(1/28/2020) Deck-Warping Cards: Epic Quest
By Austin "RealPlayerOne", Questing Cartographer
In my first article for The Epic Quest Adventure Log, I wanted to provide an analysis of Epic Quest decks by approaching it from the viewpoint of Epic Quest being a deck-warping card. While this may not be the case in every Epic Quest deck, (sometimes it won't do much of anything for you, but hardly ever nothing at all) considering it as such can make forging a key with Epic Quest easier in decks where it seems impossible - and help you use Epic Quest to its full potential.
Concept of Deck-Warping Cards
So what is a deck-warping card and why should you consider this when analyzing a deck? I consider a deck-warping card any card you can build a strategy around - or a card that drastically changes how you play a deck. A concept came up in the Sanctumonious Discord about deck-warping cards vs card-warping decks. Card-warping decks we considered as decks that completely change the way you play a card or decks that offer up unique lines of play around that card. The example given was a deck with The Sting and any card to forge a key outside of the "Forge a Key Step". Being able to reuse The Sting's benefit of gaining your opponent's spent Aember while forging a key with these "Key Cheat" cards changes how The Sting is normally played - and may influence future strategies around the card for you moving forward after you play it. Deck-warping cards on the other hand impact the deck. They can influence your plays and strategies for a deck towards the card; however, it boils down to perspective, since the deck-warping card can just as easily be discarded. One thing I like to think about is the question, "How would this deck and its strategy be different if that card was removed?". With many Epic Quest decks I enjoy playing, they would feel very different without it there - while others it's nonessential.
Deck-warping cards can be a point of focus, to help understand a deck or to develop a strategy on the fly. It may help you find lines of play others may not on first glance. A good example of these cards is that of Annihilation Ritual, which reads:
When a creature would enter a discard pile from play, it is purged instead. This card can completely disrupt a game and change your playstyle - but only if you let it. Are you ready to Gateway to Dis your entire board away? Do you really want to Pawn Sacrifice that creature? Is this a part of your strategy to thin your own deck for efficiency? Or are you ready to destroy it as soon as you clear your opponent's board of important creatures?
Annihilation Ritual can be leveraged heavily to your advantage. In a deck with a low-creature count and high-impact actions, it can make your deck more efficient and deadly. The Ms. of Rapidlane is an interesting example of an Annihilation Ritual deck. This deck has 21 printed Aember and 11 creatures (21 actions). Looking at the creatures as well, they're quite small and not incredibly impactful (outside of the Succubus, Ember Imp, Dust Pixies, and Witch of the Eye). So, one strategy we can take with this deck is purging all of our creatures so we're down to our Aember generation, Aember control, and board control cards. By leaning heavily into the actions, we can keep our opponent in check while bursting ahead in Aember simply by playing out our hand. While this strategy has its weaknesses, it's a strategy we can take by embracing the seemingly disruptive nature of purging. Annihilation Ritual is an interesting card because it changes the rules of the game while in play, for yourself and your opponent. While its match-altering properties are important, considering the strategy around the card and how you should play your deck in relation to it prior to a match with it is important. Can your deck optimize its play? Is it a red-herring in your deck (a misleading line of play)? With your deck, when should you hold it, play it, or discard it? While these questions can come up for many cards in Keyforge, building a strategy around these impactful cards can focus your play and help you to consider when a plan is working- and when to abort!
So What's So Epic About Epic Quest?
I consider Epic Quest a deck-warping card because every time I see the card in a deck I ask myself, "Is Epic Quest viable in this deck? Can I pull off a forge without disrupting my gameplay? What lines of play are there?". More often than not, the answer is - yes. Consider the deck to the left (Or above if you're on mobile). Isolde “Dean Pond Scum” Willow can pull off the Epic Quest, rather consistently too! Can you find the line of play?
Let's take a look at Epic Quest and all the things this card can do before getting back to Isolde. (Or you can jump ahead here)
Epic Quest reads:
Play: Archive each friendly Knight creature in play. Omni: If you have played 7 or more Sanctum cards this turn, sacrifice Epic Quest and forge a key at no cost. which is quite a bit of text for a Keyforge card. Breaking it down, one of the most exciting parts of this card is being able to forge a key at no cost.
At the time of writing, there are only four Keyforge cards that can manage this feat without a large reduction of cost:
- Might Makes Right (requires the sacrificing of creatures)
- Triumph (requires your opponent's board to be clear)
- [REDACTED] (requires time to be on your side)
- and Epic Quest!
In addition to this, Epic Quest also archives your knights in play. By archiving these creatures from play, you get to heal them AND reuse any play effects they may have - or simply re-position them in the battleline. However, this also means removing a large amount of power from your board. House Sanctum has a slightly higher average power than other houses with an average power of 3.92 (higher than average 3.74) and average armor of 0.71 (higher than average 0.2), with 11 of their creatures focusing on Aember control and 10 focusing on Protection. This means, you could be removing creatures that are bolstering your battleline in critical places (especially since many Sanctum knights also provide Taunt protection) or creatures with captured Aember on them! Due to this, like the other deck-warping cards, you could just decide to ignore the Epic Quest and discard it.
It's important to note as well that the card text of Epic Quest states "knight", not "Sanctum knight", so this effect will also pick up cards like The Terror, Hebe the Huge, and Brammo. This could be to your benefit or detriment depending on the game and deck!
The last part of Epic Quest tells us we need to play seven Sanctum cards in a turn -if we do, we get to forge a key at no cost! The problem being this number is one more than a "standard hand" in Keyforge (six). Thus, the main strategy with Epic Quest is to archive as many Sanctum knights as possible to make forging that free key the easiest possible. Without Epic Quest (or means other means of drawing, archiving, or otherwise manipulating your hand), you can't pull off an Epic Quest forge. However, Epic Quest can be used for different purposes! Use it to constantly reuse your play effects! Use it to heal your knights so they're ready again for battle! Use it with Veylan Analyst to always generate an Aember (because of the Omni: and conditional sacrifice)! Or... use it to generate two Aember in an Oath of Poverty play!
So What About Isolde?
If you look closely at Isolde, you'll find that Isolde has only four Sanctum Knights. This means, if you somehow get all four Knights archived, you still need three Sanctum cards in hand; which is pretty manageable, but chaining yourself down with one, then two, then possibly three cards can seriously put you behind. So where can we get extra Sanctum Cards? Enter Regrowth, Nepenthe Seed, and Grasping Vines - the MVP of the deck. My strategy with Isolde is often to get Jehu the Bureaucrat and/or Veemos Lightbringer into the discard pile early on and to get my two Potion of Invulnerability, Gorm of Omm, and Epic Quest onto the field. Then, the turn before using Epic Quest, I use Grasping Vines on myself for the three Sanctum artifacts (other than Epic Quest), Regrowth Jehu or Veemos, and then use Nepenthe Seed as needed. When everything comes together right, I can put five Sanctum cards into my hand in one turn. This means all I need is two other Sanctum cards -either from archive or natural draw - and I can Epic Quest. This deck has won me a couple of games off of a carefully timed Grasping Vines, of all things!
So why is this important? By learning about a card and investigating its uses, we can find unique lines of play and find strategies that don't normally show up. Epic Quest is a deck-warping card to me because it is a focus for me in those decks. You don't hear me refer to Isolde as the double Hunting Witch, double Succubus deck- it's an Epic Quest deck. I'm sure you've heard other categories of decks with card names, "This is my Martian Generosity, Key Abduction deck!" "Oooh I got destroyed by a Heart of the Forest deck yesterday." "Yo I played against a Horsemen deck yesterday with four Mind Barb and four Tocsin! It was crazy!". Each of these "archetype" cards I consider deck-warping cards. While they don't always lend themselves to completely altering the strategy of the deck, often the deck can be leveraged to improve the effectiveness of that card (or cards in the case of the Horsemen!).
Other Fun Epic Quest Decks!
Outside of Isolde, I wanted to show a handful of other interesting Epic Quest decks I enjoy playing!
This deck was my first Epic Quest deck. It's mighty quick, but most often uses Epic Quest with Oath of Poverty for a bigger Aember swing. However, Epic Quest can be set up with careful Phoenix heart + Epic Quest Planning.
Torchmonk can pull off Epic Quest a lot easier than Kyrielle. With six knights, there's already more to work with. Add in the Novu Archaeologist, draw from Quixo the "Adventurer", Doc Bookton, Library of Babble, and Library Access, this deck has the efficiency to get there. Possibly the most exciting part though is the Knowledge is Power. After archiving with Epic Quest, Knowledge is Power can be used to generate six or more Aember with a single card! This can then be followed up with the Epic Quest for the win!
With four Sanctum knights, this deck could use some help pulling off Epic Quest - luckily it has it! With double Archimedes and double Bouncing Deathquark, you can clear your board and your opponent's board, archiving your Sanctum creatures for a big Epic Quest turn. With Z.Y.X. Researcher, Research Smoko, Hexpion, and Titan Librarian, there's plenty other archiving cards to get your big Sanctum turn ready to roll! But even better, The Curator allows you to Epic Quest on the turn you play it!
There are many deck-warping cards in Keyforge. Whether it is a card that truly changes the way each player navigates the board, or a card you can hone in on in a deck to develop a strategy, they are useful to identify whether in an Archon game, evaluating a Sealed deck, or just trying to find decks you enjoy in your collection. Epic Quest is one of my favorite cards in the game and it makes every deck I have it in an "Epic Quest" deck to me. It's a card I thoroughly enjoy playing and building strategies around - to the point that I have eighteen decks in my collection with the card. But having cards you enjoy can lead to playstyles and strategies you enjoy, as long as you remember there are almost 1.7 million decks out there; with lots more for us to discover. With so many decks to explore, it helps to have a focus or guiding card. I've heard many players lament that they can't find a strategy they enjoy playing. They can't find a type of deck- be it across the entire body of Keyforge decks or within a new set- that inspires them. With the new set announcement on its way, consider what cards you enjoy playing with! Find these deck-warping cards for you and try to learn about them. Cards take on such awesome new lights when surrounded by a different suite of cards. I still have many more Epic Quest archetypes out there I need to find!
What do you think? Do deck-warping cards matter? Which ones do you look for in a deck? Which cards do you watch out for in a game? Do you have a fun Epic Quest deck with a unique strategy?
If you want to continue the conversation with me, you can find me on Twitter as @aj_the_kukay, and on Discord as TheRealPlayerOne#7724. Special thanks to SkyJedi for the decklist generator built into Archon Matrix that I used to make the decklists above and for all the card assets! It makes article creation much easier! Also thanks to Flibber (conversation about deck-warping cards vs card-warping decks) and many others on the Sanctumonious Discord for good discussion! Below I'll add some more Epic Quest decks I enjoy as well as some a Discordian sent in before writing this article!
Till next time, keep forging those keys! (Maybe with an Epic Quest?)
-Austin "RealPlayerOne", Questing Cartographer
P.S. Have one of those fancy triple Epic Quest decks? Let me know!
Even More Epic Quest decks!Quetzl “Mentor Boldfist” Jove - Epic Quest condition is Hysteria, 2x Zyzzix the Many, Biomatix Backup, 6 knights. Also has Honorable Claim and 2x Glorious Few for huge post-Epic Quest Aember GenerationEater Chafer - Epic Quest condition is Arise, Mobius Scroll, and Ganymede Archivist, 6 knights. Doc Booktons, Duma, and Mother help to draw Epic Quest. Veylan Analyst gets value out of many artifactsLebron, Accomplished Caves Minstrel - Epic Quest condition is Total Recall, Battle Fleet, and Biomatrix Backup. Has 7 knights and a Whispering Reliquary to reuse Epic QuestIsarvis, the Fervent Garrison Friar - Epic Quest condition is 9 knights. Also has 3 Niffle Queen, 5 Niffle Apes (but no Troop Call!)
Petriwarp, the “Crook” of Order - Epic Quest condition is Total Recall, Biomatrix Backup, and 2x Epic Quest, with 4 knights
Ta’nia, Scholar of the Laboring Pub - Epic Quest condition is in the Eureka!, 2x Z.Y.X. Researcher, Hexpion, and other draw/efficiency in House Logos, with 4 knights for Epic Quest to target and a Nepenthe Seed to reuse these resources.Jarvis, Cathedral Viceroy (owned by SuperPandaCat) - Epic Quest condition is Total Recall -> Martian Generosity -> Epic Quest, with 4 knights as backup to archive. Also has Vezyma Thinkdrone to archive and Exhumes to reuse Sanctum creatures.Freedman, Obelisk Guardian (owned by NuttyNewfie) - Epic Quest condition is Dusk Chronicles... and hope? The only Epic Quest deck I've seen with ZERO Sanctum Knights, with the only knight being Brammo in Brobnar. Have another? I'd love to see it!
Ivan „Das tollwütige Glutnest“ (owned by BigFoot) - Epic Quest condition is archiving one of the 8 Sanctum knights. Also has Hebe which is picked up too! BigFoot primarily needs to lookout for Grommid impacting when they can play Epic Quest as well as whether their knights have Aember on them. Luckily, with 6 big Brobnar guys and 2x Shadow Self, they should be able to protect the Sanctum knights and keep a board on their departure. Outside of this, there is also 3x Tremor which can slow down the opponent (often a problem for Epic Quest decks)Baron „Rowdy“ Lambert (owned by Bigfoot) - Epic Quest condition is likely through Hexpion, Labwork, and Archimedes setting up a larger archive outside of the 5 Sanctum knights. Like Hebe before, this deck has Brammo which will get picked up by Epic Quest. With Standardized Testing, there's a possibility BigFoot can set up a board with two knights with the same power on either side of Archimedes and archive them both with the card. With Shield of Justice and Haedroth's Wall, BigFoot can expect to keep the knights healthy throughout the match easier, though they need to watch out for removing the Gatekeepers (and any Aember on them) and "Lion" Bautrem while Grump Buggy is in play. The extra draw/filtering in Logos and with Sound the Horns could also help BigFoot get to Epic Quest faster.