New Player Guide

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Welcome to the world of KeyForge! Here's a list of common questions that come up often for new players. If you have something to add, send us a request.

What do I need to get started?

To get started playing KeyForge you'll need two things, a deck and a set of tokens. The decks can be found at most game shops as well as online. When starting out, use whatever you have around for tokens. Coins, buttons, crystals, whatever. Official tournament rules disallow dice but if you're just learning the game, dice are fine. Another good way to get started is to buy a starter set, as it will include two decks and all the tokens you will need for two players.

What set should I buy? Are all of the sets compatible?

The current set for KeyForge is Mass Mutation, but KeyForge is considered to be an "evergreen" game meaning that in most Organized Play, any set is allowed to enter. So if you see a good deal on an older set and are trying to save some money getting started, that could be a good way to go. There are a few different products for each set available. Those are all listed on the Sets page. If you're just getting started, getting the most recently released Starter Set (Mass Mutation as of July 2020) is probably the easiest point of entry both in terms of completeness and price.

In standard official formats, all decks are playable against each other, and no set is going to be made ineligible. To keep organized play interesting, sometimes limits are put on what types of decks are allowed - but decks from all sets can still see consistent play. Power level between sets can vary but it is possible for fun matchups to exist between them. General consensus on which set is best varies.

More information about Official and Unofficial KeyForge products can be found in the KeyForge Accessories article.

What are these symbols on my deck list?

On your deck list to the left of the card name you'll have a symbol denoting the card's rarity. To the right will be a symbol denoting if a card is a Maverick (Triangle), Legacy (Diamond), or Anomaly (Lightning Bolt).

What is the Master Vault app? Do I have to register my decks? Can other people register my decks?

The Master Vault is a companion app (available on iOS and Android) and website that allows players to register their decks, gain Æmbershards and track wins, losses, chains and power levels for their decks, as well as search and explore all other registered decks. A player is required to have a Master Vault profile for attending any KeyForge Organized Play events. Vault Tour and Store leaderboards, as well as an Event Locator are also available in the Master Vault.

Players can register any deck in the Master Vault, but only the first person to register ("discover") it will gain an Æmbershard for registering it.

Do I need to sleeve my decks?

Official tournament rules require opaque sleeves. KeyForge cards tend to be just a little taller than most TCG cards, but commonly used sleeves are Dragon Shields or Ultimate Guard Katanas. There's also a line of sleeves made by Gamegenic specifically for KeyForge.

How do I know if my deck is any good? My deck has 0 rares in it, is that bad? My deck has 8 rare cards, does that mean it's good? How much can I sell this deck for?

Each deck in KeyForge is unique, and has been procedurally generated to be a playable deck. This doesn't mean that the deck will be great or terrible, it simply means that the deck won't be completely broken (There are currently no all creature decks, for example). FFG closely guards the details of how the algorithm builds decks.

In KeyForge, rarity does not necessarily mean that the card is good, but rather the card has an effect that the design team has chosen to balance with population rather than by tweaking the card itself. Some of the most powerful cards in KeyForge are the common ones.

The best way to determine if your deck is good is to play it! There are a few online rating systems (such as SAS and AERC from Decks of Keyforge) that will give you some ideas of the quality of the cards in the deck, but no rating system is perfect. (If it were, KeyForge would become a very boring game, very quickly.) Playing through the deck and learning what is good at (and not so good at) is always helpful.

What does TCO, DoK, VT, or this other abbreviation mean?

Any time you get a community that is constantly referring to the same thing, you will start to see abbreviations start to show up. Here's a list of the most common abbreviations in KeyForge.

How do you play KeyForge?

The Rules Outline has a walkthrough of how the game is played, with lots of links to relevant sections. If you want to look at the official KeyForge Rulebook you can find a link to it on the Rulebooks page.

There are some well done how to play videos available from TableTop Royale, Geek & Sundry, and Watch It Played.

Is there a list of all the cards in KeyForge?

You can use the Card Gallery to look at all the cards currently in KeyForge and refine your search there to look at cards from specific sets or houses.

How can I find people to play KeyForge with?

In the KeyForge Facebook Group there's a thread where you should be able to find a local group that will help you find games. You may also want to look at the #find-local-groups channel in the Keyforge Lounge discord server. There's also the official store locator that may be helpful if local stores are using it.

Can I play KeyForge online?

Not in an official capacity, but you can use The Crucible Online or TableTop Simulator to play Keyforge.

What are some websites where I can learn more about KeyForge?

In addition to the Links and Resources article here on Archon Arcana, there's a great Geek List on BGG of other resources that you may find helpful.

What are the most common mistakes new players make when playing KeyForge?

In no real order:

  • Forgetting to forge a key after paying the Æmber.
  • Realizing that all creatures can reap, not just those with Reap: abilities.
  • Trying to play an Artifact as an Action, or vice-versa.
  • Forgetting your opponent took control of one of your cards and having to track them down later to get your card back.
  • Forgetting about Chains, either drawing too many cards or forgetting to shed, especially after the initial draw.
  • Missing that a creature has Elusive.
  • Targeting a creature that is protected by Taunt.
  • Forgetting the point of the game isn't the board, it's Æmber generation.
  • Shuffling your identity card into your deck.
  • Holding onto a card for one turn too long thinking "The next turn will be the PERFECT time for this."

One of the best ways to mitigate common mistakes is by playing deliberately and cleanly. Aurore Inara, winner of the Belgian Grand Championship has an article with an excellent set of Clean Play Guidelines.

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