Oubliette – A Timeshapers Archon Variant
Is KeyForge meta stale? No. Far from it. However, we do tend to see the same houses and same house combinations at top-level play. Did you know that there are 1098 decks ranked 90 and higher by SAS and of those only 162 don’t have logos and only 34 have neither Dis nor Logos? You could just ban those houses, but it would just be a matter of time before players find the next top house to dominate. What if you can make a variant that would self-regulate? Well, it turns out you can.
An Archon variant where each player submits 2 decks and a banned house not in their decks.
Before the match players have 5 minutes to review their opponent’s decks. Decks that have a house banned by either player cannot be played. If both of a player’s decks are banned, they forfeit the round. So players should consider submitting decks with no house overlap.
This is a very simple and easy-to-understand variant that I hoped would increase the diversity of decks. You can ban Logos, and not have to face some of the absolute top-of-the-line decks or you could use your ban to not face a house that is generally strong against your decks.
7 players signed up to test the new variant and one player didn’t make it, but they submitted decks that contributed to the statistics. The tournament played out like a fairly normal tournament. Most matches were played 1 deck vs 1 deck, but some provided choices for the players.
Using DoK’s neat analysis feature (available to patreons) gives a nice summary of the strengths of the variant.
Albeit the small sample size, this house distribution is beautiful. Logos and Dis still show up, but they are no longer the dominant houses. Instead, Shadows and Untamed emerged in the lead. Brobnar and Unfathomable remain behind, but usually in such a small sample size, they don’t show up at all.
But even more exciting to me is the house combos. The only repeating house combo is Sanctum Shadows Untamed, not exactly your typical highly sought-after house combo! There isn’t a single Logos Dis Shadows in this list either, the otherwise most popular house combo.
For the bans, we had:
3 x Dis
2 x Logos
1 x Sanctum
1 x Saurian
Some of those bans were wasted, as in, they did not provide the player an advantage. But they could, potentially. If we take all 7 players and match them up, we can see how effective the bans are, and if they gave the player an opportunity to play 2 decks vs 1. The best lineup in terms of ban advantage was Jupiter’s lineup. He brought a Sanctum Shadows Untamed deck along with a Saurian Star Alliance Unfathomable and chose to ban Logos. His advantage came from the fact he chose not to bring Dis or Logos, meaning 5 out of the 7 bans were ineffective against him, while his ban hit 4 players.
The sample size is very small, so it is hard to say if this strategy will be effective. Since every player brought an Untamed and a Shadows deck, those would be better for gaining ban advantage, but would that result in more wins? Hard to say.
Biad Meta Analysis
To really appreciate the diversity here is the DoK analysis of the Biad run by KFPL recently. This is what a regular top-level tournament house distribution looks like:
As we know, Logos and Dis are champions of open Archon variants. But as I said, what really excites me is the difference in house combos.
There are a total of 49 different house combos in a pool of 150 decks. The above list is just the house combos that show up 4 or more times. Those make up 95 of the decks, nearly two-thirds. I am excited to see how the house combos would look like in a 75 player Oubliette tournament.
I chose to run my tournament with two decks and a house ban, but there are other options that can allow tournaments to self-correct for other meta-defining statistics. For example, you could allow a card ban instead of a house ban. That could help with this absurdity:
50 Infurnaces in 150 decks is a lot, and while I personally don’t mind playing against Infurnace, I would like to see some more even distribution of cards.
Another thing you can correct for is of course set distribution.
Biad is not a big offender, but there is still a significant set bias towards MM and WC. Want to run a tournament with a more equal set distribution? allow a set ban.
If you allow more than 1 ban you might want to increase the number of decks to three or maybe more. I have not tested this, but just thinking about what I would want to bring to 3 deck Oubliette with one card ban and one house ban makes me a little dizzy.
When I presented my idea for Oubliette to KarenB, she was inspired to make her own variant with the same philosophy as Oubliette. Her variant uses the pool of decks submitted as a resource to determine a random ban each round based on the house distribution. It is a very clever approach that provides a different metagame and potentially a different house distribution. If you want to participate, she’s running her first Ouroborous event on the 18th of July. I’ll be playing, come join us in the final swindle discord and discover new possibilities in the world of KeyForge.
In summary, I am very happy with how this variant is working and I am looking forward to seeing bigger events run with it. Jupiter has shown interest in running a KFPL Oubliette tournament. If you’d like to see it, do hop over to the KFPL discord and let them know!