13th of February, KFPL Qualifiers / Forging with Friends, by Simon "Zaramis"
My name is Simon, called Zaramis online, and I have been a fairly competitive card player for some five years now. I came from Game of Thrones to Keyforge and started investing heavily in the summer of 2020, even if I briefly played during CotA and AoA too. I am from Gothenburg, Sweden, and I am very active in the local Swedish online community of KF where we play in a national league.
I joined The Final Swindle when invited by KarenB a few months back, and two weeks before the KFPL team qualifiers, I invited a good friend (Amrtaka) over to join us for KOTE8. We decided to sign up for the KFPL tournament as well as a second Swindle team, in order to get more matches in and a bit as practice for playing in KOTE.
In this report, I’ll be focusing on my own thoughts, my choice of deck, as well as run through the matches. I’ll touch briefly on Amrtaka’s choices too and his matchups.
When it came to the deck choices, we are both big fans of the MM board meta, where you pressure keys and the board at the same time. I picked a favorite deck of mine, “He That Dreams of Car Keys”, an MM 25-creature rush deck that utilizes its board to an immense degree.
I am always extra pleased to use it, since it lacks all three of the Big Houses - Logos, Dis and Shadows. My small rebellion against the dominant houses. Although, in an event like this, Untamed turned out to be even more dominant, but still. There were only three decks signed up that lacked all three of the above, so it was a rarity.
I counted with facing a lot of rush decks, and bringing a high efficiency rush deck of my own that also offers an enormous board pressure and very few filler cards, and no artifacts to slow down my tempo with, seemed like a good call.
Amrtaka then decided to bring a themed deck that fit well with mine, another MM deck - She who Tackles Treachery - also a board-heavy deck but one that worked more with wards and capturing and scaling aember control, rather than pressure and rush.
Our idea was that Car Keys would always be able to score 2 keys, and it would punish any deck without heavy board control to threaten win. Amrtaka’s deck would always be able to grind out two keys, and sometimes score a win even against unlikely opponents.
With that, we were also settled on our Valentine’s Day theme and also our team name: He and She. (This did not correspond to our real life genders, however, but was only about the deck names.)
With our choices locked in, we looked forward to the event and to getting royally beat up - that was my experience from the KFPL triad and Glorious You, and Amrtaka had much less experience than me, so we did not go in with great expectations of victories, but with hopes for a lot of fun.
vs Aki „Die Bombe“, Drohne der Einöde, piloted by Finchmaster, Hamburg Atlanteans
This first match looked very grim from the get-go. 35 Expected Aember is a lot more than Car Keys can generate, and it does not have many good ways to slow an opponent down. On top of it all, my opponent’s deck also had two big board wipes and generally seemed to have all the advantages over my board-based, slower rush.
It became a desperate scramble to establish a board, pushing past a wipe by Numquid the Fair and holding relatively steady on keys. I predicted that his two Ritual of Balance would be a problem, and they were. They provided a very dangerous threat unless I could go real high in Aember, and even then, to be able to control my aember in Untamed will always be nasty.
At the end, I had to choose between going to check, or removing his biggest Untamed threat. I picked the latter, knowing that I held two capture and lots of aember burst on hand, and an enormous board with a Daemo-Alien threatening to steal that last aember. I stopped at 5, ensuring that he couldn’t steal with Untamed, and that his untamed threat was gone.
My opponent, who was unlucky enough to not draw his Glorious Few while I still had an enormous board lead, decided to play The Spirit’s Way to get rid of my Faust and all the other big threats that were preventing his victory.
Unfortunately, he had missed the Daemo-Alien, and so gave me the aember I needed to forge, making any counterplays I had unnecessary. He did need to use the Spirit’s Way, because he had no other options of removing Faust, who was holding the board down with a warded Citizen Shrix.
Amrtaka eked out a 2-3 loss, bringing our first match to 5-5 in keys.
Key tally: 5 keys
vs F. Cuvier, Heimgrun’s Elderly Wizard, piloted by Nikki1321, team Voidstrike
I always start off by identifying the weak points of the opponent’s deck, the part of the deck that I can put the pressure on in order to make them react to me, rather than me react to them. With this deck, it was the aember control, rather than the board pressure. It was mostly tied up in two Edies and two Information Exchange - with two Exhumes that could reuse it. That meant I would have to reap more and expand the board less, especially considering Red Alert.
They got out a great star alliance board, warded and with two Kirbys doing their thing, but Star Alliance was the only house that couldn’t do anything at all about my keys. I just pushed and pushed aember until they needed to react, and then killed the Edies when they appeared. Despite the massively efficient Star Alliance, the aember control was not enough.
3-1 in Keys, with Amrtaka taking home a 3-2.
Updated key tally: 11
vs. V'room, Way Predator, piloted by Berry of Nothingham Anomalies
If the last match showed a very clear Aember-control shaped weakness, this deck had its glaring weakness in its lack of board wipes or reliable spot removal. It had a Nature’s Call and a Save the Pack, and not much else that could take my Saurians down. It did have 28 expected aember and good aember control, but if I could just take over the board, I knew I had a good chance.
I mulliganed for a strong board, and immediately put the pressure on. Natures’ Call was forced out turn 2 or 3, and from there on, I could commit fully. I flooded the board completely, and when the Speed Sigil came down, my deck got even leaner.
In the end, the speed sigil spelled out the end, when my Keyfrog came out ready, I reaped with the rest of the Untamed board and it fought its way to my third key.
3-1 in keys, while Amrtaka took a narrow loss with 2-3, bringing us to 5-4 for the round.
Updated key tally: 16
vs “Gasoline” Maximiliano, piloted by compacta_D of [Ro]Bot House
So, this started out great, I thought. Had four big beefy Saurians in my opening and, and was going second, and against a deck that looked weak on big board control. (I did not read the name of it, only looked at the list). My opponent starts off with a Turn 1 Teliga. I glance down at my hand, and realize I have no way to handle that. What gives?
I felt confident in the match-up, still, so I just thought “What can go wrong?” and played four Saurians on the board. Four Aember to my opponent. They proceed to Control the Weak me into Untamed, where I also don’t have any answers to Teliga, but I do have 3 creatures. I play 2 of them, reaping with the Ghosthawk on two of my Saurians, and discard the Gloriana's Attendant. Seven aember to my opponent, and two to me.
They forge their first key. I still don’t draw any solutions, except a Dino-Alien. Do I fight with what I have left on the boar? Nah, let’s build more. I play the Alien, exalt it, and pop Teliga.
Six Aember and one Exalt given to Teliga’s owner before she was gone. But, once that was over, I couldn’t really see what answers the other deck could possibly have to a 10+ creature wide board filled with dangerous threats.
The Restringuntus and other CtWs had no effect at all, since the choice was usually either the house I had the most of in hand, or the two houses already dominating the board.
At some point during the match, the streamers joined, and started commenting on the deck I was facing, and suddenly my heartrate went up a lot. I am playing against that monster? Luckily, at that point, it seemed almost over, and I dared believe in the power of the Car Keys.
The entire match (including my three Teliga turns) took 6 turns and a total of 5 minutes turn time (on my end), before Car Keys clocked in its third key at the start of Turn 7, leaving Gasmax with one key.
Amrtaka scored a very tight win against Novulari the Strongly Apologetic with its 5 urchins, bringing us to 6-3 in keys for the round.
Updated key tally: 22
vs. Mr. Hindroon, the Natural Spirit-Caller, played by Joelker41 of Mars Needs A(C)ember
I looked at my opponents deck and saw the feared, nay, dreaded GenKa. However, just like before, I identified weaknesses - certainly not its speed or aember generation, but it lacked both aember control and creature control. Against Car Keys, that is a very rough position to be in.
The defining moment of the match came early, when my opponent played a Tantadin as their turn 1 play.
I followed up with a Subdue for 2 aember, and two Alien mutants - the ones that look at the top 3 cards and draws one. My opponent played some minor creatures, and I used the next turn to fight with them both, utilizing the Tantadin’s drawback to let them survive and start sorting the deck for my benefit, and drawing cards that would set up for better turns. I arranged a really good Saurian hand, and a decent Untamed one with them. I played my own Axiom to ward one of them, and they proved sticky. I got two more fights out of them, and so was pretty confident that both my hand and the bottom of my deck would have what I needed.
A potentially defining moment came when they went up to 4 aember, and had not played a Mars turn in a long time.
I decided to play my Fertility Chant to ensure that they could make a key, in case they had Generosity on hand, while continuing my own pressure of my carefully curated hands.
With that, and the board, I could secure all three of my keys within the next two turns, and never saw Gen nor Ka.
3-1, and with Amrtaka taking another narrow loss of 2-3, we went onwards.
Updated key tally: 27
“Stressex” Mallory, Cavern Phony, piloted by Ewok_jr of “An Xrayed Ewok from AC”
A faster, more brutal variant of the fifth match, this one actually saw Martian Generosity being played. However, with the deck suffering from the same weaknesses as the last one, I could capitalize even more on my high aember generation. It did have two Mars First and a Proliferator, however, making that GenKa extremely dangerous.
However, the match was almost sealed when I opened my hand and saw 4 Star Alliance cards, including Kirby, arranged my creatures with Survey, then used Kirby to play a Lumilu with a draw pip for yet another Survey, everything in Turn 1.
After that, the aember generation just exploded. My opponent went up to 4 aember, and I feared the GenKa. I repeated the play from the last round, and generously gave them a Fertility Chant, making them forge and end up at 0 aember.
They did have a Proliferator out, and I regretted being greedy and not killing it. I really should have, but the only thing that could was my Lumily on my Untamed turn, and I needed the Fertility Chant played. I greeded and reaped for 3 aember extra with Lumilu. It almost cost me dearly, but luckily, my opponent first had to reap with the Proliferator to even gain aember, then made an unfortunate miscalculation on their GenKa turn and fizzled the Key Abduction with one aember.
After that, I just had to hold off, since I was sitting at 18 aember and 1 key going into turn 5.
It went well, and I did have a lot of aember control in my hand, as well as a keycheat.
The match wrapped up with 3-1 in keys, and Amrtaka took yet another bravely fought 2-3 match, bringing our grand total up to 32 keys!
I was so high on adrenaline, with this being my first success in anything this competitive, and I was so humbled by the many great decks and players that I had fought, that I rambled a lot after the games were done. Both me and Amrtaka were stunned by the success, and couldn’t really believe it ourselves. For us, this was huge, with no tournaments in the past even coming close to this.
We celebrated with our supportive and awesome team, The Final Swindle, even if unfortunately the other duo had not managed to break into the top.
All in all, the call to bring such an overpowering and rushy board-based deck proved to be a great choice, and no decks could really handle both of its strong suites - since they had to both handle a 25-creature board with speed and deck-pruning abilities, as well as an intense aember pressure, while striving to produce keys of their own. It might not have been the right call in an event where forging keys even while losing had not been such an important factor, but for this particular tournament, it was.
Final key tally: 32, with 5 team wins and 1 team tie, and a qualifier spot to KFPL!
He That Dreams of Car Keys apparently also dreamt of Aember Keys, and went undefeated with 18 keys forged and 8 keys forged against it.
Looking forward to a lot more Keyforge in the future, and big thanks to KFPL and all the helpful organizers, as well as the streamers, the great community and my team, the Final Swindle, as well as KarenB who brought me into the international community and welcomed me with open arms into her team!
/ Simon, aka Zaramis