The KeyForge App and Online Play
The KeyForge app is pretty sparse right now, but as the game is out for longer there should be more functionality added. Right now the main use for the app is to register your decks by scanning a QR code on each deck. You can see all of your decks and the cards within them. If you know the name of another deck that has been registered, you can also take a look at it. There’s also information about each deck like its wins, loses, chains, and more, but they have not yet been populated. As chain-bound tournaments start occurring more frequently, these areas will become populated. For now, the KeyForge app is most useful if you want to play online.
You can play KeyForge online through your browser at The Crucible Online. First, you need to create an account and pull up your decks on the KeyForge website. Once you are logged in you can see decks you have scanned via the mobile app or register decks using a 15 digit deck code. Once you have registered a deck and are on it’s landing page, go to the address bar at the top of the page and copy the link. Then jump over to The Crucible Online deck tab and click import deck. You can then paste the link address for any decks you want to import into the box on the import deck page. After that, you should be able to play against opponents using your decks. Phew! It definitely feels like you have to jump through some hoops in order to play online, rather than just going to one place, but once you start playing online with your deck, it can become addictive fast.
In the Crucible Online, you can choose to play against opponents in three skill levels: Beginner, Casual, or Competitive. You can then join a game with an opponent who also selected the same level, start a game and wait for someone to join, or watch games that are already going on. It seems like there’s really no big skill level difference between the players in Beginner and Casual play spaces. The online experience is a bit wonky (more on that later) but I still find it enjoyable. It’s a good way to play and get practice whenever you want instead of having to wait for your local game store to hold a tournament or casual play day.
Where can the game be improved?
The algorithms could be improved and I am confident that they will over time. The reason I think the algorithms could be improved is that I have seen decks that have one or more cards that don’t really seem to have the same goal as the others in that deck, which can feel counterintuitive and frustrating.
KeyForge’s online gameplay platform, The Crucible Online, could use some improvements to its User Interface (UI). I’ve experienced using cards with abilities that aren’t easy to use within the current UI. The way cards appear on the battlefield are hard to see, e.g. damage, stun counters, and upgrades disappear from view when you click on a card. If you make a mistake, good luck using the manual mode to try to go back without messing other things up. Something else that would be a great addition is the option to cancel an action before it goes through in case you clicked on accident. For example, I have accidentally clicked attack with a character more times than I can count, but there’s no way to cancel out of that after you click to attack.
Finally, sometimes there are some card effects that can decide your entire next turn but can easily get lost in the gameplay history. For instance, if a card says you can’t play any action cards next turn. These kinds of cards need to have some kind of alert that shows the opponent while they are in effect, rather than relying on the person to scroll through the gameplay history.
Despite these flaws, I still enjoy playing KeyForge online. The game is new so I imagine that these are kinks that will be worked out. One of my favorite things about playing online is that you can chat with your opponents, giving them kudos for a cool combo or telling them sorry when you turn the game around unexpectedly at the last second (this happened to me recently).
Tips for playing on the Crucible
- To see the entire board, the status of creatures, etc. make use of your computer’s control/command and + or – shortcut to zoom in and out. This will help you see everything on the battlefield.
- Check out your opponent’s deck list by clicking the deck name at the top left in the chat box. This helps you quickly assess what their strategy will be so you can counter it.
- Click on your deck from time to time to see what cards are left. It’ll show you them in a randomized order, but it’s useful to remind yourself if something you need is on the way.
- Use the chat box to review your opponents actions. This is especially important if you are closing in on the win because you might not have noticed that they played a card that prevents you from playing actions or fighting on your next turn.
- Use the chat box to talk to your opponents. People play KeyForge online from all over the world. Get to know them; that’s part of the fun. And, chatting can be helpful if you make a mistake.
What to buy and where to buy it
I recommend purchasing the KeyForge Starter Set Box for $40. It comes with two practice decks, two random decks, tokens, counters, and other useful cards that serve as counters; it’s basically everything you need to get started. The only downside to the starter set is that it doesn’t come with a rulebook; you’ll have to print that out or pull the PDF up on your smartphone.
You can also purchase single decks ($10) or a full retail set of twelve decks (around $120 on Amazon), not to mention cool stylized playmats and custom tokens. If you know right off the bat that you are willing to spend a decent amount on the game, then I recommend buying the retail full set of 12 decks; that way you know that you’ll get at least one really competitive deck. For the casual player, the ten-dollar decks make it pretty affordable.
Fantasy Flight Games is the maker of KeyForge and you can get the full range of products on their website here. You can find most of these products at a slight markup on Amazon, but I encourage you to look up your local card, collectibles, or board game store and buy KeyForge products there. By going to purchase KeyForge in-store you’re supporting your local game store and saving yourself some money!
Overall thoughts about KeyForge
KeyForge is a fun, well-designed strategy card game that can be played casually at a relatively inexpensive price.
- Inexpensive to play casually – decks are only $10
- Easy to learn
- Good balance between strategy and luck
- Decks are randomly generated, making each deck unique
- Mitigation of decks that are too powerful
- Can be played online
- Decks for competitive play are rarer and are being re-sold online at high prices
- Some decks are not as balanced as others – algorithms need tweaking
- The KeyForge app has little functionality
- The Crucible Online is a little buggy and could be more user-friendly
- The starter box does not include a rulebook
- Fantasy Flight Games is currently producing only a small amount of KeyForge
Thanks for reading my review of KeyForge: Calls of the Archons, watching our videos, and engaging with our content. I know there were definitely some things I didn’t get around to talking about like the story behind the different Archon houses. Drop us a line or leave a comment. We would love to hear your thoughts and play some Keyforge with you!