Play (step)

From Archon Arcana - The KeyForge Wiki

The active player is permitted to play any number of cards that belong to the active house during step three of their turn, with the exception of the first turn, which is subject to the first turn rule.

Bonus Icons

Aember bonus in the upper left corner of a KeyForge card

This text is from the quickstart rules, for more details see Bonus icons.

Many cards have bonus icons in the upper-left corner. After a card with a bonus icon is played, the first thing the active player does is resolve each bonus icon on that card. There are four types of bonus icons:

Æmber (Aember icon): Gain 1 Æmber. Each time a player gains Æmber (for any reason), the Æmber is placed in their Æmber pool (on that player’s identity card).

Capture (Capture icon): A friendly creature captures 1 Æmber from the opponent. (This Æmber is taken from the opponent’s pool and placed on that creature.)

Damage (Damage icon): Deal 1 damage to a creature in play.

Draw (Draw icon): Draw 1 card.

Play abilities

Some cards have a bold Play: ability. Such abilities resolve after the card’s Æmber bonus is collected, if it has any, and immediately after the card enters play.

Card Types

There are four types of cards in the game: action cards, artifacts, creatures, and upgrades. There are different rules describing how each card type is played.

Action Cards

When an action card is played, the active player resolves the card’s “Play:” ability and, after resolving as much of the ability as possible, places the card in their discard pile.


Artifacts enter play exhausted and are placed in a row in front of the player but behind that player’s battleline. Artifacts remain in play from turn to turn.


Creatures enter play exhausted and are placed in the front row of the active player’s play area. This row is referred to as the battleline. Creatures remain in play from turn to turn, and they each have power and armor values that they use to resolve fights.

Each time a creature enters play, it must be placed on a flank—at the far left or the far right of its controller’s battleline. Each time a creature leaves play, shift the battleline inward to close the gap.


Upgrades enter play attached to (i.e., partially overlapped by) a creature chosen by the player who controls the upgrade. Each upgrade remains in play from turn to turn and modifies the card to which it is attached.

  • If the card to which an upgrade is attached leaves play or becomes a non-creature, the upgrade is discarded.
  • If an upgrade cannot attach to a card in play, the upgrade cannot enter play.
Official rules v1.8 March 2021