Mass Mutation Review: Star Alliance
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.
Star Alliance was a force to be reckoned with, clearly one of the top three houses in WC. If a Star Alliance board ever stuck, the player could just keep calling Star Alliance every turn without ever having to switch houses. With that kind of history in the last set, hopes were high for them in MM. Did they meet those expectations? Let’s find out!
The Alien Creatures -2
As usual, I am just going to lump all these together. The value of these creatures swings wildly based upon which one it is. The Lyco-Alien is pretty good, as is the Sacro-Alien. Both have the ability to trigger their fight abilities because they’re likely to survive most fights. Daemo-anything is good just because the destroyed ability is so good. However, the Umbra-Alien is terrible, as it depends on fighting to trigger its ability, and it’s a crappy fighter. Overall, these are probably the weakest set other than the Thief creatures.
Access Denied – 3
This has proven to be better than I originally expected it to be. There are a lot of creatures with dangerous reap abilities, and the ability to simply shut those off makes those creatures useless. For example, the other day I had someone play this on my Philophosaurus. That neutralized it right quick.
Blast Shielding – 3
This has been another pleasant surprise. It works especially well with the Alien creatures, given that they need to survive to trigger their fight effect, but it’s good to stick on anything that you need to keep on the board. I don’t often get much use out of the bounce effect, but it can have value. For instance, if you have it on a Subject Kirby, you can reap the Kirby, bounce it over to an Umbra-Alien, let the Alien fight something, and then bounce it back to the Kirby.
Crewman Jorg – 2
At least it’s not as bad as the Xanthyx Harvester was, and merely loses its steal ability when it is next to another Star Alliance creature, instead of being completely unable to be used. I do like the flavor of the card. The Star Alliance doesn’t approve of stealing, so Jorg can only do her thing when the other SA creatures aren’t watching. I also like the enhanced capture, but the reason I only rate it a 2 is because it lands next to SA neighbors too often, and then it’s just a generic 3-power creature.
Hadron Collision – 2
There are certain situations where this card is amazing. Your opponent has a Senator Shrix with one damage and a ton of Æmber on it, but it’s warded and hidden behind a taunter? No problem! This will kill it. Your opponent has a warded Daughter and you don’t want to fight into it three times to kill it? No problem! This will kill it. One thing worth noting is that this card ignores armor, but it does not remove it. Thus, a fully healthy Senator Shrix who gets hit with this and then a random damage pip will not be destroyed. Between this card and the random damage icons floating around, wards got a lot worse in MM than they were in WC. That’s probably a good thing, though.
Observ-U-Max – 2
It’s basically a slightly better Wild Spirit. It can serve as Æmber control in a pinch, but mostly it’s just there to get you an Æmber pip for playing it, and maybe trigger a Transporter Platform or a Commander Dhrxgar.
Scout Pete – 2
This is unexciting but fine. Moving through your deck a little faster is good. It’s a bit like a worse version of Sanitation Engineer.
Securi-Droid – 3
Subdue – 3
Subject Kirby – 5
Almost certainly the best Star Alliance common in MM, Kirby allows you to do so many things. Each house seems to have one card that is their signature “good card” at common. In Shadows, it’s Rad Penny. In Saurians, it’s Citizen Shrix. Kirby is the signature card for Star Alliance. He opens up so many possibilities. One great trick is to play him with Dark Æmber Vault out to allow you to draw one card for Kirby, and one card for playing an off-house mutant. He also makes a great turn one play going first, as he allows you to get two creatures down instead of one. I once had a player drop first turn Subject Kirby, use that to drop a Grey Rider and reap the Kirby, then drop another creature. Three creatures on turn one going first! Those are the types of shenanigans that Kirby can do.
Survey – 2
The ability itself is unexciting. Moving through your deck faster is obviously good, but I prefer to do it through drawing more cards instead of discarding off the top of the deck. That said, the Æmber bonus icon and the enhanced draw bonus icon both do give this card value.
Teleporter Chief Tink – 1
This is another one of those cards that wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for its tendency to show up in multiples. The ability to house cheat is actually a good ability, so Tink should be good. Unfortunately, most of the time Tink just sits there as a 2-power Elusive.
ANT1-1ONY – 3
Certainly a candidate for the most strangely named creature in Keyforge, ANT1-1ONY is one of the few creatures that can save you if your opponent goes up to an astronomically high Æmber total. Of course, if you don’t have something like Gluttony, Senator Bracchus, or Praefectus Ludo, the Æmber is all heading back to your opponent, so that’s the downside. This is one of the places where a Tink would be useful. Play ANT1-1ONY and then use Tink to trigger Gluttony. That’s the dream, anyway.
Armory Officer Nel – 3
One of the many Star Alliance cards that come with a single enhance icon, Armory Officer Nel can draw you a bunch of cards in the right deck. It’s especially amazing with a Transporter Platform, where it can almost function like a Library Access. It’s worth keeping in mind that the effect applies to both players, so you will also draw cards if your opponent plays upgrades, which is a nice bonus. It’s also a reason why Nel doesn’t tend to live very long.
Away Team – 2
In the right deck with a lot of upgrades, this can be a fantastic card. I have it in a deck with Z-Force Agent, and the two make for a great combo. However, beware! If Away Team gets bounced or purged, then the upgrades go to the discard pile instead of the archive. Interestingly, if Away Team were to be Collared, the upgrades would still go to their owner’s archive after Away Team was destroyed.
Detention Coil – 2
Not quite as great as Access Denied, but still a solid card. This is a particularly great card to stick on a creature whose only purpose is to fight, such as a Terrordactyl.
Hayden Oswin – 1
This is one of those witch cards that could theoretically be valuable if it ever survived, but it never does. It also tends to show up in decks with very few upgrades. By the way, in trying to get upgrades onto Hayden, don’t accidentally stick Access Denied onto him, or you’ll defeat the entire purpose.
LCdr. Trigon – 2
Mutagenesis Researcher – 3
This one is a bit hard to evaluate because the card itself is a dead card, but it gives the second-best suite of enhancements next to Amphora Captura. Ultimately, I believe that the most valuable enhancements are the extra Æmber pips, and she is one of the two non-Untamed cards that gives that bonus (the Amphora being the other one). Thus, it’s worth taking the generic 3-power creature to get the bonuses she brings with her.
New Frontiers – 3
If you play the odds correctly, this can help fill your archive with the cards you want and help move you through your deck at the same time. It can be especially good in combo decks, as it helps find some of your combo pieces while speeding you towards the other combo pieces.
Particle Sweep – 2
In set, this card can be valuable, as the ability to one-shot a key mutant like a Professor Terato or a Deusillus is pretty important. Out of set, it’s basically a bad Twin Bolt Emission. It really wants an enhanced damage pip, as that allows it to either remove a ward before it does its thing, or simply be more like a real Twin Bolt.
Stealthster – 1
Elusive is not a great ability. If this were a creature that was simply three power elusive, it would be bad. If it were an upgrade that did nothing but give elusive, it would be bad. The fact that it does both doesn’t change the fact that it’s bad.
Ambassador Liu – 4
This card allows you to move through your deck while also gaining beneficial effects from the cards you discard. Sanitation Engineer was a decent card, and all it allowed you to do was reap and discard a card. Liu allows you to discard a card and generate either a steal or two Æmber, or if you really need to you could activate the capture ability. That’s not ideal unless you have a Saurian house well-suited to mitigating Æmber. Liu is also relatively survivable at 4-power, so there’s a decent chance it sticks around to use its ability, and it’s a mutant to boot. There’s a lot to like here.
Commander Dhrxgar – 4
Star Alliance has a lot of upgrades, and a lot of them have Æmber pips on them. Dhrxgar allows you to effectively turn those upgrades into double pips, which is amazing. Obviously, it is even better if it is in a deck with a bunch of upgrades, and preferably something like an Armory Officer Nel, Away Team, or Z-Force Agent 14.
Ensign El-Samra – 3
Some decks are going to be able to go crazy with this ability. However, it’s an action ability, not a reap ability, which means that if you action to reveal an Æmber pip, that’s basically the same thing as if you had just reaped instead. Yes, it gets around effects like Orb of Invidius, but overall it’s a heavily deck dependent card. The three draw pips are real nice, though.
Exchange Officer – 3
The card accidentally spoiled by Richard Garfield for WC finally showed up in MM. If you can keep a Star Alliance creature on the board, then his ability to house cheat can be handy, especially because his ability triggers on play as well as fight or reap. It’s also just plain cool that he creates a maverick, which itself leads to all sorts of interesting possibilities. I wonder if he is algorithmically banned from double mavericking himself into Star Alliance?
Hapless Cadet – 4
Taunt is good, and making your opponent lose Æmber is good. Like many of the Dis creatures in MM, the Cadet makes a great target for something like Imp-losion. Just make sure that your opponent has Æmber and that Purifier of Souls isn’t on the board.
Hold the Line – 2
This is the type of card you think of when you think of situational cards. Most of the time it will just be an Æmber, or maybe an Æmber and a card. However, there are times it will really shine. It’s a fantastic combo with Red Alert. If you have those two cards in deck together, you might let your opponent whittle down your board just you can draw a bunch of cards and then wipe the opponent’s board.
J.O.N. Cargo – 1
1-power creatures are supposed to have amazing abilities to make up for being 1-power. Think Duskwitch or Restringuntus as examples. This ability isn’t good enough to justify the fact that J.O.N. is going to get taken out by a random damage pip.
Kartanoo – 1
Slightly better than J.O.N. Cargo because its reap ability is more flexible, but still pretty bad. Like J.O.N., this will die if you look at it funny. I am never happy to see either one of these two in a Star Alliance list.
Matter Maker – 2
This can be impactful in the right deck, allowing you to dump all your Star Alliance upgrades into play on a non-Star Alliance turn. It can also let you play other upgrades off house, so it has a lot of utility as long as you have a deck with a lot of upgrades.
Z-Force Agent 14 – 2
First of all, major props for the flavor on this card. The idea of being able to build a Voltron type creature from a bunch of cards that are all algorithmically set to appear together in a deck is really cool, and I also enjoy the house interplay between Logos and Star Alliance. Unfortunately, the card itself is too dependent on draw luck. You must get the Z-Force Agent out with all the upgrades, and then it has to survive until its ward can come online on the next turn. It’s a cool concept, but in practice it doesn’t work all that well. It does combo extremely well with several other cards if you can get them together, including Explo-Rover, Away Team, Commander Dhrxgar, Armory Officer Nel, and Encounter Suit. The best thing would be to get a legacy Light of the Archons with it, but that’s probably just being greedy.
Z-Particle Tracker – 2
This is the It’s Coming of the Z-set. In other words, it’s the glue that makes the whole thing work. If you can get this card going, it makes it a lot easier to form Voltron. Note that this can also work to find non-Z-set upgrades if you need them, though unfortunately it won’t search out robots.
Z-Ray Blaster – 3
Even without the Z-set, this is a nice upgrade. The ability to potentially take out three creatures with one swing is powerful, and it’s even better if you put it on something with Skirmish like an Explo-Rover or a Lyco-Alien. You can also just use it to give increased survivability to a Kirby.
Z-Wave Emitter – 3
Force Field was a fairly good upgrade, and it required you to call the house of that creature in order to activate it. This gives you a free ward every turn regardless of whether you call that house. This can be very useful to protect a key creature like a Daughter or a leader.
Final Rating – 1
I believe that Star Alliance is the weakest house in Mass Mutation. It’s not WC Brobnar type bad; it’s more like COTA Mars bad. Your lineups are usually going to be weak, but you can get some killer lineups if the right cards fall together. Star Alliance is helped by the fact that there are some very good cards still leftover from WC, such as Captain Val Jericho, Sensor Chief Garcia, Commander Chan, and Transporter Platform. There’s been a big downturn in the creature protection, though, going from Khrkhr, Molina, and Ingram to just Securi-Droid and Hapless Cadet at rare. We’re going to have to wait until DT to see if Star Alliance can bounce back to its glory days of WC.
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.