What is KeyForge?

October 28, 2018

Perhaps you’ve heard the name in passing. A game built entirely around ready-to-play decks, each completely unique from every other. Yep, EVERY single deck on every shelf everywhere is 100% unique from every other deck. No booster packs or price barriers.

It certainly sounds like a revolutionary concept, a game any player can pick up and begin playing—where the deciding factors in each match will be raw game knowledge and tactics. Count me in!

So what is KeyForge?

Created by legendary designer Richard Garfield, KeyForge is the first-ever “Unique Deck Game,” meaning each of the game’s pre-built decks has been mathematically crafted to be completely one-of-a-kind among over 104 quadrillion possibilities.

Decks never change, so the real challenge of the game is to master your knowledge of the cards and outplay your opponent.

When you sit down to play a game of KeyForge, you and your opponent will assume the roles of a mighty Archons with their own unique name and symbol. Your path to victory is to forge three keys and unlock one of the Crucible’s hidden vaults!

But in order to do that, you’ll need to utilize followers and tools from your deck’s three diverse Houses (randomly chosen from the game’s seven total Houses). Use your cards to gather Æmber to forge keys and slow your opponent’s progress.

Within each House, you will find four types of cards: actions, artifacts, creatures, and upgrades. Over a series of turns, you will use these creatures and cards to collect precious Æmber, battle your opponent, and ultimately forge enough keys to unlock the Vault!

No cards have a cost, so you can play them freely during your turn, but there’s a catch, and it’s one of the most important elements of KeyForge gameplay. At the start of your turn, you will choose one of your deck’s three Houses and activate it. For the duration of your turn, you may only play and use cards from that House, so you’ll need to choose wisely.

For example, say you choose Brobnar on turn one and play two big, hard-hitting creatures. At the end of your turn, you will draw back up to a full hand of six cards, but in this case, only one of your draws is a Brobnar card. Next turn, you’ll have a difficult decision to make: choose Logos and play a large portion of your hand, or choose Brobnar again and begin the beatdown? The choice is yours to make, and will be one of the key strategy points in your game.

Your cards are going to come and go quickly, so it’s important to choose how and when to play your most important cards. Board wipes are a thing, and it can feel terrible to be way ahead on the battlefield, only to have everything taken away from you.

And while it is important to keep fighting for control of the battlefield, but you also must not lose sight of your goal: gathering as much Æmber as you can. Creatures can even reap Æmber at the cost of exhausting them for a turn, but sitting out of a fight can be well worth it if it gets you ever closer to building your keys.

If you have six Æmber collected at the end of your turn, you must declare “Check!” as a warning to your opponent. Then, if your opponent fails to foil your plans and you still have six Æmber at the start of your next turn, you immediately forge a key, moving one step closer to opening the Vault and the knowledge within. The first Archon to forge three keys is the winner!

Meet the Houses

Your KeyForge deck contains three of the Crucible’s seven Houses. Each has a unique culture, history and—most importantly—play style, that distinguishes them from their peers. My getting a firm grasp of these play styles, you’ll be better able to command any deck you pick up.

The brawlers of Brobnar are a proud, boisterous people who value strength above all. Ruled only by the physically strongest among them, what they love most is a good fight, and each person is only entitled to what they are able to take and protect.



The empire of Mars is exceptional and has remained mostly unchanged since its relocation to the Crucible. Still ruled by the Elders, they continue their biological experiments to create the perfect monster and fight using ray guns and flying saucers to ensure their culture survives.



The angelic knights and crusaders of Sanctum keep their home on the Crucible safe, clean, and pleasant—a rare thing on the planet. Floating on golden wings, these warriors protect the weak, defend the innocent, and destroy all who threaten their order.



The scholars of Logos are the self-proclaimed “foremost” intellectuals of the Crucible. Logotarians often replace parts of their bodies with technology, and while some call their experiments deranged, they know that true understanding is worth more than any one life.



The demonic creatures of Dis are unmatched in cruelty and sheer ruthless. Dwelling in the deep underground of the Crucible, they incorporate Æmber into their minions to help them gather more of the precious substance and more souls.



Shadows is filled with a motley crew of rogues, thieves, con-artists, sometimes-assassins, and general ne’er-do-wells. Known for cleverness and speed, they repurpose what they lift from other Houses to survive.



The varied creatures of Untamed reject civilization, choosing to live in the wilds of the Crucible. Built by blending myriad biomes, this House is loosely organized, but all live true to their nature, whatever it may be.



In-Store Play and Tournaments

We are extremely excited for the possibilities in KeyForge organized play. Talk about putting players on an even playing field!

There are two main formats in KeyForge organized play:

  • Archon: Bring the deck(s) of your choice to the event;
  • Sealed: Everyone opens a fresh deck when the event begins.

Think your opponent got lucky and their deck is just plain stronger than yours? Many events will also use game variants to balance the varying strengths of the decks, a couple of examples being:

  • In the Adaptive variant, you and your opponent play best two out of three. Game one, you use your deck. Game two, you use your opponent’s deck. If there’s a third game, you’ll bid (offering to take lower card draws in game three) for the right to play the deck that won the previous two games.
  • In the Gauntlet variant, you and your opponent each bring three decks to a best-two-of-three match, then choose one of your opponent’s decks to eliminate. To win the match, you must win with both of your two remaining decks.

Ready to give it a try?
Join us at our weekly KeyForge Casual Play events:

Greenfield—Tuesday Nights at 5:30PM

Bayshore—Thursday Nights at 5:30PM

Mayfair—Sunday Afternoons at 2:00PM