Hands-On Impressions of KEYFORGE – One of Gen Con’s Most Buzzed-About Games

When Fantasy Flight announced Keyforge at their Inflight Report during Gen Con, a ripple ran through the room. This is a new type of game coming down the pipeline. They’re calling it a Unique Game, where every deck is unique (minus the learner decks in the starter set). I’ll be the first to admit that I was skeptical about the concept, but then they handed out two decks to everyone in attendance and I got to experience firsthand the level playing field it offered.

Now, there is no deck building that goes on, no net decks that win every tournament. Each deck is unique in the distribution of cards in it and the artwork and name on the back of the deck. They are made up of three of the seven Houses: Brobnar, Logos, Shadows, Sanctum, Mars, Dis, and Untamed. The Houses play different from one another and interact with each other in interesting ways.

The goal of the game is simple: be the first Archon to forge three keys to gain the knowledge from that level of the Crucible. To do this, you need to collect AEmber. There are cards that allow you to gain a point automatically by playing them or by stealing them from your opponent. If you have enough AEmber at the beginning of your turn, you forge a key. Each key takes 6 AEmber to forge and you can only forge one key each turn.


On your turn, you choose one of your Houses to use. That is the only House you can use the abilities of during that turn, so if you have a lot of Dis in your hand it might be worthwhile to choose them. Sometimes you’ll choose a House that you don’t have many cards in your hand, but have a great synergy with what is already out. You can pick a different House each turn or lean heavily into one House’s mechanics.

Some cards will give you AEmber just for playing them. Others will have an ability that triggers after you play the card. Creatures in your active House can Reap AEmber from the common pool during your turn. They can also use their Action abilities if they have them or Fight one of your opponent’s Creatures.


One thing to note, most cards come into play exhausted so they can’t be used the turn you play them (with the exception of their Play ability and AEmber bonus), so there is a good amount of strategy involved.

Then it’s just readying cards and drawing back up to six in your hand. Play passes to your opponent.


I played with my husband after the convention with the decks I got: F. Sahl, Forest Keeper of the Cold Center (Untamed, Sanctum, and Shadows) and Dreaded Dreadab, the Ornate Chancellor (Logos, Mars, and Dis). After the first game, we switched decks because F. Sahl was way more his play style than mine. I fell in love with Mars and their Jammers. You mean I can make someone’s keys cost more to forge? Game on!

Normally, I don’t play card games because the rules change too much for my taste and I don’t want to dump a ton of money into something that is a random pastime. At ten bucks a pop, even with each deck being a blind pack, I’m way more willing to test out a new deck or two and play more often. After the second game, I was ready for game number three because I finally got the feel of my deck down. I think with a few more plays (and a couple of different decks to play against) I will have a great feel for the synergy of Dreaded Dreadab.

Are you excited for Fantasy Flight’s new Unique Game system? Tell us in the comments!

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Feature Image Credit: Fantasy Flight Games

Other Image Credit: Dawn Dalton