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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Thursday 21 November 2019

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Keyforge: Worlds Collide

Game: Keyforge: Worlds Collide

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Designer: Richard Garfield

Year: 2019

Keyforge: Worlds Collide is the third wave of Keyforge. It's the first time that new factions have been introduced to the game and also introduces a few new formats that you can purchase the game in. We've been playing Keyforge since the beginning in a very casual way. We own a few decks from each wave and just grab two decks for a casual game from time to time. It's a great game to travel with because it's just a deck of cards and a few tokens for each player and I've always liked the idea that any two people might meet up at a convention and play a game. The reality is that when we took our decks to the UK Games Expo, we were accosted by lots of players who were far too serious and now it's a play at home only kind of game!

Since we've never reviewed Keyforge before, I'll give a brief overview and thoughts on both the game system and this latest release.

Keyforge launched into the board game and card game arena with a couple of selling points. Firstly, Richard Garfield, the designer, is a huge name in collectible card games. But, more notably, Keyforge launched the idea of 'Unique Games' from Fantasy Flight Games. Every deck you buy is unique, with a unique set of cards, each with a uniquely printed name. The printing technology alone blew people's minds and now I love our specific UK Games Expo and The Ludoquist decks. Keyforge is not a collectible card game. If you spend around £10 on a deck then that's all you need to play. You might want to buy more decks and find one that's either better or that you simply prefer, but the barrier to entry is pretty low. You might also want a few tokens to play with - we did proxy these for a while, but you can get a set of tokens in any 2-player starter set, or now in the 1-player starter sets that are available for the first time in this wave.

Keyforge is a pretty simple, 2-player, card game. Each deck is thirty cards, made up of an assortment of cards from three of the 7 factions in that wave. You will always be holding cards up to your hand limit, and on your turn you pick a faction and play or activate as many cards as you like from that faction. Creature cards already in play can be activated to fight or the reap (gaining you 1 amber), but new cards added to your line cannot be activated on the turn they're played. Although creatures can fight, typically in a simple comparison of strength values, the real point of the game is not to eliminate creatures or hurt your opponent, but to forge keys (as the name might suggest!). Each key costs six amber and you need to have it at the start of your turn. Many cards have effects that temporarily or permanently steal amber, so trying to deplete your opponent's amber to below 6 before their next turn is pretty key.

Like many, I was initially intrigued by the concept of unique games and that's why I first wanted to try Keyforge. Having never played TCGs or CCGs and not being a big fan of head-to-head two-player games, it wasn't an instant hit for me, but over time I've really started to enjoy playing casually. I think the positive for me, is likely the flaw for other casual players. Some decks are good and others are bad - so I have a great chance to win, even though Amy is perhaps a stronger player and if I lose, I can blame my deck. Granted sometimes that blaming is unwarranted, but at other times I show Amy the array of cards in my deck and she agrees that I had no chance. Chains are a way to try and affect this natural imbalance and for tournament, or regular players, then picking your best deck seems to be what it's all about and is certainly an aspect of the business model that keeps people buying more decks.

With the decks from Worlds Collide we definitely found some decks with significant mis-match. In particular we had a game where one deck simply had nothing to stop the other player from accumulating amber, so it was a very fast game. In other games we had a fantastic, drawn out battle. The Saurians have some huge creatures, but also accumulate amber on the cards, which all goes back to your opponent. Every time I played one of these huge dinosaurs I got really nervous about the counters Amy might be able to play as a result, such as a simple one shot on my giant creature.  The Star Alliance certainly seemed to need to be played in slightly more clever ways, moving around upgrades on your different characters to gain extra benefits like card draws or amber. With both Star Alliance and Saurians I often had a lot more creatures on the table at any one time than with the first set in particular.

Overall, it's refreshing to have some new factions to play with and this wave had a larger dose of extra keywords, new token types and effects too, which make it feel like a bigger, more meaningful change to the system. The game is certainly getting a bit more complex and less accessible with each release as more gets added, but it's still a simple game at its heart and has that ability to just pull out two decks anywhere and start to play. It's a shame that veteran players will have to buy a new starter set of one type to get the new tokens, if they don't want to proxy them, but a one or two player starter set is all you need.

While I'd never enter into a competitive environment, Keyforge is my 2-player card game of choice and the variety and joy of a new deck still hasn't worn off. For the Yellow Meeple, Keyforge: Worlds Collide is an 8/10.

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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