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Keyforge – Saurian – First Impressions

Keyforge is a phenomenal game. Released by Fantasy Flight back in 2018, and with the name of world renowned Magic the Gathering designer, Richard Garfield, behind it there was no doubt that it would be a success. A unique deck game, each player opens a pack to find a fully formed deck. Each deck is made up of 37 cards – one cover card and 12 cards from three different houses. There are nine possible houses in the game, and billions of possible combinations of decks that could theoretically be out in the wild.

The beautiful thing is that Keyforge, as a game, is also constantly evolving. Now, as we enter 2020, there have been three core sets released for the game. The first two were Call of the Archons and Age of Ascension. Those comprised of 7 possible houses – Sanctum, Mars, Brobnar, Logos, Dis, Shadows, and Untamed. Then, towards the end of 2019, World’s Collide was released, swapping Sanctum and Mars out for two new houses. The first of those was the Star Alliance, and that, as we have covered before, was really kind of cool. You can read the first impressions here.

The second house is the one we will be talking about today. That second house is Saurian, a dinosaur race that is loosely based on Ancient Roman culture.

Keyforge Saurians


Saurian – First Impressions

I have to admit that, when I first found out about the Saurian house in Keyforge, I was a little bit worried. The initial artwork didn’t so much remind me of Keyforge as it did various episodes of the Power Rangers, so I was dubious going in. The good news is, dear reader, that the initial feeling was not wholly representative of the Saurian house because, if you ask me now, the Saurian house is pure awesome.

That being said, the first impressions of the Saurian house were not wholly positive. Where with the Star Alliance it was easy to love them straight away due to their innate ability to do all the things all the time, the Saurians had a bit of a stranger ability. The Saurians could Exhalt.

What are the concepts of the Saurian House?

Before we go any further let’s talk about a concept that is fairly well known within the world of Keyforge, and this is something we covered before when talking about the Star Alliance. Each house in Keyforge takes a couple of the core concepts of the game and runs with them. The Star Alliance, for instance, have the ability of being able to gain benefits from Play/Reap/Fight abilities. Shadows are well known for stealing Aember. Untamed can revive cards. Sanctum are great at protecting and thus they are also great fighters. Brobnar have huge power on their side, and Dis are a fantastic house for inhibiting the actions your opponent can take.

Like all of those, the Saurian house benefits from a couple of core concepts. Firstly, like with Sanctum, the Saurians are a house that use shields. They are naturally protected, something you would expect from a dinosaur based species. As such they have cards with a huge amount of power, as well as a large number of shields, able to fight if they need to. What is more, Saurians can ward allies, giving temporary shields to those in need. Cards that are particularly good at fighting or warding include:

  • Cincinnatus Rex – 6 Power, 4 Shields – If there are no enemy creatures, destroy Cincinnatus Rex. Fight: You may exalt Cincinnatus Rex, if you do, ready each other friendly card.
  • Tricerian Legionary – 5 Power, 1 Shield – Taunt. Play: Ward a friendly creature.
  • Thero Centurion – 6 Power, 1 Shield – Play/Fight: Capture 1 Aember.
  • Legatus Raptor – 4 Power, 1 Shield – Fight: You may exalt Legatus Raptor. If you do, ready and use another friendly creature.

Already, just off those four cards it is possible to see a few chain reactions, as well as potentially powerful front lines that make it possible for a Saurian player to play a fighting game. It is possible to decimate entire forces just by chaining a few cards together, and that is really awesome. Immediately, it is also possible to see why Sanctum were the house who were taken out as a card like Shield of Justice could make the Saurian house completely unstoppable.

Saurian Heavy Hitters

Some of the big Saurian heavy hitters…

The other thing the Saurian house is incredibly good at is this new keyword, brought in with World’s Collide, and that is Exalt.

Exalting can seem like a double edged sword when playing as the Saurians. They have incredible power, and yet that word Exalt could also limit their use, making the house vulnerable to board wipes as a board wipe would deliver a lot of Aember to your opposition.

The reason for this is because Exalting is very similar to Capturing within Keyforge; however, there is one vital difference. When Aember is Captured it comes from the opponent. When Exalting the Aember comes from the supply. If an Exalted creature is killed it can become an asset for the opposition.

So, why Exhalt? Well, the first is for the bonuses. Just looking at the ability of Cincinnatus Rex, as an example, his ability is so incredibly powerful (to essentially ready everything else) that a larger target needs to be painted on him to balance out the game.

What really makes the Saurian house however is that it can manipulate Aember that has been placed on cards in various ways, counteracting the Exalting and making it into something truly unique. They can force it back into the supply, with cards like the Upgrade called Imperial Scutum:

  • Imperial Scutum – Gain 1 Aember – Upgrade – This creature gets +2 armour and gains “Destroyed: Move each Aember on this creature to the common supply”.

Or, they can actually use the Exalted or Captured Aember with cards like Senator Shrix.

Senator Shrix and Aember Manipulation

After playing with the Saurians a few times now, I have to admit that Senator Shrix may now be my new favourite card in Keyforge. Not only does she have decent health and shields, but she also has the best ability I have seen on any card in the game. Of course, this is only my opinion, but take a look and see what you think:

  • Senator Shrix – 4 Power, 1 Shield – You may spend Aember on Senator Shrix as if it were in your pool – Play/Reap: You may exalt Senator Shrix.

Yeah, it’s good, right? Senator Shrix is an awesome card, and for a very good set of reasons.

Senator Shrix

Senator Shrix and the Imperial Scutum

Firstly, whenever you reap, you essentially gain two Aember. You gain one on Senator Shrix, and you gain one in your supply. She also gains an Aember just for being played if you Exalt her, and this is something you definitely want to keep doing.

Secondly, if you play a card like Imperial Scutum on Senator Shrix then she gains +2 shields, and where the Aember/Ability combination paints a giant target on Senator Shrix, Imperial Scutum reduces the attractiveness of just attacking her because attacking her becomes so difficult. Not only do you need to get past the shields, but when you do she will be dealing 4 damage back. To add insult to injury, but any Aember on Senator Shrix will go back to the supply when destroyed.

Thirdly, whenever you come across a card that allows a friendly creature to capture Aember, it can go on Senator Shrix and be used straight away.

Senator Shrix is pure Aember generation/control and that makes her a simply fantastic card. Just amazing each and every time we play. Obviously, we have only played with a handful of Saurian cards so far, but Senator Shrix is a stand out.

Conclusion: Saurian First Impressions

You know what? This is really awesome. Although originally sceptical, I can actually say something really positive about the two new houses. They are both fun and exciting. They both do really interesting things. Walking away from playing the Star Alliance for the first few times I couldn’t wait to play them again. That being said, now I am walking away from the Saurian house wanting to play the Saurians above all else.

One thing can be said about the Saurians for certain – they require a fair amount of nuance as a house. Unlike the other houses, their ability (what they do best) can more obviously be used against them as much as it can be used in favour. Be wary of Exalting and what it means for your game – and always team Senator Shrix up with Imperial Scutum if you can.

This article has been looking at some of the cards and first impressions of the Saurian house in Keyforge. It’s not a full strategy, but the Saurian house are really interesting and we’ll be sure to be talking more about them in future.

So, what are your thoughts? Have you played as the Saurian house? Have you played as the Star Alliance? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

Other Keyforge Articles:
5 Supreme Sanctum Action Cards in Keyforge
Keyforge Analysis: There’s Something About Dextre
Keyforge Sealed Tournaments: The Pros and Cons
The Great Bait and Switch Debate of 2019: Is Bait and Switch Overpowered?
Star Alliance – First Impressions


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