Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. It’s that time of the week again! You’ve got your KeyForge bag packed, sleeves for the night all ready to go, with the excitement of cracking a new deck and all the possibilities of greatness in that deck on the horizon. You’ve registered and paid with the LGS TO, and you wait with bated breath to see what wonders this unique deck holds. The TO announces, “You may open your decks.” It begins, all the anticipation culminates to this moment to see what treasures this Archon will be providing for you. So you grab that blue box of Age of Ascension and shake that deck out unceremoniously, eager to break down the decklist and sleeve up tonight’s contender. As you scan each house you start to get excited, the card pool in each house has some saucy cards and combinations. Now, if you are like me, after I count creatures and æmber pips, I look for board and æmber control. Here is where the night can take a left-hand turn down misery lane. Usually, the main component of a deck that is light in offerings is the æmber control, surprise surprise, that is what you are faced with tonight. Instantly you realize all those amazing card combos are not going to make up for the fact your ability to put your opponents off of check is limited at best. This could be a long night.
This tale is one I’m sure we have all faced down multiple times, especially if you play sealed on a regular basis. Through the game stores I frequent, I’m usually playing sealed twice a month, so since AoA has released I must have participated in the range of 20 sealed events, one of them being sealed Triad at NOVA Grand Championships. The reason I chose to touch on this topic for this week’s article, is for two reasons: The first being how AoA seems to have so many decks that are incredibly interesting and look fun to play, except the decks are missing a couple of aspects to make it more viable to truly compete- not Vault Tour compete, although that is also lacking, more so on the local store level. The second point of this article is how playing these types of decks are not a complete waste of time and are actually a great exercise to become a better player, using your critical thinking and analysis skills to unlock the paths to victory. So let’s jump into that first point mentioned above.
When thinking about all the AoA decks I have opened, it’s after events when I look at the stats more closely, particularly using Decks of KeyForge analyzing the AERC of the deck, I find it shocking how many decks have a æmber control stat of two or less! That essentially means you have one or two cards in your entire deck that can take an opponent off of a key! Feels bad. My most recent experience playing sealed this past weekend is what led me to want to talk about this subject.
RECORDKEEPER CHAPMAN, the decklist above, is what I opened. Individually looking at the houses and card combinations, it seems fun. But when you look at the overall ability to take your opponent off a key, there are only two cards! One being Take That Smartypants, which doesn’t help, and the other being Nyzyk Resonator, with only a Taunt ability and Fixfinger to aid in its protection. Spoiler alert, Resonator was destroyed the turn after it was played, every time! I truly love the combinations of cards in this deck, and with Brobnar, Mars, and Untamed, you don’t expect a lot of æmber control to exist, in all fairness. This is also a creature heavy deck with 22 creatures, so it gets on-board very well, and also can get rid of the board very well, which can create some anti-synergy, depending on how the game is going. It is a shame that this happens quite often with AoA decks, you see a list that looks great but a key element is missing, and after that tournament, you know that deck won’t see too much play. I feel bad for the deck. But let’s move on to the positive side of experiencing this. Finding a way to make this work!
Now that you have come to terms with the fact that your deck is missing a key component to traditional success, how do you make this work? With RECORDKEEPER CHAPMAN, I realized I needed to burst hard, and pray my opponent didn’t have a Too Much to Protect or Doorstep to Heaven. Even an Interdimensional Graft could be bad. I had to go faster than my opponent with this deck, which can also be problematic if they have Shadows heavy steal, as one of my opponents did, playing triple Ronnie. I knew what would allow me to win. I hit it in my first round. Get that Brobnar board, have Warchest out, destroy their board, and activate Warchest, or if no board exists, reap out, repeat. After play Untamed, pull off Full Moon, play creatures, Key Charge, or discard creatures to play Soldiers to Flowers, then Key Charge. In essence, just go faster. In theory, this worked, but in practice I did not get to pull off the same combos to great effect, proving consistency to be an issue. In a way, the deck was a one-trick-pony, and that trick was complicated to get going at times. Matchups were also a factor, but at the end of the day, the lack of æmber control was the core issue.
My back was against the wall most of the games I played, and being in that position builds your KeyForge character. Almost every deck has a way it can win, and playing sealed with a less than stellar deck is a great way to test your ability to be able to find these avenues to victory in a short time span. My belief is playing this way allows you to be more familiar and adept at reading your opponent’s Archon card, and seeing the lines of play that could exist. So even though it may be tedious opening up these AoA decks that are severely lacking in certain areas, it is such a great exercise to learn how to win with a deck that isn’t optimal. It’s possible that your draws on a well versed preferred deck may not be optimal either, and developing those critical thinking skills to apply in those situations can be the difference between being able to weather the storm until the sun shines again; the difference between victory and defeat.
That wraps up this week’s article, thank you for taking the time to read my KeyForge literature. I just wanted to give a shoutout to my fellow Archon’s Corner writer Raspberry Eyes, who gave me the inspiration to start the article with a scenario I’m sure we have all been apart of. If you have not been reading his articles, I highly recommend checking them out, very entertaining and informative. As always, may your æmber never be stolen, and you forge your keys promptly. Have a good one!