Greetings, Archons! Cooperative Hunting is back. With Worlds Collide releasing this week, I am pretty sure it will be metagame-shaking in some way, and I would like to try and figure out how.
Introduction: what we have before Worlds Collide’s release
Before Worlds Collide, we have Call of the Archons and Age of Ascension, two sets which have been confronted way more theoretically than practically, specially considering that the amount of Age of Ascension decks registered is roughly 1/3 of the amount of Call of the Archons decks (350k out of 1,363k on November 5th). We are not going back to the set quality debate, but instead let’s see what each set is like.
Call of the Archons features the following:
- More Action-based, and therefore, if the deck had any Aember rush potential, faster on average. Additionally, decks tend to have less creatures than the average Age of Ascension, which highlights the previous trend.
- Less combo-based. It had LANS and LART until the errata, as well as Battle Fleet + Key Abduction, but not much else. Notice that I am not including interactions that are not new to Age of Ascension, such as Total Recall + Key Abduction or Too Much to Protect + any steal card.
- More Aember-control heavy: it has a significantly higher number of Aember control cards which do not require any condition to be met. This made Shadows (+ Dis) decks strictly better in most scenarios
As opposed to that, Age of Ascension can be defined as follows:
- More board-based: the creature count is significantly higher on average plus there are some pieces that can do a good work, e. g. Grump Buggy or Might Makes Right. Additionally, a good portion of the most relevant actions of this set are actually Call of the Archons reprints which, again, emphasizes this trend.
- A lot more combo-based: GenKA and DrummerGanger are great examples of “degenerate” combos that can potentially win the game out of nowhere. Add the right decklists and the list increases: Heart of the Forest, [REDACTED] and Duskwitch can find themselves in a great spot on the right decks. While this is a good symptom of set quality, the odds of getting an actually insane GenKA deck are so slim, and although the same is not necessarily true for DrummerGanger, it is not a game-winning combo at every point into the game nor against every deck.
- Way less Aember control-based: cards that provide it are circumstantial or have restrictions for the most part and just simply have a lower count.
According to the previous considerations, a concise description of a winning deck in the current KeyForge metagame is quite simple: gain a ton of Aember while preventing your opponent from doing so – i. e., basically steal your opponent’s Aember -, forge out of step and win. Although at this point only Dis does not have a released forge-out-of-step card, the importance of gaining Aember faster than your opponent takes care of it makes us think of 2 houses to fulfill those requirements, and what is more concerning, both from a specific set: Shadows and Untamed from Call of the Archons. Add the overwhelming disruptive potential of Dis from Call of the Archons and you will find a quite likely glance at the top 8 decks of Archon format competitive events so far.
Even though not every tournament is the same, this article does not mean to be any sort of statistical analysis but an attempt to identify general trends in the current metagame and try to talk early about how it will evolve, so I think that does it for Call of the Archons and Age of Ascension.
What will Worlds Collide bring and how is it going to affect the current state of the game?
This is the key question, and in order to answer this one we have the most valuable stuff of this section: our fellow archons’ contributions. Big thanks to all of you for letting me know your thoughts on this, making a new Cooperative Hunting article possible.
Arranging their opinions is never easy, since they all give valuable information from a KeyForge enthusiast’s perspective, but let’s go from the general to the more specific aspects.
Our fellow archons @KeyForgeLeeds and Liam Hall (@MunkeyKungFu) from Twitter share the hope to get local scenes revitalised. KeyForge Leeds compares Worlds Collide being launched to Age of Ascension, which doubled the assistance to their local tournaments. However, in the long term, the deck diversity ended up being reduced due to the quality difference between the average Age of Ascension deck and Archon-good Call of the Archons decks.
Will deck diversity still be an issue, then? Much like our fellow archon and content creator Kurt (@Unzinc on Twitter), I think it will not. I will gladly join his prediction of Ward being Too Much to Deal With (Hey, FFG, new card! 😉 ) for traditional Untamed and Shadows lists. Check out Kurt’s article here and you will find more interesting opinions, including the risks of exalting, Brobnar raising in quality and a lot more!
Our fellow archon Shea Ashbee (@SheaAshbee on Twitter) adds an interesting component: the right set up can be devastating, giving us the example of Nepenthe Seed into Cooperative Hunting to clear Ward on exalted Dinos, then Nature’s Call for value. I will call it a learnt lesson by concluding that since every deck is unique, you want to look at your opponents decklist before exalting for a significant amount of Aember for which you do not have an answer later on. I do not think that changes the fact that in general, Call of the Archons Untamed and Shadows will have a hard time dealing with Ward!
I particularly like the thoughts from Helagus (@Helagus1 on Twitter) and Archonvict (@Archonvict), who share the belief that the metagame will go through serious changes. Which is fine! Were you a casual archon who was fed up with getting 6 feet under by the strongest Call of the Archons decks? Well, now is your time to shine! Get into your LGS, grab a couple (or as many as you want) Worlds Collide decks and start testing them. You definitely will not see Call of the Archons players as comfortable when something prevents them from stealing your Aember or wiping your board.
Archonvict sees Worlds Collide as a very versatile set which can get in the way of most things: from rush to stealing, not to mention unfair combos – The Purge commencement is imminent! – and big tempo plays such as Nature’s Call or Lost in the Woods, or board wipes. Fighting warded creatures will also be a problem in case you do not have direct damage to go with it.
Helagus adds that Worlds Collide takes board presence to a whole new level: not only there are relevant creatures, but also powerful artifacts, as well as great Upgrades. And you know what? That is absolutely right: Worlds Collide brings a handful of awesome Upgrades that will finally make the card type relevant in the game, particularly in the case of Star Alliance.
Nathan, the Vault Tour Richmond champion (@nathanstarwalt1), mentions the oppressive potential of Quixxle Stone, specially along with Heart of the Forest, that is an anti-fun combination indeed, no wonder Alex, runner up at Richmond (@Lord0fWinter1), wants to burn them all, lol.
And to conclude, we have Raúl (@rauluar on Twitter), who also hopes that Worlds Collide ends the Call of the Archons reign. However, as he points out, we do not want a new king but a more balanced metagame between sets!
Less than 2 days before Worlds Collide officially releases, we have reasons to think that it is going to change the KeyForge metagame for good, giving us the first fully satisfying new set experience for KeyForge. I did have a great time with Age of Ascension, but I know some people did not, and I understand why: if your local scene is full of Call of the Archons oppressive decks and you can barely win a single game, then you will not feel good, that is obvious. However, we all feel like this time it is going to be different: people is going to trust in Worlds Collide card quality, cracking those decks open and, what is more important, playing them in their local scenes to prove that KeyForge now has more than one consistently good set.
If you ask me, I think that is going to lead to a chance to reevaluating all the decks people have. Decks that basically only controlled Aember used to be great. Justice “Relámpago”, Lord del Cenagal, which got me to a 2nd place in my local Store Championship, is a good example. However, both in terms of gameplay (only controlling Aember can mean exhaustingly grindy games) and in terms of general deck quality (I do not want to find that 50% of my deck is literally useless thanks to cards like Odoac the Patrician or Discombobulator), I will gladly reconsider my concept of best decks for the current and upcoming events.
So here is my piece of advice for you who are reading this: No matter to what extent you thought this, get your mind ready to change the sentence “Call of the Archons is the best KeyForge set” to the past tense. Get to your Local Game Store Worlds Collide release events, grab a deck, start playing and see how it feels. Then, keep testing it / them at your local scene with enough consistency to find its strengths and weaknesses: I feel like a whole new KeyForge era is about to start!
That is all for today’s article. First of all, thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed the article like I did writing it, since my enjoyment and yours are the reasons that make me want to keep writing every article. If you liked it, and would like to stay tuned for more, make sure you follow me on Twitter: @blazing_archon. We also have a Facebook page that you can like / follow if you wish, that would be amazing of you!
Last but not least, you may want to stay tuned to what my KeyForge team does. If so, make sure to follow us on Instagram: @teamdtae. See you soon in the Cosmic Crucible for another article. I will soon start analyzing Worlds Collide decks, so feel free to hit me up with your lists! Until then, #StayForGin!