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Keyforge – Star Alliance – First Impressions

Keyforge is a wonderful and bizarre game. Designed by Richard Garfield, the mind behind Magic The GatheringKeyforge took to the stage in mid-2018, introducing a whole new style of game to the world. As such, Keyforge is a unique deck game, rather than a deck builder, meaning that every single deck is fixed, but unique.

Decks are made up of 37 cards, with one card being a kind of cover deck card, denoting what is in each, and is made up of three houses. As such each deck can be split into three sections of 12 cards each.

Each one of those houses is unique within the game, and each has their own archetypes. At time of writing this article initially there are three Keyforge sets available – those are Call of the Archons, Age of Ascension, and, most recently, Worlds Collide.

Up until Worlds Collide there have been 7 houses in Keyforge – Brobnar, Logos, Sanctum, Dis, Shadows, Untamed, and Mars. Worlds Collide then introduced two new houses into the game – a dinosaur house called the Saurians, and the grand Star Alliance.

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The Star Alliance

Star Alliance – First Impressions

Recently I have played a few games as the Star Alliance and I have to admit that I am impressed. Originally, I was sceptical, especially because I found out about the house around the same time Captain Marvel or Endgame were at the cinema. It didn’t feel hugely original.

That being said, having played the Star Alliance a few times now, I have to admit that I have really grown to like them. They are such a fluid house that they are really fun to play, and they have a few awesome cards that are truly game changing.

What are the concepts of the Star Alliance?

First of all, let’s talk about the concept of the Star Alliance. There is an idea that every house in Keyforge is good at one or two core things above everything else. They each take a concept in the game and run with it, making it their own. Untamed, for instance, are great at reviving cards. Dis are great at inhibiting your opponent. Shadows steal. Brobnar punch things really hard. These are oversimplifications, as in reality each house is a complex network of cards, but actually quite a good ways of thinking of the base houses. 

If we take this as a concept, the Star Alliance are great at two things. Firstly, like Logos, they are great at allowing you to play extra cards, as well as archive and capture Aember. Secondly, and this is where they are super neat, they are good at having effects you can keep using.

What does this mean? Well, in Keyforge we usually see Play effects, or Reap effects, or Fight effects. We may even seen the occasional card with a Reap and Fight effect. Rarely do we see cards that have all three.

Take this for an example. These are the 12 Star Alliance cards from my deck “Rutherford the Dim” –

  1. Transporter Platform – Action: Return a friendly creature and each upgrade attached to it to your hand.
  2. Captain Val Jericho – During your turn, if Captain Val Jericho is in the centre of your battleline, you may play one card that is not of the active house.
  3. Sci. Officer Qincan – Elusive. After a player chooses an active house which matches no cards in play, steal 1 Aember.
  4. First Officer Frane – Play/Fight/Reap: A friendly creature captures 1 Aember.
  5. Com. Officer Kirby – Play/Fight/Reap: You may play a non-Star Alliance artifact, upgrade, or action card this turn.
  6. Com. Officer Kirby – Play/Fight/Reap: You may play a non-Star Alliance artifact, upgrade, or action card this turn.
  7. Com. Officer Kirby – Play/Fight/Reap: You may play a non-Star Alliance artifact, upgrade, or action card this turn.
  8. Sensor Chief Garcia – Play/Fight/Reap: Keys cost +2 Aember during your opponent’s next turn.
  9. Sensor Chief Garcia – Play/Fight/Reap: Keys cost +2 Aember during your opponent’s next turn.
  10. Sensor Chief Garcia – Play/Fight/Reap: Keys cost +2 Aember during your opponent’s next turn.
  11. Zap – Play: Deal 1 Damage to a creature for each house represented amongst creatures in play.
  12. Information Officer Gray – Play/Fight/Reap: You may reveal a non-Star Alliance card from your hand. If you do, archive it.

Granted there is a lot of repetition in there. In another deck there are also Commander Chan and CXO Taber who have Fight/Reap effects.

Keyforge - Play/Fight/Reap

Play/Fight/Reap

What this means though, in reality, is that the Star Alliance are bombarding effect after effect after effect. It is likely that on your turn there are effects in play or activated, whether that is passive like with Captain Val Jericho or Sci. Officer Qincan, or with that beautiful Play/Fight/Reap effect. It means that every single time the Star Alliance are chosen they just pile on these effects. Not only are they gaining Aember but they are offering additional bonuses. They are inhibiting opponents. They are really propelling the game forward into this fantastic place.

To ensure a wider opinion I did actually manage to find a full list of Star Alliance cards on the Aember Forge and there are 31 creatures in the Star Alliance house. If my maths are correct around 7 have constant effects in play, and around 8 have the full Play/Fight/Reap actions. To put it into context, Untamed have three sets worth of creatures, 61 in total, and none have the full Play/Fight/Reap action. Logos have 51 cards and only one has the Play/Fight/Reap (“Mini Groupthink Tank”). This definitely seems something heavily played upon with the Star Alliance.

The Star Alliance artwork is awesome.

The Star Alliance artwork is awesome.

Consistency of Actions

One thing that you begin to look for in a deck, when playing Keyforge, is anything that allows for consistency when you play. It is for this reason that players love decks that are filled with duplicated and doubled up cards. Duplicates allow for strategies to be truly formulated with less randomness than you would otherwise have in a game.

What the Star Alliance allow for, in this fantastic way, by having actions that are enabled in so many different ways, is consistency of actions.

What do we mean by this? Well what we mean by this is that, with constantly active effects and Play/Fight/Reap effects (and to a lesser extent Fight/Reap effects) you can ensure that on the majority of your turns you are going to be able to do something extra with every single card in play. You are able to always have the potential for something awesome.

Could the Star Alliance be a runaway house?

Already it is possible to see amazing combos with the Star Alliance. A Time Traveller style deck with the Star Alliance included, combining the continuous play effects of the Star Alliance and Logos could be incredibly powerful. There is so much fantastic potential, that it is actually possible for one to see the Star Alliance becoming an insanely powerful house, so much so that they are never the weak part of a deck.

Now, this is a concern, and one that needs to be stated. Yes, they are SO fun to play. I adore playing them, especially with the above deck (Rutherford the Dim – which is also Logos and Untamed alongside the Star Alliance), but with the right combos the Star Alliance could literally become unstoppable.

That being said, to be fair, every house can be with the right combo – so maybe that isn’t an issue. I guess it is possible to be hyper-aware of it happening due to the nature of the “constant effect” cards.

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Gotta love efficiency…

Conclusion: Star Alliance First Impressions

Obviously, this is the first impressions of the Star Alliance based on a few games and some reading. It is far from a full stratagem, and I only have a limited view at the moment, but after a bit of a Keyforge break (whilst we moved house and my stuff was in the garage) it has been great getting back into the game with such a fantastic house (take what you will from that). I can’t wait to play more.

So, what are your thoughts? What did you think when the Star Alliance were announced? What do you think now? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Other Keyforge Articles:
5 Supreme Sanctum Action Cards in Keyforge
Keyforge Analysis: There’s Something About Dextre
Keyforge Sealed Tournaments: The Pros and Cons
The Great Bait and Switch Debate of 2019: Is Bait and Switch Overpowered?

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