I'm Saddened... (Board Games)


How they print KeyForge, and the algorithm they use to randomly design decks, is probably one of the most closely guarded trade secrets in the board gaming world right now.

Fantasy Flight isn’t going to tell anyone how they do it.


It’s pretty obvious. They have an algorithm, cards are likely assigned power values and some cards are commons, Uncommons, and rares and then you just fill the deck out. They aren’t working with any technology that WOTC/Hasbro doesn’t have access to (Mark Rosewater has talked about advancements in printing technology and what it has allowed them to do in magic sets on his podcast numerous times).


I haven’t listened to the podcasts you’re talking about, but yes, the algorithm FFG uses to make the KeyForge decks is probably a very closely guarded secret. They’re using that algorithm to also make the Discover Lands Unknown board game, although that game isn’t as randomly generated as KeyForge is.

Additionally, KeyForge is basically a print-on-demand game, and at the scale that FFG is printing it, they must have some type of exclusive deal with a printer (rumored to be in Germany), as opposed to printing in China. The technology might not be unique, but using that technology to the scale that FFG is, is what’s unique.


They did it first but reverse engineering their algorithm from a thousand decklists wouldn’t be much of a challenge. Anyone could do it at scale as long as they have the capital and a “fuck it we’re doing it live” style of balancing the game.


I can easily write a computer program to do a similar thing. I could easily deliver “decks” full of jpgs. The hard part is printing that at scale.


Yes, printing at that scale is the hard part. But it’s not just a “deck full of jpgs.” Each deck has to be generated individually. Each with a unique name and symbol representing it. That makes it much more difficult to print because you’re not just printing one unique side, you’re printing two complete sides, and then having to print an entirely new deck after each one, or multiple decks, depending on how big a sheet they’re using to print off of.

Anyone can print out their own deck of cards, but making thousands of them quickly and cheaply is the issue.


Procedural generation is pretty easy these days. it’s basically the same as generating a random map in Civilization.


I suspect they have a front vs back printing separation in the pipeline and a limited number of variations for fronts.

So you bulk-print the fronts based on the numbers you need of various cards, and they’re split/sorted into secondary batch jobs to print the backs on them.


The question is: what is the actual scale that this game is operating at?

Because “printing at this scale” is pretty much a how big of a plant do you have. I’m not sure how they finish these decks, I have plenty of potential ideas on how that might be, but that’s just a workflow issue. It’s the question of 1 Igen, 2 Igen, or 2 dozen Igens.

Nothing FFG is doing is unique or hard. It’s just they’re the first people who’ve found a game that makes going through these steps actually worth the effort. I’m not as familiar with the programming side of it, but from what I understand, Scott’s right, the procedural generation isn’t a big hassle. Printing is even less of one. There’s custom software to do complex data things. You could probably do Keyforge in InDesign alone.

@Rym No. I’m pretty sure this game is being digitally printed, which means it’s doing the fronts and backs at the same time.


Considering the name of the deck is also printed on the front of the card, I would guess front and backs are printed simultanously. The digital printing process also seems to allow for that quite easily.


So there is an unofficial/illegal site to play Keyforge online for free.


The UI is passable because Keyforge is a pretty simple game.

To add a deck you just paste in its official Keyforge URL after registering it at the official site. For example: here is my deck.

The thing is, the crucible site does nothing to verify who owns what deck. You can play my deck even though I’ve already added it to the crucible. You can add decks from several different keyforgegame.com accounts. At the very least they could check to make sure a single crucible account is tied to a keyforgegame.com account, and that no single deck could be added twice.

This is a problem because everyone is just searching keyforgegame.com for OP decks, and playing with them, even in casual mode. Every deck I went up against had tons of steal effects and ways to draw extra cards. There’s no chain bidding either. Playing on there with a deck you honestly bought is basically as satisfying as playing counter-strike where the other team all has aimbots.


Maybe a bit too upbeat for a thread with this title but…

I was struggling to find something to give my 5 year old kid as a Christmas gift this year. It’s complicated by the fact that I have physical custody of him for this Christmas and it’s going to need to be something smallish he can bring home with him if he so chooses.

While looking around for 5+ toys/games, Spot It came up in my search. I remembered playing it with some of you guys at PAX East a few years back and thought it would be perfect for him.

So thanks for helping me find a good gift for my kid.


Admittedly my two decks have lots of steals. One deck there’s one card I really don’t like, Pit Lord or something, because it locks you into Dis until it leaves play and you can end up in situations where that’s game ending. Otherwise though, that deck wins me a lot of games. My second deck is a lot harder to play, but when it wins it’s kinda interesting because it usually comes from behind and you can end up with like 30 amber piled up.

I don’t personally have interest in playing “the best” deck. I like the casual gameplay, learn a deck through trial and error, then if you’re interested buy another one.

Edit: Just played a game again with Deck 2 (https://www.keyforgegame.com/deck-details/2bbe043c-4bfa-4b2e-96ab-da403fab20ae). It was brutal. Opponent had like 12 amber and a forged key, but I had Key Hammer and Drumble in my hand so drumble was then controlling 18. Then he got his amber back and maybe some more, and then I dropped Shadows that I had been holding back all game. Relentless Whispers to kill his dis thing that limits you to two cards per turn, Too Much to Protect to steal all but 6 of it, Speed Sigil to play and use Noddy the Thief to steal him down to 5. Basically the best hands I could have had for that.


Shadow + Dis is a disgusting combination :slight_smile:


You can’t make this shit up.


Rammstein the trivia game.


If this doesn’t scream “play me on a live stream” I don’t know what will.


So an update to our least favorite vendor


From a couple of weeks to early 2019, any suggestions on how I can keep track of this outside of a Facebook thread, I really want to make sure they put their money where their mouth is.


Anyone know anything about this game?


You can’t tell from the box? :smirk:


It’s a boring game.