Collegiate cyber defense competition where teams of 8 defend real-world networks
World's largest cyber defense competition cofounded with the Air Force to inspire students towards STEM careers
Individual or team network assessment and network defense competition where competitors vie for control of resources
Collegiate cyber defense competition where teams compete by securing provided virtual machines
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Research-based cybersecurity courses aimed at helping individuals in states and communities nationwide to develop and improve their own cybersecurity programs
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As an alternative to the official San Antonio CTD Tournament, you can host your own!
A successful tournament experience can often depend on the Cyber Threat Defender style of tournament, tournament environment, accessories that are provided, awards and preparation by both the tournament host and players. While it is true that each player needs to understand the game rules, the tournament host plays a critical role in its overall success.
But before looking at the tournament rules, considering whether or not players will compete with a standardized deck, such as the starter deck, or if players be allowed to customize their game deck. You may also be wondering how fluent YOU need to be with Cyber Threat Defender: The Collectible Card Game (TCG) in order to host an event.
Short answer: You don’t need to be an expert at Cyber Threat Defender TCG to host a tournament. However, you do need individuals supporting the event to take on the role as “Judges” that are well-versed in the game. More on this later.
To help gain a little perspective on hosting a tournament, let’s consider some best practices to having a successful Cyber Threat Defender tournament event. . . and make sure to check out the frequently asked questions section below to answer some of your additional questions!
The main consideration for a space to host your tournament is to have enough square or rectangular tables to fit the maximum number of players you would like to support. Ideally, you should fit two players per “table”, with opponents facing across from each other. A table should be no less than 28” in depth and 70” wide. This will account for game mats and score sheets. (Four players can also use this same space but with less “elbow-room”!).
Note: tables can be longer to accommodate additional players. However, space between/across competing players shouldn’t be too far apart. If players need to stand up and lean over the table to identify their opponent’s cards, then there is too much space between their play areas.
Additionally, identifying tables and seating by number or letter (e.g., table tent cards can help with this) is critical to keeping the event area organized. For example, at the beginning of the tournament, players will be randomly placed – or seeded – into specific brackets to identify what table placement they are to be seated at and which player is their opponent. After each match, players will be re-matched to different opponents based on scores from their previous match. Being able to quickly identify where each player is seated is critical to both the scoring process and overall tournament organization.
While not required, it is recommended that Cyber Threat Defender game mats be used during tournaments. In addition to it adding a layer of excitement to the environment, mats help participants to keep their cards organized and easier for their opponents to identify cards being played.
A podium with microphone, as well as a screen (e.g., large monitor or projection screen), also aid in the host’s ability to review the tournament rules and expectations of players before the tournament ends, announce the winners at the end of the event and project table/seating locations with each new match.
This is the most common approach to Cyber Threat Defender tournaments, as players all receive and use the exact same CTD Starter Deck so that every player is competing with the same cards – no booster packs or custom decks are allowed. To ensure players are using the same version of the CTD Starter Deck and the decks have not been modified prior to the tournament, it is recommended that the tournament provide brand new decks to each player. Registration fees and sponsors will often cover the cost of decks.
A Cyber Threat Defender deck must have a minimum of 50 cards and no more than four (4) of each card type may be included. If you choose to host a non-structured tournament that supports players bringing their own custom decks to the tournament, players are required to register their decks when checking in for the event. This is to verify that the deck complies with limited number of card rules. Once this deck has been accepted, the deck cannot be altered during the tournament.
Again, while the tournament host does not need to be an expert on Cyber Threat Defender, your tournament should feature a Head Judge and multiple Floor Judges that are familiar with the rules to play the game.
The Head Judge provides a physical presence that gives the final authority on any potential disputes, rule interpretations and final decisions. This person should be well-versed on how to play Cyber Threat Defender and be familiar with the cards. The Floor Judges roam the tournament area during matches to answer questions, deal with illegal plays or assist player requests. There is no specific number of Floor Judges required for a tournament, but we recommend one Floor Judge per 8 to 10 players.
At the end of each match, players will need to turn in their Match Slip to identify player rankings throughout the tournament. Tournament volunteers and judges can help collect these from players and then turn these in to the Score Keeper. The Score Keeper will use the break between matches to track each player’s progress and re-seed them for the next match.
To help you host – and promote – your Cyber Threat Defender tournament, we invite you to order the “How to Host a Cyber Threat Defender Tournament” digital kit through our online store. The kit is $25. Once the order is received, the CIAS will email you a packaged file with the following items:
Tournament Release Forms (these templates go over tournament behavior and policies; a general marketing release form; and medical treatment consent form)
Pre-tournament promotional materials (flyers, social media templates, logos)
Media (event press release, media alert and social media guide)
Tournament Items (name badge templates, introductory PPT, table tent cards, score sheets and match slips)
After you have received your tournament kit and have reviewed it, you are welcome to reach out to the CIAS for a consultation call about hosting your own tournament. Note: this kit does NOT include game mats or card decks. Those must be purchased separately.
A: It varies. A school hosting a student-only tournament may choose to not have an entry fee. However, it is recommended that organization’s hosting a tournament open to the pubic require a minimum $5 entry fee to help cover the costs of awards, a rented space/facility, food, etc.
A: Yes. We encourage you to engage community organizations to support this event. It’s a great way to promote cybersecurity awareness throughout a community. If a company cannot provide a monetary sponsorship to support the cost of hosting a tournament, an alternative approach is to reach out to organizations that have in-kind sponsorships, designed as employee volunteer-programs, to provide on-site support.
A: Yes. The CIAS is available to connect on the phone, email or via virtual meetings to answer any questions after the host organization has reviewed the tournament rules and supporting materials. However, hosting organizations can also hire the CIAS to run your local tournament. Contact the CIAS to inquire how to book our services via firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: Any person or organization interested in supporting cybersecurity awareness can host a Cyber Threat Defender tournament.
A: It is up to the tournament host to decide who may participate. However, it is recommended that the minimum participating age is 11 years old. Any participating player should also know how to play Cyber Threat Defender prior to participating in a tournament.
A: Tournaments may use any authorized game cards from Cyber Threat Defender starter decks, expansion and booster packs. However, a tournament host may decide only authorized starter decks, from a specific year for example, may be used. Or, the host may allow for participants to use their personal, custom decks. Regardless of whether customized decks are allowed or not, the host should notify players in advance of the tournament day on what cards are allowed to be brought in or if the tournament will be providing new, unopened decks at the start of the tournament to each player. See page 9 of the “CTD Tournament Rules” document for additional insights.
A: If you are hosting a swiss-style tournament, we recommend having no less than four matches to determine a winner. After accounting for 30-minute matches, with 15-minute breaks between each match and taking time for lunch, a typical swiss-style tournament is five-hours in length. See the “CTD Tournament Rules” document for more information on the different tournament styles.
A: For a competitive tournament, we recommend no less than 10 players. However, 30 or more players is ideal for a swiss-style tournament.
The CIAS was established at UTSA in June of 2001 as part of UTSA’s creation of a cybersecurity program. The CIAS delivers quality research, training, K-12 education, and competition and exercise programs to advance organizational and community cybersecurity capabilities and collaboration.