Running and Playing the 5-1-3 Format
Hello. I'm Gearbox and I'll be your guide to the 5-1-3 format of Godtear tournament play. Before we begin, I'd like to outline that this format is a community format, therefore it's unofficial and ineligible for prize support from SFG. If you'd like to play the current official tournament format, you can follow the rules outlined in this document.
But this article is about 5-1-3, so let me explain what it is, how to run it, where it came from, and how to prepare for a tournament using the format before concluding the article.
What is a 5-1-3 game and how is it different from a normal game of Godtear?
Before the tournament begins, players choose 5 champions to bring to the event. These 5 champions are locked in for the entire tournament.
Each round, after setting up the board for that round’s scenario, players will roll off 5 dice each and the higher roller will decide whether to be first or second player.
After determining the first and second player, the second player will ban one of their opponent’s champions from play this round. Then the other player will then ban one of their opponent’s champions from play this round.
Now that each player has 4 champions remaining, they will secretly decide which three to play and reveal them simultaneously. This determines their Warband for that game, comprised of 3 champions and their respective followers.
After this point, the game proceeds as normal, with the first player forced to begin deployment first and to be the first player during the first turn.
Remember, one of your 5 champions will be banned out from under you each round.
How does one organize a 5-1-3 tournament?
Once you know how many players you have, determine how many rounds will be played (likely either round robin or Swiss pairings) and secretly randomize which scenario will be played for each round without duplicating scenarios if you can avoid it. Reveal the scenario at the start of each round before setup and do not let players know which scenarios were chosen before they construct their 5 crews and submit their locked in lists. Use the same scenario for all tables in a round. For example, if you have a 4 person round robin tournament, you could possibly randomize Quest, Death, and Life as the scenarios, and if you have a 16 person Swiss tournament, you could possibly randomize Construction, Death, Knowledge, and Chaos as the scenarios.
How did 5-1-3 originate?
Grumpysarn created a draft format for Godtear that used a very similar pick 5, ban 1, choose 3. Gearbox codified it here and here as a constructed format. It’s called 5-1-3 because you bring 5 champions, ban 1 champion, and play 3 champions. It was developed by the community due to the prevalence of Kailinn, Skullbreaker, Lily, and Raith’marid in the top level of official SFG4 tournament formats. Kailinn, in particular, is problematic due to her speed and ultimate ability to shut down large-follower based champions. The Ban allows players to remove direct counters to their warbands, and in the tournaments played thus far in this format has increased champion diversity across the board. As for justifying the ban in universe, well, Godtear is a battlefield of alliances of convenience and sometimes it’s convenient for champions to be swayed to not participate in a battle.
How do I prepare to participate in a 5-1-3 tournament?
First, you need at least 5 crews. A crew is a term for a champion and their respective followers that is used sporadically in the community, as Warband refers to one’s entire force of 3 champions and their respective followers. I’m trying to make fetch happen here.
Anyways. There are 3 phases to setup a 5-1-3 game as a player: Constructing your list of 5, banning 1 of your opponent’s, and dropping down to 3 for your final warband.
When constructing a winning list of 5 crews you’ll need to remember 3 key points:
One: Don’t have a favorite champion. If you build your entire list around one particular champion, and it gets banned out from under you, you’re going to have a bad time. Any champion can be banned by your opponent. You have no pre-ban protections in 5-1-3. If you bring it as a centerpiece of your strategy, and it gets banned, your strategy will fall apart.
Two: Be comfortable with all your champions. There are 20 possible ways to assemble a 3 champion warband out of 5 crews. Your opponent will ban one of your 5, and then you’ll leave one of your remaining 4 on the sideline (5x4=20). That means you need to know which interactions between your crews are valuable, which matchups they struggle into, and how they interact with the chosen scenario. These decisions, what to ban and what to drop, will shape the entire rest of the round, from setup to the last turn. Be prepared for these decisions and don’t make them lightly. The more comfortable with every piece in your warband, the easier the game will be for everyone.
Three: Be flexible. You will have to be ready to play on every scenario against an unknown foe if you want to win. It is all fine and dandy to bring 4 dwarves and Keera, but if you bring the slowest force possible to Quest, you’ll struggle to win. Consider, when constructing your list of 5, how they interact with each other on all available scenarios and whether you can succeed on a particular scenario if your opponent bans your best champion for that scenario.
When banning an opponent’s 1 champion, you should consider the following 3 questions:
One: Which champion do you not know? There’s nothing quite so frustrating as facing a crew you’ve never seen before in a tournament setting. You don’t know what it’s capable of, you will need to have its rules explained multiple times, and you can’t prepare for how it will maneuver during the game. Best to ban it and move on.
Two: Which champion is the best for your opponent against either your champions or the scenario? If I’m have Styx, Jaak, and Skullbreaker in my list, you can bet that I’m going to ban Luella if I see her across the board. Yes, even if I’m playing Death and my opponent has Kailinn as well. If I have Styx, Keera, and Shayle, on the other hand, then Kailinn would get the ban. This is the usual, “what Ban puts my opponent in the worst position?” choice. It’s a calculating, strategic decision that attempts to put your opponent on the back foot.
Three: Which champion do I hate? Sometimes you just despise facing a particular crew. I have asked players, “Why did you ban Kailinn on her worst scenario?” and the response was, “She is the bane of my existence in this game and I hate her.” This is actually a good reason to ban a champion. If the objective of a game of Godtear is to win, the goal of a game of Godtear is to have fun. If you know you won’t have fun playing against a particular champion, ban it and be done with it. And if it’s two pieces, figure out quickly which one you despise more.
When dropping down to a final warband of 3, there are 3 final points to consider:
One: Prioritize the scenario. If you ignore the scenario and focus solely on the champions, you’re not taking the battlefield into account. Each scenario has distinct advantages and disadvantages for each crew, and it’s important to consider them all when building a final Warband.
Two: Remember your counters. If your opponent still has Mourneblade in their four and you have Maxen, bring Maxen just in case. If they have two crews with armor 1 followers, bring Luella and throw her forward into the fray. If you have a good counter into their likely list, you’re one step closer to victory.
Three: Consider your opponent’s perspective. Remember that your opponent is making this decision blind, just like you. They don’t know which of your four remaining Warbands they will be facing and are trying to put themselves into a strong position too. Don’t double fake yourself out, but you should consider what you’d do in your opponent’s place, and then build your list from there.
That’s 5-1-3 in a nutshell. I hope you enjoy this Constructed format as much as I do. If you need a refresher on how to set up the game, refer to the bolded text in the first paragraph. For organizers, remember that you can use Longshanks to help setup and run your tournament. For everyone else, I’ll see you on the Discord and the Shattered Plains.
- Jeff “Gearbox” Mitchell