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Pyrkon 2019 KeyForge card game.jpg
KeyForge being played at the Pyrkon 2019 in Poznań, Poland
DesignerRichard Garfield
PublisherFantasy Flight Games
Release date2018-
Typeunique deck game
Age range14+
Playing time45+ minutes
Random chancemoderate

KeyForge is a unique deck card game created by Richard Garfield and published by Fantasy Flight Games in 2018.

In it, players take on the role of Archons in the world of the Crucible. Each Archon races to be the first to collect "Æmber" and forge three keys. As the first "Unique Deck Game", KeyForge is sold in individual decks containing 37 random cards. No two decks are the same, with 104 septillion possible deck combinations. There are about 370 cards in the Call of the Archons expansion. Each deck has a unique name, resulting in humorous deck names such as "The Boy who Basically Headbutts Heaven".[1][2]

The first set of KeyForge, Call of the Archons, was released on November 15, 2018. The second set, Age of Ascension, was released on May 30, 2019. The third set, Worlds Collide, was released on November 8, 2019. The fourth set, Mass Mutation, was released on July 10, 2020.


KeyForge is a two-player game, with each player using a single deck of cards to play creatures, artifacts, actions and upgrades. The aim of the game is to gather enough Æmber (pronounced "amber") to forge three keys before the opponent does the same. Creatures can reap Æmber and fight one another, while artifacts provide unique effects. Actions are used and discarded, and upgrades are attached to creatures to improve their abilities.

Each card in KeyForge is associated with a House, with each deck containing cards from three Houses. At the beginning of each player's turn, that player declares a House - they may then only play, use, or discard cards belonging to that House. Unlike similar card games such as Magic: the Gathering and Android: Netrunner, cards do not typically require a cost to be paid such as the expenditure of mana or credits. Instead, a player may play and use as many cards on their turn as they wish, provided the cards belong to the declared House.

KeyForge also differs from other card games in its approach to deck composition. Each deck features a unique card back with the name of an Archon; thus, decks cannot be modified with cards from other decks. Cards also cannot be traded or sold separately from their original decks, eliminating the possibility of "net decking" (a process in other card games of researching and recreating the most powerful decks).[1]


New cards are released on a regular basis through expansion sets. For each new set, there is a chance for one of the houses to be rotated out, and not be featured in the set, while new houses can be added to the set.[3]

Set Release Date Cards Brobnar Dis Logos Mars Sanctum Shadows Untamed Saurian Republic Grand Star Alliance Unfathomable
Call of the Archons November 15, 2018 370
Age of Ascension May 30, 2019 204
Worlds Collide November 8, 2019 284
Mass Mutation July 2020[4] 250+
Dark Tidings March (Limited) 2021[5] 250+


KeyForge was announced at Gen Con on August 1, 2018. An announcement trailer and accompanying introductory article explaining the game were published to the Fantasy Flight website, citing a launch date in the fourth quarter of 2018.[1][6] Pre-orders for the Keyforge: Call of the Archons Starter Set and Archon Deck were made available the same day, as well as PDF copies of the rulebook. It was also announced that KeyForge tournaments and events would be sanctioned through Fantasy Flight's Organised Play program, details of which were later announced on the Fantasy Flight Organised Play minisite.[7]

In the game's rulebook, Garfield wrote about the origin of the game, expressing his desire to see "sealed deck and league play" formats return to popularity. He described the contrast between KeyForge and other trading card games as "like the difference between exploring a jungle and walking in an amusement park (...) In the amusement park there are experts telling you how to play the game, the safest strategies, what net decks to use. In the jungle you have the tools you have."[8] Garfield claimed that he had wanted to create KeyForge for 10 years before release, but the printing technology central to the idea was not yet available.[9]

KeyForge was released November 15, 2018, with prerelease events taking place earlier in the month. On the same day the KeyForge Master Vault app and website were launched to help players keep track of decks.[10]


SKU Name Release Date
KF01 KeyForge: Call of the Archons Starter Set November 15, 2018
KF02a KeyForge: Call of the Archons Archon Deck November 15, 2018
KF03a KeyForge: Age of Ascension Archon Deck May 30, 2019 (United States) and May 31, 2019 (Europe)
KF04 KeyForge: Age of Ascension Two-Player Starter Set May 30, 2019 (United States) and May 31, 2019 (Europe)
KF05a KeyForge: Worlds Collide Archon Deck November 8, 2019
KF06 KeyForge: Worlds Collide Deluxe Archon Deck November 8, 2019
KF07 KeyForge: Worlds Collide Two-Player Starter Set November 8, 2019
KF08 KeyForge: Worlds Collide Premium Box November 8, 2019
KF09a KeyForge: Mass Mutation Archon Deck July 2020
KF10 KeyForge: Mass Mutation Deluxe Deck July 2020
KF11 KeyForge: Mass Mutation Two-Player Starter Set July 2020

Spin-off media[edit]

In 2020, an anthology of science fantasy short stories set on the Crucible was released called Tales from the Crucible.[11]


IGN described the game as "a bold new idea and a vastly different kind of game format", but questioned the randomization model, speculating that "people won’t be spending tons of money on single rare cards, but that may have been replaced with spending tons of money on random deck boxes in the hopes of getting lucky with a great card combination."[9] Polygon called the game "remarkable" in a hands-on demo and suggested that it "has its work cut out for it just in establishing a marketplace presence".[12]

Upon release, the game was well received. Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower said the decks in the initial core set "feel balanced" and praised the unique aspects of the game and the gameplay.[13]


  1. ^ a b c "KeyForge: Call of the Archons". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  2. ^ "The Boy who Basically Headbutts Heaven".
  3. ^ "Fantasy Flight Unveils New 'KeyForge' Expansion". Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  4. ^ "Keyforge Announces Mass Mutation Set". GAMING. Retrieved 2020-02-03.
  5. ^ "Keyforge's next set Dark Tidings gives your unique deck an evil twin". Dicebreaker. 2020-07-30. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  6. ^ Fantasy Flight Games (2018-08-02), KeyForge - Trailer, retrieved 2018-10-06
  7. ^ "KeyForge Organized Play". Retrieved 2018-10-10.
  8. ^ Garfield, Richard (2018). "The Origin of KeyForge", KeyForge Rulebook. Fantasy Flight Games. p. 13.
  9. ^ a b Marks, Tom (2018-08-01). "KeyForge, the next Game from the Creator of Magic: The Gathering, Uses Billions of Unique Decks - Gen Con 2018". IGN. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  10. ^ "The Master Vault". Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  11. ^ Tales From the Crucible: A KeyForge Anthology
  12. ^ "KeyForge is a remarkable new card game gunning for both Magic and Hearthstone". Polygon. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  13. ^ The Dice Tower (2018-11-11), KeyForge Starter Set Review - with Tom Vasel, retrieved 2018-11-15