Keyforge Vault Tours: Making the Cut
Hello, Reapout community! Today my boyfriend, fellow Reapout member, Jason Scarrow and I are writing about making the day two cut at Vault Tours. So far this year, there have been 8 Vault Tours, but after the latest Vault Tour, we noticed that many people have been discussing (complaining) about the cuts on various social media platforms so we decided to write an article about it!
In order to grasp the concept of the discussion here is a quick recap of the requirements to make day two at a Vault Tour. Typically, a Vault Tour Main Event runs 6 rounds in each qualifying day. In order to advance a participant has to go 5-1 or better in a standard Archon or Sealed Vault Tour. Survival Vault Tours are slightly different in that as long as you still have a deck that hasn’t lost you still qualify for day two. So assuming three deck survival, anyone who goes 4-2 or better gets to play in the top cut of day two. Jason and I both agree, this set up for the survival makes sense. It’s a true survival format, however, what we don’t agree with is how one determines which deck to use for day two for the current survival format. For those who have more than one deck left, they have to either play with the deck they are on, or concede a game or two in the last couple rounds of the qualifying day. This is bad form, forcing players to give one or two of their decks a loss just to play one of their other decks that they feel gives them a better chance. We think that should a player have more than one deck still alive, they should be able to choose which deck to play or play a true survival. Although, we can only assume the current setup is due to time restraints and the limits of the software, we digress.
The latest Vault Tour as of this article took place in Italy where 334 people played day one, however, ONLY 22 people made day two based on a record of 6-1 or better. In other words, only 6.5% qualified for day two, which is hard to fathom when that many people came to play. For perspective, Adepticon being the smallest of the Vault Tours so far had 122 participants. However, being the survival format as long as you had a deck left you qualified for the day two cut. This advanced 43 players or 35% of the field. Denver was also survival with 138 participants and 45 qualified for day two. That equates to almost 32.6% of the field. Yes, Adepticon and Denver were a different format than Italy was, however, does that really mean less people should advance just to accommodate the format?
As we mentioned before, 5-1 is the minimum requirement out of 6 rounds to make day two for a normal Sealed or Archon Vault Tour. (Not Including Survival) Due to the large number of participants in Italy, however, they added an additional round of play to accommodate and increased the requirement from 5-1 or better to 6-1 or better. Perhaps to reduce day two numbers but to such a degree that it’s hard to agree with such a small percentage of participants are even getting the chance to advance to the second day. This is a very punishing system which makes it so that you not only need to play well, but you need to run well too, which is asking a lot with the amount of variance in Keyforge.
Jason and I aren’t experts or anything, but we just wanted to start a conversation and share our thoughts about making the cut. I have played in three Vault Tours (Adepticon-Archon Survival, Denver-Archon Survival, and Origins-Sealed) while Jason has played in two (Denver-Archon Survival, and Origins-Sealed). At Origins, we got to experience the X-1 format, and after hearing about the numbers at the Italy Vault Tour, we definitely think more people should qualify for day two.
Jason: Let’s talk about why I believe FFG has this X-1 rule. The main motivation for this decision, in my opinion, is to save time and it helps the tournament not run long on the last day of the event. It’s usually a Sunday and is hard to justify that a tournament run past 3 pm on the same day where most of the players have plans to travel home. While this is a fair reason, cutting to top 32 (at a minimum) doesn’t lengthen day two at all. For example, 22 people made the second day at the Origins Vault Tour. They first round of day two got them down to a top 16 and which means the top 10 got a bye. Adding the first 10 people with a X-2 to generate a true top 32 cut would result in the same finishing time as it wouldn’t add an additional round. The only difference is that the top 10 players wouldn’t receive a round 1 bye on day two. Also, cutting to Top 64 only adds one hour of play to the tournament. At the Origins Vault Tour, just under 12% of the field made day 2 out of 185 people. A top 32 cut would’ve increased that number to 17% and a top 64 cut would jump that number way up to 34%. Not only would these options give more people a chance to make the cut, it would alleviate some of the “feel bad” moments of losing a game because of time rules, an uncharacteristic draw, or a bad early round matchup. These are easy solutions that would allow the better players with the better decks to more consistently rise to the top. It also just increases the amount of people who get to enjoy a second day of playing competitively. 300+ people travel to play in Italy, and only 6.5% can make the second day?
Another, and maybe the main reason, to eliminate the X-1 cut is that strength of schedule hurts you instead of having it help you. Getting paired up is ALWAYS bad in this format and getting paired down is ALWAYS a good thing. Strength of schedule (SOS) is a factor that none of us can control and instead of cheering on the folks that beat us, I end up hoping they lose so that my SOS is worse, and I get easier pairings. This is a very bad thing for the camaraderie of the game, and I know in other card games, I always check in and cheer for the players I have already played because they affect how well I will be placed.
Origins had several great examples of why we think there should be some tweaks in the system. One example in particular, is that I was 3-2 going into round 6 and had the highest SOS of all the players with the same record. This resulted in me getting paired up. Already having 2 loses also meant that I had nothing to play for except æmbershards and Vault Tour Leaderboard points. I got matched vs a very nice lady that was 4-1 (it was also her birthday.) I did what most of you would’ve done and conceded my match to her. She was very gracious and ended up getting top 8 the next day. This is a situation where I got punished for having a stronger SOS then the rest of the field in a system that should reward it instead of hurt a player for it. On the flip side, she got rewarded for having good luck and the easiest SOS of all the X-1s. No one else in that round received a concession from their opponent. If it was a top 32 cut situation, I would’ve been rewarded for my pairings with tough opponents instead of hurt by it. This situation just added salt to an already open wound and is one of the reasons we’re currently writing this article. There are ZERO reasons in the current tournament structure to even include SOS when it comes to pairings.
To summarize, we just wanted to share some thoughts about day 2 numbers for making the cut, especially after Italy and Origins Vault Tour numbers. Like all things, there are pros and cons, but we think cutting to at least top 32 or top 64 seems feasible and has more advantages than disadvantages compared to the current X-1 model. It doesn’t lengthen day 2 by much and allows more players to play at the highest level of Keyforge. We would love to know other people’s thoughts, but until then good luck to everyone at the next few Vault Tours. We will be at Gen Con next hope to see you there!