MEMORY LANE SERIES: Shadows of the Past

During this time of isolation, I have taken the opportunity over various media platforms to stroll down my KeyForge memory lane. I have now decided to bring the party to Archon’s Corner and talk about some of these iconic houses that made us initially fall in love with KeyForge and made the game what it is today. It is possible that I do not cover all aspects of what made a discussed house special, but at the same time, this is coming from my perspective so you may have a different view from me. Mainly, I will choose a couple of cards that hold a special place in my memory and discuss them within an aspect of that house, in Call of the Archons.

With that said, I decided to kick things off with the original Boogie Man of KeyForge, Shadows! I think it is safe to say that at one point in KeyForge during Call of the Archons (CotA), it was very rare that you were playing competitively and weren’t running a Shadows house in your deck— usually containing a Bait & Switch. The power of the STEAL mechanic was undeniable, and house Shadows had the ability to steal in spades—I mean c’mon, the main creature type in Shadows is a “Thief” for goodness sakes! It just made sense. I think this also led to a lot of hate towards Shadows during CotA, as players had been the victim of some feels bad moments, usually, courtesy of a Bait & Switch, one of the original cards to receive an errata based on how powerful it was. Originally, Bait & Switch did its effect over and over until your opponent did not have more æmber than you. Now it has been nerfed to only happen twice. Looking back now, I wonder if this was such a good idea. I think this drastically changed the meta and gave those Untamed burst houses less to worry about, but I digress, that is for another time. 

Looking at sets that followed the first, I am always interested to see the cards that get reprinted set after set. I think these can be considered the true “core set” of KeyForge, as no matter how the game evolves, these cards usually remain quite relevant. After the Bait & Switch nerf, Too Much to Protect became the new powerhouse in Shadows, and it has stuck around for each set that has been released after, a testament to that card within the game. I’m very interested in the cards that stick around from set to set and how they evolve within a new set as they interact with elements that did not exist before— and it looks like some CotA classics are returning for Mass Mutations if you’ve checked out the print-and-play decks. 

Now, what about the cards that did not ever get reprinted again. Obviously Bait & Switch fell in this column, which I think most people were not surprised about. But the one card I wanted to touch on that was never reprinted again is Shadow Self. This card is kind of an oddball in Shadows as it has the Specter trait, which does not appear in Shadows otherwise. The flavor of this card screams Shadows, but really actually an oddball. For me personally, this card is one of my favorite cards in CotA Shadows. Having a nine damage cushion for a creature is nothing to scoff at, and there are a lot of creatures in CotA that benefit from being put next to Shadow Self for some extra protection.

Lastly, I want to talk about a very unique card that originated in CotA, which is Miasma. What a great card! Without a doubt an iconic staple of the Shadows suite from when the game first came out. Being able to stop your opponent from forging that third key and buying yourself a turn in check that your opponent must answer can be a very powerful thing! Cards like this that affect the tempo of forging can be a turning point in the game of KeyForge, but this also can have the benefit of helping your opponent to make a big play next turn, or even be the perfect setup for a Too Much to Protect for you. The propositions Miasma make within a game is what I think makes it so unique. One thing I will say, I wish Miasma stuck around for Worlds Collide, as I think playing the Quiet Anvil and Miasma to make it so Anvil comes back around for you to take advantage of would have been some fun plays.

One card I didn’t mention that is so iconic for CotA Shadows is the “chase” card of the house, Faygin. For me, that card is really special. Such great flavor and great art! I would love to see Faygin and Urchin reprinted sometime. I think the cards that now exist would create some really interesting lines of play with those two cards. 

So in closing, looking back at Shadows, it is an amazing house that came out the gates swinging for the fences. But since Shadows started off so dominantly, I think it fell victim to needing a power adjustment, and as a result, has suffered in quality as it has progressed over the two sets that followed CotA. But, I can say that I had the pleasure of jamming some games on TTS with the print-and-play Mass Mutation decks that were released, and Shadows looks like it is found a great balance. We will have to see if that deck is a singular representation of this, or this will be the norm for Mass Mutations Shadows. It is always great to look back at where things started, and where they have gone since then. This feels especially prudent before a new set comes out. I hope you have enjoyed this reflection on Shadows; please note I won’t be covering every house that exists in this series, but ones that have had a significant impact on me for one reason or another. My thoughts are with everyone in hopes they are staying safe and well during this time, and as always, may your æmber never be stolen, and your keys forged promptly. Have a good one!

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