7 January 2021 | KeyForge

A Mutation in the Rules

The KeyForge Rules Are Now Updated


Hello, KeyForge players!

Today, we’re happy to announce our latest KeyForge update, which we hope answers your most pressing concerns and puzzling quandaries. Here’s a quick summary of the biggest issues we addressed this time, and some of our thought processes behind them.

More Precise Language

Most of the instances of red text in this update are small wording choices. We did a pass to be more precise and consistent with our language, and the two main areas we tried to improve were fight language and trigger vs. resolve language.

In terms of fight language, we are moving to avoid the words “attacker” or “defender,” since they are not supported by the rules. Instead, we are reframing all of those instances with phrases like “the creature used to fight.” Though this approach can be wordier, it should reduce the ambiguity present when players try to determine if their creatures can fight, or if their creatures that get in a fight can deal damage back. We will also be using this language on card text moving forward, though it will still be quite some time before this updated language gets into a printed product that players can see “in the wild.”

In terms of “trigger” and “resolve,” we found that a lot of player’s questions are about the timing of various effects, specifically when multiple effects happen in response to the first. To be as clear as possible, we realized that we had to be careful to only use the word “resolve” while we were talking about the actual execution of a card’s instructions, and only use the word “trigger” to indicate that an ability’s condition has been met and that it will resolve, even if it must first wait for other effects to resolve first.

Expanded Rules Support

We added some additional text to existing rules entries just to clarify how the rules work in some previously ambiguous cases.

In particular, to clarify how The Archivist (Mass Mutation, 113) works with various different card effects, we made the distinction between effects that “put a card into your archives” versus effects that specifically “archive.” This is similar to the distinction between effects that let you “play” cards versus effects that let you “put a card into play.”

Cards that can turn artifacts into creatures, such as Animator (Mass Mutation, 100) or Auto-Legionary (Worlds Collide, 214), have been causing some strange interactions. For instance, if you turn your artifact into a creature temporarily and play an upgrade on it, what happens to that upgrade when the creature changes back into an artifact? To address this, we updated the “Upgrade” section of the rulebook to clarify that if an upgrade is ever attached to a non-creature card, that upgrade is discarded.

Who Else but Keyfrog?

Probably the biggest news to come from this update has to do with a fan-favorite card, Keyfrog (Mass Mutation, 369), that can lead to some problematic interactions. If my opponent destroys my Keyfrog on their turn, I will attempt to forge a key on my opponent’s turn. Where that gets tricky is that sometimes forging a key involves decisions, such as whether to spend æmber from my pool or from a Senator Shrix (Worlds Collide, 139) or a Safe Place (Call of the Archons, 289). In KeyForge, the non-active player is not allowed to make any decisions, and the active player should make all decisions “unless otherwise specified.” In that spirit, we’ve added a question to the FAQ clarifying that the active player decides where the æmber comes from whenever the non-active player would forge a key. But there was one card that cared about forging keys that remained a problem: Keyforgery (Worlds Collide, 271).


Because Keyforgery explicitly states “When your opponent would forge a key, that player names a house,” it falls under the category of cards where a decision is “otherwise specified” and cannot default to the active player. So, if a player had Keyforgery out and then destroyed their opponent’s Keyfrog, it would create a game state that the rules could not tell you how to resolve. Accordingly, we have given Keyforgery a small errata, so it now reads, “When your opponent would forge a key on their turn…” This should avoid the Keyfrog issue without changing the way that Keyforgery actually works in the vast majority of cases.

Life for a Life (Age of Ascension, 273) has already been errata’d, but since then it has also had its text updated in a templating change where we revised all instances of “sacrifice” to read as “destroy”. Its errata is now updated to reflect the new templating.

Lastly, Custom Virus (Call of the Archons, 183) has had “You may” and “If you do” added to its text. With the previous version it was possible for a player to sacrifice Custom Virus and then fail to purge a creature from their hand and resolve the rest of the card. Under the “do as much as you can” rules, a player that sacrifices Custom Virus but has one or more creature cards in their hand would be forced to purge one of them. Yet without the ability to look at that player’s hand, it would be impossible for their opponent to confirm whether or not the player using Custom Virus had indeed resolved the effect correctly. The “you may” and “if you do” added to Custom Virus will now give players the option to destroy Custom Virus without purging a creature from their hand if they wish, even though we expect this option to be used only in very rare cases.


Probably the most notable entry in the new FAQ section is a question about whether you can reap with an enraged creature if you play Ghosthawk (Worlds Collide, 356) next to it. In the Crucible Cast Episode 25, we ruled that Ghosthawk cannot let you reap with an enraged creature. Our reasoning was that you could not normally reap with that enraged creature (assuming your opponent had an eligible creature in play for your enraged creature to fight), and thus Ghosthawk wouldn’t allow you to.

After the release of that Crucible Cast, however, we heard from several players that disagreed with that ruling. They pointed out that the rules for Enrage say that when you use an enraged creature you must fight with them “if able” and that, since Ghosthawk is specifying that you reap with, not simply use a creature, you are not able to fight, and therefore became able to reap again.

The team discussed it, and we considered going into greater detail in the Enrage section, specifying all the occasions where an enraged creature could or could not be used for anything other than fighting. This led to the problem, though, that if we missed any possible scenarios where a creature would not be able to fight in that list, we would be opening the door for a “lockout” scenario, where you can neither use your creature to fight, nor to do anything else. We try to avoid those interactions as much as possible in KeyForge.

So ultimately, we decided that the “if able” exemption is better left open-ended. Accordingly, we have reversed our decision, and now we are saying that you can reap with an enraged creature when you play Ghosthawk next to it, because you are not able to fight with it via Ghosthawk’s ability.

Mutate Your Game

That’s all the highlights for this time, and I hope this update helps. Happy holidays, everyone! As always, keep sending in your questions to [email protected], and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

~The KeyForge Dev Team

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