KeyForge: Call of the Archons

 
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KeyForge

Game Information

Fantasy Flight Games

The world of the Crucible awaits! KeyForge is a Unique Deck Game from the imagination of Richard Garfield that invites you to enter the Crucible, an artificial world where anything is possible. Here, you become a mighty Archon racing to unlock the Crucible’s hidden vaults and doing battle with one-of-a-kind decks, each filled with pieces of the countless planets and civilizations that make up this world. By using the creatures, artifacts, and abilities within your deck, you can stave off your opponent, gather Æmber, and use this crucial component to forge keys that will unlock the vaults. The first Archon to forge three keys earns victory!

The KeyForge: Call of the Archons starter set is the perfect place to begin your adventures on the Crucible. As you race to gather Æmber and unlock the Crucible’s hidden vaults, you will find all the implements you need to begin your journey in this set. Providing you with two training decks: Miss “Onyx” Censorius and Radiant Argus the Supreme, as well as two unique Archon Decks and a collection of keys, tokens, chain trackers, and status cards, this set provides everything that you and your opponent need to start playing!

Playing with the starter set is only the beginning of your adventures. You can expand your arsenal with Call of the Archons Archon Decks, each of which offers a full play experience without the need for deckbuilding or boosters. Each Archon Deck is completely one-of-a-kind, unlike any other deck in existence, and it offers an opportunity—the chance to become the best in the world at playing your decks. Will your teams have the strength, skills, and cunning to win the day?

A Battle of Wits and Wills

When two Archons discover one of the Crucible’s hidden vaults, conflict is bound to erupt. Each side sends their fiercest warriors into battle while others race to gather the precious Æmber. When the tide can turn at any moment, balance is key!

The World’s First Unique Deck Game

KeyForge offers easy to learn, fast-paced gameplay with completely unique decks, each deck unlike any other KeyForge deck in existence. Every deck invites you to embody a totally distinct Archon, displayed on the back of every card in the deck with their own unique name and design. Your deck also contains a distinct mix of creatures, artifacts, and abilities from three of the Crucible’s seven Houses!

Each Archon Deck offers a complete play experience, and the deck cannot be changed through deckbuilding, challenging you to make tactical decisions and discover the synergies within each deck. The unique mix of cards and Houses in each deck makes mastering every new play style and combination of Houses a thrilling challenge for every new deck you encounter. As you are thrown into battles where the tides can change at any moment, you are immersed in your role as the leader of your alliance to experience a game unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Welcome to the Jungle

To achieve victory, you will need to call upon the skills of every House within your Archon Deck. Each House features an incredible array of beings with their own culture and technology, now incorporated into the Crucible. At the beginning of each turn, you must make the tough, tactical decision of declaring which House you will play that turn—and for that turn, you are only allowed to play, fight, and reap Æmber with cards from that faction.  

The boisterous warriors of Brobnar value strength above all, while the corrupted demons of Dis rely on sorcery and dark machines. The logical scholars of Logos bring technology into every phase of their lives, but the diverse creatures of Untamed find comfort in the wilds, rejecting automation. The empire of Mars has remained intact on the Crucible, while the cunning rogues of the Shadows faction have fully embraced their new home, seizing every opportunity to pull a job or swindle another House. And the angelic members of Sanctum seek the same enlightenment as their Archons, valuing peace and virtue above the conflict that runs rampant throughout the Crucible. Now, each of these uniquely strong Houses must struggle alongside unlikely comrades and strange companions to aid their Archon… but which alliances will be powerful enough to achieve victory?


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Had a lot of fun with it, but I'm unsure if it has much longevity.
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Matt Thrower's Avatar
Matt Thrower replied the topic: #278983 02 Aug 2018 04:57
If this works, building a competitive deck via algorithm, it's going to be brilliant.

Personally, I don't think it's going to work. There's too much room for error here. Even on the most fundamental level, how can you guarantee that two different random decks are going to be roughly equally matched, even if they're playable?
Whoshim's Avatar
Whoshim replied the topic: #278984 02 Aug 2018 05:11

MattDP wrote: If this works, building a competitive deck via algorithm, it's going to be brilliant.


Maybe I misread it, but it seems to me that it is basically just a game where the decks are pre-built, something like Neuroshima Hex. The "Houses" mentioned seem to be akin to suits in poker. You have a mix of them in your deck in this game, but you can only use one per turn. The Houses may be similar across Archon decks in some ways, but the mix of Houses and the cards from that House will be different.

I think it will be similar to taking decklists from some Vintage MtG tournament and boxing them into one game. Each deck plays very differently, but they use the 5 mana colors and artifacts (in different combinations).
Matt Thrower's Avatar
Matt Thrower replied the topic: #278985 02 Aug 2018 06:16

Whoshim wrote: Maybe I misread it, but it seems to me that it is basically just a game where the decks are pre-built, something like Neuroshima Hex.


Detail is admittedly light, but I don't think so. Consider:

"KeyForge offers easy to learn, fast-paced gameplay with completely unique decks, each deck unlike any other KeyForge deck in existence."

And from the press email I got:

"Every Archon Deck in existence is unique, with its own distinct mix of cards. Every Archon Deck features a full play experience, with its own unique name and Archon and a complete set of creatures, artifacts, and actions that cannot be changed."

My reading of this is that every single deck is literally unique.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #278987 02 Aug 2018 07:14
Sounds like a single starter deck for each faction to me. Summoner Wars-ish.

It would be cool if it was otherwise, but then you'd just buy two of the same starter deck and deck-build. (Still could either way I suppose.)
fightcitymayor's Avatar
fightcitymayor replied the topic: #278988 02 Aug 2018 08:01
I'm glad I'm not the only one who read the entire article and came away confused about what exactly the game is & how its played. I still don't know what "every deck is unique" actually means.
the_jake_1973's Avatar
the_jake_1973 replied the topic: #278992 02 Aug 2018 08:18
A difference of one card in a deck makes each deck unique. This may as well be a clickbait headline.
lj1983's Avatar
lj1983 replied the topic: #278993 02 Aug 2018 08:22
www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2018/...call-of-the-archons/

They state 104,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different decks.

so yeah, it looks like each deck is individual, even with individual backs for each deck. "The One that Totally Prefers Aliens". Could be good, as it eliminates net-decks. or it could end up with really swingy power levels. or boring decks that all do similar things.

I love card games, and the amount of fluff they can bring in, their portability and the head to head nature of many of them. I hate pre-match deck building.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #278997 02 Aug 2018 08:49
So...basically you are buying what amounts to a randomly collated starter deck...and if you want that “fun” of opening a randomly collared starter deck more than once you have to keep buying more decks? And is there no “constructed” play where you make decks from cards you got from other decks? How is it that these decks “can not be changed”, do they explode if I take cards from one and put them in another? How are these balanced for play? What if you buy a deck that sucks or doesn’t suit your play style? You just buy new decks instead of boosters? Huh?

This is doomed. It’s a confusing product, the concept isn’t clear and it seems like marketing fluff covering up the same old CCG model that’s been around since MTG.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #279000 02 Aug 2018 09:07
So what's the up side? Kind of a lottery ticket approach to purchasing if people don't mix and match cards, which would seem like the thing to do. Sleeve your cards and play a customized set. Tournaments wouldn't allow it, but . . . tournament play with a dumb luck deck? Seems strange.

Could be a fun game though, and if a deck is $9.99 it could be an impulse buy. Add it to your CSI order to clear free shipping.

I'll be curious of the art on the back. If this thing takes hold, there will be a quarter million pieces of art generated by machine presumably.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #279006 02 Aug 2018 09:43
The traditional assumption of the CCG is that deckbuilding is the most important part of the game. If you build your deck properly, it will effectively play itself and win. But I disliked deckbuildng and focused on the tactical play of CCGs, which made me a moderately competitive player in certain games. For example, I was never a good L5R player, because that game allowed for tight, focused decks that absolutely rewarded strong deckbuilding. But I was a very good Shadowfist player, as there was a standard and easy formula for deckbuilding but the games were generally won by superior tactical play.

From the sounds of it, Keyforge will offer fixed, prebuilt decks of roughly equivalent power, with just enough variation in each deck to ensure that they are technically unique. And the backs of the cards will be unique for each deck, though in practice that will mean a fixed number of pictures on the card backs with random names assigned to each deck to make them just barely different. It sounds like a weak gimmick, and players will be strongly tempted to disregard the unique angle and use opaque card sleeves to allow deckbuilding.

However, Keyforge is a creation of Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic, Jyhad, and Netrunner, three of the all-time great CCGs. Many CCG players would readily put those three games in a top five CCG list, and even a top three list. We're all picturing Keyforge as basically Magic plus the unique deck idea, but maybe that's wrong. Jyhad and especially Netrunner required stronger tactical play and bluffing skills. If Keyforge is more similar to either Jyhad or Netrunner, there will be less focus on which cards are in your deck and lot more focus on how you play the game.

The other crucial element for Keyforge to succeed is that there needs to be meaningful differences between the cards. They can't just be different colors of the same thing. It sounds like there are the equivalent of seven colors/discipines in this game, and very likely more that will be introduced in expansions. Jyhad eventually had 28 different disciplines, each supporting different styles of play.

At this point, I am curious but not especially interested. The visual style and theme of Keyforge don't appeal to me. The gimmick doesn't have me hooked. I would need to see people raving about the depth of play before I would be willing to give it a shot.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #279007 02 Aug 2018 09:48
When I read "The world of the Crucible awaits!" the first thing I thought was "Arthur Miller's The Crucible."

Stormcow's Avatar
Stormcow replied the topic: #279008 02 Aug 2018 09:56

Michael Barnes wrote: How is it that these decks “can not be changed”, do they explode if I take cards from one and put them in another?


You won't be able to mix cards from two different decks, because the card backs will be different. The card backs will be different because they're unique, apparently procedurally generated and printed exactly once, on demand. Which implies that the deck contents are procedurally generated as well.



The game might be crappy, nobody knows yet, but in terms of technological innovation this is enormous.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #279009 02 Aug 2018 10:02
Will the cards explode if you put them in opaque card sleeves then?
Stormcow's Avatar
Stormcow replied the topic: #279011 02 Aug 2018 10:12
Card players tend to follow tournament deck construction rules, even when playing casually. You are free to do anything, of course, but anecdotally I don't know anyone who breaks the "max 4 copies" rule no matter how casual they are.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #279015 02 Aug 2018 10:52

Michael Barnes wrote: Will the cards explode if you put them in opaque card sleeves then?


THAT would be worth buying one deck for.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #279016 02 Aug 2018 11:18
All you CCG players are thinking in the wrong paradigm. It isn't about constructing a deck to win. It's about discovering how to win with the deck you receive. I see it like the WOW Adventure Game. Each character has it's own deck. What makes the game fun to play is mastering a certain character's deck and then moving on and playing a different deck. The expansions were all individual characters. So for $10 you got a new deck to play and master.

So, I think CCG players aren't the real market for this game. The real market is gamers like me. However, they have unfortunately used the language of CCG and deck constructors to describe this game, which means it isn't speaking to me. If they used language more like unique "characters" each with their own unique deck, it would be more understandable to non-CCG players like myself, and more likely to attract our attention. As the description stands now, it is just really confusing. They are emphasizing what it is not rather than what it is. It's not a deck constructor, which kind of a turns off CCG players. But they emphasis the deck part of it so much right up front , that to a non-CCG player it seems like it might be some kind of CCG, so we don't even read beyond the first sentence.
BaronDonut's Avatar
BaronDonut replied the topic: #279018 02 Aug 2018 11:29
Cool enough to buy a $10 deck, not cool enough to buy a $40 starter set.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #279020 02 Aug 2018 11:38
Judging by the style of the art, they are hoping for a chunk of the Pokemon GO fanbase.
the_jake_1973's Avatar
the_jake_1973 replied the topic: #279023 02 Aug 2018 11:52
Looking at it through the WOW lens, unless you can control the probability by tailoring the deck, there would seem to be more luck than skill involved in using the deck. And maybe that will be cleared up in further communication, how much chaff can you eliminate from the deck to get your "character" to do what you want in a battle.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #279025 02 Aug 2018 12:07
A bit more info from FFG, "if one specific deck proves overpowering, a handicap can be placed on the specific deck to “chain” its natural advantages when facing new opponents. Since the contents of each deck is static, there is no concern of “net checking” or trading/ buying cards to build a “winning” deck."

So this is some bullshit. Essentially they really don't have the ability to create a bajillion unique decks and actually have them balance against each other (no real surprise). So yeah, you might get a shitty deck, or an overpowered one. I guess it's up to the buyer to playtest their deck and handicap as needed. Personally, I don't pay money to playtest a game.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #279027 02 Aug 2018 12:34
If tactical play is really emphasized in the game, the issue of an overpowered deck is unlikely to be a problem. We already know that every deck will have 3 Houses, which seems to be comparable to a 3-color Magic deck. In KeyForge, all cards are free, but you can only play cards from one House each turn. So if you have a seven card hand (I think that is standard for Garfield's CCGs), you will usually have just two or three cards in your hand for a given House each turn. Maybe you get to replace cards as quickly as you play them, so you might start a turn with 3 cards of your chosen House, and then luck into drawing another 1 that you can immediately play.

One potential drawback might be the lack of card combinations between the Houses. If you can only play cards from one House each turn, then there can't be any card combos between cards of different Houses unless there are cards that stay in play for an extended period of time. But maybe the card combos within each House will be sufficiently strong and dynamic that people won't miss cross-House combos.
the_jake_1973's Avatar
the_jake_1973 replied the topic: #279030 02 Aug 2018 13:13
From a reddit thread:

Keyforge first impressions
Keyforge is a new card game announced by FFG last night, and they gave out decks to everyone attending their GenCon conference. I played it last night and thought I'd write a bit about it for anyone with questions.
HOW IT PLAYS
First, this is very much in the same style as Magic and Hearthstone, but streamlined. There are no resources to spend on cards, and the player has no health. To win, you have to forge 3 keys. Each key is made of 6 Aember.
On your turn, you first forge a key if possible (ie you have 6 or more Aember). Then you choose a house. Each deck has 3 of the 7 houses in it. Whatever house you choose, you can only play cards of that house, attack with cards of that house, get Aember with cards of that house. Then you play and activate however many cards of that house you want. So if you have 5 cards in your hand of the Untamed house, you can play them all. When you attack, you attack a specific enemy creature. Their health is also how much damage they do, but they also have armor to negate an amount of incoming damage. Damage dealt is persistent. Creatures enter play exhausted (summoning sickness).
At the end of your turn, you untap anything that is "exhausted" and draw back up to your hand size, which is 6 to start.
In the game I played, my opponent had a bunch of control stuff to bounce my creatures back to my hand. I captured on of his and held it in my archive where it was out of the game until I accessed my entire archive. I couldn't keep my creatures out long enough to generate Aember (creatures can be tapped to generate Aember instead of attack.
A balance element is if you play cards with Chain, your Chain increases. If it increases by 1-6, your hand size is reduced by 1. If your chain hits 7, it's reduced again. This can continue until you have a hand size of 2. If you know your opponent has a much stronger deck than you do, you can start him off with a higher chain to balance.
DECKS AND DECKBUILDING
There is no deckbuilding. None. Zero. You cannot by the rules take a card out of your deck and replace it with a new one. The back of your card has your Archon's design on it. Each deck you buy has 37 cards, 1 is your Archon with a qr code and check list of what cards are in your deck. 12 of each of your 3 houses make you actual deck.
IS IT FUN?
We learned to play and played in a short amount of time. It's very much a competitive card game. At the conference they talked a lot about discovery and uniqueness. This is pretty interesting. The balancing mechanism to handle randomly OP decks I don't particularly like because it just reduced a stronger deck's ability to play, denying that player actions effectively. Also my opponent's deck had a card that helped only a specific sub class of creature called a Niffle, but he had exactly 1 card in his deck that could benefit. It's not optimised. That's intentional. That will drive some people crazy, but I like it. I haven't played Magic in many years, but the idea of showing up to a tournament, buying a deck for $10 and throwing down without even looking at the cards and learning on the fly with everyone else sounds really fun to me.
Anyway, I'll be around when I can to answer questions. In at GenCon so I'll be trying to play games, not type on my phone, but I'll try to get to you if you have a question.
bfkiller's Avatar
bfkiller replied the topic: #279034 02 Aug 2018 13:38
As someone who has zero interest in building a deck but has always been interested in playing these kinds of competitive card games, this looks right up my alley. And I like that it's trying something so different and potentially messy. I'll definitely be picking up a couple of decks when it's released.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #279036 02 Aug 2018 14:09
If nothing else, I like that it is so disruptive. Nobody really knows what to make of it. It seems DOA but singular and it’s not a fucking Kickstarter. It’s a fresh, even if shitty concept.

I almost think that this could be HUGE with -kids-. It should be aimed at 8-15 year olds, not gamers. The “starter” should be a $10 deck, not a $40 hobby thing. I can totally see my son and his friends really getting into the unique deck thing, and they are at an age where any imbalances and quirks don’t mean jack shit. They’d be all into the unique deck thing, and at $10 that is in the realm of allowance money possibility.

But I’m afraid FFG will blow it by aiming it at middle age hobby men.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #279039 02 Aug 2018 14:19

the_jake_1973 wrote: Also my opponent's deck had a card that helped only a specific sub class of creature called a Niffle, but he had exactly 1 card in his deck that could benefit.


That's extremely bad. I agree it's a neat idea, but there has to be some sort of sensible constructor if they're going to have shit like keywords and specialized cards!!!