Counter Pressure

Counter Pressure

Jan 19 Joshua Ely  

In a previous article we took a look at Keyforge’s common tug of war battle in the form of pressure. Last time we discussed the different types of pressure (Aember, Board, and Disruptive) – as well as how to apply them. When that same pressure is applied on us, how do we best counter it and shift the board control back in our favor and apply our own desired pressure? The answer depends heavily on the type of decks both the player and opponent are using…


BOARD CONTROL (CREATURES) – High creature count decks that establish board control, then reap their way to victory. Example below!

The most obvious way to counter this type of deck is with the help of mass destruction actions like Gateway to Dis.  It is absolutely vital that the player plays a card like this in tandem with other essential cards. Clearing the board alone will merely lengthen the game but not shift it back in your favor. Adding two or three creatures to a clean board now gives an opponent something they must address on their next turn.


Another potential (but slightly riskier) solution is to simply sprint to the finish with aember pressure alone using actions. With the right deck a player can mostly ignore their board presence and rely on a mad dash with actions to produce their aember. Playing creatures simply becomes a way to distract your opponent from reaping.


Jarlssen the Especially Loyal




8 Follow the Leader 236 Sigil of Brotherhood 319 Cooperative Hunting
16 Tremor 238 Bulwark 322 Fogbank
21 Cannon 239 Champion Anaphiel 324 Grasping Vines
21 Cannon 246 Horseman of Death 325 Key Charge
30 Bumpsy 247 Horseman of Famine 327 Lost in the Woods
31 Earthshaker 248 Horseman of Pestilence 330 Nocturnal Maneuver
32 Firespitter 249 Horseman of War 332 Regrowth
32 Firespitter 257 Sequis 346 Bigtwig
40 Lomir Flamefist 257 Sequis 352 Flaxia
45 Rogue Ogre 257 Sequis 354 Giant Sloth
48 Troll 258 Sergeant Zakiel 358 Snufflegator
49 Wardrummer 258 Sergeant Zakiel 367 Hunting Witch



BOARD CONTROL (DESTRUCTION) – These decks still try to reap their way to victory, but obtain board control through actions instead of powerful creatures. Example below!


Aember rush through actions are also viable here for the same reasons as stated above, though there are other options. Play with patience! Play a creature with taunt (or similar like Shadow Self) followed by Witch of the Eye.  The goal at this point is to force an opponent play their board-clearing cards before they had planned. Avoid emptying your hand with every available creature. When an opponent makes their big play, a player must be ready to immediately apply pressure. Applying constant pressure is a player’s greatest ally.


The Grateful Father




7 Coward’s End 54 Arise! 213 Blinding Light
7 Coward’s End 58 Fear 223 One Stood Against Many
12 Punch 59 Gateway to Dis 225 Shield of Justice
18 Warsong 59 Gateway to Dis 227 Terms of Redress
18 Warsong 59 Gateway to Dis 232 Gorm of Omm
30 Bumpsy 60 Gongoozle 233 Hallowed Blaster
30 Bumpsy 62 Hand of Dis 236 Sigil of Brotherhood
35 Headhunter 63 Hecatomb 239 Champion Anaphiel
39 Krump 81 Charette 254 Protectrix
39 Krump 85 Ember Imp 254 Protectrix
40 Lomir Flamefist 85 Ember Imp 258 Sergeant Zakiel
48 Troll 88 Guardian Demon 259 Staunch Knight



AEMBER RUSH – These decks rely on aember produced by simply cards. They will often have high card draw or capture/steal ability to help win their race. Example below!


Unlike a deck that utilizes reaping to generate aember, a player can’t actually stop these decks from production. The key is to fight fire with fire – race. A player’s options become to either outpace them in their sprint to the finish line, or slow them down at every opportunity – stealing and capturing aember are the most common ways to accomplish this. Capturing can be especially useful as aember rush type decks often lack the tools  (as well as the deck pilot’s play-style) to deal with board pressure. Other tools do exist that can help in these matchups: Consider Ember Imp or Succubus to limit how many of the aember generating your opponent can play in quick succession. At worst these cards will disrupt your player’s turn/momentum and force them to fight when they otherwise may have ignored boardstate.


Song the Vaporous




58 Fear 267 Bait and Switch 326 Lifeweb
60 Gongoozle 269 Finishing Blow 327 Lost in the Woods
61 Guilty Hearts 270 Ghostly Hand 327 Lost in the Woods
66 Key Hammer 271 Hidden Stash 329 Nature’s Call
77 Lifeward 282 Routine Job 329 Nature’s Call
77 Lifeward 282 Routine Job 330 Nocturnal Maneuver
81 Charette 292 Special Delivery 333 Save the Pack
82 Drumble 296 Bad Penny 346 Bigtwig
92 Pit Demon 305 Nexus 351 Dust Pixie
95 Shaffles 305 Nexus 352 Flaxia
95 Shaffles 311 Silvertooth 365 Piranha Monkeys
102 Tocsin 314 Umbra 370 Way of the Wolf



COMBO – The infamous OTK (one-turn-kill) and lockout decks.  Examples below!


Love them or hate them, these combo decks are a reality and being able to go in to battle with a plan can make these matchups infinitely less frustrating. As is the case with most combo plays, they take time. Don’t worry about setting up any specific play -sprint for your life to forge your keys.

Disruptive pressure is also be a viable option. Snipe away key pieces using Mind Barb or Creeping Oblivion. Instead of slowing an opponent down by applying aember pressure through stealing and capturing the goal is to disrupt, remove, destroy…anything a player can do to ruin a critical piece of their combo.  


The Autumnal Astrologer




115 Library Access 213 Blinding Light 322 Fogbank
117 Phase Shift 215 Cleansing Wave 323 Full Moon
124 Twin Bolt Emission 218 Glorious Few 325 Key Charge
124 Twin Bolt Emission 220 Inspiration 330 Nocturnal Maneuver
125 Wild Wormhole 227 Terms of Redress 332 Regrowth
125 Wild Wormhole 230 Virtuous Works 341 Nepenthe Seed
129 Library of Babble 231 Epic Quest 350 Dew Faerie
129 Library of Babble 233 Hallowed Blaster 351 Dust Pixie
136 Batdrone 244 Grey Monk 352 Flaxia
139 Doc Bookton 257 Sequis 356 Inka the Spider
147 Novu Archaeologist 262 Veemos Lightbringer 361 Murmook
158 Rocket Boots 265 Protect the Weak 368 Witch of the Eye


The Tranquil Messenger




55 Control the Weak 109 Effervescent Principle 319 Cooperative Hunting
55 Control the Weak 115 Library Access 319 Cooperative Hunting
58 Fear 116 Neuro Syphon 324 Grasping Vines
67 Mind Barb 119 Random Access Archives 332 Regrowth
69 Poltergeist 122 Scrambler Storm 338 Vigor
73 Dominator Bauble 125 Wild Wormhole 351 Dust Pixie
73 Dominator Bauble 126 Anomaly Exploiter 351 Dust Pixie
73 Dominator Bauble 139 Doc Bookton 361 Murmook
74 Key to Dis 142 Ganymede Archivist 363 Niffle Ape
76 Library of the Damned 147 Novu Archaeologist 363 Niffle Ape
77 Lifeward 154 Titan Mechanic 364 Niffle Queen
94 Restringuntus 154 Titan Mechanic 368 Witch of the Eye



The most important thing to do in order to properly combat combo decks is to be aware of popular combos and metas!  The easiest way to win with a combo deck is to take your unprepared opponent by surprise. Often times these powerful combos are quite fragile and all it takes to deal with them is a seemingly sub-optimal play at a key time. Study and know what is being played – learn what each combo requires to fire, which piece is most susceptible to disruption and how an opponent needs to set it up.


No doubt there are other types of decks and answers not mentioned above. Let this article serve as a starting point to investigate the different ways to deal with these and other decks. As always thanks for reading, take what is useful and discard the rest.

About Joshua Ely


  • Nik
    Jan 23, 2019 @ 6:26 am

    Hasn’t the Restringuntus combo been errata’d away? It has the must vs a cannot, so the must is ignored.

    • Nick
      Jan 23, 2019 @ 6:27 am

      You’re correct! At the time of writing it was still allowed.


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