You are currently viewing How to break alliance: Thinking about the most powerful decks

How to break alliance: Thinking about the most powerful decks

This is not an article trying to make alliance die in a fire, although I would still prefer it did. Rather, this is an article to give you some ideas of how to push the limits of alliance so that you can bring the best possible decks to KeyForge celeb-err-playtest session. That way Ghost Galaxy can have the information they need to make the best out of the format before solidifying the rules for 2023.

To be absolutely clear, I have no intention of playing alliance, which means I am not going to build alliance decks, but rather try and point you in the general direction of the highest potential decks.

Alliance Rules

I expect the rules of Alliance to change. I don’t know when they will change. Right now we know that Alliance is limited to a single set, and that there will be a restricted list, a list of cards you may only have one of in a deck.

I expected the cards that would be limited to 1 be the cards that are limited to 1 by the algorithm: Library Access, Restringuntus, etc. And maybe some other cards like Martian Generosity.

It’s hard at this stage to start building decks for Alliance in KeyForge celebration because the rules aren’t finalized. But you can start thinking about it.


KeyForge has a lot of combos:

10 KeyForge Combos you may not have heard of

10 (more) Keyforge Combos you may not have heard of

10 Keyforge Combos You May Not Have Heard Of, 3rd Edition

10 Keyforge Combos You May Not Have Heard Of, 4th Edition

But not all combos have been created equally. Combos that let you immediately win, also knows as OTK (One Turn Kill) are way more powerful than the rest. After all, if you’ve won, it doesn’t give your opponent much time to respond.

Single House Combos

As a rule, single house combos are not that much more powerful in Alliance than Archon, they are just more common. They are more common not because the pod they’re in is more common, it’s obviously not, but because the vast majority of the decks with a combo are just not strong enough due to the other two pods. This is what Alliance is trying to fix, after all, and is probably the most positive aspect of it.

Think of my favorite combo: Library Access + Timetraveller. This combo, along with some Wild Wormholes and a Phase Shift, can make for a massive turn where you draw the vast majority of your decks and play your Logos multiple times. On it’s own, this is a powerful combo, but not game breaking. There are 3455 decks with Library Access, Timetraveller, and at least one Phase Shift. Which is the minimum to pull it off. But the vast majority of those decks are not competitive. They lack the support from the other houses, or the other houses are just duds. In alliance you have a much better chance of making an LA+TT deck work.

Library Access

However, making an LA+TT deck work is not going to be enough to compete in alliance. If you make a good LA+TT deck you’ll be able to compete with Natural Philosopher Bazi Biz-Toth, but you won’t be able to compete with the best Alliance deck. What you need is to blow the LA+TT combo out of the park and simply win the turn you go off. For that you’ll want key cheats and other support. Key Abduction will produce free keys, but Untamed can provide better support in Nepenthe Seed, Chota Hazri, and Nature’s Call. You just need to make sure you have enough Phase Shifts to play the Untamed cards. Your third house will want to provide disruption, because if your opponent can pull off their combo before you, they win. So stop them. Stopping combos is hard in KeyForge, but Control the Weak, discards, Lateral Shifts, Etan’s Jar are all good ways to stop combos.

So when approaching a combo deck you want to have the combo, you want to have the support for the combo, and you want to have disruption to stop what your opponent is doing. Either that or you can have two supports for the combo which will hopefully make you win first.

Multi-House Combos

Just from the nature of KeyForge, Multi-House Combos are exceedingly rare. The rarity and quantity of the cards needed are obviously a factor in how rare they are. Let’s take a simple lockout combo as an example: Control the Weak + Dominator Bauble + Witch of the Eye or Novu Archeologist. For this combo to be consistent you’d want multiple copies of all the pieces. The Dominator Bauble being an artifact is the least important to get in multiples (except in alliance, I’ll get to that later) as it is likely to stick around. Control the Weak is the most important to have in multiples as it can help setup the combo. There are only 519 decks with at least 2 CTW + 1 Bauble + 2 of either WotE or Novu, and most of them are naturally not very good. In contrast there are over 5000 decks with 2xCTW and 1 Bauble. 1776 decks with 3xCTW + Bauble. 2901 decks with 2xCTW + 2xBauble. Naturally there are many thousands of decks with 2 WotE or Novu.

Control the Weak

Multi-House Combos are not unique in Alliance and you can build a deck with pretty much any combo you want at a fairly high consistency. Naturally, you’ll want support for the combo, and that the quality of the pods will be high, but everything is within reach. This also means you need to be prepared for those combos, which brings us nicely into:

Artifact Control

I believe artifact control is not necessary in Archon, but it is in Alliance. Heart of the Forest is not a threat in Archon because there just aren’t enough good Heart of the Forest decks out there, and they can still lose to some cards like Harvest Time, or any artifact control followed by a key cheat. Meaning they will not have consistent results in big tournaments and will get knocked out before the top cut.

But in Alliance good Heart decks may be abundant. So will Quixxle Stone, Auto-Encoder (with a double punctuated Equilibrium lineup maybe?), Etan’s Jar, Cease Forge, KeyForgery, Maybe the Dominator Bauble mentioned above. I feel that going into Alliance without Artifact Control is setting yourself up for failure.

Etan’s Jar

Which Artifact Control to bring? The best one is probably Reclaimed by Nature. It purges the critical piece and it won’t be coming back. Harvest Time is also great for the same reason. My next top choice would be Poltergeist, because I expect people to bring Nepenthe Seed to support their combos and other powerful setups. If you can use their Seed it can be a major advantage. But some combination of stealing/using artifacts plus a way to destroy them could also work. But don’t come without or you’ll have a bad time (at least, that’s my prediction).

Holding Cards

I am of the opinion that sometimes holding cards is correct, but in Alliance it is going to be mandatory. If you only have one answer to their combo, you must hold it. That’s why you’re going to want a lot of options to either recur used cards or stash them away in your Archives. But watch out, lineups with Archive control could show up too.


Image credit: Spymaster

The most egregious exploit in Alliance is Enchantments. Enhancements are balanced because along with those two draw pips you get an 4 power vanilla creature. The two Aember pips with a 1 power vanilla creature. In Alliance, you don’t have to. It’s going to be much harder to find those pods, but if you can find a pod with no (or few) enhancement granters but lots of enhancements on the cards you’ll have a definitive advantage. Time to start digging through your MM decks for those pods. If you find 2-3 pods that have all the draw pips and none of the dead cards you’re going to speed through your deck without the need of a Library Access. And don’t forget you could throw in a Dark Aember Vault for good measure (or maybe three, if it doesn’t end up restricted).

Don’t expect to play KeyForge as you know it

I ran a test on TTS to illustrate the power level of Alliance. I used an out-of-set-pod for my test, but I also spent about 5 minutes thinking about this decks, so the power level you should expect at an Alliance event would be higher. Don’t expect people to incrementally gain Æmber and forge keys. No back and forth of stopping keys and making comebacks. Once a deck has established dominance the game is either factually over due to OTK or functionally over due to lockouts, overwhelming hand sizes, or something I haven’t even thought of. Don’t bother with incremental Æmber control unless you combine it with scaling Æmber control. Your opponent is much more likely to generate 30 Æmber in a turn than 3.

Good luck

I wish all you Alliance players the best of luck. And please buy my pods, I’ll use the money to pay for this server.


Aurore is a competitive KeyForge player and the founder of Timeshapers. She's a content writer by trade and aspiring game designer. Follow @Timeshapers1