(1/31/2020) Mass Mutation: Keyforge Set 4 Revealed!

By Austin "RealPlayerOne", Questing Cartographer
Everyone after the Mass Mutation announcement. (What is this? Mutated Niffle??)

If you haven't seen their announcement page (here) or their video about Mass Mutation (here), go check them out (or read ahead and I'll fill you in on the important details!).

The packaging of the new set, Mass Mutation!

Yesterday, FFG announced the newest set of Keyforge: Mass Mutation! Along with the announcement came their thoughts about the set, explanations about the new mechanics, and previews of cards! In the announcement, they mentioned how this is the first set entirely under the FFG design team and that they wanted to focus on the variance of Keyforge decks and ways they could further increase how unique decks are. One of the major ways they are introducing more uniqueness is through the new Enhance keyword!

Nel looks ready for some Voltron action
The card design of Hystricog is incredibly well-done. The Enhance bonuses provide the means for the Action later on!
The real Enhance bonuses will look much better on the cards, I'm sure of it.

Enhance Keyword!

Remember the Aember bonuses on cards in previous sets? Wouldn't it be cool if there were different bonuses that could be applied to cards? What if those bonuses came randomly from cards in your deck? That's what the Enhance mechanic is that's being introduced! Whenever the Enhance keyword shows up, it will be paired with a number of icons representing either gaining one Aember, capturing one Aember, dealing one damage, or drawing one card (see the icons below!). If a creature has Enhance Dmg Dmg Dmg, like Hystricog in the included picture, then for each copy of Hystricog, three total Dmg icons will be distributed onto cards in the deck (a card can even give bonus icons to itself!). They can be distributed in any combination across any card in your deck (two Dmg on one card, one on another card, etc). Those cards will then essentially deal one damage as you play the card, how you see fit, for each Dmg icon. They also noted that a card can have up to five of these new enhancements, and that you resolve them one at a time from the top to the bottom of the card. So looking at the contrived example to the left (or above on mobile!) with Honorable Claim, you would gain the regular printed Aember, then draw a card, then capture an Aember on one of your creatures, then deal a damage to a creature, then gain an additional Aember, then finally resolve the effect.

While these five-bonus cards cards will most likely be more improbable, with multiple cards providing these enhancements in a deck, the Enhance bonuses are sure to add up on certain cards across the deck. This will make keeping track of effects and reading decklists before a match much more nuanced and confusing! Can you remember that a certain card provides Aember normally on top of the bonuses? Can you consider the ways the bonus will change the card or how it relates to other cards in your deck and your opponent's deck on the fly? It won't be uncommon for you to see entirely unique cards in your day-to-day matches of Keyforge! According to some questions after the announcement, Brad Andres answered whether you'd be able to tell from the Archon card whether something has been enhanced or not - saying you'll be able to. While it isn't confirmed this is how these bonuses will be represented, consider the mockup decklist to the right (or below on mobile!).

Decklist generated by SkyJedi's Archon Matrix, symbols provided by SkyJedi too!

This is based on a real decklist Victor, Northsite Tanner, but I added in the symbols that Enhance bonuses can create. We don't know much about how often these Enhance keywords will show up or how the algorithm distributes them other than that the draw and Aember bonuses are more uncommon than damage and capture. If this is remotely similar to what our Archon cards will look like, we're in for an incredibly interesting, complex treat! So many different combinations could arise from these Enhance bonus interactions. What crazy combinations can you think of?

Here come the puns...
But if each pun comes with some awesome artwork...
And some awesome creatures, we'll get through it ;)


Another exciting announcement was the introduction of mutant cards! Some mutant cards are alterations of (seemingly fan-favorite) creatures from previous sets. Their changes are explained by the presence of "dark Aember" appearing from a Vault on the Crucible. FFG also said this set was the first to be primarily story-driven, with many cards drawing influence from the story. This is most clearly seen with the return of Sanctum to thwart the "abomination" that is dark Aember - and of dark Aember altering creatures on the Crucible. Mass Mutation supposedly uses the Mutant trait across the set to create tension in every game between the Mutants and normal creatures trying to deal with them. A great example is Ardent Hero (to the right or below!), that cannot be damaged by large creatures or Mutant creatures.

Look at those things in the background! Could those be...
Another excellent card design. Five power, two armor will provide Berinon some staying-power, but possibly having to enrage Berinon with your creatures and/or your opponent's may make it hard to use the reap ability in matches, which is why this card can be high risk/reward. Do you really want to be fighting with all that Aember on you if you do reap?

In contrast with this interaction on Ardent Hero, Berinon (to the left or above) becomes Enraged when a Mutant enters play, preventing the use of its reap ability at your opponent's discretion.

As a side note, just look at the awesome artwork already for this set! Sanctum look epic, the dark black and blue Aember is eerie and casts everything in such a spooky light. Makes me excited to see what more is on its way!

Anyways, the tension between Mutants and "anti-Mutant" cards I'll be curious to see. Some folks have been skeptical that the pro-Mutant and anti-Mutant cards will hold up outside of the set in effectiveness, but I'd argue that each set has those kinds of cards. It sounds similar to how other card games "seed" archetypes in their sets ahead of time to shape the way they want people to interact with the set. The design team says they want the story to act out on the tables - have everyone play a part in the battles and the struggle with this new "tainted" resource - and I hope they follow through!

What kind of mutated former creatures do you expect? I feel the main requirements are:

  • Be recognizable or iconic
  • Be able to make a "Dad Joke" pun out of its name

One idea for another mutated creature that would be great to see is a "Rust Pixie" creature that, instead of gaining you two Aember on play, disperses two Aember bonuses throughout your deck using the Enhance mechanic. What other ideas do you have? What creatures are you expecting to be mutated? Which factions will embrace the dark Aember? Which houses will fight against it?

That's a big dinosaur... too bad it falls to a goo ol' The Harder They Come!

Split Cards?!

The last major mechanic/change to the game they are introducing in Mass Mutations is that of Split Cards! This isn't a wholly new concept - it's shown up in many other collectible card games, to varying success. They describe the creatures as "gigantic" creatures that are created due to interactions with the dark Aember. This makes sense to be a "cycle" in this set (each house gets one), which would also help balance them out between houses and matches. In order to play these creatures (they only mention creatures right now) you need both cards in hand at the same time. Then, for all intents and purposes, while the card is in play, it's considered a singular creature. So if the card is bounced with something like Nature's Call, both cards return to your hand. I also have a feeling that each of these creatures will also be considered Mutants, since they are originating from interactions with dark Aember.

This card will be a great card for dealing with split cards. Too bad it's a rare!

So what about Deusillus? It's the largest creature we have so far in the game, and definitely the biggest without a drawback (other than it being a split card). Its initial play effect is strong, both in terms of targeted removal and Aember control. Its Fight/Reap ability is also strong, slowly diminishing the opponent's captured Aember and damaging their entire board. Deusillus and the rest of the "gigantic" creatures feel like they've had a lot of testing behind them, so I'm confident they will be worth their investment and will likely play well. When considering why a collectible card game makes this decision to have split cards, I feel part of it is how they want the game to look and feel on the table. Seeing a Gargantodon on the table in comparison to a Deusillus - or a little Umbra in comparison to it- will feel daunting. You'll feel the weight and tension of this massive creature being on the board. One important thing to know, is they mention a tutor card (a card that allows you to search for a specific card or type of card in the deck) being inserted in these decks with the gigantic creatures to search out one of the pieces, which should also make it a little easier to pull these off. I feel pulling these off early in the game will be very difficult to deal with if you brought a slow (or small!) deck to the table.

For some reason this is giving me "Iron Giant" vibes...

If I had to guess, this artwork is probably going to be the Logos gigantic creature. Especially considering the size comparison to the buildings in the background and the blue radiating colors. But what will it do? What will its characteristics be? I imagine the Logos Gigantic creature will likely have an effect providing you decent card advantage (improving your access to cards in the deck) either by increasing your "end of turn" hand size (What if this is "Father"??), drawing many cards on the spot, or archiving many cards as well. However, I feel they will spice this card advantage up a little bit for such a big creature, since we've had many cards that do all those things already.

Do you think each house will receive a gigantic creature? Do you think they will all be creatures? What if the Star Alliance gets connected upgrades that make a Gundam-like or Voltron-like creature out of one of your creatures in play? Or their split card is their ship: the S.A.V. Quantum? What if a house had a two-piece ultra-influential artifact? Would that be too strong? What would you have it read?

I'm so hyped for the return of Sanctum, their artwork always looks so good!

In the last part of the article, they focus on House Sanctum and their return to the Crucible. With the return of Sanctum, Brobnar was forced to leave for the time being. They touched on how Sanctum was going to feel different in this set- how all houses were- in absence of Brobnar while talking in the announcement video. They mention how Sanctum will hopefully feel more Sanctum, but they will focus on more protection and healing, while also being on the aggressive side sometimes too. They also said, that while there won't be any new tokens, that the Keyforge design team decided to focus on Enrage more this set.

Enrage I feel is a pretty under-appreciated mechanic that players will see the importance of as it becomes more prevalent. I've heard players call it a "lesser Stun" but I think it accomplishes a different goal than Stun as it forces either nothing or a specific action - fighting. Fighting most often times means damage as well, whereas Stun just means a disabled creature till you get the chance to use it.

So much glorious artwork! So much to see! So much to discover!

Another exciting tease they had at the end of the article was referencing The Seven Sins:

If you thought the Four Horsemen were impressive, wait until you see the Seven Sins! 

I imagine this means we'll be getting connected Sanctum special rare creatures related to The Seven Deadly Sins, similar to the Horsemen. Since the Horsemen debuted, we've seen many different kinds of special rares and connected cards, with a couple rares like the Moor Wolf able to show up in a deck with up to seven copies. If I had to choose mechanics for cards for The Seven Sins, I'd choose:

  • Lust - Gain control of creature
  • Gluttony - Capture Aember
  • Greed - Gain Aember
  • Sloth - Stun creatures
  • Wrath - Targeted Destruction
  • Envy - Steal Aember
  • Pride - Exalt Aember to Enrage?

With each effect being activated in similar ways or building off of one another. What are your thoughts about The Seven Sins? Maybe the Sanctum hold different values than the "traditional" sins? What if they are interconnected actions? Or interconnected artifacts?

Looking at the other cards in the "card fan" of Mass Mutation cards above, they all seem quite interesting. I'm excited about Hayden Oswin as a card, since that means (also considering Nel from earlier) that Star Alliance will continue with upgrade support. However, there is one card on there that stands out to me:


I have named him Fuzzy Goliath for now until we get a true name. But I couldn't be more behind a mutated creature. It looks amazing!

I hope you've enjoyed exploring the Mass Mutation announcement with me and I hope you walk away with something more to consider about this exciting upcoming set! More news to come soon about the new set I'm sure!

Till next time, enjoy the excitement!

-Austin "RealPlayerOne", Questing Cartographer