Advanced Key Concepts #3: Card Advantage Part 2
Advanced Key Concepts is a series exploring deeper strategy in KeyForge to help players hopefully get better at the game, as well as achieve higher success in more competitive environments. I am assuming readers know the basics of the game, and have some working knowledge of Keyforge. So let’s skip past all the introductory basics and get to the good stuff!
Previously On Advanced Key Concepts I went over drawing cards. That can be found at: https://www.reapout.com/advanced-key-concepts-2-card-advantage-part-1/
There are clear reasons that archiving is better than drawing. If you can only play a card you draw 33% of the time, then 66% of the time that card would have been better off archived. When you archive a card it won’t clog up your hand. Combined with filling your hand up to 6 every turn, archiving a card from your hand is similar to drawing 2 cards in other games. Archiving is having your cake and eating it too. There are some rare exceptions here like taking a combo turn where you are drawing a large portion of your deck, but I don’t think many would argue the efficiency of stashing the same number of cards away to use at just the right moment. This is the power of archiving.
The most important thing to know is how to archive properly and maximize your strategies. I’ll often see players make archiving decisions that I disagree with, but I don’t mean that my way is always right. There are many decisions that take place when archiving.
The most common way to use archives is to protect combo pieces or specific power house cards from discard effects. It’s important when doing this to be aware of archive discarding effects like Dysania, Murkens or Tantadlin. In an Archon format you would likely be aware of Dysania because it sticks out, and Tantadlin usually takes a turn activate. Murkens usually targets the top of the opponent’s deck, but it is worth looking out for.
When saving combo and hate pieces- I don’t think it’s necessarily incorrect to archive cards of different houses, but it likely is. When archiving different houses, know that you are adding a “pseudo-chain” for as long as you keep that card in your hand. Meaning that when you take your archives, after you have your big turn, you are likely going to be stuck with that other card in your hand. While the turn was probably rather good after that, drawing less cards at the end of that turn diminishes it a lot. Mixing houses in your archive can have reasonable results… sometimes. Usually it’s when that mismatched card is a follow up on the next turn. An example is setting up a large Untamed aember rush, but also archiving Too Much to Protect. When you combo out, your opponent may steal that aember, and you’ll be ready to steal it right back on your next turn. Knowing when it’s acceptable to mismatch cards in your archive will depend on your own deck, a hefty amount of play-testing, and even a little bit of foresight.
Additionally- cards that require specific setups (such as Into the Fray or Loot the Bodies) are good targets for this type of archiving. Tucking these cards away from your hand means you don’t chain yourself; waiting turn after turn with a card you can’t use clogging up your hand.
I would put board wipes into this category. You definitely don’t want to hold them for multiple turns while you wait for the opponent to get ahead on board, which they are probably doing because you are chaining yourself!
Another ideal way to use archiving is to set up multiple powerful turns. This manifests in a few different ways. If you choose to archive from the house you are likely to call within the next 3 turns, you can build up a stronger turn of that house. Stick to the SAME house when choosing. Then when the time comes to take that turn, you take your archives and likely have a 5+ card turn, which will also likely thin that house quite a bit from your deck.
The inverse of this principle is that if you have 2 houses with archiving potential, it may be possible to call a house pattern while archiving the third house. At that point, you’re essentially playing a 2 house deck with each turn being slightly super charged. Then when you finally do call the 3rd house it will be super charged as well.
The smaller (yet effective) version of this is archiving the house that you will likely NOT draw. It opens up your hand at the end of the turn to draw either the house you just called and committed to, OR the house that is the majority of your hand. For example: if you commit 2 Logos creatures to the board and play Labwork last, archive the house that has 1 card in your hand. Then when you draw cards at the end of your turn, even if you draw 2/2/2 split, you have that option of cards plus board for Logos, or playing a larger turn of the second house. You probably won’t want to call the house with the least cards+board in it, which will most likely be the card sitting in your archive now. If you chance to draw a hand full of the archived house, then you still get your bigger turn unexpectedly, and you essentially drew 1 card. Factor in how many cards of each house you’ve played to maximize this effect. If there is only 2 cards left of a certain house in your deck (House B), then the opposite of the previous statement is likely true, archive those cards, maximize the house in your hand (House C), and when your deck gets shuffled and you finally draw House B again, the archives will be waiting for it. That’s one of the big reasons high level players will often scan through their discard piles.
Finally, we have the non-hand archiving. When archiving things in play or in the discard, I think most people have a strategy in mind with the cards they choose. Most of the time it’s similar to Witch of the Eye. Use a card, archive it, get it back, use again. When the effects are random, either from something like Eureka! or archiving from the top of the deck, it’s best to lean into it if possible and treat it similar to if you had chosen it. If you get your combo piece, great! Protect it in your archives and start working towards that combo. If you get a random house card, then lean into your next few turns to try to get the maximum amount of tempo from that archive, minimizing the mixed houses in your Archives as much as possible.
Using these Archiving strategies will help your deck run smoothly, set up more powerful turns, and hopefully win the game!
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