2024 Alliance Restricted List

Published On: January 15, 2024

The 2024 Alliance Restricted List

Official KeyForge tournaments in 2024 will continue to feature Alliance as one of the primary formats. We have considered and discussed several options for how to best structure and limit this format, and it does need some limitations. KeyForge decks have always been generated according to a complex set of rules that both enable and prevent various card combinations. The Alliance format gives players the opportunity to creatively manipulate some of those behind-the-scenes rules, which is part of the fun of playing Alliance. But Alliance without any restrictions at all would quickly become a tiresome, non-interactive, and unfun experience. Limiting the potential for extreme combos and incredibly long game turns is therefore one of the main goals of the Alliance Restricted List.

The Alliance Restricted List also serves another important purpose, which is promoting variety and creativity in the types of Alliance decks players build. Unlike most competitive trading card games, KeyForge does not utilize set rotation; every KeyForge deck ever printed is still legal in official tournaments. But, each KeyForge set is a self-contained card pool; Alliance decks must be built from pods that all come from the same set (otherwise the potential for broken combos becomes massive). Occasionally refreshing the Alliance Restricted List to force players to reconsider widely-used builds, along with the steady release of new KeyForge sets, helps keep the competitive environment from stagnating.

Why use a restricted list as opposed to something more fluid, like a points-based system? Several creative people from the KeyForge community have pitched various points-based systems, which involve assigning some kind of numerical value to each KeyForge card, then imposing a maximum point value for an Alliance deck. While there are some clear merits to these systems, they would be difficult to implement and support. Such a system couldn’t be enforced in a tournament setting without some kind of software, which we don’t have the resources to develop at this time. With that in mind, we feel the Alliance Restricted List remains a simple and effective tool for promoting creativity and variety in the Alliance meta.

Analysis for Updating the Restricted List

As we were assembling the 2024 Alliance Restricted List, we reviewed the tournament data in Playstile from all the major tournaments in 2023, giving special attention to “top-finishing” decks. We looked at data from every Vault Tour, every national championship, and each tournament at the 2023 KeyForge Celebration event. In most cases, a top-finishing deck was one that placed 1-4 in the tournament. There were a few events that had very low player counts, and for those, we only considered the top 2 decks. For the Alliance World Championship and the Alliance Open, we considered the top 8 decks. In the end, we had a total of 80 top-finishing decks, which we mined for data.

In addition to the data, we’ve also received a lot of feedback from the KeyForge community about the future of the Alliance format. We take all such feedback seriously and thank every person who took the time to send us an email or chat with us in person at an event. Many KeyForge content creators have also shared their views on these subjects in their articles, podcasts, and videos, for which we are grateful.

Without further ado, here is the 2024 Alliance Restricted List. New additions or changes to the list appear in bold.

  • Befuddle (any quantity)
  • Chronus (any quantity)
  • Control the Weak (any quantity)
  • Dark Æmber Vault (1 per deck)
  • FOF Transponder (any quantity)
  • Ghostform (any quantity)
  • Hallafest (any quantity)
  • Infurnace (any quantity)
  • Legionary Trainer (any quantity)
  • Library Access (1 per deck)
  • Martian Generosity (1 per deck)
  • Stealth Mode (any quantity)
  • Timetraveller (any quantity)
  • United Action (any quantity)

New Additions

Winds of Exchange was the newest KeyForge set in 2023, and it made a strong showing in every major tournament from Vault Tours, to National Championships, the World Championship, and the 2023 Alliance Open. Due to the popularity of the set, we saw quite a lot of variety in the types of decks that performed well at these tournaments, but we saw some clear patterns that we felt needed to be addressed for 2024.

Among top performing Alliance decks from Winds of Exchange, Befuddle was the set’s most popular card. At times it seemed that the most common approach to building Alliance decks was to first choose what you wanted to do, then add an Unfathomable pod with Befuddle.

Over in Star Alliance, FOF Transponder proved to be very popular, especially when paired with the Berserker token creature. In fact, it was unusual to see a high-performing Berserker deck that didn’t include FOF Transponder.

Hallafest is a big splashy card that can take Brobnar into overdrive, especially when combined with a Berserker token creature and FOF Transponder. Some people suggested restricting Harmal Atoon would be the better choice for aggressive Brobnar decks, and we did seriously consider that. Both cards are rare, but Harmal Atoon appears in approximately twice as many Brobnar pods as Hallafest because Hallafest always appears with Harmal Atoon, but Harmal Atoon can appear without Hallafest. Therefore, restricting Hallafest affects fewer Brobnar pods in total, which we think is the right approach at this time.

Finally, partway through the 2023 competitive year, a new Winds of Exchange deck type started appearing: Legionary Trainer paired with the Scholar token creature. We didn’t want to make this combo impossible, but by restricting Legionary Trainer, players must now make some choices in order to run it.

None of these Winds of Exchange cards are overly-powerful on an individual level, but a large percentage of 2023 Alliance decks used them together in various combinations. We decided to restrict these four cards to help encourage more variety and creativity in Alliance decks.

Despite the popularity of Winds of Exchange, older KeyForge sets continued to be very competitive in 2023. We noted earlier the popularity of Befuddle, but that card has nothing on the single-most frequently used Alliance card across all sets: Infurnace. It’s easy to see why Infurnace is popular. It’s a creature with a strong play effect that purges problematic cards and controls Æmber. There are very few effects in the game that can do what Infurnace does (but keep an eye on the Geistoids when Grim Reminders releases in early 2024).

A card that is frequently paired with Infurnace is Chronus (especially when it’s enhanced with bonus draw icons); it’s a high-efficiency card from Logos that further empowers any deck in which it appears. By restricting both cards, players must now choose one or the other.

Unrestricted Cards

Since one of the goals of the Alliance Restricted List is to promote variety and creativity, removing cards from the list is equally important with adding cards. Removing the restriction on Restringuntus provides another tool for control-oriented decks from Call of the Archons and Age of Ascension.

For similar reasons, we removed Scrambler Storm. Why restrict Stealth Mode and not Scrambler Storm? While these two action cards have the same ability, Scrambler Storm is a Logos card from Call of the Archons, whereas Stealth Mode is a Star Alliance card from Worlds Collide. No KeyForge card exists in a vacuum, and when we considered these two cards in the context of their respective sets and houses, we concluded that Stealth Mode could create some oppressive situations that needed to be restricted.

Sci. Officer Morpheus has a powerful effect that was included in the 2023 Alliance Restricted List out of caution. We’re removing it from the list for 2024 to open up more possibilities for Worlds Collide decks.

The Polarity of Martian Generosity

Love it or hate it, the combo of Martian Generosity with Key Abduction left its mark on every major Alliance tournament in 2023. We do not want to eliminate this type of deck. Combos, and key cheats, are both important parts of KeyForge competitive play. But, we also recognize this particular combo can create some very negative experiences, especially when a deck has two copies of Martian Generosity, which can create the infamous one-turn-kill (OTK). After careful consideration, we decided the best way to shake up the meta while also causing the least amount of collateral damage to a large number of Age of Ascension Mars pods was to restrict Martian Generosity to one copy per Alliance deck. Key Abduction is not restricted, so the GenKa combo is still viable, but it has a little more head wind.

That Which Remains

The rest of the Alliance Restricted List remains unchanged for 2024. Control the Weak, like Befuddle, is a strong control card that needs to be viable, but at a small cost. Dark Æmber Vault and Library Access both provide a lot of card advantage and are therefore each limited to a single copy per deck. Ghostform can cause all sorts of trouble, especially if it can be reliably played on certain creatures. United Action can create some explosive combos, especially if it was allowed to be paired with legacy copies of Library Access.

What about Timetraveller? Many players have commented that Timetraveller isn’t all that strong and doesn’t need to be restricted. If Timetraveller were the only card in question, we’d agree. But, it’s important to remember that Timetraveller always comes with another strong card: Help From Future Self, which not only gives you back your Timetraveller and adds an Æmber to your pool, it reshuffles your discard pile into your deck.

That last part is particularly important considering the direction the game is headed with the next set, Grim Reminders. There is another old card in the game that can reshuffle your discard pile into your deck, which will remain unrestricted; do you know what it is?

We’re very excited about the upcoming 2024 tournament season, and we can’t wait to see what new Alliance ideas people bring to the table!

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