Keyforge Analysis: There’s Something About Dextre
Keyforge is a game of double-edged swords. One of the ways a game like Keyforge remains balanced is by having a series of cards that are amazing on one hand, and a little bit rubbish on the other. These are cards that are a blessing as much as a curse.
These cards crop up throughout the game. The Pitlord is one such example – he gives two Aember for playing and has 9 strength, but he also forces you to play Dis when he is in play. This can be fortuitous, or it can be (if you’ll excuse the pun) pretty damning.
Other cards require a card to be destroyed – Bouncing Deathquark and Pawn Sacrifice both require sacrifices to play effectively. Bouncing Deathquark allows you to destroy an enemy creature for each one of yours that you destroy. Pawn Sacrifice requires a sacrifice to deal 3 damage to two creatures. Both are good cards, but both can also massively burn.
Today we’re going to talk about a card that is actually quite common in Logos – Dextre. Dextre is an okay creature card, strength 3, and has a capture 1 Aember play effect. Those are both good things – he’s an okay strength and has an okay play effect. Not bad.
But then Dextre has that final ability – a destroy effect. When Dextre is destroyed he goes to the top of your deck. Yes, you know what your next card is, but is that worth slowing down the deck churn? That is the question?
Today we are going to take a slightly closer look at our good friend Dextre. When is he good? When is he bad? How do you deal with him?
Before we lay into Dextre too much it is important to recognise the good that he does. Dextre is a fairly decent card. He is strength three which, whilst not the strongest, is certainly not the weakest card in the game. It actually makes him fairly average from a strength perspective.
Next, he captures Aember. Capturing Aember is, in its own way, a double edged sword in its own right. It takes Aember away from the opposition, and puts it on Dextre. This makes the Aember impractical to the opponent as they need to kill off Dextre to get it back. That being said, it also paints a big target on Dextre, giving the opposition a reason to take him out. Unlike with most creatures in Keyforge, where killing them removes their ability to produce Aember (there are exceptions of course, but that’s a topic for another time) – killing Dextre not only removes his ability to reap whenever Logos is called, but it also delivers the captured Aember back to the opposition. This creates a larger net difference.
Finally, and this is where Dextre can be either amazing or a complete pain, when Dextre is destroyed he returns to the top of your deck to be drawn again the next time you draw cards. What this means is Dextre can keep coming back and can keep capturing that one Aember, being a mild annoyance and creature controller each time he is in play. What it also means is he reduces the deck churn.
It is this point that is worth thinking about with Dextre, and it is that point that actually spawned the idea of this article. Dextre has the chance to be a fantastic and useful card; however, he also has the ability to be a painful double-edged sword.
Attributing Value To Simple Creatures
Dextre is an interesting card and we are going to try to draw him up as a graph. In order to do this; however, we need to look at what he does and attribute value to it to visualise the data.
To do this, we are going to look at potential positives vs. potential negatives. This is a very rudimentary way of looking at cards, but the positives that come from a card result in positive numbers, and negatives are worth negative numbers. The majority of the time this is +1 or -1, quantifying information, resources gained, or detriments to your opponent; however, where it is a multiple of one of those effects it may be +2 or +3.
For most creatures in Keyforge this is a very simple graph to make as we can look at cumulative value whilst in play. Some of this we can attribute direct value to, but some we need to associate value from elsewhere. This is also all assuming the creatures is played once and destroyed normally. What does this mean? Well, let’s look at a few very basic examples (note: this kind of analysis only really works with simple creatures – good luck trying to figure out something like the Pit Lord):
The Dust Pixie
Looking at the Dust Pixie from Untamed as an example, the Dust Pixie gets two Aember when played and then is worth +1 Aember every turn it reaps until it is destroyed. This means we can draw a very simple chart that looks at the positive potential of the Dust Pixie. It looks like this –
As you can see, this is the cumulative value. The Dust Pixie has a +2 when being played, and then is worth +1 each turn. When Destroyed it returns to 0 as it is no longer any use, but it leaves play, entering the discard pile.
Obviously, having it last 8+ turns is probably unrealistic, but for the sake of this article it is as good an example as any. Obviously, if it gets destroyed after 4 turns the net value is +5.
The Pit Demon
Things get a bit more complex when we start taking other actions into account. The Pit Demon, for instance, is a card from Dis that has the action to steal one Aember per turn. What this means is that actually the Pit Demon has +0 when played (there is no play effect), but when that action is used it gains you one Aember (+1), whilst also removing it from your opponent. This is also a positive action and aids with Aember control, thus we can associate it as a +1 as well – by removing that Aember it is putting you +1 step closer to your goal of beating your opponent to all three forged keys.
What this means is the Pit Demon looks a little bit like this –
Again, the same thing can be said about the number of turns. It is unlikely the Pit Demon will survive 8+ turns, but the graph can be cut off and return to 0 (Destroyed) at any turn value to show the net use.
The Dust Imp
As one final example before we get back to talking about Dextre, the Dust Imp is another interesting card because it has a destroy effect. When the Dust Imp is destroyed you gain +2 Aember. Every time the Dust Imp is reaped it gains Aember. This gives it a graph like the below –
As you can see, the exact opposite to the Dust Pixie, the Dust Imp gets +2 Aember when destroyed, so actually has a positive destroy effect. Post destruction he is a 0 again.
You get the idea.
Attributing Value To Dextre
Using this concept we can look at Dextre, however, in doing so it gets a lot more complicated. When looking at Dextre and what he does we can see:
- In hand, like all creatures, unless the result of another card effect, he is worth 0.
- When played Dextre captures one Aember, effectively moving you one Aember closer to racing your opponent to the keys. This is a +1.
- When reaped, Dextre gets plus one Aember, and thus is worth +1.
- When destroyed, Dextre returns to the top of the deck. He will (most likely) return to your hand giving you, effectively, an additional creature in your deck. This is a +1.
- When destroyed, your opponents know that you have a Dextre in your hand. Information is a valuable commodity in Keyforge and that information being public knowledge is a -1.
- When destroyed, since Dextre returns to the top of your deck, he reduces your deck churn. Being able to get through your deck is really important in the game, especially if you need to get to specific card to unleash awesome combos. This means it is also kind of a -1.
- When destroyed, Dextre gives the opponent their Aember back. This is a -1.
Weirdly, what this means is Dextre has a really odd graph. For this we are going to look at the same number of turns as before, but with different play effects.
Using this method of attributing value, Dextre is useful when in play; however, when destroyed he can be more of a detriment than a help.
There are several things to take away. The first is that, when Dextre is played, he has an immediately positive effect, but it is reversed by his destruction. This means that, if destroyed straight away, Dextre returns the Aember he steals, reduces deck churn, and allows your opponent to know he is in your hand. On the plus side you get to play him again.
What this means is that, to become a net neutral card, Dextre needs to remain in play for at least two Logos rounds so he can reap. Once able to reap he has captured Aember, and gained an Aember. He then, when destroyed, returns the Aember, reduces deck churn, and tells your opponent he is in your hand. On the plus side, you get to play him again. You get the idea.
What this ultimately means is that Dextre needs to reap at least twice before being destroyed again to actually be a wholly positive card. That is pretty rough.
So How Do You Solve A Problem Like A Dextre?
Having cards in play in Keyforge is usually a positive thing, and so Dextre isn’t necessarily a sub-optimal card. If he manages to stay in play, he can be incredibly positive like any other creature. Unfortunately, the capture kind of paints a target on him and makes it less likely for him to be destroyed.
There are ways of balancing Dextre out within the Logos cards (or if not balancing, at least reducing his impact). Cards like Mother allow you to draw +1 card each turn, increasing the deck churn and meaning that if Dextre is destroyed then you can still draw 6 cards plus Dextre. Cards like Library Access and Library of Babble also allow for additional cards to be drawn. In fact, playing Library Access (when you play another card, you draw a card) can actually be useful when you know Dextre is on top of the deck.
The ultimate response however, if you grow sick of Dextre or if he becomes a problem, is to discard him. That way you can guarantee he doesn’t return to the top of the deck. If you have two in play, when they start becoming an issue, I would definitely recommend removing them. This is especially the case if your opponent is playing a particularly anti-creature deck or a fighting heavy deck. Learn quickly and discard before he (or they) become a problem.
Concluding on Dextre
Dextre is a very fun card. He has an effect that makes him different to other cards in the game and can be enjoyable to play and play against. That being said, his abilities can be both positive and negative at the same time.
Depending on how you want to quantify actions, knowledge, and abilities in Keyforge playing Dextre can be a risky move depending on the kinds of deck you are playing. Understanding how to play Dextre is not just about knowing when to play him, but also when to discard. If you don’t think you’ll be able to reap twice before he is destroyed then you could be worse off playing him.
So, what are your thoughts? Do you like Dextre as a card or do you find him a pain? What do you think to this method of quantifying positives and negatives? Let me know in the comments below.
This is the first time I’ve personally used this method for quantifying cards, and I am interested in improving it, so please also feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.