Getting the Most Out of Your Artifacts: Fangtooth Cavern
This is the third in a series of articles looking at some of the most important artifacts in the game of Keyforge. In these articles, we try to cover why a particular artifact is important, how to play with that artifact, and how to play against that artifact. The first article in the series covered Auto-Encoder, and the second covered Amphora Captura. Today we will be talking about one of my personal favorite artifacts, the Fangtooth Cavern.
Some artifacts, like the last two we covered, basically make every deck better. However, some artifacts require the correct deck to function. Fangtooth Cavern definitely falls into the latter category. I think that there are some key questions you have to ask yourself when evaluating a Fangtooth deck, starting with the most obvious one.
Is this a Fangtooth deck?
Quixxle Stone is such a game warping artifact that you don’t play it in a deck unless your deck is well set up to use it effectively. Otherwise, it just becomes a discard, and there are only so many automatic discards a deck can sustain. Fangtooth Cavern is a similar situation. If your deck is well set up to use Fangtooth, it can create a very effective deck. On the other hand, Fangtooths that you have to discard all the time may well render the deck unplayable. This is a greater problem with Fangtooth than with Quixxle Stone, as Fangtooth is uncommon and often shows up in multiples, whereas Quixxle is rare and doesn’t. Of course, all the previous analysis begs the question, how do you determine whether your deck can use Fangtooth effectively? This brings me to my second question to ask yourself regarding Fangtooth.
Does the deck want to use Fangtooth offensively or defensively?
Some decks use Fangtooth Cavern offensively to advance their own game state. For example, one of my Fangtooth decks has a Q-Mechs with an Æmber pip on it. It wants to play that Q-Mechs over and over again to help push it towards three keys, and it uses Fangtooth to help the Q-Mechs constantly recur. On the other hand, some decks want to use Fangtooth Cavern defensively, which is to say that they want to use the Cavern to keep their opponent’s board under control.
To determine which type of deck your deck is, the first thing you have to look at is whether your deck has cards that want to be killed by Fangtooth. Examples of these types of cards include Rad Penny, Q-Mechs, enhanced Relentless Creeper, Keyfrog, and the Fiend creatures, among others. If there are several of these types of creatures in your deck, then your deck probably wants to use Fangtooth Cavern offensively.
On the other hand, if your deck has a low creature count, or maybe it has mostly large creatures, then your deck probably wants to use Fangtooth Cavern defensively to keep the opponent board under control. Being able to kill one or more of your opponent’s creatures every turn can put them in a bind where they may not even be able to play creatures because they know that you will just kill them on your turn. For example, if your opponent has a Subject Kirby hidden behind a taunter, that doesn’t really help against Fangtooth. Fangtooth Cavern is also one of the most effective cards for getting around Encounter Suit.
If your deck doesn’t fit either of these archetypes, then it might not be a viable Fangtooth deck. For instance, if you have a lot of small creatures that aren’t lemmings, then you probably don’t want to play Fangtooth Cavern, or it will mostly undermine your own board state.
Does the deck have multiple Fangtooth Caverns?
If your deck is well suited to use Fangtooth Cavern, then having one is good, but more is usually better. If, on the other hand, your deck is not well-positioned to use Fangtooth, but you have multiple Fangtooths, the deck might be a Shredder candidate.
Multiple Fangtooths tend to work better if your deck is geared towards defensive play. It can be hard for your opponent to keep a board if your Fangtooths are killing two or three of their creatures every turn. One of my favorite decks uses three Fangtooths and a variety of other board clears to keep an opponent from being able to stick creatures on the board.
On the other hand, it’s possible that an offensive-minded deck can get good use out of multiple Fangtooths, but it’s less likely. The best Fangtooth decks are going to be able to use Fangtooth offensively some of the time, but defensively the rest of the time. If my opponent’s board is clear, maybe I dump a Q-Mechs or a Rad Penny into play and cycle it, but I hold them back and do something else if my opponent has a board that I need to remove.
Does the deck have good supplemental cards for Fangtooth Cavern?
Certain cards go really well with Fangtooth Cavern. Maybe the best is Auto-Encoder because it allows you to chuck creatures that the Fangtooths would just kill anyway in order to archive cards. Why play that Niffle Ape just to have it die to Fangtooth? Get a card in the archive instead.
Etan’s Jar goes really well with any artifact, and Fangtooth is no exception. This is because it allows you to shut down your opponent’s artifact removal. Infurnace is similarly effective at removing opposing artifact removal. There, I got in this article’s obligatory Infurnace reference.
Mark of Dis can go really well with Fangtooth because you can Mark a creature to force your opponent to play that house right before your Fangtooths kill the creature.
I also find that limited board clears (think cards like Quintrino Flux, Standardized Testing, Tertiate, and Bouncing Deathquark) go really well with Fangtooth Cavern if you’re using the Caverns defensively. They allow you to get an out-of-control opposing board back under control so that the Fangtooths can do mop-up work.
I mentioned Keyfrog earlier, but I want to emphasize what a devastating combo this can be. In Dark Tidings, in particular, there are a lot of decks that can burst a bunch of Æmber in their Untamed, and then use the Keyfrog and Fangtooth Cavern combo to immediately forge a key. It can come out of nowhere for a game-winning play.
There are certain decks that can create a really strong combo between Fangtooth Caverns and Soul Snatcher, but it’s very risky and can easily backfire. Actually, I think Soul Snatcher is the king of the cards that can easily backfire. I have had it backfire on me more times than I can count.
Artifact destruction can also pair well with Fangtooth in case you ever need to get rid of them. In fact, one of the best decks that I have played against, Jaguhurt, the Scavenger of DNA, features a Fangtooth Cavern with three Æmber pips on it. I have seen xraycreator, the deck’s owner, use his own Reclaimed by Nature on it to generate a huge Æmber burst.
There is an art to evaluating and playing Fangtooth Cavern decks. They don’t play like normal Keyforge decks, and you have to adjust your priorities accordingly. However, if you can find the right deck that can take advantage of Fangtooth either offensively or defensively (or preferably both), and you are blessed with multiple Fangtooths and good supplemental cards, then you could have a dynamic deck on your hands. I encourage you to dig through your collection and see what you might have. You just might have a true Fangtooth deck.
Aurore has an article that touches on playing against Fangtooth Cavern, so check that one out too.
If you have any questions or comments about the article, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached on most Keyforge Discords as jfkziegler or on TCO as SecondAct.