On Dec 5th KFPL ran a special tournament that not only presented a fantastic variant I haven’t played yet, they also helped collect $1100 to Doctors without Borders, a worthy cause indeed!
Buckle up, this is a long one!
I had ample time to pick my decks and practice them, so I tried to home in on the decks I wanted to play early, so if I needed I could get reps in. Unlike the Glorious You qualifier in which I just defaulted to the deck I played recently because I made an error in not picking a deck early enough.
The additional restriction of 75 sascap did not affect me at all, I do not own any competitive decks above 75. The set restriction however meant I had to play some decks outside my immediate comfort zone. CotA was definitely in, as I have a lot of competitive decks from CotA, many of them didn’t have a chance to be played in tournaments.
In this format, you bring three decks. Each game your opponent gets to ban one of your decks and then you play one of the other two, not knowing which of their two your opponent plays.
This, IMO, is a much better format than Bo3 triad. In Bo3 you have to win with both your decks, which means that if you have a bad matchup with either one of your decks it’s very tough to avoid.
Bo1 allows for much more diverse strategy, bringing unique decks that are not catch all. Unlike Bo3 where you would see lots of decks that people would bring to Archon Solo, and triads of 3 “samey” decks, Bo1 fosters variety. The 3 set restriction made it so it was even more varied, which was great.
One last thing is that this format allows for ban bait while Bo3 doesn’t. Here if you have 2 great decks and one deck that just looks scary but isn’t, you’re good even if they don’t take the bait. In Bo3 if they don’t ban the bait you have to play it, which sucks. Should you put ban bait in your lineup? Only if you don’t have a third deck you’re comfortable bringing, because if they don’t take the bait, you’re locked into a single deck, which might be a bad matchup.
Overall, this is probably my favorite competitive format to date.
Deck 1 – AoA
One of the decks I have been looking forward to playing competitively is C. T. Ward, Escriba de la Belleza. I don’t know exactly how I got it, as I couldn’t find an email record of the transaction, but I think it was either in a trade, or gotten fairly cheap, as in, $35 or less.
This is my only competitive deck with solid board clears, or at least, the only one I actively play and enjoy. This deck has lots of little tricks it can do, but my favorite has got to be Playing Neffru under Jargogle and then playing Unlocked Gateway.
What happens is Neffru is put into play during the Destroyed trigger, but since it wasn’t in play when Gateway was played, it isn’t tagged for destruction. Neffru lives, sees everyone dying, and gives out stacks of Æmber. Since this deck has lots of small creatures with play abilities and is very fast, I often find myself with a bigger board than my opponent and full of creatures I want dead. Especially if I happen to have an Archimedes out.
That doesn’t come up much. The most useful sequence is Unlocked Gateway, and after my opponent rebuilds a board on their turn, Carpet Phloxem. One of the weaknesses of Unlocked Gateway is the Omega clause letting my opponent rebuild their board first and get tempo. With the Carpet Phloxem response I take back tempo and get to have a board first. Although my Mars is far from threatening, it is still effective.
Deck 2 – MM
I had to consider a choice between MM and WC, and to do that I had to consider my options. I needed to give Monk Hacker a break, as I failed to do very much of anything with it in the Glorious You qualifier. Though I do believe it is a top deck, and it will likely make a comeback when the time is right. Another WC Lateral Shift deck I have purchased was still in transit and I didn’t want to practice it and then not have it arrive in time. It did end up making a showing in techslut’s lineup as ban bait.
I considered putting in my own ban bait, as I own The Netmaster that Attracts Followers, a 4 x Stealth Mode deck that was sure to scare off people into banning it. But I didn’t quite want to play it, which would mean if people didn’t go for the bait, I’d be forced into a pick, which did not sound like fun.
That left me with MM, which meant I had slim pickings, as I haven’t yet found the deck I am looking for. I settled on Falconsight the Listlessly Eagle-eyed. A deck I got in a trade and valued at around $50-$70.
Lets just take a moment to appreciate the name, Falconsight, Eagle-eyed, oh yes!
Anyway, this is my second run with a control deck, that ties up nicely with the article on Inevitability. This deck has Inevitability in a lot of matchups and the key to winning with it is recognizing when I have that, and how to go about my game. The way the deck achieves inevitability is by purging my opponent’s creature control and big creatures using Infurnaces and Cyber-Clone. Then setting up a big board with Snarettes and Font of the Eye, and just making my opponent’s Æmber vanish while I cycle through my deck and keep purging their cards.
This deck is extremely oppressive, but if my opponent is both very fast and has plenty of board clears, it crumbles. Luckily, the Bo1 triad format means I don’t have to play it into a bad matchup!
Deck 3 – CotA
I have many choices in CotA, though some I am excited about are still in transit. My initial choice was Baal “Tiranno”, Boss della Galleria, a deck I got in a trade and I believe has passed several hands. It boasts two TMTPs, Sting, Chota and Nature’s call to really make my opponent miserable if they forge keys after my Sting is down. This deck has one of my highest win rates on TCO and I also loaned it to scrowner for Glorious You top 16 where they did rather well with it.
KarenB though made the case to bring Flare the Conspicuously Philanthropic.
This is a deck I piloted to a top 32 finish in Dutch Grand Championship. It has fallen out of flavor for me during WC era, as it has trouble with big warded boards. The ideal is to go on a Library Access Timetraveller turn, and then Phase Shift into Relentless Assault to clear opponent’s board and potentially ready a Novu Archaeologist to immediately archive a key piece. This doesn’t really work when my opponent’s board is bigger than mine. You can listen to me talk about it in an early episode of Call of Discovery. But as noted, Bo1 triad allows to bring a deck that would otherwise fail in Archon Solo meta, so I was excited to give it another go, as it is my favorite deck.
I was sick the few days coming up to the event, regular old flu probably, and was afraid I might not be able to participate. I also halted my practice with my decks as I was just not feeling it, which I sort of regret, some more reps with Falconsight would have helped. I also set up a spreadsheet to practice evaluating lineups and picking my bans, which I ended up not using.
That said, I felt pretty good Saturday and by the time the event was ready to fire I had plenty of event jitters, awesome, I am in for this.
I was sad to face off against a player from my local scene round one, and by local scene I mean participant of many Timeshapers events on Discord (Come join us).
Right off the bat, I was tempted to remove that sas blocker, but I decided not to, so I can make an honest evaluation and not be blinded by sas and possibly baited into banning a higher sas deck.
The [REDACTED] in the MM deck immediately caught my eye, if they get lucky and get it early, I might have no chance to recover. I have no Artifact Control in any of my decks, so I pretty much had to ban that. The CotA deck is a little worrying as burst can always happen, but I decided to ban MM anyway.
They decided to ban Falconsight.
I could not play Flare, surprisingly because of the CotA. Double Yxlix Dominator means trouble. I mean, I could probably win this with a well timed Key Abduction bouncing them back, but I did not feel confident. So I played Ward.
I had a very fast opening, my opponent used their Archive well, pulling it back to hand just as I drew Dysania, but I managed to archive it with a Thinkdrone and later hit them with it, discarding 4 cards they didn’t really need, but gaining 4 Æmber in the process. The burst was too much for them and I won.
BAN BAIT ALERT. That Martian Generosity double Key Abduction looks bad. I admit I did look at the sas rating for it, as I wanted to see how well it might play regular KeyForge. It’s a 71, which is not high enough to make up for the potential of having MG buried. The other two decks both seemed manageable with either of my decks, so I decided to ban the WC, as it had potential to set up some nonsense with Helmsman Spears.
They banned Falconsight (Spoiler alert, this happens a lot).
Thinking they would play their Cota, but also that they might play AoA and the deck is better than it looks I decided to pick Flare. Flare can Scrambler lock opponents, which can prevent MG from ever being played. And the CotA is creature light and has a similar weakness to Scrambler locks.
They played CotA, making me feel I was correct in the GENKAKA assessment. Long story short I went on an LA + TT turn that grew my hand to 15 cards. With Scrambler in play they could not stop my first key. I had a key locked behind the Key Abduction + 15 cards so all I needed was to forge my second key. I took several logos turns just reaping for 3 while they ran through their Æmber control, noticing their inevitable demise.
In retrospect, I think I should have used KA to forge my second key, and dumped my hand and generated much more Æmber for the third key. Along with a Deep Probe it would have probably ended sooner.
A very strong lineup with no obvious ban. I don’t remember my rationale, but I banned CotA. I guess I just didn’t want to deal with a crazy LA + TT + SEED turn, and a Scrambler to boot. In hindsight I might have banned the WC, it looks scary, though I wouldn’t know because they played AoA.
They banned Flaconsight (See a pattern yet?). I played Ward. If they play WC, I get to Dysania their Edie archive, and Flare is very vulnerable to Subtle Chains. Also Flare doesn’t deal well with Duskwitches, and Ward has plenty of options, even a Poke.
I fell behind a key, and was struggling back into the game, but multiple board clears and some Logos burst got me back. I also had to hold back my Shatter Storm for the right time due to double Mimicry and played it after they were gone. Quite proud of my play here. Comebacks feel good.
After a short break and a good meal, my adrenaline was down, and I came into this game calm. Maybe a little too calm. All three of my decks could handle the MM with no issue, so my choice was between the other two and it was not an easy choice. The triple Exhume were scary, but Control the Weak and Mimicry are scarier, so I banned that.
They banned Falconsight (Will I get to play it?) And I decided that Ward was the pick. In retrospect, I am not sure it’s the right choice.
We had a well fought out battle that ended with them on around 4-5 Æmber while I got to check on my second key. I decided to hold Shatter Storm with 3 Mars creatures on the board so I could respond to any burst. Now thinking back I realize I poorly positioned my creatures, they took a Positron Bolt back the previous turn with Gravid Cycle and I put my only creature that could die from three damage, Xanthyx Harvester, on the flank. They killed it, burst climbed to 8 and then Wild Wormholed into a Gleeful Mayhem to kill another of my creatures, which left me with only 1 reap, not enough to get them off check at 10.
I’m happy I didn’t get tilted by this game, my opponent played very well, making a cool play when having two Harmonia on the board against my 3 creatures. They ran one Harmonia into one of my creatures, then played the third Harmonia for 2 Æmber and then Instrument of Silence on the other Harmonia to kill it off. Very nice. A well deserved win.
Hot DAMN that Dark Æmber Vault deck is scary shit. Autoban, no questions asked. They banned Falconsight (Hahaha :cries:)
And then I fell into a trap. That CotA deck looks heinous and it scared me, so I assumed they would play it. And if they played that, I would want to play Flare, to match their speed and possible outrun them. But they didn’t, they picked the WC deck, which makes sense, it’s super solid. I wish I had Ward this game.
And yet, I think I could have won if I played better. I went into an LA + TT turn with phase shifts, but I didn’t shuffle early enough with HFFS and so didn’t get a second Phase Shift (Not guaranteed either way). In any case, this is the loss that hurt and the one that feels like I could have won if I played better, or picked the right deck.
With a 3-2 result my chances to make top cut diminished, as I needed the right tie breakers to get there, which wasn’t really under my control.
Again [REDACTED] poses a threat I cannot ignore and I am forced to ban it, plus that deck is very bursty to boot. And they ban Ward, wait what? I guess I play Falconsight. Strong control against both their remaining decks. They pick CotA.
The F score is insane at 28, but their Æmber generation was not great, and I managed to control the game and even had time to purge things like Mother. With Lost in the Woods purged, they had no real way to control my board. Oh and Speed Sigil makes my Snudge + Infurnace combo that much more reliable.
4-2, and with good tie breakers I make top cut! Good tie breakers, specifically Buchholz, it means I had tougher opponents than my fellow 4-2 finishers.
Numquid the Fair + Glorious Few is a strong comeback mechanic I was worried about, plus the double Nature’s Call could be a big problem. And well, it’s bursty with an E of 30, I just didn’t have much that can stop that. They banned Ward, which makes perfect sense as both their WC and AoA decks are board reliant. I decided to play Falconsight, as Flare would hit a brick wall again their AoA deck.
This game was EPIC, and I really wish we didn’t go to time and see it end. But such is life. I purged a good number of their creatures and creature control and also made sure to purge Infurnace so they couldn’t do it to me. They very cleverly pivoted into self archiving everything, so the late game they had no deck left and Edies were perpetual Miasmas. They even ran an Edai into my creature so they could replay it the next turn, very well done.
Time was running low, they pass to me, I play out a Dis turn and click the pass turn button with 5 seconds left on the clock. And my double Snarettes betrayed me, prompting me to trigger the order of their abilities. Time showed as it was called on my turn in the logs.
Judge says that time was called on my turn so they play out their turn and it’s over. They misunderstood it to mean they pass the turn and win, so they passed the turn. I forge for 6, and have 6 Æmber in my pool to their 5. I win. And yet, I do not. Judge is called and rules that the misunderstanding warrants a rollback. They pull their archives, generated two Æmber and win.
I didn’t want to win because they misunderstood something. I am however very annoyed with the Snarette trigger costing me the game. I also think the judge made an incorrect call here, and I’m not sure why rollback should be allowed. But alas, a judge call is a judge call and we move on.
Sredz went on to take second place. Well done to them!
Flare is an absolute beast in the right matchup. I wouldn’t take it to open Archon, but when I get to see my matchups I can use it as a scalpel. Ward is very reliable and I’d be happy to play it in open Archon. It’s not a very complex deck, but it’s fun and strong and has board control, which my other decks lack. Falconsight is slow and I had about 30 games on it before the tournament and that was not enough. If I want to play control decks, I need to be able to flow fast with my turns.
I need to spend more time playing my decks in general, so when an event comes up I don’t have to grind 100 games in a month and burn out. Play all my competitive decks lots, and then when an event comes around, I will be prepared.