Season 2 of Keyforge has dropped. For those unfamiliar, Keyforge was designed by Magic: the Gathering designer Richard Garfield. Having set the template for CCG’s with M:tG, Garfield once again shows his eagerness to experiment by inventing a game where every single deck is a unique entity, composed of cards drawn from a pool of 370 divided into six distinct Houses, each with its own playstyle. No booster packs, no deckbuilding.
In his designer notes Garfield explains that he was trying to recapture the thrill and challenge of Sealed play, where the fun came from figuring out the synergies of the cards you were given.
The object of the game is to be the first to forge three Keys, which one does using the in-game currency, Æmber. Usually you need six Æmber, but as one would expect there are plenty of ways to mess with that. At the start of your turn, after forging a key if you can, you declare a House, and for the rest of the turn the only cards you can play or discard (again, exceptions) can be from that House. This forces players to be flexible in their play styles; you can’t just hammer home the same combos turn after turn. It’s not about reducing your opponent to zero life or emptying their deck: everything is subservient to the race to forge keys (and hence, produce the necessary Æmber to do so).
Season 2 was already set when Season 1 dropped last year, so don’t expect any major buffs or nerfs; those will undoubtedly come in Season 3. Instead, we have a few new keywords to learn: Alpha and Omega force you to play certain cards as the first/last of your turn, and Deploy lets you summon creatures to anywhere in your Battle Line (instead of just the flanks). The randomly-generated names of the decks seem to have been toned down a bit--so, no “Farmer of Racism”--but this is anecdotal so far. They’ve printed up more copies of the base set, which is nice because they come with playmats, a complete set of bits, and two random decks (no pre-chewed starters this time).
Personally, I really like the idea behind Keyforge and admire how Garfield doesn’t just want to churn out more copies of M:tG or Netrunner. I also like how all you really need are two decks: you and an opponent can play a match and then switch decks and play another. It’s not about buying boosters and pay-to-win. It’s about leveraging the best you can out of your deck. Click here to order a base set and here to order boosters. And remember: the deck chooses the Archon.