This week and next week are going to be a little off. Expect one post each week. We are in the holiday season right now so things might be a bit odd till maybe January.
Forging the Prosperous Dictator
I haven’t played Magic the Gathering in quite a few years at this point. And I don’t feel the need to revisit any of that any time soon. But that doesn’t take away a number of the things I like to explore. Every now and then something comes along that just draws you in and you have to dance down the halls of exploration. And everything I just said is a loaded bit of nothingness that might actually have a point. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
I think I need to unpack all of that first paragraph a little bit. See, I remember oh so many years ago when MtG first came out. I didn’t get into the first wave of it, although I had played some games with the first print run of the game. A friend of mine had picked them up and brought them home from his time in the Army. From there we spent a bit of time in the first commercial run of the game. By commercial I mean when they started mass producing the cards. It was fun and enjoyable but it didn’t fit in with where I was at the time. And as I look back now and the growth of the game, I realize I would never have been able to keep pace with it all. Wizards of the Coast exploded with the popularity of MtG and they grew. They eventually bought out TSR (the creators of Dungeons and Dragons) and finally were bought out by Hasbro. Don’t ask me dates or for analysis of any of that because it is irrelevant beyond that bit of background knowledge and I don’t know if I care enough about the particulars to look up the relevant information. What’s important to know here is how Magic ended up changing quite a bit of the hobby gaming landscape. It was almost or maybe even more so important to the growth of games as Dungeons and Dragons had been in the seventies.
Now what does that have to do with where we are right now? I know you’re asking because you are looking for a point in all of this useless trivia that you didn’t know you needed to know. Well, there is a change in the air. It could be a small blip or it could be a whole new approach to collectible card games. And yeah, I have all this build up and I think I might be laying it on a bit thicker than I need to. Let me just cut to the chase here.
See, it was at GenCon this year where Fantasy Flight Games announced a new card game from Richard Garfield (one of the creators of Magic). The game Keyforge is the first of its kind; a unique deck game. Unlike a number of the games that have come out since the birth of magic, this is a game where you won’t buy booster packs, you won’t build a deck, all you need to play (aside from some counters for various things within a game) is a single deck. When you buy your deck it is complete and uniquely its own. There are no two decks exactly the same. And each deck is named with a unique name. When you purchase the deck it is sealed and you can’t see anything that would identify what deck it is or what it can do till you open the package.
I had been keeping an eye on this one since the announcement but I didn’t go to deep into the waiting for release because of the nature of the game. It wasn’t until a prelaunch event recently that I even looked at any cards to see how they look within a deck. That came when I picked up the one deck I have currently. Mind you, with the naming engine there are some great names to find on the decks and within the various communities that has been the talk since the prelaunch events over the past few days.
Mine is titled The Prosperous Dictator. I have seen a few other great names as well. The engine used to create the names for each deck has been found to come up with some possibly offensive names. But that just shows that anything is possible. (Mind you FFG has issued a statement where they will replace offensive decks with two copies because the offensive titles will not be allowed in tournament play). But I digress…
I feel like I have slipped into an actual review of a game here. That’s a bit weird. I mean usually I am all over the place. But here’s the thing. This game is different enough that I haven’t really made strong connections in my mind of what it might compare to. Sure there is the elements that make it similar to magic in some respects but they put so much into this one that any similarities are only on the surface.
Because of the nature of the game it is a quest for discovery. Even when you know all the cards available within the game and all the cards that are part of a particular deck, you really don’t know what they will play like till you start playing them. It’s such a departure of how games have gone. Where the human element will always be a part of pretty much any game that isn’t driven entirely by luck, this game requires a bit more from the player to really understand what they should be doing with the cards in front of them.
I have spent days since the prerelease weekend in the different groups reading all manner of comments from people that are bringing in baggage from other games. They are searching for an understanding based on what they have played before. And the comparisons never really mesh up like they think they should.
I think that is one of the things I like best about how Keyforge works. At the prerelease I played a few different decks. One of them mine and then a couple others that were owned by other people. Each deck had its own personality, even the decks built with similar factions (There are seven factions in the game and each deck will have cards from three of them). There is so much more here than what you expect when first looking at it.
Anyway, I am sure this reflection went completely out of any path I might have taken when I sat down. My subconscious narrowed in on a specific aspect and that is what I went with. At this point I doubt I have said anything to help you understand the game at all. But that’s ok, the best way to understand this one is to pick up a deck with some friends and start playing. There are surprises around every corner.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.