Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 19 November 2019

Sorry, not Saury:- Keyforge: Worlds Collide

Game: Keyforge: Worlds Collide

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Designer: Richard Garfield

Year: 2019

In case you have been paying no attention to card games over the last 12 months. Keyforge is Fantasy Flight's Unique deck game. What's a unique deck game? Well it's not quite a TCG, not quite a LCG, but man... Essentially imagine an trading card game where you can only buy fully made decks. You can't deckbuild, the cards in your decks are locked to that deck. If you ever want a new experience then you simply have to buy another deck. But the decks are cheap, costing about as much as 3 trading card booster packs. Every deck you buy will have 3 of the 7 factions present in equal amounts with a computer generated decklist. They are quite serious when they say every deck is unique!

World's Collide is the third and latest set of Keyforge. As the third set they have chosen to freshen up gameplay a little. Two factions have been cycled out and replaced with the Saurians (huge dinosaurs, but also Romans?) and the Star Alliance (Imagine a Star Trek Crew but less competent... no, less competent still, Galaxy Quest, yeah that's the level we're at). These new factions have brought with them some new gameplay mechanics, new combinations and lots and lots of dinosaur puns! World's Collide brings with it not just 2 new factions, but also the deluxe deck - a 1 player starter set for those who are ready to jump into the game with their friends.

The contents of a deluxe deck, all the tokens you need to play and a random deck. It also comes with a rules booklet.

For those who haven't played Keyforge before the game plays similarly to a typical TCG. You (typically) have a hand of 6 cards and each turn you choose one of your deck's 3 houses to activate. You can only ever use cards or creatures from the house you chose. From your hand you can play abilities, artifacts, and creatures. These creatures can then fight your opponents creatures to keep them under control, perform special abilities they may have, or reap to gain precious Æmber. Æmber is the goal of the game, at the start of your round if you have 6 or more Æmber you can spend 6 of it to forge a key. Forge 3 keys and you have won the game!

Of course that's just the basics. There are a ton of special abilities and keywords that keep the game fresh and interesting. Each faction has its own twist on gameplay, such as the Saurians who tend to have huge creatures that generate Æmber on themselves. Æmber which is often easier for your opponent to get than you. Even amongst 1 faction there are enough cards that two decks that feature that faction may have no cards in common.

Manipulating your battleline is important, some creatures may be extra powerful if they are in certain positions.

So is Keyforge a great TCG style game? Yes, absolutely. And does it avoid the expensive pitfall of traditional TCGs where you have to buy a ton of cards or invest in decks worth thousands of pounds to be competitive? Yup, pretty much. So is it a perfect game? Well no. While every deck may be created in the same way, they are not created equal. Some cards simply are better than others and decks that have those cards are objectively better than those that don't. There is certainly a disparity in power levels of some decks which can really make it not fun to be on the losing side. While the game's official app does track win rates of decks and assign them chains (a way of temporarily reducing your hand size to give the other player a head start) for casual play you may find you simple have to agree not to bring your crazy decks out each time.

When the decks are closely balanced though, damn the games are good! Sometimes you'll have wars between massive creatures dominating for control, other times you'll have games of capturing and stealing Æmber back and forth to try and buy that one extra turn to forge a key. Other times you'll pull out huge combos to gain a ton of Æmber only to have your opponent pull out cards that make your keys cost a more and see it all wash away. You never know what to expect in a game of Keyforge and that's why I love it. It brings all of the charm of a great TCG, without the pain of investment. You really can get away with buying the 2 player starter set and them picking up a new deck as and when you feel like it. If you are looking for a head to head 2-player card game then you simply have to try Keyforge!


Review copies of Keyforge : Worlds Collide - Deluxe Archon Deck and standard Archon Decks were provided by Asmodee UK. They are now available at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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