Do we miss Mars and Sanctum?

Are Dinosaurs and Spaceships better for Keyforge than Knights and...Spaceships?

Written by Carl Woodwiss

Crazy Killing Machine

Let me get this out of the way nice and early...*clears throat*

This article is my opinion.

I feel the above necessary for a couple of reasons. It's certainly known that I may have a slight bias against one of the above houses. Also, I am very open to a healthy debate on the subject, especially if you disagree! If we all liked the same stuff it would be a very boring world...and we would all be net decking the same decks for other well known card games at competitive tournaments (too subtle?).

So let's get started. I wanted to take a look at the state of the houses in Keyforge as we draw closer to the end of Worlds Collide and move into Mass Mutation. For those who are not aware:

In 'Call of the Archons', Mars and Sanctum were 2 of the inaugural Keyforge houses alongside the existing suite, minus the Saurian Republic and the Grand Star Alliance. 'Age of Ascension' remained the same, however 'Worlds Collide' introduced the ancient Saurian Dinosaurs and star surfing Star Alliance Space People to replace the Knights of Sanctum and the little green people of Mars. First, lets look at the overarching characteristics of each house:

House Characteristics:


  • Lawful Good Knights. Pure, honorable and blah...

  • Tough creatures

  • Armored to the teeth

  • Believe it or not...a tendency towards fighting and fight effects

  • Excellent at capturing Aember

  • Play Style: Put an army of big creatures on the board, armor them up and reap/capture your way to victory.


  • Sneaky, manipulative little green tinkers.

  • Squishy Creatures or Massive Creatures, nothing much in between.

  • Synergistic reap effects. Very tricky and control-y

  • Not build for fighting, or being alone. Work very well when played as a swarm.

  • Good all round actions. Not spectacular at one individual thing.

  • Play Style: Wait...wait...wait some more...then drop the Martian hammer and burst your way into some shenanigans.

Saurian Republic:

  • Roman-esque. Great thinkers, great fighters and one of the earliest modern civilizations of the crucible.

  • Very powerful creatures, both, physically and mentally.

  • The most ridiculous interactions between creatures, actions and artifacts alike.

  • Built for fighting and protecting their board with huge Ward capability.

  • Huge risk/reward strategy with incredible Exalt effects.

  • Play Style: Exalt as much as you can protect and...just let dinosaurs be dinosaurs. If you can protect it, you want it on your creatures.

Grand Star Alliance:

  • Incredibly brave Galactic Explorers captained by the fearless Captain Val Jericho.

  • Squishy Creatures, a bit of Elusive, a bit of Ward, a bit of this and a bit of that.

  • Incredibly strong play/fight/reap effects. Do things to your opponent before they have the chance to react.

  • Built for being a nuisance. There are not many GSA cards which you can leave on the board for too long.

  • Very powerful upgrades!

  • Play Style: start small, upgrade the hell out of your creatures and if your opponent doesn't deal with them effectively, just keep getting more and more hench.

Which are the strongest houses as a stand alone faction?

I think it would be hard to argue that Saurians rule this category by a MILE! Their ability to use, reuse and protect their creatures, along with their incredible amount of protection and creature strength puts them way out in front.

I would then suggest the other houses are not too far apart. Sanctum can control a board on its own, Mars can go wild on its own and Star Alliance is probably the slightly weaker of the three when there is only other Star Alliance on the board unless they are loaded up with upgrades.

Gold: Saurian

Silver: Sanctum/Mars

Wooden Spoon: Star Alliance

Which are the more interesting houses?

Now this is going to be very subjective. The answer is going to come down theme and how you like to play the game. For example, let’s circle back to something I said earlier. I don’t like Sanctum. I don’t like their theme and I really don’t like their ‘play 6 creatures and reap your way to victory’ mentality. I know Saurians have elements of that too…but I prefer Dinosaurs over Knights.

As a kid I NEVER thought I would say this, but in this instance, I prefer space over fantasy. I grew up a Dungeons and Dragons, Lord of the Rings nerd and never really liked the idea of Sci-Fi. Battlestar Galactica changed that and then Star Wars…did Star Wars things to me! I also MUCH prefer card interactions and shenanigans over strong creature play.

Gold: Mars

Silver: Star Alliance

Bronze: Saurian

Wooden Spoon: Sanctum

Which houses play best with others?

Sanctum does Sanctum things. It does Sanctum things as a whole, whether playing alone or playing with others. Being able to capture strongly and then paving a way for other other houses is very strong. On the other hand…Saurians do not play well with others. Saurians want to play with other Saurians and not much else.

However, both, Mars and Star Alliance can do devastating things during other houses turns. Both houses have some devastating constant effects and I think it would be an injustice to split the 2, other than Star Alliance and the strength of their upgrades over some mediocre Martian upgrades (1 or 2 aside).

Gold: Star Alliance

Silver: Mars

Bronze: Sanctum

Wooden Spoon: Saurian

Which houses are better for Keyforge as a whole?

This is tough. But I want to keep this at high level and will openly entertain discussions:

Gold: Star Alliance and their utility just cannot be ignored. They do OK on their own, spectacularly when playing with others and their lure is super interesting.

Silver: I hate to say it…but Sanctum. They do what they do very well. More importantly, they do what they do better than all of the other houses. No house protects creatures or captures aember better than Sanctum.

Bronze: Mars. No, Saurian, No…Mars. Definitely Mars. This was hard. Saurians are good. But I had to think about the question I am answering and I personally believe that Saurians are too good for the current state of play. Just as we have got out of the ‘if you don’t have good steal, then don’t play competitively’, now we have moved into ‘if you don’t have Dinosaurs, don’t play competitively’. Now I know that is a HUGE generality, but it is a tongue in cheek way of me saying….Saurians are too powerful for the state of the rest of the houses. It skews the game and when you are playing casually then it is certainly no issue. It is fun to watch Saurians do Saurian things. But when it happens to you competitively and it is impossible to answer…urgh. I think, looking at how they affect the balance of the game…

Wooden Spoon: Saurians. I know that will not be popular with some people. Others may agree silently for fear of the community backlash you will get for agreeing with me. Others…if you agree, stand tall, shout loud and agree…

…that Carl prefers Sanctum over Saurians. Oh shit, what have I done!?

As always. Be good to each other.


Crazy Killing Machine

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