Inspired by a recent Nordic Keyforge League podcast about low-key combos, I decided to write an article discussing some lesser-known combos. High-profile combos like Martian Generosity and Key Abduction, Tribute and Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus, or Binate Rupture and Interdimensional Graft get a lot of attention, so much so that some even get their own abbreviations. However, due to the element of discovery that is fundamental to Keyforge, players are always finding new combos. I combed my decks for some combos to list in this article. Maybe you have some of these combos in your own decks. Without further ado, I present ten lesser-known Keyforge combos.
#1: Ultra Gravitron and Causal Loop
One of the problems with Ultra Gravitron is that it presents you with a dilemma. You want to pull your archives to take advantage of the big turns that it generates, but at the same time you don’t want to pull your archives because then its ability won’t work. Causal Loop fixes this dilemma. With Ultra Gravitron in play, you will want to pull your archives. Once you do, you play Causal Loop and you archive a junk card. In the deck that I have this combo in, the junk card is usually Nexus, but it can be whatever you don’t need at the current moment. Then, when you use Ultra Gravitron, you discard the junk card from your archives in order to activate Ultra Gravitron’s ability. Next turn, you simply repeat the process. If for some reason you don’t want to activate Ultra Gravitron’s ability, you merely hold off on playing Causal Loop until after you activate Ultra Gravitron.
#2: Masterplan and Arise!
One of the major reasons why Grim Reminder can be a better card than Arise! is because it lets you recur any house, whereas Arise! mostly works with Dis. True, it can be used with other houses, but it’s inefficient, as it forces you to delay a turn before you can use the recurred creatures. This makes the chain stick around and makes the entire process take two entire turns, an eternity in Keyforge time. Well, what if there was a way that you could Arise! a house other than Dis and still play an efficient turn? Masterplan lets you do just that! If you stick Arise! under Masterplan, you can play it out during whichever turn is most convenient. For instance, let’s say that you have a Shadows house with a bunch of Urchins. Activate the Arise!, bring back the Urchins, and play them the same turn. You get to remove the chain immediately and move on to whichever house you want to next turn. Efficient!
#3: One Stood Against Many and Wrath
With skirmish and poison, Wrath is one of the deadliest attackers in the game. It can attack anything that doesn’t have hazardous without taking damage (and its three armor even lets it soak some hazardous). It also has the bonus of enraging your opponent’s creatures when it attacks. However, it can only attack once per turn, and that can be a bummer. This is where One Stood Against Many comes in. The Sanctum action allows Wrath to attack three times, potentially killing three creatures on your opponent’s board and likely enraging their entire battle line. It’s like a one-sided board wipe.
#4: Reassembling Automaton and Soulkeeper
I didn’t realize that this combo worked until it was explained to me by the head judge at the Albany Vault Tour. Basically, when Reassembling Automaton dies, the active player decides how to order the Destroyed effects. If your opponent is the active player, they probably order the Automaton’s “instead” effect first, and Soulkeeper never triggers. However, if you are the active player, you can order the Soulkeeper effect first and the largest opposing creature will be destroyed while the Automaton survives. The best part of this combo is that like the Ultra Gravitron combo above, you can re-use it turn after turn.
#5: Obsidian Forge and Soul Snatcher
The key to this combo working is the timing on Obsidian Forge. Because the “Destroy any number of friendly creatures” line of text triggers first, Soul Snatcher will give you an Æmber for each one of those creatures before Obsidian Forge moves on to the question of whether or not you can forge a key. A third piece that can make this combo even better is if you have a Harbinger of Doom to go with it. If you do, then it will also destroy your opponent’s creatures and take back any Æmber that they may have been holding, making your forge even easier. This combo goes especially well in a deck with archiving, so that it can archive all its Dis away (except the Obsidian Forge) and then drop down a bunch of creatures with a Soul Snatcher to spring a surprise third key out of nowhere. Of course, what combos don’t go better in a deck with archiving?
#6: Fangtooth Cavern and Enhanced Q-Mechs
The deck that I have this combo in has a Q-Mechs that is enhanced with an Æmber pip. Obviously, the idea of recurring a card that is effectively a mini-Timetraveller every turn is rather appealing, but you need a way to bring it back into your archives each turn to make that happen. Enter Fangtooth Cavern. With its ability to destroy the lowest cost creature at the end of each of your turns, it will pretty much always target the Q-Mechs. Of course, this combo can also work with other cards. Enhanced Rad Penny or Enhanced Relentless Creeper are also good targets. It’s a different combo, but it’s also well known that Fangtooth Cavern combos extremely well with Keyfrog. Basically, any time that you have a small creature on your side of the board that you want dead, Fangtooth Cavern is a good option.
#7: Collar of Subordination and Harvest Time
Being a combo of two rares, this isn’t going to show up in a lot of decks. However, just in general Collar of Subordination combos well with anything that gives you a benefit for destroying your own creatures. Harvest Time is particularly insidious, though, because it gives you an Æmber for purging your opponent’s creature. Let’s say you have a deck with a couple junk demons (maybe Lilithal and Dendrix) and your opponent has an Infurnace on the board. Collar the Infurnace, play Harvest Time on demons, and now you have earned three Æmber while making your deck better and your opponent’s deck worse. That’s a win-win (for you).
#8: Twin Bolt Emission and Anomaly Exploiter
Sometimes your opponent has a creature that is well-hidden, but you need to kill it. Maybe it’s a Fandangle with a bunch of +1 power counters from a Rapid Evolution, and it’s hiding behind a taunt. Fighting in isn’t going to get the job done, and if you lack direct removal, this combo will do in a pinch. Simply use Twin Bolt Emission to put some damage on the Fandangle, and then use the Anomaly Exploiter to finish the job. Positron Bolt will often accomplish the same thing. Watch out for armor, though, as you need to be able to get at least one damage on for the combo to work. This combo also works really well if your opponent has a big and a small creature that you need to get rid of together. For instance, if your opponent has a Daughter hiding behind a Titan Guardian, you can Twin Bolt the Daughter and the Guardian. Hopefully with the Daughter gone, the Guardian’s flank will be clear and you can get rid of it with the Exploiter without giving your opponent two cards for it.
#9: Lieutenant Khrkhar and Cloaking Dongle
Lieutenant Worf… oops, I mean Lieutenant Khrkhar, is a pretty tough creature all by himself, and hard to get rid of. However, put a Cloaking Dongle on him and he becomes almost impossible to remove by fighting. Anyone trying to fight into him would have to soak his hazardous damage twice. I have gotten through this before using a Gladiodontus, but most of the time an elusive Khrkhar is bad news for the opponent. It’s worth noting that putting a Cloaking Dongle on an Armsmaster Molina has a similar effect. And if a Khrkhar happens to have a Cloaking Dongle with a Molina standing next to him, well, good luck ever getting through that.
#10: Etan’s Jar and Dark Æmber Vault
This actually works with a number of powerful artifacts, such as Auto-Encoder or Library Card, but I picked Dark Æmber Vault because it can have an outsized impact on the game in the right deck. Etan’s Jar has two primary uses, offensive and defensive. Most people are familiar with its offensive uses, such as disrupting your opponent’s key combo or making your opponent unable to play the five Edies they have in their deck. However, people don’t think as often about its defensive uses. If Etan’s Jar names an opponent’s only artifact control card (Reclaimed by Nature or Neutron Shark, for example), it not only protects itself but also other key artifacts such as Dark Æmber Vault. As an unrelated side note, Etan’s Jar can also serve as artifact control itself by naming an opponent’s key artifact before they can play it. It’s a tremendously multi-purpose card, and it combos well with any high-power artifact.
Well, there you have it. Ten combos that you might not have thought about before. If you like this article, let me know and I will try to do another one someday with ten more lesser-known combos. Until then, you can reach me on most Keyforge Discords as jfkziegler or on TCO as SecondAct.