This week’s spotlight deck at Team Swindle Events is Aki, il Vincente della Caserma  Tenace which is owned by Gimu87 of the team 3Ur-Ch1n5. Aki is a Dark Tidings deck  featuring houses Logos, Star Alliance, and Untamed. It currently sits at 66 SAS on DoK.

    At a glance, Aki is a deck that wants to rush past its opponents, boasting an efficiency  score of 13 and expected aember of 26. Aki has artifact control in a single Mollymawk,  but very low aember control, with only EDAI and Lieutenant Valmart helping to up key  cost. One play that jumped out to me immediately is the combination of EDAI with  Away Team and as many as 7 upgrades to fill up the archives and up key cost  (admittedly two of these upgrades would be Static Charge, and double Force Field/double Shield-U-Later make destroying the Away Team harder to accomplish).  Hydrocataloguer is another useful card to pair with EDAI, even if the process of  archiving is slower and less reliable than other archiving methods. Beach Day might  contribute to archiving though as it can throw EDAI back to hand, letting you archive  again. Yet, the EDAI might be better used simply as a matter of shaping hands and  contributing to the deck’s overall speed, which is one of its most admirable qualities.  With Phase Shift (with a draw enhancement) and CXO Taber, Aki has the potential to  play cards from all three houses in a single turn! Archon’s Callback, Zenzizenzizenzic,  and Lay of the Land are the other three big efficiency boosters in the deck.

    The Archon strategy of Aki is to maximize its speed, its ability to generate aember  quickly, and its surprising disruption pieces. Chronophage is an extremely useful  creature in this latter respect. Gimu told me that Chronophage is, in fact, a target for  mulligans because it creates problems for opponents in early game states. A deck  without a destruction card or a significantly threatening creature will find itself  particularly vexed by first-turn Chronophage and possibly have to discard quality cards  in order to move along its hands. In later game states, double Force Field and double  Shield-U-Later can help keep Chronophage on the line longer, too. 

    Aki’s low aember control is something that might irritate pilots who seek a control  strategy in Archon matchups. I think low member control can make for generally a  smaller number of decision points at crucial moments; by having almost no aember  control, you minimize your chances of making mistakes. For example, one problem I  often have is taking a turn that does little except get my opponent off of key. These  kinds of moves don’t shape my hand at all, they generate little or no aember, and they  don’t change the board significantly. Piloting Aki, though, I would be far less likely to make those mistakes. Aember control, believe it or not, is sometimes the enemy of  success—it can distract from one’s own aember total and even one’s own win  conditions.

    Aki is also a great selection for Archon in that it is a Dark Tidings deck that manipulates  the tide and cashes in on it being raised just enough to be a problem for any non-DT  deck that it faces. Rocketeer Tryska, Deepwater Gruen, All Tide Up, and Mechabuoy are all quality DT cards that take advantage of the tide and help boost Aki’s expected  aember. In this particular Swindle Team Event, the odds are also quite good that you  will face a non-DT deck, given that each team must have three decks from three  different sets. Only 17 DT decks appear among the event’s 78 total decks, so you have  roughly an 80% chance of facing a non-DT deck in any given round, which makes these  tide-dependent cards worth a little extra. The only downside there is that Aki has few  cards that raise the tide, except for All Tide Up and Austeralis Seaborg. All that said,  what happens to Aki this round is against those odds, and it had to square off against a  fellow speedy Dark Tidings deck!

    I quite like Aki for Reversal games for a few reasons, despite the deck’s strengths in  Archon. First, that low aember control is really convenient for Reversal matchups. When  you check against Aki, you aren’t worried about getting negged off that key, especially  if you have already seen the EDAI and/or the Valmart.

    Now it may seem like I’m contradicting my take on Aki’s Archon strategy, where I argued that low aember control can make for easier piloting. That is still true, but the  deck has a number of piloting decisions to make and fumbling those calls can be costly —this is what makes it a fantastic Reversal choice. In fact, on its surface, trying to rush  with Aki will lead to unexperienced pilots playing valuable cards just to play them, not  maximizing their significance to the broader game, meanwhile giving the opponent an  unearned advantage. Given the deck’s good speed, it might actually be a good idea to  hold onto those valuable cards. Let’s take a look at the Untamed house to get a sense  of what I mean.

    The first thing I noticed about this house’s decklist is that there is only one copy of each  card. This makes piloting a deck like Aki in Reversal more complicated than it looks.  One needs to know exactly how valuable each card is as you have to plan on only  seeing each once (despite the deck’s good efficiency). At least, you can only plan on  maximizing its usefulness the first time you get a card in hand. For example, how  valuable is Beach Day? Do you have to use it on your own EDAI or Deepwater Gruen?  What about Infighting: can you afford to use it if your board is bigger than theirs? Do  you save Genetic Drift until you have Aembermancy in hand? I have my thoughts  about each of these possibilities, and they probably differ from Gimu’s own thoughts  and well-worn strategies. There are certainly other valid ways to play them as well. Aki  makes for an interesting Reversal deck in that you have to trust this little oddity, this  scarcity of card multiples, to force potentially costly decisions in a deck with little to no  aember control.

    Gimu piloted Aki against Xander86 of Bad Resurgence, who brought 㬵ᛔ旷ᛣጱ㯢ᬻಀ 㫎·៎ශ to the Crucible. (I google-translated the deck name and it came up as “Jedi  Daya Feidun from the Farmhouse” in Chinese, so for simplicity’s sake I will refer to this  deck as Daya). Daya is a 76 SAS DT deck featuring houses Logos, Sanctum, and  Untamed. I’ve already described how this is a bad (and unlikely) hit for Aki, which  would have benefitted from a cross-set game. In Daya, certain big-aember-generating  cards stick out: double Strange Ordination and triple Deepwater Gruen. Final  Analysis and Data Forge threaten as a viable key cheat as well.

    In fact, in the Archon game, Xander took full advantage of Daya’s aember generation,  quickly playing one Gruen on the first turn and both Strange Ordinations on turn 2. Gimu attempted to get Aki’s Logos engine rolling, but to little avail; turn 3 saw Xander  play Think Twice to play Strange Ordination again and check for an early second key.  Forgive or Forget also let Xander archive the other Strange Ordination, ultimately  letting Xander play 12 aember pips in three turns! Gimu responded with a full Logos  turn, getting out the Chronophage, Mechabuoy, and Hydrocataloguer. The latter  artifact was destroyed quickly by the Mollymawk during an Untamed turn where  Xander also played the two remaining Deepwater Gruens. This constant aember  generation proved too much for Aki, and the Final Analysis-Data Forge combo  showed up on turn 6 to finish the job. All in all, Daya simply had many of the qualities  that Aki fears: high aember pip count and the ability to keep up with it (even surpass it)  speedwise. Daya, as good as it is, also clearly high-rolled in some respects, having all  of those multi-pip cards in hand right away. But as we all know, in Keyforge, it can and  does happen! 

    In the Reversal matchup, Gimu also benefitted from Daya’s high expected aember with  a first-turn Deepwater Gruen. Gimu clearly didn’t high-roll quite so much with Daya, as  early turns saw Daya and Aki both populating the board—a slower game than the  Archon match. In turns 3 and 4, Gimu was able to get out Daya’s other two Deepwater  Gruens and a Strange Ordination for a healthy 9-aember check (a safe check, too,  knowing Aki’s low A). Xander and Aki responded with destructive turns, using Aki’s  Untamed action cards like Infighting and Beach Day to help clear the board, but Gimu  was able to imitate Daya’s devastating moves from the Archon matchup: playing the  other Strange Ordination and using Forgive or Forget to archive it and one of the Gruens. Subsequent turns were a case of merely playing the pips to maximize Daya’s E  and put Aki in a tight spot. Xander made it as close as it could probably get, using  CXO Taber to bring out Aki’s own Deepwater Gruen on a Star Alliance turn. But Aki’s  low A and Daya’s superb E ultimately told the whole story. Gimu’s big checks held and  he was able to split the match 1-1.

    While clearly an unfavorable matchup for Aki—in many ways Daya seems a version of  Aki on steroids—Gimu got the job done by winning the Reversal and splitting the  match. Sometimes, that’s all you can hope for in Newton. I think it’s interesting that  both decks had similar builds and philosophies: decks that zoom and generate aember,  with very little control. The spider charts for both are above, Aki is on the left and Daya  on the right. The big dent in both being in A and C. Perhaps the Newton strategy there  is to maximize one’s own win condition in Archon and, in Reversal, give yourself a  matchup where you know exactly what kinds of checks stick and what kinds of  destruction to anticipate.