Saury, not Saury

I have to admit, Saurian is ruining the fun I have in Keyforge. It’s not just because I lose to decks containing Saurian repeatedly. It’s the way I lose. It’s the way their cards interact. It’s the way the Saurian house floods the board and sticks around and is nearly impossible to deal with unless I’m playing a deck with specific cards in it. It’s how I always feel like I’m completely behind in tempo right from the start of the game and even when I have some glimmer of hope on coming back and maybe taking the lead, I’m crushed by a Tribute

, or one sided board wipe, or a City-State Interest, or a stampede of more beefy dinosaurs hitting the board. The house feels bad to play against and it feels dirty to play.

OG Bait and Switch 2.0

Prior to Worlds Collide, I could pick up almost any deck in my collection and have a fun match. Even my poorer power level decks felt like they had a chance, and felt like I was in the game, if I was able to play tight. I would expect to lose vs better decks but I would have a fun time playing my decks. Enter Saurian (and their closely powered and equally as board flooding and overpowered futuristic friends, the Grand Star Alliance) and the number of decks that I have fun playing went from 30+ (from a collection of around 50 decks) to 5 or less. I cannot simply have a good game unless I have a very fast racing deck or deck filled with board control. Any other deck that plays against Saurian will run into an over-powered wall of impossible to deal with Dinosaurs. Any Aember that I generated will be captured by my opponent’s large board in one form or another.

I’m not hating on Aember control. Aember control is great, it keeps the game balanced. However, Saurians go a little over the top. Play capture, reap capture, fight capture, play some actions... capture. One action even captures 4! At first it didn’t feel so bad. I can probably get those capture back at some point right? Wrong. With two cards at common that send Aember on friendly creatures back to the common supply it’s likely your Aember is lost forever. Additionally, your opponent is likely to be able to spend that Aember as if it were in their own pool making the Saurian captures a straight up steal that make any thief in Shadows feel like a low level crook. Feel bad.

Play/Fight/Reap: Win the game

Exalt is supposed to be a risky play on the active players part to get a reward for a bonus action. This is a great idea. Risk giving your opponent Aember for some additional action. I love the idea! Found it fantastic when I started playing Worlds Collide. Decisions are great in games, do one thing or do something else? What will work best for me? I even wrote that I thought that players would only exalt half the time because of the risk. Wrong. There is no risk. There is no decision. Exalt every time. And, if you have the Golden Spiral

, exalt again and again! There is no risk! That Aember is likely protected by the common cards that send it back to the common supply, or be able to spend that additional Aember to forge their own keys, or by the large power and large armour of each dino, or one of many Taunt dinos. If a giant board of Dinosaurs wasn’t tough enough to deal with, now your opponent is using these big beefy tough-to-remove dinos to store hoards of Aember that they can spend to forge keys at zero risk. Feel bad.

Less risk, more reward

I know what you’re saying, but Kurt why not just pack a board wipe? Why not just kill off the hoards of dinos? I say good luck! With a strength and armour that would frighten most valorous Sanctum Knights, any creature you attack into these monsters is going to bounce right off into your discard pile whilst only dealing a scratch to the giant lizard. All that captured Aember is likely to provide an additional power bonus (+2 power per Aember, what?) making the dinos even more difficult to eliminate. And with cards like Golden Spiral

, and FIGHT bonuses on many of the dinos, it’s likely you won’t have a board at all to deal any damage through fighting. They’ve all been eaten! Board wipe? Let me try to remove those wards first. I also have to draw that board wipe at the perfect time. And when I do clear the board, out come another hoard of dinos. I’ve said this before, and it still sticks. An opponent is likely playing Solitaire against me when they’re packing Saurian heat against any average deck of mine. Feel bad.

destroy each unwarded creature

So Join them! Play Saurian. Boring. I don’t find playing the dinos very fun at all. It’s Keyforge on easy mode. Once I call Saurian and fill the board with cards from the house there’s no other decision making. I keep calling Saurian because, well, it has everything. It does everything. Controls Aember, check, controls the board, check, controls opponent’s hand, absolutely check! Dinos capture, dinos fight, dinos board wipe and dinos force the other player to make plays to remove the dinos or fall way behind. Saurians dinosaurs even get bonuses for everything they do! Every play is at least a 2-for-1 in terms of tempo. This isn’t how card games are supposed to work. Meanwhile, while I play dinos, all along I feel bad for my opponent because I’m so often in their position getting stomped by the dinosaur politicians. Feel bad.

Well play better decks then. Ya I know. I do. I’ve been playing many of my good-vs-WC decks over the last few months. It’s just become repetitive. I got into Keyforge because I like variety. I like playing new decks. I like seeing new interactions. Playing the same five decks over and over again so I can have a chance at winning at having a fun game grows old. And when I do switch it up I’m annihilated. Additionally, part of the appeal of this game was that any deck from any set would be good to play forever. No rotation. I fear, if it continues to future sets, that this level of World’s Collide power creep will cause older sets to be shelved for good. Let’s hope that the next expansion brings heavy capture and ability hate to put our dinosaur overlords in check.

Depicted: My shelf of unplayable decks after WC

That being said, I do continuously try new decks and when I am able to pull off a victory against Saurian it feels much more rewarding than any other deck I play against. The big board wipes that pop the Aember-filled dino pinatas which graciously over fills my Aember pool feels awesome. Successfully navigating my board through the Jurassic Park board state on my opponent’s side of the table, especially when you know they’re thinking that they have the easy win, is very memorable. After beating a hefty SAS 79 dino deck with one of my low 60s, my opponent commented saying that they were happy that low power level decks can still compete! The frustration of losing terribly may last a few minutes but the glory of winning as the complete underdog remains in my memory. Perhaps that’s what this game is about. The journey to find a decent deck just feels bad when it used to be a fun experience.