Written by Andrew Grandstaff
I attended the Denver Vault Tour and it was a great experience for me. This might be the highest level event I’ve ever attended, and is also my first for a Premier Play event. Going into this event I had a lot of questions about what a Premier Play event is, and what should I expect. I’ve also read/consumed a lot of media about preparing for larger events, but as you might expect theory and practice are very different. Today I would like to give you as much advice and info that I can about playing in a Vault Tour.
I learned a lot by playing in the main event and I learned just as much by meeting and talking with the other players there. I would highly recommend that everyone try to attend at least one. There is no other opportunity to talk about or play Keyforge at such a high level. Everyone is just so excited for anything Keyforge. After the main event on day one there was still at least 50 people playing in side events. Groups of people chatting about anything from best/worst cards to favorite flavor text or any number of other Keyforge related activities. If one is within driving distance going just for Day 1 is 100% worth it.
Day 1 will probably start off a little rough but it only gets better. Breakfast food choices at the venue will likely be poor and there will probably be some technical issue with the QR code readers causing the lines of players entering the main event take even longer to get through. This is the perfect time to catch-up and meet a lot of the people you have only known online. Next is the main event starts and it’s 3 rounds of Keyforge. Then break for lunch and bad beats stories with your friends and then the last 0 to 3 rounds. If you are knocked out, there are side events in a variety of formats that are at least not available to me locally. Finally try to go out to dinner with some of the people you’ve met for the first time. Regardless if you made Day 2, have fun and empathize with the people around you.
Try to be there for three full days.
This is a great opportunity to relax and get focused for the Vault Tour. I spent all of day zero playing relaxed games of Keyforge against random people as they were checking into the hotel. I met so many new people and got to play against a variety of decks. Everyone was super nice and I was excited to see what crazy stuff every deck could do. I met up with a bunch of online friends went out to dinner with them and talked Keyforge all night. I was able to get to bed at a reasonable hour with zero stress about the logistics of day 1.
Get there at least half an hour early and plan some time to eat a reasonable breakfast. Again this is all about
managing stress, so you want lots of buffer room here. You might think you have a lot of time because registration never works right at these events but you don’t want your Vault Tour to be the one you missed out on because everything finally worked right. Also before the main event starts, make sure to have a plan for lunch mostly where you’re going & how you’re getting it. This is something my group failed to do and we wound up getting our food late and by the time we got back we didn’t have time to eat because the next round had already started. I lost that round. I won’t say it was because I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, but the stress from arriving late and knowing there was food waiting for me after the round certainly didn’t improve my odds of winning. After your last round of the main event be sure to check if there are any side events starting up soon. There is a great way to play in a variety of formats that are almost guaranteed to fire. This is how I played in my first sealed auction and I think there were 50 something participants in it. It was great.
The most important thing you can do when planning your Vault Tour is planning your trip so you have enough time to win the whole thing. Brooks, who came in second, had to reschedule his flight because it left to close to when the final round ended. You can save yourself hundreds of dollars by giving yourself that extra couple of hours. For most people this won’t be an issue and for the people who didn’t even make day 2, there are still a lot of side events to play in. You can spend a second day to play non-stop Keyforge with some of the best players for hundreds of miles. You can watch the top tables live and in person. I probably would have let just about anyone jump on stream with me and commentate or just chat about Keyforge between the rounds. All of my co-commentators basically came up and asked if the could join in. Don’t waste your last day getting home early. The Vault Tour is a rare experience and you don’t want to miss any of it.
Practice Practice Practice.
If you look at all the power level seven or greater decks you will see they all have chains except for the two from the sealed vault tour and Mx. Hongonail Delgado. Everyone who is in the top has put in a lot of games with their deck. They know them inside and out, what cards they are weak against and what they are strong against. “Z” of team SAS said Cory has over 200 games with Bahamut “Alp Larissa” Heifetz. Brooks says he has over 500 games played with Bombfoot, the Aeronaut of the Pike, and over 60 have been recorded by CrucibleTracker after the vault tour. You need to know all the cards and how they interact with your deck. The story of the finals was OMG look at all the Control the Weaks, but each of the players biggest concerns in the matchup was the Ember Imps. Brooks said his mulligan strategy was based on finding his Booby Traps so he would have a way to deal with Cory’s Ember Imps. You need to have the experience with your deck to know its weaknesses and what your answers are, so you can have a concrete game plan before your opening hand. Cory discards his Anomaly Exploiter in game one because he knows his deck doesn’t normally have a lot of logos turns. He has better ways to deal with Shadowselves, so therefore it is a liability due to Bombfoot’s Grasping Vines. These are the kinds of decisions that you should be able to make in seconds if you have enough practice with your deck.
Try to be as prepared as you can before each round. During the rounds, nothing else should matter to you but the game. Not your current record, not your plans for the evening, nothing it’s just you, your deck and your opponent playing the best Keyforge you can. All of the practice you have been putting in is so you can give your best performance in Day 1.
Variance is Real.
Keyforge is a card game and that means luck is a very real part of the game. Very few people will go undefeated in 6 rounds especially when people are bringing their best decks. Most if not all of the players who made the finals placed their best deck as either second or third in their lineup. Cascade games changed the rules for the Denver Vault Tour so both players could concede a round if they wanted. This is because so many people planned on conceding in the last round or two to get to their best deck. Having poor draws or bad matchups can and will happen. You should look for ways to minimize the way luck affects your performance. Part of this is understanding that you will get unlucky and not getting salty or tilted because it happened to you. Try your best to understand the likelihood of an event happening before deciding to play around it. Sometimes you can make all the right decisions and still lose.