Review: KeyForge: Worlds Collide Two-Player Starter Set

This is what it's like when Worlds Collide...

Designer: Richard Garfield
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Category: Card Management,  Fantasy
Player Count: 2
Price: $24.99

Back in June of this year I reviewed the KeyForge: Age of Ascension Two-Player Starter Set. The Worlds Collide sets trade in a couple new houses to play with (while benching a couple of the original ones) and the two-player set also gives you tokens, starter rules, and two new play mats featuring the new houses. Check out that link if you want to brush up on the rules or basics, otherwise read on below for what’s new in this starter set. 

Content Guide

Violence

Cards can still be used to attack, defeat, destroy, ward, enrage, and purge other cards, but no blood or gore is shown. 

Magic

Some of the houses use magic to attack, protect, summon, heal, and conjure for their side. Some Houses use witches, demons, and imps, while others use more “good” magic like paladins. 

Review

Fantasy Flight Games is continuing to show support for their unique deck two-player game, KeyForge, with their latest iteration: Worlds Collide.  You do not need to start with any of the earlier versions of the game unless you want to – Worlds Collide is a continuation of the same KeyForge product line, not a reboot or sequel.  The new Houses are the Saurian Republic and the Grand Star Alliance; these will replace the Mars and Sanctum Houses, but Fantasy Flight has mentioned that this doesn’t mean those two are gone for good. 

I didn’t notice any sort of a guarantee that the new player decks would all include one of the two new Houses, but both of mine in my review copy had the Grand Star Alliance in them. I would have loved to have gotten one of each, but you still cannot count on exactly what you’ll get in a given deck. So if you’re hoping to get some cards with a sweet-looking dinosaur in Roman-era armor, cross your fingers or plan on buying a few extra decks. 

Since I got my hands on the Grand Star Alliance, I can dive a little deeper into them. Their art aesthetic looks like a cross between Star Trek and pulpy science fiction movies of the 1940’s and 50’s. Everyone is smiling, attractive, focused, and ready to seek out new challenges. Many of the Star Alliance “creature” cards (as opposed to actions, artifacts, or upgrades) are strong human fighters such as Nurse Soto (315) who can enter play anywhere on the battle line, and heals 3 damage from neighboring creatures when he is played, fights, or reaps. Another two of my favorites are Sensor Chief Garcia (305) and Armsmaster Molina (292); Garcia makes your opponent’s keys cost +2 during their next turn, and Molina has Hazardous 3 for both her and her neighboring allies (before she’s attacked she does 3 damage to the attacking enemy). The Grand Star Alliance House might be coming to seek out new entities and new cultural organizations, but they didn’t leave their weapons or fighters at home. 

Lt. Khrkhar has Taunt and Hazardous 3. Grand Star Alliance’s version of Worf ain’t messin’ around!

I could see how some players might not appreciate Star Trek or Roman raptors in their KeyForge, but I like the new Houses. And I like that they rotated out a couple of the original ones, keeping the total number of Houses at seven. If all they did was continually add them on, it might start to feel like Smash-Up and would be increasingly harder to find a deck with a certain House. I don’t know if Fantasy Flight Games plans on releasing a new set or a couple new Houses every six months or so, but if so there should be plenty of KeyForge content in the near future.

The biggest gripe I had six months ago still remains, however. I did give this set a small bump in its theme score compared to last time (because of how well I felt the new Houses fit and played with the others), but the weak link remains. I get that we’re fighting to be the first to forge three keys to open a vault, but the why eludes me. Why do we need to open the vault to win? Why isn’t it just three flags representing progress in battle, and the first to three still wins? These questions and more bother me while I’m waiting for my opponent to finish their turn. 

My two Archons were “The Pious Ancestor” and “Soothsayer Nieminen.”

New to the battle field are Ward and Enrage counters; during play players may have cards that allow them to Ward friendly creatures or Enrage their opponents. Warding your creature is like a one-time shield; when they would take damage you instead ignore it and discard any Ward tokens. Creatures who have an Enrage token on them may only be used to attack; after an enraged creature attacks you discard the Enrage token on it. 

Overall the new Houses, cards, and tokens make for an even better KeyForge experience, for both newcomers and crucible veterans alike. It doesn’t fix anything, but it manages to add a good amount of new content without breaking the game or coming off as unbalanced – no small feat in itself. Despite my qualms about the theme feeling weak, if you’re looking for a good two-player symmetrical card game, KeyForge: Worlds Collide would be an easy recommendation. 

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a symmetrical two-player card game, this is still a really good jump-on point. The new houses are fun and cool to look at, but at the same time don't solve the lacking theme. If that isn't a big deal however, this has everything you'll need to start playing, and the game play itself is fun.

 

7.1