LeanForge - or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Sell Button

Written by lotsa_muffins and LogotarianLuke

If you’re reading this, I imagine you face the same issue as many KeyForge fanatics: too many decks, and not enough motivation to play them all. There are so many decks unplayed out there, and probably a huge number of them are on your shelves, still in their shrinkwrap. They might not be your playstyle, or might look too weak for you to play, or be too similar to something you already have.

On the other side of the coin, there might be a deck out there you think looks incredible… but have no recorded Organised Play results, and no plays recorded on The Crucible Tracker. When this happens it’s virtually impossible to contact the owner of the deck, and you just have to lament the fact the deck is probably sat in someone's drawer somewhere, never to be seen again.

I’m here to advocate a solution which helps everyone with both of these problems: listing basically all of your decks for sale on Decks of KeyForge.

KeyForge and Loss Aversion

One of the most common arguments I see made for maintaining a large collection is this: what if I sell a deck to someone and they win a Vault Tour with it?

This sentiment and other variations of it (e.g. “what if this deck becomes stronger in future metas?”) are an expression of loss aversion - the tendency for people to mitigate risk, because losing out feels bad. With there being no inherent risk to maintaining a large collection of decks versus the perceived threat of missing out on something good, it’s not a surprise that a significant number of players take the risk-free option. However, the risks are predicated on a few assumptions that are probably wrong:

  • That certain cards will become overwhelmingly better than they already are, defining the game meta - we’re four sets in right now and there isn’t a single example of this. While some would argue that cards which bounce creatures back to hand become more valuable when Worlds Collide launched, bouncing was already a strong effect at the launch of the game.

  • That you would take that deck to a big event - official KeyForge Organised Play events right now require players to bring a maximum of 3 decks, dependent on the format. Ask yourself - how likely is it that you’d take this deck over others in your collection?

  • That you would be able to pilot the deck well enough to win - just because someone else did well with the deck doesn’t mean you can do the same.

If you feel this way about any of your decks, or even many of your decks, and despite being concerned about the risk of losing it, you still haven’t used it in months or years… what are you really losing by passing the deck on?

Embrace the LeanForge Philosophy

First introduced by LogotarianLuke, LeanForge is a philosophy about “focusing your time, attention, and collection on what brings you joy in [KeyForge].” This can be taken as casually or as extremely as you like. LogotarianLuke spoke on the Help From Future Self podcast about how he applied the principle to his own collection, trimming it down to 10 decks with a strict one-in-one-out policy. (If you haven’t heard the full interview, it’s definitely worth a listen!)

LeanForge as a philosophy is concentrating on what is uniquely you in KeyForge to maximise the enjoyment you get from the game. There are loads of different reasons and motivations that people have for playing KeyForge, and such a huge number of ways in which someone may choose to curate their collection. LeanForge isn’t a standard list of requirements, or a fixed number - it’s about finding out how best to curate your collection to suit your needs and preferences.

LogotarianLuke suggests starting your LeanForge journey with the creation of a LeanList. This is a list of decks, archetypes, combos and themes that you enjoy playing. You can then start looking at your collection, identifying which decks fall into these categories, and examining the common factors between them. You may find out something new about your playstyle by doing this - for example, all your favourite decks may have Dis in. You can also use this process to refine your LeanList categories - such as including a Dis deck from every possible set. In the process of doing this, you can re-evaluate your decks and even re-discover a hidden gem you had originally dismissed.

Once you’ve begun this process, you can begin to see what you do and don’t appreciate in your collection, and can act upon it.

Applying LeanForge to Your Own KeyForge Experience

For me, LeanForge is about identifying what I use and actually enjoy, and parting ways with any decks that don’t bring me joy (in a very Marie Kondo way). There are the competitive-level decks (3-5 which are Vault Tour Archon level), stand-out decks from each set, and decks for specific formats such as low-SAS Archon. At present, I have 25 decks on my list of Keepers, with plans to expand it once I’ve decided which Reversal deck is the best (worst?), and once I’ve done some more testing. The thing these all have in common is that they have purpose in the collection - the silly Screaming Cave deck, the Store Leaderboard decks, and the signed decks, among all the others. In the process of curating this list of keepers, I discovered something else virtually all these decks have in common - a high Disruption score on their Decks of Keyforge page. I delved into this more with testing, playing decks with high and low Disruption scores, and it turned out that using that score was a shortcut to determining whether I’d enjoy the playstyle of the deck. Identifying this made the process of figuring out what to list for sale much faster, as I could essentially list every deck with a Disruption score of 3 or lower for sale, safe in the knowledge that even if I sold it without testing it, it was very likely that I wouldn’t have liked it anyway.

Even if you are extremely liberal with the definition of ‘lean,’ there’s plenty of benefits to using some of the LeanForge principles when curating your KeyForge collection.

(Re-)Discover Your KeyForge Spark

When you started playing the game, there was something which drew you in - do you remember what that was? Curating your collection can help remind you of, or reinforce the reasons why you play and enjoy KeyForge. LogotarianLuke summarises this as: “Understanding what you value and truly enjoy about KeyForge can help unearth the motivations that keep you coming back to this great game.”

Make Your Collection More Manageable

At a certain point, without a meticulous filing system finding any of your KeyForge decks quickly becomes almost impossible. If you’re not a fan of dedicating time to arranging decks in storage, trimming down the number of decks is an excellent alternative.

Having fewer options of decks to play means that each deck gets played more regularly. It’s widely stated in the KeyForge community that one of the most important factors in player skill is ‘getting the reps in’ - playing a single deck a large number of times to experience different interactions and gaining new insights into the game. Focusing your collection could be the incentive you need to deepen your knowledge of the game!

Make Dreams Real

Remember those decks you were lamenting over being shut in a drawer somewhere? For some players, those decks might be yours! By identifying which of your decks you’re okay parting with and listing them for sale, you give other people the opportunity to get decks which really excite them.

Fund Future Purchases

Once you’ve moved some of the ‘meh’ decks you’ve identified, you’ll have some seed money for new purchases. You can invest in some more sealed decks from your friendly local game store, purchase tournament tickets, or pick up one of those dream decks on the secondary market.

What if the Decks Don’t Sell?

There’s really no downside to listing a deck for sale on Decks of Keyforge and having no interest in it - there’s no fees, so you don’t lose anything by doing so. However, the potential benefit of having the decks listed is huge, because you can pass it on to a person who will get a huge amount of joy from it. There are other options out there for reusing decks, if you’ve decided you’re ready to move them on.

Project ReForge

Started by SkyJedi, Project ReForge is an initiative aiming to lower the barrier to entry to KeyForge. Community members can create small starter kits to give to people interested in the game, and include information about how to get involved in their local community as well as the wider global community. This project is very much in its infancy - if you’d like to get involved, get in contact with SkyJedi on Discord or Twitter.

Start a Deck Library in your FLGS

A lot of local game stores have a board game library that customers can play in-store. If they don’t already have KeyForge in their library, you can contribute! A starter kit is great for this: it doesn’t have to be brand new - just a few decks, tokens and a rulebook. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can expand this to a huge amount of decks spanning all sets, multiple token sets, Organised Play promos, and paper playmats. Your box should, of course, also contain information on how to get involved in local play and the online community.

Create Art

Several insanely talented KeyForgers have found use for their unused decks as artistic materials. Archon Alters paints cards and gives them either full art or alternative art, turning them into wonderful pieces of art. IronBahamut of the Manchester Mavericks creates 3D cards by cutting and layering multiple cards which are incredible to see.

The Bottom Line

Even if you come away from the process adamant that you will never part with one of your decks, there is still a lot of value to be drawn from examining your collection with the LeanForge philosophy in mind. Try it out, see what you think, and let me know how you get on!

Kate Dunstone, also known as Muffins on Discord and lotsa_muffins on TCO, is a long-time KeyForge player and administrator for the KeyForge Premier League. She tweets as @KeyForgeLeeds and @Lotsa_Muffins, proudly reps Team Archimedes, and has a load of decks for sale on Decks of KeyForge.

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