Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with elementmario222

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features elementmario222 who will be playing Quarter Finals against Frealy this Sunday, October 27th at 15UTC.

[Audio interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy6QxydPjp0 ]

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

elementmario222: Sure. I’m originally from the Mid-West, but I spend most of my time now in New York, where I work in Finance. I do split my time between Chicago and New York. That’s basically all I do.

xtruffles: Oh cool. Your username is pretty unique: elementmario222 – and you have a pretty cool Yin Yang water/fire avatar. What’s the story behind that, if there is one?

elementmario222: When I was a kid, I used to lurk around on GameFAQs, which is probably before a lot of people – I don’t know, maybe I’m showing my age here. GameFAQs used to be where everyone went for game guides and participated in forums. On that site, I had a bunch of usernames. My first was “watermario222” and then I switched to “firemario222”. Then, I created a ton of alts for some reason. Eventually, I used those names for other sites but I wouldn’t need 100 different accounts so I consolidated it to “element”.

xtruffles: Oh, wow. That’s a pretty cool story.

elementmario222: Yeah, haha. If you look at GameFAQs now, you can still see some of the reviews I wrote for really old games when I was 10 years old. It’s kind of fun for me to read those reviews and see how my writing has improved – or not – over the years.

xtruffles: Awesome. So, speaking of games, how long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

elementmario222: Dominion, I’ve been playing since college, I guess. But I haven’t played too much. There was a period of time in college when I would play with my roommates a lot in Board Game Nights, and it just ended up being one of our favourites. So, we actually went online after we all graduated and kept playing on the online clients we have now. I kind of wanted to keep playing with them – well, I wanted to play more – but they kind of moved on with their lives and I kind of just kept playing Dominion.

xtruffles: Well, it is a pretty good game.

elementmario222: Haha. Yeah, it’s okay.

xtruffles: So, what are your favorite and least favorite cards in Dominion?

elementmario222: Oh, this is tough. I really enjoy playing with all of them – I don’t have a ban list or anything because I think Dominion is a lot more fun with variety. Sometimes discovering these weird interactions with cards that are weaker is pretty exciting. I think that’s my favorite part of Dominion, to be honest. I would say my favorite card right now is Guildhall because I’m trying to get better at playing money boards and that card incentivizes me to play more money.

xtruffles. Yeah, a lot of times I’m more tempted to play the engine than money because the engine is just more fun to play.

elementmario222: I agree for sure. I actually think that engine boards are sometimes easier to play than money boards. I’ll look at boards and I’ll always assume that the engine will win. Even now, when I was spectating a match [B League Match: amoffett11 vs. kaplane], I thought there was one board that the engine should win, but they both went money, so I was super surprised. But looking back, maybe that was the way to go. My least favorite card is Squire. I just don’t like that card. It does too much and it does so little at the same time.

xtruffles: Yeah, I can definitely see that. It doesn’t cost a lot, but there are so many options that you can choose for it to do. It also has the effect of when you trash the card, you gain an attack. Lots of things going on with just $2.

elementmario222: It’s just a copper half the time, let’s be real. It’s like a Necropolis, Copper, weird, I don’t know.

xtruffles: Haha, yeah. What do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion and why?

elementmario222: For this one I would say – this is recency bias here for me – I played a match in the championship, where I didn’t know how to – Encampments and Plunders, these two cards always kind of vex me. I’m often not sure whether it’s worth hoarding encampments and sometimes I think “Oh, it’s a single buy board, so maybe Encampment isn’t really the way to go”. I don’t even know if that’s true, but it’s the feeling I get. When buying Encampments, it maybe takes too long to get all the Encampments and Plunders, especially when you’re playing a board with a different engine available. I just don’t know when to pop those encampments. I like hoarding them, but they’re kind of just dead cards in your hand. Similarly, with Madman and Hermit, it’s tough to play those cards because I’m genuinely a hoarder in life. If I could hold onto those Madmans and Encampments, I would love to – but I haven’t found the right balance between playing and not playing them.

xtruffles: I can definitely see that because when you play your Encampments and Madmen, you run into the risk of either 1) giving up a bit of your turn for a bigger turn or a more guaranteed-keep-your-encampment turn later on or 2) taking that risk and making your turn better than it is now. So I can definitely see it being a very challenging card. So speaking more on cards, what are your impressions of the new promos? Church and Captain.

elementmario222: I definitely like both cards. I’ve read some of the interviews of the other people and they’ve summarized the nuances of these two cards really well. I think Captain is, of course, very strong and often you just auto-click it when you hit 6. Church is good for trashing – sometimes – but I think it’s often more important for the Haven-type effect: spiking stuff and managing shuffles. As a trasher, it’s fine – but it’s a pretty cool card because it has these extra layers to it. It’s also non-terminal, which is always cool. I always love playing with these new cards. Apparently there’s a new expansion coming out soon, right?

xtruffles: Yeah, I think so? I remember Donald posted somewhere that there will be a new expansion released next year. I think it’ll be interesting to see what kind of cards are inside. Speaking more on games, what has been the most memorable Dominion game you have played so far? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be from this championship).

elementmario222: I have don’t very good memory in general. So, I remember the games that I’ve just played a week or two ago. I played cha-shu in the last round. I think it was in the last game, I played with Cultist and had very nice draws and shuffles. I think the ruins split 8 to 2, or 9 to 1. I did the whole thing where you buy a lot of cards – I think people call it “spinning” when you don’t really do anything – and cha-shu almost beat me rushing down the Duchies and Duchesses. I got really lucky to pull out that win – which is not saying much for my ability to build a deck.

xtruffles: Haha, yeah sometimes it definitely feels that way. But you went 4-1 against cha-shu so, very impressive.

elementmario222: I think it’s misleading because in Dominion you sometimes get lucky and it’ll look very decisive. But it’s just that you had 3 lucky games and suddenly you’re up 3-0.

xtruffles: Yeah, I guess it’s pretty important to look at the games sometimes. Because sometimes the final score is really close and it’s just whoever can hit that last Province. The decks may be very similar but you just keep hitting 7 for some reason.

elementmario222: Yeah, I think that in every match I’ve played so far, I haven’t actually outplayed my opponent. I think in every match I’ve played so far, I’ve gotten lucky in at least two or three games. You see these tournaments and you have to realize that there’s too much luck to say anything about whether the winner is actually the best player ever. The winner is a good player but you can’t make any decision as to whether or not this champion is the best one.

xtruffles: Yeah, that’s true. But I think for you – it definitely takes at least some skill. And to make it all the way to this point, it definitely takes quite a bit of skill. So make sure you don’t discredit yourself.

elementmario222: Alright, alright. I’ll take some credit. “I’m good at this game”, haha.

xtruffles: Haha. Speaking about champions, other than yourself, who do you think will win the Championship and why?

elementmario222: I would say that going by seeding is the easy answer but like I said, everyone that’s gotten to this point only has to win another 3 matches. I know people are doing this betting thing, but I don’t believe that any particular match has a super, super strong favor anymore. There’s just too much randomness that goes on and someone can just get lucky and win 4-0. It certainly could happen. It’s tough to say who might win. Actually – JNails – I’ve watched JNails play a lot in ladder, he’s a Dark Horse. I think people are sleeping on him a little bit.

xtruffles: Yeah, I’ve heard that too. Going back to the betting thing, I’ve definitely looked at the odds and some of them are like 2.5:1 or even 2:1, which is crazy for players who have made it all the way to Quarterfinals. Since these wins are by no means deterministic – like you said there’s some element of luck/shuffle luck involved – that everyone who has made it this far is quite good at dominion.

elementmario222: Yeah, shuffle luck can be huge. And I don’t think that any individual player has more than 60, 65% chance of winning any given match anymore. We’re at that point in the tournament.

xtruffles: So, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

elementmario222: Outside of Dominion, well – I work. I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, but that definitely is what occupies most of my spare time. But, work is work. My main sort of hobby outside of work, and outside of Dominion… I’ve competed in other video games like Super Smash Bros – Super Smash Brothers Melee is the big one. That’s part of why my username is what it is.

xtruffles: Ohhh, so it’s the Mario from Nintendo.

elemenmario222: It is Mario from Nintendo. When I find time to do other things, I try to travel a bit, but there’s not a lot of time for me anymore.

xtruffles: Yeah, time is definitely precious.

elementmario222: And we’re all spending it playing Dominion, haha.

xtruffles: Hahaha. Yeah, sometimes I’m not sure if Dominion is the best use of my free time but it’s fun.

elementmario222: Yeah, it’s fun. You need a hobby where you can just relax and play. Not everything has to be super meaningful.

xtruffles: I have one last question for you: What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

elementmario222: Just try and have fun playing. Like I just said, it’s just a hobby after all. None of us are professional Dominion players. So if you treat it too seriously and you take your results too seriously, you’ll have a bad mindset. If you take your records and think “I have a losing streak,” it might discourage you from playing more. Honestly, if you want to get better, you just need to play a lot, watch a lot of other people play and just think about the game. And to do all of that, you want to have the right mentality, which is to say: you want to approach the game with a willingness to admit you maybe played poorly one game but that doesn’t reflect on you as a player. It’s just everyone plays poorly sometimes. Sometimes you might also get lucky and your opponent builds a better deck than you but you just happen to win. Take it all in context, right? Because there’s this part of Dominion that if you look very narrowly at your recent results, it’ll really cloud your mindset. You might be on a winning streak or losing streak but it doesn’t have to mean anything.

xtruffles: Yeah, I like thinking of it as.. In my interview with Freaky, he said that you sometimes have to treat it as Poker and the short-term results don’t really matter. Professional Poker players never look at one single game of Poker. It’s always like a year’s worth of results and average winnings over a year, rather than a single game. Because there’s definitely RNG involved.

elementmario222: Yeah, I do play Poker as well and you have to play tens of thousands of hands or logged so many hours before you actually have meaningful data to look it. So never just look at one tournament or one league season as an indication of your ability as a player. We all have it in ourselves to improve. You just don’t want a short term mindset that will discourage you from getting to the point of being able to improve more.

xtruffles: Well, thank you so much for doing this interview! I think you’re facing Freaky next. Best of luck in your game and have fun.

elementmario222: Yes, I’ll need some luck. Thanks!

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with JNails

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features JNails who will be playing Quarter Finals against Mercury444F this Thursday, October 24 at 15UTC.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

JNails: I’m from the United States – the Southeast specifically – I grew up in Louisiana and Georgia. I noticed how everyone else in this competition seems to be a Computer Science major or in the field one way or the other. I actually just got a degree in Business Economics recently – I’m in my mid-twenties – and most of what I do is related to High School debate, coaching and teaching that.

xtruffles: Oh wow, that’s really cool. Yeah, a lot of people in the community are Computer Science majors, but I’ve definitely come across people in Liberal Arts or studied Economics. It’s nice to see some diversity. So how long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

JNails: I think first discovered it two years ago. My friend and I were on Tabletop Simulator from Steam and we were just looking at random games. He saw Dominion and said “Oh hey, I’ve played that like once before and it was kind of fun”. So we played the game and tested it out. It was like the blind leading the blind – neither of us had any idea what were doing. I remember seeing chapel in the kingdom thinking “Why the hell would anyone want that card? It looks so terrible.” Then he said, “Well there’s this card named Witch, that’s not here, that gives you curses and you might want to get rid of that.” I thought, “That makes sense, but nah, I don’t want chapel.” Mm, obviously we were horribly wrong.

xtruffles: Wow, so what is your favorite and least favorite card in Dominion?

JNails: Least favourite, well that’s easy, is Swindler. Yeah, anyone that likes the card has got to be a psychopath. Beyond that, I dislike the other cards that most people dislike: Cultist, Mountebank and so forth. So like, really strong, centralizing attack cards. The one that I dislike that doesn’t get a lot mention is Salt the Earth. I feel like that card takes out everything that I enjoy in a Kingdom. Instead of building a big deck, or coming back from behind, you just build the minimal deck possible and go straight for provinces and just start destroying the rest of the game. So I’d say Salt the Earth as well.

xtruffles: I can definitely see that Salt the Earths really discourages building too big of an engine. What is your favorite card?

JNails: That one is hard because I feel like there are a lot more good cards than bad cards in the game. There’s a lot more that enjoy. In no particular order, just ones that come into my mind are: Exorcist, Black Market, Recruiter. I really enjoy, in general, Events and recently, the new Projects from Renaissance. I think those, more often than not, are some of my favourite things that drastically improve the quality of the game. Donate, Dominate, Innovation, Summon, Captialism – They all add a lot of interesting and unique dynamics that goes well with the Kingdoms we play.

xtruffles: Yeah, for sure. So what do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion?

JNails: Um, I’m not sure if they are objectively hard but the cards I suck at are: Haggler and Jester. Cards that are usually pretty good, but seem awkward to get, so I don’t get them and usually lose. I think that’s more commentary on myself than cards. I think the cards that have the highest skill ceiling are usually the ones that have interesting interactions with your deck – because it requires you knowing what cards are in your deck and having a good overall concept of what your deck is doing. Develop, for example: the cards go on top of your deck. Or Graverobber. They usually involve more nuanced interactions, which lead to really nice plays or drastically messes things up.

xtruffles: That makes sense. What are your impressions of the new promos? Church and Captain.

JNails: I like both of them a lot. I think they’re both really well designed. They both seem like on the strong side of cards, especially Captain in a lot of kingdoms. But they also are on the fun side of cards because they have nice interesting choices – with Captain it’s thinking about which card do I play with? With Church it’s about do I buy something now or set aside my coins to buy something really nice next turn? I like the element of choice.

xtruffles: Yeah, for sure. Moving away from cards and onto games, what has been the most memorable game you played? It doesn’t necessarily have to be from the Championship.

JNails: From the championship, it has to be the first game from Double Octofinals [Double Octofinals refers to Round of 32 versus hakha3] where there was a lot of interesting things from the kingdom – like vineyards, minions. I don’t remember why I felt that but I just said I’m not feeling it right now. So I bought a Trading Post and Courtyard and played straight money. It ended up working out. It normally goes against every fibre of my being to ignore the interesting cards and play money, but it won at the end. Besides the Championship, there’s probably too many to count, but one that comes to mind was a Kingdom that had: Rebuild, Knights, Wolf Den etc. If I have any excuse to not go for Rebuild, I’m going to do it. So I started going for the Knights. I was only 4 Knights in when I realized that Knights and Wolf Den do not really go well together. That’s when I was like “I’m too committed to this to back out”. At one point of the game, I had all 10 Knights and my opponent had 6 of the provinces, so it was like -40VP to 30VP. But it was about time that the Knights finally kicked in and trashed every single card in my opponent’s deck except for Coppers and Provinces. Then I spent the next 20 turns slowly building back out of the hole that I dug myself in and trashing the knights to slowly get my points back, while my opponent spent his turns buying coppers, buying silvers, losing his silvers and buying coppers again. Just a slow grind. I just really enjoyed that game.

xtrufffles: Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun. One of my favourite cards is Black Market, so whenever I see Black Market and Wolf Den on the same board, I’m always really sad. Every card you buy from the Black Market is negative VP.

JNails: I know that feeling. I usually go for it anyways – I enjoy Black Market a lot.

xtruffles: Talking more about the championship, who do you think will win and why?

JNails: I don’t know many of the other players well enough to evaluate their relative skill – I assume they’re all very good because they’re in the finals. I think I have to root for anybody except for drsteelhammer though, because I obviously view drsteelhammer as my natural nemesis in this event.

[xtruffles here. It wasn’t until I transcribed this interview that I understood that this was a reference between hammer and nail. That’s why JNails sees drsteelhammer as his natural nemesis. I know, I know. I’m slow.]

xtruffles: Yeah, I can see that. So what do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of Dominion?

JNails: The other big board game I really enjoy is Chess; more accurately, chess variants. I really like Bughouse – it’s like 2 on 2 chess. If I had to pick, I’d say that one.

xtruffles: Yeah, Bughouse is a lot of fun. I don’t really know how to play Chess that well, but a lot of my friends play Bughouse all the time.

JNails: Bughouse is all of what I like about Chess and none of what I don’t like. There’s a lot more crazy tactical plays – sacrificing your Queen and stuff like that – and none of the boring like memorizing the opening and end games. Just because the game is way too much craziness for that to matter anymore.

xtruffles: You’ve had quite an impressive run, beating a lot of well known players. Have you thought about playing competitively in the Dominion League?

JNails: I did do the League once. I didn’t rejoin since I didn’t have time in the Summer. Maybe I’ll rejoin again. I was in C League and I didn’t promote or demote, but it seemed pretty fun and I liked it.

xtruffles: So I have one last question for you: What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

JNails: There’s a lot. If I had to pick one piece of advice, it’s that you have to think of cards as having compound interest of sorts. Where a card that’s good for your deck now, is just going to be a lot better long term than a card that’s only good for your deck later. So especially for your opening, you have to buy cards that immediately help your deck and get you jumpstarted – instead of the cards you want long term. I see a lot of times – and I definitely did this when I started – players buy cards that look good in their general decks. They’ll hit 8 on turn 5 and buy a province – they think that “A province is 8 points, oh, 6 points – I knew that – and that card is good for my deck”. Or they’ll buy defiled shrine when it reaches a whole 5 points. But they have to realize that buying a green card or a curse is just slowing down your deck a ton – and that’s going to cost you way more than 6 points in the long run because you’re going to get outbuild. Always buy the best card. Even if you have $6 and the best card for your deck is Herbalist because you need the +buy, you buy the 6 dollar Herbalist, because it’s going to pay back in the long run since you’ll get more buys and those cards do things and so forth. So I always think about the short term and long term. “What’s the card, if it goes into my deck right now, improves my deck the most?” Rather than thinking about the card I really want in the long term. I think my big problem that I really struggled with for a while – a huge learning block for me to overcome – is that in kingdoms where you don’t really want silver, I’ll never buy silvers. But then it frustrates me because I’ll never hit 5. I eventually realized that I have to buy at least one silver to get that Junk Dealer and Sentry and I can get stuff cleaned out. Then in the long term, I can trash that silver later. So my advice is to avoid that sort of mindset.

xtruffles: Right. I feel like when you used the “compound interest” analogy, I was like this guy is probably from a Business Economics background. It’s a very good way to describe the situation. Definitely I’ve seen a lot of players take defiled shrine way too early which slows down their deck to a point that allows their opponent to catch up or outbuild you at some point.

JNails: The one I still haven’t taught myself is: I still buy temple like a madman. I’ve had way too many temple games where I buy like 8 of the temples at 2 points. I really shouldn’t, but I enjoy that card as well.

xtruffles: Yeah, it’s kind of tempting to see the VP in front of you. But sometimes, you have to think if I could get a province, would I buy it now? If I wouldn’t buy the province, it might mean that I shouldn’t buy the defiled shrine. It’s also really hard to say because you can also just trash your curse at some point. It’s definitely very challenging to figure that part out.

JNails: Agreed.

xtruffles: Well, thank you so much for doing the interview. I think you’re facing Mercury444F tomorrow at 15UTC. Best of luck!

JNails: No problem!

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with drsteelhammer

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features drsteelhammer who will be playing Quarter Finals against ospond this Thursday, October 24 at 13UTC.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

drsteelhammer: Hi! Most people call me Julian. I am 24 years old and I come from Germany, but I do live in Austria now. I study Economics.

xtruffles: Oh cool, that reminds me a lot of markus.

drsteelhammer: Oh yeah, he’s from Austria and switches back and forth a lot. I’m on my first way down to Austria haha.

xtruffles: Cool. How long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

drsteelhammer: Oh, I think it must have been 6 years, or could be even 7. I was in high school and friends of mine had it at home. I wasn’t really into board games – I always thought that learning rules was kind of annoying and then you play it three or four times and it gets boring and isn’t worth my time. Dominion was different and after playing it couple times and being so excited about, I went online and found out chapel was actually good. Once I beat my real life friends, I discovered the online Goko client.

xtruffles: Oh! You were there for the Goko client.

drsteelhammer: Yeah. Great times, it’s been a while.

xtruffles: What are your favorite and least favorite cards in Dominion?

drsteelhammer: Black Market has to be my favorite one. Just because you can go really crazy and get a lot of done, and everything is in your kingdom. I also like Peasant a lot So lots of different cards, I guess – that’s a theme. My least favorite card is probably Cultist. First, because it’s super annoying and just too good. Also because drawing a hand of two coppers, estate and two different ruins is one of the most depressing feelings in Dominion – just no fun.

xtruffles: Yeah, it’s super depressing on a board with no trashing and no villages.

drsteelhammer: Exactly – at least that’s over now. Banlists made me forget about Cultist.

xtruffles: What do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion and why?

drsteelhammer: I’ve seen the previous interviews had really good picks – like Shepherd, Procession, Develop. I think Artificer for me is a card that’s really hard. When you have a ten or twelve card hand with three Artificers and Freaky says “There is a pileout and you have to pileout the entire kingdom,” you have to math in your hand how much you have to redraw. That’s too tough for me, so I chose not to play with it this Championship to spare myself the headache.

xtruffles: Right, there’s definitely some micro-optimizations and calculations you have to do.

drsteelhammer: Also as a runner-up, maybe Donate. Just because it’s so different. Usually the shuffles throw problems at you and you have to solve them. With Donate, you have to plan 6 turns in advance and I’m not good at that.

xtrufffles: What are your impressions on the new promos? Church and Captain.

drsteelhammer: Oh yeah. Captain, of course, has beautiful art. From the gameplay, my first impression was a little disappointment because I thought “Band of Misfits is pretty lame and Captain is a duration version of that,” but it turns out the card is pretty good. It’s actually quite enjoyable to play with draw cards, or using Captain as your village, makes for pretty fun games. Church is okay, I guess. The Haven effect is kind of fun, but I think it’s just an average card.

xtruffles: Yeah, I’ve definitely heard a lot of comparison between Church and Haven because they both set aside cards.

drsteelhammer: That’s my favorite part of Church – putting 3 bad cards away and then shuffling. That’s nice.

xtruffles: Moving a little away from cards and onto games. What has been the most memorable game you have played? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be from the Championship)

drsteelhammer: Oo. I remember, for example, the last time I played in the Championship, Black Market betrayed me in Game 7 against singletee. That was kind of sad. I just got the wrong cards out of it and he got the right ones. Other than that, I once piled Harvest and that was kind of fun. Tactician was the only buy and I don’t think Harvest was a pile that was empty before or after that game.

xtruffles: Yeah, I don’t think Harvest is a pile that piles often.

drsteelhammer: Yeah, I think that’s why the game has stayed with me.

xtruffles: Other than yourself, who do you think will win the Championship and why?

drsteelhammer: Um, I think Mercury4FFF has pretty good chances. I’m not sure why he isn’t talked about more as a favorite. He has made it to the Finals I think, once, and played pretty well so far in this tournament. I lose pretty often in ladder when I meet him. He’s pretty good. Other than that, I think RTT has good chances because I think he’s pretty good at never playing stupid strategies. He always does reasonable things and doesn’t throw many games. Being consistent helps a lot as well.

xtruffles: That’s for sure. I think you said ‘Mercury4FFF’but I think it’s ‘Mercury444F’ haha.

drsteelhammer: Haha, yes. That sounds a bit more familiar.

xtruffles: I haven’t seen him play a lot, but from the games I have spectated, he definitely seems like a pretty spooky opponent. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top. So you were also a moderator for this year’s Championship. Thanks for all the behind-the-scenes work you’ve done – can you give us a bit of insight on what you’ve enjoyed from this Championship, maybe both from a player and moderator perspective?

drsteelhammer: Yeah, I’ve been helping out a bit for a couple of years now. I remember running it with Stef on the forum. I was really happy when he made the ShuffleIT Championship competitive with a prize pool – it makes for a really great community event. I like how so many people, that aren’t so active, come back to Dominion at least for that tournament. People are excited for matches that are online every round and it makes for a great spectator and community experience. Like these interviews as well.

xtruffles: Yeah, I definitely think it brings a lot to this community. What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

drsteelhammer: Other than the obvious of watching good players – especially those who explain their thought process really well. Some of the pros kind of assume that everyone is as good as them, which makes it kind of hard to follow, but there are some as well that do it really well, I think. Other than that, I think that’s where the community fails a little bit – I think you should seek out really simple advice first. Like “always buy double urchin”, “get a third urchin”, “get two mercenaries and thin down”. And, discover the nuances later once you get burned with it.
An example is, when I started playing I thought “Oh, highway is a good card when you have +buy. It’s not a good card when you don’t have +buy.” Then, somebody wrecked me with highway/butcher and then I could build upon my foundation: “ah yeah, maybe it’s gainers that matter”. So build up your knowledge slowly and steadily.

xtruffles: Yeah, I guess it’s quite overwhelming to listen to high-level play when you’re just starting outespecially looking at really complex boards where you’re trying to build for a megaturn or look pileouts, such as ones involving stonemason.

drsteelhammer: Exactly. I think there’s a lot of advice for when somebody asks “How good is this card?” and people say “In some situations it’s a good card and some other situations it isn’t”, that it isn’t really clear which ones are which. And if you don’t really know the other Dominion lingo, it’s like talking past each other a lot.

xtruffles: Yeah. Cool, I have one last question for you – to sandwich this interview between two personal questions. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of Dominion?

drsteelhammer: I have played table tennis for over a decade now and compete there. I like to read, mostly non-fiction books. I volunteer quite some time and yeah, those are the main things I guess.

xtruffles: Cool! What kind of volunteer things do you do? Other than volunteering to help out with the championship.

drsteelhammer: I do community building for effective altruism and animal work a little bit on the side.

xtruffles: Aw, that’s really nice.

drsteelhammer: Haha, yep.

xtruffles: Well it was awesome getting to know you a little bit more. I think you’re facing ospond next – this Thursday at 13UTC. Best of luck and it’ll be interesting to spectate your match.

drsteelhammer: Ah, thank you very much.

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with Mercury444F

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features Mercury444F, who will be playing Quarter Finals against JNails this Thursday, October 24 at 15UTC.

Special Thanks To Seesaw (SSLY) for helping me with this interview as well.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

Mercury444F: I’m from Japan. Employee.
日本人です。社畜です。

xtruffles: How long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

Mercury444: I started after Guilds was released. I was introduced to a friend and started this game.
私がこのゲームを始めたのはギルドが発売した頃と聞きました。

xtruffles: What is your favorite and least favorite card?

Mercury444F: My favorite card is Remodel. Remodel has a great balance between trashing and gaining cards when building decks. The card I hate the most is Sea Hag .This card is very powerful and dominates the field, making it the first candidate. Sea Hag denies the act of player “choice”, which is the main idea of ​​Dominion, and widens the gap between the first and second player, favouring the first player.
REMODELはデッキを組むにあたって圧縮と獲得のバランスが素晴らしい。
とりあえずSEA HAGを選んでおけばよく、ドミニオンの主旨である“choice”という行為を否定し、また先手と後手の格差も生み出しやすい。

xtruffles: Are you happy about being able to add it to your ban list?

Mercury444F: Sure, I chose it first.

xtruffles: What card do you think requires the most skill to play in Dominion? Why?

Mercury444F: Generally speaking, there are cards that have good compatibility with “dull” cards, and the strategy of a board depends on the combination of cards on the board. Even the “dullest” cards are good with the right cards. Challenging does not mean difficulty of handling the card alone, but figuring out the route of building a deck centred around it on the board.
I want to insist on the difficulty of choosing to build a castle deck, so I don’t want to give each card a rating of difficulty. If I choose, it will be Humble Castle.
一般的にピーキーなカードには良い相性を持つカードがあり、その答えはサプライの組み合わせによって変わるでしょう。その観点で言えば、扱うことの難しさよりも、そのカードを使うルートを選ぶことの難しさという評価をする。私は城デッキを組むことを選ぶことの難しさを主張したいので、各種カードに難易度の評価を付けたいわけではありませんが、強いて言うなら粗末な城でしょうか。

xtrufffles: What are your impressions on the new promos? Church and Captain.

Mercury444F: Church has so interesting an ability that I want to play with cards which take advantage from reducing hand size, but I think the power alone is low. Captain has the ability worth its cost of 6. In addition to the versatility you can choose for any card, you can get the effect you need on the next turn depending on your hand. However, the strength of this card depends on the cards with a supply cost of 4 or less, and many special combos have disappeared due to revised rules. I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect card. I conquered the game using Church in R4 and Captain in R5.
CHURCHは面白いテキストで手札を無くすことがメリットになるカード群と合わせたいが、単体でのパワーは低い方だと思う。船長はコスト6に見合う能力をしている。任意のカードに選べる汎用性はもちろん、次のターンも手札に応じて必要な効果を得られます。しかし、このカードの強さはサプライのコスト4以下カード群に依存し、特殊なコンボはルールの改定によって多く消えました。ただ強いだけのカードとは言えないでしょう。私はラウンド4でCHURCHを、ラウンド5で船長を使用しゲームに勝っている。どちらも思い入れの深いカードです。

xtruffles: What has been the most memorable Dominion game you have played? (Doesn’t necessarily have to be from the championship)

Mercury444F: I will never forget the seventh round of the final year. I was immature in that match. I want to have no regrets this year.
私は一昨年の決勝7戦目が忘れられません。あの時私は未熟でした。今年は後悔のないようにしたい。

xtruffles: You have made it very far already! Best of luck moving forward into Quarterfinals

Mercury444F: Thanks!

xtruffles: Other than yourself, who do you think will win the championship? Why?

Mercury444F: I support Cha-shu, who is also Japanese. He won the Dominion Japan Championship this year and is a player with far superior skills than me. It’s a shame that I don’t usually play online so I don’t appear on the leaderboard. Also, RTT will be powerful among the winning players. I have played against him many times, but the win rate is not good. He also uses means that I can’t think of.
私は同じ日本人プレイヤーのチャーシューさんを推します。彼は今年のドミニオン日本選手権で優勝した、私よりも遥かに卓越した技術を持つプレイヤーです。また勝ち上がっている選手の中ではRTTは強力でしょう。私は彼と何度も対戦をしていますが、勝率は芳しくありません。また彼は私に思いつかないような手段を使ってきます。

xtruffles: Oh cool! There is a Dominion Japan Championship? And do you play a lot of Dominion with physical cards?

Mercury444F: That’s right. In Japan, the national team will be selected to participate in the World Championship held in Indianapolis every year.
Yes. However, in Japan, when playing with physical cards, the battle with four people is the mainstream. The reason is that the Japanese Championship is played by four players.
はい。しかし日本では実物で遊ぶ際は四人での対戦が主流です。それはドミニオン日本選手権が四人での対戦で行われることが理由です。日本では年に一度インディアナポリスで行われる世界選手権の代表選抜試合があり、日本では他に公式大会がないため、そこで優勝することだけがドミニオンの強さを証明する手段であるためです。

xtruffles: Oh cool. That’s awesome. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of Dominion?

Mercury444F: Play with other games and read books, like mobile games and video games like Smash Bros.
主にゲームか読書 グラブルやスマブラ等

xtruffles: Dominion seems to have a lot of great Japanese players. Will you be playing in the Dominion World Cup next year?

Mercury444F: Unfortunately, fighting between two people is not popular in Japan. That version of the game is very difficult. For this reason, it seems that Japanese people are not interested in the two-player competition. However, this year’s championship may have more Japanese participants than the previous year, so it may be possible to form members. There is also a reason why it is difficult to schedule due to the time difference.
残念ながら日本人は二人戦にあまり関心がありません。それは日本では四人戦が主流であり、日本選手権が四人戦であることが原因しています。しかし、今年の選手権には日本人の参加者が前年よりも多く見えるのでメンバーを結成出来るかもしれません。

xtruffles: What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

Mercury444F: Just read GOSICK.
GOSICKを読みましょう。それだけです。

xtruffles: What is that?

Mercury444F: This is my favorite novel. It’s my selling phrase.

xtruffles: 🙂 Thank you so much. Best of luck for your match!

Mercury444F: You’re welcome:) Thank you for your support!

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with RTT

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features RTT, who will be playing Quarter Finals against amoffett11 this Saturday, October 26 at 18UTC.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

RTT: My name is Tobias and I am 26 years old. I live in Berlin, Germany. I am already married with 2 kids (3 years old and 1 year old) and am working as a software developer.

xtruffles: You are definitely a lot younger than Captain looks. How long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

RTT: It all started Christmas, 2011 when I got Dominion Intrigue Edition as a gift. I used to like board games ala Catan as a Teen, but in my youth I was more into video games and lost interest for physical games. The first Dominion game I played with my sister took 2 hours since we both didn’t know what to do or what cards were good. I opened Great Hall, for example. I didn’t get why I would want a Scout or a Duke. Scout, I still don’t know to this day.-

xtruffles: What is your favorite and least favorite card?

RTT: Captain is one of my obvious favorites, but then there are Capital and Tragic Hero which I like for their strategic depth. Do you try to hold on to your Hero or pop it now for an economy boost? Do I invest in better cards with my Capital and get a lot of debt?
My least favorites? Well they are all on my ban-list now and I don’t even think Possession is a card that exists now. So I will pick a card I still play with as my least favorite: Ambassador. You rely a lot on where you find it in your opening draw and you often have to open 2 of them just to not fall behind in junking. When they collide you just cry. They make the games really long and you constantly have to build in a low risk low reward way to not die to the junking. Once you are sunk, there is no coming back. Oh, and I also dislike Rebuild because it’s weak but let’s people win every now and then by pure luck.

xtruffles: What do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion? Why?

RTT: If Develop is your only extra gainer but playing money is out of the question – man, that’s just a headache. Also, playing a Smugglers centric board is also very challenging. You have to constantly weigh the risk of them playing multiple Smugglers so you try to buy stuff thats not too beneficial for them to gain. Often thats just another smugglers. I think I shouldn’t give away any more of my weaknesses though, as my opponents might read that too!

xtruffles: Congratulations on being a card, Captain. Before the card was revealed to you, what were you hoping the card would be? (Action card, treasure card, attack card, etc.)

RTT: I asked Donald early on if it would be an attack so I could pose for it accordingly. It wasn’t, so I knew that much about the card type. It turned out the artist cut my smile anyways. It kind of had to be an action card I thought, since it was a person. And I wished it would be a strong card but not over the top like Governor. Well you can’t have it all.

xtrufffles: What are your impressions on the new promos? Church and Captain.

RTT: Church is a weak trasher and strong haven. You can spike huge turns with it, but like tactician you might have to sacrifice your current turn. It’s great if you build a deck with overdraw that you can set good cards aside for your next turn. But building like that is sometimes a losing play because it’s too slow. Captain is just a powerhouse. On the right board there is no card that’s better. Every now and then, it’s a very sad Captain without a crew though. I have tried running down key piles to stop my opponent who invested into captains. That didn’t work out too well so far.

xtruffles: What has been the most memorable Dominion game you have played? (Doesn’t necessarily have to be from the championship)

RTT: After playing over 6000 games on ShuffleIT Dominion Online alone, they are all kind of blurred for me. I remember some key moments people liked from my play like skipping a Peasant opening and going for Develop and Remodel. I think that was a World Cup game against Dan Brooks, but I might be confusing that with a match against Mic Qsenoch in League.
And the meme Dismantle, Masquerade pass against markus in League is another fan favorite. But really the most memorable games are the ones with Physical Cards. There’s just something about shuffling, drawing and playing cards in person that makes the brain memorize the moments better. Out of the real games I played the most memorable has to be the finals of the German Championship 2018/19 (the one that made me Captain). In addition to it being played with real cards, it was against a nice opponent (tuffteah). There was really something big on the line and the spectators stand right next to you all around the table. The board was nothing special but I still remember almost every card and many of the turns.

xtruffles: Other than yourself, who do you think will win the championship? Why?

RTT: Freaky is an exceptional player who has very high odds of winning it all. I think his strongest opponent is himself. Other than him, Mercury444F and drsteelhammer look very strong. This tournament hasn’t been shy of upsets though so anything is possible. Ospond is the big surprise to me, we will see how far he can make it.

xtruffles: You have been in A League for a very long time! How does playing in the Championship compare to playing in League?

RTT: There is a huge range in opponent strength. You might win your first match handily and become too sure of yourself and struggle hard in the next game. In League the opponents are constantly in your skill range so you know what to expect. Scheduling is also different. It’s sometimes hard to find a time in championship since all you have is one week and you don’t know your opponent beforehand. The pressure of being out on a single loss is also harder to deal with

xtruffles: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of Dominion?

RTT: A lot of my spare time is occupied by my family really. I really love my two sons and can’t wait to dive into the world of board games with them. I enjoy playing video games on Nintendo Switch at the moment. Fire Emblem Three Houses is what I currently play and I spent quite some time on Mario Maker and Zelda before. I play guitar and sing but not as commonly anymore due to having little kids in the house.

xtruffles: What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

RTT: insert mandatory Improve joke here 😀 Don’t be afraid to lose. Losing is often the best way to learn from your mistakes. And play against players who are stronger than you. You might lose a lot of games but from them you learn a lot more. Spectate high level play and discuss the strategies you see or think about with the other spectators. And lastly do your Homework.

xtruffles: If you haven’t, check out RTT’s Dominion Homework Series on YouTube! Thanks for doing the interview RTT!

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with amoffett11

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features amoffett11, who will be playing Quarter Finals against RTT this Saturday, October 26 at 18UTC.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

amoffett11: Thanks! Well, I live in Southern Ontario. I’m on the wrong side of 30 now. Like everyone else it seems, I went to school for Computer Science, but I didn’t enjoy it much, so now I work in administration in a small college.

xtruffles: That’s cool – doing what you enjoy is more important. Also, it’s exciting to see you represent Canada in the Quarterfinals! How long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

amoffett11: I’ve been playing for a little more than 4 years now; I found Dominion the same way I find most games: my brother pulled it out onto the table and we played a couple times. Dominion though was different, I took a big liking to it right away, and quickly got my own copy. When that wasn’t enough, I looked online and found Making Fun – I played through the campaigns, started playing online, and then joined the league not long after. I don’t think I’ve missed a League season in the time since.

xtruffles: Wow. How many of seasons of league has that been?

amoffett11: I’d have to look it up. I think my first season was 15 or 16 and we’re at 36 now. So maybe this next one is my 20th, or the last one was. My first match was against Aku Chi in D division – how far we’ve come.

xtruffles: Wow haha. That’s amazing. What is your favorite and least favorite card in Dominion?

amoffett11: It’s hard to pick a favourite. A couple that come to mind are like Menagerie and Diplomat. You get that little adrenaline rush when they go off. Or something like Innovation. I like cards that make you think about how to play through your turns, not just click village, click smithy, repeat. And of course Black Market, that might be my actual favourite. I don’t get the hate.
Least favourite, probably something like Familiar or Cultist. I don’t like the attacks where one player tends to fall behind the race and the game is just over. I prefer Ambassador or Torturer even over those two. With the blacklist now, I can just add the cards I hate and never play with them again. I didn’t think I’d use the Blacklist at all, but actually I don’t miss those couple cards I’ve added.

xtruffles: Yeah, I can definitely see the attack cards often being game deciding. Black Market is also one of my favorite cards as well. What do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion?

amoffett11: Donate. I like to dive right into a board – “Hey that card looks good and so does that one, let’s buy them and let’s go”. Donate forces me to actually stop and think about what I’m doing before I’ve even started. I think Donald X. likes to say something like “Donate separates the men from the boys”, and well, sometimes I like to just play around and not be a Dominion grown-up.

xtruffles: Haha. Never growing up seems like a good plan. Speaking about more cards, two new cards were released this year – Church and Captain. What are your impressions on the new promos?

amoffett11: I like them both. Seaside was the first expansion I played after Base (the same day I first played Dominion) and the Orange cards were a big reason I fell in love with the game. They just look so aesthetically pleasing and their effects are so cool. So, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Orange ones.
Church though, I really like when you’re using it not to trash, but as like a Super Haven. You need 6 Havens to hide 3 Provinces, but you can hide 3 Provinces with just 2 Churches. Hopefully I’ve done that math right.

xtrufffles: Haha, math seems good

amoffett11: Captain is fun because it’s really strong. Hopefully that guy in the picture loses his next match though

xtruffles: Right, you’re facing Captain up next in the Championship! So, other than yourself, who do you think will win the championship? Why?

amoffett11: If I can’t pick myself, it’s tempting to pick the guy who will beat me. He’s had quite the year, winning a couple A divisions and he wears a lot of hats. But actually I’m going to go out on a limb and pick one of the players I picked in the beginning of the tournament and that’s drsteelhammer. I don’t know, just a feeling. And Germany I tell you, they’re pretty strong.

xtruffles: Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Yeah, that Captain guy is pretty strong. I wonder if it’s the hats. 🙂 What has been the most memorable Dominion game you have played? (Doesn’t necessarily have to be from the championship)

amoffett11: I think a couple games from this Championship I’m going to remember for awhile. This is my favourite tournament to play in and I’ve never made it nearly this far, and some of the crazy stuff I’ve had in a couple of the deciding games will be memorable for me. Having the Ruined Market appear in the Game 7 against Bryan, and the last game against SamE where I still don’t really know what happened to hit $16 on my last turn. I just clicked Play all Treasures, clicked both Provinces, and then just kind of sat in shock for a few seconds. Did that really just happen? (Sorry SamE!) One other game that comes to mind was when I just a wee discord-er in the first crew battle and I managed to beat Mic Qsenoch in a game.

xtruffles: Yeah, I think those type of wins can be extremely exhilarating. Sometimes they almost feel a bit magical, heh.

amoffett11: I’ve definitely had a little bit of magic in my last two matches.

xtruffles: A bit more magic and you’ll be in the Finals. But don’t discredit yourself – it takes a large amount of skill to make it so far and take advantage of the small magic moments in the game. Moving a bit away from dominion, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of Dominion?

amoffett11: I like to watch movies. My dad raised my brother and I to love sports so I also like to watch sports, and usually some fantasy sports in whatever leagues my brother is in. I like to play baseball in summer and also play a lot of other board games.

xtruffles: Are you a Raptors fan? They just won the NBA Championship last year. Could be foreshadowing another Canadian winning another Championship haha.

amoffett11: Hockey and baseball are my two favourites; I follow the Raptors pretty closely but am guilty a little bit of hopping on the bandwagon and watching them more when they’re good. It was pretty cool to experience a championship season though, a first for me. I’m too young to remember the Jays’ back-to-backs. Definitely a feeling I want to chase in this tournament!

xtruffles: For sure! On the topic of teams, you’re organizing this year’s World Cup. Do you have any hype words for players reading this and have enjoyed the Championship?

amoffett11: I guess I’m contradicting what I said earlier but the World Cup is my favourite tournament.

xtruffles: Haha.

amoffett11: I think the last one went pretty well, but this time we’re taking what we’ve learned and hopefully we can make things even better. It will be more fun for both players and spectators so sign up! We do our best to find a way for as many people as possible to participate. Especially if you’re from outside the US, there’s probably a team looking for you to join, and it seems like we get a couple of new teams every year. If you are from the US, keep your eyes peeled, because it looks like they’re going to have a qualifying tournament starting soon. Either way, look for more updates in the next couple of weeks as this tournament comes to a close! Hype!

xtruffles: Extremely hype. I think regardless if you play or not, there will be some amazing matches to spectate! 😀 So, I have one last question for you! What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

amoffett11: I had a lot of ideas for what to say here. But ultimately, I think the only advice I have to give is: have fun playing this game. It is a game after all. I think there are some players who only have fun if they’re winning, but if you can have fun playing, win or lose, I think in the long run you’ll end up playing better. Also, there’s a lesson in every loss. Sometimes you learn the same lesson many times, but I think it’s a good idea to try to figure out why you lost, even if it’s just something like a bad shuffle. And in games you win, your opponent lost, so you can try to figure out what happened to them. If a game’s a tie, I don’t know what to tell you, you just wasted your time.

xtruffles: Haha. Well, thanks for answering all of my questions. Best of luck moving forward.

amoffett11: Thanks!


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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with Freaky

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features Freaky, who will be playing Quarter Finals against elementmario222 this week.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: How long have you been playing Dominion for and how did you discover the board game?

Freaky: I think I must have been playing for around 2 years. Originally, I started playing it when my mum bought it and then we played it offline, of course, with my family. Then, I discovered online Dominion and basically played way too much Dominion ever since.

xtruffles: Do ever play physical sets with your mum?

Freaky: I mean, it wouldn’t be very interesting to be honest. It would be very one-sided. I hardly ever play real life right now, though I did play with my brother a bit recently. But I don’t like losing, so not too much.

xtruffles: In terms of Dominion, what is your favorite and least favorite card?

Freaky: Oh, jeez. I think my favorite card would have to be Sculptor right now. Just because the flexibility is really nice and it always feels good to play when you have a lot of options. My least favorite card is probably cultist, but with banlists now, it’s hardly ever a concern nowadays. Cultist is just too centralizing, too easy to play.

xtruffles: Right. So, what do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion and why?

Freaky: I guess that depends on what you’re looking at. If you’re just looking at challenging, then I would probably pick Night’s Watchman. There’s a question of “Do I buy it?”, “How much do I discard?” and “When do I buy it?”. However, it’s not very game impactful decisions usually. Whether you do it or not, it’s not terribly impactful so if you take impact into consideration, I suppose I would choose Procession. Many players say that Procession is hard.

xtruffles: With the new Errata, do you think Procession is still just as challenging?

Freaky: Oh it’s way worse. It’s so frustrating because I used to just always buy Procession because it will just always work out somehow, not thinking too much. Now it’s like – Wait, I have an enchantress in hand. What do I do with my Procession now?! I think it’s a lot worse now, but obviously there are still boards where it is just as insane.

xtruffles: Yeah, I remember spectating a game of aku chi’s and hakha’s for their B League Match. Procession was pretty insane with experiments on board.

Freaky: Oh yeah, unfortunately he couldn’t procession Wharf.

xtruffles: Yeah, that made it a little more sad. So, what are your impressions on the new promo cards? Church and Captain.

Freaky: What I think of in terms of power, design? What do you mean?

xtruffles: I mean, it’s really up to you what you want to talk about. If you want to talk about the art that’s fine, as well.

Freaky: I don’t care too much about the art, but in terms of power level Church is pretty average, nothing too exciting. Captain is way too strong mostly due to it being annoying of whoever hitting 6 first, snowballs too hard out over control. Church has the small issue of the “Turn Three Syndrome”, where if you see your Church Turn 3, you’re much better off than someone who sees it Turn 4. However; Church is not as extreme as I originally thought. I guess I’m fine with Church, but a bit annoyed at Captain.

xtruffles: Yeah. I guess Cargo Ship is a card that has a stronger Turn 3 Syndrome.

Freaky: Yeah, quite a bit stronger. Being able to play a 5-cost card on Turn 4 and then also being able to shuffle your Cargo Ship and 5-cost into your next shuffle is a huge advantage.

xtruffles: What do you like the most and least about Dominion?

Freaky: I think what I like the most is that when you start playing the game, you have this phase where you learn new things and as long as you pick up new things, you keep progressively getting better and better. You feel how the choices you make differently, affect your win ratio. You win more games and you feel good, and it gets you hooked to the game. There’s a really nice curve until you hit higher levels of play for people improving. That’s what I like most about Dominion.

Freaky: What do I dislike most about the game? You can talk about first player advantage, shuffles, but ultimately it’s just another game of Poker so to speak. At least I treat it that way. If you reach higher levels of play, you can’t look at every game individually and be like “What did I do wrong this game if I lost?”. You just have to accept that sometimes you just lose to things out of your control. So I guess what I like least is the trend we have where cards become more and more centralizing, as we see with Captain and many renaissance cards. The board becomes less about what strategy you play and more about how we can abuse one card that stands out that’s so centralizing that everything revolves around it. We can look at Silk Merchant, Inventor, Recruiter – these cards that can make or break a board. The game becomes about who can abuse the card better, which is not as exciting for me. It might be better for others, since I know many people that like Renaissance.
When I compare Renaissance to Nocturne, which power level is below Renaissance (but not by that much), you have an expansion where every card is good but also requires to make thoughtful decisions. So it’s not just blatantly overpowered as Renaissance has come out to be.

xtruffles: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I definitely think with someone of the Renaissance cards it becomes “Who can hit that card first?”. Being able to see buy Recruiter Turn 1 is significantly nicer than Shuffle 2 or Shuffle 3.

Freaky: Yeah, you can look at the stats for Recruiter. It has a 70% win rate if you are the only player opening it, similar to Summon level.

xtruffles: You’re consistently on the top of the leaderboard on Ladder.

Freaky: If we discount Stef.

xtruffles: Haha.

Freaky: That’s quite an important differentiation I think.

xtruffles: So what do you think has helped you improve the most to get there? I think it’s easier to go from level 40 to level 50. Or level 50 to level 55. But it becomes very difficult to hit level 60s. Between levels 63, 64, 65, there’s quite a bit of difference.

Freaky: I guess I can talk about how I got there in terms of how long it took me and how I felt about it. When I started climbing the ladder, it took me a long time to hit level 60. It took me an even longer time to get 2 mu. Even just playing a lot of games took me a very long time to get there. When I started to become better was when I started to think about the game differently in terms of not thinking about “What cards are best?”, “What cards I want to get?”, “What game plan I have”?
I focus more on “What is going on right now – in this game, in this shuffle?” “How do I want to change my deck depending on what my next shuffle looks like?” I think that’s when I started to gain a lot more rating and skill – when I did those considerations I hadn’t previously. So what helped me was just realizing the game in a different light. It was less something I did and more just a different approach.

xtruffles: Yeah, that makes sense. So, you’re very well known for being able to spot wins and pile-outs. What kind of approach do you have when solving these types of puzzles?

Freaky: I differentiate them between intuition-based wins and counting wins. You have wins where you have Procession and Develop and you look at your hand wondering “Can I win?” or “Can I not win?”. I don’t actually bother with the math and thinking about every line. I just trust my intuition with if it feels right or if it doesn’t feel right. You then develop some intuition for that. Most of time it works, sometimes it doesn’t but I’m not going to bother sitting there 20 minutes figuring it out.
The other possible wins are the wins where you actually count. For example, you have Inventor or Ironworks as a pile, which are typical piles. I like to think of “non-Ironwork gains” – gains that are not Ironworks, because Ironworks can gain itself. The only restriction for Ironworks pile-outs is draw, not gains itself, so I differentiate the gains between Ironworks and non-Ironworks. Then, when you have a card like Peasant, which gives buy itself, that you want to pile using Ironworks, you can consider it as two gains. One, because gaining it removes a card from the pile and two, because you get a buy. Just doing those simple things usually helps to simplify the situation and tells you if there is a win or not.

xtruffles: Nice. You’ve made it so far – other than yourself, who do you think will win the Championship and why? (Players left are: RTT, Freaky, Mercury444F, drsteelhammer, amoffett11, elementmario222 and JNails)

Freaky: Well the likeliest has to be RTT. I don’t know about Mercury444F too well. I don’t care too much about the seed, but just from skill level – I don’t know too much about Mercury since I haven’t seen him play much – it is either Mercury who I can’t really put into a category or RTT. But I think it’s probably RTT. Just most consistent, and highest ceiling for skill.

xtruffles: Yeah. So, the last question I have for you is: What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

Freaky: The easiest advice is to of course, play a lot. But that’s not very efficient and claiming so would probably be wrong. So if you’re looking to improve fast, two different ways would be:
1. Spectate games that are commentated. It is important that they are commentated, so you can watch old YouTube videos of championships, or what not, where players actually talk about their plays. Because if you just look at the game and don’t understand the thought process, you’re not going to be able to derive much value.
2. I think what the community is failing to do is like what we had in doubles, where you practice with someone else against one or two people and talk about what you would do. Doing that with someone better than you gives you new insights and new perspectives, so I think that would be a great way for new players to get better faster. But so far, we haven’t accepted that as a way of learning so to speak. So until then, you’re stuck with playing games and watching other people.

xtruffles: Right. I really liked the doubles format, though I think the doubles tournament style was not as friendly for spectators. I was paired with ceviri and I learned a lot from him. It was a lot of fun. Cool, so thanks so much for doing the interview and best of luck going forward. I believe you’re playing against elementmario222 next.

Freaky: Yep.

xtruffles: Good luck and thanks for doing the interview!

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with ospond

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features ospond, who will be playing Quarter Finals against drsteelhammer on Thursday, October 24 at 2:00PM UTC.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. Where you’re from? What you do?)

ospond: Yeah thanks! I’m from West United States, in Utah. I’m 25 years old and a Computer Science PhD student. Currently, I’m about halfway through my program.

xtruffles:  Oh wow, I feel like there are a lot of computer science majors in the discord community, myself included. You’ve had an impressive run this championship, making it all the way to the top eight. The interesting thing is that you beat many players that were higher seeded than you. What has helped you the most this championship?

ospond: I actually think I have only beaten one player who was higher seeded than me. I think in my last round, heron was much higher seeded but I just kind of got lucky. The biggest factor was markus getting defeated early on so I didn’t have to face him.

xtruffles: Right, markus had gone 3-4 against ramue, who was lower seeded than him. And you then beat ramue. 

ospond: And there was another match between ramue and heron – I played markusin 

xtruffles: Oh right, haha. You didn’t get to face markus, but you got to face markusin. That’s pretty funny. 

ospond: I feel like I mostly got lucky from the seeding and who I was facing up against. I may also play a little bit better in tournament than ladder, but I don’t know by how much mu increase.

xtruffles: Well, you’ve gotten this far so there’s definitely some skill involved. So speaking more about playing Dominion, how long have you been playing dominion and how did you discover the board game?

ospond: Yeah, I’ve been trying to figure that out. I think it was around when I was a kid, I used to play board games. I didn’t play it seriously and kind of rediscovered it a few different times. I only started playing it after rediscovering the online version (the most recent Shuffle iT client). I think that was around two years ago that I started picking it up again.

xtruffles: Yeah, I wasn’t here for any of the Goko or Isotropic years either. 

ospond: Actually I did play Isotopic a bit, so that gives you a bit of a timeline, but wasn’t very good. I did go through phases of being interested. 

xtruffles: Right. I’ve seen videos of Isotropic and Goko and I much prefer this client. Some of layouts in the old clients had weird green glowing backgrounds and was just not as nice.

ospond: It’s a lot better!

xtruffles: So what’s your favorite and least favorite card in Dominion?

ospond: My favorite card is scholar. I like simple cards that are really unique. I don’t like cards like the peasant line or squire that have several different effects stacked on. So, I like scholar because it’s a really simple card that sometimes enables really cool draw-to-X decks. 

xtruffles: How do you like scholar compared to library?

ospond: I don’t like library as much. Probably because it has a ton of text for what could have been such a simple effect. Compared to scholar, you understand the card immediately and then you can use it to enable new strategies. 

xtruffles: So you like scholar for its simplicity – what is your least favorite card? Something complex?

ospond: I think something like page. Another card I don’t like is fool’s gold because it has this silly reaction that you’re always ignoring.

xtruffles: Haha, yeah. It’s rare in the end game, when your opponent is provincing, that you actually want to topdeck a gold. What do you find to be the most challenging cards to play with in Dominion and why?

ospond: One of the hard ones is Shepherd. I find Shepherd really difficult. I think it’s just the way you are building that is super different if Shepherd is your main draw. 

xtruffles: Yeah I can see that. I’ve definitely seen instances where you trash away your estates in the beginning but then you regain them to play Shepard in your end game. With the weird balance, I can definitely see that being a very challenging card. Speaking of more cards, what are your impressions of the new promos – Church and Captain?

ospond: Captain is bonkers on many boards. It’s like wharf but sometimes even a little better, such as when silk merchant is on the board. Often you use it with a good cantrip, so it’s really strong. For church, I’m still not sure of the exact power but I think it’s also very strong because of how you are able to setup turns. You can round out your turns the way that save does, which makes it really really nice.

xtruffles: In terms of games that you’ve played, what has been the most memorable Dominion game you’ve played so far? It doesn’t necessarily have to be from the championship.

ospond: Well, before the championship, the games all blend together. The most memorable game from the championship was in my match with heron. It’s memorable because of the game that I threw on turn 3 since it was an urchin game. We both opened double urchin and there was save on the board, so you basically have to save your urchin on turn 3 to line them up. I played my urchin on turn 3 instead and that was pretty much game.

xtruffles: I think for this question I’m gonna be expecting a variety of either really silly mistakes players have made or really cool wins you find. It’ll be interesting to hear the different stories. Speaking more about the championship, other than yourself who do you think will win the championship and why? (Players left are: RTT, Freaky, Mercury444F, drsteelhammer, amoffett11, elementmario222 and JNails)

ospond: I don’t know a lot about all the players, but I would favorite RTT or Freaky. 

xtruffles: Yeah, they’re also very involved in the community as well, so it’d be nice to see them in the Finals. They’re two very strong German Players.

ospond: They are also the only ones from the Top Eight seeds who have made it. 

xtruffles: Yeah, that’s also the interesting part. Everyone else has been beaten by a lower seed person so far in the tournament. It’ll be interesting to see if they can hold on to that seed. So shifting a bit away from Dominion, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of Dominion?

ospond: When I have free time I like to play puzzle games on Steam.

xtruffles: Baba is You?

ospond: This is one I haven’t and I need to find the time to play it, but I’m always behind – there are always several games that I want to play.

xtruffles: I think it makes sense that if you like Dominion, you’ll probably like puzzle games. Baba is You is a really fun puzzle game. Quite a few people in the community play it as well, like Stef and ceviri. A lot of the game focuses on logic, very much like Computer Science where you have statements. Pretty cool game.

ospond: I’ll add your recommendation then. I hope I’ll get around to playing it eventually.

xtruffles: Haha, maybe after the championship. The last question that I have for you is: What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

ospond: Two things.
One thing when I was starting out and not very good, I discovered the Qvist Rankings. I just trusted whatever the rankings said and I think that’s a really valuable way to start out. Any card that was highly rated, I figured “Oh I should be buying this card”. If I didn’t understand why it was good, I should figure out why it’s good.
The second thing is watching content on YouTube or listening to the top players commentating and learning how they think is a good way.

xtruffles: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for doing this interview and taking your time to do so. Good luck in the championship challenge! I believe you’re facing drsteelhammer next.

ospond: Yep. And thanks!

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Dominion 2019 Errata and Rules Tweaks

Donald X. Vaccarino (designer of Dominion):

“I am changing some rules and errata-ing some cards. And this post is telling you all about it.

The reasons behind these changes are:

  • It’s possible for two copies of a card to have different abilities. This causes problems, the worst (extremely exotic) situation being, you play a card and don’t actually know what it should do. The cards that do this are also confusing in general.
  • There are cases where card interactions fail in an unintuitive way, due to it mattering if cards in a discard pile are covered up.
  • Two minor rules clarify things a little and simplify texts a little, and are just coming along for the ride.

These changes will be implemented in the online program soon, and are effective now. Of course if you are playing irl you may not know about them, or may choose to do whatever you choose to do. These are changes for the better though, and I recommend using them.”

Errata

Eight cards are getting errata. Four are “shapeshifters” – they can change what they are, or what something else is. These create lots of rules questions and a few problems, and are switching to be like Captain and Necromancer – they’ll play a card instead of becoming the card. Three are one-shots that would behave differently with the shapeshifters; they’re changing to be more like they previously were, though this will change how they work in some other situations (e.g. with Necromancer and Captain). And then Procession is getting rid of the tracking problem introduced when the Throne/Duration rule changed a few years ago.

Someday those expansions will get printed again, and will have the new wordings, with FAQs to go with them. You can play with them right now though, through the magic of knowing about them.

New card texts

Band of Misfits: Action, $5
Play an Action card from the Supply that costs less than this, leaving it there.

Overlord: Action, 8D
Play an Action card from the Supply costing up to $5, leaving it there.

Inheritance: Event, $7
Once per game: Set aside a non-Victory Action card from the Supply costing up to $4. Move your Estate token to it. (During your turns, Estates are also Actions with “Play the card with your Estate token, leaving it there.”)

Lantern: Artifact
Border Guards you play reveal 3 cards and discard 2. (It takes all 3 being Actions to take the Horn.)

Death Cart: Action – Looter, $4
You may trash this or an Action card from your hand, for +$5.
———-
When you gain this, gain 2 Ruins.

Pillage: Action – Attack, $5
Trash this. If you did, gain 2 Spoils, and each other player with 5 or more cards in hand reveals their hand and discards a card that you choose.

Embargo: Action, $2
+$2
Trash this. If you did, add an Embargo token to a Supply pile. (For the rest of the game, when a player buys a card from that pile, they gain a Curse.)

Procession: Action, $4
You may play a non-Duration Action card from your hand twice. Trash it. Gain an Action card costing exactly $1 more than it.

Tracking for the former shapeshifters

Some cards, like the new Band of Misfits, can play a card that isn’t put into play. When you play Band of Misfits, leave it in play as long as you would have left the card it plays in play. Normally that will be the same turn’s Clean-up. For a Band of Misfits playing a Duration card, it will be the Clean-up of the last turn the Duration card has any effects. For a Band of Misfits playing a Throne Room playing a Duration card, it will be the Clean-up of the turn the Duration card leaves play. For a Band of Misfits playing a card that can move itself from play, like Mining Village, the Mining Village can’t move itself, so Band of Misfits doesn’t leave play any earlier than normal. If a Band of Misfits plays multiple Duration cards (e.g., you used Throne Room on it), leave it out until the Clean-up of the last turn that one of them still had effects.

These rules apply to all of the cards that play cards without putting them into play: currently, Band of Misfits, Overlord, Inheritance, Necromancer, and Captain.

The new lose-track rule, now stop-moving, and getting things from your discard pile

Sometimes, the game wants you to not move a card further. I used to call this lose-track, because it existed due to situations where you’d really lose track of the card. But mostly you know right where the card is, so now I am calling it the stop-moving rule. And it’s changing too, as follows.

The stop-moving rule: An effect can move a card if it specifies where the card is coming from, or if the effect put the card where it is now. If a card isn’t where the effect would expect it to be, it can’t move the card. Played cards expect to be in play; they can’t move themselves if they aren’t. Gained cards are expected to be where they were gained to, even if this isn’t the discard pile. Cards in discard piles can be moved even if covered up by other cards; cards on top of a deck can’t be moved once covered up.

Additionally, when you are told to get a card from your discard pile, you can look through it to get the card. That’s just implicit. You don’t have to just look at the top couple of cards, you can look through the whole discard pile.

The main change here is that previously you’d lose track of something if it were covered up in your discard pile, and now you don’t. So for example if you Replace an Estate into Skulk, previously you would lose track of the Skulk when you gained a Gold and covered it up, but now you won’t, you will put the Skulk onto your deck.

You can gain non-Supply cards when called out

When a card tells you to gain a non-Supply card by name, you can gain it from its pile, even though it’s not in the Supply.

This is just letting me drop “from its pile” from those cards, which wasn’t a great way to make it clear that you really get to gain them.

Costs don’t go below $0

The cost in $ of a card can’t go below $0. The cost in [potion] of a card can’t go below 0 [potion]; the cost in [debt] of a card can’t go below 0 [debt].

This is something that cards like Bridge have said; now it’s just a rule, and covers the potion and debt cases since people ask. What does Vineyard cost with a Highway in play? Same as without it – zero coins, one potion, and zero debt.

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Patron

This article was written by Chris is me with editing help from the Dominion Strategy blog team. Dominion Strategy blog content has been coming out at a slower pace over the past few weeks, and will continue to release at a slower pace for the near future. The blog team is looking forward to ramping back up in several weeks, and we appreciate your patience.

patron

What does Patron do?

In simplest terms, Patron will convert a spare Action you may have into a Villager while also producing +$2. Except in the case where you have no Actions remaining and no Villagers available, Patron is essentially strictly better than Silver. Patron also has a neat Reaction that will give you an extra Coffers when revealed by something.

Why is Patron’s on-play effect useful?

Patron gives you a Villager on-play while also doing something else (providing economy). Villagers are at their most powerful in the early game. Before you have thinned your deck and added a source of +Actions to it, an extra Villager or two can help you resolve terminal collisions, ensuring an otherwise unlucky shuffle doesn’t hurt your momentum. Additionally, the +$2 that Patron provides is useful early on for buying $5 cost cards. Sneaking in a Patron play or two in the first few shuffles thus ends up helping boost your momentum and consistency in this critical part of the game where bad luck could otherwise mess you up. In the worst case, where Patron collides with something else, you can still play both by immediately using the Villager.

Later on in the game, you can use any extra Action plays you have left to stockpile Villagers with your Patrons, providing some extra insurance when greening. The peace of mind helps avoid dud turns when your +Actions doesn’t align perfectly with your +Cards to start the turn.

Of course, there are also the many cases in which you’d prefer your economy to come from Action cards rather than Treasures. Patron can be drawn with Scrying Pool, multiplied with Throne Room, and skipped over by Loan, to name just a few.

Basically, while Patron isn’t going to give you a massive pile of Villagers the way cards like Recruiter do, it is useful to have in your deck simply because just 1 or 2 Villagers can save games for you and help you keep momentum through otherwise awkward collisions.

When The Reaction Matters

Patron is fine for many decks without the Reaction, but if you can reliably and repeatedly get that extra economy boost, Patron can be an excellent card and the primary payload of a deck. A Patron revealed once per time it is played is essentially better than Gold, and with any potential for multiple reveals, the effect compounds from there.

The best reveal cards for Patron tend to be nonterminal – they can be played frequently without a lot of other support, and they usually won’t use any of the Villagers Patron is stacking up. Menagerie and Hunting Party are two standout examples. Both reveal your whole hand on each play. Hunting Party is more powerful as it gives you some flexibility – you can either keep your Patrons in hand to stock up Coffers, or you can play them to grab your next Patron from the deck. Menagerie is a bit more awkward as it won’t play as effectively if you have multiple Patrons, but since Menagerie is so cheap, you can add them to a deck that doesn’t otherwise need them just for the economy boost. Patron is also an excellent addition to decks that use City Quarter for draw, as City Quarter reveals your hand on play and the extra economy will help you buy the expensive City Quarters. Scrying Pool also gets a mention, because it reveals every Patron that you draw in a turn, and it is good for Scrying Pool decks to not have to rely on Silver or Gold for economy.

There are many other useful reveal cards to look for. Advisor is a nice one, as it is nonterminal. Courtier is drawn to Patron’s dual-typing. Journeyman is terminal, but you do reveal everything you draw with it (similarly Royal Blacksmith reveals your hand after drawing). The list goes on.

Other Useful Synergies

Capitalism merits a special mention as it allows you to use Patron as essentially a next-turn Village. All your Villagers are free when you play Patron in the Buy phase. Throne variants have been mentioned before, but also worthy of note is Scepter, which can be used to squeeze out extra Villagers in the Buy phase if you need them.

In conclusion, while Patron is one of the least flashy sources of Villagers, it should definitely be considered in any deck that can find space for it. The $4 cost can make it awkward to open, but in most cases, if you were going to open Silver / $3 cost, you might as well make that Silver a Patron instead.

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