Introduction to KeyForge Houses - Your Guide to the Unique

Published: December 28, 2018 12:00 PM /


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KeyForge has been out for a little while now and, from a sales perspective, has been a huge success. Decks have been selling out regularly from stores as players fight to find powerful decks and decks they love to play. The secondary market has also taken off, with players paying huge amounts for decks containing cards they consider powerful. It's interesting to see this develop, as there currently is no proof that any of these cards themselves are what make the decks good, and there is a lot of evidence that a deck with good synergies can work better than a deck with a few powerful cards. The different KeyForge houses play a part and that's what we're going to look at

In this article, we're going to give a brief overview of the KeyForge houses and then also look at a couple of cards from each house, along with some of the cards that have been causing a stir.

keyforge houses

KeyForge Houses Overview

Each KeyForge deck is made up of cards from three KeyForge houses, of the seven that are available. Finding the right balance of KeyForge houses is the first step to finding your favorite deck, while also looking for cards you recognise that suit your style of play. The seven houses and their basic rundown are:
  • Brobnar - Big powerful creatures, Aember rewards for fighting
  • Dis - Disruption, great removal capability along with card discarding from opponents hand and Aember capturing
  • Logos - Great card draw mechanic, either through archiving, drawing or increasing hand size
  • Mars - Great in-house synergies with cards in hand or on the table, also has great archiving ability to allow them to push out creatures
  • Sanctum - Solid powered creatures with armour and healing
  • Shadows - Aember stealing with a host of elusive creatures and abilities
  • Untamed - Great creature synergies, can swarm very well and produce large amounts of Aember quickly

KeyForge Houses Cards

In this section we'll look at some good examples of card from the seven different KeyForge houses. They may not be the best cards from that house, but are just some of our favorites and good examples of what the house can do.


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Tireless Crocag / Punch / Banner of Battle

Brobnar love to fight, and their cards reward you for doing just that. Tireless Crocag allows you to do just that, every turn, regardless of the house you chose. He just needs opponents to fight, because as soon as your opponent has no creatures in play, he's destroyed. Punch is a great and straight-forward action card that deals three damage to a creature, and gives you one Aember for the privilege. Banner of Battle gives all friendly creatures in play +1 power, improving their strength and survivability, which benefits all friendly creatures, not just those from Brobnar.


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Pitlord / Eater of the Dead / Control the Weak

For Dis, they love to control. Pitlord not only gives you 2 Aember for bringing it into play, but also protects its neighbours with a strong 9 power creature. Pitlord can be incredibly powerful if combo'd well with low strength, high impact creatures. Eater of the Dead allows you to not only purge a creature from an opponent's discard pile, but also get stronger when it does and can also do it as part of a fight/reap action. Control the Weak allows you to dictate what house your opponent chooses next turn. This means that if they had a big turn the turn previously, it's unlikely they'll want to chose the same house in a subsequent turn. It also allows you to block out their use of creatures and artifacts in play for a turn.


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Library of Babble / Mother / Neutron Shark

Logos love to draw cards, and Library of Babble and Mother improve that each turn for you. Library of Babble allows you to draw a card for an action, and Mother effectively increases your hand-size by 1. Neutron Shark can be an incredibly powerful card if you have some cards in play to sacrifice. Even if you don't, you can select Neutron Shark as your target to take out a powerful enemy creature or artifact. Artifact removal is very powerful in KeyForge, so this ability to clear several in one go can be incredible.


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John Smyth / Invasion Portal / Feeding Pit

Mars love their synergies, and John Smyth can be an incredibly powerful card allowing you to effectively use a Mars non-agent creature twice a turn. Invasion Portal is a fun card, sometimes giving you a free creature to your hand, sometimes discarding your whole deck in to the discard pile. Feeding Pit is a great way of cycling unwanted cards out of your hand and also gives you a free Aember for it.


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Round Table / Bulwark / Grey Monk

Sanctum like their creatures armored, and it's what they do best. Round Table boosts all Knights by 1 power, gives them taunt to protect your other creatures and also gives you an Aember as an extra bonus. In the right deck, this has huge capacity for use. Bulwark is a beast, boosting its neighbours with 2 armor. If its neighbours are already armored, they can be boosted a level that makes them almost immune to most creatures. Grey Monk, if protected with a screen of taunts and combined with other armor boosting cards, can give you a great chain of armoured units. Those unit shouldn't be taking much damage after armor, and what damage they do take, can be healed by the Grey Monk.


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Deipno Spymaster / Pawn Sacrifice / Bad Penny

The Deipno Spymaster, while not a strong card, does have Elusive which means they need to be attacked twice to remove them. The SPymaster gives an incredible ability while on the table. Their Omni ability means that it can be used every turn, regardless of house choice, to select another creature of any house choice to use that turn. Pawn Sacrifice plays very well to Shadow's play-style, especially when combined with Bad Penny. You can sacrifice Bad Penny to Pawn Sacrifice, take the free Aember, deal the damage, and then get Bad Penny back in your hand due to her ability, and then simply to play her again.


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Mimicry / Bear Flute / Witch of the Eye

Untamed aren't just a creature swarm force, they have some very interesting cards. Mimicry, whilst being incredibly thematic, is a very useful card. Most decks have some very good action cards and if your opponent uses one against you to good effect, you can repeat it and if you're lucky enough to have a Witch of the Eye on the table, you can reap her to return it and play it again. Both can be used for some incredible combinations. Bear Flute can be incredible depending on how any Ancient Bears you have in your deck. The most we've seen so far is a deck with a Bear Flute and 3 Ancient Bears, which can be a very powerful combination as they can be cycled repeatedly with the Bear Flute artifact. Some research has been done by a member of the community that shows that currently if a Bear Flute is present in a deck, there is 100% chance that at least 1 Ancient Bear will also be present.

Cards that have caused a stir

Already in its short lifespan, there has been a lot of talk about several specific cards in the first KeyForge set. We're going to look at some of them here and talk about why they're so interesting.

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The Four Horsemen cards have made some big waves on the secondary KeyForge market. The algorithm dictates that if you get one of the four Horsemen, you get the other three in the deck. These decks have been selling for a fair profit online, and a deck with two sets of the four horsemen went for a crazy amount of money on eBay, but are they worth it? There's been no proof yet and everything we've seen and heard seems to suggest that Horsemen decks aren't automatically better than any other deck, the hype could be purely because while the market is new and unknown, it's an easy combination to spot and assume will do well. They do have some great synergy, and smashing Death onto the table after the other three are in your discard pile, letting you play them all again that turn is a great experience, but there are better combinations out there. We're very interested to see what the competitive organise play meta is like, and if the Horsemen decks do perform at a high level.

Restringuntus is a card that has sparked a lot of talk. While in play, it locks out a house of your choosing from your opponent. My first experience of this was in my very first KeyForge game, where my opponent spent several rounds filling their hand with Sanctum cards. When I knew they had six in their hand, I played Restringuntus, choosing Sanctum, and effectively locked them out of the game as they couldn't even discard cards. All I had to do was take care of their cards on the table and the game was mine. This was a very specific play that worked well for me. The issue with Restringuntus is when it's combined with Control The Weak, a card we mentioned earlier. By choosing the same house for both cards, your opponent is locked out of choosing a house that turn. There's been some talk of some decks using a Dominator Bauble on a Witch of the Eye to repeat this combination indefinitely, locking your opponent out of the game. This does require some set up, so while it could be oppressive, it's unlikely to become hugely common in the available decks. It will be interesting to see how FFG deal with it, if they do.

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The three 'Master of' cards (Master of 1, 2 and 3) have only yet been found individually. The rumour is that the algorithm won't let them be found in a deck together, which along with the special rarity, has made decks with them sought after. Their ability is simple, and while specific, is quite powerful as you get to Reap, and remove a creature of their matching Master of power level.

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Other cards that have raised some interest in decks contain them are:

  • Arise (can be huge if used right to return a substantial amount of creatures to your hand, which can then be played again immediately if the creatures are from your active house)
  • Library Access (can be used for maximum effect if you draw cards for your active house as you play, as playing those cards in turn lets your draw more cards)
  • Wild Wormhole (there was talk about playing this on the first player's turn. The first player can only play one card, but as Wild Wormhole pulls the card from your deck, it doesn't count for that first card limit. Although this ruling makes sense, there's still some disagreement in its ruling)
  • Bait and Switch (can be used for some huge Aember swings if timed correctly. Some players are complaining about this card, but we think it's fine. If you know it exists, and you're not playing around it, it's on you and not the card)
  • Key Charge (in some decks Key Charge is a dead card, but in some decks, the ones that let you produce a huge amount of Aember in a turn, this can make for some effective key production turns and really put the pressure on your opponent)

The KeyForge cards we've received for our articles were provided by Asmodee UK and FFG.


Which is your favorite KeyForge house? Which is your favorite KeyForge card? Do you have any issues with any cards, or think that any are too powerful? Let us know in the comments below.


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A Potts TechRaptor
| Senior Tabletop Writer

Adam is a Tabletop Specialist for TechRaptor. He started writing for TechRaptor in 2017 and took over as Tabletop Editor in 2019 and has since stood down… More about Adam