1. A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO TOURNAMENTS:
Written by CLAUS STAAL
You'll recognize the beginning of this guide as a part of the "Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Destiny", with some additions at the end. So, if you have already read that guide, then you can skip to the parts that were not included in the original beginner's guide.
This is primarily a guide to people who have never really attended Star Wars Destiny tournaments. If you are a seasoned tournament player you will already know all of this, and this guide may not really be of any help to you. It is designed to understand and set the expectations of going to a Destiny tournament.
2. WHAT IS THE TOURNAMENT SCENE LIKE IN DESTINY?
Once you have played your first games and want to test how "good you really are", you might want to get involved in the tournament scene. And while the Star Wars Destiny tournament scene is nothing compared to Magic the Gathering, that has a fully sponsored PRO TOUR, Pro Tour Qualifiers and fairly good monetary prizes involved, the Destiny tournament schedule is generally good and diversified.
OFFICIAL Star Wars Destiny Tournaments, those that are regulated by Fantasy Flight Games Organized Play, are separated into the following tiers:
ORGANIZED PLAY COMPETITIVE CIRCUIT:
- RELAXED TIER (Season events and Store Championship).
- FORMAL TIER (Prime Championships)
- PREMIER TIER (Grand, Continental and World Championship)
- PREMIER TIER (Galactic Qualifiers)
The organization of various events depend on the tier, but are generally speaking:
- RELAXED TIER events are organized by Local Game Stores that will buy official promo kits from Fantasy Flight Games Organized Play department. Most stores will be able to get their hands on several Season Event kits and one Store Championship kit. It is up to your Local Game Store to order and purchase these within a set deadline. If your LGS is not particularly active with Destiny, it might be a good idea to ask them to order it.
- FORMAL TIER events, Prime Championships, are also organized by Local Game Stores, but supply is much more limited. Not all Game Stores will receive a kit, and they need to apply for it from Fantasy Flight Games Organized Play department.
- PREMIER TIER events, like Grand Championships, are organized by Fantasy Flight Games. These events are huge, sometimes tickets can be difficult to get because of demand, and in 2018 there were reserved tickets for the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, with just a portion of the tickets available for the general public (the same will be the case for Worlds 2019, while Worlds 2020 is advertised as an "invite only" event)
3. WHAT ARE TOURNAMENT PRIZES LIKE?
As already stated, if you are coming in from the competitive Magic the Gathering scene (or any other high stakes game) you'll be sorely disappointed with the tournament prizes in Destiny.
THERE ARE NO SPONSORSHIPS AND NO MONETARY PRIZES!
This a general policy for Fantasy Flight Games. Agree or disagree, but that's how it is.
If you are in it for the big bucks, I'd actually recommend that you take up Poker, and then you can enjoy Destiny on the side. I know that people often talk about Magic as the benchmark of earning money from playing cards, but that's silly, when according to the June 2018 update on all-time earnings the TOP10 for poker players compared to the TOP10 MtG players were:
I know that it sounds like a jab at Magic, and it really isn't. I'm just saying, if the monetary prizes are what fires up your engine, why not go all in on it? Sometimes putting things in perspective alters the way you see them.
Prize Kits for Star Wars Destiny tournaments are more moderate and have previously looked like this:
Usually prizes includes Alternative Art Cards (regular cardboard for participation and Acrylic spotgloss for top spots), Acrylic Tokens for the game, Play Mats for the top players and a Trophy. Most of it can be kept to spice up your games and make your decks look flashy or be sold on the second hand market. Prices on the second hand market for collectible items are "ok" and in some instances have been enough to fund a trip for a player who wanted nothing but the experience and glory, and couldn't care less about the various prizes.
GALACTIC QUALIFIERS use a different system of prizes unique to the "Organized Play 'Open' Circuit". I recently wrote an article about that!
If you are buying prizes, i.e. cards/tokens/play mats, on the second hand market just be aware of what kit you are buying from. A play mat from a Store Championship should not be evaluated as highly as a play mat from a Regional Championship, which in turn should be less worth than a Nationals play mat. There will be hundreds of Store Championship play mats while play mats from Nationals will be much more scarce. Generally speaking, buying alternative art cards, etc. is much cheaper after a couple of months, whereas straight after a tournament it's incredibly overpriced.
Some of the cards are printed in a gibberish language called "Aurebesh", and it is the "official" Star Wars language. Be aware that normally the quality of the alternative art cards is different from that of your normal cards, and you'll be able to see the difference on the back (sometimes the size also differ slightly).
The content creator Amanda Reynolds aka JediGeekGirl from I Rebel - A Star Wars Destiny Podcast keeps an archive of every single promotional product released by Fantasy Flight Games for Star Wars Destiny. If you are a true collector you might find some of the products quite difficult to come by as they were released in EXTREMELY LIMITED quantities (and the price follows that limited availability!).
4. WHAT CARDS/TOKENS ARE LEGAL?
Star Wars Destiny is being distributed around the world in plethora of languages, including: English, German, French, Polish, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, etc. (I've probably missed a lot of languages).
All cards published by Fantasy Flight Games, whether pulled from a booster pack or bought on the second hand market are legal for official games, no matter the language.
There are a number of custom made (often referred to as fan made) alternative cards made, sometimes circulated at tournaments, given as gifts to patrons by content creators or even sold in web stores, and while many of them are super cool and extremely well made, they are not legal at tournaments. If you do decide to bring one, you should always consult the Tournament Organizer (TO) to hear about specific legality at that tournament and bring the original card just in case!
In the Tournament Regulations document released by FFG, they note about legality:
There are a lot of cool stuff that can be used to "bling up" your games of Star Wars Destiny:
- *). All tokens are displayed on a custom made Play Mat used by the YOUR Destiny crew.
- 1). Original FFG tokens that can be won in various tournaments.
- 2). Third party token set from Buy The Same Token.
- 3). Third party Power Action Tokens donated by CPH Laser Design for YOUR Destiny.
5. CHOOSING A DECK:
So, you have signed up for your first tournament and are now wondering what deck to play. Dependent on your aspirations for the tournament, and your final results, you might wanna go through the following steps:
- CONSIDER THE META (what decks are most likely to be played). Straight after Worlds 2018 the tournament scene was flush with Kylo2/Anakin (the deck piloted by the eventual World Champion Edwin Chen) as well as Rey2/Aayla (the deck that Mads Utzon took the runner-up spot with). It is generally a bad idea to try and "break the meta", that is to try and figure out exactly what decks will be played and bring something which is the best possible counter deck. You'll most likely guess wrong, and end up with a deck that can perform reasonable well against established decks, but have other bad match-ups. That said, it is still a good idea to have a proper overview of what the popular decks are.
- LOOK AT A GAUNTLET. Most gauntlets, including the YOUR DESTINY GAUNTLET, look pretty much similar and are comprised of the best performing tier 1 decks that are generally known. Whatever deck you decide to bring should be able to go toe-to-toe with most decks in the Gauntlet. If you don't have a lot of time to test before a tournament, and not everyone have the luxury of being able to spend hours and hours testing, then choose the decks you believe to be the worst match-ups and practice against those.
- If you are bringing one of the decks present in the Gauntlet, you should consider TESTING THE MIRROR MATCH. Your tests might show that there are a few cards that can be tweaked/flexed out to improve your odds in that particular match-up. That was how Mads Utzon found Destiny as a powerful addition to the Rey2/Aayla deck. If you bring a proven Gauntlet deck you are almost guaranteed to face it during a tournament.
- SEEK INSPIRATIONS FROM OTHERS is always a good idea. Whether or not you like netdecking, finding out where others have failed or succeeded is just a good idea (we even wrote an article on netdecking). Checking out decks and character teams on the biggest Destiny deck database swdestinydb.com is usually very helpful.
- Read some of the hundreds of deck analyses published on this website is also a great way to find inspiration before a tournament.
6. TOURNAMENT STRUCTURE:
Some of the information here might seem a bit tedious. If you don't really care about how tournament points and Strength of Schedule (SoS), etc. is calculated, then just skip to the next part dealing with the tournament itself!
Star Wars Destiny tournaments are played within different tournament structures. The tournament structure depends on the tier of the tournament and in some cases it is up to the tournament organizer to decide on a custom structure.
SWISS ROUNDS are the preliminary rounds at a tournament. In swiss rounds players are paired against each other depending on their "tournament points" apart from the first round where pairings are randomized. It basically means that players always play against an opponent with the same amount of wins/losses, unless there's an uneven number of players with the same number of wins in which case one player is "paired down" and one player is "paired up", i.e. in round 2 of a tournament there are 5 players with 2 wins (2-0 record = 2 Tournament Points) and 5 players with 1 win and 1 loss (1-1 record = 1 Tournament Point). In this example there would be one 2-0 playing against one 1-1, the former being "paired down" and the latter "paired up".
PROGRESSION CUTS are indicated in the table above as "Size of Cut", meaning that if you have an Advanced Structure tournament, i.e. a Prime Championship (formerly known as Regional Championship), with 21 players, the tournament will consist of 5 swiss rounds and the 4 players with the most tournament points (top 4) will make the progression cut.
In the example above the 21 players, have completed 5 swiss rounds, and Claus has done really well and is the winner of the swiss rounds! HURRAAAH! While Paul, John and Mads is added into the top4 progression cut. Linda on the other hand lucked out as she also has a score of 4 (same as Paul, John and Mads), but got relegated to 5th place because of the rules of tiebreakers.
If 2 or more players are tied with the same amount of tournament points after all the swiss rounds, two tiebreakers are used:
- 1. STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE (SoS): Is essentially "how strong opponents (in terms of wins) have you faced during a tournament", and is calculated by "dividing each of YOUR opponent's tournament points with the number of rounds being played" and "adding each result" then "dividing by the number of players YOU have faced".
- 2. EXTENDED STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE (Ext. SoS): Is calculated by "adding the SoS of each opponent YOU have played divided by the number of opponents YOU have played".
- NOTE: If 2 or more players have the same SoS and Ext. SoS then the final ranking is randomized amongst those players.
The use of Strength of Schedule to determine progression cuts from players with the same amount of tournament points is a contested issue amongst competitive Star Wars Destiny players. We won't entertain that discussion now, but it is of course unbelievably frustrating missing out on a top cut because of the performance of your opponent rather than solely on your own performance.
Progression cuts are usually played as SINGLE ELIMINATION games formatted into "best-of-three" matches, but it could be decided by the tournament organizer to play it as "best-of-one". There's nothing in the Tournament Regulations that stipulate that progression cuts MUST be played as "best-of-three", although I think it's pretty standard. Single elimination just means that the winner of the game will progress to the next stage of the tournament, the loser will be eliminated from the bracket.
A full round is 35 minutes, so expect a tournament with 5 rounds and a top4 progression cut to last around 7 hours although it could be as much as 9 hours for the winning player:
35 minutes * 5 rounds = approx. 3 hours (no breaks)
Top 4 = up to 90 minutes
Final = up to 120 minutes
If you roughly know the size of the tournament and you expect to do well - and perform beyond expectations - then set aside the time. It'll be a pity if you had to leave before the end of the tournament, especially if you were supposed to be in the final!
I know that many of us have family obligations, work sitting on a desk waiting for us, but I'd also like to underscore that it's nice when people stick around for the final games. It sort of feel a bit empty if everyone scuttles off after the swiss rounds. It's also up to the Tournament Organizer to facilitate making it worthwhile to stick around for players.
A "BYE" is normally given to the player with the least amount of tournament points in case of an uneven number of players. A player given a bye is automatically given a win for the round. You can also earn a bye for future tournaments by virtue of winning a tournament (i.e. a Store Championship Winner will receive a FIRST ROUND BYE for one Prime Championship, while a Prime Championship winner will receive a bye for one Grand Championship and the winners of Grand Championships will receive a bye for the World Championship. It has not previously been possible to use your National Championship winner's bye for Continental Championships).
If you win a tournament that gives a bye for a future tournament, you'll receive a card that you will need to bring with you in order to claim your first round bye.
7. GALACTIC QUALIFIERS:
In 2018 Fantasy Flight Games announced their GALACTIC QUALIFIERS events, and while the title sort of implies that this is a tournament at the highest possible level, that is actually not really the case.
Of course some of the best players in the world will attend the various GQ's, and competition in the main events can be fierce (remember that the winner qualifies for the World Championship), there are a number of great side events that can earn you "prize tickets" that you can spend on a "PRIZE WALL" at the event. The prize wall will be various unique alternative art cards for Destiny.
Galactic Qualifiers are really great fun to participate in, but are usually a bit expensive, because they primarily takes place at gaming or hobby conventions, which means that on top of the entry ticket for the GQ event itself, you'll normally need to purchase a ticket for the convention as well. You'l be looking at collective entry fees in the 50-75$ range.
All GQ's will have at least one TRILOGY FORMAT event and possible also one or more STANDARD FORMAT events, and use the double elimination structure. This means that when you have taken your second loss of the day you'll be eliminated from the tournament. The winner of the Galactic Qualifier will have a record of 6-0.
8. THE TOURNAMENT:
People have very different rhythms and preferences. I like to show up early. If the weather is nice, which it most of the time in Denmark is not, then I'll find a spot outside to listen to some music, slurp some coffee and just chillax.
If the tournament organizer required you to submit a deck list, then do it when you arrive. You don't want to be that guy running around frantically 1 min before the tournament begins trying to find a pen and a piece of paper to write the list down. Sometimes people they tech in cards at the last minute, maybe to answer some of the lists they suspect to see at the tables. I think it's too late and too little. Prepare your deck before the event and play it to the best of your ability.
Deck lists are usually submitted for tournaments that are Formal or Premier tier. I've experienced a couple of Store Championships (that are Relaxed tier) also ask for deck lists). Generally speaking, a tournament that has a top cut after the swiss rounds will ask for a deck list. And in a best of 3 single elimination round you will usually see your opponent's deck list either before the first match or after the first match. There are no specific rules governing this, so it's at the sole discretion of the tournament organizer how it's done, if at all.
You might also in premier tier events have your deck checked. It can either happen randomly between rounds or more commonly after the progression cut where every single player who made the cut will submit their deck for checks. Never keep additional cards with your deck. Put them somewhere else. You could risk being disqualified from the event if your deck does not match the deck list you submitted.
Fantasy Flight Games published this standard form for deck lists, which is full of mistakes, but it'll do its job.
There's lot of discussion on "table manners" at tournaments on various fora. Is it "okay" to reach for another person's dice? Is it "okay" to reach for another person's cards? Generally speaking, and this really goes for everything at a tournament, be a good sport. Nobody asks of you to enjoy losing, it's probably best if you don't, but don't be an ass about it. Also be a gracious winner. Don't tell people why they lost, unless they ask you. You know, not everybody takes a beating standing, and while you're happy to have won, don't spill it on your opponent.
If you want to know what an argument or fight over a game of Destiny looks like from the perspective of a bystander, then watch this great video of these tae-kwon-do girls fighting:
Sometimes people get nervous, and while I don't have any tricks to teach you, I myself enjoy every single game of Destiny I get to play. Some games feel more important than others, but at the end of the day just enjoy that you got to spend a whole day playing your favorite game, and even if you lost a bunch, it could have been spend places a whole lot worse.
You've probably already heard all of this a million times, but do remember to drink water regularly, don't eat fries all day as it's really not nutritious and get out and about.
I usually listen to my favorite tracks between games, sometimes I make notes for future reference (or articles) or just hang out. You probably do something differently. Carry on!
Don't bring more for the tournament than you need. Sometimes players bring 3 or 4 decks, maybe an extra play mat, their cards for trade or sale, and while it is entirely up to you what you bring, I'd just recommend not to bring your entire collection and what not for a tournament. It's simply not the right place, and people will most likely not have time to trade cards, and probably didn't bring their own.
Often venues can be tight for space and if everyone also have to zigzag bags and overloaded trucks parked in between tables, it quickly becomes annoying. I bring a small backpack with my deckbox and playmat + tokens (and some snacks). Also remember that although the Destiny crowd is the greatest gaming community around, we consist of both saints and sinners (and those of us somewhere in between). If there's a bag full of toploaders with rare promos or spotgloss cards from GQ's, the temptation might be too big for some ... just sayin'!
9. THE TOURNAMENT ORGANIZER & COMMUNITY BUILDING:
I also wrote about this in my "Tournament Organizer's Guide", and it really goes both ways. Participating as a player at any Destiny event, you are also a community builder. Both you and the organizers are doing something great for the Destiny community and contributing to promoting the game, get more players involved and hopefully keep the game going for years and years. While the tournament organizers should make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible, so should you as a player. There's nothing more frustrating as a TO, Marshal or Judge, to have people complaining constantly. The fact that you paid money to go to the event is not a carte blanche to act up.
Neymar Jr., probably one of the most talented footballers of his generation has enchanted no-one with his footballing magic during the World Cup 2018, while his childish antics have earned him many critics. As great a footballer as he undeniably is, unfortunately he'll mostly be remembered for his disgraceful and unsporting behavior on the field. He was supposed to be a role model, and instead became the punchline for jokes. I for one wouldn't be sorry for never seeing him on a football field again. His great skill just comes at too heavy a price.
Also remember that the tournament organizer, normally your Local Game Store, are not representatives of Fantasy Flight Games and they are not in contact with the Destiny Design team. They are volunteers, in most instances a Marshal or a Judge at an event will not get paid for his efforts, and deserve to be treated with some respect, same as you.
10. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU:
I hope this guide has contributed in part to preparing you for your first Destiny tournament and that you'll take home the main price! As a preparation you can read some of our articles on GAME THEORY or become a Patron where you can take part in Destiny discussions on our Discord Channel (Expert tier members can get feedback on deck lists and much more).