Shard of the Week: Know When to Hold Em’
Welcome back to Shard of the Week!
First, I would like to say a word of thanks to my regular readers for being patient with my recent lack of content. You have not been forgotten! With the holidays and preparation for the Albany Vault Tour- I had to put writing on hold for a bit. Training for a Vault Tour takes a large amount of effort. I played a countless number of games online before I was comfortable with my deck selections. Even then, I ended up making one last minute deck swap the night before the event. Just goes to show that you can never put too much time into Vault Tour prep. Particularly, a VT which requires the use of three decks.
But I’m back to writing and rejuvenated with my top 8 placement in Albany! It was nice to see all that effort pay off with such great results (and a plush Fuzzy Gruen)!
I had a fantastic time at the event. Keyforge players are some of the nicest people in the world. It was an experience I will never forget. My thanks go out to all the wonderful Reapout fans I met during the event, and the staff at Yeti Gaming for one of the most precisely run tournaments I’ve attended for any game.
So enough of that rambling and on to our topic of the week….
Inquiries from a large number of newer players have led me to do this article on a very important piece of strategy to try and learn early. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily consider this to be part of my beginner basics series- rather it’s a crash course of things to consider during your games.
So today we’re going to cover a question I’ve been asked ALOT…
How do I decide what cards to hold or Archive?
Keyforge is an Æmber race, and playing/discarding lots of cards will often lead you to that victory, but there are those rarer situations where we choose not to play a card.
There’s no golden rule for when to hold a card, but there are a few tips I’ve learned along the way. Let’s have a look at a few examples that should help shed some light on those situations.
((Is It All About Deck Personality?))
There are alot of reasons NOT to play a card in your hand. The most obvious reason is that the card will have a greater benefit later on. For example, players will often opt to hold cards that impact the opponents Æmber until they are at their most useful: Effervescent Principle, Shatter Storm, Too Much to Protect, Burn the Stockpile, and even Interdimensional Graft (to name just a few). While this strategy is often effective and correct, I try to embrace a wider viewpoint than just the Æmber. While Æmber is the very heart of Keyforge, everything else is the circulatory system, lungs, liver, kidney, and bladder. It’s all important. That said, the first step to learning good strategy for holding cards is to learn these primary Æmber control options first. They are almost always the most important decisions to make.
I know- I just said it’s about more than Æmber, and it is. Here’s an example of one of those situations brought to you by a horde of Niffle Apes…
Assume your opponent has a ton of great creatures in their deck. We’re talkin’ about those nasty Niffles, tricky Tunks, and bombastic Brobnar. Right now they have just two creatures out to play and you’re not all that worried about such a small threat. In fact, you’re feeling at ease because your deck has one of the strongest board wipes in the game… Gateway to Dis.
It’s in your hand right now, yay! But there’s a problem; it’s the only board wipe in your deck. Should we wait to play our Gateway until there are more creatures to destroy?
This is most likely the case, though it depends on how good those two creatures in play really are.
The decision isn’t going to always be simple. What if there are two Niffles in play and you had two Gateways in your deck? What if you had three Gateways? What if Niffle Ape happens to be the perfect answer to our really important elusive creatures? We can begin to see how evaluations of what to hold will scale based on how your deck functions.
Should you always save your board wipe for a big board?
Should you always hold a card that steals for when they have Æmber to take?
So clearly the answer becomes dependent upon your deck, your opponent’s deck, and how likely you are to draw a similar effect when you need it. Which brings us to our next point:
It’s possible for a deck to be ‘lopsided’ with alot of redundancy. While Miasma can be a great card to hold onto, a deck with four copies of Miasma will probably just play them as it draws them. There’s often no point holding onto a card when the odds are good we will draw another of that same card (or a similar effect). Noticing things like this will give you a much better idea of how your deck plays, but it takes an honest evaluation and alot of practice.
(((So It’s All About Your Deck?)))
Take a good long look at your favorite Archon and ask yourself what it’s weaknesses are. In a previous article I had mentioned that having alot of losses can lead to alot of wins, and that’s especially true for learning when to hold cards. When you know your deck’s weakness, you can more readily decide which cards should be held in your hand (or Archived for later).
Each deck holds cards differently based on what each deck contains. Sounds simple enough. Now figure out YOUR deck!
(((What About My Opponent’s Deck?)))
Sometimes, we will hold a card that can respond to a play that our opponent is likely to make. Predicting plays can lead to some incredible victories. I’ve had many games won by letting my opponent steal a dozen Æmber with their Too Much To Protect, only to take it all back the next turn with my own copy. Or perhaps holding onto a Cleansing Wave until after they play their Posion Wave. The more knowledge of how the cards work, the better you will become at laying traps like these.
The longer the game plays out, the more intricate these traps can become. Keeping track of what cards your opponent has already played (and what they haven’t) will give you a steady flow of information that will help guide your decisions. This deep interaction of players tracking their opponent’s moves step by step is what sets Keyforge apart from other games. The early turns are pure chaos, while the later turns become more chess-like. It’s really a thing of beauty.
(((It’s All About You)))
It’s almost time to say farewell for today, but before I wrap up today’s topic I will leave you with one last word of wisdom direct from the Screaming Cave’s mouth….
Holding a card will mean you’re drawing one less card at the end of your turn, essentially giving yourself a chain, so the value of that card must be greater than another random draw from your deck. The longer you hold a card for, the longer you are virtually chained. Take your time, don’t rush the game, and think through every play.
Before you hold onto that card, just ask yourself if the card is better than an average draw. You are the only one who can answer this question. It’s your deck, your playstyle, and your strategy. Nobody else owns a copy of your deck and nobody has the right to tell you that you’re wrong.
So keep practicing the things you don’t play. Before you know it, you’ll be the master of not playing cards!
Until next time, Reapout!