The Story of a Game
If someone were to ask what my favorite aspect of Keyforge is, I would tell them it is genuinely good games. I don’t have to win, but the game has to be a good battle, and decided by player skill rather than luck. This is not most Keyforge games. Most games are decided by the Archon’s Corner motto of “draw better.” However, every once in a while you get the kind of epic game that makes you realize how great a game Keyforge is. The game I am writing about today is one of those games.
The Early Game
I was playing my highest SAS deck, an AOA monster called Mira „Żongler”, Szarlatanka Wulkanu. My opponent was playing Manon Lemoine, lutteuse de Tamchar, a 76 SAS MM deck, so I had quite a SAS advantage.
However, as mentioned earlier, sometimes the most important thing in Keyforge is to draw better, and my opponent was definitely doing this early in the game. I was stuck on hands that weren’t really accomplishing anything. I played a Helper Bot to trigger an Exhume just for the Æmber. I used a Yurk to discard Throwing Stars just to get it out of my hand. I was having a hard time finding the fuel that makes Mira’s engine go.
Meanwhile, my opponent was building a Sanctum board, including Scrivener Favian, who was a huge problem, given that my opponent also had Amphora Captura in play. By the end of turn 5, I made it to check, but that didn’t last long. They called Dis and used the Amphora/Favian combo, along with a Pandemonium, to steal or capture all my Æmber. Given that I had no way of getting Favian off the board, I knew it was important to not generate any Æmber if I could avoid it, or every one of my opponent’s pips would put them further ahead.
Things got substantially worse for me on turn 7, as my opponent was able to reap a bunch and land a Cleansing Wave for five Æmber. Sooner or later I was going to need to find a way to clear their board, or I was in big trouble. Thankfully, I was able to respond to their big Æmber burst with a Nerve Blast and a couple Ronnie Wristclocks to keep things from getting completely out of control.
On turn 8, they forged their first key, and fought down my board of elusive creatures. This was a much needed breather for me, because if they had reaped, the lead might have grown too large for me to deal with.
On my turn, I finally found Timetraveller, who drew me into some board control. It wasn’t the Unlocked Gateway that I needed, but I did find a Three Fates that I was able to play off a Helper Bot, and that got some of my opponent’s Sanctum off the board. I also got up to eight Æmber, threatening my first key for the second time in the game.
On turn 9, my opponent shifted into Saurian. Favian was still in play, so between bonus icons, Citizen Shrix, and a City-State Interest, my opponent once again removed all my Æmber, as well as going to six Æmber themselves. To make matters worse, they put down a Praefectus Ludo, meaning that I wasn’t going to be able to simply blow up the board and get my Æmber back.
This became especially problematic on my next turn, as I called Dis, Exhumed Timetraveller, and drew into Unlocked Gateway at last. Now I had a choice. I could play Unlocked Gateway, lose all my Æmber, and let them forge their second key, or I could hold off and try to get Ludo off the board. However, if I did that, they could likely reap out and get so far ahead that I couldn’t catch up. I cried a little as I played Unlocked Gateway and watched all my Æmber go up in smoke.
Turn 10 was quiet, as they forged their second key, and then we both just generated a few Æmber. On turn 11, I was able to Sneklifter their Amphora and play a Ronnie to keep their Æmber under control. I knew that the Amphora would be important, for two reasons. First of all, it shut down much of their Æmber control. Secondly, it enabled me to control Æmber without using my Shadows if I needed to.
At the end of my opponent’s turn 12, things looked dire. They were at two keys and four Æmber. I was at zero keys and zero Æmber. However, as I mentioned above, these are the situations that great Keyforge games are made of. If Mira started clicking, I still felt like I could make a comeback.
The Late Game
I started my turn 12 by playing one of my favorite tricks. I played Help from Future Self, then immediately dropped ZYX Researcher to archive it. I played Timetraveller and used my two Library of Babbles to draw four cards. Two Helper Bots got Streke and Charette into play, at least temporarily capturing some of my opponent’s Æmber, and Labwork put a card aside for later. Things still didn’t look good, but it was a solid turn.
My opponent came back on turn 13 with two Citizen Shrix, and they also used Dreadbone Decimus to kill Charette and Streke. Now they were at two keys and check. I called Dis, Exhumed my Streke, Exhumed my Charette, and used Not Finished With You to capture an Æmber onto Streke thanks to the Amphora.
On their turn 14, they called Dis, killed my Charette, killed my Streke again, played Angwish, reaped Sinder, and used their Screaming Cave. This put them at eight Æmber, with me still sitting at zero keys and three Æmber. I did the only thing I could and played Shadows. A Ronnie and a Nerve Blast got them off check, and some fighting killed one of the Citizen Shrix. I also reaped a Ronnie, and Little Niff came down to threaten a bunch of steal. I was now at eight Æmber and was threatening check for the first time in a while.
My opponent called Dis again on turn 15, fighting Angwish into Ronnie to increase my key cost to eight, and also using Dance of Doom to deal with most of my board. A couple of reaps brought them back to check at eight Æmber. On my turn, I finally got to forge a key! It only took 15 turns. I called Logos, and played a classic Mira Logos turn. I pulled my archives, played Archimedes, and swung a Helper Bot in so that it would get archived. I then used HFFS and played Timetraveller, plus activated the two Library of Babbles, to draw four cards. This got me the ZYX Researcher, who helpfully re-archived the HFFS. I used Helper Bot to play Miasma to stop my opponent from forging, and then Wild Wormholed into a Nerve Blast. Another Helper Bot allowed me to play Unlocked Gateway, archiving the Helper Bot and the Timetraveller, as they were on both sides of Archimedes. My opponent now had two keys and seven Æmber, but couldn’t forge, and I had one key and twelve Æmber. It was getting close.
My opponent had a small turn 16, generating a couple Æmber and playing down a Brabble. Still, they were now at nine Æmber. Mira doesn’t have key cheats, so I had to get them off check. I forged my second key, and called Logos again. I played my usual combo of the Timetraveller and the two Library of Babbles to draw four cards. The two Helper Bots that had been in my archives came down, and allowed me to play two Ronnies. That brought me up to ten Æmber, and my opponent down to five. They had no Æmber control left without the Amphora, and so they were forced to concede.
On a recent Archon’s Corner podcast, Dr. Sheep and Ewok Jr. were arguing about whether you should continue to play a game that is obviously lost. Dr. Sheep argued that you should just concede and move on, while Ewok argued that you should keep playing because of love of the game and a social contract that was formed between you and your opponent when you started the game. Most of the time, I agree with Dr. Sheep in this argument. I would rather play more good games, rather than flail helplessly in a lost cause. However, in this case, I am glad that I took Ewok’s advice instead. If I had given up when it looked like the game was obviously out of reach, I wouldn’t have had this epic experience to write about afterwards.
Of course, most decks aren’t Mira, and with 99% of my decks, I would have been out of that game. Most Keyforge games aren’t going to be the types of great games that you can write an article about afterwards. However, a few will, and that’s the reason I play Keyforge. If you have any questions or comments about the article, or would simply like to talk Keyforge, I can be found on most Keyforge Discords and on TCO as SecondAct.