Krakow Vault Tour: Archon
Let’s dive into the Archon solo vault tour!
Unlike the sealed, I had to pick a deck prior to going to the event. Picking a deck for archon solo is not a simple process and everyone that has access to the secondary market has an abundance of options. There are many variables to consider, but I’d like to focus on: Meta, variance and consistency.
The first step for me was analyzing the meta in past vault tours and drawing conclusions regarding what I may see in Krakow. Analyzing meta is not an easy task, and I had help from my teammates over at the sanctumonious discord in doing so. Both Lady Caffeina (aka Coffeesaga) and 1StarSquire (aka Andrew) have provided excellent data for me to mull over as I tried to guess what I’m going to see. The two most important things I learned are that Aember Rush decks go hugely unchecked and that Artifact Control is not quite abundant.
With that in mind, my most obvious choice was Lucflea, the Pest of Food. Double Dust Pixie Nature’s Call can highrolls with the best of them. A deck that matches the meta, and would go with the idea that if I can’t beat them, I could join them.
Another meta fitting option was She who Unloads on Covenants, which is one of my favourite decks, and one I purchased on the secondary market. This deck isn’t quite as fast as Lucflea, but it makes up for it with two Control the Weak and a Too Much to Protect to keep aember rush decks in check.
I scoured the internet for an anti-meta deck. My thoughts were decks with significant aember control, and cards that can keep big aember swings in check such as Too Much to Protect, Doorstep to Heaven and Interdimensional Graft. I even bought a deck with two Doorstep to Heaven and Interdimensional graft, but I couldn’t make it work. Blessitos, the Exorcist of the Marsh.
Finally at Gencon, Trevor May showed us the power of the anti-meta deck, winning the event with The Snappy Pariah, a deck with big control elements and double Doorstep to Heaven.
On one of the Archon’s Corner podcasts Big Z said he’s looking for a deck with the least amount of dead or situational cards. While Gateway to Dis can be extremely powerful, it is not always extremely powerful. Sometimes you just discard it.
From this perspective, Lucflea didn’t feel quite as good, with some real dead cards in the double Cooperative hunting. She who Unloads on Covenants on the other hand, has very few cards that do nothing. At worst, they give an aember. However, as I have been testing the deck, I found that it does not perform as well as I had hoped. I still love the deck, and will play it for fun, but I don’t think it holds it’s on in a competitive meta.
Three weeks before Krakow, I was ready to take Lucflea, for lack of a better option.
Enter miniature market sale, and a half price display box. My SO and I are doing sealed vault tour practice. Open three decks each, pick one, pay a best of 3. Try the other decks to see if we made the right call, repeat.
The very first batch of cards I open, Charflare, Cliff Luddite. I grin hard as I take my deck up to face her in a best of 3. And promptly lose 1-2.
GenKa (Martian Generosity Key Abduction ) decks are not easy to play, this one even less. It took me quite a lot of games to find my stride, and quite a few more to feel ready for vault tour. At 150 games played, I feel like I have just about hit comfort level, but I am far from having mastered it.
Over my games I have learned that this deck is a high variance deck. Some games I steamroll people, and some games I get steamrolled. I learned to do my best to mitigate the low rolls, and to lean into the high rolls to make sure I win them.
Some decks I have very little chance against, and some decks have no chance against me. The good thing? I don’t really care about your 4 routine jobs if I’m not holding any aember. The bad thing? A fast enough aember rush deck when I have no Grump Buggy out crushes me.
Still, the rule in general is, if you win hard against some decks and lose hard against others, it’s better than just doing well against some. I want a deck that can high roll, and I want a deck that has easy matchups.
I start off the day completely out of focus. My opponent is competent and makes no evident mistakes. I barely manage to squeeze out a victory as I draw into my Grump buggy late.
The rest of the day is a sort of haze. I’m happy I have my game 4 on stream so I can review my gameplay. You can find it on Crazy Killing Machine, around the 3:35 mark.
After viewing my game 3 times, I can tell you of several things I did poorly.
My opponent has a Nexus out forcing me to use my seed for an aember. I erroneously use it before attacking, and before discarding a card to the Evasion Sigil. If I do it after, I have an additional choice for a card to return. Ended up not mattering, but still a misplay.
On the turn I go off, I use Mind Warper to put an aember on a Raiding Knight and then attack, but the attack fizzles due to Evasion Sigil. Luckily, I can still generate enough aember to draw enough cards for a free key.
I start placing my handful of Mars, and halfway through I think about the Lord Golgotha and it being able to attack my Dominator, killing both my Harvester and Proliferator. Again ended up not mattering as my opponent chose to play Pawn Sacrifice to get rid of them.
Upkeep wise, I let my opponent attack a creature next to my Dominator. On a shadows turn my opponent uses Spymaster to allow a Batdrone to attack. The discarded card for Evasion Sigil is Mack the Knife, which should cause the Batdrone attack to fizzle due it it being based on active house.
I forget a power counter from Grove Keeper. And I miss a reap in Untamed.
Overall, I am still happy with my play.
I go 5-0 and then lose my last match to a deck that doesn’t appear at first glance as a rush deck, but is indeed one with three Virtuous Works. I should have mulliganed for a Grump Buggy and dug for it.
My game is extremely anti-climatic. I spent the night before studying the deck, understanding what I need to do. It is a deck quite similar to Lucflea. Faster, but lacks board wipes. If I get my Grump Buggy out, I should be fine. Furthermore, with three Nerve Blasts, I tell myself to not generate any aember before I get my Grump Buggy.
I do. I generate aember which only makes my opponent go faster and kill my stuff easier. It doesn’t help I don’t hit my Grump Buggy before my opponent has already forged two keys. And such ends my tops 16.
Unlike in sealed, my opponents made no obvious mistakes, knowing their decks they made a lot of optimal plays. I am happy with my choice to go for a high variance deck, even if that variance worked against me in my top 16 game.
My meta assessment was correct, but since I played a combo deck, it didn’t really matter to me. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the same, but pay a little more attention to the games. Unlike sealed, this is my first big tournament, and I learned some valuable lessons. Pay more attention to how my opponent’s cards work, like Evasion Sigil. Pay attention to my own upkeep and taunts. Stick to the plan, especially if I took the time to prepare one.
Contact and afterward
My first Archon event went well, but I think I can do better. I’m looking forward to playing more. Hope you enjoyed the read. Stay tuned for at least one more post about Krakow.