Magic: The Gathering creator’s next card game KeyForge has billions of unique decks


104 septillion individual combinations possible

Richard Garfield is no stranger to groundbreaking card games, having created both Magic: The Gathering – the first-ever trading card game – and the original Netrunner. Even so, his next project might be his most ambitious card game yet.

KeyForge: Call of the Archons is a one-on-one competitive card game. So far, so familiar. What’s completely new here is that players each have a completely unique deck to use. We’re not talking about just the two players in a single match – every single player of the game will have a deck unlike any other.

KeyForge is what publisher Fantasy Flight is calling the first ‘unique deck game’, where the game’s mixture of different cards means that billions upon billions of individual decks can be built using just the game’s first set of 370 cards. 104,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different decks, to be exact – or 104 septillion, for short.

The decks are tied to characters called Archons, who each command creatures from seven different houses: Brobnar, Logos, Shadows, Sanctum, Mars, Dis and Untamed. Each house has a different play style and focus (think Magic’s colours), but players can only use cards from one of the three houses that make up their deck during a single turn.

The difference from games such as Magic here is that cards don’t cost anything to play, but the limitation to a single house serves as a way of stopping players sending out their entire hand at once. Cards can be used to fight rival creatures and players, or gather the resource of Æmber, which is used to forge one of the three keys required to win.

The game’s starter set will feature two training decks, which will be the same for every player, but are used to just learn the game. The box also includes two completely unique and ready-to-play Archon decks. Unlike other collectible, living and expandable card games, though, the decks can't be altered – if you want a new deck, you have to buy a new deck.

Alongside the physical game, Fantasy Flight is launching a companion app that isn’t required to play but can be used to record a player’s decks, find organised play tournaments and check out other players’ decks to see how the meta is evolving.

KeyForge will be out in the last quarter of 2018 – in the meantime, check out the trailer below.