The tournament concepts create the framework for any KeyForge tournament.
Tournament Round Times
Each tournament round of KeyForge is a predetermined length, giving players a certain amount of time to complete their games. A leader should start the timer for a tournament round after most players have found their seats and begun to set up. If a game has not concluded when the time for a tournament round runs out, a winner is determined through the “End of Game” procedure on page 8. A tournament round’s length varies depending on the type of round and format.
- Swiss and Single Elimination, Single-Game Rounds: 35 minutes each
- Final Single Elimination, Single-Game Rounds: 50 minutes
- Swiss and Single Elimination, Best-of-Three Rounds (except Final): 90 minutes each
- Final Single Elimination, Best-of-Three Round: 120 minutes
- Swiss and Single Elimination, Single-Game Rounds: 45 minutes each
- Final Single Elimination, Single-Game Rounds: 60 minutes
- Swiss and Single Elimination, Best-of-Three Rounds (except Final): 100 minutes each
- Final Single Elimination, Best-of-Three Round: 125 minutes
Each tournament round, players are paired with an opponent, against whom they play between one and three games of KeyForge. The method of pairing and number of rounds may change based on what type of rounds are being used. The organizer must announce the number and type(s) of rounds and what size any progression cuts will be before the start of the tournament.
When necessary, a player may be assigned a bye instead of being paired against an opponent. That player receives a win for that round of the tournament. The rules for when to assign a bye to a player are detailed in the relevant sections below. Players should not be paired against the same opponent more than once during a single stage of a tournament. In general, a stage of a tournament ends when a progression cut is made.
If a player no longer wishes to continue playing, he or she can notify the organizer of their intent. The organizer will avoid pairing the player in future rounds by dropping the him or her from the tournament. Players are also dropped if they do not appear within a reasonable time limit for a round in which they are paired, or if they are no longer able to play for another reason. Players can request that the organizer allow them to rejoin an event from which they were dropped, being assigned unpaired losses for each round they did not attend.
Players can rejoin an event only during the same stage in which they left. Disqualified players are removed from the tournament and cannot rejoin.
Most KeyForge tournaments use a Swiss pairing system that awards tournament points to the winner of each game. Each Swiss round pairs players in one-on-one, single-game or best-of-three matches. Each round pairs players with the same number of tournament points together as much as possible while also preventing players from facing the same opponent more than once. At the end of Swiss rounds, the winner of the tournament is the player with the most tournament points unless there are single elimination rounds.
For the first round of Swiss pairings, players are matched randomly against an opponent. For each round after the first, players are paired at random against another player with the same number of tournament points.
To determine pairings, take the group of players with the most tournament points and pair them at random. If there is an odd number of players in that group, pair the remaining player with a random player from the group with the next most tournament points. Then, pair all remaining players in the second group at random. Continue this until all players are paired.
Pairing Example: Henry, Lucinda, and Seth each have 5 tournament points, the most out of any player in the tournament. Henry is paired against Lucinda. Because there are no other players with 5 tournament, points, Seth is paired against a random player from the next highest score group—in this case, players with 4 tournament points. Vance is selected at random from players with 4 tournament points and is paired against Seth.
If there is an odd number of players in the tournament, a player at random receives the bye in the first round. In later rounds, if there is an odd number of players remaining in the tournament, the bye is given to the lowest ranked player who has not yet received a bye.
Many KeyForge tournaments set a predetermined number of rounds, at the end of which all players that meet certain performance criteria advance to the next stage of the tournament while all other players are dropped. This is commonly referred to as “making a cut,” and is often accompanied by a change in the type of tournament rounds and the start of a new stage in the tournament.
These tournament regulations cover the type of cut used for the Basic and Advanced Tournament structures: a standings-based cut to the top 4, 8, 16, or 32 players. There are additional types of progression cuts detailed in the Fundamental Event Document, found on the KeyForge page of the FFG website. If a player qualified for the standings-based cut drops from the tournament before any games are played in the next stage, the highest-ranking player that did not make the cut before should be added as the new lowest ranked player in the cut. This only applies if both stages are taking place on the same day, unless otherwise determined by the organizer.
Player Drop Example: Lloyd finishes the Swiss rounds of a tournament in sixth place and makes the top 8 cut but has a family emergency come before the elimination rounds begin. He informs the organizer that he must leave the tournament and then departs. The organizer immediately calls over the ninth-place player, Linus, and informs him that he may play in the top 8 due to someone leaving. He accepts and is entered into the top 8 as eighth place. The former eighth place player moves to seventh place, and the former seventh place player moves to Lloyd’s spot at sixth place. Then the organizer pairs all eight players based on these new rankings.
Once the next stage of the tournament has begun, no new players can be added in, even if someone drops out. If a player drops out during the elimination rounds, then that player’s opponent receives a bye for the round.
Single Elimination Rounds
Many KeyForge tournaments use single elimination rounds, in which the winner of each pairing remains in the tournament and the losing player is eliminated and dropped from the tournament. Elimination rounds are usually used after a progression cut to the top 4, 8, 16, or 32 players and continue until only one player remains and is named the winner. During elimination rounds, players play either single-game or best-of-three matches, depending on the tournament. For the first round of single elimination that follows a progression cut, pair the highest ranked player against the lowest ranked player who made the cut. This is Match #1. Pair the second-highest player against the second-lowest player who made the cut. This is Match #2. Continue in this manner until all players are paired. For tournaments which begin with single elimination rounds, byes will need to be utilized for the first round if there are a number of players not equal to an exponential power of 2 (4, 8, 16, 32, and so on). Randomly assign byes to a number of players equal to the difference between the actual player count and the next-highest power of 2, then pair all remaining players against each other at random. Assign each pairing and player with a bye a match number in a random order, starting with Match #1. For additional elimination rounds, pair the winner of Match #1 against the winner of the last match (the match with the highest number). This pairing is the new Match #1. Continue in this manner until all players are paired for the round. In further single elimination rounds, follow the same method until all players are paired. If a player drops from the tournament after single elimination rounds begin, that player’s current opponent—or next opponent, if the player drops between rounds—receives a bye for the round.
End of Game
Each Swiss tournament round and some single elimination rounds consist of one game—the winner of the game is the winner of the round. Some single elimination rounds are made up of two or three games—the first person to win two games is the winner of the round. A game ends in one of the following ways:
- Three Keys Forged: One player managed to forge three Keys before the other player.
- Time: When time is called at the end of a tournament round, if neither player has three Keys forged, they follow the Going to Time rules below to determine a win.
- Concession: A player voluntarily concedes defeat at any point during the game. The conceding player receives a loss and the opponent receives a win.
Best-of-Three End of Game
When a game ends in a best-of-three match during single elimination rounds, unless one player has won two games in the match, the players begin setup for a new game. The player who lost the previous game chooses which player will act as “first player.” If time is called at the end of the best-of-three match and players have the same number of wins (zero or one), then they follow the Going to Time rules below. Otherwise, whichever player won the first game of that match receives the win for the whole match and his or her opponent receives a loss.
Going to Time
When time is called for the round, the player who is currently taking their turn finishes their turn. If that player does not achieve victory by the end of their turn, then their opponent may take one last turn. If neither player has achieved victory (forged three Keys) at the end of the opponent’s last turn, they must follow the steps below, in order, to determine who receives a win for the current game. That player’s opponent receives a loss for the game. If a single elimination round with a best-of-three match ends and only one player has a game win for the match, the player with a game win wins the match instead of players following the steps below.
Note: These steps take place in a post-game tiebreaker phase. While following these steps, neither player is considered to be currently taking their turn.
- Each player who has 6 or more Æmber forges 1 Key (removing the 6 Æmber from their pool as usual). Cards that affect Æmber costs have no effect during this step. Each player can only forge 1 key from this step.
- The player with the most Keys forged is the winner. If there is a tie, proceed to step 3.
- The player with the most remaining Æmber in their pool is the winner. If there is still a tie, proceed to step 4.
- Each player selects one of their houses. Then, each player totals the number of friendly creatures in play of that house and adds the amount of bonus Æmber from that house’s cards still in their hand. This is that player’s “potential Æmber.” The player with the most potential Æmber is the winner. If there is still a tie, proceed to step 5.
- The first player is the winner.
End of Game Example: Time is called for the round. After finishing their last turns, neither Eric nor Travis has three forged Keys. They follow the rules for going to time. Eric has one Key forged and nine Æmber; Travis has two Keys forged and three Æmber. Based on step 1, Eric immediately forges a Key and removes 6 Æmber from his pool. Now both Eric and Travis have two forged Keys and three Æmber remaining in their pool. Because of this, they proceed to step 4.
Eric chooses Brobnar while Travis chooses Mars. Eric has four Brobnar creatures in play and four Brobnar cards in hand that give an Æmber bonus, putting his potential Æmber total at 8. Travis has six Mars creatures in play and one Mars card in hand that gives an Æmber bonus, putting his potential Æmber total at 7. Eric has the higher potential Æmber total, so he receives a win and Travis receives a loss.
Players earn tournament points at the end of each round. At the end of a tournament, the player with the most tournament points wins the tournament. In the case of a larger event, they are instead used to determine who makes the cut to elimination rounds. Players earn tournament points as follows:
- Win = 1 tournament point
- Loss = 0 tournament points
If two or more players have the same number of tournament points, tiebreakers are used to determine each player’s standing within that group. Tiebreakers are used in the following order until all players within that group have been given a standing.
- Strength of Schedule: A player’s strength of schedule is calculated by dividing each opponent’s total tournament points by the number of rounds that opponent has played, adding the results of each opponent played, and then dividing that total by the number of opponents the player has played. The player with the highest strength of schedule is ranked above all other players in the group not yet ranked. The player with the second-highest strength of schedule is ranked second among all players in the group not yet ranked, and so on.
- Extended Strength of Schedule: A player’s extended strength of schedule is calculated by adding each opponent’s strength of schedule and then dividing by the number of opponents that player has played. The player with the highest extended strength of schedule is ranked above all other players in the group not yet ranked. The player with the second-highest extended strength of schedule is ranked second among all players in the group not yet ranked, and so on.
- Random: If any players are still tied after all other tiebreakers have been applied, then those players are ranked in a random order below any players already ranked in the group.