This week’s spotlight deck at Swindle Team Events is U. B. Che Guarda la Fucina dell’Elettricità, owned by MIRTONVGC of the team Bad Resurgence. U.B. is a Mass Mutation deck featuring houses Shadows, Star Alliance and Untamed and it sits at 74 SAS on DoK.

At a glance, U.B. is a deck with good expected aember (24), good creature control (14), and good artifact control (4), with low aember control (5.5, although I think it plays better than that). There are a few important pieces in each house that make U.B. a balanced deck that will still force plenty of decision points for the Reversal matchup in the Newton format. Some of the highlights in U.B. include a steal-heavy Shadows house featuring double Look Over There!, double Rad Penny with a Seeker Needle to help cycle them, and double Subtle Otto for some disruption. U.B.’s Star Alliance house includes some good creature control with Quintrino Flux, double Subdue, and a Quixxle Stone (which I think should absolutely be played in this deck given its Untamed house). The Untamed house will lock down any artifacts including U.B.’s own Quixxle with its double Reclaimed by Nature and a Blossom Drake. Perhaps the biggest combo for expected aember is U.B.’s ability to consistently pull off a big Dark Harbinger turn with 8 action cards in the Untamed house!

The Archon strategy of U.B. is, I think, pretty straightforward. As I mentioned, there are some decision points there, but faith in the deck will go a long way. First, it is important to understand the best way to cycle the deck’s aember control in the two Rad Penny, as limited as it is. If the Seeker Needle isn’t out, have faith that the Quintrino and Savage Clash can help target them. One of the limits to Quintrino Flux though is that essentially all of the deck’s creatures are power 1 or power 4, with a few power 3 and one power 2. I say “limit” but this fact also makes the Quintrino quite reliable: it will do much better against a deck with lots of other 4-power creatures.

Another piloting point I mentioned is the consistency of the Dark Harbinger play, readying each time you play a Mutation card (of which there are 3 in the deck), one of the double Reclaimed by NatureResurgence, or Rapid Evolution (which changes the Quintrino Flux play quite a bit!). This may seem like an easy enough combo to shape hands and be patient for, however, it becomes much more consistent when shaped with the Star Alliance house’s Scout Pete and, especially, New FrontiersScout Pete helps discard needless cards that don’t contribute to the Harbinger play, but New Frontiers is the key. I have experience with a similar deck, and you always need to choose Untamed with New Frontiers in order to stash away those action cards or even the Harbinger itself. Otherwise, I would think the Archon game is relatively straightforward: shape those hands, get the Pennies cycling as best as possible, and play the Quixxle to help stall against decks with more creatures because U.B. has the artifact control to blank the Quixxle text box or purge it if necessary.

The Reversal strategy for U.B. hinges on knowing the decklist really well. Knowing exactly the kind of destruction and control cards that U.B. has is important. Consider the deck you pilot against U.B.: does it have artifacts? Maybe discard them until you see the two Reclaimed by Nature. Force U.B. to use them on its own Quixxle StoneSeeker Needle, or Miasma Bomb, if you can.

If your deck has lots of capturing, try to get captured aember on creatures that have power greater than 4—preferably your highest power creature. This will help avoid the Quintrino Flux and Savage Clash and will likely be hard to fight off, with the exception being a beefed up Dark Harbinger with skirmish and assault 3 via the Mutation of Instinct and double Mutation of Fury. Generally, though, that aember should be safe from being cleared. Good effective power could prove problematic for U.B.’s conditional creature control.

Being familiar with the cycling of the double Rad Penny can help when playing against it. If U.B.’s deck is sufficiently thinned, try to keep them alive, forcing the other player to cycle deck before destroying the Rad Pennies. Being able to turn that recursion off, to any degree, will help limit the aember control to the Miasma Bomb and the double Look Over There!. If you lack high effective power, having a deck with lots of 2- or 1- power creatures isn’t a bad alternative as it will make the Look Over There! plays much harder to do.

As luck would have it, this week’s spotlight deck squared off against last week’s spotlight deck, Reever Zho Amerhyx! Reever is a deck that pulls off its GenKA combo and pressures the board with good destruction cards and a potentially big Hypnotic Command play.

In the Archon game, artifacts dominated early. Hobo piloting Reever got out Lash of Broken Dreams and Mirton got out the Quixxle Stone. Hobo pressured early with multiple Mars turns, but didn’t get the Generosity off just yet. Mirton answered, purging the Lash and getting out the Rad Pennies and Seeker Needle early. The Quixxle Stone made a difference as well, forcing bad discards for Hobo—not only creatures, but cards like Unlocked Gateway and Banish, because playing them would put cards like Rad Penny back in the deck or worse, in Mirton’s archives.

Mirton forged first key, but doing so caused Reever’s Strange Gizmo to destroy Quixxle Stone, opening the door for a big Dis response that saw Nyzyk Resonator exhumed and Angwish hit the board to up key cost to as much as 13. While Mirton was ahead, checking for second key at 9 aember, Hobo got off Reever’s GenKA play at turn 10 to forge a key, draw 18 cards, and get grip of the board to such an extent that Mirton conceded the following turn.

In the Reversal game, both decks worked much more slowly, getting creatures onto the board, perhaps expecting Quixxle Stone to hit the board soon. The first big play came from Hobo, using U.B.’s Untamed action cards to check at 11 aember and put 10 power counters on Dark Harbinger. Mirton’s response was as good as it gets, using Reever’s Mars house to its fullest extent to Hypnotic Command-Zookeeper and then GenKA to forge at zero aember while bringing Hobo’s aember total from 11 to 5. Following that, Mirton used Reever to continually pressure the board and check for subsequent keys, ultimately winning in convincing fashion.

Mirton piloting U.B. split their games 1-1 this week against a very formidable GenKA deck. Mirton showed his ability to pilot judiciously in the Reversal match by maximizing those Mars combos, and it was a testament to both pilots that the results were consistent between the two games. Many Keyforge matches are simply a matter of one deck having the answer to another, of one being the “rock” to its “scissors.” Or, it is often the case that one deck is simply more powerful than the other: has more diverse control options, better quality creatures, etc. This matchup appears to be more of the former, with both decks being good, with the caveat that Reever has a huge game- changing play in its GenKA combo. Still, this was a really interesting matchup for reading Keyforge meta, where U.B. with its potential for crazy high expected aember and good destruction couldn’t get past the big, admittedly unfair, Mars key cheat.

Finally, as a last bit of analysis. Consider the AERC numbers of both U.B. (on the left) and Reever (on the right):

This is to say that both decks are built quite similarly and have similar AERC proportions. E and C are basically identical. Both have artifact control. Admittedly, Reever’s A is better than U.B.’s, but U.B. also has better disruption. The one big difference, I think, is the speed/efficiency which, in Reever, is being boosted entirely by the Martian Generosity. All of this is to say that the difference between these two decks hinges almost entirely on a single power play/combo/card in GenKA. But it also tells us that AERC and SaS, while invaluable to the way we understand the game, never tell the whole story.

—WoodrowS (phalanxstrike)