Written by Andrew Grandstaff
We are now in the second age of Keyforge and with that, we have gotten a lot of new organized play information. Overall FFG has given us a nice outline of what organized play is going to look like with most of the details relating to the lower level events or Chain Bound events. While I would like more information about the larger events, we are still a ways off from any of them, so the lack of details isn’t too concerning. In general, I’ve been pretty happy with everything regarding organized play, and I’m sure as we get closer to the actual events more information will be released.
The ultimate goal is to get to Worlds Championship (or Keyforge Celebration in 2019) at the top of the pyramid. To be able to participate in this event you will both need an invite and at least 1 deck with the appropriate power level. You can earn an invite from any championship event except store championships (more info). We now also know that you can trade the keys you earn from aember shards for invites into some unknown event(s). Right now there is only one event that requires invites, so unless they announce another part to the organized play pyramid then Keyforge Celebration sounds like the best bet on what they will be used for. We can also be fairly confident that there will be some sort of minimum power requirement for decks that are used in any Archon event in this event.
Currently, the only known way to increase the power level of a deck is to win matches in chain bound events. In the most recent crucible cast (episode 3) it was implied that it was very unlikely for a deck to get to power level 4 only through chain bound events. This probably means that winning or even doing well in higher level events will increase your decks’ power level. As of this writing, the only known format for a vault tour (dates and locations, more info) is sealed solo at Emerald City Comic Con. I hope the field will be large enough to produce a strong enough deck to compete at Worlds. Whoever wins this event will probably earn an invite and the deck should essentially earn one too. If it is also not awarded the power level required to participate that would be a shame. At the same time if it also not strong enough to compete it will be a shame to know that the winner will have to find another deck that is strong enough and earn the appropriate amount of power in order to make use of their invite.
That is all the information we have on high-level competitive Keyforge. On the other hand, we have a lot of information about Chain Bound events. Until a Vault Tour shows up nearby you get to play in weekly Chain Bound events. These are the events that will power and chain up most decks. In these weekly events, decks will earn chains at a rate of roughly one chain per win. These chains are gained at the end of the event and are applied at the start of every future match in a Chain Bound event. Once your deck reaches 7 chains, also when you start the game with 2 fewer cards, your deck is considered power level 2. Essentially your deck’s power level is equal to the card penalty you receive at the start of chain bound games. All power level +4 decks are banned from Chain Bound events. Your deck can never lose power levels, but it can lose chains. If your deck is power level 2 with 7 chains and you go 0-4 with that deck in a Chain Bound event your deck will lose 1 chain but still retains its power level of 2.
Now that we know all about the system how do we take advantage of it? To me, there is a huge flaw with it. This system treats all unknown decks as if they are the worst ones in the game. Eventually, maybe even in a month or two, most people will have weekly chain bound events firing near them. To me, this means most of the decks in Archon tournaments will have some chains applied to them. Most above average unchained decks should be able to win against of field of chained decks. There are a bunch of above average decks on eBay right now going for $20-$30 that will be great for taking down your local Chain Bound events once chains become more established.
That said I think you should be playing sealed if you want to maximize on aember shards per dollar. In all chain bound events you get one amber shard for entering and one for every win. In sealed you also get one for registering the deck you purchase for the event. This greatly increases the aember shards per dollar spent. Based on the player with a 50% win rate they should expect to earn 4 aember shards in a 4 round sealed tournament and with a $15 entry that is .26 aember shards per dollar. To match this rate in Archon a player would have to buy a deck that cost $20 or less and 4-0 the event earning .25 aember shards per dollar. If you can find unregistered decks you can bump your deck budget up to $25. (Excel sheet with math) The problem with chasing aember in Archon is that it doesn’t have any consideration for any variance and hopes that no one else in your area is trying the same thing. If you just want to optimize on-time per aember shard while competing then I would recommend playing Archon and buying above average decks and wrecking shop. Buying a new cheapish (like $40-$50) good deck off of eBay every week should let you go positive if not win the whole thing every week.
Until the value of power levels and the road to worlds are better defined I’m going to focus on optimizing my play for local Chain Bound events. My plan is to take all my top performing decks and play them once. From there on out, I’ll switch to primarily playing sealed. If I feel any of my best decks can 4-0 with 4 chains then I might take them back out to try again. This should cover at least the next month or two worth of events for me, and hopefully, by then, we will have more information on the value of power levels. I’m really hoping we hear more about store championships soon. These are the lowest level of non-chain bound events and should provide a good starting point for the speculating on the requirements for all higher level events.