A GOOD Keyforge Multiplayer variant

I’m pretty into Keyforge right now. A short intro: Keyforge is a cool game by the creator of Magic The Gathering, Richard Garfield, published by Richard Garfield. It’s a dueling card game somewhat like Magic, with the twist of decks being procedurally generated and completely unique in themselves.

It was made as a two player game, but I discovered a variant on Reddit that made a really compelling multiplayer game. I wanted a way to share it easily, so here it is!

Key rules:

  • Default hand size is 5 cards. You’ll see why later.
  • Players select an opponent before starting their turn (including before selecting house or forging keys)
  • Whenever you are selected as an opponent, draw a card.

Additional tweaks:

  • Captured amber always goes to “current opponent” when the creature is removed. This enables looting and amber bouncing around is really fun and interactive, and creates interesting decisions.
  • Effects that affect the opponent are divided into two kinds, active effects are ones that you play. For example, playing Foggify means your current opponent can’t attack in their next turn, and activating Lash of Broken Dreams means your current opponent’s keys cost +3 on their next turn.
  • Passive effects that sit on your table affect whichever player picks you as their opponent. For example, Titan Mechanic will grant whoever picks you as opponent -1 key cost if they pick you as opponent.
  • Global effects like Gateway to Dis will only affect you and your current opponent.
  • Key cost is tweaked by number of players to make the game length reasonable. 3-4 players keys cost 5, 5+ cost 4. I guess I wouldn’t recommend more than 6 players. This does change the strengths of some cards that count amber, so if you really want, you can tweak those numbers by the same amount. But that’s getting too much into the weeds.

Good Game Design!

I really like the design of this variant, some key reasons:

Choosing an opponent each turn limits the scope of weirdness that can happen. Wipes not clearing everyone’s board, for example, prevents the game from entirely sinking into restart-every-turn which can really suck when you’re waiting for multiple players to take their turns.

Additionally, having a chosen opponent creates a funnel of decision making rather than making every decision across the entire board and optimising so much that it feels like cheating. If two players both have captured amber, for example, having to choose which player to pick as the turn’s target at rather than just grabbing them all in one go, makes for a much more interesting decision to be made.

And having the chosen opponent bulking their hand means that even out of turn, players remain engaged and interested in what’s going on. Also it gives someone picked on a possibility to come back in a big way.

This is possibly my preferred way of playing Keyforge now, it breathes so much new life into the game, and changes it from a softcore dueling game to an interesting group game similar to “traditional” boardgames. Has an almost Blood Rage feel to it.

Hope you enjoy it! And if you have any inputs to the variant rules, please shout! 🙂

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