Formats and variants/en

From Archon Arcana - The KeyForge Wiki
For official tournament formats, see Tournament Guidelines


There are two formats in KeyForge Organized Play: Archon format and Sealed format. Each tournament utilizes one or the other, and each variant builds upon either one or both formats as a base. The standard way to play for both formats is Solo play. In a Solo tournament, each player uses the same single deck for the entirety of the tournament. Tournament rounds can be played either as one-game matches or as best-of-three matches.


In the Archon format, each player brings a deck (or decks) to the tournament. This deck must be an official, unaltered KeyForge Archon Deck that the player either obtained ahead of time or bought at the event itself. Before each match, players are allowed to review their opponent's Identity card (containing a list of all cards in the deck) for 2 minutes.

Except in the VaultWarrior series, decks from all KeyForge sets are eligible for Archon tournaments.


In the Sealed format, each player receives a new deck at the tournament, usually by purchasing it from the hosting retailer. Only decks from the current KeyForge set are used for Sealed events. Players do not open their sealed decks until the official start of the event, and players are encouraged to wait to register the decks to their Master Vault accounts until the end. After opening their decks, players are given a few moments to read through and familiarize themselves with their contents, then the tournament begin.

In Sealed play, players are not allowed to review their opponent's Identity card and thus do not know the contents of their deck.


Variants are optional, and do not need to be utilized in an event. Some variants require best-of-three matches or multiple decks for each player. All variants can be used for either Archon or Sealed format.


Each round of this tournament consists of best-of-three matches. For the first game of each match, players use their own decks. For the second game, each player swaps decks with his or her opponent and plays using his or her opponent’s deck.

If the third game occurs, players bid chains to use the deck which won both of the previous games. The player who brought the deck starts by bidding 0 chains, and then the players take turns outbidding each other until a player declines to bid higher. The player who bid the highest uses that deck for the third game (with their bid number of chains applied at the start).

Considered by many to be the most skill-testing variant, it will be used at the upcoming $100,000 prize pool VaultWarrior Championships.


Each player enters the tournament with 2 or 3 decks (number determined by the organizer). The decks are ranked in an order of the player’s choosing before the first round. Each player must start with their first deck. Whenever a player loses a round, the deck they played with is “out” and cannot be used for the remainder of the tournament. When a player no longer has decks remaining, they are eliminated from the tournament.

Tournaments can be played either as "pure" survival (play proceeds until all decks are eliminated), or as survival events with a single-elimination bracket for the top cut (this format is used in the Vault Tour).


Each player has 3 decks that they can use throughout the tournament. Each round, each player chooses one of their opponent’s decks to “bench,” making that deck unusable for that match.Each round consists of a best-of-three match. When a player wins a game, they must switch to their other deck for the rest of the match. This means that a player must win a game with each of their non-benched decks to win the match.

In a Sealed Triad event, players choose to "bench" a deck only based on the houses of their opponent's decks, as looking at their opponent's Identity card is not permitted.


Each player brings a deck to the tournament which they believe is challenging to win with. Each round of the tournament, opponents temporarily swap decks for that match, and try to win the round with the deck their opponent brought.

Sealed Reversal was initially regarded as a bizarre variant, but has since proven to be a player favourite.


Like with a normal Sealed event, each player buys and opens a deck before the start of the event. Unlike a normal Sealed event, after all players have opened and registered their decks, each deck is placed on a table. Players are arranged in a random order around the table. The event organizer then randomly selects and calls out a deck. That deck’s owner must start by bidding 0 chains. Then, in clockwise order, other players may bid higher than the current bid, or pass on bidding further for that deck. When all players have passed, the highest bidder wins that deck to use for the duration of the tournament and passes bidding on all other decks. Repeat the process for each deck. If a deck is randomly selected and its owner has already won the bid for another deck, the next player in clockwise order must place the initial bid of 0 chains for that deck.

Players start each game in that tournament with chains equal to their highest bid for the deck they are using. At the end of the event, each deck returns to the person who originally purchased and opened it.

The Auction variant has not yet been used in any high-level events.

2-deck elimination

This is a new sub-variant introduced for the VaultWarrior series, where it will be used on the 2nd day of all Qualifier events. Players bring two decks (each from a different set) and before every round each player chooses one of two decks from their opponent to play against; the other deck is eliminated from that round. After both players choose a deck to eliminate, they then play using the Adaptive, Best of 3 or Reversal variant, depending on the event.

Team play

Although initially not part of official KeyForge Organized Play, team play has quickly grown in popularity and was acknowledged by Fantasy Flight Games when it was chosen to be the official format of the first World Championships event.

Players form teams of three players, which then play three simultaneous matches against an opposing team using standard KeyForge rules. Players on the same team sit side by side and table talk between teammates is allowed and encouraged. Different formats and variants can be used for team play, including different variants for different players within a team. Sometimes, restrictions are placed on the number of decks that can contain a house within a team.

Currently the most popular version of team play includes a different variant for each player and designated player positions within a team: Player 1 from each team plays with their own deck. Player 2 from each team plays reversal. Player 3 bids chains to choose which deck they'll play.

Official team play rules have not yet been published by Fantasy Flight Games.

Unofficial variants

Adaptive short / Adaptive modified

This is a shorter, one-game version of the Adaptive variant, where players immediately proceed to choosing and bidding for decks. If both players choose their own deck, they play a regular match. If both players choose their opponent's deck, they play a Reversal match. If both players choose the same deck, they bid chains as in the third game of an Adaptive match.

Blind Sealed Reversal

In this format, players receive a Sealed deck and prior to each round they swap decks with their opponent. The opponent cannot look at the decklist and plays "blind", without knowing the contents of the deck they're playing.

Further reading

How Does This Thing Work?, 15 October 2018
The Key to the Crucible, 9 July 2019
KeyForge Organized Play