packs. Not a terrible idea if the decks aren't too expensive... Probably not going to reach the money levels of booster box buying for rare foils but who knows? Maybe they're sticking foils in decks or something
Whoa. Real interesting, reminds me of like, a hero-shooter/moba turned card game?

But those games usually get patches and updates to re-balance to take into consideration new design spaces and expansions (new heroes). How will that work? Sounds real good for a board game, but not sure if this can really go competitive
There was a thing on the FFG website about this

"If a deck wins too often in an Organized Play framework, there are processes in place to handicap and eventually retire that deck. For more information on this, keep watching our Organized Play articles and announcements for KeyForge!"

So they presumably have some errata/handicap thing planned
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,945
0
#19
I hate deckbuilding but I like finding strategies within existing decks/finding card combinations and making the most out of what I've got within limitations. I actually kind of like playing with starter decks in TCGs sometimes for this reason.. I imagine the concept was the make a game with the fun of discovering cool card interactions but without the busywork of pouring over card effects to find ones that work then picking ratios, etc because what you have in your deck is what you've got.

I imagine it was probably somewhat inspired by how most TCG games are just about netdecking the strongest deck these days for everyone but a select few these days, and perhaps was an effort to force unique decks via game design (ie you can't just pick and choose the strongest cards, you have to somewhat improvise)

does that make sense? not sure if i'm communicating well.

Have you played Codex? Very limited deck building (pick 3 heroes and that's it). Inspired by RTS games. Super fun.

There was a thing on the FFG website about this

"If a deck wins too often in an Organized Play framework, there are processes in place to handicap and eventually retire that deck. For more information on this, keep watching our Organized Play articles and announcements for KeyForge!"

So they presumably have some errata/handicap thing planned
...so you buy a deck that you have no control over only to have it made obsolete? This seems incredibly flawed (flawed from a game design perspective; it's probably gonna be great from a money making perspective).
 
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piratepwnsninja

Lead Game Designer
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
950
0
#22
Do they actually have this for sale at Gencon tomorrow?

Or were they just giving out decks to people at In Flight and that's it?
 
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Oct 29, 2017
173
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#24
You had me at Richard. I'm still bitter that Android Netrunner is dead, these wounds will not heal. Not ready to buy another LCG from FF. I'll add it to my one day pile.
 
Oct 27, 2017
1,117
0
#26
I'm totally down to try it out. Interesting concept and also fuck deck building in competitive games. The idea of "this is your deck, live with it" sounds fantastic. It is why I love Smash Up so much.
 

remz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,176
0
#27
...so you buy a deck that you have no control over only to have it made obsolete? This seems incredibly flawed (flawed from a game design perspective; it's probably gonna be great from a money making perspective).
I think taking a hit of $10 probably isn't going to be a big deal if you were taking enough tournaments to get your deck banned

Codex does sound super interesting and also... kind of like a take on the booster pack thing from a different angle. I respect sirlin as a designer so wouldn't mind trying it tbh. So you build by picking heroes before the game then picking from the heroes codex during the game rather than picking from the entire card list before the game. pretty cool.
 

Volimar

Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
8,243
0
#28
This looks interesting. Something for whales to buy multiple decks for while still letting players who can't afford to keep up with metas stay competitive. If it does well I hope they look into an online version.
 
#29
In six months:

"Hey is this the KeyForge event?"
"Yeah dude welcome, can you pay for entry and write down your decklist please?"
"Decklist? Why does that matter? Every deck is uniqu-"
"Didn't you didn't get the memo? This is a constructed tournament, you don't have to use the random boxed decks. Now you'll need your cards sleeved for fairness..."
 
Oct 25, 2017
3,945
0
#30
I think taking a hit of $10 probably isn't going to be a big deal if you were taking enough tournaments to get your deck banned
Putting aside the more casual players that will be content with just getting a single deck and sticking with it, the way I expect it to work out is that people will buy decks until they find a diamond in the rough -- something with something special about it. There will be a ton of cards that just sit there not being used. Hopefully a norm arises where people have a handful of decks, each with a different specialization, that they take into tournaments or whatever (sorta like fighting game tournaments where players can change characters).

Because basically, it's like each time you buy a deck it's rolling a character with some randomized stats. If you have a ryu and roll a slightly shittier ryu, you basically have 37 worthless cards that are literal garbage because you can't recycle any of them into another deck. The chance of rolling a slightly better ryu will be enough to get some people to keep buying decks -- these people will have piles of worthless cards they never use. But they'll eventually find something special only to have it banned in tournaments or their friend groups because their friends can't adapt their decks to compensate.

It'll be interesting to see how the actual game rules play out in a match, but I'm skeptical that 37 partially random (I assume there's some algorithm that tries to build around certain strategies to ensure decks are viable) cards can create a deck with comparable flexibility/adaptability to the handcrafted decks of Codex.

Feels like a sales gimmick rather than a real game design innovation.

Codex does sound super interesting and also... kind of like a take on the booster pack thing from a different angle. I respect sirlin as a designer so wouldn't mind trying it tbh. So you build by picking heroes before the game then picking from the heroes codex during the game rather than picking from the entire card list before the game. pretty cool.
There's 6 factions/colors with 3 heroes each and each faction is basically considered a deck -- mixing and matching heroes is sort of seen as an advanced way to play -- and even then, the straight color decks can still be viable against mixed decks (me and my friends just stick with solid colors). But yeah, pick your 3 heroes before the match. There's a starting draw pile of 10 cards for each color, and you can add any card from your codex into your discard pile each turn to adapt your deck to your opponent as the match progresses -- it takes some time to cycle cards from discard to your hand, so you can sort of think of that as build time in an RTS.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,941
0
#31
I like the idea of unique deck games--card management (literally storing and organizing cards) is my least favorite part of these games. So . . . something that cuts down on that is kinda neat.

But if all the boosters are randomized cards, I think I'm out. This basically cuts out the reason I like LCG and replaces it with a neat idea mixed with the reason I hate card games beside LCG (random booster packs and spending $$ just to get what you want). So . . . I'm not a fan.
 
Feb 16, 2018
556
0
#34
so it's like playing a fighting game or RTS with predetermined characters/factions

except they can't fine tune the balance and hand-craft the play experience

seems like a cool experiment. not sure it's a viable competitive game though
 
Oct 25, 2017
498
0
#35
Decks are priced at $9.95 and the Starter Set, which includes two pre-determined training decks, two randomised Archon decks for standard play and a plethora of other accessories and tokens is priced at $39.95. You might want to add this to the OP, SigmasonicX.

The rulebook is also available now.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,271
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#37
Seems like 0 appeal for expressive/creative players such as myself.

I also can't imagine the hard core win at all costs type of players will like it either. If your deck sucks, you have to buy another deck and hope that one doesn't also suck.
 
Oct 28, 2017
130
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#38
Don't get it.

What if you buy a deck and it's underpowered?

The OP mentions a "meta" to follow, but how can there BE a meta when there's no opportunity to build decks or counter powerful combos? Or, more accurately, a meta of powerful shit will emerge and you literally can't react to it?
 

remz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,176
0
#39
Seems like 0 appeal for expressive/creative players such as myself.

I also can't imagine the hard core win at all costs type of players will like it either. If your deck sucks, you have to buy another deck and hope that one doesn't also suck.
The idea is to express through your strategy within your unique deck, I think
 
Oct 25, 2017
953
0
#40
I would be interested in a competitive scene that sees players cracking open new decks at the beginning of a tournament or event. Then it probably wouldn't matter if there is a broken combo as long as it doesn't occur too often. I don't think inviting people to strongarm their way through competition by purchasing tons of decks is the way to go.
 
Oct 27, 2017
3,704
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#41
On the one hand, making decks is my least favourite part of CCGs.
On the other hand, this smells like a shameless cash grab because now you have a random chance to have a bad starter deck and your only option is to buy another entire deck.
 
Oct 25, 2017
535
0
#42
I'm in. Will probably buy a couple decks and play with some friends that used to play Magic. Like the idea of just having a few decks to play and hopefully having a more level playing field than all the money that goes into a Magic/YuGiOh/Pokemon deck.

Interested to see the way organized play shakes out on this as well.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,227
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#44
I'm reminded of the card game Yomi, and I like the concept of this card game!


I'd be inclined to buy a few decks if I enjoy how the game itself plays!
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,605
0
#45
This is a really unique concept and I'm very cautiously interested.

What I'm especially curious about is how "watch the meta at large" would factor into anything. If you already bought a deck, you track your wins etc. and discover the meta at large is...something, how do you react? Does it mean the meta at large might revolve around Brobnar decks being more popular, so you just keep buying decks until you find a Brobnar deck?
 
Oct 25, 2017
498
0
#46
So what happens when there is a "best" deck?
If a deck becomes too dominant in the meta, then FFG can handicap or eventually retire it. Individual cards can't be banned because the idea of randomised decks is in conflict with a ban list.

This is a really unique concept and I'm very cautiously interested.

What I'm especially curious about is how "watch the meta at large" would factor into anything. If you already bought a deck, you track your wins etc. and discover the meta at large is...something, how do you react? Does it mean the meta at large might revolve around Brobnar decks being more popular, so you just keep buying decks until you find a Brobnar deck?
I guess you'd have to forge new strategies and combos within your own unique deck that counter those predominant within the meta, as tracked by the companion app. If you can't create viable strategies and combos, then you'd have to purchase a new deck, but not necessarily a "Brobnar" deck.
 
Oct 25, 2017
953
0
#47
There is nothing impressive or interesting about beating everyone with an OP deck you got lucky with, especially if you refuse to ever use any other deck. Like beating your friend's starter + booster deck with your $200 netdeck. People will get tired of playing them casually and get new decks just to play something new and "more fair."

At the competitive level, banned combos seem inevitable to me.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,605
0
#48
If a deck becomes too dominant in the meta, then FFG can handicap or eventually retire it. Individual cards can't be banned because the idea of randomised decks is in conflict with a ban list.
So would this be like...a message pops up on your app saying "Hey, bad luck, your deck got handicapped / banned"?

I doubt FFG is going to give you partial credit to buy a new deck, but that would be a really bad feeling if it happens.
 
Oct 25, 2017
498
0
#49
There is nothing impressive or interesting about beating everyone with an OP deck you got lucky with, especially if you refuse to ever use any other deck. Like beating your friend's starter + booster deck with your $200 netdeck. People will get tired of playing them casually and get new decks just to play something new and "more fair."

At the competitive level, banned combos seem inevitable to me.
This is from the Official FAQ:
Are some decks stronger than others? What happens when a deck wins consistently?

Some Archon Decks in KeyForge will naturally be stronger than others, but every deck in KeyForge has value. First of all, every deck represents a chance to explore deeper into the world of the Crucible, potentially uncovering cards and combos that you never knew existed or have never played with before. Furthermore, just like any card game, some decks are better in certain matchups, and choosing the decks you’ll play is an important strategic element. And even if you and your opponent have decks that are less than optimal, it can be just as fun to swap decks and see what your opponent can do with your deck!

If a deck wins too often in an Organized Play framework, there are processes in place to handicap and eventually retire that deck. For more information on this, keep watching our Organized Play articles and announcements for KeyForge!
So would this be like...a message pops up on your app saying "Hey, bad luck, your deck got handicapped / banned"?

I doubt FFG is going to give you partial credit to buy a new deck, but that would be a really bad feeling if it happens.
It'd only be "retired" from Organised Play. You'd still be free to use that deck in casual games.
 
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