When Dark Tidings was first released, I thought Tide Warp looked like one of the worst cards in the set. After all, a DT deck facing a non-DT deck was likely to control the tide almost 100% of the time, so why throw that away with an artifact that will give the tide away half the time? However, like with many Keyforge cards, the value of Tide Warp is in how it interacts with other cards in the set. For previous installments of this series, see my article about Auto-Encoder here, Amphora Captura here, Fangtooth Cavern here, and The Sting here. Now, let’s talk about Tide Warp.
Before we get into the functionality of Tide Warp, let’s give the card some serious points for flavor. The flavor text is a brilliant callback to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the song Time Warp. With that out of the way, let’s discuss combos.
The most obvious and common combination with Tide Warp is Mechabuoy. Wait, you might say, doesn’t Tide Warp actually hurt a Mechabuoy deck, as it gives away the tide half the time? The key here is in the timing. Because you as the active player get to choose how the timing on beginning of turn effects works, you are guaranteed to always trigger Mechabuoy. If the tide is high for you, trigger Mechauoy first and get the Æmber before lowering the tide. If the tide is low for you, trigger Tide Warp first and then take the Æmber from Mechabuoy. Either way, you win.
Now, it is worth noting that you will likely be giving away an Æmber every other turn unless you intend to take back the tide each round that Tide Warp lowers it. That’s because if Tide Warp lowers the tide for you and raises it for your opponent, then Mechabuoy will trigger for them. It will still work to your overall benefit, just with a small downside.
Aembermedes made the case that Medicus Lacus is one of the worst creatures in Dark Tidings because it never triggers (though I can’t seem to find the video anymore). It’s too easy for your opponent to stop it simply by raising the tide. Key cheats aside, I think he is generally correct about this.
However, as my friend Arly and I realized recently, Tide Warp flips the situation on its head. If the tide is high for your opponent on their turn, then Tide Warp will flip the tide to being high for you on your turn, and Medicus Lacus will trigger. If the tide is low for the opponent on their turn, then Tide Warp will flip the tide to being low for you on your turn, and Medicus Lacus will not trigger. Thus, your opponent wants the tide to be low for them in order to prevent Medicus Lacus from triggering. Here’s the thing, though. There are very few cards that will actually lower the tide for a player on their turn. Tidal Wave will do it and Bilgewarden will do it, but those are the only ones I can think of. If they don’t have one of those cards, they are stuck. Also, if they don’t have a DT deck, then you know they don’t have one of those cards.
This means that Medicus Lacus is essentially guaranteed to trigger within two turns, assuming that you can keep the dino alive. That doesn’t make Lacus quite as good as Senator Bracchus, but it makes it way better than it normally is.
Static Collection Array
Effectively, repeat what I said above for Medicus Lacus in this section. Static Collection Array will allow you to forge at five Æmber every other turn, because your opponent wants the tide to be low for them on their turn in order to make Static Collection Array force keys to cost seven. However, it’s difficult to keep the tide low for yourself, so the Array should flip to the beneficial side once every two turns. Just be careful that you don’t accidentally accumulate enough Æmber to force yourself to forge for seven.
There’s a weird rules interaction created by Operative Espion. Espion allows you to use a creature when the tide is raised, which would be during the beginning of turn step. That means you could use a creature before the forge a key step or even the select a house step. Amongst other things, you could use that creature to reap, allowing you to potentially gain the extra Æmber you need to forge a key (this is more beneficial with a Youngest Bear or something like that). Even better, Espion doesn’t trigger on your opponent’s tide raise, because they aren’t raising the tide on their own turn.
Are there cards that are bad to play with Tide Warp? Definitely. Any card that gives your opponent a benefit for acquiring the tide can be bad for you if you have Tide Warp in play. That’s because a non-DT deck won’t normally acquire the tide very often, so you are giving that deck a chance to acquire the tide much more frequently. This means that cards like Hard Simpson, Flamegill Enforcer, Voice of Rakuzel, Deepwater Gruen, and Hydrocataloguer are much more likely to backfire, amongst others.
Playing Against Tide Warp
As with any artifact, hard R is one solution to Tide Warp. However, in most cases, I think using hard R against Tide Warp is a waste. If Tide Warp is paired with Mechabuoy, then Mechabuoy is the better target for your hard R. If Tide Warp is paired with Medicus Lacus, then simply killing Lacus is the better solution. In general, Tide Warp is providing you a benefit as a non-DT player, so you typically don’t want to remove it. You just want to remove the other cards it combos with.
Tide Warp is a strange artifact that causes unique interactions. It’s a bit like Whirlpool or Soul Snatcher in that those interactions can end up helping you or hurting you as the Tide Warp player, and you probably don’t want to play it unless you have a deck that is well set up to take advantage of it. What are your thoughts about Tide Warp? I would love to hear them. I would also love to hear feedback about other artifacts that you think would make good entries into this series. I can be found on most Keyforge Discords or on TCO as SecondAct. Thanks for reading!