This past weekend, Karen from The Final Swindle debuted her new Keyforge format, Ouroboros. It’s a variation on Aurore’s Oubliette format. In Ouroboros, every player submits two decks to the Tournament Organizer ahead of time, and the TO puts them all into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet then tabulates how many times each house is represented. At the beginning of each round, the spreadsheet randomly chooses one house to ban. The more times a house is represented, the more likely it is to be banned. Thus, the format rewards bringing a diversity of houses, as house overlap could lead to both your decks being banned and you having to forfeit the round.
I was intrigued with the format, as I felt like it gave me a chance to play archon without being run over by the same Logos/Dis/X decks every round. However, I know that most of my best decks are Logos/Dis/X, so first I had to figure out if I had a deck that was playable. I was delighted to find that one of my favorite semi-competitive decks, The Sir of Chesterrealm, was a Saurian/Star Alliance/Untamed deck. I figured that Logos and Dis bans were likely most rounds, so I would be playing Chesterrealm a lot, but I enjoy the deck, so I had no problem with that.
Using Chesterrealm also gave me the opportunity to play my best deck, Shadeacid, the Queen of Dignity. It is a Logos/Dis/Shadows deck and thus has no overlap with Chesterrealm. It would be my first opportunity to use it in an actual tournament, which I was excited about, even if I figured it would get banned most rounds.
I have been working with Cryogen recently to try to figure out why TCO won’t work on my PC or my laptop, and I knew I was going to have to be creative to be able to access TCO for the tournament. I let Karen know ahead of time that I might have technical issues, but I hoped that they wouldn’t be too severe. I was able to access TCO on a different laptop, but I wasn’t able to run Discord on that laptop, so I had to run Discord on an iPad. I am sure the resulting confusion irritated my opponents, and I am sorry for that. It also put me at a competitive disadvantage, as I had to spend my pre-game time futzing with technology instead of reading opponent decklists.
I had never used Discord voice chat before, so I decided to join in for this tournament. It was kind of fun to chat with people like Jupiter who previously I had only heard on KFPL podcasts.
My first round was against Amrtaka. The ban for the round was Brobnar, which shocked everyone. Brobnar was the least likely house to get banned by far, but sometimes probability works that way. Realistically, I should have checked Amrtaka’s decklists and figured out which of my two decks I wanted to play, but it took all my effort just to get my technology into the game, so I grabbed Shadeacid and hoped for the best. Amrtaka was playing Osmofeather Dibble, the Tall and Eccentric. This was the first game that I had ever played with voice chat, though we didn’t say much over the course of the game. Amrtaka jumped out to a big board and had a lot of his creatures warded. My only board sweep was a Gateway and I had it in hand, but it wasn’t going to do anything about those wards. He also had a good lead in aember, and I figured I was staring at an opening loss. I played Logos to dig through my deck looking for an answer, and sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. I Wild Wormholed into a Hysteria, and that was a lifesaver. Gone was half his board, along with all the wards. On the next turn, I was able to use Gateway and establish a Restringuntus lock that won the game. 1-0.
This round, I was facing GiangioLane. The ban came down on Untamed, so I was playing Shadeacid again. So much for my theory that I wasn’t going to get to play it much. GiangioLane was playing T. K. Che Spera per il Virus dell’Entropia, a Dark Tidings deck with the Verokter cards in it, plus Unity or Discord in a quality Star Alliance house. I struggled with bad hands early, and my opponent jumped out to a lead. Midgame, I figured there was only one way that I was going to win the game, which was a Guntus lock. I set it up as well as I could and got it down, but he had the one card that he needed to get out of it. I had used most of my resources to set up that play, and he pretty easily won the game from there. Worse yet, he pulled off the Groundbreaking Discovery late in the game, which cost me a key on the final score. Thankfully keys weren’t a tiebreaker, or that could have come back to hurt me. 1-1.
Truthfully, I was kind of happy to be dropped down out of the top bracket. I knew that there were some insane decks running around that were likely to be in that bracket, so I was fine with avoiding them. The third-round ban was Logos, so I would be playing Chesterrealm this time. My opponent was to be Gimu87, and he brought H. P. Che Prevede il Lago dell’Ombra. Chesterrealm likes to establish a big board, so I figured that his Red Alerts were going to be a problem, and my Saurians were not going to enjoy his Word of Returning. Thankfully, my Nature’s Calls would be good answers to his Saurians, and I felt confident that my Kirbys would allow me to establish a faster pace. Gimu87 found one Red Alert early, and it did some damage, but it wasn’t too bad. He never found his other Red Alert or his Word of Returning, and my big board was able to win me the game. 2-1.
There was a short break in between rounds 3 and 4, and I learned that my round 4 opponent would be BanSolitude. He was the first opponent that I was familiar with, as we had faced each other before in the Average Joe’s tournaments. The ban for this round was Dis, so that meant Chesterrealm again. BanSolitude brought G. Garcia, bouchère du sanctum de la rage. By this point, I was beginning to realize that Chesterrealm was giving me a significant advantage. This was because any ban on Logos or Dis generally forced people into Worlds Collide Saurians, and Worlds Collide Saurians do not like to see triple Nature’s Call in a decklist. I think that this is one of those meta calculations that you can use to your advantage in Ouroboros. BanSolitude himself best summed up the match later when he said, “Turns out Nature’s Call is still strong against Dinos.” The last turn of this game was fascinating. He was almost completely through his deck, and I hadn’t yet seen him play TMTP or Ronnie. He had a Thero Centurion that he had just Tributed a bunch of aember onto. I didn’t want to bounce it, because then he would TMTP/Ronnie and I wouldn’t be able to take him off check. If I left it on the board, though, it was going to pull me off check again. I mulled this dilemma for a while until I realized that I had a Shrix in play with two aember on it. Even if he used TMTP/Ronnie, I would still be at check. I bounced his Centurion, and it turned out that he didn’t have the TMTP anyway. 3-1.
In this round, the ban fell on Star Alliance, so out went Chesterrealm, and back in came Shadeacid. My reward for making it to 3-1 was getting to play against 4-0 Karen and her deck N. F. Quinn, Contabile dell’Opulenza, a deck with Martian Generosity, though thankfully no Key Abduction. We voice chatted during this game, and it was a lot of fun. It felt like sitting at the table playing IRL Keyforge, with the banter and everything. Karen is a fantastic opponent, and I see why she is thought of so well within the Keyforge community. Karen jumped out to an early Martian Generosity, and then was able to use the Proliferator and Mars First combo to archive the Generosity. She followed that up by establishing a Sanctum board, and I was just using my Shadows and Logos to keep from falling too far behind. Then came the decisive turn. I was hoping that she would call Shadows, because that would likely leave her with a hand full of Mars. She did call Shadows, and I was able to use Gateway/Restringuntus to lock out Mars, while also getting down a Snudge and a Dust Imp and keeping an Arise! in archives. Karen played down a solitary Guard Disguise, and I suspected it was over. I used Snudge to bounce the Guard Disguise, and then Karen kept cycling her sixth card while I kept reaping the Dis. To paraphrase what BanSolitude said earlier, it turns out that Guntus locks are still strong. 4-1.
In the end, I ended up tied with Karen and Zaramis at 4-1. I came in third place on tie-breakers, with Zaramis being the winner. That was a tad disappointing because I pride myself on coming in second in Keyforge events (thus the handle), but I can’t complain about being tied for first against such a strong field. Shadeacid and Chesterrealm both did work. I can’t help but feel that my lack of experience with DT contributed somewhat to my one loss, and that’s a problem I will have to work to rectify at some point.
I really enjoyed the Ouroboros format. As I said at the beginning, Chesterrealm is a semi-competitive deck, and it will only shine in a format like this. I really feel like this format (and Oubliette, too) reward decks like Chesterrealm that can compete without using Logos or Dis. It’s interesting to note, however, that for all the hate we throw at Dis, the vast majority of the top SAS decks in the world are all Logos/Saurian/Star Alliance decks.
I want to thank Karen for organizing the tournament and being a great opponent, and I want to thank all my other opponents as well. The entire tourney had a very positive vibe to it, and it was fun to play in. I appreciate that everyone was patient with my technical issues (especially Gimu87), and I hope to play this format again someday. I understand that the next iteration will have a SAS cap, and that will make for another interesting deck selection puzzle. Thanks for reading, and if you want to reach me for comment, I can be found on most Keyforge Discords as jfkziegler and on TCO as SecondAct.