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KeyForge is a two-player card game in which each player takes the role of an Archon, and leads that Archon’s deck against their opponent. A player’s deck represents a team that is attempting to gain Æmber and forge keys. The first player to gather three keys is able to unlock a Vault and win the game. The defining feature of KeyForge is that no two decks are alike. This is not a trading card game—you cannot craft a deck. Rather, each deck must remain as it is. Every deck in existence is unique!

Key Concepts

The Golden Rule


Ready and Exhausted

Running out of Tokens or Status Cards

There is no limit to the number of damage tokens, Æmber tokens, or status cards that can be in the game area at a given time. If there is a shortage of the provided tokens or status cards, other tokens, counters, or coins may be used to track the game state.


To set up the game, perform the following steps, in order:

  1. Place all damage tokens, Æmber tokens, and status cards in a common supply within easy reach of both players.
  2. Each player places their identity card to the left or right side of their play area.
  3. Each player places three key tokens, one of each color, with the unforged side faceup near their identity card.
  4. Randomly determine who is the first player. That player takes the first turn when the game begins. (If players are playing a series of games between two decks, in each game after the first, the player who used the deck that was defeated in the previous game chooses who is the first player.)
  5. Each player shuffles their deck and offers it to the opponent for additional shuffling and/or a final cut.
  6. The first player draws a starting hand of seven cards. The other player draws a starting hand of six cards.
  7. Each player, starting with the first player, has one opportunity to mulligan their starting hand by shuffling it back into their deck and drawing a new starting hand with one fewer card in it. (This step is skipped in the Quickstart game.)

The game is now ready to begin.

Turn Sequence

A turn consists of one player performing the five steps detailed in the game’s turn sequence, which are:

  1. Forge a key
    If the active player has enough Æmber to forge a key during this step,they must do so.
  2. Choose a House
    During this step, the active player chooses one of the three houses on their identity card to activate, making it the active house for the remainder of the turn.
  3. Play, discard, and Use cards of the chosen house
    The active player may play or discard any number of cards of the active house from their hand and may use any number of cards of the active house that are in play under their control. Eligible cards may be played,used, or discarded in any order. A card’s house is determined by an icon in the upper-left corner. If the active house corresponds to a card’s icon, that card is eligible to be played, used, or discarded
    First Turn Rule: During the first player’s first turn of the game, that player may only play or discard one card from their hand.
    The active player may not play, use, or discard cards that aren’t of the active house unless specified by a card ability.
  4. Ready cards
    The active player readies each of their exhausted cards.
  5. Draw cards
    The active player draws cards from the top of their deck until they have six cards in their hand. After a player completes this step, their turn ends.

Playing Cards

Card types

Discarding Cards

Using Cards

Card Abilities


Some card abilities cause a player to gain one or more chains. If a player gains chains, that player increases their chain tracker by the number of chains gained. If a player has at least one chain when refilling their hand and would draw cards based on the number of remaining cards in their hand, they draw fewer cards according to the chart below. Then, they shed one chain by reducing the number on their chain tracker by one.

# of Chains How many fewer cards to draw
1-6 1
7-12 2
13-18 3
19-24 4
Official rules v1.5 Nov 2019