Greetings, Archons! So the sealed Richmond Vault Tour took place last weekend and as usual, only a single Archon could emerge victorious. He is Nathan Starwalt, who you may know from Twitter (@nathanstarwalt1). Today he has kindly accepted to enter the Cosmic Crucible and answer our questions.
First of all welcome to the Cosmic Crucible Nathan, thank you very much for joining us today, and most importantly, congratulations on such an amazing run at Vault Tour Richmond!
1.-Please tell us about yourself: Who are you and what’s your link to the KeyForge community. How did you start getting involved with the game?
I stream KeyForge on Twitch with my friend, Justin. We are getting close to a year old, since we started streaming shortly after the game released. When the game was announced at GenCon 2018, I was immediately sold. Both Justin and I jumped into the game by buying several displays of decks, and we spent a week opening and playing decks.
We wanted to find out which deck of the ones we had opened was the best and it randomly happened that we had exactly 100 decks. We had come up with a scheme to play the decks against each other, and when we sat down to start playing, we realized that we should be recording the games. Justin suggested streaming it, and thus, the channel was born.
2.-Do you play any other board games?
Here are some of my recent favorites: Gloomhaven, Scythe, Terraforming Mars, Bargain Quest. I spent a lot of my adult years working for hobby stores, so I have played a lot of other types of games, like RPGs and miniature games.
3.-Besides CoDameron from Bouncing Deathquark winning the American Grand Championship, you are the very first Vault Tour winner to be as involved with the game by means of content creation. How does it feel compared to being “just” a skillful competitive player that just plays KeyForge on their own?
There is a lot of visibility that a lot of other skilled players would not get, so I feel like there is a degree of responsibility to the community. Justin and I try to make the channel as inviting as possible, and Twitch provides a unique way to talk to viewers while playing the game. There is a call and response that you wouldn’t necessarily get with YouTube or a podcast. I sincerely think the hours of discussing this game with other players on the internet has made me a better player, and I hope that viewers get as much from our experience as we do.
4.-I think one’s community is really important for both enjoying the game and becoming a good player. Who do you play KeyForge with?
For obvious reasons, Justin is the person I have played the most KeyForge with. We have an anemic local scene, but a chainbound will come together every so often. I’m hoping the alternate-art decks will revitalize local play. I have converted a coworker to the game, and I’m working on a second coworker.
5.-How much time do you invest on testing per day or week?
The vast majority of the games I play are recorded, which is roughly 20 games or about 6 to 8 hours a week. I spend several hours a week on Twitter discussing the game, and I try to check out the other content creators’ work when I can.
6.-What’s your favorite KeyForge format and why?
Is it a cop-out answer if I say that each format has a place and I’ve enjoyed all of them one way or another? I enjoy Adaptive, but I never get to play it. I think Triad is also extremely skill testing, but best of 3 rounds of Keyforge take a really long time.
7.-What was your previous Vault Tour experience before Vault Tour Richmond?
I went to VT Atlanta, both the sealed and archon Gencon Vault Tours. I also attended the American Grand Championships. I did not do great in Atlanta, or at the GC, but I made day 2 of the Gencon Sealed.
8.-How did your expectations about your result change through the whole tournament?
The deck I opened was crazy, so I was trying to keep my expectations low to avoid disappointing myself. I almost lost round 3, so I knew the deck wasn’t invincible. Justin beat me in round 5, so I was pretty worried that I might not make day 2. I liked my deck’s chances in a best of three round, which I knew the top 4 and finals matches were. I lost game 1 in both the top 4 match and the finals, so I’m really glad that I had the other chances.
9.-To what extent do you think KeyForge competitive tournaments are about the player or the deck? How does it change between formats?
There are four parts to a player’s success in tournaments: deck, skill, luck and matchups. These are about equal, because some combination of three of the factors can offset the fourth.
10.-How do you pick your deck in a sealed Vault Tour?
I would change my strategy depending on the set, but I prioritize Aember Control in AoA. There are some degenerate combos (*cough* Drummernaut/Ganger Chieftain) in AoA that I would also prioritize if they are present in the pool. Board state is really important, so decks that can go head-to-head with a Grump Buggy deck need to be considered.
11.-What other tips for competitive KeyForge sealed can you give the Archons?
Play with as many different decks in a set that you can. Playing a deck that matches your playstyle is better than playing a deck that looks better numerically. Worlds Collide sealed promises to be a completely different experience than the last two sets, so much of my advice for AoA is not going to apply to WC.
12.-Did you open your best decks yourself or got them through the secondary market?
I have not purchased anything through the secondary market, but the collector in me has so far resisted the urge to go out and buy a vanity deck with my name.
13.-What are your thoughts on the KeyForge secondary market?
Secondary markets are important, since people like owning things they know are valuable. The secondary market needs to be healthy, otherwise it will collapse in on itself. I don’t participate in the secondary market enough to know if it is healthy.
14.-Deck evaluation systems (SAS/AERC) have been discussed a lot recently. What’s your opinion about them and the way they impact the Archons’ perception of decks?
The scores are a decent comparative tool, but players probably focus on the final score a bit too much. How decks matchup up is more important, in my estimation.
15.-What is your own way to decide how good a deck is?
Play it and play against it. Learn how the deck wins and what it loses to. No deck is invincible.
16.-Organized Play is also about to change with the inclusion of Vault Warriors. How do you think these tournaments will affect the game as we currently know it?
Hopefully, Vault Warriors will bring in an influx of new players or players who have been away for a while. I know people are concerned that it will bring a certain type of competitive player into the scene, but I think it is important as a community to set the standard we expect from players. I have full confidence in Yeti’s ability to run clean tournaments, after how they ran VT Richmond.
17.-After the first chances to test it, what do you think about Worlds Collide as a set?
This set is going to dramatically alter the face of the game. There is a lot of crazy stuff going on, and I don’t have enough data yet to fully understand the implications. Untamed looks like it improved from AoA, and Brobnar looks a lot worse. Saurians and Star Alliance seem crazy on paper, but does that translate to in game success?
18.-Would you like to give any advice to newer and current Archons on how to improve as players or how to maximize the enjoyment of playing KeyForge?
Go to organized play events and meet the great people playing this game. This is one of the best card game communities that I have ever been a part of and I feel like I learn something from every game I play. Several people who made the day 2 cut at Richmond were playing in their first Vault Tour, so never think that you can’t be competitive. Due to the nature of this game, everyone has something unique they can bring to the table.
Well thank you so much Nathan. We really appreciate that you shared your experience and time with us. You are also officially the first Vault Tour Champion to know about Cosmic Crucible on their own!
If you want more KeyForge quality content, make sure to follow TableTopRoyale on Twitter to stay tuned to what they do. Also, do not forget to check out TableTopRoyale’s website: https://tabletoproyale.com and particularly their stream: https://www.twitch.tv/tabletoproyale/, where you will get access to an absurd amount of awesome KeyForge gameplays.
Thanks a lot for reading. If you like this content, it would be amazing of you to follow us on Twitter: @blazing_archon or Facebook: Cosmic Crucible: Home to KeyForge Players. Additionally, if you want to get updates of what my KeyForge team (Team DTAE) does, follow us on Instagram: @teamdtae. See you in the Cosmic Crucible for the next articles. Until then, Keep Forging or like my friends from Twitter say, #StayForGin!