Episode #11 – A Worlds Collide Love/Hate Relationship: Part II

This past weekend I had the grand opportunity to play in my first Store Championship at a magical place we Minnesotans call The Source, a sprawling comic and game shop that contains everything from every fandom you might ever venture into.  My experience at the event was fantastic at every level, and although I have just barely made my way onto the scene, I would argue that the great state of Minnesota may house the paramount KeyForge community in the world, both in inclusiveness and skill level.  While we may not currently be able to lay claim to a Vault Tour winner quite yet, the level of play I experienced at what many of the 28 players were considering warm-ups for this coming weekend’s Prime Championship was incomparable to anything I have yet experienced in competitive online play, and some of the decks I encountered throughout my five rounds of play left me in awe, both in wins and losses.  So, before I get into the continuation of last week’s episode, I thought I would do a brief recap of the event from the perspective of a big tournament rookie.

First off, I had been playing in the competitive realm on TCO for a solid two weeks in preparation for this event, and like many of the other players in the area, most of us were saving our “best” decks for this weekend’s Prime Championship.  I decided to roll out one of my favorite decks, and while it is definitely competitive in all regards, in a game of unique decks, this one goes a bit above and beyond that in my opinion. My theory was that the overall strangeness of the deck’s makeup might throw my opponent’s off a bit when it came to strategy, so I spent the majority of October playtesting Coal, the Stalwart of Glodock, a beautiful mixture of Logos, Shadows, and my beloved Dis.  The basic build of the deck is Shadows steal and stall, with 2 Miasmas and The Sting for good measure, a Logos house built around Library Access, Phase Shift, and 3 Wild Wormholes, and the powerhouse of the deck being a Dis package containing a Lash of Broken Dreams, a great mixture of Dis creatures including 2 Ember Imps, and not one, but two Screaming Caves for constant recursion.

You can definitely see how a deck with this build can get ahead and control the game fairly easily, and even if it gets behind, it has the ability to draw things out and at least give the pilot a fighting chance no matter what the odds may be.  The deck does take a fairly good amount of practice to use it proficiently, but over a two week span I was able to raise it’s win percentage from 70% to 75% on TCO’s competitive circuit, so I felt it would at least make for some fun matchups, and it definitely did not disappoint on that front.  Without drawing this recap out too much, the field was a solid 28 players breaking into a Top 8 after 5 rounds of Swiss play. I initially figured I would see many TCO-style decks in competition and would hold a decent chance of cracking the Top 8, but little did I know the competitiveness of the decks being brought to this “warm-up” tournament would be as strong as they were!

In my first round matchup, I took on a deck with a Key Charge and Chota Hazri Untamed package along with a 2 Miasma and Too Much to Protect Shadows setup.  I honestly didn’t struggle too much in this matchup, but nonetheless it ended up being close until the end. My opponent did make one small misplay, calling Untamed after I used my Lash of Broken Dreams in a “just in case” manner, and he attempted to Key Charge with 7 aember.  I reminded him about the Lash’s effect and even allowed him to take back the play, since I immediately knew that was the way this community plays things out, even in a competitive tournament, and I forged my last key with an option to stop my opponent had he delayed my key for another turn.

Onto my second match, I played against a younger individual who definitely knew his stuff and was the owner of a combo-based Martian Generosity and double Key Abduction archiving monster.  From my time playing on The Crucible Online, I knew this type of deck was a weakness of my own, so I knew I would have to keep their aember count as low as possible and try to win fast. I was fairly nervous when he was able to find both of his Titan Librarians to begin archiving cards for a death blow almost immediately, but my draw was a bit better in that I was able to find both of my Ember Imps to flank my lone Shadow Self, and with some Dis creature help, I was able to keep his board in a state where he couldn’t get rid of them for about four turns in a row.  He realized he had also made a slight misplay in that he should have been focused on killing off his own creatures and could then use an archived Carpet Phloxem to take out my board (or at the very least the Ember Imps), but at that point I was up two keys to zero and had the game well in hand. At this point, I was feeling pretty good, but I also knew it would only get harder the more I won, so was still skeptical on if I could find a way into the Top 8.

My third match of the day was definitely a snap back to reality and grounded me in my untouchable mindset.  After lucking out against one Martian Generosity deck, I happened to find myself against another one…only this time it had two copies of what I feel is the most unbalanced card currently in circulation.  If we are being completely honest, it’s not too far behind Library Access in terms of card-drawing capabilities, and with two copies I didn’t stand much of a chance. I put up a great fight and had to resort to stock-piling aember with The Sting, but by the time I sacrificed it and started forging keys, I couldn’t stop the second and subsequent third Martian Generosity from drawing every card needed to end the game.  When you have the ability to lose all of your aember and still gain enough aember to forge a key in one turn and then some, I had no way to stop the madness so I took my first loss. I made it a lot closer than my opponent was comfortable with though, but like I said, this deck has a hard time with that particular card (as most do) and I still felt my chances were there to make that top cut.

Upon looking at my opponent’s deck list in round four, I felt like I could rebound and put myself back into the hunt, but that was just not to be.  My deck has a tendency to handcuff itself from time to time, as it is a bit interdependent upon some of the other cards in the deck, and when you draw a majority of those cards in your opening hand, decide to mulligan, and still end up with most of those same cards, I knew it would be an uphill battle.  I was still able to get out ahead of my opponent and forged my first key quickly, but as I was forging, he had stockpiled a massive Logos hand that gave him a 6 aember burst and a board I couldn’t deal with, so for the rest of the game I tried to play catch up and just couldn’t make it happen. I was able to stall for multiple turns in a row thanks to my Lash and Miasmas, but I couldn’t seem to draw any hands to go with the houses I was forced to play, and ended up losing without putting up much of a true fight.  This put me at the dreaded 2-2 record, but with a Top 8 cut and strength of schedule, I wasn’t completely dead, so I battled on!

The fifth and final round before top cuts put me against a deck that was very similar to the deck I played in round one, with a strong Shadows package containing 2 Miasmas and Too Much to Protect, and a fast Untamed setup with multiple Ancient Bears for board control.  This was a pretty solid back-and-forth battle, with one board-state mistake made by both of us when my opponent had an Ember Imp in play and we both forgot about it as I was forced to play Logos and had all 3 of my Wild Wormholes in hand. We both caught the mistake after I had played all 3, but the good part of that exchange was that we simply reversed everything and it essentially was sucked back into the wormhole it came from, with the only real consequence being my opponent knew what the next few cards I had in my deck and hand were.  I ended up winning the match by random discard as my opponent lost an Ancient Bear after my Tocsin reaped, and he needed one more creature off a full moon to play his Key Charge. I did my part and went above .500 to give myself a chance at the Top 8, but unfortunately my previous opponent lost his fifth round match, putting himself at 3-2 as well. Had he won, we both would have made the cut, but instead we both ended up being on the outside looking in.

The experience was tremendous overall, even with a slightly out of the Top 8 finish, and I was finally able to put some names to some faces from the various social media outlets that I have become a contributor in, so I am definitely excited to get out and play this upcoming weekend and if the stars align I might just find myself in a position to make a run at the Prime Championships.  At the very least, I felt I was finally part of a real KeyForge community and hope to improve my play as I get out to play more with all of the fine folks from the Twin Cities Metro area. I don’t know if I’ll ever be at the level as some of the players I encountered, at least not with my current arsenal of decks, but this is one game that can still be fun when you end up losing against the right opponents.  And after that long diatribe of an introduction, let’s finally get down to the true topic of this week’s column!

Hello and welcome one and all to the latest episode of The Random Ramblings of Raspberry Eyes!  I’m your host, the bright-eyed and Moor Wolf-tailed Raspberry Eyes, and this week we will be continuing on with where last week’s edition left off.  For those not in the know, this past week I took a closer look at the houses of Brobnar, Dis, and Logos and chose some of my favorite (and not so favorite cards) from the upcoming Worlds Collide expansion in an homage to the great Matthew Berry’s Love/Hate fantasy football column.  This week I will be doing the same when I take a look at House Shadows and the newly-introduced Saurian Republic.  The rules are simple: I will include a common, uncommon, and rare card from each house as a part of my “love” section, and then two random cards of my choosing for the “hate” portion.  And just like last week, I will close out the show by taking a slightly closer look at one of the fabled anomaly cards that have been making an appearance in Worlds Collide as well.  So, let’s get to it!

Shadows Cards I LOVE in Worlds Collide

Common – Action – Aember Bonus = 1
Play: Destroy an artifact.  If you do, gain 1 aember.

In the House of Shadows, this card is definitely my favorite in the new set.  There are some artifacts out there in the current meta that can completely lock-down games, one of which is my least favorite card in existence (I’m looking at you, Heart of the Forest), and this card is the artifact hate that we have all been looking for.  Not only do you grab a bonus aember, so the card itself is never completely worthless, but if you are able to destroy an artifact, you gain an additional aember in the process! This card essentially destroys the mentality behind a Heart of the Forest deck, and for that I am utterly grateful as those games are excruciating to both watch and play in.  Not to mention the fact that every other important artifact is fair game, and many of the cards I have included in my “Hate” sections who happen to be artifacts that need to collect so many counters became just a little bit worse because of Hock.

Chain Gang
Uncommon – Creature (Elf, Thief) – Power = 3 – Armor = 0
After you play Subtle Chain, ready Chain Gang.
Action: Steal one aember.  Shuffle a Subtle Chain from your discard pile into your deck.

I wanted to include Subtle Chain with this one, since they work so well together as a combo, but seeing as how that is just Shadows version of Mind Barb, I felt I would give the glory to Chain Gang instead.  This card combo feels to me like what Ortannu wishes it could be, and the implications that can be had if this card is able to stay on the board when down to the last few cards in your deck are monumental. Imagine being able to consistently steal aember and discard cards from your opponent’s hand, with the possibility of stealing up to 3 aember and discarding up to 2 cards a turn.  This will be an early target of every opponent who sees it hit the board, as it can severely handcuff a deck quickly. And don’t forget that Subtle Chain gives an aember bonus as well, which means a player could potentially gain a 5 aember swing while crippling the opponent in the process. Love it!

Rare – Artifact (Item) – Aember Bonus = 1
When your opponent would forge a key, that player names a house.  Reveal a random card from your hand. If that card is not of the named house, destroy KeyForgery and they do not forge that key (no aember is spent).

This is a strange artifact for sure, one that I have likened to a last-ditch effort Miasma that just kind of hangs out on the board, just in case.  I initially thought this would be a great play late in the game, where it could potentially give you one last chance to steal a game if the randomness works out, but then I thought even more so about all of the cards that allow you to forge during your turn, and it made things even more interesting.  That Martian Generosity/Key Abduction combo deck could become completely derailed when the random discard stops them from a free key, and that is just one example. Plus, there are so many new cards that allow forging out of the forge step, and this card only says the aember isn’t spent, so everything else that goes with those extra forge cards can still apply, making a lot of hard work end up with zero payoff.  You can’t necessarily build a deck around it, but this is a card you would welcome in any Shadows package that you might encounter as it will never be a complete waste.

Shadows Cards I HATE in Worlds Collide

Common – Creature (Alien, Thief) – Power = 1 – Armor = 0
Fight: Put the creature Symon fights on top of its owner’s deck.

I’m not entirely sure why this one rubs me the wrong way, but I just don’t like Symon.  It might be the fact that if anyone is truly worried about it messing up their board it will be targeted and destroyed almost immediately, and at a power level 1 with no added protection abilities, pretty much every creature in the game can take it out.  It might also be the fact that it is just going to be an overall annoyance, doing nothing truly great, since those creatures are just going to come back again. A slight deterrent and it does mess up the opponent’s cycling abilities slightly, but aside from that I’m just seeing another Bad Penny here, and I would honestly prefer a Bad Penny over this one anyways.

Gambling Den
Rare – Artifact (Location) – Aember Bonus = 1
At the start of each player’s turn, that player may name a house.  If they do, reveal the top card of their deck. If it is of the named house, they gain 2 aember.  Otherwise, they lose 2 aember.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some randomness in this glorious game, but this one is just too much.  I do love the fact that both players can gamble at will, either gaining 2 aember or losing 2 aember by naming the top card of their deck (another reason why Symon is garbage), but you’d either have to be completely desperate or would need to have piles of aember to gamble away, because losing 2 aember at the start of your turn is brutal.  Now, if you don’t have 2 aember to lose, then things can become a bit more fun, as you are essentially playing with the house’s money at that point, but this isn’t really a practical use card and could hurt you just as much as help you. A fun novelty, but not a competitive piece of the puzzle.

Saurian Cards I LOVE in Worlds Collide

Common – Action – Aember Bonus = 1
Play: The most powerful friendly creature captures 2 aember.  You may exalt that creature to repeat the preceding effect.

With the amount of massive Saurian creatures in the new set, I think this card is fantastic, especially since the Saurian house has so many ways to manipulate creatures with aember on them.  Imagine you’ve got your power level 16 Gargantodon in play, and you decide it is worth capturing all of your opponent’s aember, even if you need to exalt Gargantodon a few times to make it happen.  And with so many ways to get rid of aember on exalted creatures or to protect them with warding effects, this creature could have a pile of aember available on it for some time. There is also the fact that you gain a bonus aember for simply playing it, so it is essentially a Terms of Redress clone with an amazing added ability and no real downside on top of it.

Uncommon – Action – Aember Bonus = 1
Play: Give control of a friendly creature to your opponent.

Now, imagine a massively beaten up Gargantodon with a gigantic pile of captured aember on it, ready to find its way back to your opponent.  But instead, you drop this bomb on them, making them deal with the dying creature and you reaping the benefits of all their hard work! Those types of situations are why my choice at the uncommon rarity level for cards I love in the Saurian house has to be Exile.  At first glance, giving control of a creature to your opponent seems like a pretty amateur move. But, with the Saurians being loaded up with aember due to many of their play abilities and if your opponent is unlucky enough to be running a deck that doesn’t contain the Saurian house, ouch.  That can be a grueling moment in the game if you play it out correctly, and it especially could spell disaster for an opponent running an older deck where Saurians wasn’t even an option, essentially ending a game if utilized properly.

Imperial Forge
Rare – Action – Aember Bonus = 1
Play: Forge a key at +8 aember current cost, reduced by 1 aember for each aember on friendly creatures.

Finally, a forging out of forge step card that is going to have a huge impact on the game!  As I perused all of the Saurian creatures, the mechanic that they focus almost all of their cards around is that of exalting, so Saurians are going to be robust with aember.  Going back and looking at the example I gave of Gargantodon, given the right circumstances, this is a free key being forged just with a decent board state and nothing more. No crazy amounts of archiving or card drawing are needed as with some of the other forge a key during your turn cards, and even if that exalted and captured aember is spread around amongst a few creatures, you are paying a small fee for forging a key.  Decks that can somehow find this card in duplicate with a decent supporting cast of creatures and actions centered around the exalt mechanism are going to be some of the toughest to beat with the new set, and this card alone catapults the Saurian Republic into the competitive ranks immediately.

Saurian Cards I HATE in Worlds Collide

Rare – Creature (Dinosaur, Politician) – Power = 4 – Armor = 2
Play: Capture 10 aember from any combination of players.  Then, if Crassosaurus has fewer than 10 aember on it, purge Crassosaurus.

I will be honest, this is another card that I don’t necessarily hate and under the right conditions, like every KeyForge card there is, could be downright magical, but in most instances, I feel that this particular one is dead on arrival.  If you can pull off the capturing of 10 aember, even if you sacrifice a bit on your end to make it happen, then this guy right here is almost a super Drumble. Plus, making that happen with an Imperial Forge in hand is giving you a relatively cheap key and that is if this is the only creature you control.  But, on the flipside, you have to capture 10 aember, since any less results in an immediate purge and all of that aember goes back to your opponent in most instances. This one has potential with certain combos for sure, but there are just too many moving pieces involved to make it a consistent play, so it needs an amazing support cast to be of any benefit.  I can definitely see this card being discarded more often than nought, much like a Key of Darkness, which is a shame because it is also a power level 4 creature with some armor and elusive.

The Colosseum
Rare – Artifact (Location) – Aember Bonus = 0
After an enemy creature is destroyed while fighting, put a glory counter on The Colosseum.
Omni: If there are 6 or more glory counters on The Colosseum, remove 6 and forge a key at current cost.

With the super artifact hate in Worlds Collide, especially as many decks I have opened myself contain multiple copies of Hock, this type of card is a huge gamble if you are trying to build up huge amounts of glory counters to forge additional keys, so that alone makes me not a fan of The Colosseum.  I do enjoy a few aspects of this card, the first being that it has an omni ability and can be used during any house’s turn, and the second being that you don’t need to sacrifice the artifact itself in order to forge the key. The biggest drawback on this for me is the fact that you are just given the option to forge a key at cost, so the work needed to get to those counters may not be worth it, especially if your opponent has options to destroy the artifact itself.  There is definitely use here though, as getting to check during the turn will result in a key right there and doesn’t give your opponent a chance to get you off that key, but the setup with a huge potential for no payoff makes me leary on this one. 

Anomaly of the Week

Nizak, The Forgotten
Creature (Dragon, Psion) – Power = 6 – Armor = 0
While fighting, Nizak, The Forgotten, gains invulnerable. (It cannot be destroyed or dealt damage.)
After an enemy creature is destroyed fighting Nizak, The Forgotten, return that creature to its owner’s hand.

This anomaly is a strange one to me, and for many more reasons than are alluded to in the card effects.  First off, I find it curious that this particular card happens to find itself positioned on the Prime Championship 1st Place playmat as prize support, and the card itself seems utterly terrible.  The first part of the card actually seems great, a power level 6 creature with invulnerable in a battle sounds like super board control to me and will take some doing for an opponent to eliminate it from the field of play.  The other half though…yuck. Once Nizak destroys a creature, that creature goes back to the owner’s hand? As the game is currently being played, this card is going to be discarded so often against decks that contain creatures with play abilities, especially small creatures such as Ronnie Wristclocks.  And who’s to say you can’t attack Nizak a bunch of times with that type of creature to reap the benefits of their play abilities over and over and over, so I don’t think someone playing against Nizak is going to try too hard to take it off the board. And that right there is why I think Nizak might hold many more secrets  than currently meets the eye. Brad Andres recently stated that the anomalies come from “potential futures” in The Crucible, and that all of these anomalies might not be an exact representation of their final form. This was interesting to me, because on first look this card can be exploited quite heavily, but maybe it is all just misdirection and either the card will change or other mechanics will be introduced in the future that will make us all understand the importance of Nizak…

Well, that wraps up another episode of The Random Ramblings of Raspberry Eyes!  I will be back next week with the final portion of this Love/Hate piece, and sadly, I will then be taking somewhat of a KeyForge sabbatical for the foreseeable future.  In no way do I want to get out of the game, but I have done a bit of reflecting on life recently and want to prioritize a few more important things over a great hobby like KeyForge, so that is what I will be doing.  It may also give me some time to gather some friends and start a play group of KeyForge enthusiasts, which could just be fun from a bonding standpoint, so I think this will be good overall for me as a player. Next week, keep your eyes peeled for a look at the final houses in Worlds Collide, Untamed and the Grand Star Alliance.  And with that, I’m your host Raspberry Eyes, reminding you all to ramble on!

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