A to Z Gaming: Keyforge

We battled each other using creatures, technology, artifacts and skills to earn amber and forge keys to unlock the Crucible’s Vaults in Keyforge, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Basic Info: KeyForge: Age of Ascension
Players: 2
Time: 15-45 Minutes
Designers: Richard Garfield
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Keyforge is a one-versus-one game where players each have a unique deck with cards from three houses. Each turn they play and activate cards from a declared house including artifacts, creatures, technology and skills all in an effort to gain amber to forge their three keys. The player who can forge all three of their keys first, wins.

The game is set up with each player having a unique deck of cards, three key tokens, and a chain tracker. Then the start player draws a hand of seven cards, and the other draws a hand of six cards.

Each turn consists of five steps. First the player must forge a key if they have enough amber to to do so – the default cost is 6 amber, but some cards may make it more or less expensive. Then they declare a house. Next the player can discard, activate or play any number of cards from the active house. Then, they ready each exhausted card and finally draw back up to their hand limit of six.

The cards come in a few varieties. Creatures are played in a row closest to their opponent – these are typically activated to attack their opponent’s creatures or to mine amber. Artifacts are played in a row between the player and their row of creatures. Action cards give players a one-time ability and are then discarded. And Upgrades can be attached to Creatures – either the player’s or their opponent’s. Creatures and Artifacts enter the game exhausted, so must wait a turn before they can be activated. And any cards are only activated once per turn, then exhausted.

Play continues until one player has forged their third key, and they are the winner.

Andrew tried to get into Magic The Gathering a few years ago, but was never quite able to spin up the perfect deck or to find others to play against. He thought this might be an easier way to get into a one-verus-one type game without having to constantly be fiddling with balancing cards. To be honest, though, this was never my type of game. I don’t dislike it…I just don’t enjoy it, either. There are a number of other 2-player games I’d rather play.

It’s hard to say exactly what I don’t like about the game, but I tend not to like overly aggressive games. And Keyforge is almost entirely about tearing down your opponent’s engine (creatures) while building up your own.

How is it as a 2-player game? Keyforge is designed for just two players, so it’s a perfectly fine 2-player game.

How about the art and component quality? The cards are good quality and I do like some of the art. The cardboard bits are heavy, and there have been plenty of them for our games.

Will this stay in my collection? That’s up to Andrew. I’m unlikely to suggest this as a game to play, but if he wants to pull it out, I won’t say no. It’s okay, but not my favorite.

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