Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with pop180

This interview is an transcription of the Japanese audio interview: https://youtu.be/lnZLeRCzU2g

Interview and transcription done by: SSLY

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features pop180 who will be playing Quarterfinals against markus: Saturday, October 31st @ 7:00UTC.

Note from truffles:
Thanks so much to SSLY for conducting this interview!

SSLY: Hello everyone, I’m seesaw (SSLY) and in this video I would like to interview pop180, one of the quarter-finalists in the Dominion Online Championship 2020. Congratulation, pop!

pop180: Thank you.

SSLY: I’m really proud of you for getting this far.

pop180: Thanks, happy to be here.

SSLY: First of all, can you introduce yourself to the world, to the players all over the world?

pop180: lol I’ve never talked about myself to the world, though. I’m pop180, I’ve been playing Dominion for about 2 and a half years. I was knocked out at very early rounds in the last two Championships, so I’m now happy to be interviewed. You might know I was a substitute for the Japanese national team in the World Cup 2020.

SSLY: You played some matches in the tournament and performed a great role as a member of the team!

pop180: sillypotter kindly gave me a chance to play with a captain of our rival team. Such a nice experience probably had something to do with the fact that I made it to the top 8 this time.

SSLY: Can you tell me how you came to play Dominion?

pop180: I played Magic: The Gathering and when I was getting interested in board games, the most famous ones in Japan were Catan, and Dominion. I googled and found illustrations in Dominion so attractive that I searched for where I could try it. Fortunately I found Caravan Base, a board game cafe in Kichijoji, Tokyo, held a Dominion night every Friday. As It said beginners were welcome, I did jump in.

SSLY: So, how long ago was that?

pop180: Indeed 2 and a half years ago, I got introduced to Dominion. I met cha-shu there, the current national champion. He calls himself the “Supply Sommelier” — I wonder if anyone else does — that is, he loves making all kinds of interesting boards for us. I remember I asked him !good Storyteller, “could you tell me how to use it?” and he made a board in which it was… maybe good, or bad. I learned Dominion there.

SSLY: How did you go from there to Dominion Online?

pop180: Someone at the shop informed me of the client, and in the spring before the Japan Championship 2018, of which Day 1 featured Base + Empires, cha-shu also talked in his blog on a Discord Dominion group for practicing 4-players games online for the national tournament. Of course I joined it, and started playing a lot of rated games too. After the Championship I also joined To-Domi, Tokyo Dominion Circle.

SSLY: Huh.

pop180: The Scary, To-Domi. I should say “sooooooooo friendly”, otherwise the presiding player would get a bit angry with me describing it as too scary, hehe. One of its members is, you know, Mercury.

SSLY: Yeah, Mercury444F. One of the top players at the online 2p leaderboard.

pop180: Every member there was indeed better than me but even all of them told me “Mercury444F is the best”. His marvelous engines have been a source of my motivation to practice 2-players format.

SSLY: Which format do you like, 2p or 4p? I think you’ve mainly played 4p irl, so is 4p your favorite?

pop180: I’m already loving the 2p format now.

SSLY: Oh.

pop180: There are a lot of reasons which were hard to clearly articulate, but if you ask straightforwardly I will answer 2p.

SSLY: Can you tell me what your favorite card is?

pop180: I’ve been asked several times, so I can. Monument and Herald.

SSLY: OK, let’s start with Monument. Why?

pop180: It has very simple text, doesn’t it? Just “+$2, +1 VP” even in 1 inch square but it hides potential behind it. It offers you a way to score besides Victory cards, so it affords you time to build bigger engines, and why don’t you get excited at winning by the points it brings to you? I love it.

SSLY: Cool. I imagine it would be less reliable if you were bad at building engines. I want to be as good as you.

pop180: Thanks.

SSLY: What about Herald? It shines in engines too, but what do you feel?

pop180: Herald is super fun. You play it and BOOOM BOOOM BOOOM you have a big hand like when you set Tactician last turn, or more cards! That’s how I feel. You don’t know what will happen until you reveal the top of your deck. I also like Wishing Well and its friends… Why not reveal it?

SSLY: What is your least favorite card?

pop180: Vampires. Definitely.

SSLY: What’s wrong with it?

pop180: That might imply insane 5-2, but even when both players get 3-4 and reach Vampire after the first shuffle, I see you often lose a chance to play it because it is unluckily trashed or discarded from your deck. I think it makes an unfair one-side advantage.

SSLY: Dominion: Menagerie came out this year. I’ll ask a simple question to you again, do you love it or hate it?

pop180: I can say I love it. Honestly I don’t dislike any expansion, I like even Alchemy, so… yeah I love Menagerie.

SSLY: Which card do you like in the set?

pop180: In Menagerie? Well…

SSLY: You can pick any card or any feature in the set.

pop180: Well, Falconer. I initially thought it was weak.

SSLY: I see what you mean.

pop180: I tried it, and I’m amazed at how it works. Dominion has so many cards of more than one type these days that its Reaction ability is truly powerful.

SSLY: I agree, it being on the board makes the game much crazy.

pop180: Yeah, Falconer surprisingly overrides its first impression to me and now feels a symbol of Reiwa Dominion, I mean, as Japanese players called a new age Menagerie has opened.

SSLY: I’d like to ask you about the current tournament. you reached the top 8, do you think you easily did it?

pop180: No at all. Though some of my matches fortunately started by 3-0 for me, they went into the 7th games anyway, and I barely won them. Playing the 7th game brought huge pressure on me as accumulating long games made me exhausted. Well, the pressure makes me more concentrated, though.

SSLY: I was very impressed that you brilliantly ended the last game of Round of 16 by Mastermind-ing Mastermind-ing Inventors. Did you have an image of the finish from the start of the game?

pop180: My first plan was putting each Mastermind separately, but I imagined that the player who first made the one-shot would win. Though Titandrake went ahead and I felt pushed into a corner, I was happy to grab the last chance to do it.

SSLY: Which game do you think is the most impressive to you?

pop180: A game with Sir Lucason.

SSLY: Round of 32?

pop180: Game 3 in the round. I noticed at a glance that the board had Library and Villa, the Combo, and Haggler. The board reminded me of a similar one I saw via Twitter a while ago as a quiz and practiced solving, so I was ready for the trick in the match. It was the most exciting 3 piles out ever.

SSLY: As a strong player who made it to the top 8, what advice would you give other players who want to be better at Dominion?

pop180: I want advice, too (laugh). Well, what I always keep in mind is, in seeing a board, imagining and predicting what’s going to happen in the game. What do you think leads to a messy Attack game, or quickly piling Province out? A set of prediction, play, and feedback after the game is one of good ways to practice. Spectating also teaches you a lot of lessons. I love spectating, and many good players have interesting matches in the Japanese Dominion League these days.

SSLY: Yeah, and you are indeed the champion of season 1, can I watch your match?

pop180: Okay, welcome. I’m happy that the league has been getting more spectators than ever. If you are just starting Dominion, then of course you might be puzzled at what happens in the match, but don’t worry, you will be able to do it.

SSLY: Lastly, you’re going to play with markus in the quarterfinals. Are you ready?

pop180: Yes. He is an excellent top player with many proven records, but that will make me more concentrated at all. I’ll do my best.

SSLY: Thank you for answering, and good luck!

pop180: Thank you!

Notes:

Caravan Base: http://caravansbase.com/

Dominion Japan Championship is the 2 Days 4p irl national tournament, held annually by Hobby Japan. Day 1 is a qualification tournament featuring some expansions. cha-shu won DJC2019. DJC2020 has not been held.

The Discord is named Dominion: Playing Server, where Dominion Japan Grand Prix, an unofficial substitute for DJC, was held last July.

To-Domi, Tokyo Dominion Circle, started as Tokyo University Dominion Circle a long ago, and is now one of the groups in which many top Japanese players in Tokyo gather every weekend (at least before the pandemic).

Reiwa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reiwa

Japanese Dominon League is held in the style of the Dominion League, in Dominion in Japan Discord. About the JDL, see https://seesaawiki.jp/japanese_dominion_league/ 

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Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with Freaky

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview: https://youtu.be/N8hRrgKc8lQ

Transcription done by: amoffett11

“Occam’s Razor”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features Freaky who will be playing Quarterfinals against JNails: Tuesday, November 3rd @ 22:00UTC.

truffles: Hi everyone!  I’m truffles and today I’m here with Freaky who’s made it all the way to the top 8 of the Dominion Online Championship!  Congratulations, and I know this is your second year in a row making it all the way to the Top 8.  

Freaky: I’m not alone with that right, JNails and RTT also?    

truffles: Those two as well, and markus has made the top 8 before, I think in 2018.  

Freaky: Yeah, it was 2018.  

truffles: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?  

Freaky: I’m 23, finished my Bachelors this year, and then this whole Corona thing happened, so a little annoying to get a job right now as a new person entering the workforce.  And today we have a new lockdown, so probably not going to change for a while.  For the time being, I’m just working more or less part-time.  I’ve been playing Dominion for what now, two-and-a-half years, something like that?

truffles: Oh, you’ve only been playing for two-and-a-half years, I thought you’d been playing longer than that.  

Freaky: If you look at my chart it says two-and-a-half years, which should basically match it.  

truffles: There’s definitely been a combination of players who’ve played for like eight plus years in the championship, but also who are fairly new, like nerdbound and catoftheyear. 
Menagerie came out this year, what are your impressions on it?

Freaky: People are really positive on the expansion, as you can tell from the other interviews.  I’m not so much, I think it’s quite well-known.  I dislike that it sort of continues the trend of Renaissance where cards are just super-centralizing, but people don’t seem to have a problem with that as much as I do I suppose.  I don’t particularly like it honestly, I think we’ve had better expansions before.  Especially if you look at cards like Groom or Stockpile.  Groom rushes to me are incredibly boring; they dominate every kingdom basically and they’re super easy to play.  I just don’t enjoy these kind of boards where games last 8 turns and the strategy is super obvious.  It’s not very fun to me.  

truffles: But I do think the mechanics, especially Ways, can be pretty fun, because it adds a lot more decision to cards, whether you play it as a Way, or as an actual card ability.  

Freaky: In general Ways are nice, as long as there’s no Shelters.  If there’s Shelters they can be pretty bad right, if you have Way of the Owl and you see your Necro turn 1.  I had a game the other day where I had two curses and two coppers from Mountebank in my deck on turn 3, that wasn’t so fun.  That can happen, but as long as that doesn’t happen Ways are generally pretty nice to play with.  In general landscapes are pretty nice to play with, my concern is more with the cards.  

truffles: What is your least favourite and favourite card in Menagerie?

Freaky: My favourite is – I’m looking at the list right now and deciding between Sleigh and Sheepdog.  Probably Sleigh, Sleigh is pretty nice, you have quite a few tricks you can do with it.  It’s not blatantly good, but it’s also a lot better than I initially thought.  I was very surprised at how good it is if you just stack them up, I thought that wouldn’t be very good looking at it at first glance, but it’s actually surprisingly consistent as the only draw.  It feels nice to play with.
Least favourite, probably Stockpile.  Every single kingdom with Stockpile you spend your first turns buying Stockpiles, it’s really not fun to me.  It’s just too strong.  

truffles: I do think it’s kind of interesting though.  I like Stockpile, I think some interactions like Stockpile/Alms can be pretty fun to play with.  

Freaky: Stockpile/Alms is quite explosive for sure.  That can happen, but for more kingdoms, it feels like you open Stockpile/something, or Stockpile/Stockpile, then you keep buying Stockpiles at the end of every shuffle, and then Stockpiles pile and you start playing the normal game.  It feels like there’s a Stockpile phase to every game, where it’s just all about the Stockpiles and then you actually start doing stuff.  

truffles: For sure.  Do you have a favourite or least favourite card overall, in all expansions?  

Freaky: Least favourite is Lackeys for sure.  I’m also going to ban it from here on out, but at this point I think it’s pretty horrible to be in a kingdom for me.  I still get way too many ladder wins for me to actually ban it on ladder, but I really, really, really don’t enjoy Lackeys.  It’s $2 too cheap in my opinion, it just does way too much.

Favourite card, Sculptor is up there for sure.  I think I said that last year as well.  It’s just nice at a lot of different decision points, and makes you play different decks quite a lot of the time, or it makes you play money more often than you usually would, which works surprisingly well in my experience.  I just like that aspect of the card, and I also just like Villagers in general I suppose.  The consistency they give, the concept I like, I don’t like the specific cards because I think they’re as a whole too strong but Sculptor isn’t in that category of a card.  I think it is a nice decision often if you want to take the Silver, or you just want to take a card that’s good for your deck.  

truffles: I do like the Villager concept in general, and the consistency and reliability it gives cards.  

Freaky: Yeah for sure, stuff like exploration is great.

truffles: Exploration definitely is one of my favourite card-shaped objects.  

Freaky: It might actually be my favourite card-shaped object.  I remember passing a turn where I could have got 7 Provinces to get a single Villager from Exploration.  That was a fun board, that was a long time ago but it’s stuck in my memory.  

truffles: Oh wow.  You actually won the championship last year, which is cool to see that you’ve reached the top 8 again this year.  Has this championship felt any different so far, and do you have any advice from your past self going forward?  

Freaky: Man, I wish I could play like I did a year ago.  I was so much better back then.  So I guess my advice would be to play as I did back then, because I feel like my play has really fallen off a cliff in comparison.  It hasn’t really felt too different than last year to be honest, matches were all fairly fast just like last year in terms of how long they took, an hour or one hour in a half which I very much appreciate.  In general it just felt like normal matches but it didn’t really feel different last year either, so pretty similar experiences there.  

truffles: Have you had a favourite moment in the championship so far?

Freaky: If I had a favourite kingdom that’s probably closest to it: the kingdom against aku chi with Lurker/Hermit/Demand where you just never buy anything or any card. Anyways, it was pretty nice, I like those wanky engines where you keep regaining Hermits, gaining Madmans, and I think there was Bishop on the board or something, some eventual payoff to that spinning, but I like those boards where you build unconventionally.  

truffles: Yeah, I think Dan Brooks also plays those boards really well, where it’s a little bit loopy, and a little bit different than what you would see on your regular average kingdom boards.  

Freaky: He sort of invented them I guess you could say.  I remember the league game he played against markus a long time ago where he played Hermit/Storeroom or something, which no one believed in but I think he actually won the game.  

truffles: Hermit/Storeroom, how does that work?  

Freaky: You get a big hand and then you discard them for money and then you redraw and discard them for money.  

truffles: Oh I see, I thought you meant there was some synergy where you after you discard your cards with Storeroom you just end your turn with all your money to gain another Hermit. 

Freaky: No, you build up a megaturn. I think that’s how you should play it, but it’s not very strong but it was a weak kingdom, which is why it worked. But it’s interesting to see because I think those kingdoms in general are hare to evaluate and also hard to play.  

truffles: I think Hermit has a lot of cool synergies that usually are kind of weak by itself like Hermit/Market Square where you usually want to add in a few other cards since Hermits get contested. I think the Madman capabilities of Hermit make it a lot more interesting of a card.  

Freaky: Hermit Market Square isn’t weak, it’s just you can’t really play the monolithic combo style anymore, because you’re never going to get 7 Hermits.  

truffles: Yeah, that’s what I meant. Certainly if you can get 7 Hermits with Hermit/Market Square, that’s a different story, but usually it’s a pretty competed pile and a split that actually kind of matters, where you don’t want to end up with two Hermits.  

Freaky: I’ve never actually done it.  

truffles: What has your favourite moment been in Dominion so far this year?

Freaky: I don’t really play too many tournaments and stuff, so none of the moments are really sticking out for me.  I don’t really have one particular moment, I more have a collection of fun kingdoms I play, that’s more what I get more joy out of, not one specific moment I can recall.  Playing Watchtower/Conquest, really wanky decks, just those wanky decks is what I enjoy, but not one particular moment I can call out.  

truffles: You’ve been in the Discord community for awhile now, what’s your favourite aspect of this community.  

Freaky: Well it’s very civil, which is very uncommon for an Internet community in my experience with games.  It’s very civilized so to speak, there’s no shouting at each other or calling out names, which is really, really, really something I don’t see in any other game.  I really like that aspect, just because of the clientele being more academic I suppose.  It’s a very analytical conversation usually which I enjoy, unless we’re talking about art, then I’m out.  Like #kingdom-analysis for example is a good channel to talk about general ideas, which I enjoy.  

truffles: My second-last question for you is how do you typically approach a kingdom and figure out how to play the board-

Freaky: Oh, this is going to be terrible advice!

truffles:  – and answer in the perspective of newer players who are looking to improve

Freaky: Oh my, oh my.  Well, newer players, if you’re new to the game, I think the only thing you should focus on is power cards.  You can go with card-glicko from the Dominion stuff, look at the kingdom, and figure out what are the cards that are clearly strong, or are from Renaissance or Menagerie, which is sort of the same thing anyways, and try and revolve your strategy around those because that’s usually what you do anyways.  And then get some practice in with the power cards and ignore the bad cards for a very, very long time because it’s going to take quite a lot of skill to actually integrate them into your real games.  So, probably you can cut any 10 card kingdom down to 3 to 4 cards and ignore the other 6 or 7 and you’re not going to do much worse than someone playing with all kingdom cards, and you’re definitely going to do much better than someone playing with all 10 kingdom cards who doesn’t get the full benefit of the cards.  It’s probably not the best for a long-term accomplishment, but if you just want to get to a decent level fast, I think I would do that.  

truffles: I think that’s a good idea, to focus on the broader picture and get some good cards before focusing on the cheaper, bad cards.  Not necessarily cheaper.  

Freaky: I’m meaning stuff like Harvest, Pirate Ship, Noble Brigand.  They’re not going to do you any good at least until you reach 2 mu, you can completely ignore them, and you’re probably going to do better doing that than if you try to make them work.  

truffles: It’s also because it’s rare- 

Freaky:  It’s not that rare.  I get Brigand in 35% of games or something, it’s not that rare.  Usually those games might very well be marginal, or they only work because a specific scenario came to be and I was able to identify to that, and a normal seed or a normal way that kingdom plays out that would never happen, so it’s still better to pretend those don’t exist and play to the other percentages where you’re going to be much better off ignoring the card.  

truffles: My last question for you is, if you had a Dominion catchphrase, what would it be?  

Freaky: Something in line with, focus on the simple things, something like “Occam’s razor” where you just do your first instinct and do the simple thing.  That’s going to do you more good than trying to overly think about decisions.  At least for me, I always go with my first instinct.  Occam’s razor is like a psychological thing, where if there’s multiple explanations to a given problem, the easiest solution is most likely to be the correct one.  For me, I always go with what my first instinct tells me which is also based on a lot of games of course, but in general doing the simple thing is often the best, and going with what’s best for right now and not thinking of a broader picture as I said last year, is usually how I play my games.  Focussing on the simple stuff and getting that correctly, and not trying to overthink some minor decisions.  Which sadly sometimes happens with people that they spend a lot of time on decisions that hardly matter.  And sometimes make the worst of all choices, I’ve seen that happen before, where people think for a long time to then come up with something that was probably a lot worse than their initial instinct.  

truffles: Cool!  Thanks for letting me interview you!  I think you’re playing JNails next in the quarterfinals, on Tuesday at 2200 UTC.  Good luck, and have fun!

Freaky: Thanks.

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Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with RTT

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview: https://youtu.be/BXBeflgiwCA

Transcription done by: truffles

“Bad draws test your skill the most, but also your sanity.”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features RTT who will be playing Quarterfinals against nerdbound: Saturday, October 31st @ 18:30UTC.

truffles: Hi everyone, I’m truffles and today I’m here with RTT, who has made it all the way to the Top 8 of the Dominion Online Championship 2020. So congratulations on another successful year into the Quarterfinals.

RTT: Thanks!

truffles: So, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I know we interviewed you last year as well [interview found: Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with RTT], so some new fun facts would be awesome.

RTT: Yeah, well this time I was brave enough to do voice.

truffles: Last year I was too scary.

RTT: Something new, I don’t know. I still have two kids – two boys – who are now two and four years old. And I still work in Software Engineering.

truffles: Good. I think the Programmer groups, including myself, will be very happy to get someone else on their side.

RTT: Yeah haha, I heard that. There’s some war between Economists and Programmers.

truffles: Since there’s been the pandemic and all, have you discovered any other fun board games?

RTT: Well, I played Santorini a bit with my wife. That’s kind of fun but a completely different game. Other than that, I played a bit of Scythe.

truffles: Scythe?

RTT: Yeah.

truffles: How do you spell that?

RTT: S-c-y-t-h-e.

truffles: Oh, cool. I’ve never heard of it.

RTT: Haha, it’s like – kind of big.

truffles: I guess I’ve been just kind of living under a rock, haha. So, last year when I interviewed you, Captain and Church had just came out. This year, Menagerie came out so I was wondering what you impressions of it were?

RTT: Of Menagerie or Captain?

truffles: Of Menagerie. I know how you feel about Captain.

RTT: Menagerie is interesting and a lot of the cards just work completely different than what we’re used to. Especially, of course, the Ways. Initially, it was pretty exciting to evaluate them and then see how they play out but sometimes the Ways just do nothing, because every other card on the board just does better than what the Way does. But, yep, some of the Ways are kind of fun.

truffles: Do you have a favorite or least favorite card and way in Menagerie?

RTT: My favorite card is Displace. I like the exile mechanic especially and Displace is fun because you don’t really lose the card that you “trash” or exile to it. You could directly gain it back again if you just buy it, or displace into it later. Of course, victory cards are gone from your deck and you can get another engine piece or a gold, which is kind of fun. And what I don’t like is Mastermind.

truffles: Oh, interesting. Is it because it looks like Adam Horton or do you just not like the card?

RTT: Haha, no. I just don’t like the mechanic of it. I mean, King’s Court is kind of the same. I always thought Mastermind was just too cheap and too unreliable because most decks you can’t decide what your opening hand is. And of course there’s the eternal bug in the online game with it, where you can’t choose which Mastermind you play if you have Masterminded Mastermind out.

truffles: Yeah. I think Mastermind is interesting in a way that because it’s a duration card you kind of get an extra search space because you see 5 cards. Whereas with King’s Court at the start, you only see 4 cards. But in some ways it’s more unreliable. Drawing a hand of 5 treasures is always pretty feels-bad.

RTT: Yeah. It’s also so easy to hit 5 so you could just go for an early Mastermind and yolo.

truffles: Haha, yeah.

RTT: Then you can hit a giant turn really early and just snowball. King’s Court isn’t always that easy to reach. You first have to build a bit to get to 7, usually.

truffles: What is your favorite Way?

RTT: Way of the horse is probably my favorite Way. Because it’s always the question if you want to save your turn or make your current turn a lot better but you lose some good card. That’s pretty interesting.

truffles: Mhm, I think that extra decision point is really interesting. I also really like Ruins now with Ways because I think Ruins are less bad. It makes Marauder even worse of a card.

RTT: Yeah, haha but then you just don’t get it. But of course, Death Cart is pretty insane with Way of the Horse. But I guess Experiment is kind of equal – you get two “horses” for 3 versus getting three “horses” for 4.

truffles: Yeah. Do you have a least favorite way?

RTT: I said a few days before that it’s Way of the Goat. It isn’t really exciting.

truffles: Yeah, it’s pretty unexciting. It can turn all of your cards into worse Trade Routes, which is something you don’t want to open or play with very often.

RTT: Yeah, like 80% of boards have a better trasher anyways.

truffles: Yeah. What is your favorite and least favorite card overall? And I’m going to make a wild guess that your favorite card is Captain.

RTT: No, that’s just the favorite art!

truffles: Ah, fair.

RTT: Haha. I’ve lost some brutal games to an early Captain and it’s not that fun. My favorite two cards are Tragic Hero and Capital. With Tragic Hero, I like that it makes you think how you want to use it – it’s like Way of the Horse in that sense – but it enables some nice mega turns. Capital is probably a bit underrated by a lot of people and that’s why I like it. A lot of people don’t see that 6 coins now is a lot better than 6 debt next turn.

truffles: That makes sense. I do think it’s a tricky card to play with because you don’t know how much debt you should take. Sometimes it’s better to not take so much debt and sometimes it’s better to just spike something early. Some of those decision points aren’t always clear.

RTT: Yeah, and that’s fun!

truffles: Yeah. What’s your least favorite card? I hope you’re not going to say Captain.

RTT: Uh no, it’s Possession.

truffles: You didn’t sign up for Possession Cage tournament?

RTT: Instant muting of the channel. Haha, no way I would. But I guess that’s a bit unfun because a lot of people hate Possession. Swindler is the other one.

truffles: Yeah, I think I saw a comment from the Possession Cage tournament, where they said “Possession makes games worse because if you’re playing against someone slow, they you have to watch them slowly play your turn too.” So it makes games extra slow, haha. But I think I’ve enjoyed spectating Possession games – it makes for some interesting games.

RTT: Yeah, it’s fun when you can just close the game and leave the client without losing rating as a spectator, haha.

truffles: You reached the Top 8 in the Championship last year, and you came second. Do you have any lessons that you’ve learned that you’ll take with your this year?

RTT: From the loss against Freaky, or?

truffles: Haha, or in general.

RTT: Haha, I’m playing more chill now because I’m basically where I wanted to be already. Last game, Top 16, is where I really wanted to get. From now on, it’s all an extra. So, I have to keep a calm attitude and don’t stress myself out. Then, I can probably play as well as I can, so it’s all good whatever happens.

truffles: It’s definitely a lot more enjoyable [that way] and I think you end up playing better when you’re in calmer and less stressed state. I remember the first time – when I just joined the Dominion Discord – I signed up for my first tournament. I think it was Cage Renaissance or something like that. I couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so nervous.

RTT: Haha.

truffles: It was so scary for me. Now I enjoy games a lot more that in tournaments I play in and I don’t feel as nervous. But in the beginning I was really scared.

RTT: I think everyone that takes it a bit serious and wants to improve or want to prove themselves as a good player is a bit nervous in tournament games. I was very nervous in my first league and tournaments as well.

truffles: But I think you get used to it.

RTT: For sure. But every now and then – like against drsteelhammer, this championship, where I was somehow super nervous and I don’t know why.

truffles: I think it’s definitely nervewracking because there’s like people spectating and such. I think for me, I’m pretty harsh of myself and whenever I play poorly I get really sad at myself for being silly or making a silly mistake. So sometimes it’s tough when you’re so hard on yourself.

RTT: Yep.

truffles: So, what’s been your favorite moment in the championship so far?

RTT: I mean, I have kind of liked all of it. I’ve kind of liked the ups and downs I had. I was almost eliminated – I went to a game 7 very early against elia. And it was like, this would be somehow embarrassing to lose already. Then, I still pulled through. Against Limetime I was down 3-1 and then a Captain board appeared and that gave me the strength to win the next 3 games somehow. Yeah, there have been a lot of times where I thought “This is the last match for me, now it’s over” but somehow I’m still in it. Let’s see how far we can get.

truffles: Comebacks are always really exciting. Especially, when people post on Discord, “Game 7 Alert”, it’s really exciting, but I can imagine it being really nerve-wracking for the players because then it becomes “win-it-all”, for all the marbles.

RTT: Yeah, and then you get second player in that game and it’s like “ugh”, haha.

truffles: And then you roll a board with Swindler and you’re even sadder.

RTT: No no, that can’t happen to me.

truffles: Haha. So, if you had to pick someone you think is most likely to win – and you can’t pick yourself – who would it be?

RTT: Nerdbound. Yeah, because he would have won one against me so he can just win it all.

truffles: That’s fair. I think I’m excited to watch that match. I think it’s happening this Saturday [October 31st] at 18:30 UTC. On Halloween. Very spooky. Good luck! Aside from the championship, have you had a favorite overall Dominion moment this year?

RTT: Well, there have been some nice boards. But, it’s not really something that stands out.

truffles: How did you feel around Menagerie preview week? I remember you made a few impression videos and that was really exciting.

RTT: Yeah, that’s always cool. I get to make some cool videos, but at the same time there was a pandemic going on and it was really like just developing and we were all a bit uncertain how it all will change. So Dominion wasn’t really the top priority for me there. Also, we were on vacation at the same time, haha.

truffles: I think you also released a new album – a new single this year. A new Dominion song! Which is crazy because I think this year has kind of flown by.

RTT: I mean, “released” – it was just like I worked on it for one day, or over two days, together with my wife.

truffles: When I wrote my Dominion song, it took me like a week or so. So two days is really impressive!

RTT: Yeah, but it hasn’t even gotten that many views so I don’t see a reason to make more.

truffles: I will insert the link [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RKSGaHl9YA] here so people can throw you some thumb’s up, haha. I have two more questions for you – one of them being: what advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve?

RTT: Yeah, fortress is a good target. Or do you mean something else?

truffles: I meant more like getting better at the game.

RTT: I figured, haha. I don’t really have an answer other than like: play awake.

truffles: Play awake?

RTT: Yeah, really look at what you’re doing and what your opponent is doing and why he might be doing it. Especially if he’s better than you or appears to be better than you. Also, just watch league. Play in the league. That’s probably the best way to improve.

truffles: I agree, playing in league I think, especially when you’re playing against people close to your skill level, so you aren’t dominating or getting destroyed, you get to focus more on building your deck. So, definitely check out https://dominionleague.org if you haven’t already. My last question for you: if you had a Dominion catchphrase what would it be?

RTT: Yeah, it’s good that I was listening. to the other interviews before. Because, I would have never come up with something that spontaneously. But I worked something out. So, what was it? “Bad draws test your skill the most, but also your sanity.”

truffles: Ah! “Bad draws test your skill the most, but also your sanity.” That’s a good one. That’s a lot more elegant, or prepared, of a catchphrase than the other ones, haha. It’s longer!

RTT: Yeah, you should’ve given them some heads up.

truffles: I actually did! I did give them some heads up. But that’s a good catchphrase, definitely the longest one I’ve seen so far.

RTT: It’s a complement to my name.

truffles: Thanks so much for letting me interview you. and good luck in your match against nerdbound this Saturday.

RTT: Thanks!

truffles: Have a good day! Bye!

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Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with catoftheyear

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview: https://youtu.be/0MvtKvb32Rw

Transcription done by: amoffett11

“Buy all the sheepdogs”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features catoftheyear who will be playing Quarterfinals against nasmith99: Sunday, November 1st @ 20:00UTC.

truffles: Hello everyone! I’m truffles and today I’m here with catoftheyear who’s made it all the way to top 8 of the Dominion Online Championship.  Congratulations!

catoftheyear: Hi!  Thanks.

truffles: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

catoftheyear: I’m from Israel, 26 years old, working in information security.  I’m kind of new to Dominion, playing online for maybe a year, maybe a bit more.  I tried the live version before at some convention once or twice.  I think whoever taught us the game didn’t know it too well, so when we played a card we discarded it so we had loops all the time.  It was some interesting version of Dominion.  

truffles: You say you work in information security.  Would you consider or group yourself as a “programmer”?  

catoftheyear: Ya, I guess you can say so.  

trufflesI think some people listening will be very happy to hear that.  Right now in the main Discord, people are fighting for Economists vs. Programmer spots in the Top 8, so I think you just added a point to that team.

catoftheyear: Who’s winning right now?  

truffles: I think it’s the Eonomists.  So far, everyone I’ve interviewed so far [markus, nasmith99, JNails, nerdbound] has studied Econ in school.  

catoftheyear: Oh no!

truffles: Haha. So, menagerie came out this year; I was wondering if you had any impressions on it?

catoftheyear: I guess it’s the first expansion really for me; all the other ones really existed when I started playing.  It’s really nice to have some extra new cards, especially the previews.  It’s nice, I like it.  

truffles: Do you have a favourite or least favourite card in Menagerie?  

catoftheyear: Yeah, probably.  I think Black Cat or Sheepdog are my favourites.  They have interesting interactions

truffles: Do you like Black Cat because you’re a cat-lover, or do you like the card interaction?  

catoftheyear: Probably a mix of both.  I guess I buy it a bit too much because I like the cat.  

truffles: What’s your least favourite card in Menagerie?

catoftheyear: I don’t know if I have one, maybe Invest I don’t really like, mostly because I also play 3 and 4 players sometimes and it gets really weird when you play it well.  

truffles: Invest is definitely a little bit of a funky card.  I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, especially with games with Magpie and Invest, it gets a little bit crazy.  

catoftheyear: For sure.  It’s also too much on who goes first or who buys Invest first.  

truffles: Mhm, for sure.  Do you have a favourite or least favourite card in Dominion?  

catoftheyear:  I don’t think so, I like all the cards.  I currently have Possession in Banned just because I’m not real experienced in playing it, so I don’t want to lose too much on Possession boards.  I don’t really have cards I don’t like.  Maybe Ruins.  

truffles:  Cultist Ruins are not fun!  

catoftheyear:  Ruined Village especially, my favourite card!

truffles: I think with the presence of Ways, it makes Ruins a little bit more tolerable.  Like Way of the Horse of something like that.  

catoftheyear:  Or Way of the Mouse, or Experiment.  

truffles:  For sure.  I think I might have missed it, but did you say your favourite card yet?  

catoftheyear:  It was my favourite card to hate!

truffles:  Oh, your favourite card to hate, haha.  What’s your favourite card to like?

catoftheyear: It has to be sheepdog.

truffles:  Sheepdog, ya.  Sheepdog is great.  I think the card art and the ability, it just makes for really fun boards.  

catoftheyear:  Ya, it’s an ultimate mix.

truffles:  Have you had a favourite moment in the championship so far?  

catoftheyear:  I guess winning is nice.  There was the last game of the series against cha-shu, all the points were out of the board pretty much, except one province and two curses were still in the pile; I was 5 points ahead or something, so I donated to trash a curse and next turn bought the last two curses.  It was a critical two turns ahead thing. 

truffles:  Yeah, I think those type of boards tend to be really interesting.  Have you had a favorite moment in the championship outside your own matches?  

catoftheyear:  I actually watched a lot of them I think, with commentaries as well, which is quite nice.  They’re all kind of mixed up.  

truffles:  Do you have a person that you think will be mostly likely to win the Championship?  And you can’t pick yourself!

catoftheyear:  I think I’m gonna go with nerdbound.  I didn’t play too much with the others, but I remember I played him in league once, and he won 6-0 or something, and was very influenced with his moves.  

truffles:  I remember that division!  It was C division, and he had a crazy overall score.  

catoftheyear:  He beat everybody with the same scores.  

truffles:  I think I can search it up right now, it was a really high win percentage, on average over a 4-2 score.  Certainly nerdbound has been really strong, I think he’s also fairly new to Dominion as well.  Ya, he ended with a 78% win percentage, which is crazy, in a 7 player division, so you also have more matches, and more variance.  

catoftheyear:  More sample size.  

truffles:  Have you had a favourite overall Dominion moment this whole year so far?  

catoftheyear:  I have a friend that’s also into Dominion, we play two people on the same computer debating which move is best on every move.  Not in the tournament of course!

truffles:  That would be really bad if it was in the tournament!  You should get them to join the community and sign up for league!

catoftheyear:  I tried, it didn’t really work out.  

truffles:  Ya, I think the Dominion discord can be pretty overwhelming for a lot of the newer folks.  There are a lot of channels and a lot of information, and also scheduling can be a little bit rough.  

catoftheyear: Ya, that’s so.

truffles: Do you have any advice for Dominion players looking to improve?

catoftheyear: Play many games!  It’s nice to watch somebody play with their own commentary and think what you think you would play before they play it, and see if you’re right or wrong.  

truffles: Yeah, I think listening to people explain their thought process is really helpful.  Just seeing someone click cards, it might not necessarily be obvious as to why they’re doing it a certain way, but listening to those kinds of explanations is definitely very helpful.  

catoftheyear: Especially if you try to guess yourself before you see what they do, I think you learn better than if you don’t.

truffles: Ya, for sure!  My last question for you is, if you had a Dominion catchphrase, what would it be?

catoftheyear: Oh no.  I guess buy all the Sheepdogs, maybe, sometimes.   

truffles: “Buy all the Sheepdogs, maybe, sometimes”.  That’s a good one!  Both good real-life advice and Dominion advice.  Thanks so much for letting me interview you, and I think you’re going to be playing nasmith99 next round?  

catoftheyear:  Oh no!

truffles: Best of luck on that, and I hope you have fun!

catoftheyear: Thanks, you too.

truffles: Bye!

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Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with JNails

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview: https://youtu.be/ZesbF-NfU1Q

Transcription done by: alibby1152 and truffles

“Don’t buy Gold.”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features JNails who will be playing Quarterfinals against Freaky: Tuesday, November 3rd @ 22:00UTC.


Note: This interview is a special one! I lost the audio on the first interview, but since alibby1152 was conveniently live transcribing it, we were able to recover most of it into text! That interview is at the end, but this top portion features a bonus audio interview we did. Enjoy!

– truffles

truffles: Hi everyone! I’m truffles and I’m here with JNails who has made it all the way to the Top 8 of the Dominion Online Championship. So first of all, congratulations!

JNails: Thanks.

truffles: This is actually my second time interviewing JNails, well second time this year, third time overall since he made it to the top 8 last year. Our first run, unfortunately, we lost the audio of the interview. Fortunately, alibby1152 was live transcribing so we were able to recover a good portion of the text portion (which can be found at the end). We decided to do another audio interview with some bonus questions. First of all, can you re-introduce yourself?

JNails: Yeah, I gave a general introduction in last year’s interview. As far as what’s changed since then, not a whole lot, except the one big obvious thing – the Covid pandemic has hit. Which, the US has dropped the ball a little bit, to say the least. For me, that hasn’t been much of a hindrance. If anything it’s been more of a Boon because a lot of stuff that I was doing last year, for example travelling to adjudicate debate tournaments all around the country, those have now moved online. So now, I get to do the same thing, but from the comfort of my home. Which has logistically been a whole lot easier and also for my sleep schedule, has been better. For me at least, there’s been a silver lining to the whole thing. I’ll be interested to see how many of those changes, such as work from policies, will stick once this crisis is over.

truffles: Yeah. For me, I work from home as well and I get to wear my pajamas to work, which is always really nice since they’re a lot more comfortable. I asked you some questions in our last interview but I have some new questions: Do you have a favorite Dominion player and if so, who is it?

JNails: Yeah, so I think alluded to this in my previous interview, which has been lost in the sands of time. The player that I’ve learned the most from, which I guess I can say is my favorite player, when I was learning to play Dominion would be Dan [Brooks]. I remember watching his videos and he built the most absurd engines. I learned that it was possible and there was more beyond Big Money decks. That was my catalyst for getting better at Dominion, Dan Brooks’ YouTube Channel, so I’ll pick him.

truffles: Yeah, that’s a good pick. For me, I didn’t know there were Dominion YouTube videos online, so when I first got into Dominion, I just friended the top people on the leaderboard and just followed them around and spectated their games. I would get super excited whenever I got matched with them, because I was like “oh my gosh” – I was fangirling getting to play someone really good. Yeah, that was always a lot of fun.

JNails: I got to have my fangirl moment in the Loser Bracket’s Finals of Tournament Big Money, where I got to face Dan. 

truffles: Yeah, I think I had that moment when I got to play Mic Qsenoch in Hinterlands Mix, I think. I was placed in the same group as him and I was very nervous, but also very excited. Onto another question about favorites, do you have a favorite board that you’ve played or a board that you’ve recently enjoyed playing? 

JNails: Yeah. I remember giving a similar answer last year about Rebuild vs. a Knights engine, which still exists in the old interview [linked here]. Since then, I remember rolling a board that had Livery, Courtier and Triumph.

truffles: Oh wow.

JNails: Yeah, and I don’t think my opponent noticed that and started taking Provinces one or two at a time. With Courtier, you can gain a gold and you gain like 10 horses off the Liveries. Then, you can play the horses and gain them again. You can triumph up to a few hundred points, which I think I had like 800 points by the end. Turns out the opponent was RTT’s cousin, which I didn’t know at the time. Haha.

truffles: Oh my gosh, haha.

JNails: I think that’s the most points I’ve ever scored in a game of Dominion that wasn’t a cooked board or something, rather it was a random wild one. And then, very recently, I just got a kingdom where my deck was only Necromancers and a few treasures. There was just so many actions in the trash and you could get by with just a bunch of Necromancers. I really enjoyed that one. Necromancer is one of my favorite cards.

truffles: Yeah, I remember you mentioning that in our long lost interview. Necromancer is definitely also one of my favorite cards as well. I think it’s particularly fun to see Necromancer with Knights because it’s like Knights then have 2 lives. The deck states then get really funny.

JNails: Yeah. I dislike Knights in general and I think most people that dislike Knights really hate them with Lurker, Rogue or Necromancer. Those actually make them more interesting and tolerable to me. At least, there’s a consistent degeneracy to the kingdom, so you can appreciate it more. So one person getting a Knight isn’t the win, because then it’s in the trash for both of them to share.

truffles: Onto more questions about favorites – what is your favorite expansion and why?

JNails: Hmm, I really like Menagerie – I love the exile mat, and I love the interesting interactions it creates. I also really like Renaissance. Projects are probably my favorite part of Dominion, if not they’re the Events which you know, Menagerie has. Nocturne is more hit-or-miss. It has some cards which I think are amongst the best cards in the game. I mentioned Necromancer, I also like Exorcist and Shepherd. But it’s also got Boons and Hexes and stuff, which I dislike.

truffles: I think you’ve forgotten Pooka somewhere in there.

JNails: Oh, I’ve definitely forgotten Pooka. Yeah, that’s in the hit-or-miss category for me. I’m not as much of a fan of the Cursed Gold. Honestly, everything before Nocturne is just like one big expansion in my mind for the most part. I’m not sure I could clearly identify which expansion cards come from, because I started right before Nocturne. But my impression is that cards have gotten better over time. I’ve looked at the first edition cards that have existed, I’ve never played with them before but they don’t look very good. It feels like we’ve seen pretty consistent improvement in card quality, which is a good trend to have.

truffles: Yeah, it almost feels like a different game in a sense, but in a very good way. I also very much enjoy Events and Projects. I really liked WELP and 4-U-C-K, which I won’t pronounce in a live interview. I’m one of those players that like playing with as many projects and events as I can. I think swordfishtrombone is known for asking his opponents in league to play with 4 card shaped objects.

JNails: Well, now I’m disappointed I’ve never been in the same league category as him.

truffles: Yeah, you should try to aim to be in his division. If he promotes, you have to follow him. Or demote.

JNails: Haha. I guess we couldn’t both promote at the same time, but we both demote.

truffles: My next question is: if you had to design an expansion what would be the theme and why? What would be some of the key mechanics?

JNails: I think I’ve foreshadowed one of my key aspects. I really like Events, Projects, Ways, so I would be really happy to have an expansion that had more of an emphasis on that. I really enjoyed the WELP tournament that had 4 landscapes in every tournament as well. I also really enjoyed the Friendly Mix tournament, the tournament that had no attacks in every kingdom, that was really enjoyable. Almost every card I dislike is an attack card or a pseudo-attack card like IGG or Possession. So, I imagine my theoretical expansion won’t have a lot of strong attacks.

truffles: I see. I think if you were to design an expansion, you should definitely do a construction themed expansion. Centered around nails and hammers and such. 

JNails: Haha, I could see that.

truffles: My last question for you is: If you had a Dominion catchphrase, what would it be and why?

JNails: That’s easy. “Don’t buy Gold.” I’ve been commentating a lot of lower level games and I’ve just found that’s been the advice I’ve most consistently given. I don’t even think it was intentionally meant to be associated with me at first. Apparently I’ve said it enough that it stuck. I feel like the single most common mistake I saw in those sorts of games, is that they would buy golds in contexts where they shouldn’t. And it’s very frequently a very big mistake just because A) it usually means just means when you’re buying the gold, you’re buying treasure early when you’d rather be buying draw cards or trashers – something that gets your deck under control. Buying new stop cards gets your deck less under control. B) I think it’s very symptomatic of a problem newer players have: “Oh, I’ve hit 6. I need to buy the most expensive thing available and there’s this shiny gold card that costs six. It must be the best card I can buy.” When in reality, the price is loosely correlated with what cards are strongest. It’s far from a hard and fast rule, but most often there’s a four or five cost action card that’s better than a Gold. So there’s a time to buy gold, obviously. Usually, it’s after your deck’s under control, but if I had to give one piece of advice for newer players, it would just be “Resist that temptation to buy gold.” If you hit six, it doesn’t mean you click gold. It probably means you click on another draw card, like smithy or something like that. I remember looking at my stats – I buy gold in less that one-fifth of my games, which suggests that you know, it’s not super important. This doesn’t apply as much to gold gainers like Market Square or Courtier. Those can be better often since action card gets you lots of gold – that can be worth it, even when buying an individual gold is not. 

truffles: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I’ve definitely made that mistake when I was new to the game. Especially when you’re coming from just learning the base set, Gold tends to be a lot stronger of a card in Base set. But, when you start adding in expansions: projects, triumphs, alt-vp, you really do want to get some sort of good engine and deck control.

Yep.

truffles: Well, thanks for letting me interview you again and being so accommodating throughout the process! I think you’re facing Freaky next, which actually didn’t know during our last interview. So good luck and have fun!

JNails: Thanks, I’ll do my best.

truffles: Bye!

– – – Interview with lost audio begins here!- – –

We initially interviewed JNails but unfortunately, the audio was lost. alibby1152 and his magic when transcribing live was able to help me recover most of the interview! Enjoy questions from the original interview and the bonus above!

truffles: Hi everyone I’m truffles and I’m here with JNails who I will be interviewing. First of all, congratulations on making it all the way to the Top 8 of the Dominion Online Championship!

JNails: Thanks.

truffles: You’re welcome. Can you tell me a little about yourself? I know you’re a repeat quarterfinalist that got interviewed last year, so could you also throw in some new facts?

JNails: Yeah, sure. Since I did this last year, hmm… Big thing this year is “the ‘rona” – let’s just say that the US has dropped the ball. I participate and adjudicate in debates and last year involved a lot of traveling to a lot of universities. This year has been kind of a blessing in disguise because that hasn’t stopped and I’ve been spending time doing the same things, but from the comfort of my own home since everything has just moved online. 

truffles: Yeah, I work from home now and I get to wear my pajamas to work every day which is quite nice!

JNails: Despite other things, some have been generally positive. (some mention of wondering if working habits will change as a result of this)

truffles: I think if I recall correctly, last year you said you were an Economics major, which might be an interesting fact for those that didn’t know.

JNails: Yeah, I studied Business/Economics. Ah, I remember in Discord someone said Economists were taking over the Top 8. Happy for more economists.

truffles: Haha yeah, programmers need to step up their game. Switching over to talking about Dominion – Menagerie was released this year, what are your impressions of the expansion?

JNails: Great expansion. Big fan of the exile mat and things like that. One thing I will say about it is I wouldn’t suggest it to a new player. There are a lot of mechanics like cards that change price, change ability mid turn. Good capstone but not a beginner’s first step. But yeah for me, I’m a big fan.

truffles: For sure. Especially with the presence of ways, there’s the added layer of complexity of deciding between playing the card’s ability or using a way. Do you have a favorite or least favorite in Menagerie?

JNails: My least favorite is Cardinal. I think it’s very swingy, especially when it’s good. If you open it, ⅚ of the time it’s worse than silver because it helps your opponent reshuffle. But then, there’s the ⅙ chance it hits your Sentry. My favorite is probably Sheepdog. I enjoy trying to build a deck that activates your Sheepdog’s mid-turn and using the reaction to your advantage. It’s one of those wonky cards that I like with Menagerie.

truffles: Now do you like Sheepdog for it’s amazing card art or ability?

JNails: Ability, though the art is pretty good. If it had the Scout art, it would still be my favorite. 

truffles: What is your favorite and least favorite card overall?

JNails: I don’t think that’s changed much since last year. Least favorite is still Swindler – it’s my least favorite card in the game. Second, also swinder. Favorite? I don’t think I necessarily have a favorite. Too many to count I would say, but I really like Necromancer. Built a deck the other day that was just 10 Necromancers and it was awesome. 

truffles: Yeah, Necromancer is one of my favorite cards as well. The choices of what to play makes the games very interesting. Switching on to the Championship. You reached the quarterfinals last year as well, do you have any lessons from your past self?

JNails: Hm… don’t play Mercury444F. 

truffles: Haha, right, you faced them in the Quarterfinals last year.

JNails: I took a real beating last year in the quarterfinals, so I’m glad that LimeTime was able to take them out earlier.

truffles: If you reach the semi-finals and get some prize money, maybe you can donate some to LimeTime.

JNails: Not a really strategic lesson learned from the championship, but nothing in particular stands out so far.

truffles: What has your favorite moment been from this year’s championship thus far?

JNails: Hmmmm. I was initially thinking of my matches, but nothing really sticks out. I really liked nasmith’s answer, which is one of the benefits of being interviewed second. It was the one was from, despite nasmith99 saying auto_pp, it was actually pop180. They had a really nice Annex play to save a dud the next turn.  You don’t see Annex bought too often, let alone midgame so it was a good moment. I would suggest looking up the pop180 vs. Titandrake match to see it in action.

> Context: pop180 vs. TItandrake video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFaAFpMJmSE

Timestamp of Annex buy: 1:09:40 is the moment of buy, but there was some discussion leading up to it. But here, it goes right to JNails saying “I think they might do it”

truffles: Yeah, I actually just recently watched it earlier today. Spec chat was definitely very excited. For those of you listening/reading I’ll insert the link and timestamp here. Do you have a favorite moment of Dominion overall? This time last year, I remember I had to hunt you down on the Shuffle iT Forum, since you weren’t active on Discord. Now you’ve definitely been more active, both in the community and commentating lots of matches. 

JNails: Yeah, I guess. I think it was your fault in fact. I just signed up for the tournament last year and wasn’t really familiar with Discord. I distinctly remember from last year’s interview that you said that I should check out the Discord. My favorite Dominion moment this year, personally, was the Loser’s Bracket finals of Tournament Big Money, another one of the big tournaments this year. That’s where I faced Dan Brooks. I don’t know if Dan knows this, but most of what I learned from Dominion was from watching his videos and it was great getting to play him. 

truffles: Getting to play great players that you watch is really fun. I had a similar opportunity with Mic. Since he doesn’t really play on ladder and play in League A, there aren’t many opportunities to play against him. I remember being grouped with him for one of the mix tournaments, maybe Hinterlands, and I was super excited, but also really nervous, to get to play him. I think I even snagged one game which was great.

JNails: I did have the fortune or misfortune of playing Mic when I was in A league, but let’s not talk about that.

truffles: Haha, we’ll just leave that out. What advice do you have for players looking to improve?

JNails: Improve. It is a brand new card. Not particularly helpful for alt VP with things like Triumph, but good towards the end of the game. Really good to help with 3-piles and stuff. Really helpful on the last turn. But you probably weren’t thinking about the card, were you? 

truffles: Yeah. More like getting better at the game, haha.

JNails: Yeah, haha. Just this past year I made a series of instructional videos on how to build better engines. Big Money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Even in the short term you’re going to learn. Going to have to master the skill of building a deck that draws itself to be good at the game. Big Money caps out at a low level.

truffles: I think you’re facing Freaky or sangatsu next. If you had to pick someone most likely to win other than yourself, who would it be.

JNails: Most likely to win. Hmmmm. Well, Mercury444F is out thankfully. I think I’ll pick nasmith99, he’s the one who took out Mic. Probably someone up in the top half of that bracket.

truffles: There is going to be a lot of tough competition. Making it to the Top 8 means you’re a really good player. If you have a motto, what would it be?

JNails: “Don’t buy gold”. I’ve been doing a lot of commentary on lower level matches. One of the most consistent comments I give is “don’t buy gold”. I see people hit 6 and there’s this one shiny yellow card that costs 6. Resist the temptation to buy it. I think I only buy gold in like 18% of games. Maybe buying it only once or twice. A key hurdle you have to cross is to get your deck under control first, then add the treasure cards. Not the first time you hit six. My big advice is to pass up that burning desire to buy the gold. If you can gain it in some other way, that’s even better. So something like Soothsayer. Wait, Soothsayer is a bad card. But ways to add it without buying it. Gold starts to look more desirable if you don’t have to pass up a buy to get it.

truffles: Or sometimes you just have to spend 10 coins to buy Herbalist. I think markus would agree with you on not buying gold. In his interview, he shared similar advice on how Dominion players could improve.

JNails: Yeah.

truffles: Well, thanks for letting me interview you again! Best of luck in your next round – I don’t think you know your opponent yet.

JNails: Thanks. Peace!

truffles: Bye!

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Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with nerdbound

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview: https://youtu.be/1Q9EcQ9H7mY

Transcription done by: truffles

“Be a nice opponent”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features nerdbound who will be playing Quarterfinals against RTT Saturday October 31st @ 18:30UTC.

truffles: Hi everyone! I’m truffles and today I’m here with nerdbound, who has made it all the way to the top 8 of the 2020 Dominion Online Championship. So first of all, congratulations!

nerdbound: Thanks! Yeah, it’s exciting.

truffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

nerdbound: Sure. I live in San Francisco and I grew up in Idaho. I work in Public Health – so my life’s exciting right now. I have two dogs.

truffles: Ooh, I love dogs. What kind of dogs are they?

nerdbound: There’s one that’s a whippet and one that’s a chihuahua mix.

truffles: Have you checked out the #pets channel in the main discord?

nerdbound: Occasionally. I have not taken any pictures of them and sent them, but I’ve considered it and gotten lazy.

truffles: You should definitely share some pictures of your dogs – it’s like free karma in there. Otherwise, how did you discover Dominion and how long have you been playing Dominion for?

nerdbound: So I probably first played Dominion a number of years ago, in real life. I didn’t really get addicted to it, until relatively recently in like the last year or so when I started to play a bunch. Yeah, I watched a bunch of Dan Brooks’ videos on YouTube and got really interested in it and then I started playing online. So last year’s championship was my first time ever playing at a relatively serious level and I’m excited to be playing again.

truffles: Oh wow, I didn’t know you were so new to the online world. I know you’ve only played in a few seasons of league, but that’s really cool.

nerdbound: Nah, I’m definitely a noob.

truffles: Well you made it all the way to the top 8 and you’ve also played in A league, so you might be new but definitely not a noob.

nerdbound: Where I was thrashed, you know what I mean? So it’s a little worrying, my future performance in this, but hey at least the past performance has been good.

truffles: Yeah, for sure. So, menagerie came out this year. I was wondering if you had any impressions on it.

nerdbound: It’s slowly become my favorite expansion. I think it’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy everything about it. Horses, in particular, are one of my favorite mechanics. It’s because I love draw, so that’s a good thing.

truffles: I noticed you also have the menagerie card as your avatar, do you like the expansion just because the names is awesome?

nerdbound: Yeah, well that’s true too. What you don’t know is that I’m unusually tall and thin, so I’ve always borne comparisons to giraffes so the giraffe has always been my thing. And that’s why I wanted it to be my Dominion discord picture. So it happens to be the case that giraffes are associated with menagerie, which is in turn associated with a lot of fun games.

truffles: That’s awesome. Do you have a favorite or least favorite card in the expansion?

nerdbound: I think my favorite card-shaped-object is Way of the Chameleon, which I think is a fabulously designed card that leads to ridiculously games all the time. I’m a big fan of Paddock – it’s grown a lot of me. What else? Cavalry, cavalry is amazing. Yeah, those are a few of my favorite things.

truffles: Do you have least favorite cards in menagerie?

nerdbound: Uh, I suppose I should have thought about that. But no, I don’t think so. I like them all. I saw a few responses name Gatekeeper, but I feel like no one ever plays Gatekeeper so it’s hard for me to mind it too much. So no, I think it’s all great.

truffles: Do you have a favorite or least favorite card overall, not limited to Menagerie?

nerdbound: Oh, I feel like I had an answer to that question. Hmm, honestly not really. I enjoy all of the cards. Hm, something like City Quarter is a really good card – it’s one of my favorites. I really like draw.

truffles: Do you have a least favorite card? Maybe Swindler? I would be surprised if there was no one who didn’t mind Swindler. Actually, I think it’s one of Mic Qsenoch’s favorite cards, which is a bit mind boggling to me, but I can see the appeal of messiness in type of decks.

nerdbound: Yeah, haha it’s on my banlist. It might be my least favorite card so that was a good guess.

truffles: Wow, haha. I actually don’t mind Swindler that much. I actually don’t play that often, but I spectate a lot and from a spectator view it’s a lot of fun to watch Swindler games. I think I remember one of the moments in the championship where markus had swindled his opponent’s Province into nothing because it was the last province on a fleet turn. It was definitely one of the highlights in the Championship for me. Speaking of that, do you have a favorite moment in the Championship so far?

nerdbound: Not really. There have been a lot of great games. I haven’t gotten to spectate as much as I would like, because, again, the Public Health thing and I’ve been hard to schedule with too I feel like, haha. One of the things that come to mind right now is the game I just epically lost against hakha in my last [championship] match, where he ignored familiar and I gave him 10 curses and it didn’t matter at all. That was a lot of fun. 

truffles: Yeah, I saw comments about that in the #championship channel, where people said “hakha, I really liked the way you played.” I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet but I’ve been meaning to. I’m definitely looking forward to those interesting moments and boards. I’m in the middle of moving so life is super hectic, but I’m looking forward to catching up on those games. As a follow-up to the championship questions, do you have a person that you think is most likely to win? And you can’t pick yourself.

nerdbound: Uh, well I don’t think I would pick myself anyways, haha. I think I’m sort of rooting for nasmith99 because he’s been playing really, really well and I think he has good chances.

truffles: That’s a good pick for sure. Have you had a favorite overall Dominion moment this year so far? I’m not sure if it’s been a little more crazy for you since you work in Public Health, but certainly the Dominion community boomed, such as league and discord, since more people are online.

nerdbound: I think I’m going to go with Menagerie Mix. I had a game where I played against aku chi where he invested Magpies and Villas. But then, I bought all of the Magpies and Villas in one turn and drew him his whole deck, while winning the game on, like, turn 5. 

truffles: Oh my gosh.

nerdbound: Yeah, because it was Menagerie Mix. And all the cards were crazy. Yeah, that was a highlight for me just because it was so ridiculous since he had a 30 card hand or something and didn’t get to play it.

truffles: That sounds both awesome and very sad for aku chi.

nerdbound: He seemed to be enjoying it, but I don’t know – you’d have to ask him, haha.

truffles: How would you describe your playstyle? I know you’re a bit more of a newer player. Though some people don’t think playstyle is a Dominion thing, but I think I do. Mostly, how would you describe your train of thoughts when you look at a new board or you have a new decision point?

nerdbound: Yeah, I think that’s alright. It’s hard for me to say because I haven’t been playing against a lot of high level people for all that long, to have a sense of how my style differs from theirs. I think the main thing I do differently than maybe some of the people I’ve played is that I worry a lot more about mid-game turns. How can I not underplay the turn? How can I make sure I get every ounce of buying power and gaining power into the deck? That’s what I think I’m good at? Exploding out of the midgame. I don’t even know. When you play someone like E.Honda, they’re all doing that too.

truffles: Mhm. Do you have a certain thought process?

nerdbound: Do you have an example of a thought process?

truffles: Hmm. I think Dan Brooks had once published an article trying to teach newer players how to improve, where when you look at a board you have to look at if there’s draw, if there’s plus buy, if there’s a village, etc. To figure out if you build an engine. I think that’s a very good first level thought process overview.

nerdbound: I think another thing that Dan Brooks has said that I really like is that he tries to identify the best thing on the board and go for that. Which I think at least if you’re learning the game, it’s definitely the way to go. Maybe at some high level, you should actually go “I see the best thing on this board is this huge engine, but I think some money deck might beat it so I’ll go with the money deck.” Most of the time that’s wrong anyways, but even when it’s right it’s hard to learn from. I typically do the same thing that [Dan Brooks] does, which is try to find the best thing and go for it.

truffles: That’s a good approach. Do you have any advice for Dominion players looking to improve.

nerdbound: Nothing that isn’t pretty standard I think. You should watch a lot of high level play and especially watch the chat, where people are disagreeing and such. That helps to ground you and learn what other people think might be best play so you can make up your mind about what the right answer would have been in that situation. I think that’s the main thing I do anyways – try to learn from other people.

truffles: I like spectating a lot because I really like engaging with other players and learning all of their cool thoughts and tricks… and then stealing them.

nerdbound: Haha, yeah.

truffles: Definitely a good way to improve. My last question for you is: If you had a Dominion catchphrase, what would it be?

nerdbound: I wracked my brains on that one – I don’t think I have one, haha.

truffles: Haha, you have to come up with one! 

nerdbound: What would be a good example of a good Dominion catchphrase?

truffles: Some of the ones that I have been said so far are “Specifics matter” and “Don’t buy gold”. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a good catchphrase, haha, but it can just be something you live by when you play Dominion.

nerdbound: I’ll follow the cue on something that you live off by, which is just that I think that it’s very important in online spaces to go out of your way to be polite or nice to people. I’m not sure how to turn that into a catchphrase, but it’s something I try to really think about. How can I be welcoming to newer players? How can I be someone that people would like to play against?

truffles: “Be a nice opponent.”

nerdbound: Yeah, something like that. 

truffles: That’s a good and wholesome one. Well, thanks for letting me interview you! I think you’re playing RTT next on Saturday, October 31st at 18:30UTC. Which is very spooky, because it’s Halloween. I wish you the best of luck and have fun!

nerdbound: Thanks, this has been a lot of fun!

truffles: Awesome, bye!

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Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with nasmith99

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview: https://youtu.be/sjytvvG-ym0

Transcription done by: truffles

“Specifics matter”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features nasmith99 who will be playing Quarterfinals against catoftheyear (date/time TBD).

truffles: Hi everyone, I’m truffles and today I’ll be interviewing nasmith99 who has made it all the way to the top 8 of the championship. So, first of all – congratulations because that’s super cool. 

nasmith99: Thank you!

truffles: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

nasmith99: Yeah, so I grew up in a great Philadelphia area. Right now, I’m a college student in the midwest. I’m studying mathematics and economics. Yeah, I don’t know – I like learning about a lot of things and get sucked into things pretty easily. Like with Dominion.

truffles: Um, the math background explains a lot, I think. 

nasmith99: *laughs* yeah.

truffles:Yeah, seeing a lot of your analysis and listening to your commentary – it makes sense, haha. So, menagerie came out this year – I was wondering what your impressions of it are.

nasmith99: In general, I really like the expansion. I feel like there are a lot of really interesting cards and also just a lot of cards that are kind of more simple but do still make games pretty interesting in general. I don’t think there are a lot of cards from the set that I don’t like. 

truffles: Do you have a favorite or least favorite card?

nasmith99: My favorite card from the set is definitely cavalry. I feel like it’s kind of similar to villa in that it gives you a lot of really interesting and complicated decisions. I feel like the thing that makes it more fun than villa to me is that cavalry there are more spots where you could reasonably buy cavalry, but it’s unclear whether or not you should. Whereas with villa, it’s usually a lot more obvious when you’re supposed to buy it.

truffles: That makes sense. I’ve seen a lot of suggestions from people saying to buy cavalry turn two to trigger a shuffle to see your turn one buy, like amulet or something like that. It’s always pretty interesting to look at those mechanics. Do you have a least favorite card in menagerie?

nasmith99: I don’t think any of the cards really annoy me. If I had to pick a least favorite, I would probably just pick gatekeeper because it’s really weak and generally doesn’t add much to a kingdom.  

truffles: You’re the second person that I’ve interviewed and also the second person who has named gatekeeper as their least favorite menagerie card. Markus also said the same thing – that it’s weak and makes kingdoms kind of boring.

nasmith99: Yeah, that makes sense.

truffles: Do you have a favorite or least favorite card overall?

nasmith99: So least favorite overall is definitely tournament, just because the way games play out annoy me. Like followers makes games really messy. Having to buy early provinces and stuff is just not something I really enjoy. Favorite overall might honestly still be cavalry. But if I had to pick something different, maybe pixie.

truffles: You know, I was going to guess possession just because your current avatar is possession. But I’m happy to hear that it isn’t.

nasmith99: Haha, no it’s not anywhere close.

truffles: I think pixie is also one of my favorite cards. Definitely cards from nocturne especially like pooka, pixie, those type of heirloom cards. They’re really fun to play with.

nasmith99: Yeah, a lot of the nocturne cards are quite nice.

truffles: Switching over to talking about the championship, do you have a favorite moment in the championship so far? 

nasmith99: Favorite moment… do you mean from my games or in general?

truffles: In general.

nasmith99: Yeah, so actually last night I was commentating on auto_pp vs. Titandrake. There was this one really funny play where auto_pp had a shuffle of 7 cards with two patrols and no villages. 

truffles: Oh no. That’s really sad.

nasmith99: It was sad, but they actually did this play where they remodeled into a festival and bought annex. Which, was just really funny because well, we were discussing it in chat that it was super bizarre to see annex bought at all but you know nevertheless bought in the midgame.

truffles: The play did make sense right? I didn’t get to watch the game yet but deck tracking wise it is kind of interesting.

nasmith99: Yeah, I think the play was good. I mean obviously, a duchy isn’t super good at that point in the game but it did save their next turn so I think it was worth it.

truffles: For sure. Have you had a favorite moment of dominion overall? I guess in this past year, since this year has been pretty special!

nasmith99: Favorite dominion moment overall… hmm. Oh, probably just the WELP Finals in general. That was a really exciting match. I did end up losing it, but I was pretty happy with how I played and I think Mic also played really well, so it was a fun match.

truffles: At least you got to claim revenge against Mic in the championship.

nasmith99: I did, yes. That felt really good to finally get that “W”. 

truffles: In general, it’s been a really strong Dominion year for you. You’ve played in multiple seasons of A, reached the top spot in the leaderboard, won Friendly Mix and of course, reached the Quarterfinals of the championship. What do you think has contributed most to your improvement since last year or previous years.

nasmith99: Sure. Well, I think the obvious thing is just playing more and getting more experience with all the cards and whatnot. Other than that, I think my mindset’s improved over the past year or so. I also think the release of menagerie has been pretty kind to me.

truffles: If you had to pick someone other than yourself, as a guess, to win the championship – who would you pick?

nasmith99: A guess? As far as who I think is most likely to win, other than myself, probably Freaky? Although, I guess you could make the argument that you should pick someone who has already made the top eight since they have one fewer round to go through, but probably still Freaky.

truffles: Given last year, I think that’s a pretty reasonable guess. Do you have any advice for dominion players looking to improve?

nasmith99: I would say to just engage with other players, and see the kind of ideas that other people have about the game and always be open to revising your old ideas. It’s pretty easy to kind of get emotionally attached to certain ideas you have about a card or board or whatnot. It can be kind of difficult to let those go – and I’m definitely guilty of that myself. But yeah, the more open you can be to learning new things and admit when you’re wrong, the easier it is to improve.

truffles: Mhm, for sure. I think being able to be aware and modifying your strategy even if a shuffle didn’t go the way you wanted to, or something like that happens, not only helps you improve but I think it helps you enjoy the game more, when you aren’t tilted.

nasmith99: Yeah.

truffles: So, my last question for you is: if you had a dominion catchphrase what would it be?

nasmith99: Um, just something like “Specifics matter”, I guess?

truffles: “Specific matters” – that’s a good one.

nasmith99: Yeah, kind of just to focus all the relevant details of a given position or whatnot and not to get lazy.

truffles: Short and sweet, I like it. Well, thanks so much for letting me interview you! For those of you listening in, nasmith99 will be playing one of kayoshi versus catoftheyear – so tune to watch that quarterfinals match! Thanks and good luck on your next round!

nasmith99: Thank you! Bye!

truffles: Bye!

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Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with markus

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview: https://youtu.be/4Mf0__6Tdp4

Transcription done by: eh1414

“Don’t do stupid stuff”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features markus who will be playing Quarterfinals against pop180 Saturday, October 31st at 7UTC.

truffles: Hi everyone, I’m truffles and today I’m here with markus, and I’ll be interviewing him for the Dominion Online 2020 Championship. I have a few questions prepared, but first of all, congratulations for making it all the way to the top 8 of the tournament!

markus: Thank you!

truffles: Yeah, it’s really cool. Because I think it’s over 400 players this year, so it’s pretty awesome to make it this far. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

markus: Sure, so I’m from Austria, I’m an economist, I’m 35 years old and I’ve been playing Dominion basically since it came out. Then I started playing a bit more online and when I got into league, and participated in the Championship since then. I don’t know how many times now, but it’s been some time.

truffles: Wow, you played dominion since it came out – I don’t actually know when it came out – 2010, 2009, I think? So you’re a long-time dominion player, you’ve played in 32 seasons of league so far – what’s your favourite aspect of the game?

markus: Well, of course there are some patterns and you start recognising them, and then some boards are more similar than others, but in the end you always have to figure out what’s the best thing to do here, and then what’s the state of the game, what’s your opponent doing and how you can respond to that.

truffles: So, menagerie came out this year, which is kind of crazy because this year has just flown by, but what are your impressions of the expansion?

markus: I like it very much. I must say I didn’t play that much, even though there was all this lockdown stuff going on, but I was quite busy so I didn’t get as many rated games in – just league and tournaments. But, I do like it.

truffles: Yeah, I think there’s some pretty cool mechanics in there. What is your favourite and least favourite card in Menagerie?

markus: So, favourite card, I guess Paddock. I would say Paddock now because it’s not super strong, but on some boards it can be quite strong, so I think that’s the favourite card I would name now. Just because I had one game today in the round of 16 with Transport, I think that’s a very nice event, so I will pick that as a landscape. Also the ways, I really like ways, but I wouldn’t single out one. Least favourite card, it’s Gatekeeper for sure.

truffles: Yeah, I also don’t really like Gatekeeper and I don’t like Cardinal, because it’s really sad to see your cards disappear. Especially with Black Market around.

markus: Yeah, but I think Cardinal is kind of fun because sometimes it doesn’t do much, but then you can, I think it’s an attack I like. Gatekeeper is somehow complicated and weak, so I don’t like that. I think it’s the only one that made it onto my banlist.

truffles: Do you have a favourite and least favourite card overall?

markus: Well, least favourite card is Star Chart. I think i’m famous for that – no, I really dislike that, at least online, you’re not allowed to see what’s in your deck when you shuffle. You have these two cards and you’re always figuring out, what are these two cards? I don’t like that aspect. Favourite card, I don’t know. I looked up what I said two years ago to be consistent, and back then I said Donate. But I don’t think I would name Donate anymore, so I don’t think I have a favourite card.

truffles: Oh, interesting. So, do you have a card that you really like?

markus: Haha, so actually I like it when I can play with a lot of different cards. Whenever I play a a match, I’m kind of hoping that I would get 60 different kingdom cards and a bunch of landscapes. Whenever there’s like a second Minion game or so, I’m a bit disappointed. So in that sense, everything that makes, let’s say gainers, but also landscapes in general. Even landmarks, but all the other landscapes are even better. I really like what they add to the game.

truffles: I know you’ve done a lot of work in card stats and card glicko – do those observations and data affect how you like a card at all, or is it just more for interest?

markus: No, that’s more for interest. It wouldn’t influence how I like a card, it might influence how I value a card, but also then it’s just when we have thunderdominion or whatever and we’re discussing cards – it’s interesting to see whether there is something to back up your feelings about certain cards. So in that sense I think it’s interesting.

truffles: That makes sense. So, what has your favourite moment in the Championship been so far, if you have one?

markus: Winning the last match I would say. It’s always fun when you win, and last year was bad for me and I was knocked out pretty early on.

truffles: Yeah, that was sad – I think the saddest part for me was that you were supposed to play markusin later on, in round 4 or 5, but that never happened –  and the logs would have been so great, to see “markusi” and “markus”. That was sad, but winning is always fun. Who do you think will win the Championship, if it’s not you?

markus: Then I would pick the top seeds. So, I guess Freaky and nasmith, but more or less anyone who makes it to the quarterfinals could win in the end if you’re a bit lucky, or if you play well. Preferably both.

truffles: Yeah, that’s true. Do you have a favourite overall Dominion moment this year so far? It’s been a pretty crazy year, with lockdowns and quarantines, so some people have gotten to play a lot of Dominion, or spend a lot of time online. Is there a favourite moment you’ve had so far?

markus: No, not really. I didn’t play that much – I guess the favourite moment of the year would be when Menagerie was released, or when the previews week starts. Then it’s pretty exciting to see what people think about the new cards, how do they work, so that’s the best season of the year I would say. But I don’t really recall any particular games or matches apart from that.

truffles: I think preview week is a lot of fun because there’ll be ten or so videos posted each day with people’s first impressions of new cards, but it’s just a very exciting time overall. So there’s also been a lot of new Dominion players joining – I think there was an article posted online, and also people have a lot of time at home. Do you have any advice for Dominion players looking to improve?

markus: I think once you join the community and listen to videos or commentators, I think that’s the best way to improve. I remember when I started getting into this and, I don’t know who I was playing in league, but someone was commentating and I was buying Gold. Now, I wouldn’t buy Gold but back then I was buying Gold because Gold seemed a fine card, and they were all surprised that I would buy Gold. So I think you learn from these kinds of comments that you get when you play, and just looking at top players play Dominion – I think that helps to improve your own play aswell.

truffles: For sure, I agree. I have one last question for you, which is: If you had a Dominion catchphrase, what would it be?

markus: Yeah, I didn’t prepare for that one. Haha, a dominion catchphrase.

truffles: It could just be something like “never buy Gold”.

markus: Well, you should sometimes buy Gold, but “Don’t do stupid stuff”.

truffles: Haha, that’s a good one – “Don’t do stupid stuff”.

markus: Unless it’s for fun, but not in the Championship.

truffles: For sure, that makes sense. Thanks for letting me interview you, and good luck! I think you’re facing pop180 next week, so good luck with that! It was great chatting with you, and have a great day! Bye!

markus: You too, bye!

Tune into markus vs. pop180 this Saturday, October 31st and 7:00UTC as they battle for a spot in the Semi-finals!

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Menagerie Previews #2: Horses, Horses, Horses!

Following the yesterday’s release of Snowy Village, Sheepdog, Animal Fair, Kiln and Barge, comes more cards – this time centred around Horses (very fitting for the Menagerie theme).

Below is Donald X. Vaccarino’s release statement for the second batch of Preview cards.

Menagerie Previews 2: Horses

Horse is a non-supply pile. There are 30 of them. You get one via a card saying “gain a Horse” or something. If the pile is empty you can’t gain one, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen much. Horse looks like this:

So Horse is a one-use Laboratory; it puts you up a card and then is gone. Or, you know, you don’t have to play it; you can Remodel it or something. It’s there for you. Once in your deck, it’s just like Experiment, from Renaissance; it turns out, they were experimenting on Horses. Eight total kingdom cards use Horses, and four landscapes. Here are some of those kingdom cards.

Supplies is an easy one: when you play it, you get a Horse. The Horse goes onto your deck, so normally you’ll just start with it next turn.

Scrap gives you a choice of bonuses, with more stuff for trashing a more expensive card. You could for example trash an Estate and get +1 Card and +1 Action, or trash a Horse and get +1 Buy, a Silver, and a Horse.

Livery makes everything that’s expensive enough come with a Horse that turn. This works on cards you buy, or cards you get other ways. With two Liveries, everything comes with two Horses. With two Liveries, and you buy Farmland, trashing Remodel to gain a Border Village which comes with a Laboratory, you gain six Horses. Many Horses could be yours.”

– Donald X. Vaccarino

The Preview Cards are now available on the client, dominion.games, for users to play and test out. To engage in discussion about the new cards, check out the dominion strategy forum, or join the online discord‘s channel dedicated to menagerie.

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Menagerie Previews #1: Snowy Village, Sheepdog, Animal Fair, Kiln, Barge

Today on March 2nd, 2020, begins the Preview Days for the upcoming, new expansion: Menagerie.

Expansion “Preview Days” is a tradition Donald X. Vaccarino (Designer of Dominion) has continued for new expansion releases, similar to Renaissance Preview Days. It gives fans small tastes of what the upcoming expansion will entail.

Below is Donald X. Vaccarino’s release statement for the first Previews.

Menagerie Previews 1: 5 Cards

So, it’s come to this. Previews. I suppose I have myself to blame.

Menagerie – hey isn’t that the name of a card? – has 400 cards, like Adventures. That includes 30 Kingdom cards. There are two major themes: Exile and Horses. There are also two kinds of landscapes: Ways and Events, with 20 of each. I’ll do the math for you: 30 kingdom cards is 300 cards, plus 30 randomizers is 330, plus 40 landscapes is 370, and I’ll just tell you now that there are 30 Horses. That means no Victory cards, and no other surprise extra piles.

Day 2 of previews will cover Horses, and day 3 Exile; day 4 will have landscapes, and day 5 will have… some more cards. Here on day 1 we have 5 miscellaneous cards, to get you started with a bunch, because as before the cards are immediately try-out-able at dominion.games.

Snowy Village gives you a bunch of actions and a buy, but closes the door on even more actions that turn. Some of you may remember this from the holiday joke cards that were on dominionstrategy a few years ago. I wouldn’t be expecting those other cards, but this one was worth doing.

Sheepdog gives Dominion another blue dog. You can play it anytime you gain a card. It may not even be your turn. Playing it means you put it into play and get your +2 Cards; it will be discarded in that turn’s Clean-up, even if it’s not yours. Using the Reaction part doesn’t use up an Action; it just leaps into play and draws you cards. If it draws you another Sheepdog, you can use that one right away too; you can keep playing Sheepdogs until you run out of them.

Animal Fair gives you a weird way to pay for it. The card costs $7; the alternate payment just applies when you’re buying one. At the point at which you’d pay your $7, you can trash an Action from your hand instead (and can do this when you don’t have $7). And then what do you get, you get +$4 and some number of Buys.

Kiln is another in the long line of Explorers. It most easily gains Treasures, but if you can play an Action after it, you can gain a copy of that, and it can even gain Night cards.

And finally Barge is a Duration card with an effect you can have now or later. Handy if you don’t want to draw dead cards, or have drawn your deck already. If you take it now, it’s just discarded that turn. All the sets seem to squeeze in a few Duration cards these days, and this set has four of them.”

– Donald X. Vaccarino

The Preview Cards are now available on the client, dominion.games, for users to play and test out. To engage in discussion about the new cards, check out the dominion strategy forum, or join the online discord‘s channel dedicated to menagerie.

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