KeyForge the Unique Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) was released last November. It has had some interesting press and has been doing very well sales wise. The concept is an incredible direction for the card game market, which is currently driven by collectible/trading and living card games. KeyForge strives to change that, by making every deck unique in an attempt to make card games entry-level friendly and interesting.

The only way into KeyForge is to buy a deck. That deck will contain cards from 3 of the 7 KeyForge houses (12 cards of each). We’ve already gone into detail on what the different houses in KeyForge offer in our article here. There have been a lot of discussions around the viability of decks and the chances of drawing an amazing deck over a poor one. So we decided to report on opening a full deck box to see what we got. A deck box contains 12 KeyForge decks. It’s reported that there are 104 quadrillion decks possible, so our 12 wouldn’t even scratch the surface of working out an “average deck box,” but we wanted to give anyone looking into picking up the game an idea.

We’ve held off doing an official reviews of KeyForge, deciding that it was much more important after our First Impressions, to cover what we though were interesting cards, and now we’ll look at 12 random decks, all from the same retail display box. With a game like KeyForge, you can talk about mechanics and FFG’s organised play which drives community, but if every single person on the planet bought a deck, they would all have their own experience of the game. For us, KeyForge is about finding decks that you enjoy playing.  Decks that suit you and your style of play and learning to pilot them, rather than chasing a meta, or spending huge amounts on a single card.

In this article, we’re going to look at the 12 decks we opened for KeyForge and talk about some of the cards and what makes the decks interesting. We won’t talk too much in detail about the cards, or the rules/mechanics, those can be seen in our previous articles.

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Our 12 decks from a KeyForge box. Our QR codes have been blanked out to protect them in the app.

Decks 1, 2 and 3

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Our first three KeyForge decks.

Svidana the Uniformly Thirsty

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KeyForge, Svidana the Uniformly Thirsty

Svidana’s deck contains houses Brobnar, Logos and Mars. It has 2 copies of 4 different cards, which really help with consistency in how the deck plays. 2 Batdrones and 2 Grabber Jammer’s help with keeping your opponent’s Aember count down.

There are also a few cards that let you ready and use a unit again and also cards that let you use cards from other houses that turn. Gauntlet of Command, Phase Shift and Brain Stem Antenna are great examples of how to make your turns more effective away from the chosen house that turn.

Neutron Shark and Rock-Hurling Giant are powerful removal cards and Follow the Leader and Sound the Horns can be incredible if played well.

The Prof. of Stormsea

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KeyForge, The Prof. of Stormsea.

The Prof. of Stormsea deck has Logos, Sanctum and Untamed as its houses. The deck has 2 copies of 6 cards, which is amazing for consistency. Two copies of Cooperative Hunting can be very powerful with a large amount of creatures in play and with Sanctum’s armor, keeping creatures in play longer is much easier.

2 copies of Quixo the ‘Adventurer’ gives an incredible draw mechanic to the deck, and having cards like Protect the Weak and Champion Anaphiel with armor and Taunt really help to keep them alive longer in order to capitalise on it.

The copy of Key Charge is great when there are a few cards that let you gain Aember faster. The 12 cards with free Aember gain help this, along with the 2 Batdrones, but it doesn’t really have any huge Aember draws other than Hunting Witch to capitalise on it.

Having both Foggify and Scrambler Storm in the deck offer some great control.

Evans of Quanland

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KeyForge, Evans of Quanland.

Evans of Quanland has cards from Mars, Sanctum and Shadows. The deck has 2 copies of 6 cards and 3 copies of Bulwark. Bulwark and Shoulder Armour are fantastic cards for keeping your creatures alive. A single Bulwark can offer 6 armour across three creatures and when they start overlapping it can get pretty insane. If you can get all 3 Bulwark’s side by side, the central copy will have 6 Armor and the two neighbours will have 4 each. 2 copies of Poison Wave, which does 2 damage to each creature can be combo’ed well with the overlapping armor.

2 Deep Probes, when played one after another are devastating when your opponent is building for a big turn and 2 Relentlss Whispers are great for your own Aember gain and creature removal. 2 Skeleton Keys keep your opponents Aember levels down, and when units with high armor are the ones capturing it, it can be very difficult for your opponent to get back.

If you can get both Grommid and “John Smyth” on the table at the same time if can be a fun time. And Bad Penny with 2 Pawn Sacrifice is just spiteful.

Evan’s is an all-round fun deck to play.

Decks 4, 5 and 6

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Our next three KeyForge decks.

Emperor D. Jetarado

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KeyForge, Emperor D. Jetarado.

Emperor D. Jetarado’s deck contains Mars, Shadows and Dis. As excepted with Dis, it does like its control and it has 2 copies of Fear and Shooler and 3 copies of Pit Demon.

The standout cards are Arise, Flame-Wreathed, Mack the Knife, Bait and Switch, Shatter Storm, Phylyx the Disintergrator and Swap Widget. Bad Penny and a single copy of Pawn Sacrifice and some Key Control with Lash of Broken Dreams and Jammer Pack make this an interesting and fun deck to pilot. There is a fair amount of stealing and removal in the deck that allows the deck to play a slow game.

A. Rolorina, Warlock of the Dewy Grotto

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KeyForge, A. Rolorina, Warlock of the Dewy Grotto.

Rolorina’s deck has Mars, Logos and Untamed as its houses. 2 copies of Full Moon, a Dust Pixie and a single Key Charge make pushing for early keys very tempting with this deck. Key Abduction can be combed well in the following turn after a big creature turn. Wild Wormhole is always a great card, but this deck has some denial that can sometimes make it a risky card to play if mistimed.

The Common Cold offers some great removal as it has some strong creatures like Lupo, 2 Ancient Bears and 2 Tunks. 2copies of Zyzzix the Many can really power into some Archive combos along with Novu Archaeologist.

Timing is incredibly important with this deck and knowing when to go for big creatures turns, avoiding letting your opponent go for huge levels of removal which can really scupper your plans.

Zikkinkonsra, the Alchemist of the Front

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KeyForge, Zikkinkonsra, the Alchemist of the Front.

Zikkinkonsra’s deck has Dis, Mars and Shadows, which are always a fun combination. Along with having 2 copies of Arise, which is amazing, it also has Three Fates and Gateway to Dis which can be played very well together, removing all creatures, then getting most of yours back.

Screaming Cave can also be a great draw mechanic, meaning that you wont have to wait for some powerful cards for the deck reshuffle. Use wisely though, as it does work against Arise.

2  copies of Silvertooth can help with some quick Aember gains or quick removal of enemy creatures, along with Bait and Switch for Aember control and gain. It’s not a quick deck, but it can hold a game steady for a while before taking it.

Decks 7, 8 and 9

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Our third set of KeyForge decks.

The Frau of Hornhedge

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KeyForge, The Frau of Hornhedge.

The Frau’s deck contains cards from Mars, Logos and Brobnar. Brobnar keep everything pretty direct with 2 copies of Troll and Relentless Assault. 2 Tremors can keep your opponent’s creature use in check and Cannon is a fantastic artifact. Artifact removal isn’t that common, so being able to do 2 damage a turn without playing a card is strong.

Novu Archaeologist, Doc Bookton and Wildwormhole help with the draw mechanic for the deck. Irradiated Aember, Shatter Storm and Sample Collection are great control cards from Mars with help balance out the deck.

It’s an interesting deck to play, but felt slow and very direct.

Protocamel, Tomb Lord

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KeyForge, Protocamel, Tomb Lord.

Protocamel’s deck has cards from Untammed, Dis and Mars. The deck has 2 copies of 5 cards and most notably, 4 copies of Full Moon. It’s frustrating to think how incredible this deck would be with a single Key Charge, especially with Mars’ creature recycle mechanic if you can get Full Moon played on the same turn.

Witch of the Eye, Regrowth and Hunting Witch all work perfectly with Full Moon, really driving the Aember gain. Screaming Cave an be also used well to get combo cards back into the deck without having to cycle through it all.

2 copies of Succubus would be better if there was some protection for them in the deck, but with only 3 Power, they are usually removed early.

It’s a fun deck to play, but it really feels like it’s not able to capitalise on it’s Aember draw.

Laila Foxconda from the Producer’s Hive

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KeyForge, Laila Foxconda fom the Producer’s Hive.

With a name like Foxconda, I think the producer’s hive is that of Roger Corman’s. The deck contain cards from Untamed, Mars and Brobnar and what a deck it is.

3 copies of Punch for Brobnar’s straight-forward, do damage, get money mechanic. Yo Mama Mastery is a grand card when the deck contains 9 creatures of 5 or more power to really demand attention from your opponent.

Earthshaker, Gauntlet of Command, Banner of Battle and Relentless Assault make the Brobnar cards in the deck really do what they do best.

2 copies of Tunk and 2 copies of Soft Landing can be combo’d well together to keep Tunk alive after taking on creatures as well as using a Mars creature the same turn it enters play. If only the deck had a copy of “John Smyth”.

A single Key Charge and Hunting Witch doesn’t give the deck the Aember drive it needs to capitalise on it and the single Niffle Ape and Troop call just make us sad. If drawn early, before the Niffle Ape, the Troop Call is a dead card.

Decks 10, 11 and 12

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Our final three KeyForge decks from the deck box.

Coreline, The Pupa that Lift the Province

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KeyForge, Coreline, The Pupa that Lift the Province.

Coreline’s deck contains cards from Dis, Mars and Sanctum. The deck feels like it is on the cusp of greatness. It has some high armor Sanctum cards like Raiding Knight, Staunch Knight, 2 copies of Champion Anaphiel and Shoulder Armour, along with some armored Mars cards like Tunk and Yxilx Dominator along with a great anti-armour card, Red Hot Armor.

2 copies of Ulyq Megamouth allow you to use other creatures during a Mars turn and Protectrix, Hallowed Blaster and Cleansing Wave help to keep your creatures alive.

2 copies of The Harder They Come are extremely powerful, but there is a possibility they will be dead cards against some decks.

2 copies of Three Fates and a single copy of Gateway to Dis offer some great removal, and with 2 copies of Arise, any negative is offset with being able to draw all your hard to remove Sanctum creatures back to you hand.

2 Ember Imps and a Control the Weak offer some good control, but overall it feels like the deck is missing something. It is a lot of fun to play, but it feels like when you creating your own deck and you’ve nearly hit that sweet spot of deck creation, but it’s not quite there yet.

Cataful, Spawn of Exiphage

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KeyForge, Cataful, Spawn of Exiphage.

Cataful’s deck is our favourite from the deck box. It has cards from Logos, Dis and Shadows for some amazing control.

Hysteria and Mind Barb can be a fun combination to make your opponent sweat for creature, but even alone, both cards are great.

Three Fates, Eater of the Dead, Overlord Greking and 2 copies of both Twin Bolt Emission and Positron Bolt make it difficult for your opponent to keep their creatures alive. Using Eater of the Dead to then purge any particularly horrible creatures from your opponent’s discard pile. Bulleteye and Macis Asp also help to remove any strong creatures easily.

Effervescent Principle, Old Bruno, 2 Dodgers, Bait and Switch and 2 Ghostly Hand’s help to keep your opponent’s Aember in check.

Dominator Bauble helps to ease combo’s each turn with out of house creatures and Arise!, of which there are 2 copies, lets you get your combo creatures back quickly and effectively.

Cataful’s deck has some amazing control and is hard to play against. We’ve been having a lot of fun with it.

Gammaglue, the Fragile Collective Reever

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KeyForge, Gammaglue, the Fragile Collective Reever.

Gammaglue’s deck is the one that gets the most interest when we’re playing. The deck contains Mars, Sanctum and Shadows and the famous Four Horsemen.

This Four Horsemen deck has some great synergies with the other cards. Bulwark and Sequis provide some extra armor. Charge! and Potion of Invulnerability are also fun with the Horseman of Death for some impressive creature removal.

Virtuous Works is half a key for free in a final push and Bait and Switch and 2 copies of Relentless Whispers also give some powerful Aember gains.

Silent Dagger, Custom Virus and Mothergun can also be used to great effect for board control.

Our favorite combinations are the 2 copies of Soft Landings with the 2 Zyzzix the Many and Uxlyx the Zookeeper.

The deck feels like it should be a lot faster than it is. It is fun too play, and a lot better than some Four Horsemen decks we’ve seen. There are some incredible decks out there, and the Four Horsemen decks we’ve seen and played against, while still great, lack something.


In the end, out of our 12 KeyForge decks, our house breakdown was like this:

  • Brobnar – 3
  • Dis – 6
  • Logos – 5
  • Mars – 9
  • Sanctum – 4
  • Shadows – 5
  • Untamed – 4

The houses in the deck box aren’t evenly spread across the decks, but it would be interesting to look at more deck box breakdowns to see if there is a pattern. This is clearly a Mars strong deck box, and some of the strongest decks in it are Mars house decks.

All of the decks are playable. There are a few minor things like not being able to capitalize on high Aember generation in a couple of decks, or only one Niffle Ape with Troop Call. Overall, this is a very strong deck box, especially with the decent Four Horsemen deck. We didn’t get any Mavericks, but we did get 7 copies of Arise!, one of our favorite cards. 3 of the decks also have double Arise! We also got 4 copies of Bait and Switch out of 5 Shadows decks, and that’s pretty awesome.

We’ll continue to report on KeyForge as the game grows, and we’re all looking forward to seeing what the new set brings later this year.

 

The KeyForge deck box used in this article was provided by Fantasy Flight Games.

Have you been playing KeyForge? What do you think of our decks? Which is your favorite? Which is your favorite of your own decks? Have you found Deck Box breakdowns to be interesting? Let us know in the comments below.


Adam Potts

Associate Tabletop Editor

Adam is the Associate Tabletop Editor for TechRaptor. He's been involved in the video game and board game industry since 1997, from managing communities to flavour text writing for CCGs and game development and design and has played physical and digital card games at a high competitive level.


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