He touched on it a little bit in the video, but I think this game is the closest realization of Garfield’s quest to create a collectible game without a metagame.
Garfield’s original vision for Magic assumed that 1) no one would spend a ton of money on the booster packs and 2) you’d mostly be playing with your friends. Rare cards were considered balanced because there would only be one or two within your playgroup. When Magic caught on, people wanted to play to win, so they started secondary markets for people to buy and sell cards. Suddenly, it was pretty easy to put decks together with nothing but the best cards, and the competitive scene started developing.
More importantly, Wizards needed to start developing their cards assuming that a competitive scene existed, which meant all of the cool ideas that Garfield was so good at coming up with didn’t really have a place anymore. You can’t play Shaharazad in tournaments because it takes too long. You can’t play Chaos Orb because it’s too swingy. You can’t play for ante because no one wants to lose cards that now have monetary value.
Magic also lost some of its collectible “uniqueness.” Again, Garfield’s vision was that cards wouldn’t be readily available, so everyone you ran into would probably have a deck you hadn’t seen before. You would have pride in your deck because you knew it was fairly unique. Or maybe you’d collect and curate a few decks that you liked playing. The idea was that “ownership” of your deck was something special. Now, competitive decks have archetypes and names, so you rarely come across “Bradley’s deck” at FNM – instead, you see “Bradley’s Eldrazi deck” which is functionally identical to anyone else’s Eldrazi deck.
I think Garfield is trying to recapture his original vision for Magic. Once you have a deck, that’s your deck. It might be similar to other decks that have those factions, but your combination is always going to be different from the person sitting across from you, and everyone you play is going to have something pretty unique. Because there’s no curation, and the power level seems relatively flat, a deck is only ever going to be worth what it’s worth to you, and that will depend entirely on how much you like the way the deck plays.
If a secondary market even emerges, it’s going to be more along the lines of deck-for-deck trades (with accompanying descriptions) instead of any kind of monetary value. Like “I’ve got a Mars-Shadow-Sanctum deck that steals amber. I want a deck that’s similar but has this specific card in it.” (Actually, does anyone want to register KeyForgeTraders.com? I bet we’d make a bit of money).
I have no idea what this means for a competitive scene. If it winds up feeling like you win as a result of your skill, it’s got a future. If it feels like you’re flipping a coin every time, I’m not optimistic about its chances.