A Quick First Report on Ouroboros Format
Let's break it down by set now too for fun!
One of the coolest things about how this format ran was how much more diverse the card pool was than a standard archon event. In order to succeed you needed a deck that can respond to far more diverse pressures as the meta was far less predictable. On the left are the top cards from the Ouroboros event (left) compared to the top cards of the same KFPL archon qualifier event discussed above (right). Note that the standard archon event's top cards are all logos and dis while the Ouroboros has a much more diverse house makeup.
My Thoughts After One Event
I am usually hesitant to call something a total success but this Ouroboros event brought our largest signup pool for a small scale event in ages and also achieved the goals of house/card diversity. I am SO proud of the format and how it ran. Here are some of my highlights from the event:
The Tension of House Selection: Normally when you start a round people are itching to go and you feel like you're holding them up as a tournament organizer. In this case it really felt like everyone was waiting on an exciting announcement prior to the start of a round and I really fed off that energy. Each round felt fresh, new, and exciting as a result, with people begging the rng gods to work on their behalf. For example, in an unlikely turn of events, Brobnar received the ban in round one. Now... I've run the Swindle discord since it started and that is the only time that the chat has moved faster than I could read it. People were shocked and it was AWESOME. We even had a player bring two killer brobnar decks and take a gamble in order to play their best stuff. I thought the risk was worth it even though they got hit with the unlikely ban and it didn't work out perfectly. That willingness to risk it was such a great story line for me and I totally want to see more of it.
The Rare Choice: In 2 out of 5 Swiss rounds I got to choose which one of my decks to bring. In the first round so did my opponent, but in the 4th round, Dis got banned and I was rewarded for not bringing it. Both of my decks had a less than ideal matchup against my opponent's remaining deck but I was able to choose the lesser of two evils and squeak out the win. It was really quite interesting from a perspective of deck analysis. In future iterations of this format I intend to bring even rarer house combinations to gain this advantage more often as it felt really significant even given two bad matchups!
The top decks: The average SAS of the top 3 players' decks was 81. That's quite reasonable given the pool contained 2 decks in the high 90s. Even with no SAS cap I think therefore that the format did some balancing. The most successful decks offered very diverse multi-card toolkits and whole deck synergies rather than sporting the "best" single cards in the game. For a bit of context, SAS tends to undervalue card interactions that require more than 3 cards, and this seems to explain the undervaluation of our "commonly housed" but still successful decks. In addition, every set except for Dark Tidings was in the top 3 decks and 8 out of the 9 houses brought were represented (The double brobnar lineup went 3-2 and easily could have top cut but the brob gang did not make it to the top cut). Generally the meta constrains in the top cut and it was very good to see that the balancing continued as we climbed the competition ladder.
Moving forward: I want to amp up the excitement on the house ban and make the process more public and fun. I see big spiny wheels in my future. This will also give more transparency to the process when the format is run with much larger groups. (thanks to Jupiter for the recommendation on that). In addition, in my discussion with Aurore from timeshapers after the event: https://timeshapers.com/category/keyforge/ it came up that there are multiple ways to skin the cat with Ouroboros depending on your goals with it. You could reduce the randomness but add transparency by banning houses in order of representation rather than through stochastic process as I've done. I think the random but weighted process is more interesting, but the point here is that the Ouroboros variant is very malleable to the goals that you are trying to achieve as tournament organizer. My teammate, Zaramis a.k.a Simon and I had a similar thought that you could change the weighting scheme to punish the over-represented houses even more and reduce the risk for the lower houses. I quite like the standard version as we ran it personally, though the next time we do it, I'll use a SAS cap to see what happens. Remember though, Ourboros is a tool and you can totally bend it to do what you want it to do!
I was about to release the article and woke up to some cool variation ideas from Aurore in my inbox so I'll post them here! If you have cool variation ideas, message me on discord at: Karen(she/her)#7879 and I'll add them here as a growing list!
Ideas from Aurore followed by my thoughts:
-Ouroboros with card bans: Aurore suggests that any card which appears more than once or perhaps that appears more than the median number of instances could be added to a pie-chart of cards that may be banned. You can then run Ouroboros as before with unique bans for each round. I think this would totally work with unique bans but might lack the interest and impact of a house ban. However, Aurore brings up a really intriguing idea though which I think has more spice:
Alternatively, the bans of cards could be cumulative in nature as the tournament progresses. I think this is a great core mechanic though I'm still thinking about how it can practically work. Basically we need to avoid scenarios where someone completely runs out of decks to play unless they've taken a knowing risk to put themselves in that situation. I'm still thinking about this one and would be happy to hear more ideas. The idea of an increasingly diverse card pool as the tournament progresses sounds very very cool though!
Feel free to submit more ideas and thanks for reading!
Link to our list of decks etc from this event: https://decksofkeyforge.com/decks?tags=18551990
Link to KFPL List referenced (compiled by Aurore): https://decksofkeyforge.com/decks?tags=6739032