Mass Mutation Review: Saurian
Welcome to my house-by-house review of the cards in Mass Mutation! I want to thank Alex’s Worlds Collide previews for being the inspiration for these. In an effort to not fix what isn’t broken, I am mostly going to keep Alex’s format, and his rating scale. Here is the scale:
5 – All-Star. This card gets it game on and go plays. It’s great in any deck it’s in.
4 – Great. Just like Philip Hamilton, this card is pretty great. It works in most decks.
3 – Average. This card’s favorite color is grey. It’s squarely in the middle, meaning that it provides either low value or inconsistent high value.
2 – Situational. This card is waiting tables, waiting for its big break. It will shine if the stars line up perfectly, but most of the time it isn’t very good.
1 – Trash card. This card is roommates with a certain Muppet grouch. You almost never want it in your decks.
Saurians dominated the Worlds Collide meta with their big bodies and multitude of Æmber tricks. They’re back for round two in Mass Mutation, but some of their best tools (Tribute, Golden Spiral, Odoac, and both their common Taunters) are gone. Can they still dominate the meta without all those cards? Let’s find out.
The Saurus Creatures – 3
As is the general practice by now, I am just going to lump all these together. The Saurus creatures all gain +1 power and the ability to exalt to deal three damage to something. It’s generally worth it to exalt one Æmber to be able to immediately kill an enemy threat even if it’s hiding behind Taunt and Elusive, especially given that Saurians have a multitude of ways to mitigate Æmber on their own creatures. There are a number of threats in MM that have three power or less, such as Fandangle or Subject Kirby, and these mutants deal with them.
Beware the Ides – 2
First of all, mad props to the designers on the flavor of this card. For those unaware, Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times on the Ides of March during his assassination by a group of Roman Senators. As for the card itself, it’s great for taking out leaders, which is obviously its intent, and it’s okay the rest of the time. You can usually maneuver it into a position to be useful by fighting into a creature to make your opponent have an odd number of creatures in their battle line, and then blasting their center creature. Be warned, however. It’s not a may effect, so if your opponent has an even number of creatures and you have an odd number, you will have to kill your center creature if you play Beware the Ides.
Citizen Shrix – 4
This card is obviously very different from the original Senator Shrix, but still very good. Stealing an Æmber is always valuable, and exalting isn’t a bad price to pay for the effect. I sometimes like to think of it as gaining an Æmber and capturing an Æmber at the same time. However, make sure to never play this when your opponent has no Æmber (or when they have something like Cephaolist active), because the exalt will still happen even if the steal doesn’t.
Consul Primus – 3
Primus is one of the many ways to mitigate Æmber in Saurians. I have generally found that it doesn’t tend to last long enough to do anything. At least it brings a capture pip along with it, which is useful.
Cornicen Octavia – 3
This is kind of the definition of an average creature. It’s kind of like a much better Bordan the Redeemed. Its ability to capture two Æmber is useful on its own, but the fact that the ability is on a big, survivable dino body and the fact that Saurians have ways to deal with captured Æmber make it that much better.
Curse of Vanity – 3
This isn’t an exciting card, but it’s solid. If you have Library of Polliasaurus active, it can effectively be a slightly delayed Virtuous Works. At the very least, you will generally gain two Æmber off it to your opponent’s one, so it’s almost always a good play. You may not want to play it if your opponent has an empty board and your board has creatures on it unless you are sure that you can mitigate the Æmber.
Defense Initiative – 2
I don’t love this card. In WC, Imperium got you two wards and one Æmber. In MM, Defense Initiative gets you one ward, or you can exalt and risk your opponent getting an Æmber for three wards. It’s obviously better if you have cards like Library of Polliasaurus or Curia Saurus active, but I still think it pales in comparison to Imperium.
Faust the Great – 4
This dino can be a huge problem for your opponent if it is sitting behind a Taunter like Sinder or Champion Anaphiel. It’s kind of like the MM version of Edie in the way it affects your opponent’s key costs. Personally, I almost never use the “may” exalt when Faust enters play, because there are plenty of other ways to put Æmber on friendly creatures in a Saurian deck. One of the best of those other ways is Amphora Captura, which combos really well with Faust.
Galeatops – 1
Big, vanilla creatures aren’t that great if they give you no other benefit. This card happens to have the additional disadvantage of not even being able to deal its full damage. The best use I have found for it so far is to be an Æmber bank to force your opponent to try to remove it. Some people might argue that it goes well with Forum of Giants, but the Forum is such a bad card that it should almost never be played, so that doesn’t exactly make Galeatops better.
Sagittarii’s Gaze – 2
Another strong contender for the hardest to spell card in the set, this is a distinctly mediocre card. Sometimes it will work out and you will gain an Æmber and be able to put an Æmber on one of your opponent’s creatures, but just as often you will be forced to put an Æmber on one of your own creatures. I have seen this enhanced with a damage pip (maybe its own damage pip) in quite a few decks, and that obviously greatly increases its value, since it can pave the way for itself.
Spoils of Battle – 4
One of the best Æmber control cards in the set, this is one of the few cards that can take your opponent off a key when they have a large amount of Æmber. It’s a good idea to set it up by using some other capture or exalt first so it goes for maximum effect. It combos really well with several other cards, such as Ancient Power and Curia Saurus. It’s also a crazy combo with City-State Interest, but that’s almost overkill.
Blast from the Past – 4
This card gives you several very good effects. It gets you a Saurian creature back out of your discard pile, and it usually kills an enemy creature. And the cost for all of that is one exalted Æmber. This is a great way to fetch back your Praefectus Ludo or Citizen Shrix if they get killed. If you don’t have a Saurian creature in discard, a trick I have seen used with this card quite often is to discard a Saurian creature, and then use Blast from the Past to archive that creature and take out a threatening enemy creature.
Curia Saurus – 4
Almost certainly the most skill intensive card in the set, I love it when my opponent drops Curia Saurus, because it immediately becomes a challenge of who is going to play around it better without making mistakes. It kind of reminds me of General Order 24 from WC in that respect. It’s also obviously a great card for Saurians with all their exalt and capture, and becomes even better if the deck also happens to have Sanctum.
Dark Centurion – 4
Of all the cards that grant double enhancements, this might be the best one. It can turn not only your capture pips, but any of your capture into wards while also mitigating the Æmber. That’s obviously a hugely beneficial effect, but it has the additional benefit of being big enough to survive, unlike cards like Chronus and Scrivener Favian. The Centurion combos especially well with Deusillus, as it can help Deusillus remove your opponent’s captured Æmber while granting Deusillus a ward to make the giant mutant lizard harder to remove.
Dreadbone Decimus – 4
If this was just a fight effect, it wouldn’t be that great. However, the fact that Decimus can immediately remove a problematic opposing creature on play, and then potentially do it again later if it survives a fight, makes this effect a valuable answer.
Gladiodontus – 2
This thing really skirts the border between 1 and 2. Creatures that come in stunned just aren’t very good unless they have a static effect like Yxilx Dominator. If you do manage to get Gladiodontus unstunned, it will likely get hit with some type of bounce to make you repeat the process all over again. The ability to use it twice in a turn is huge value if it ever gets unstunned, which is why it avoided the dreaded Trash Card label. It does have the benefit of being a really good Æmber bank, as your opponent is not going to want to have to deal with it to get their Æmber back.
Hedonistic Intent – 3
This is a classic Saurian card. In any other house, it would be awful, but the Saurians have so many ways to deal with Æmber that it can be very good. It’s basically Curse of Vanity on steroids, and most of the same rules apply.
Humble – 3
Speaking of ways to deal with Æmber, this card certainly qualifies. It combos really well with any card that tends to rapidly accumulate Æmber on it, such as Citizen Shrix or Lieutenant Gorvenal. It has the side benefit of being able to be used to simply knock down an enemy creature for a turn if you don’t have any Æmber that you need to remove.
Saurian Egg – 1
It’s labeled a creature, but it’s really more like an artifact. It does move through your deck quickly, but unfortunately it does so by indiscriminately discarding your cards. If it does ever hit a Saurian creature, it’s important to note that it will put it into play rather than play it, which means play effects will not trigger. That can be really bad if you hit something like Citizen Shrix. If your opponent cares enough to get rid of it, it’s a great Hadron Collision target.
Senator Quintina – 2
This card is a very unique form of reap hate. It’s kind of like Orb of Invidius in that it’s a symmetric effect, so how good it is will largely depend upon how much you need to reap versus how much your opponent needs to reap. Of course, you will (likely) have Saurians, so that likely means Æmber mitigation, and that may give you an advantage. It’s still not a card that I am excited to see in a Saurian list, and most of the time I am happy to use it as a 5-power fighter and remove it from the board so my other Saurians can reap.
Siren Horn – 2
Another card that would only be useful in Saurians (or Sanctum). This card makes a great combo with Grimlocus Dux, as he likes to fight and he has Æmber to spare.
Amphora Captura – 5
As of this writing, Amphora Captura has an incredible 60.3% win rate on Decks of Keyforge, and it’s easy to see why. First of all, getting two Æmber pips, two draw pips, and two damage pips off one card is incredibly efficient. It’s also the only card that gives you two Æmber pips that doesn’t typically become a liability later in the game (looking at you, Gloriana’s Attendant and Wild Bounty). However, the ability to turn those often useless damage pips and sometimes useless draw pips into capture is where this card really shines. In particular, this is a tremendously useful ability in a house that also has Curia Saurus and Faust the Great. This looked like it was going to be a great card when it was first previewed for Mass Mutation, and it has lived up to the hype.
Crystal Surge – 1
There are simply too many times when you end up discarding this card because it hurts you significantly more than your opponent. It can occasionally score big if your opponent has a mutant heavy deck and you don’t, but any card that gets discarded a significant amount of the time is a bad card.
Forum of Giants – 1
This may be the worst card in the entire set. If it triggered at the end of your turn, it would be a pretty good card. However, it triggers at the beginning of your turn. That means your opponent gets to spend their turn making sure they have the biggest creature in play, and then reap the benefit of gaining an Æmber from your artifact. I have gained six Æmber before in a game from my opponent having played this. Unless your deck has nothing but big creatures and your opponent’s deck has nothing but small creatures, this needs to be discarded.
High Priest Torvus – 2
This would be a really good card if Saurians had a lot of excellent action cards, but they don’t. It’s okay if you can get it paired with one of the better ones like Stomp or Humble, but even then you have to draw the card while Torvus is already in play. This would make for an excellent maverick, though.
Legion’s March – 2
This card can be effective if your opponent has a hoard of small creatures that need to be gotten rid of. Of course, it’s also going to hurt all your non-Dinosaur creatures, so that’s something to be aware of. It’s kind of like a much weaker version of Spartasaur from WC. Its biggest problem is that you have to draw it with dinosaurs already on the board for it to be effective.
Nerotaurus – 4
The ability to restrict your opponent’s choices is always good, and this card does that fantastically. If you sit there and reap with it each turn, it’s kind of like a renewable Foggify. If you fight with it, it’s kind of like a renewable Opposition Research. Either way it’s probably going to force your opponent to do things they don’t want to do. I played against an opponent recently that had two of these; my creatures couldn’t fight or reap. Brutal.
Optio Gorkus – 2
Optio gets credit for being really hard to kill with Elusive and 3 armor, but I am not overly impressed with its ability. Abilities like Praefectus Ludo that remove the Æmber when a creature dies are really good. Abilities that just force the opponent to kill a second creature to take the Æmber back are less great. It certainly makes sense to put it next to something like a Citizen Shrix just to make your opponent’s life more difficult, but it’s unlikely to have a major game impact.
Patronage – 4
Anything that lets you take captured Æmber off your creatures and place it into your pool is great. Obviously, you are better off using this when a creature has an odd number of Æmber so that you get more benefit than your opponent does. I am usually happy just grabbing one Æmber, but I am certainly willing to take more as long as it doesn’t allow my opponent to forge a key.
Scylla – 4
This card is fantastic. It’s reap hate on a big body. It’s even better if its twin Charybdis is also in play, but even without that it provides a ton of utility. The combined art between the two cards is terrific as well.
Charybdis – 4
This one is a notch below Scylla, because making it difficult to reap is probably a little better than making it difficult to fight. This also has the added disadvantage that if your opponent has very little Æmber, there’s no incentive for them to hold back, and they will probably fight in and kill your big beasts if they can. Of course, that won’t be a simple task given how big Scylla and Charybdis are. They are cards that I am excited to see in any Saurian list.
Monument to Faust – 3
Increasing your opponent’s key costs is good. This is no Lash of Broken Dreams, though. Lash was often worth using even if it meant taking an inefficient Dis turn, especially if you could force your opponent to pay nine Æmber for a key, or if you could combine it with something like Control the Weak. The Monument simply isn’t on that level, and it’s usually not worth calling Saurians for it unless you were already planning on taking a good Saurian turn.
Monument to Ludo – 3
This is probably my second-favorite monument. Mitigating Æmber on your own creatures is an essential part of what the Saurians do. This isn’t quite as good as Library of Polliasaurus, but I would much rather remove captured Æmber from the game than give my opponent a chance to take it back.
Monument to Octavia – 3
The Help from Future Self podcast did a Would You Rather segment about this card and City Gates a while back. Their conclusion was that Monument to Octavia was slightly better than City Gates. I respectfully disagree, and would put City Gates a shade above the Monument. I simply think that it’s easier to have a dinosaur in play to get the full effect rather than have Cornicen Octavia in your discard pile. That said, they’re pretty close to being the same card, and I am a little surprised that FFG put both into the same set in MM. Of course, I also think that City-State Interest and Spoils of Battle are pretty similar, and they are both in MM as well.
Monument to Primus – 2
Most of the time, the initial ability on Monument to Primus isn’t very useful. It either does nothing, or it provides marginal benefit. However, it does become quite useful when Consul Primus is in your discard pile. The ability to play Citizen Shrix, steal an Æmber, and then move the exalted Æmber to an opponent’s creature is very good. It also combos well with other capture effects like Cornicen Octavia or Lieutenant Gorvenal. Like all the Monuments, it is made substantially better if you have multiple Primus in your deck. It’s worth noting that the ability on the Monument will be shut off if your opponent purges Primus from your discard pile with something like Infurnace.
Monument to Shrix – 4
By far the best of the Monuments, this effectively lets you steal an Æmber once Shrix is in your discard pile. Even if Shrix isn’t in your discard pile, it simply serves as a Safe Place or Pocket Universe type card, which can be valuable if your opponent lacks artifact control. Be careful reaping with Nexus if your opponent has this in play.
Deusillus – 3
In a set where there is no scaling Æmber control, Deusillus can be a life-saver. Its ability to capture all your opponent’s Æmber can create a massive headache for them if they have no way to remove it. One of the most common board clears in the set, Savage Clash, won’t deal with it, so your opponent will likely need either targeted removal or a hard board clear like Gateway to Dis. Of course, its lack of armor makes it vulnerable to things like Macis Asp as well. Also, be sure to keep Deusillus out of the center of your battle line, because Beware the Ides is strong enough to take out even this, the largest creature in Keyforge.
Final Rating – 3
The Saurians have taken a huge step back from where they were in Worlds Collide. They have lost some key pieces, but where they really seem to be hurting is the lack of Taunters. They still have some powerful creatures like Citizen Shrix, Senator Bracchus, and Faust the Great, but those creatures need to hide behind Taunt to be effective, and the loss of Tricerian Legionary and Brutodon Auxiliary leaves Saurians with Grimlocus Dux as their only Taunter, and he is a rare. There are still a lot of nice cards here, and they still mitigate Æmber better than anyone (making them an almost necessary partner for Sanctum). However, they’re really a middle of the pack house now, better than Star Alliance and Sanctum, but significantly worse than Dis and Logos.
If you have any comments, feel free to reach out to me on most Keyforge Discords (such as Sanctumonius) as jfkziegler or on TCO as SecondAct.