Welcome back to Archon Mechanics, where we lift the lid on the engine of Keyforge and take a closer look at the game’s inner-workings! Last week we covered Aember, the first step to reaching the end-game. Now, we’re exploring the final destination: Keys, and how to forge them!
As we touched on last week, it takes three keys to win the game – and at base cost, it takes 6 aember to forge each key. At this time there is one single creature that can reduce the cost of keys, Titan Mechanic – although it does come at the cost of a potential advantage for your opponent, as it allows both players to pay -1 to forge. All other cards in the COTA set that alter the cost do so with an increase for your opponent. For example, Lash of Broken Dreams and Grabber Jammer both offer formidable board presence and delay the other player’s progression.
A common phrase on key-related cards is, ‘At current cost’. This simply means to add any increases onto the base cost of 6 and forge for that many aember. For example, say an opponent has Murmook (your opponent’s keys cost +1) on the field and the player plays Key Charge, their current cost would be 7 aember instead of 6. Therefore the player would need eight in total.
Here we can clear up a commonly asked question about forging multiple keys. Technically there is no limit to the number of keys a player can craft in a turn; however, there are guidelines. During the forge phase, the player may only craft one key regardless of the amount of aember in their pool. In the main phase, players are free to forge as many keys by playing additional “forging” cards as they are able.
Moving slowly into the control section of the article, Unforge is a fantastic way to delay an opponent’s progression. At the time of publishing, Key Hammer is the only example of this keyword. Not only does it reverse their forge, but when followed by Shooler or Charette, it can serve to significantly delay their potential win.
As one plays with a variety of decks, they’ll discover control cards that revolve entirely around keys. These can offer a preemptive or unexpected pressure at crucial moments and during the end-game.
Currently unique to the house of Shadow is the mechanic of skipping the “forge a key” step. There are two cards that contain skip; Miasma which targets your opponent and The Sting which targets you. Play Miasma before an opponent forges a key and pair it with cards that steal and capture to get the most value out of it. For The Sting, keep it as daunting board presence until an opponent forges a key, then play Key of Darkness.
Putting Up a Fight
Last but not least, there are cards that offer aggressive play depending on the status of a player’s keys. Creatures such as Mushroom Man for example, which gains +3 power for each unforged key the possessing player has. This makes for a great early-game presence, as Mushroom Man could potentially have up to 11 power. Alternatively, cards such as Bilgum Avalanche offer passive damage each time you forge a key which not only clears out an opponent’s cannon fodder but also manipulates their playstyle while Bilgum is in play.
It goes without saying that cards with mechanics focused around keys require a fair amount of thought and planning. There will always be a vital time to play them, and recognizing/waiting for pairing combos will only make them more effective. Always examine your deck and not only know what’s in your hand, but what else you’ve got in your deck that could compliment a move.
That rounds off our exploration into Keys! In the next article, we’ll be looking at Chains. Covering topics such as; the role they play, working around them, handicaps and what the future holds.
Thanks for reading – and as always, happy forging!