W. Eric Martin
Richard Garfield's KeyForge, the buzziest game of 2018, will have more than two hundred new cards added to the game system in May 2019 thanks to the release of KeyForge: Age of Ascension.
KeyForge: Age of Ascension follows the model of the original KeyForge: Call of the Archons: Each player has a unique deck of cards compiled via algorithms known only to the secretive forces housed in the nuclear-proof vault underneath the Fantasy Flight Games basement. Each deck contains a unique image and name, which means that cards cannot be swapped between decks to customize them. Decks are sold individually for $10 or in a two-player starter set (that contains two randomized decks as opposed to the fixed decks of Call of the Archons, along with tokens needed for play) for $25. Here's a summary of gameplay for those unfamiliar with the game:
KeyForge is played over a series of turns in which you, as the Archon leading your company, use the creatures, technology, artifacts, and skills of a chosen House to reap precious Æmber, hold off your enemy's forces, and forge enough keys to unlock the Crucible's Vaults. You begin your turn by declaring one of the three Houses within your deck, and for the remainder of the turn you may play and use cards only from that House. For example, if you take on the role of the Archon Radiant Argus the Supreme, you will find cards from Logos, Sanctum, and Untamed in your deck, but if you declare "Sanctum" at the start of your turn, you may use actions, artifacts, creatures, and upgrades only from Sanctum. Your allies from Logos and Untamed must wait.
Next, you must strive to gain the advantage with a series of tactical decisions, leveraging both the cards in your hand and those in play to race ahead of your opponent. If you wish to weaken your rival's forces, you may send out your allies to fight enemies on the opposing side, matching strength against strength. Otherwise, you may choose to use your followers to reap, adding more Æmber to your pool.
Notably, no card in KeyForge has a cost — choosing a House at the start of a turn allows you to play and use any number of cards from that House for free, leading turns to fly by with a wave of activity! Yet balance is key. If you simply reap more Æmber at every opportunity, your rival may quickly grow their team of minions and destroy yours, outpacing your collection and leaving your field barren. But if you focus on the thrill of the fight alone and neglect the collection of Æmber, you won't move any closer to your goal! If you succeed in finding a harmony within your team and have six Æmber at the start of your turn, you'll forge a key and move one step closer to victory. The first to forge three keys wins!
In its announcement for this set, FFG notes that the card pool for Age of Ascension contains 204 new cards as well as 166 cards that appeared in Call of the Archons, and that decks should be competitive across sets, with new decks not overpowering or replacing ones from the first release. Aside from the repeated cards:
Even cards that do not carry over from Call of the Archons to Age of Ascension have the chance to make an appearance as new Legacy cards. Like the player-favorite Mavericks (which continue to appear in Age of Ascension), Legacy cards are plucked from their normal settings and placed in new situations to unlock even stranger synergies. In KeyForge, any card that has existed in any previous set can be pulled forward to become a Legacy card included in a current Archon Deck.