Shard of the Week: Back on the Chain Gang

Shard of the Week: Back on the Chain Gang

Shard of the Week: Back on the Chain Gang

Welcome back!
I wanted to do something different this week by taking a look at the decks I bring to my local game store, and why. We can see what’s worked, what went wrong, and gain a little insight to the meta along the way.

November 12, Chainbound Archon
I decided that a crazy unknown meta full of weird new strategies warranted a powerful (although somewhat clunky) combo: Ganger Chieftan and Drummernaut. I had the exact Age of Ascension deck in mind for this.

This deck tends to be a sort of ‘glass cannon’, but good draws could propel it forward.
And propel forward it did.
The first two rounds were fast and I drew exactly what I needed to become the threat. Utilizing the combo of Ganger Chieftain and Drummernaut, I was able to clear the board and gain alot of æmber.

But my real secret weapon was knowing all the cards from the new set. At least that’s what I thought. Which brings us to round three.
Round three didn’t go as well. The game was incredibly close, but I lost when I overlooked the text of one card. I’m not the type of player who will ‘take back’ a play. Fyre-Breath apparently gives a power boost that I forgot about. I attacked in without dealing lethal damage and it cost me the game. Nobody to blame but myself there. Getting a 2-1 record is respectable, given the unknown meta.
I then went 2-1 in sealed with a reasonable deck, nothing worth mentioning.
Overall, I’m happy with the results that day. It was my beginning glimpses of the Worlds Collide meta.

Important Lesson– Just because you know a card doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it again. You will notice high level players read the cards in play ALOT to avoid misplays like mine.

In The Days That Followed
Lots and lots of testing with new decks. Not only with the Crucible Online, but also playing solo games just to get a feel for how the new cards interact.
My first impression: Worlds Collide is incredible! All my best decks are getting stomped. Some of my typically weaker decks are faring better, but I don’t want to bring a weak deck to a tournament do I? The right CotA opponent would demolish me.
At this point, I hadn’t opened anything amazing from the new set.
So what to do?
Seems like the emerging meta is focused around huge creatures- which is terrible for a Drummernaut deck that wants to clear the board using it’s own creatures. It’s also not winning online as much as it used to which quickly verified my belief.
So back to the drawing board. Lots of testing, deck after deck. Gotta get losses to find out what wins.

November 19, Chainbound Archon
I decided on a using a deck that was focused on board presence and æmber, but was weak to steal. That seems like a decent option for selectively removing threats and pushing my own plans forward. This would be hard mode for me… it was my best option but already had 5 chains on it from previous events.
I was all set to play it, but right before the tournament I decided to buy two more decks. Why not?
That’s when I had my golden ticket moment and discovered Deirdre “Weasel” Sparkelic. I was in love.

This deck was a beauty. I have never done this before, but I chose to play it that night. On the spot.
Would this be true love or just a one-tournament stand?
The first game I ever played with Deirdre was in Chainbound that night. Believe it or not, I managed to go 3-0 with it.
This was during that period in Keyforge where Infurnace decks were really hyped by the community. Deirdre has Hysteria, Rot Grub, Exhume, and two copies of Infurnace. While that on it’s own doesn’t make a deck competitive enough, the rest of the list was very well rounded.
Even better, I managed 3-0 in sealed that night as well. My sealed deck wasn’t even close to my best Worlds Collide deck at this point.
So will it be Deirdre next week?
We shall see.

More Playtesting
In the following days, I noticed a trend amongst players on The Crucible Online. They were now using decks that seemed more resistant to Infurnace. Almost to a point where my amazing Deirdre deck was only winning a third of it’s matches.
The gun has become the target.
Hunting Witch decks started making a bigger resurgence than ever as lists came forward that relied less on Dust Pixie and Fuzzy Gruen. Virtuous Works? Ghostly Hand? All of a sudden, players don’t want æmber pips on their cards.
The board state was somehow becoming even more important, too. I didn’t think this could be possible- but it happened. Even Brobnar was looking top notch. Worlds had collided, and it was chaos.
Board-state æmber racing decks and Star Alliance combos were everywhere. This is gonna be rough.

November 23, Sealed
So a few of our local players made a trip to play sealed at another game store. It was about an hour drive for me, but I really wanted to get more Keyforge games in.
We show up and the place is empty, but only for a few minutes. The shop ended up with a turnout of around 20 players! Not bad for a little weekend sealed event. I was quite impressed.
So we each receive 2 sealed decks and choose one…
It happened again. Double Infurnace.
This time was a little different.
This time I have two board wipes in the form of Harbinger of Doom. Should be good… at least for sealed.

So I did really good with this one. I lost my first game (more on this later) but proceeded to win the remaining 3 rounds and get some prize support. Not too shabby. The only small downside was that the store didn’t use the GEM client sofware- which means no æmber shards were gained from playing that day.
But back to the tournament…
The one loss was actually in the first round. In retrospect, I truly believe I could have won it and learned a valuable lesson. You see, there is one card in my deck that stands out when used with Harbinger of Doom… the Obsidian Forge.

I had no idea how crucial this card would be to activate my Harbingers. I mulliganed it away in that first game.
In later games, getting the Obsidian Forge in play early would lead to some incredible board control. I realized it, but too late.
Harbinger just isn’t that good when he gets stunned repeatedly or has no creature to trade with, but the Forge gets around all that.
My most interesting game was against a Brobnar deck with triple Iron Obelisk. Yes… triple. I would have lost if not for the Harbinger / Forge combo.

Later Playtesting
I was really excited to try my new deck both online and against some of my own decks. Turns out that the deck is good. Really good… at least when you know how to play it properly. Likely to be used in alot of chainbounds in the near future.

In Conclusion
It appears the meta is shaping up to be decks based on board state. Decks that have 2-3 board wipes seem much stronger.
Dis is definitely the boss here… no surprise. CotA decks with multiple Hunting Witches, Taunt Creatures (especially with Ember Imp), and WC Star Alliance decks loaded with their signature play/fight/reap effects seem to be on top of their game. The card Arise! was very misleading in early testing. I believed it would be useless with all the purging strategies, but was very wrong. Most of the purge strategies function purely to remove your æmber generating cards. By the time they purge an Arise! you’ve already played it for some added board presence.
Good Saurian decks are out there in the wild. I would imagine the best ones have plenty of ward abilities and hopefully a copy or two of Axiom of Grisk.
I wouldn’t run decks with alot of stall strategies right now. As board state becomes more relevant, stalling the game without answering that board can be a bad idea. I would avoid Miasma, Drumble, Gatekeeper, and so on… unless the deck is really bonkers. Saurian capture might be an exception to this, since many lists can provide a high-end battlefield while making use of the captured æmber.
Lastly, keep an open mind about third-party deck ratings. I’ve noticed that these ratings systems are always a little skewed when a set first releases. This isn’t to speak badly of ratings systems, they just take time to get it all finely tuned. So don’t just play your highly ranked decks, play them all! There are many complex combos in Worlds Collide that need to be played to be fully understood.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all my losses, which I learn the most from. More importantly- I’m thankful for all my readers and their ongoing support.

  Until next time, 
     keep forging those keys!

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