The Week In Gaming: 10/08/18
A weekly round-up on the stories of the week in the worlds of gaming.
I love cards, of both the digital and paper variety, so it’s been a good week for me personally on the news front!
First up, Fantasy Flight Games announced a new card based game at their gen-con in-flight report. Keyforge, designed by Richard Garfield of Magic: The Gathering fame, is not a Star Wars game, nor is it Arkham or Runewars related. The completely new IP also isn’t a collectible game, like Destiny, or an LCG which FFG usually favour as their card game business model of choice. So what exactly is it?
Keyforge is set in the world of the Crucible, an amalgam of other worlds from across the galaxy, which essentially lets them stick any theme in there and it will work. The gameplay seems pretty unique from the first videos to come out of the convention, and sees players not attacking each other to do damage or reduce life totals, but to work on setting up their own board of creatures and spells to amass enough Æmber, which are used to build the 3 Keys needed for victory. The interactivity comes from trying to stop your opponent from doing the same, by stealing Æmber, destroying their creatures and playing spells to disrupt their plans. What is also interesting is that all the cards in the game have no cost, no resource you have to spend to play them. Each deck contains 3 factions, and at the beginning of your turn you nominate a faction and can then play and activate all cards from that faction as you like. These gameplay elements alone pique my interest as there really isn’t another game out there like it, however it is not this that has got everyone talking, but the business model surrounding the game.
See, Keyforge is what FFG are calling a Unique Deck game, in that every deck that any human will ever purchase is 100% unique to that user. From the first set alone there are some 104,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible decks that are being made. Which is frankly baffling. Every deck contains cards from 3 of the 7 factions and has a leader card with a unique image and a unique name, so each deck really is a personalised experience. What makes this even more interesting is that every card in your deck has the name of your leader card on the bottom right, meaning each card can only be played in that deck. Which means there is exactly NO deck building at all in Keyforge. No chasing rare cards, no trading cards with friends or buying singles online to keep up with the meta, or buying every LCG pack that comes out for 1 or 2 you might want. You buy your deck, and you play that deck.
This is a huge break from how any card game has come out before, and I am super excited to see how it plats out. Of particular interest to me is in shop competition or tournament play. I’m fascinated with the thought of players turning up with nothing, buying a deck for $10, and then figuring out how it works as you play your games, and at the end you can keep it or sell it or trade it for another whole deck or whatever you like. The whole proposition also seems like good value, at least for now. If this turns out to be as disruptive as it sounds then FFG could be on to a real winner here.
The second big card related news this week was the release of the latest expansion for Blizzard’s digital collectible card game, Hearthstone. The set, called The Boomsday Project, dropped 135 new cards into the game on Tuesday to much fanfare, and the results have been pretty crazy so far. During the reveal season, a period of time in the run up to release where cards are revealed one at a time, the power level of the set seemed to be high but nothing crazy. But what wasn’t overly predicted was the sheer number of OTK (one-turn-kill) combo decks that would pop up. The ladder is full of decks that bide their time and then when all the pieces are in place unleash one major turn and end the game, regardless of the state of the opponents health or board. This has made games more tense and explosive (boomsday, hah) but also, unexpectedly, quite a lot of fun. The decks require quite an amount of skill to stay alive until the finale turn, and even some of the combos can be quite hard themselves to pull off on one turns timer, especially Dog’s incredible Priest combo deck.
However they are also not the only decks that are fun, interesting, and successful in this opening week. Some aggro-robo decks are popping up, Rouge is doing its usual deck steal/bounce about shenanigans, Zoo-lock has made a return and even janky Mage builds are doing alright. Overall it seems like every class got some interesting new tools, and there are a tonne of great new interactions and match-ups. The meta has been well and truly shaken up, which is something the last set really struggled to do, even with the rotation.
Just a couple of other tid-bits that piqued my interest this week away from the main card-o-mania news. Firstly was the news that Discord, the online voice and text chat programme, is going to add a game store to its offering. For anyone who has been using Discord for a while and been tracking it’s release, this will come as no surprise. They have quietly been building quite a great chat offering, and with more and more publishers creating their own launchers with their own friends list away from Steam, Discord have positioned themselves as a great alternative to bridge the platforms and keep connected. I like Discord and use it mostly for larger group chats for communities I’m interested in, rather than as an actual friends list. With changes like this and the ability to launch games directly from Discord coming, it could be poised to fully take on Steam sometime in the future.
And finally from the caverns of Kickstarter comes a neat looking card game with some gorgeous looking art in Call to
Adventure from Brotherwise Games, makers of Boss Monster. What looks like quite a good game, with great art, has propelled itself straight into my heart by including a partnership with Patrick Rothfuss to have the first expansion themed around the incredible world of his Kingkiller Chronicle novels. The few tarot sized cards revealed so far that show characters and events from the books look incredible and I can’t wait to see the full set. AND THERE’S MORE! Brotherwise announced over gen-con that their next expansion for the game will feature Brandon Sanderson’s incredible Stormlight Archives books. Oh my. So my 2 favourite novel series are going to be represented in glorious full size tarot card art in a single game. I’ve never slammed ‘back this project’ so hard in my life.