(3/02/2020) Seattle Vault Tour: A Retrospective Report

By Peter "SadCryBear", Towering Strategist


Sealed. Open 3 decks, choose one to pilot. 6 Rounds day 1. 5-1 or better makes cut to Day 2. 180 players total.

Deck Selection: Maybe the hardest part of the entire tournament. Ten minutes to open and evaluate three decks and determine which one to pilot for the next 6-10 rounds.

I faced an excruciatingly tough choice with the three decks I opened. I didn’t feel like any of the three were strong enough to make a Day 2 (5-1 or better) appearance, and had no clear winner among them. I was definitely wishing I had the sealed I had opened at the Thursday side event.

Decklist images courtesy of SkyJedi's Archon Matrix

This deck looked like a non-starter to me. The Mars was exciting, but the rest of the deck was lackluster. Shadows with no stealing. No clear game plan. The Shadows really turned me off this one.

I was excited when I first peaked at the Shadows in this deck. Excited to see Faygin and 2x Urchin. My real concern came on reviewing the Untamed list. This deck had both no way to make Aember and no board clear. Outside of Urchin, few good options to control Aember.

This deck was interesting, and extremely difficult to evaluate. Almost no Aember Generation, almost no Aember Control, no board clear. 2x Control the Weak was extremely appealing. The Arise! was a little weak with only 4 Dis creatures, but all creatures were high quality. The Brobnar list was strong, but I was really missing Lomir or Burn the Stockpile. 2x Vaultkeeper and Veemos Lightbringer was something special. I knew the tournament would contain tons of Shadows players, and I knew these guys would do some work.

Whatever choice I made, I knew I would be facing long games, and lots of reaping, with no way to rush Aember in sight. With time running out I sleeved up Faygin. Halfway through I changed my mind and decided that besides it likely being a slightly weaker deck, the Vaultkeepers were too strong against the amount of Shadows I expected, and switched to The Warden that Criticizes Language.

Looking back, who knows if this was the right choice or not. I do know the Vaultkeepers earned their spots.

Matches are from memory 2 days later, so details are what they are.

The Matches

(0-0) Match 1: Opponent shows Shadows/Untamed/Dis.

My opponent starts with massive Aember burst to check at turn 2 and I can’t stop the Key. I’m playing from behind at the very start. I manage to gather a strong board presence, but have to fight more than I like and am struggling to make Aember. Vaultkeeper is doing his job here, preventing a number of strong steal plays. Eventually my opponent drops a monster board of little Shadows guys and I know I am in trouble. We are sitting at 2 keys to 2.

I decide to play Hysteria, putting a stack of creatures back into both our hands. I can’t fight the elusive Shadows efficiently, and can’t afford to leave them on the board. He has what he needs to kill Vaultkeeper and steal to keep me out of check. The Hysteria returns Veemos to my hand, so I am not worried about him dropping them again.

Unfortunately, my opponent had drawn into Hunting Witch after playing Shadows the turn before. He dropped the Witch and the 3 Untamed creatures I had returned to hand. I managed to run Brobnar tricks to stop his Key for 4 of 5 turns. I was sitting on the win with Control the Weak if he ever took the board back without checking, but he never did.

(0-1) Match 2: Opponent shows Shadows/Something/Something.

My opponent was a brand new Keyforge player. A veteran of other card games, he made good tactical choices, but didn’t have a great feel for the overall tempo and strategy of the game. The real struggle here was time, as my opponent was working through each and every available option before choosing a house. As my heavy creature and board presence deck played from behind, I needed us to get through the game to take the lead.

Halfway through the game, I had managed to maintain a lead and control of the game, despite my opponent having a few extremely strong Shadows turns. Not drawing into either Vaultkeeper hurt here. Despite my playing very fast turns, time was called. I was sitting at 2 Keys, 6 Aember at time, to my opponents 2 keys no Aember. He was unable to catch up on his turn and I took the game.

(1-1) Match 3: Opponent shows Something/Something/Something.

I don’t remember much of this match. Opponent was a newer player and real nice guy. He didn’t have many tricks in his lineup, and never recovered after I established very early board presence. I spent most of this game just reaping with Sanctum guys.

(2-1) Match 4: Opponent shows Shadows/Something/Something.

I faced a stronger opponent in this match with a solid deck, but I don't remember the game well as it was uneventful. I took the board early and Vaultkeeper did his job. Another game where I consistently reaped and forced my opponent to try and catch up with the board.

(3-1) Match 5: Opponent shows Mars/Brobnar/Sanctum.

A strong opponent, who I had seen around previously but not played against. Both our decks were heavily reliant on board control, and we fought back and forth hard for control of the board most of the game. Despite a well timed Control the Weak, giving me nearly a free extra turn, I was struggling to keep up in this one. Eventually I got 2x Gauntlet of Command on the board, and went to work.

I slowly caught up in the game, and Arise'd my Brobnar back after a clear. I had enough fight to stay away from his strong Mars, including 2x Zookeeper. Both at 2 keys, I looked at my hand and board, and thought I might have an opportunity to close it.

It took me a while to piece it together, but I found the path to 6 Aember and made my favorite play of the tournament. He couldn’t stop the last key. This was a great game from start to finish

(4-1) Match 6: Opponent shows Shadows/Brobnar/Something.

I’ve blacked about half this game out. I went in needing a win to make Day 2. I had a great turn 2 play, following his 2x Noddy the Thief with Veemos, but after that my opponent was ahead and continued to be throughout the game. His Shadows was extremely strong, and he played well.

He cleared Vaultkeeper on a strong Brobnar turn, and I had another 2-2-2 hand that didn’t have a strong response. I played a few cards and drew the second Vaultkeeper, only to see him rain Shadows steals on me the on his turn before I could play it.

I clawed back into a reasonable position on the strength of a double Flame-Wreathed Ember Imp, but ran out of steam eventually.

4-2 End of Day

No Day 2 for me. I took solace in the fact that my only two losses came to opponents who went 5-1, and that I had taken such an unconventional deck so far.

My Favorite Play of the Day

One of the things I love about games is that in most tournaments or plays of a great boardgame, you can walk away with one or two really satisfying turns. This was my favorite play of the Seattle Vault Tour, and closed out a great game against a great opponent.

Opponent: 2 keys 3 Aember

Board: Champion Anaphiel & Bulwark

Me: 2 Keys 3 Aember

Board: Charette w/ Flame-Wreathed attached (2 Aember captured), Banner of Battle, 2x Gauntlet of Command

My hand: Wardrummer, Anger, Ganger Chieftain

Image Assets courtesy of SkyJedi's Awesomness

I knew my opponent would likely be able to check me on his next turn and I would have to draw into an answer. With Champion and Bulwark In pIay I couldn’t uses the Guantlet of Commands to easily reap, and I only had 1 Aember on cards in hand. I thought I saw a possible path to victory. I knew I had to get the turn right, so I practiced it out to made sure it worked before playing it out.

The Play:

Gauntlet of Command -> Charette Attacks Champion -> Banner plus Flame-Wreathed keep it living

Ganger Chieftain –> Charette Attacks Champion –> Trading –> Opponent goes to 5 Aember

Gauntlet of Command –> Ganger Chieftain Attacks Bulwark -> Chieftain lives with Banner, killing Bulwark

Wardrummer –> Returning Chieftain

Ganger Chieftain –> readies Wardrummer who reaps

Anger –> Make 1 Aember –> Readies Ganger Chieftain who reaps

Check the turn at 6 Aember. My opponent didn’t have an answer, and I took the game.

Final Thoughts

This was a great tournament full of great players. Feels like the entire local Keyforge scene showed up, and many others traveled in. This game has a great early playerbase, and if they can keep running events of this caliber we are in good shape. I think the format has a bit of work to level out the deck opening luck of it, but would much rather played this Sealed format than Archon. I think player skill really shines in discovering the strengths of random decks, and making innovative plays on the fly, with cards you may not normally play with or against.

-Peter "SadCryBear", Towering Strategist