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What to do with unwanted decks? – The IRL Gauntlet

In Episode 75 of the Help from Future Self podcast, Alex and Blake identify a very common problem for Keyforge players: having too many decks. What should you do with all those extra decks? On the December 26, 2019, episode of the Archon’s Corner podcast, the AC crew identified one potential solution: build a draft cube. I followed their advice and did just that, and in the year and a half that my draft cube has been together, it has gotten used a total of once. Drafting is fun, but it’s just not Keyforge. Today, I have a different solution for what to do with all those extra decks, and I believe it will help take your Keyforge game to the next level.

Why a physical Gauntlet?

Here on Timeshapers, Aurore wrote an article called “Narrowing down the final deck choice.” In it, she discussed a concept called The Gauntlet. That is to say that every Keyforge team has a series of decks that they test their decks against. This is usually done online, as TCO gives you access to every Keyforge deck in existence. However, there are two problems with testing online. First of all, if you’re preparing for a real-life event like a Vault Tour, then testing on TCO simply isn’t the same thing as testing in real life. The lack of ability to look at an opponent’s deck-list during the game. The ability to read opponent body language. And quite simply the difference between playing on a computer screen versus having cards in your hand. All this makes the physical experience quite different from the online experience of Keyforge.

Also, players in your local area might not play online. I know that for me, my PC won’t connect to TCO right now, so online testing isn’t really an option. Thus, having a physical version of The Gauntlet allows for players in your local area to test against great decks, either to prepare for a high-level event like a Prime or Vault Tour, or just because they want to see which of their decks is the best.

Creating a Gauntlet

How do you create The IRL Gauntlet? Well, if you already broke down decks to create a cube back in the day, then that’s perfect, and you can just use those. If not, then you’ll probably have to break into your bulk decks and start taking them apart. Be aware that certain cards will be more heavily in demand than others. Cards like Control the Weak and Sloppy Labwork tend to show up in a lot of competitive decks because they’re good cards, so those cards will be harder to find.

The card that has given me the most problems so far is Relentless Whispers. You may find a different card to be your challenge. Rares can also be a special challenge. Once you have the cards picked out, put them into opaque sleeves so that you can’t see the backs.

I also like to create an “archon” card. To do so, I find a different deck that has the same houses and cover over the name of the original deck with the name of the Gauntlet deck by inserting a slip of paper. You could also print an Archon card using the Archon Matrix bot by SkyJedi, which can be found on the Sanctumonius-Timeshapers discord. I have found that it’s helpful to have a friend who also has bulk decks. I don’t have many bulk Age of Ascension because I didn’t collect many AOA decks, so my friend Arly has helped me fill in my missing AOA cards for The IRL Gauntlet.


It is more challenging to create Mass Mutation (or Dark Tidings) decks because of two factors: enhancements and Dark Æmber Vault. The solution that I came up with is less than elegant, but it works. I had a leftover sticker sheet of Keyforge houses from my Worlds Collide Premium Box, and I simply used those stickers to represent bonus icons. I used Untamed to represent Æmber, Sanctum to represent capture, Logos to represent draw, and Dis to represent damage. I also used Mars to remove any enhancements that weren’t supposed to be there. I put the stickers on the outside of the sleeve, but I suppose you could put it directly on the cards if you really didn’t care about preserving the decks at all. For Dark Æmber Vault, I used a sticker to change its house if I needed to. It does mean you have to pay more attention when playing MM or DT so you don’t miss the stickers, but it’s the best solution that I have come up with. If anyone happens to know of a source of actual bonus icon stickers, definitely let me know.

Running the Gauntlet

Thus far, I have been able to create many of the most famous decks in Keyforge for my IRL Gauntlet. I have tried to create a variety of decks that do different things. For instance, there are a number of well-known triple Control the Weak decks out there, but I find that one house control deck is enough.

Using this method, I have been able to build Gasoline, Pink Fraud, Błyskawica, Zetadrive, Litetasker, and others. I have even been able to build Bazi, the signature deck of the runner of this site. This has brought me value in two ways. First of all, my friends and I get to test our decks against all these well-known decks. If one of our decks stands up well and wins (or comes close to winning) some of these matchups, even without the original pilot playing the Gauntlet deck, then that tells us that our deck might be worth considering at a higher-level event.

Second, and maybe just as valuably, playing these decks has taught me how to play different archetypes of decks. Litetasker is the prototypical Infurnace recursion deck, and playing it gives you a good idea of how to play with and play against that type of deck. Pink Fraud is obviously a very combo-based deck, and I’ll be honest that I haven’t yet mastered its intricacies. Bazi (and to some degree Gasoline) have taught me that a deck doesn’t need to be high SAS in order to be impactful. Those decks are both way better than they look at first glance.

I hope that I have given you a new idea for what to do with all those bulk decks that you have sitting around, and I hope that you’ll be inspired to create your own IRL Gauntlet. If you would like to further discuss anything from this article, I would love to chat. I can be found on most Keyforge Discords as jfkziegler or on TCO (when my TCO is working) as SecondAct.