Back in November I was lucky enough to live in a city with a store that hosted a KeyForge pre-release. I did not do much previewing of the game before attending and went in pretty cold. I played a few card games over the years and was excited to try KeyForge as I had a bunch of friend’s who were also interested in playing the game. Over the months prior I had been losing interest in my previous game of choice, Magic the Gathering, and had been dabbling a little in Eternal Card Game which wasn’t completely filling the gap. I was excited to give KeyForge a go as, from what I heard about it, sounded like the best aspects of Magic the Gathering that I enjoyed, especially Commander and Ante League.
My KeyForge prerelease was pretty casual and nothing like I was used to from Magic the Gathering. We showed up, were given decks, and told to go play. No pairings, no prizing, few rules told. Coming from a game where conforming to the rules and disciplined play structure did everything to get in the way of an exciting and imaginative play experience, I found it fun for this KeyForge event to lack structure and competitiveness.
I opened my deck and learned each was given a unique name with a unique decklist. Way cool! I got Pious "Skeledan" Gael in Brobnar, Dis, Sanctum. I opened the plastic wrap and went through the cards. Multiple removal spells, multiple board wipes, and some aggressive looking creatures. This had to be the best deck for sure!
It didn’t take me long to realize that this game played way differently than anything I have played before. During the pre-release I felt the need to control my opponent’s board and try to pull off the combos that I thought the deck wanted me to. Take, for example, Epic Quest
which wants you to try to set up a combo by playing out all your Knights, returning them to archive, and playing them again. Notice that this deck also has multiple copies of Arise
. I figured this would be a great ‘gotcha’ combo. Every time I had Epic Quest in my hand I wanted to make it work. I was oblivious to the fact that this card is completely terrible. There is something inherently wrong with the design and, unless you have a deck with 7+ Sanctum creatures (probably) I think Epic Quest is show in for worst card. There was a time when I was able to cast six Sanctum cards from my hand with Epic Quest on the board and it took me multiple turns to set up even that. As, hopefully you know by now, card advantage is king in this game (most card games really) and playing out as much of your hand each turn is usually the correct answer. Spending multiple turns on one card combo is a quick way to lose the game for yourself.
And lose I did. Multiple times. 4 times at the prerelease. I went 0-4. We played again a few days after where I picked up another 3 loses with the deck. I was content with calling the deck hot garbage.
After the release day, when I was able to get more (better) decks and I put
Pious “Skeledan” Gael aside. It wasn’t until recently while I was playing some games on Crucible that I decided to give the deck another chance. By this time I would say that I probably had a good 50 games to my name and a fair understanding of the game mechanics, and what I am supposed to be doing in a game.
Looking back here’s what I think I was doing wrong when I started with
Pious “Skeledan” Gael :
- Putting too heavy an emphasis on combat
- Over-valuing creature removal
- Playing Epic Quest
- Not discarding cards that needed discarding
- Not racing when racing needed to be done
- Focusing on Dis for control vs Brobnar
I played this deck on Crucible and surprisingly won a game. My opponent even complimented me on my deck and asked if he/she could try playing it (really appreciate the asking by the way! +1 internets to that person). I was shocked. This was by far my worst deck. Must have been a fluke.
My friend LD was online. I played it again against him and I flooded the board with Brobnar with Warchest on the board. Game over. Win #2.
Instead of trying to make my Epic Quest work. Instead of worrying about my opponent’s creatures on board, I was now focusing on my own board and Amber supply. I figured that this deck wanted to control my opponents Amber and creatures using Brobnar and not Dis. That the Sanctum was weak in this deck. My new deck theory was to control opponent’s Amber and creatures however possible until I can play Warchest. With multiple copies of Arise! in this deck I can return all my Brobnar fairly consistently and play all copies of Brobnar out the next turn. Then just race. Once you have a board full of 6-8 meaty, beefy, brawling Brobnar your opponent is in a world of pain.
I do believe every Archon deck has its own unique and ideal strategy. Ignore the trap cards, find your strategy, give your deck a chance. It may not work perfectly every time, but it will be fun trying to figure it out! It’s rewarding cracking a deck’s strategy, especially after you were so low on it. I’m now on a 4 game winning streak and am excited to play this deck again!