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SolForge Fusion is a hybrid deck-building game that was released last year. Since then there have been many physical and online tournaments and a number of expansions. Today however creators Richard Garfield and Justin Gary launch the Kickstarter for SolForge Fusion Digital.

We had a chance to sit down and talk with Justin Gary and Richard Garfield about the launch of SolForge Fusion Digital, as well as to talk a little bit about the new Corruption mechanic coming with The Last Winter expansion of SolForge Fusion.

Richard Garfield is the creator of Magic: The Gathering. Since moving on from Magic he has designed a number of other games including Keyforge, Netrunner, Star Wars Trading Card Game, and Artifact. Justin Gary is a game designer who created titles such as Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer with Stone Blade Entertainment.

SolForge Fusion Digital Companion App Releasing

“It’s a funny full circle moment for us, we started working on the original SolForge which was a purely digital Trading Card Game, now 12 years ago,” Gary kicked off. “When we launched SolForge Fusion, which was a procedurally generated one-of-a-kind Hybrid Deck Game as a physical game it was always the vision that we would have a digital component as well.”

For those who haven’t had a chance to check out SolForge Fusion each half-deck is printed with a unique collection of cards that is given a name and a QR Code. Already players have been able to use these QR codes to register the deck to themselves via SolForge Fusion’s online portal and even play with their deck via Tabletop Simulator.

An image showing the interface of the SolForge Fusion Digital character select screen

As the game has grown over the last year the team at SolForge saw how the development of their own tools could get away from some of the hurdles of Tabletop Simulator like the lack of automation.

“We have been working quietly in the background on SolForge Fusion Digital which is a custom app […] players will be able to scan their decks in and play them online.”

It’s not just your decks that you’ll be able to play as, Gary continued to explain. When the SolForge Fusion Digital companion app launches it will include a wide variety of premium features and new SolForge Fusion experiences.

“Of course, solo-play against an AI, but also an entire PvE campaign mode that’s also algorithmically generated that lets you upgrade and modify your decks. It’s about trying to take the best of both worlds and really merge them into something no one has seen before.

Asking about how early on the team had been planning to create a full campaign mode and AI battles Gary explained that while they’d had plans for the Digital tool the campaign was relatively recent.

Gary also took this chance to tease that they “have big picture ideas, many aren’t in the app yet but hopefully will be in the future.”

“How do we take the best gameplay of the things we’ve seen and are inspired by and then bring them to bear here”

Speaking on the DNA of SolForge Fusion and it’s place in the TCG space Gary explained that the original creation of Garfield’s Keyforge influenced SolForge as the first natively digital card game. That then inspired others like Hearthstone. Now so many years later games like Slay The Spire, with digital deck-building elements, inspire SolForge Fusion and its roguelike campaign elements.

Key Art for SolForge Fusion Digital showing off a number of characters

SolForge Fusion Has Influenced, And Been Influenced By Others

During the creation of SolForge Fusion and the Digital Toolset Gary said that he did have a lot of different ideas but “Richard was very quick to show me why my ideas were very bad and he saved us from going down a very bad direction.”

Gary explained he had ideas of account-based rewards but Garfield quickly came to his defense stating “The bad ideas are fire and forget. This whole thing, as to what was planned and what wasn’t, we believe that the best paper product is going to incorporate a lively digital life.”

“We’ve got a lot of experience in what makes [physical and digital] shine. From the beginning, the paper product is designed to be good for digital […] but while we didn’t have an exact road plan for what we were going to bring to life digitally it’s like a playground, we’ve got so much you can do. It’s about picking and choosing what’s going to be best for the community.”

Gary added “It’s such an interesting space because you want to be sure you serve the Tabletop player and now their collection gets infinitely more value. We’ve heard from people all over the world that if you have a local community that’s playing it’s fantastic but if you don’t the game is harder to stay attached to. Now you can log on and play the game and you have the community and infinite options to play.”

The board layout for SolForge Fusion

Physical Is Still A Firm Focus For SolForge Fusion

While there has primarily been a physical aspect that then integrates with the digital side of SolForge Fusion this digital tool also means players can approach from a purely digital side.

“There will be a digital-only option” Gary explained “In fact, everybody who plays the game and backs the Kickstarter will have digital decks that are included to start and you can buy and earn digital decks as well.”

There is still a belief in the tabletop element of the game being important and there will still be a drive to get people playing across from one another. Tiers in the Kickstarter will come with digital-only decks or other options where a player can get a physical deck and use the code to access that same deck digitally.

SolForge Fusion Digital Tools Kickstarter Details

Update: Less than an hour after launching the SolForge Fusion Digital Kickstarter was fully backed. 

In our discussion, we got to cover a variety of specific info for the Kickstarter:

  • SolForge Fusion Digital will launch on PC. Ports for Mac, Mobile/Tablet and even potential consoles will come in the future
  • Backer Rewards will include exclusive badges, playmats, and cosmetics, alongside Early Access to the game

Gary commented that the original SolForge release for many platforms was a mistake. Their approach to launching on a single platform is to make sure it’s the best experience it can be “and then port it over to other platforms”.

The different game modes of SolForge Fusion

There was a very heavily stressed idea while discussing the different Backer Rewards that a lot of time has been spent on making sure the rewards are worth it to the player and will offer opportunities to come across new decks to mix and match with but that there will be nothing that gives players gameplay advantages.

“We didn’t want to give away too many functional exclusives because that gets unfair”

Garfield reinforced that the mentality they want players to come into SolForge Fusion with is that they want to play because they want to play and not that they’re expecting to improve based on gameplay rewards. The rules for PvE, including having a deck that changes over time, are different.

The Kickstarter launches November 2nd (Today) and while there’s a Closed Alpha currently ongoing the Backer Beta will be available by February 2024. The full launch is planned for April.

“We’re trying to move quickly” Gary reassured me “but there’s a lot of key fine-tuning that needs to take place. Looking for bugs and learning which features to prioritize are what we’ll be relying on our Kickstarter backers for”

For what will be added to the tool going forward Gary commented on their “long long list of ideas” and how important it will be to get feedback from those backers to know how post-launch features will be added.

SolForge Fusion Last Winter Expansion

Players excited for the future of The Last Winter will be excited to hear that the expansion will be part of the Digital Tools.

Box art for the Last Winter expansion

The Last Winter will be released in March/April 2024 and Kickstarter Backers will also be able to back for first access to what’s next.

One new mechanic that was discussed in The Last Winter is that the ForgeBorn will be able to evolve through Corruption. Instead of the linear level-up as you play through a game of SolForge you’ll be able to corrupt them altering how they’ll level up throughout the game.

This new ability helps to create even further permutations on the presently available decks. Garfield explained that even if you only wanted to purchase a single deck you could end up with enough to keep you satisfied.