Call of the Archons cards I’ll miss (and those I won’t)

Reddit users BaronAshler and Kalilei posted this list of CotA cards which will not reappear in AoA (except for as Legacy cards). User poeticmatter made a post on interpreting CotA exclusions in the context of sealed.

With cards such as Bait and Switch, Arise, and Library Access purged from Age of Ascension, a myriad of deck-defining interactions (both satisfying and frustrating) are on the way out.

Any card can shine in the right deck, but here are a few cards I’m excited or disappointed to see go:

Shadows undefined

Of all the houses, CotA Shadows is the most directed toward the primary win conditions of the game. Shadows plunges head-first into your opponent’s aember pool, even if it has to sacrifice board dominance to do so. In AoA, our pilfering pals are trading some “fire and forget” steal effects for a higher emphasis on direct damage and more restrictive steal actions.

I’m ready to see less of:

Bait and Switch: Like Interdimensional Graft, B&S gives aember rush decks an Achilles heel. Unlike Graft, B&S puts an unnecessary stranglehold on decks with low expected aember.

While a B&S turn can mean sacrificing board control and space in your hand, it offers a huge reversal of momentum reminiscent of the blue shell in Mario Kart. Its nerf is meta-defining and suggests the arrival of new, more engaging counters to æmber rush.

Runners up: Evasion Sigil, Safe Place, Smiling Ruth

I’m not finished having fun with:

Speed Sigil: Tons of creatures have powerful Reap/Action effects (ie. Witch of the Eye, Faygin, Novu Archaeologist) which are balanced under the assumption that opponents have a turn to react. Speed Sigil puts players in the fast lane, making incredible Use effects easy to get off but hard to protect.

I’m a little sad to see it go, but at least AoA decks will still be able to experience this card when squaring up against CotA decks.

Runners up: Magda the Rat, Nexus

Mars

Mars is possibly the most polarizing faction in CotA. Creatures like “John Smyth”, Grabber Jammer, and Yxilo Bolter yield some of the highest value reaping boards in the game. Actions like Psychic Network, Mothership Support, or Key Abduction can be very powerful, but rely on having ready Mars creatures.

In decks with too few Mars creatures, the entire deck can feel bogged down by what can feel like 12 chains. This is likely why in Age of Ascension, more Mars cards are being replaced than in any other house.

I really don’t need more decks with:

Phosphorus Stars: A fantastic card in particular situations. If you’ve already invaded the board, a full board stun gives free reign to achieve planetary domination.

But it’s not a fun card to draw 3 copies of. It’s situational, gives chains, and can’t even be played for aember. Gateway, Coward’s End and Save the Pack, occupy a similar design space, but don’t show up in a house hindered by other situational cards like Soft Landing, EMP Blast, etc.

Runners up: EMP Blast, Soft Landing

I’ll miss using:

Incubation Chamber*: CotA Mars has some particularly powerful artifacts: Commpod, Invasion Portal, and Crystal Hive to name a few. I like Incubation Chamber because it works across house barriers to clear space in your hand. It lets you plan a large, synergistic invasion of the board which is gleefully thematic.

My main complaint with this line of Mars artifacts is that, as Rares, many decks have one or none. Further, while extremely useful at the beginning of the game, Incubation Chamber is not the card you want to draw while trying to stop an opponent’s final forge.

*/u/darkblack9 brought to my attention that Commpod, Feeding Pit, Swap Widget, and Crystal Hive are out but Invasion Portal and Incubation Chamber are still in AoA. This is awesome news!

Runners up: “John Smyth”, Ether Spider, Deep Probe

Untamed undefined

Fast and furious, CotA Untamed is defined by high aember generation, key cheating, and discard recursion effects. Many Untamed decks rely on cards like Hunting Witch, Dust Pixie, and Chota Hazari to forge keys with unparalleled speed. Some use cards like Witch of the Eye and Dew Faerie to extract value over repeated Untamed turns.

From previews of AoA, it seems that Untamed may be losing some access to instant æmber generation in exchange for a more sustained board presence.

I need a break from playing around:

Witch of the Eye: I love the gameplay surrounding this card, but I don’t want to see it as a Common in another set.

With the dawn of the Age of Ascension, it’s time for Untamed to operate in a new mode. So much of current CotA gameplay is dictated around aember burst and destroying pivotal Power 1 through 3 creatures.

While I’ve enjoyed this meta, I’ll sleep better at night knowing that Nature’s Call or Mimicry in my opponent’s discard is more likely to stay there. Then again, with Nepenthe Seed still around, who can say for sure.

Runners up: Hunting Witch, Snufflegator, Niffle Ape

I still want to cuddle:

Murmook: In CotA, most Untamed creatures fall on a spectrum from “has to die ASAP” (Hunting Witch) to “OK to leave alone” (Briar Grubbling, Snufflegator). Murmook is in a sweet spot where most opponents won’t bother to remove it, so it can often stick around to produce value.

Its effect is relatively minor, but can set up for Burn the Stockpile, Drumble, etc. on subsequent turns. It can be returned and played immediately with Regrowth as last minute key prevention. But, (most importantly) it’s a gargantuan and lovable mutant… crab… thing.

Runners up: Bear Flute, Lost in the Woods

Dis undefined

CotA Dis focuses on exploiting the weak points in other decks. Ember Imp, Poltergeist, Gateway to Dis, Creeping Oblivion, etc. have a chance of delaying or completely stopping an opponent’s game-plan. While this isn’t the best house for aember generation or fighting, Dis is the master of disruption.

I’m still salty about that one game against:

Ember Imp: A key concept in Keyforge is compelling your opponent to abandon the optimal turn in their hand in order to react to something you did on your turn. Having your choices explicitly restricted by this obnoxious creature is a special form of irritation. If you don’t have an answer available, you may need to rapidly play/discard to search for something to kill it. I’ve had games where one player is completely choked out by this card. I don’t mind it too much but I’m not sad to see it phase out for something new.

Runners up: Tendrils of Pain, Key Hammer, Arise!

I’d like to open more decks with:

Screaming Cave: Using this card, I was able to play 13 Dis turns, 2 Logos turns, and 0 Mars turns in one game. I think it’s an incredibly fun rare to use simply because it upsets the usual ebb and flow of cards from a certain house.

Particularly with artifacts like Lash of Broken Dreams and Dominator Bauble encouraging you to take repeated Dis turns, decks which support Screaming Cave are unique to pilot. It has antisynergy with Arise!, but plays well with powerful singletons like Bait and Switch (which it will shuffle back into your deck).

Runners up: Annihilation Ritual, Guardian Demon, Arise!

Logos undefined

CotA Logos is all about deck manipulation and archives. While it often feels supportive to other houses, cards like Library Access and Mother are deck-defining. Creatures like Doc Bookton and Brain Eater yield formidable board presence while helping you draw while chained. In AoA, Logos will return with plenty of exciting deck manipulation effects and (hopefully) new paths to victory to replace the highly polarizing Library Access.

I’m ready to stop drawing:

Dextre: Compared to Charette and Old Bruno, Dextre is a little disappointing. Setting your opponent back 1 aember is sometimes enough to stop a forge, but they’ll almost always gain it back in their next turn.

If your opponent gets this aember back by killing Dextre, you now have a Logos card on top of your deck when you just chose Logos the previous turn. His synergy with certain cards like Library Access and Chaos Portal isn’t nearly strong enough to make him exciting to play with.

Runners up: Mobius Scroll

I’m hoping to see again:

Spectral Tunneler: There are 16 other cards in CotA which reference the flank, and only 3 can be played the same turn you use Spectral Tunneler (unless you hijack an opponent’s or use Phase Shift).

I would love to see this card return in a set with more exciting targets for its creative effect. A similar effect on an Omni: artifact in the future would allow more interesting cross-house uses.

Runners up: Library Access…sorta, Skippy Timehog, Novu Archaeologist, Reverse Time

Sanctum undefined

The assembled knights of the Sanctum are a force to be reckoned with. In CotA, most Sanctum decks support a sustained Sanctum board presence through armored knights, capture effects, and the means to defend weaker creatures in your lineup. Without creatures to Use on the board, Sanctum averages lower aember generation than many other houses, but carries the potential for surprising burst through Cleansing Wave, Glorious Few, Virtuous Works, and Oath of Poverty.

I’m excited for alternatives to:

Virtuous Works: I don’t dislike Virtuous Works, but I couldn’t think of a Sanctum card that rubbed me the wrong way. I’m happy to see this, Cleansing Wave , and Glorious Few dropped from AoA in exchange for different ‘get rich quick’ cards. I want the design team to have a chance to explore aember generation cards that work in new, unexplored ways.

I’m hoping to see again:

Hallowed Blaster: It’s rare for your opponent to intentionally Fight such that a damaged creature remains. Most critical targets like Hunting Witch, Ember Imp, etc. die in one hit anyway, so Blaster is mostly used to trigger artifact effects and sustain high power creatures.

It’s not a card I loved in CotA, but a missed opportunity to make Heal a central theme for Sanctum. I’d like to see this card reappear in a set with a few creatures that interact with Heal, like Angwish.

Runners up: Bulwark, Sergeant Zakiel

Brobnar undefined

The hulking beatsticks of the Crucible, Brobnar specializes in huge creatures and cards that reward destroying opponent’s minions. Fight-focused gameplay generates less aember upfront, but offers security from game-changing creatures and capture effects. What they lack in Reap: effects they make up in resilience. Warning: If left on the board to arm wrestle and consume protein, large Brobnar boards generate enough aember to actually play Kelifi Dragon.

I never really liked:

Valdr: While I enjoy the ‘work with what you’re given’ aspect of KeyForge, I’d prefer to not have cards which feel extremely similar yet unambiguously lopsided in power. There are very few scenarios where Valdr is not a strictly worse version of Troll.

It’s disappointing that her effect couldn’t make her at least 1 power stronger than Troll when fighting on the flank. The only major difference would be that she could kill Shadow Self and Pitlord in one hit.

Runners up: Autocannon

I’ll kind of miss:

Lomir Flamefist: It was difficult to choose a particular card that I’d like to see return. Most removals from Brobnar are creatures and actions which feel fairly same-y. It feels like CotA Brobnar’s most interesting decisions take place on the board rather than in text boxes.

That said, I really enjoy the ‘don’t go over 6’ line of gameplay, so here’s a shoutout to my buddy Lomir. At least BtS is still around.

Runners up: Wardrummer (see Drummernaut)

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