Last week I wrote about Keyforge and its intriguing attempt to “fix” Magic. I want it to succeed, but it won’t. Nothing will ever supplant Magic as the grindy, pay-to-win king of the CCG genre. It’s got too much market share and the pay-to-win stuff is a feature, not a bug, for the most committed players. There are ways to create something better than Magic though.
I’m committed to Dead Parents Dungeon right now—
—shut up, I am—
—and even though I’m too lazy to do any actual work on it, I take that commitment seriously enough that I’m not getting into it too deeply.
Only a little bit.
Ideally, it’d be electronic. A lot of the bitch is based on real, physical cards, so why electronic? Electronic cards can be changed. A card that costs 5 to play today can cost 4 tomorrow. Imagine grouping cards by seasons and shifting their power up or down four times a year (if by some unlikely chance a Magic developer is reading this, you’ll have to imagine it with a lot of aspirin). Is this card valuable now? No. But it could be.
Good ol’ Lightning Bolt
Magic believes in bad cards. I believe in cards that are good in certain contexts; Lightning Bolt is a solid card when your opponent starts with twenty life and you can put 4 of them into a 60-card deck. In Commander, when your opponent starts with forty life and you have 1 Lightning Bolt in 99 cards, it’s garbage.
So Richard Garfield and Fantasy Flight Games are releasing a card game called Keyforge, colon no one ever gives a damn what happens after the colon.
It’s your standard, proto-Magic: the Gathering game. I guess when you invent the Customizable Card Game genre, people will care about what comes after the colon.
You play creatures and artifacts, tap them to attack and work to get enough points to win the game. It’s not a knock-off and I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it is. Creatures tap for points(amber) and they attack one another to stop your opponents from getting points. The rock/paper/scissors interaction of Magic removal is one of my complaints with it and I like this system. In the Battletech CCG, anything could be attacked—even ‘event’ cards.
Here’s all the tokens and accessories. Man, I hope that’s all of them.
You use amber to forge up to three keys—hence the name—and the third one wins you the game. It’s similar to Magic’s life system, but it’s probably a bit more interactive; the rules extensively cover creatures temporarily stealing amber and some cards’ effects depend on which of your keys have been forged. I prefer the card-based progress systems of Pokemon and Duel Masters, but that interactivity is good.
Metallurgist: 15,000 skorvans is a lot. I’ll need to arrange safe storage, confer with a blacksmith, and speak to a lawyer to draw up a payment plan.
Gahncai: I’ll need to confer with my people as well.
Gahncai: So, for a total of 15,000 minus a 2.5% half pay on neutral storage costs paid over 48 months is 300 point 68 skorvans per month.
Human street urchin: Nonono, you’re gettin’ screwed, guv. It should be 304.68 per month, minus my consultancy fee of 5 skorvans per month, paid up-front in a lump sum of about 340 skorvans. Rounded down, of course.
Gahncai: Of course.
Gahncai: You’re a lifesaver, kid.
Geoff: Y’r built like a labrador fucked a boulder, but there’s three of us, and you–don’t have a knife.
the plane of Caden, later
Gahncai: I know it’s late. Is the metallurgist in?
Metallurgist: For you, traveler? I’m always in. Put it on the table.
Gahncai: Okay, but the bag isn’t for sale.
Metallurgist: Of course. Hitlaew est
Metallurgist: The coins are gold-plated. Copper mixed with something very unusual. Fascinating. 15,000 skorvans.
Metallurgist: *sigh* The knife is worthless, but I’ll pay you 5 skorvans to throw it in the trash right now and wipe the blood off my table.
Somewhere else, another time
Gahncai: “Three aces. I win.”
Luke: “Really? ‘cause Geoff has an ace over there and Tan has an ace over there.”
Gahncai: Yes. And I have THREE aces, so I win the hand.
Tan: *sigh* count ‘em.
Gahncai: one, two, three, fooour…oh. There’s too many.
Gahncai: One of you must be cheating. I should take my money and–
Geoff: Are you stupid or something? You’ve got two aces o’ spades.
Gahncai: I’m not…’book smart.’
*Many years ago*
Lila: Bria, honey, I think it’s adorable that you’ve given our servants the night off so you can serve my parents yourself, but…
Bria: Look, I’m undead now and I still love you. We’ll make this work.
Lila, *kisses her*: Please get the plates. There are thirteen members of my immediate family and we’ll need three plates each, plus a bowl and a silverware set. Plus two for us.
Bria: I’ll be right back.
Lila: Also, remember to be careful about what you say to my mother; you know she’s sensitive about her weight.
Bria: Of course.
*Bria enters the kitchen and sees a
towering pile of dishes*
Bria: So…three for every thirteen and…um…wait.
Gahncai: So do humans do anything?
Gahncai: The living ones. Are they useful?
Ularon: They can’t breathe underwater or swim well.
Bria: I don’t miss shitting or sweating.
Ularon: Sweating. When Rulah first told me about that, I thought she was making it up.
Rulah: Humans can do math, assholes.
Bria, Rulah, Ularon: …
Bria: I miss math. 🙁
Rulah: Ugh. What is that? It smells like someone stretched out horseskin and forgot to make leather.
Gahncai: That’s me. It’s something dogesires can do.
Gahncai: That monster was choking us! The bet says we can’t raise our moxes, so…
Ularon: It was choking you two. I breathe though the water in my robes.
Bria: I’m undead. I don’t breathe.
Rulah: And let me guess-
Gahncai: I have the lung capacity of a hippo.
Rulah: What was in that room?
Ghancai: Tentacle monster. Cool cups.
Rulah: Cool cups?
*Ghancai reaches into his bag and takes out a jeweled cup.*
Rulah: Damn, that’s a cool cup.
Bria: My hand’s here Rulah. Ghancai, lift the door, would you?
Rulah: Thanks Bria. Are you three okay?
Bria: Better than we look.
Rulah: YOU look like death warmed over.
Bria: Well, we’re doing WAY better than *I* look.