KeyForge is the Next Generation of Deck-based Card Game


I’m so Team Brobnar it’s not even close. Just look at that beard.

From the makers of Magic: The Gathering comes a game ten years in the making. KeyForge, the next generation of card game, has been released in good time for demonstration at GenCon ’18.

So, the legend goes, no two players will ever use the same deck in KeyForge, which, just like Magic: The Gathering, is a 1v1 competitive card game. It’s the brainchild of Richard Garfield, the creator of M:TG. But while M:TG used a trading card or living card style packs, which relied on you randomly drawing the cards you wanted or purchasing expansion packs, KeyForge uses a revolutionary new method – Unique Deck Games.

The genius of the unique deck is that the card backs and names will be unique to your pack and can’t be changed by any means. It’s a 36-card deck that is available to buy, and with no other deck like it, your pre-made KeyForge deck will be special from the very first pack you own.

Just like in Game of Thrones, there are seven conquerable kingdoms, except in KeyForge, they’re called houses. Each house has its own unique physical look and even the style in which you play is specific to your house. In that sense, KeyForge as a world feels more like Harry Potter’s Hogwart than anything else. Each deck is composed of a random combo of three of the houses, and – just like Ron, Harry and Hermione at the start of the first movie – you’ll have no idea which house you’re in until you find out. Understanding the decks and how they shape your gameplay is one of the key strategic starting points.


Garfield had to do something slightly different with KeyForge and it’s clear that exact remit has driven him to embolden his design strategy with his newest offering. The tech needed to produce randomly printed decks simply wasn’t available before now, but now Garfield’s product is at the cutting edge of the industry yet again. The sheer number of cards available in KeyForge gives us that billion-combination prophecy. The challenge for Garfield and his team is now selling the product to the level they need to prove it.

In an industry now used to imitation, bringing out something completely unique is getting harder and harder. But a look at how Garfield talks through the demonstration of KeyForge, released yesterday, bodes strongly for the gaming public buying into an exciting concept. Just like many games, from poker to bridge, canasta to Magic: The Gathering, recreating that hunger and growth of early development is hard to do. But KeyForge may be the closest to a new wave of deck game that we can all buy into.

One of the most exciting elements of KeyForge as opposed to M:TG is the accessibility. Magic takes a lot of investment at the earliest stage to truly immerse yourself in the game. It’s certainly arguable that KeyForge gives players the chance to begin a truly immersive experience for as little as $30 spread between three players.

While KeyForge obviously has huge potential for improvement for every player, it’s pretty simple to pick up and play. There are a lot of rules to read, but no need to go through them all before picking up a pack and starting a game. I really like that about KeyForge: it’s inclusive in a way Magic: The Gathering stopped being for noobs a while ago.

KeyForge goes on sale with a $40 starter package comprising of two decks that are always the same and two random decks, each of which will be utterly unique. With tokens to keep a record of points, effects and progress, and while you’ll have to wait until September to buy either a starter pack or unique decks on their own, you can pre-order both if you’re as keen as I am to get the first packs on the market.

If you want to see Richard Garfield’s full demonstration, you can do so right here, while a hype trailer for the game has already been released.

KeyForge is likely to be a household name among gamers very soon, so getting to those unique decks first is something we are desperate to do. Who needs summer anyway?

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