KeyForge - Call of the Archons Review Roundup - by Fantasy Flight Games
I have zero time for deck builders. They seem to be a dime a dozen these days, and the collectible card game craze is still around with games like Magic the Gathering and Pokemon are both still reigning supreme. While I do enjoy me some Pokemon the Trading Card Game, I just don’t have time to keep up or play regularly enough to make it worth my while to invest in tons of booster packs. Fantasy Flight has found the perfect way to scratch that card game itch though, and its name is KeyForge. After seeing a panel interview with some of the creators of the game at PAX Unplugged last Fall, I became sold on a game that is for the most part balanced and polished. I have several decks already from the first set (Call of the Archons) and some awesome tokens that Dean got me off Etsy for my birthday. I too like others am somewhat addicted to this game and plan on acquiring more decks from the Age of Ascension expansion.
I cannot compare the game to games like Pokemon, Yu GI Oh, or Magic the Gathering because I didn’t really play them as I feared the financial investment should I get that needle deep in my veins. Since then Star Wars Destiny (another product from Fantasy Flight) has fully implanted its barbed tendrils in my body, but I like Keyforge for its ease of entry and near universal adoption. If you go to a gaming event most people seem to have brought a pack and you can sit down and knock out a game like you would play a game of traditional cards before you learned better games existed. The games I have played typically were fairly balanced so you can avoid being outclassed immediately by the guy who dropped a couple hundred bucks on all the rarest, powerful cards like in the other collectible games. I only had one game that felt out of reach from the jump but it likely was just that the deck i was playing had a counter and my friend happened to be playing it. The only gripe I feel is that the game benefits from tokens that until recently were exceeding hard to get your hands on so it isn’t quite as simple as just grabbing a deck and playing but it is a delightful portable game with a little more variety and nuance then a game like Star Realms to play against a friend on the go.
As a busy grown-up who also happens to be a gamer I have limited time and resources to commit to one game, let alone the tidal wave of options in the growing market. So when KeyForge claimed to have the feel of a collectible/trading card game without the added costs of booster packs and the time investment of deck building I was interested. After buying a few packs - which are complete, playable decks right out of the box - I found a quick to learn, head to head card game that was fun and challenging. There are problems with balance and replay-ability. And the Starter set that came with the necessary tokens was sadly sold out some time around the launch date. But despite these issues this is a game that I admire. The creators ignored the all too common impulse to squeeze every penny out of its players within a genre built to do just that. For anyone looking to invest in a game like this without breaking the bank KeyForge is the way to go. I've already pre-ordered two decks from the new expansion and I didn't forget the Starter set this time.
As a long time Magic: The Gathering player, I often have friends ask me how to go about getting into Magic. My answer is always the same. Just buy preconstructed decks and don't worry about deck building. With this in mind, you can probably guess that I found the premise of KeyForge quite interesting!
Unfortunately the game itself is fairly dull. Maybe I'm just jaded from years of playing CCGs, but to me KeyForge, both in game play and theme, just feels like an uninspired mash up of ideas. Don't get me wrong it's a fine game and for the price point well worth giving it a try. Personally though, I was underwhelmed.