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Keyforge: Call of the Archons


I can forsee that Keyforge is only going to get more popular as we get closer to release (and following that!) so I just wanted to make a place we can waffle, speculate, rant and chat about it.

If you’re not familiar, it’s the newest competitive card game from designer Richard Garfield (of Magic: The Gathering and Android: Netrunner notoriety, as well as many others ) One of the key(!) conceits is that every single deck will be procedurally generated and unique… and apparently balanced too! Fantasy Flight are touting 104,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 valid combinations.

I think one of the most interesting aspects will be not learning what the “optimum” deck construction is and re-creating it, but instead working with a random deck you are given and finding your deck’s strengths, weaknesses and idosyncracies. You might know something about how an opponents deck might play from the factions which constitute their Archon but each deck you come up against will be a refreshing challenge.

So yes, I’m excited. How about you?


Yeah, I don’t know how it will really work out.

Basically you buy a set moderately optimised deck. That is good for people who don’t want to deckbuild. But how many people are there like that really?

To me it seems like a bit of a gimmick that falls somewhere between a standard asymmetrical card game and an LCG/CCG. It might be too specialised a niche to really take off.

I am somewhat ambivalent about it. Maybe it will be fun having the same deck to play endlessly. It’s certainly better for me than something like MTG, but I think I’d prefer an LCG or an electronic cards game.


The QR codes on the decklist will allow you to play your own decks online as well! This will be super-important for people that want to play but might not have access to a local group (or who want to play outside their own meta).

I think deck ownership is something I’m looking forward to as well. Knowing that I’ve got a combination that no one else could possibly have. This speaks to me as when I played Netrunner, for example, I loved to craft janky new decks which people told me weren’t optimal, but so fun to play and unique to me!


Ok, being able to play online is a definite plus. I am much more interested now :slight_smile:


Do you have more info about the online play?

This is from FF, no mention of playing online

What does the KeyForge companion app do?

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 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 both the game and its community on an unprecedented level.


I like the sound of it. I got out of magic when the people winning the games were the people who looked up “the best deck” online and paid for those cards, rather than whatever scraps I could scrounge at the local shop. In saying that, deckbuilding has never been my favorite part of magic, which is probably why I’m not very good…

Not sure if it will be enough to get me back into card games again. We shall see.


In Richard Garfield’sinterview on the Dice Tower channel he mentions it there:

“The deck list is on the back, and there’s a access code here where you can get it verified online that this is what the deck is, and ultimately be able to play it online.”

and then again in his Reddit AMA in particular this response:

**Were there any challenges designing a game that's (at least rumored to be) eventually played electronically, or any extra cool things that designing for future electronic play enabled you to do?**

For Keyforge, or any other tabletop game, what do you think about trying to find a way to do, in person, some of the really fun things that electronic "card" games like Hearthstone can do such as "add a random <trait> card to your hand" or "shuffle two copies of this into your deck"?

I am not sure if there will be special electronic only cards... usually my first priority is matching up the online and offline experience. I would be open to it. There are some effects that are done in a game like Hearthstone that just can't reasonably be done with a paper game (and I admire them for exploring that space so fully!)

The most exciting thing about online play for me comes from the sort of special games you could run - like giant duplicate games (duplicate as in bridge), where players play the same decks and are scored relative to how well they did in the same matchups. In duplicate bridge you might get a slam and lose because while you had a better result - most people did better. Similarly you might have a terrible hand and do terrific because you managed your disaster better than others. Electronically you could be rewarded for winning with the worse deck... proportionate to how the online audience did with that deck.

I love the idea of duplicate games!


One of the main uses for the app is to balance out the decks. If one deck keeps winning against another, it will gain chains to give it a handicap (every 3 games won against a deck will gain a certain number of chains and vice versa if losing). I guess over time this will collect enough data to create a ranking for every deck in existence.

It seems quite a brave plan to build in a system that records wins and losses as part of the game system. Could be interesting.


How many cards are in a deck, exactly?
I don’t remember reading about that, or more likely, have forgotten already…


37 cards in a deck, total cards pool is about 350.




I think one card is a list card though.


I’ve said elsewhere I think tournament play could be amazing. Everyone gets a new decks as part of the entry fee, a half hour or so to familiarise yourself, and away you go.

I think I’d ignore the chain handicapping in a tourney, though, as wins will naturally pile up as the tourney goes on.

OTOH, if one is constantly going 2-0 (assuming best of 3), going up against a deck that goes 2-1 all the time might require a bit of a handicap. I dunno.

I heavily played Magic back in the Ice Age days, getting fully into the meta. Didn’t spend much money, as I was constantly winning boxes at local tourneys, and could trade for what I might need, but the time sink was spectactular. I had to quit when it started impinging on my weekends with my daughter.

With Keyforge, we can buy the starter box (2 standard decks, 2 random) and play for a while just within the family/friends group, buying a few more decks for variety occasionally.

I’m sure there will be folks buying “optimized” decks online, or even just decks featuring the houses they prefer, but if it’s as balanced as they say, that shouldn’t pose much of a problem.


Yeah, I think I saw somewhere that chains won’t apply to tournament play which is, in a way good, so you won’t be handicapped if you’re destroying your local group all the time when you get to a competition… but then yeah it could lead to people trying to track down those “more optimised” decks to win tourneys. I’m hoping that skill and deck familiarity can beat these though!


For those that are looking to get involved from the start, what are you thinking regarding the starter set?

I admit I’m tempted to just get a couple of decks and use proxy tokens… I think the only thing difficult to proxy would be the chain tracker? I just don’t know how much I want those starter decks. Hrmmmm


I can sort of see why they had to do the two starter decks, but I agree, seems like a waste of time and would much prefer two “real” decks.


The chain tracker is just a table and there are plenty of photos. Can easily make a spreadsheet or Photoshop a prettier table (design skill dependent). There really is nothing in the starter set that you need which can’t easily be proxied.


I’m thinking of running a little group here (I live in regional Victoria, Australia) so it might be nice to have those decks of known quantity which I can use to teach when new players come in, or to lend to people maybe?


Cautiously interested, but there’s way I’ll drop any money on it until it has been out for a year or so. If people are still excited about it then I might buy a pack.


From what I understand, the starter box will not only have the two starter decks, but also 2 random decks, plus all the paraphernalia.

I strongly suspect that, if this takes off, we’ll be seeing blinged out stuff to go with it. Resin aember tokens, that sort of thing. If so, the need for the starter box goes away.