RogerBW's Blog

No Enthusiasm for Keyforge 28 December 2018

Fantasy Flight Games has recently released Keyforge, a Unique Deck Game in which every deck one buys is different from every other. It's been getting mostly positive reviews. Why am I so comprehensively uninterested?

Some background that you can skip if you know about the game already: each deck is generated randomly and has a custom back, so you can't mix cards between decks. You draw cards, get them into play, and use them to attack your opponent and gain points to win the game.

For a start, I don't like any business model that requires me to buy a pig in a poke. I tried Magic the Gathering when it first came out, but as soon as it became clear that one would have not only to keep buying cards to be competitive (which can also be a problem in non-randomised games like X-Wing) but also to pay for lots of things one didn't want because of the randomised packs, I got out. If you don't like a deck, you can't tweak it to suit your play style, you just have to buy another one ($9.95 for 37 cards) and hope it's more to your taste. If you play in what seems to be the standard sort of tournament, everyone has to pay for another deck. It's not the same flavour of kiddie crack that Magic is – of course it's not, because Magic may have a huge and tempting fan base but their habits are already being fed by Hasbro – but that just means that there's a whole new audience to have their pockets emptied.

The theme, insofar as there is one at all, is a generic fantasy gallimaufry with aliens and mad scientists and demons. All right, it's a bit less generic than Terrinoth (which FFG is now desperately trying to push as an exciting world with its own lore), but that just means it manages to be dull in a whole new way.

The art style leaves me cold; it looks to me like what happens when Western artists try to copy traditional Japanese manga and anime.

Card images from FFG

And if I want a two-player card-based battle game, well, I have Star Realms.

I'll admit I'm biased against the FFG/Asmodée monolith because I see the company working hard to get itself into a monopoly position and then exploit it to keep prices high. But there's simply nothing about this game which appeals to me.

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