Dominion Online 2021 Championship

Get your popcorn, we anticipate an epic championship match between nasmith99 and sillypotter.

Saturday, November 13th at 1501 UTC

There will be commentary by Sicomatic and Burning Skull on Discord.

Posted in DO2021, Dominion Online, Tournaments & Events | Leave a comment

Dominion Online 2021 Semi-Finals

The final four of the dominion online championships for 2021 is set. Today, Wednesday November 3 at 2300 nasmith99 plays Jnails, in a rematch of the season 47 Dominion League championship. Saturday, November 6 at 1600 UTC we will see RTT vs. sillypotter. Both matches will have expert commentary on the dominion discord.

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DO2021 Interview with Sillypotter

sillypotter plays hsypsx on Sunday, October 31st at 1700 UTC.  For info on the other quarterfinalists seehttps://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/ Thanks to SSLY for the interview and translation. Original Japanese text can be found at http://forum.shuffleit.nl/index.php?topic=5058.msg21038#msg21038

SSLY: Hi everyone! Here is a text interview with sillypotter, one of the quarterfinalists of Dominion Online Championship 2021. Congrats, sillypotter! First of all, what is your handle name “sillypotter”?

sillypotter: Just a pun. I don’t have any feelings or meanings at all, it could be anything funny. If I was going to be interviewed like this, I should have chosen a nice name. I have read the Harry Potter series up to the 2nd volume.

SSLY: Could you tell us more about yourself?

sillypotter: I live in the Kyushu region of Japan, with my wife and a lot of bear plushies Rilakkuma, the character I use as my icon. My family gave each of the dolls a unique name. 

SSLY: I remember when your Twitter account was identified. You all of a sudden made a post on Dominion in a timeline with plenty of RTs of Rilakkuma. Why do you love it?

sillypotter: I accomplished the way to the leaderboard for the first time, so I reported with pleasure. While the experience gave me a goal of achieving the top of the game, I was too dull to make a new account to seek tips on Dominion and revived an old one for Rilakkuma. I know you were surprised by me.

I began to love it in times of trouble. When my wife was in the hospital, I gave cute one to comfort her. It was at first no more than a cute plushie, but I love Rilakkuma all the more because my wife got out of the hospital, and nowadays the bear sleeps by our side. My home is bustling with dozens of Rilakkuma I’ve got from a claw crane game and bought in Rilakkuma stores.

SSLY: How did the pandemic hit you?

sillypotter: Very bad. Stuck in my house, I have abandoned membership of the gym I used to go to, and  not dined out for a year. The pandemic has affected my both physical and mental health. While my weight has decreased by 10 kg, I’ve been playing Dominion in an enarvated condition.

SSLY: Oh my god. I hope you got cheers from the championship. Can you review the match of 16? What do you think is a decisive game/choice?

sillypotter: G1 started with buying Flag Bearer, and I kept Flag until the end. I watched a commentary by cha-shu afterwards but couldn’t find any chance for Jean-Michel to get back the Artifact. It was very lucky for me.

SSLY: Any other impressive matches of yours?

sillypotter: R4 against flowlight0, and R5 against cha-shu.

R4 was the wall I had to get over because I was beaten by Mercury444F 2 years ago and by yudai214 last year. Both were Japanese matchups, and flowlight turned out to be another Japanese I hadn’t played with. I got nervous about the jinx. I think he played better than me, though the G7 alert rang and I finally won thanks to a lucky first-player advantage.

The match with cha-shu had preoccupied me since the bracket was out. He won the Grand Market Grand Prix where my grade was 4th. I felt a bit rotten about the too early matchup, but had everything done through the week to perform at my 100% potential. 

SSLY: Among the top 8 players, who do you pay much attention to, and why? If you were not, who would be the champion?

sillypotter: Mercury444F is the first one that comes to mind. As I said, I lost 2 years ago by a substantial margin. I want to see in the final how close I got to him.

Another is nasmith99, the defending champion who earned the honor of lv. 70+. No doubt that odds are for him. I was beaten in GMGP.

RTT is a natural enemy to me. I was overwhelmingly outnumbered by 6-23 in the rated record. By the way, I don’t play Captain very well.

SSLY: Do you have any logical/superstitious moves you always do when you have an important match?

sillypotter: I go out for a walk before matches. Walking for about 15 minutes refreshes and puts me in a very good state for the fight. I have a lot of snacks and drinks for a long match, especially a soda candy, because I hear that glucose helps my brain think better. Among them my talisman is Hachimitsu Kinkan Nodoame — a honey kumquat candy! (note: It is shortened to “Hachi-Kin Nodoame”. The sound “Hachi-Kin” in Japanese means $8.)

SSLY: Can you talk about your Dominion career? What drove you to Dominion, with whom/how have you played? 

sillypotter: I bought a couple of board games to play with my friends. One of them was Dominion. Opening the box, I played with a friend who also knew a little about it. I was always collecting Markets, and didn’t buy Chapel, which I didn’t get the point of. I was terribly beaten by his Bureaucrat BM, Council Room BM, and Workshop Gardens. Later on I googled for basic strategies and played a bunch of games against the bot on Goko. I learned expansions from its campaign mode. We didn’t have Landscapes at that time, so it was easy to learn the theories.

I played a year later with him. I had improved as much as I could manage a King’s Court Minion deck to hit $24 & 3Buys, and I won 10-0 that day. After that he never wanted to play with me. Over the next few years I got busy and left Dominion.

SSLY: Have you played with your wife?

sillypotter: No. Her answer was that she doesn’t understand the fun of neither Dominion nor shogi. My career resumed when Nocturnes was published. When I made no progress before lv. 60, I read nk377’s and sangatsu’s helpful blogs again and again. Finding sangatsu streaming on Twitch, I always watched him and commented on what I couldn’t understand. From his streaming, or spectating Stef, etc, I learned strong steps of engine-building. In 15k games I reached the top of the leaderboard. at which my wife was happy with me. Even after the achievement, I for sure got better through conversations with cah-shu or yudai in the making of books which sangatsu led. From a recipient of information I became a co-author.

SSLY: What has been the most memorable Dominion game you have played?

sillypotter: A match against yudai last year. Despite playing in the Championship, He and I had a comfortable game chat. I vividly remember that I won a board of Pillage lock and that yet I was overwhelmed by his beautiful engine in the last game. He mumbled the phrase “Silver is Curse!” throughout the match.

SSLY: What is your most favorite and least favorite card?

sillypotter: My most favorite is Spice Merchant. Scrap is also beautifully designed. I like support cards smoothing out a deck like them. I also like villages but the recent ones are too strong to be called supporters. Black Market is also fun. It looks swingy but actually requires skill.

I don’t think Donate and Possession should exist. Villa, Cavalry, either. I dislike the cards that feel like breaking the beautiful mechanism and rules of Dominion. Capitalism and innovation are bad, too, but I forgive them for now that they don’t often spoil the game.

SSLY: Of all the cards, which do you think is the most difficult/challenging that you are the best at all over the world?

sillypotter: Procession is the most challenging. you must not miss it with Horse. I don’t like some boards where the player who first Procession a Horse will win. If you are bad at Procession, then try to solo-play “Grim Parade”, a recommended set of Dark Ages, until you gain 8 Provinces within 10 turns! (see games ID: 87545455, 87552884)

However, if there were a card at which nobody is better than me, I would always be on the top of the leaderboard.

SSLY: Any rampant speculations about the next expansion, Allies?

sillypotter: Hmm, no idea. I just don’t want a broken card that would end a game within 9 turns, though.

SSLY: Do you have a favorite game other than Dominion?

sillypotter: I’ve loved Tetris and shogi since I was young. I’ve been playing Tetris 99 recently. I think I’m good enough to get 1st place at least once every two games, which might be compatible with lv. 58 on dominion.games. I often play Shogi Wars too. I have shodan, maybe around lv. 53. I know a lot of people who are good at Shogi/Igo/Mahjong play Dominion very well.

Dominion is the only game I’ve played seriously, though. I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing Tetris or shogi, but I’ve always been an intermediate player because it’s OK as long as I enjoy it.

I play Carcassonne, MTGA, Seasons, Mahjong, etc. I think Carcassonne is the most beautiful board game, in the aspects of appearance, strategy, and balance of skill and luck. I sometimes play 2-player games on BGA, but I can’t remember the tiles.

SSLY: If you take a sightseeing trip, or a grand tour abroad for ultimate mastery of Dominion, where do you want to go?

sillypotter: Dominion is a digital game and even Japan is abroadish for me, unlike for those in Tokyo. I want to join To-Domi, which has a league in the 4p format. When I sometimes play 4p with its members, I never win.

For sightseeing, I want to visit France. Visiting Musée Rodin, I will see Rodin’s The Gates Of Hell and works of Camille Claudel, and walk relaxed in the gardens. Monet’s Water Lilies in Musée de l’Orangerie is also very wonderful. I’ve been to these museums in the past, and I was intensely impressed by each of them. Other museums I’ve been to before didn’t match my senses.

SSLY: Do you have any words for your fans? Whose fan are you?

sillypotter: 

(note: this image is drawn and allowed to be cited by cha-shu. Special thanks to him.)

SSLY: What advice do you have for those looking to improve? In addition, a few players aspiring to the top of the leaderboard ask you for something helpful.

sillypotter: Solo-play engines to draw all your deck. Watching streaming and spectating a League or tournament match are also good, and acquire skills of strong players from the activities. When you have a talk after the game, discuss a lot. Play a number of games!

If you want to be at top, you have to be determined to devote thousands of hours to Dominion. Unless you are blessed with a talent or environment, play at least 10k games or so. Then just aim for the moment when Freaky and nasmith99 are slacking off.

SSLY: Finally, how do you want to dive in the concluding phase of the tournament?

I have to take a rest before the next match. I haven’t slept so well since the match with cha-shu that I see dark bags under my eyes in the mirror right now. Performance is dependent on how focused I am on playing. Otherwise I could practice, but yeah certainly I’ll perform better in the match if I rest now. Winning against hsypsx will mean a prize and 2 more matches. I’ll put all my effort into the very next match, to enjoy this tournament until the last day. Keep your eyes on!

SSLY: Thank you very much for answering the interview!

Note:

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

To-Domi: To-Domi (The Tokyo Dominion Circle) started as The Dominion Circle of The University of Tokyo a long ago, and was one of the groups in which many top Japanese players in Tokyo gathered every weekend.

Hachimitsu Kinkan Nodoame:

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DO2021 Interview with RTT

Transcription and interview conducted by terracubist. The original audio of the interview can be found here: (podcast link coming soon).  RTT plays recycle_garbage on Sunday, October 31st at 1700 UTC.  For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/. RTT has lots of great youtube content in English and German. https://www.youtube.com/user/freakman007007

terracubist: Hello. I’m terracubist and I’m here to interview RTT for the Dominion Online Championship 2021. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

RTT: I’m from Germany and live in Berlin. I’m 28 years old now. I have a family with two kids. They are pretty young, so it’s challenging. I work in software engineering.

terracubist: But you still find time for Dominion even with two young kids, that’s impressive.

RTT: Yeah, but it’s a lot less now. Ever since this year I stepped down a bit from [the Dominion] League and have kept the volume a bit lower so I can enjoy it even more when it happens.

terracubist: Well, this is making the most of one tournament run. All the way to top 8, again. This is your third time, fourth time? 

RTT: Third time in a row. The other times I was eliminated a bit earlier. 

terracubist: Talking about some of your favorite cards in Dominion, what would you say is your most favorite, least favorite, and the card you find most challenging?

RTT: My favorite cards haven’t really changed. It’s still Tragic Hero and Capital for the same reasons as last time, and of course Captain for the art. And least favorite is still Possession and Swindler, with Mountebank as a runner-up just because of the messy games that they can produce. 

terracubist: No changes from Menagerie? 

RTT: I think Menagerie cards are all pretty fine. I don’t particularly hate any. I mean Coven is a bit awkward because sometimes you just get eight Curses at once. But most of the time you have enough time to prepare. 

terracubist: Coven’s an interesting one. And the most challenging card, would you say…?

RTT: I think for me it’s maybe Cavalry because I haven’t played that much Menagerie. It’s kinda similar to Villa, but of course different because you have somewhat Duration draw but also it’s terminal and doesn’t give you an Action when you buy it. So it’s really tough because you always want to draw more cards and return to the Action phase but sometimes adding another terminal isn’t what you really want or what’s best for your deck.

terracubist: Yeah, juggling the short-term versus long-term effects is always kinda challenging. So I guess we’ve talked a little bit about how you’ve been in the top 8 three times now. Can you talk about your Dominion career in general? Are there any highlights aside from these top 8 finishes—and I mean, you’ve finished higher than top 8, even. And are there any particular breakthrough moments that you want to share? Something that could inspire newer players or a kind of “look how far I’ve come”.

RTT: “Career” is a pretty big word, it’s still just a hobby. But I started in 2011 when I got it for Christmas, just Intrigue.

terracubist: Happy ten years!

RTT: Oh, right. Well, almost, right. At Christmas it will be. I got Intrigue right away so no Base set. Instantly was hooked, and by January I got Seaside for myself and started playing more and more. Discovered Isotropic online and switched to online from time to time. I also did another break for like two year in-between and then re-discovered Dominion. Then I played in Dominion League and was quite successful in the last year until my break. And went to the German Championship in 2019 which was for the tenth anniversary of Dominion where the winner got to be depicted on a promo card. Which was the highlight of my career I guess. Winning that thing was pretty big. Also it was very nice to have such a big in-person tournament and feel real cards. 

terracubist: How many people was that one?

RTT: You had to qualify. It wasn’t that difficult, but you had to do a little bit. I went to one qualifying tournament in my town and then at the finals there were like 50 people. We started with a Swiss round and then a single-elimination bracket for the top 16. 

terracubist: I believe you did a write-up on the blog for that. Is that the one where you played Sicomatic in-person?

RTT: Yeah, if you want to read that summary (https://dominionstrategy.com/2019/03/17/german-championship-2019/). Sico was in the Swiss round. 

terracubist: I remember reading that when I was new, and laughing at “online Dominion has made us weak”. So I guess that probably covers our next question: “what was the most memorable game you’ve played?” 

RTT: Yeah the finals was pretty notable. We’re there playing with real cards, quite a bit on the line and a good opponent. But also a very fun atmosphere, spectators around the table, that was pretty nice. 

terracubist: Yeah, being able to see your spectators is quite different from a number in the bottom right of your online client. Do you prefer in-person to online?

RTT: No. It’s just so slow. 

terracubist: It was just the people watching you that was fun.

RTT: Yeah, it was the social aspect. But shuffling cards… *laughs*

terracubist: Well, you get good at it after a while. So I think that after this Championship we have the Allies expansion coming out in like two-ish months, sometime around end of the year, start of next year. Do you have any thoughts on that? 

RTT: I’m looking forward to it. I think it will spice up Dominion once again. It’s always great. I think Dominion needs new cards to stay attractive even though there are millions of combinations. It still just kinda needs that shakeup every once in a while and it’s great that we get another one. 

terracubist: Do you have any effects or things that you want to see out of it, or rampant speculations?

RTT: I mean it’s very vague what we know so far. There’re these piles that you turn around, these split piles. I can imagine that there’s Sauna/Avanto but there are effects on the one card that you get to turn it around and buy from the other pile. Some synergies between that, and you need to work to get to the other side. We’ll see. 

terracubist: Are you going to be doing your live reactions like you did for Menagerie preview week, I think it was?

RTT: Yeah, if I find the time surely. 

terracubist: I look forward to those. Those were exciting to watch. I was just getting started during that week, so it was exciting to watch. Getting to watch those videos was cool. 

RTT: That’s nice to hear.

terracubist: I also watched some of your Dominion Homework series when I starting out, and those were quite useful.

RTT: Yeha, learning those 2-card combos. They don’t happen that often, but if they do you can have a free win if you know them.

terracubist: It’s always fun when someone asks “how does this work?” and we just link to a video, it’s very convenient. So to people listening, I guess go check out RTT’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/freakman007007). You have musical covers, live reactions videos, Dominion combos…

RTT: And tournament play. For any Germans out there, I did a 101 starter course for strategy. That has about eight episodes now where if you’re really new to Dominion strategy you can learn about the power of trashing and how to analyze the Kingdom and stuff.

terracubist: Nice. I always like seeing those beginner-friendly, how-to videos by all the pros.

RTT: I have found out that there are a few people who can’t listen to English content that much and prefer German, so I wanted to help our community there. 

terracubist: Definitely a lot of German players, so I can see how that’s useful. Looking forward I guess as we close out our interview, is there anything you’re looking forward to for the rest of the tournament? I think you have a match scheduled for Saturday against… who was it?

RTT: recycle_garbage, and we rescheduled now for Sunday. There’s a big Dominion Sunday. Three championship matches in three hours.

terracubist: Hopefully none of them run into each other, but they inevitably will.

RTT: Get your alts ready. You might have to get two or three accounts to watch them all.

terracubist: We’ll just hop between game 7’s. Have you guys played each other? recycle_garbage was in A recently, and you were as well. I don’t remember if they were the same seasons. 

RTT: No, I’ve never met him in League. We did play a bit on ladder, but that was a year ago but he’s improved a lot since then I heard, so it will be close. Will probably be a good match.

terracubist: Alright, good luck. We’ll see you on Sunday hopefully.

RTT: Yeah, thanks.

Posted in DO2021, Dominion Online | Leave a comment

DO2021 Interview with Recycle_garbage

Recycle_garbage plays RTT in the quarterfinals on Sunday Oct 31 at 1800 UTC. For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/

strumphf: Hello everyone, I am strumphf and today I‘ll be interviewing recycle_garbage who has made it to the top 8 of the championship. Congratulations and hi!

recycle_garbage: Hi.

strumphf: Can you start us off by telling me a bit about yourself?

r_g: So my name is recycle_garbage. I am from Canada. I live in Belgium right now, I live in Brussels. Before, I lived in Switzerland, and also I was working in Germany too, so always happy to speak German or French or whatever you guys wanna speak. I’m a musician, so maybe one of the few that’s not a mathematician or statistician or another smart person. *laughing* I just play Dominion as a hobby. It’s fun. Oh yeah, I’m 28 years old.

strumphf: Did you have a birthday in between our interviews?

r_g: Yeah. After our last interview I had a birthday, it’s August 26.

strumphf: Aw happy belated birthday!

r_g: Yep, another year. It’s cool.

strumphf: And I totally forgot that I should do this in German with you! I was determined to do a little German. Was für Hobbies hast du noch so außer Dominion? [What other hobbies do you have besides Dominion?]

r_g: Ich mache viel Fitness. Ich mache Gewicht im Fitness-Zentrum – ich weiß nicht, wie man das sagt, weight lifting. Schwere Sachen. [I’m doing sports. I lift weights in the gym – I don’t know how to say weight lifting. Heavy things.]

strumphf: Gewichtheben. [weight lifting.]

r_g: Ich war vor drei Tagen in Luxemburg und habe den ganzen Tag deutsch gesprochen und dachte mir “ah super, ich kann noch ein bisschen deutsch sprechen!” Ich habe nicht alles verloren. In Brüssel spreche ich nur französisch und englisch. Also ja, ich finde es super, ein bisschen deutsch zu sprechen. [I’ve been to Luxemburg three days ago, and I spoke German the whole day, and I thought “oh great, I can still speak a little German!” I haven’t forgotten it yet. In Brussels I only speak French and English. So yeah, I enjoy getting to speak a little German.]

strumphf: Du sprichst super, das ist voll gut! [You speak it so well, your German is great!]

r_g: Danke. [Thank you] *laughing* Ich habe auch auf Deutsch unterrichtet. Ich habe meine Schlagzeug-Klasse in Deutschland gehabt. Deshalb kenne ich viel mehr Musik-spezifische Wörter als andere Sachen. [I taught in German as well, I had my drums class in Germany. That’s why I know a lot more music specific vocabulary.]

strumphf: Ja, Trommel. [Yeah, drums.]

r_g: Ja genau, Schlagzeug, Trommel, Handgelenke, solche Sachen. [Yes exactly, percussion, drums, wrists, and the like.]

strumphf: I was gonna ask, with you being from Canada and speaking French, do you speak Québecois as well?

r_g: It’s not really a language-

strumphf: Yeah it’s a dialect but there are pretty distinctive differences, no?

r_g: Well we can also compare dialect like in how far you can understand it. French speakers, if they made an effort, they could understand Québecois, I just feel like people from France don’t make an effort as much.

strumphf: Yeah, I know!

r_g: Québecois can easily understand French people and talk but then it’s not reciprocated. It’s just a matter of becoming used to it, it’s not like they change any words I think. They have different slang but that’s just like in the US or in Germany. Of you come from a different region you have different slangs. I wouldn’t consider it like a strong dialect or anything.

strumphf: Absolutely.

r_g: What they do a lot is this français-anglais mix, franglais, so they do a lot of English words, or add English words or switch in between English and French a lot, that’s quite typical.

strumphf: I have a Québecois friend who lives here [in Berlin] and is always raging against French people from France.

r_g: …not the machine.

strumphf: No. *laughing* Going back to Dominion – you named a few of your favourite and least favourite cards in our other interview. Do you mind repeating that, or has that changed in the past three months?

r_g: Yeah it hasn’t changed that much, no. *laughing* I’ve changed, I’m older now. (strumphf laughing) I said Gamble, Delay, and Cavalry. Those are the ones that for me really change the game, so you can really do more. You have way more choices and things to do. Cards that make it a little bit more complicated. So every turn you have extra choices which I think is fun. That’s all I can say about those ones.

strumphf: And least favourite?

r_g: Same as before. Stuff that just makes you lose quickly like Possession or Tournament or other attack cards like Cultist or Witch or… what’s the other one? I always forgot the names because I used to have the game in German and now I don’t really know all the English names of the cards but… whatever, the other card that gives you curses. Attack cards that are just clogging your deck.

strumphf: Familiar.

r_g: Yeah, Familiar, exactly. That one.

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

r_g: Procession and Develop are the cards that I feel like I really took a long time to learn. Or I still am learning how to use them properly.

strumphf: That is so curious because both hakha3 and JNails also said Develop! I see a pattern emerging.

r_g: More choices. With Procession I feel like there is the stuff that is super obvious like Horse but even with smaller examples, even using it just normally without the Horse shenanigans. Sometimes I’ve lost games where the opponent only buys Procession and a few other cards and they just pile super fast. I’ve just been a bit confused by that card sometimes. How good it is. Or how bad it is depending on… I don’t know. It’s just really explosive. You can just do so much stuff.

strumphf: Totally. Can you talk about your Dominion “career” – how it started and what some of the highlights have been?

r_g: I played a little bit in person, maybe a few games, like two or three days in person. And we had just the base game and Intrigue I think. I found it super addictive. Then I wanted to play online – that was in 2016 or something – at that point, I don’t know if I looked properly but there was not an online version like there is now. At least I didn’t find one, it said it was coming soon or something. So I waited a bit and afterwards at some point – maybe at the end of 2016 or 2017 – there was the online version and I started playing. I wasn’t checking regularly, I just checked back in and saw that it was available then. So I started a bit online. Then I played ladder until I was level 26, no 62. (strumphf laughing) Not 26! I leveled down *laughing* So I was 62 and then I did the tournament thing [DOC2020] and felt it to be really difficult, there were a lot of good players, etc. I joined the League, there were so many good players there. Then I played in League a bit and then I quit for now and now I don’t know. I played the Grand Market Grand Prix tournament and the championship, that’s all I’ve done. But everything I’ve done has been super fun and well organized and I like the events that are available. I like the community too, I’m surprised that it’s so organized and well done and everything is cool. I am only part of this Discord so I have no idea how it works otherwise.

strumphf: Do you feel like there are notable differences between the tournament this year and last year? Apart from your performance?

r_g: Apart from my performance.

strumphf: Or is the performance the main difference? I didn’t go back and check but in our last interview you were saying that you didn’t perform that well last year and you were surprised by the sheer quantity of other great players.

r_g: Yeah, exactly. Last time I was of the mindset that how good you are on the leaderboard is how good you are at the game. I think it’s really obvious that you would think that in the beginning. And then suddenly there are players who had a very low rating on the leaderboard but are extremely good. So probably what I did wrong was just underestimating my opponents or be too relaxed or something like that. Or choosing strategies that were not efficient, like too complex for no reason or just dumb stuff. This year I was more to the point. I didn’t make the mistakes I made before. For example, if you’re ahead, don’t relax. If you’re winning, 1-0 or 2-0, stay just as concentrated as you were before, stay focused. Ideally, it shouldn’t matter who your opponent is, the game is unchanged. I guess also don’t stress if you play a good opponent. Don’t underestimate “bad” ones number wise if you know what I mean. Just treat everyone the same. I don’t know if that makes sense. *laughing*

strumphf: No, it does. So this might be a weird question but I was wondering, when a strong player gets eliminated from your bracket sooner than you expected, do you feel relief or regret that you might not meet them potentially?

r_g: I guess it would probably statistically make my chance of winning greater, so that would be good. But I was not following so much who was playing whom or if people got eliminated early or not. I was more checking at the end when there was four or eight of us left, I was seeing who was left. Anyways, for example the one before me was Sicomatic vs. Freaky, and they’re both really good so it wouldn’t have mattered who won. They’re both just as good, so at some point you’re just really good and it doesn’t really matter who’s winning. Or losing.

strumphf: Yeah. It was a nice coincidence because last time I asked you who you would like to play and you mentioned Freaky. So you got that!

r_g: Yeah, it was cool. I have this idea that I just play everyone who’s really good eventually. If there was ten really good players I would rather play each one of them once instead of playing one ten times. So I played Freaky and now I get to play RTT, so great! I get to play a lot of the really good players. I’m happy about that.

strumphf: Do you have anything like a pre-match routine?

r_g: I was thinking about that too because in most sports or things that you do competitively you should warm up before but I feel like if I do warm up in Dominion it just makes me not as concentrated afterwards or something. And if I did warm up, who – you would play against Lord rattington or something which is just really dumb. *laughing* So, no. I don’t know. Maybe I could spectate a game to get in the mindset but I usually just go straight into it.

strumphf: That makes sense.

r_g: But then I also often fumble the first game, so I don’t even know if that’s good advice. *both laughing*

strumphf: “Never go in cold!” Have there been memorable games in your “career”?

r_g: Competitively? Maybe. There were some games that I played well with Develop. There was one League match against Sicomatic that I played a good Develop board. It was Develop with Spices and some other good 4 costing card so you could always buy a Spices, develop it into a Gold and a four costing card, and if you have a village you can just cycle like that and that’s really strong. Especially if you’re getting the Spices-Gold thing happening then you’re just getting a lot of money super quickly. That was really fun and cool. Then, maybe some games that I played with crabcat2. Or – Develop also with Animal Fair, I was thinking. Developing Animal Fair into Province and Gold, also really really strong. Buying the Animal Fair for free at some point earlier. That’s also really good if there’s not much draw or the deck is really thick and you don’t have much choice, have at least three or four Develops and three or four Animal Fairs and just go with that, that could probably get you a lot of Provinces and Duchies pretty quickly. Then I played some games with crabcat – when you have the shelters and then you have a game where you – on ladder even – you pop the magic lamp on turn four, that’s happened before.

strumphf: Wow!

r_g: Yeah, it’s possible. *laughing* So there was one game I played with crabcat just for fun where he got an altar on turn two or something and you think “Oh, game over” and then somehow I managed to get a Populate on turn five or something. It was with Livery so I got ten Horses, and then by turn six you’re drawing your deck and getting all 30 Horses, so that’s also possible. It’s very unlikely but it’s pretty funny stuff. Livery and Populate. Completely ridiculous.

strumphf: Sounds style point-worthy. Do you have any speculations about the new expansion, Allies?

r_g: I haven’t read the things about it yet, I just know the title. I guess my actual speculation is just based on the title and nothing else – I literally know nothing at all – but if you have Allies you have to also have Enemies? I don’t know if that could be like the Young Witch and Bane thing where you have cards that cancel each other out or interactions like that. Or something more interactive, if you have an Enemy or something that can cancel it out. I was thinking of something with more interaction between the players. I don’t know exactly how that would work. I remember there was something like a rotate thing or a shuffle.

strumphf: Rotating split piles. Very curious.

r_g: Yeah. I don’t know what that means at all.

strumphf: We’ll find out!

r_g: You just flip your deck 360°.

strumphf: *laughing* Yeah, exactly.

r_g: Or 180° and then play upside down for the rest of the game. That’s the trick. That’s my only speculation. I don’t know anything. I’m sorry. I had one good guess, that’s all.

strumphf: *laughing* That’s totally fine. What would be a spooky variation of your name?

r_g: *laughing* A spooky variation is like “One Used Plastic Cup” (strumphf laughing) or “Oil Spill”.

strumphf: Or like “Plastic Thing in a Plastic Bag in a Plastic Bag in a Plastic Bag”. Great, I love it!

r_g: “Excessive Packaging”, “Amazon Packaging” or something like that.

strumphf: Yeah, that could be your avatar.

r_g: Getting the Halloween spirit, getting scared of those rings they have around sixpacks that kill animals in the ocean.

strumphf: Exactly, that would be very spooky!

r_g: “Excessive Waste”.

strumphf: Well, thank you. Do you have anything else to share? Because that was all I wanted to ask you.

r_g: I do not. I wish everyone best of luck!

strumphf: Yeah you’ll be meeting RTT, I don’t know if you have scheduled the match yet.

r_g: Yeah, Saturday 1700UTC. [The match was rescheduled to Sunday, October 31th at 1800 UTC.]

strumphf: Best of luck to you! And thank you!

r_g: No problem. Thanks for interviewing and connecting people as always.

strumphf: Aw, well you’re very welcome. And I thank you. Bye!

r_g: Bye.

Posted in DO2021, Dominion Online | Leave a comment

DO2021 Interview with JNails

JNails plays Mercury444F on Sunday, October 31st at 1600 UTC. For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/

strumphf: Hello, everyone! I am strumphf, and today I’ll be interviewing JNails, who has once again made it to the top 8 of the Championship! Congratulations, and hi!

JNails: Howdy. Thanks, I’m happy to be here.

strumphf: Once again, JNails is very lucky with very professional interviewers who lose their audio midway through their interview. If we’re counting correctly, this is the fifth interview you’re doing with us?

JNails: I do believe so. Maybe I’m just bad luck. Last year in 2020 we had the same problem of the audio dropping and me redoing the interview.

strumphf: Thank you for your patience. This is our annual check-in with you. You already shared things about yourself in the previous years. Is there anything major you would like to share that happened with you in the past 12 months?

JNails: Nothing major that isn’t captured by the previous interviews. I got a dog. I got a new puppy, she’s 6 or 7 months old now, her name is Bijoux.

strumphf: We heard her in the audio that is now lost. Maybe she’ll pipe up again.

JNails: Yeah, she was barking up a storm, I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts again. She sees a car go by and needs to let it know who’s boss.

strumphf: I’m trying to recall what I asked already. Let’s start with your typical favorite and least favorite card in Dominion. Is it still Necromancer and Swindler?

JNails: I think Swindler is a given. That card is just evil. That answer is never going to change. No surprises there. As far as favorite cards go, it’s harder because there are a lot of cards I really enjoy, honestly, and none of them stand out as the best. I think in the past, I’ve listed Necromancer, Exorcist, Black Market. All of those are still on the short list for sure. I guess to say something different, I really enjoy a lot of the cards that really shake up the kingdom a lot, that really make you fundamentally rethink some of the basic elements of strategy. Things like Gamble, or Capitalism, or Way of the Mouse or Way of the Chameleon often have that effect as well, where you really have to fundamentally rethink a lot of stuff. There are novel interactions that show up in those games that you might otherwise not be familiar with. I enjoy that aspect of a lot of those.

strumphf: All right and then we talked about how Gamble is one of those enigmas to me, that I really don’t know how to play. Then we talked about the other tournaments, right? I was asking you about what other tournaments apart from League and the Championship you enjoyed playing.

JNails: I played in a few of the mixes. I really enjoyed the Hand Mix tournament, the one that was themed around hand size. It had a lot of draw-to-X stuff, which is a lot stronger there than usual, so you had to do a lot more of it. That was fun. Friendly Mix was really nice. Attack cards are generally some of the most unfun cards, so Friendly Mix was the one that didn’t have any attack cards. That was great. No Terminals Mix I enjoyed because I won it. But I think as far as theme, that was number three on my list as far as mixes go. I also really enjoyed WELP. The Way, Event, Landmark, Project tournament. I really enjoy four landscape games, so I’m looking forward to EEEE, I don’t even know how you pronounce it, the one that nasmith [[also in the top 8 for DO2021]] is hosting. There are just a bunch of E’s because it’s all events. I will almost certainly enjoy the kingdoms that have four Events in them.

strumphf: I’m looking forward to that too, because for me, I find it hard to distinguish between Events, and Projects, and Landmarks. I understand that there are thematic differences, but to me, they are all just the same, I guess. Fun or not fun.

JNails: The Landscapes take the longest to learn. At least that was my experience. I think it’s because they show up less often, proportionally speaking, than your average card. I still remember needing to read the text of each individual Landscape long after I had learned all of the Kingdom cards. To anybody who is interested in the Landscapes, definitely do play with them even if you haven’t learned those expansions yet because I think the Project and the Events are probably some of the most fun aspects of Dominion.

strumphf: Definitely. What do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion?

JNails: I think in the past I’ve said Develop, and that’s still a tricky one. I just missed a Develop pile out in the Round of 64. It’s a toughie. Also, honestly, a lot of those ones I listed as my favorites just a second ago also are really difficult. Part of what I like about them is because they so radically affect the kingdom that it’s hard to just use your normal preconceived ideas on strategies. Gamble, Capitalism, and whatnot. Actually, to bring this up, so I remember. I did just manage to throw League finals this past season in the championship match versus nasmith. I just needed to win the last game to win the Championship. I had a guaranteed win the last turn of the last game. A simple play with Gamble. I totally flubbed it with everyone watching. And despite having played with Gamble a bunch and enjoying the card, clearly I’m still not perfect with it.

strumphf: We all saw it. We were all sad.

JNails: I know, I know, I know. I’ll get my revenge this season.

strumphf: You’ve talked about how you got into Dominion before and your “Dominion career.” In your opinion, what have been the highlights?

JNails: Still one of the big highlights of my career, I think I mentioned it last year – I got to play Dan Brooks in the Tournament Big Money, which was really significant to me because I basically learned Dominion watching his videos on YouTube back when I was still a novice. Actually getting to play him in a tournament environment was great. I kind of had a similar one where I also watched Burning Skull’s How to Play Base Dominion videos when I was learning. I got to play him in the Base only tournament. Playing Burning Skull in a Base only environment was scary. We went 2-2, so apparently his videos taught me something. Maybe too much. He’s un-strategically teaching people how to beat him in Base tournaments. Beyond that, I also enjoy League. I don’t know if any particular moment is significant, but I’ve enjoyed a lot of my experiences playing in the League in the last year or so.

strumphf: Is there anything about League that you would change, if you could?

JNails: Definitely nerf nasmith. I think he’s just a little bit too OP. Create a Supra-A League and just put him in it by himself.

strumphf: C’mon, you almost beat him!

JNails: Give everyone else a fighting chance.

strumphf: You almost beat him in the finals. It was just this Gamble.

JNails: I’m kidding. Playing nasmith is always fun.

strumphf: Oh yeah, another thing I was curious about. (1) how much do you play? And (2) when you don’t ladder, but you have a set match do you have a pre-match routine or anything?

JNails: I play pretty often. I wouldn’t say every day, but probably most of them. Playing random ladder matches is something I like to do in my free time or between things I have to do. I know a lot of people discuss ladderphobia and they’re worried about laddering because they view it as a really competitive thing. For me, I don’t try to focus too much on the games. Usually it’s something to do for fun. For me, it’s a very low-stress environment. I treat those very differently than League. If I’m playing a League or tournament match I’m properly focused and paying attention and stuff. But I get a lot of casual ladder games in between those. As far as routines go, I don’t think I have any particular ritual or anything I do for luck. Usually it involves setting up OBS making sure I have the recording set and ready to go. Grab a glass or two of water so I can stay hydrated without having to take breaks. That’s about the size of it.

strumphf: Specifically for the Championship, do you prep at all? Or is it just another tournament?

JNails: I do remember for the Round of 16, which I just played, I made sure to add March to my ban list versus sangatsu. That seemed strategically important. Beyond that, I don’t think I do too much prep for any specific matches.

strumphf: Was that an insider I didn’t get? I feel like I always have to be on my toes with you because you are so quick.

JNails: Oh no, no. Everything I say is fully in earnest. I’m not wanting to make my little remarks.

strumphf: I know, I know, You keep mentioning that every other day.

JNails: I don’t know why people don’t believe me. 

strumphf: I don’t either. I don’t think you’re a person with a sense of humor.

JNails: Very serious.

strumphf: Going back to the Championship. In your experience, are there notable differences between this year’s Championship and the last one last year?

JNails: This year it’s Castle themed. All the individual sections of the bracket are named after the Castles.

strumphf: What was it last year?

JNails: I don’t remember if they had a theme last year. This year I’m representing the Sprawling Castle, which wouldn’t be my first choice of favorite Castle, but we’ll make do with what we got.

strumphf: What is your favorite Castle?

JNails: Opulent Castle has the best art and I think is nifty as payload sometimes and that can be interesting. I also enjoy Humble Castle because the choice of when to take it is not obvious. Even if you want Castles, you don’t necessarily want to buy Humble Castle very early. That’s an interesting dynamic. I think I would like to rep Opulent or Humble if I had the choice.

strumphf: But no one asked you. Very rude.

JNails: Yeah, I know, right?

strumphf: I saw your quarter final this year is actually a repeat from two years ago. How do you feel about that?

JNails: Well, it can’t go worse! Mercury444F beat me pretty soundly two years ago when we last met in the Round of 8. I got 4-0’d. And then last year I also lost in the Round of 8, but 4-1, versus Freaky. So unfortunately, I think that means I’m likely to lose 4-2 this year if I were to extrapolate from the trend so far.

strumphf: Well, we don’t have to.

JNails: Hopefully right.

strumphf: I feel like there’s so much more I want to ask you, but I feel like I just need to invite you on the pod for a longer interview some time.

JNails: Sounds good.

strumphf: Thank you for now. I don’t know if you have a date for the match yet.

JNails: Mercury literally just messaged me shortly before I got on this interview and I haven’t gotten back to him yet. Very soon we’ll have a date scheduled.

strumphf: We’ll all be there to watch you and cheer you on. Good luck and thank you for taking the time.

JNails: Thanks, and thanks for conducting the interview.

strumphf: Bye!

JNails: Peace.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DO2021 Interview with Hsypsx

Transcription and translation of text interview by terracubist. The original audio of the interview can be found here: (podcast link coming soon).  hsypsx plays sillypotter on Sunday, October 31st at 1700 UTC.  For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/

hsypsx’s YouTube channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE4esLI0i-jkijEdUL1oEcQ 

terracubist: Hello. Would you like to introduce yourself, and perhaps most importantly, how to pronounce your name?

hsypsx: I actually don’t know how it’s pronounced, it’s whatever you want to pronounce it in your head as. In case people are interested, I just randomly generated usernames until I got one that was pretty unpronounceable, so it’s intended to be that way. So anyways, a bit about myself I guess. I’m a grad student right now on the East Coast, so I don’t have a job. Any other hobbies…like, I used to play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee, actually, before the pandemic, but that kinda shuttered down. I’ve been trying to find some pickup games recently, but I haven’t gotten back into it. That would be my main other hobby, I’d say. 

terracubist: Yeah, I feel like pickup Ultimate is big with grad students. My brother’s in a group with people also doing that. It’s a nice fun activity for people who mostly sit indoors all day.

hsypsx: It’s a nice form of exercise, and you don’t have the super athletic freaks playing, they’re off playing actual sports. Wait, uh, Ultimate Frisbee is a real sport.

terracubist: What is your favorite and least favorite card in Dominion?

hsypsx: Let’s start with least favorite. Let me see my banlist… my least favorite card to play with is Catapult. It’s just these games where both you and your opponent have to open Catapult a lot of times, and you have a lot of $2 hands that you can’t do anything with. I just really don’t enjoy that. As for favorite card, I think I enjoy alternative sources of draw. Cards like Shepherd and Storyteller, I think. There’s a lot of little tweaks you can do to play them right, and I really enjoy that part of it.

terracubist: So I’m familiar with some of the tweaks you can do for Shepherd, like topdecking and stuff, but what are you thinking of for Storyteller?

hsypsx: For Storyteller, it’s a lot of the same ideas. Gear and Storyteller work together pretty well, because you can stash aside a Storyteller. Because one of the main problems with Storyteller decks is that you need a lot of Treasure, so if you don’t have a Storyteller in your starting hand you dud. So it’s just to guarantee you have a Storyteller in your starting hand. It’s a lot of the same things that help Shepherd.

terracubist: That’s an interesting take. I haven’t heard the two compared to each other so hm. Would you say that they’re interesting because they’re different, or that you like the challenge of them, or that you outplay people on boards with those cards?

hsypsx: If I’m on ladder I think I’ll generally outplay people with those cards, but if I’m playing in a tournament where everyone knows what they’re doing I definitely can’t say the same thing. But I just enjoy playing with them. 

terracubist: And what would you say you find the most challenging card or card-shaped object to play with in Dominion?

hsypsx: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is Donate. But generally I think it gets a bad rap. A lot of play with Donate in my mind is Donate down to getting the best five card deck you can as quickly as you can a lot of times. So it’s actually not that bad. Another one I find challenging is Governor. I still don’t think I play Governor properly, but I think I was playing a lot worse before.

terracubist: Before what? Did something happen?

hsypsx: I think I’ve slowly gotten better at playing with Governor. Governor’s been out for a long time. 

terracubist: Do you think that the tradeoffs between giving your opponent a benefit is the difficult part, or picking between the three options, or…?

hsypsx: I think one big thing that helped a lot was aku chi said a lot of Governor games are a race to five Provinces. And I hadn’t really thought about that before. It makes sense because your alt-VP gains are kinda limited. Obviously there are exceptions, but before that I was randomly flailing around and I had no idea how many Provinces I should take in certain positions. That helps simplify the endgame calculations a bit. I think in general I’ve gotten better at endgame positions since I’ve started playing, which is a long time ago.

terracubist: Like in general, non-Governor games?

hsypsx: Yeah, just in general.

terracubist: So I guess that’s a nice transition to our next question, which is: can you talk about your career in Dominion? How have you developed as a player, are there any memorable tournaments or highlights that you’d like to share, like “oh, there was this one time I did well in last year’s Dominion Online tournament” or something.

hsypsx: I don’t think I’ve actually had that much success in tournaments before this year. I actually hadn’t entered that many tournaments before this year. I would always just play ladder and not enter any tournaments. I’ve actually been playing for a long, long time, since 2011. Maybe not as long as some of the other quarterfinalists, but I think longer than most of the others.

terracubist: I mean, game’s been around since what, late aughts, right? So that’s a majority of the game’s lifespan. 

hsypsx: Yeah, exactly. I played on Isotropic, but to indicate where I was, even, I looked at my most recent Isotropic games and there’s one where I’m playing WanderingWinder. My first $5 is Merchant Ship, and this is a Kingdom with Minion and Border Village and stuff. *laughs* WanderingWinder did not get any Merchant Ships that game. 

terracubist: Perhaps an indicator of how good that card is.

hsypsx: Yes, exactly. In terms of most memorable games, though, I remember maybe the most exciting game of Dominion I’ve ever played was the one game where I rolled King’s Court, Goons, and Masquerade in the wild. This was before Masquerade got changed. I was so excited, I played this game out, my opponent wouldn’t resign until they had literally zero cards in their deck. And I was actually supposed to meet someone for dinner and since this game took so long I was kinda late to meet them. I didn’t tell them why I was late.

terracubist: Playing games on the Internet, bullying strangers. 

hsypsx: *laughs* Yeah, exactly. I was bullying this poor opponent, who wouldn’t resign. They could’ve resigned. 

terracubist: That’s interesting, I’ve never heard anyone talk about actually pulling it off. 

hsypsx: My understanding is that it was killed after Royal Carriage came out, because Royal Carriage + Masquerade was a lot easier to pull off. But I’ve actually been on and off for 2011. I wasn’t playing around the time Adventures and Empires came out.

terracubist: So you took a break for school or something and then you came back.

hsypsx: Yeah, I’ve taken a lot of breaks throughout the years. I’ll play for a few months at a time, and then not play for a few months at a time. Or years, in the case of Adventures and Empires. It was really jarring, because the last expansion I had played with was Guilds, and I come back and there’s these sideways objects. They were really cool to play with; they did really neat stuff. 

terracubist: Very different though. The first time I opened Empires I was like “what is this?” Do you think that this current stretch that you’re on is your peak, or do you think you played better in the past, or where do you think this matches up to your past.

hsypsx: I mean if you look in terms of rating, I’m playing at a higher level than I was in terms of that. I’d say this might be my current peak. I’ll try to get some more peaks but I don’t really see how that would happen to be honest.

terracubist: Well, this is a good spot to be in, top 8 at Worlds.

hsypsx: Yeah, with a fair bit of luck along the way. I don’t know if you saw any of my matches.

terracubist: I might’ve seen one, I don’t remember which one.

hsypsx: There was one match against jakkdl where it came down to game 7 and I basically had to have a miracle draw on the last turn, and I got it. Otherwise I would’ve been out of the tournament.

terracubist: That’s the way the game works. What cards were involved?

hsypsx: Basically my Patrician had to find my Market at the bottom of the deck, and then my Market had to draw several other Markets for me to afford the stuff I needed to afford, and that’s exactly how it played out. 

terracubist: So everything just lined up perfectly.

hsypsx: Yeah, exactly. 

terracubist: Sometimes those hot stretches of luck are all you need.

hsypsx: Yeah, and I hope it continues.

terracubist: Only three more matches left?

hsypsx: Theoretically. It could just be one. It’s probably likely one. 

terracubist: Who’s your next opponent?

hsypsx: sillypotter, who’s probably the top Japanese player I’d say.

terracubist: Which I don’t believe is scheduled, but hopefully by the time we finish transcription we will have something to point to. This question wasn’t on the list but it’s a nice thing to close out with that truffles did a few years ago, which was to let people have a catchphrase. I think we’re going to try and expand that and say is there any statistical project or card that you would want to shill for, anything you want to say while you have your thirty second soapbox.

hsypsx: Hmm, let me see. This is very open-ended, huh?

terracubist: Yeah, it’s a chance for you to say “Gold is a good card, actually”, or whatever your crazy take is. Or if you just want to use this time—you’re a mod of this tournament, you could comment on how it’s been, running the tournament.

hsypsx: Yeah that’s probably an easier question for me to answer. It’s hard for me to come up with a good catchphrase, don’t want to let people down. It’s been a lot of fun to mod this tournament. There were a lot fewer hiccups than I anticipated. A lot of it was due to the prior work that truffles has done, so I gotta give a lot of credit to her and all the other mods who have helped out along the way. I’d just like to thank everyone for playing in the tournament. 

terracubist: That’s a good thing to close on. You have what, a team of 10 people managing 500?

hsypsx: This year there were only like 300. So technically there’s 8 mods, one per region or “castle”. That’s the idea we came up with this year. It’s basically a team of 8 mods, and truffles still helped out a little bit. 

terracubist: Still impressive.

hsypsx: As I said, standing on the shoulders of giants.

terracubist: Yes, every year we get better. Alright, well thank you for taking your time to interview.

hsypsx: Thanks, and thanks for conducting these interviews.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DO2021 Interview with Nasmith99

For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/ The podcast of this interview is available at https://dlw.podigee.io/28-do2021-nasmith99. Nasmith99 plays hakha3 on Friday, October 29th at 1930 UTC

strumphf: Hello everyone, I am strumphf and today I’ll be interviewing nasmith99 who has once again made it to the top 8 of the championship and is also the defending champion. Congratulations and hi!

nasmith99: Thank you, and hi.

strumphf: We already had a wonderful interview with you last year where you told us a little bit about yourself. Is there anything you’d like to add now, a year later? Is everything still the same or has anything changed that you might wanna share? 

nasmith99: No, I mean things are mostly the same. I’m gonna graduate in the spring so that’ll be exciting. I’ve done obviously more Dominion stuff although I think I’m probably not as fixated on it now as I was a year ago.

strumphf: Why is that if I may ask? Is it because you already claimed so many wins?

nasmith99: Yeah some of it is that, I guess some of it is just not feeling maybe quite as interested in the game as I used to although I do still feel like it’s a really fun game at times.

strumphf: What other hobbies do you have besides Dominion?

nasmith99: I was getting a little bit into chess. Although that can be a bit frustrating because I feel like it’s something that I can sink a bunch of time into and not really get very good at. Other than that I just like doing classwork and reading. 

strumphf: I’d be curious to know if during the past 12 months you’ve come to love Tournament a lot? Is it still your least favourite card? And what’s your favourite card?

nasmith99: Well, Tournament – I guess it’s kind of hard for your opinion of a card to really improve when you don’t play with it. I think I actually did play maybe one or two Tournament games in, I think it was draft mix where we didn’t have banlists for that tournament. But yeah I would still say that’s my least favourite card. Favourite card is probably Cavalry. I think last year I was kind of waffling but I think Cavalry gives you so many decisions and there’s really a lot of room for optimization there. I mean really the only kinds of boards where Cavalry makes the kingdom less enjoyable would be ones with procession on them for the most part. But yeah I would say that that’s probably my favourite card.

strumphf: No change. What do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion?

nasmith99: That’s a good question. I think a lot of gainers are actually pretty challenging because you have to make choices of how heavily you want to invest in them versus in other cards, like how much you wanna invest in economy versus those gainers and that can be pretty tricky. I think Cavalry, for some of the same reasons I layed out is also pretty tricky. I mean also with a lot of boards you have to decide how much you wanna focus on economy versus trashing, that’s obviously something that comes up in a lot of kingdoms and that can be difficult. Dominion overall has a lot of nuance and difficult decisions.

strumphf: Yeah, I always find it hard, all this thinking and counting. I really love the game but it’s just so hard sometimes. I don’t know if you’ve talked about this before but how did you get into Dominion?

nasmith99: So, I think it was maybe Freshman year of college – we had played maybe just a few games with the base set and somebody had mentioned that they had played on the online client. Then I made an account and got really into the game from there. I think the number of irl Dominion games I’ve played is probably less than five total.

strumphf: Wow!

nasmith99: *laughs* Yeah, I just really got into the online version and went from there. I don’t fully remember how I went about learning all of the cards. I think I spent a certain amount of time just reading wiki pages. You know now there’s the wiki improvement project but back then the wiki pages had so much bad strategy advice so fortunately reading that kind of stuff didn’t permanently damage me. At least I hope it didn’t.

strumphf: It doesn’t seem so! What would you say in your opinion, what have been the highlights in your “Dominion career”?

nasmith99: Definitely winning the championship last year was a big win, I felt really good about that. Also just the League. I do really like League just because you have kind of a constant stream of matches that you can play that are always gonna be at least fairly competitive. That’s definitely a good way to practice. I’ve done quite well there and that’s something else I’ve felt some accomplishment about. 

strumphf: For those of our listeners who don’t know, just a reminder, you are the defending League champion as well and have been winning two League seasons in a row now. So congrats on that as well! So successful! Do you have any – I have a sneaking suspicion about this – what have been memorable games you’ve played?

nasmith99: The last game of last year’s championship was definitely very memorable although probably more for the significance, you know, because it went down to a game seven rather than anything about the game itself. I know – so this was the WELP tournament where you always play with one way, one event, one landmark and one project – the finals for that against Mic Qsenoch – and I think a lot of people have taken note of this but this one endgame – I think the board had Sleigh, City Quarter, Way of the Pig, a bunch of stuff. I think if people see the board they would remember it. There was this really difficult endgame and I spent a lot of time thinking but I eventually found a way to thread the needle there. There was kind of exactly one way to win from my position and I was able to find it. So that ended up being a really cool game. I did end up losing that match but I was still really happy with being able to find that.

strumphf: Yeah that was the one I was thinking about just because both of you have mentioned it in the past as being one of the most memorable games where you both were of the opinion that you were playing at your best. Do you have any rampant speculations about the new expansion, the next one: Allies?

nasmith99: I’m actually one of the playtesters for Allies, so…

strumphf: Ok *laughs* Let me retract this question! I did not know.

nasmith99: Anything I say would not be speculative so I’ll refrain from saying anything.

strumphf: Ok, you’re not allowed to.

nasmith99: No.

strumphf: Ha, on that note – are you a masqued player?

nasmith99: Am I a what player?

strumphf: Are you a masqued player? Are you playing in the masqued player tournament?

nasmith99: Oh! Ok.

strumphf: We are talking now about things you’re not allowed to talk about.

nasmith99: That’s true. Well, I guess there’s a masqued player match going on in a little while so maybe you’ll know by how quickly I hop off here…

strumphf: Haha, “I have to leave now!” No, I’m trying to trick people into telling me if they are playing or not. It hasn’t been successful so far.

nasmith99: I have a little bit of speculation about who some of the players are.

strumphf: I have no idea but I love it!

nasmith99: I think I have a vague guess about who JNails and xyrix are but I’m not gonna reveal that.

strumphf: I’m taking notes. Going back to the championship, in your experience, are there notable differences between this year’s tournament and last year’s?

nasmith99: I don’t think so. I think the only real format change was the partially randomized seeding this year. Although I don’t think that really qualitatively changed the tournament much. Overall I would say it’s been very similar. I mean of course since it’s single elimination there’s a lot of randomness and once you get into those higher rounds anybody really could beat anybody so you never really know who’s gonna make it towards the end.

strumphf: There’s another thing that I always wonder about – I don’t know if that’s a weird question at all – in your bracket, if a strong player is eliminated do you feel relief or regret that you’re not gonna meet them potentially?

nasmith99: Maybe a little bit of relief although a lot of times it’s gonna be like you’re playing one difficult opponent versus another. Those later rounds, you’re really not gonna get any particularly easy opponents.

strumphf: That makes sense. Well, I won’t keep you any longer. You will meet either hakha3 or rsilverstein12 in the next round, and I think that’s gonna be determined now-ish or tonight at least.

nasmith99: I think it started fifteen minutes ago.

strumphf: Good luck…

nasmith99: Thank you.

strumphf: … and thank you!

nasmith99: Yeah, you’re welcome.

strumphf: Bye.

nasmith99: Bye.

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DO2021 Interview with Hakha3

Audio interview available at https://dlw.podigee.io/31-do2021-hakha3

For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/

Friday, October 29th at 1930 UTC: nasmith99 v. hakha3

strumphf: Hello everyone! I am strumphf and today I’ll be interviewing hakha3 who has made it to the Top 8 of the Championship. Congratulations, and hi!

hakha3: Hi, thanks.

strumphf: So my first question. How do I pronounce your name correctly? Is hakh-ah 3 the correct pronunciation?

hakha3: I’ve heard my name many times being said as hakh-ah, so I’m used to hearing it as hakh-ah. But in Polish, it’s pronounced hakh-ha, with pronounced H. Because in general, I put an H, so it’s pronounced.

strumphf: I’ll take note of that. Can you tell me a bit about yourself? Whatever you’re comfortable sharing.

hakha3: I’m 22 years old. I’m from Poland. I’m studying physics. In my free time, I like to play different online board games.

strumphf: What else do you play besides Dominion?

hakha3: Right now I’m playing a lot of games on Board Game Arena, like Railroad Ink or Welcome To. I also played a lot of Hanabi.

strumphf: And how did you get into Dominion? How did that start for you?

hakha3: The first time I played Dominion with my parents as a kid. We had the first edition box. Normal first edition and Intrigue. That was a long time ago. I thought I was pretty good, but then suddenly we stopped playing. Several years later I was playing Avalon, and someone on the site said at some point “I’m going to play Dominion online,” and then I realized “Oh, there’s an option to play Dominion online, a game which I played in my childhood.” I played against him. He was around a level 55 player, so I lost most of the games. But it was fun and he showed me how to build decks, so I had a pretty good introduction on how to build engines well. I started playing ladder and found the message on the client about League and that’s how I found the whole community. I was surprised how many people are playing and active. And that’s how it started.

strumphf: What would you say have been the highlights of your “Dominion career” so far?

hakha3: It would be the times when I won my tournaments. The first one was blind mode. That was my very first tournament in blind mode, which is a very fun mode. Everyone should try, give it a go at least once. It’s pretty exhausting, I’m going to say. Not seeing anything, but just black everywhere, almost.

strumphf: It sounds so stressful.

hakha3: Well, maybe, but it’s quite fun when you play cards and are expecting to play Overlord, but it’s (Royal) Blacksmith, and it discards all of your coppers. That was my first tournament. It was nice to win something.

strumphf: Definitely

hakha3: And then my second highlight would be when I won the Order and Chaos tournament. I had won Blind Mode, but it is a variation of Dominion, I would say. And I wanted to win a normal Dominion tournament. That was it. It was four landscapes, so that’s pretty skillful. It was nice to win something like that.

strumphf: Yeah, I imagine. Do you have a favorite and a least favorite card overall?

hakha3: My favorite card probably would be Artificer. I like that it converts draw to payload and often you can make nice draw-to-X decks with it, which I really enjoy playing. It creates a lot of interesting decisions, in that it puts cards on top, so you can leave it for the next turn or you can save your current turn. And there are also considerations with triggering shuffles and I like all kinds of stuff like that. My least favorite, if you count card-shaped things, it would be Keep. I don’t like how treasures get so many points. At first you build nice engines, but then you realize treasures are worth five points, so you start buying treasures instead of victory cards. But then suddenly your deck is full of treasures and I don’t like playing these kinds of games. Then you also need to track how many treasures each person has and that stuff.

strumphf: Yeah, I always lose track with Keep and I’m always convinced I need to buy more Coppers or more Silvers, and then in the end when you have the end screen, you realize I already had 4 more Silvers than my opponent and that’s really annoying.

hakha3: I’m happy I don’t have to keep track of this any more.

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

hakha3: I think it would be Develop because it’s a pretty mediocre card and I never know if I should get it in the first place. At first, it changes Estates to 3-cost cards, which is OK-ish. But then later in the game, I can change my card into others, but I never know if it’s worth it because you need a lot of draw and actions to do much with it. I never know if it’s worth doing it in the first place. Develop also has loops, which I don’t know. So yeah, I think it would be Develop.

strumphf: Interesting. I just had the interview with (fellow quarterfinalist) JNails earlier, and he also named Develop as one of the cards that he finds most challenging to play with. Do you have any speculations about the new expansion, Allies?

hakha3: Not really. I never really speculate on what can happen. I only hope that it won’t decrease the number of turns per game because games are already pretty fast. I would like it if they were a bit slower.

strumphf: I imagine. Going back to the Championship. You played last year as well. In your experience, are there any notable differences between this year’s Championship and the last one you played in?

hakha3: Well in this one, I didn’t get eliminated yet.

strumphf (laughing): So it’s already a success.

hakha3: Yeah. Besides that, it’s hard to tell, to be honest, any notable differences. Both times, it’s been a great experience.

strumphf: You will be playing your quarterfinal against nasmith99. I don’t know if you have a date for that match yet.

hakha3: I have. We will play on Friday at 7:30 pm.

strumphf: OK, great. We’ll all be looking forward to seeing you in this match. Thank you so much, and good luck!

hakha3: Thank you for having me.

strumphf: Bye.

hakha3: Bye.

Posted in DO2021, Dominion Online | Leave a comment

DO2021 Interview with Mercury444F

Original Interview in Japanese http://forum.shuffleit.nl/index.php?topic=5058.msg21027#msg21027 with translation by SSLY. Mercury444f plays JNails on Sunday, October 31st at 1600 UTC. For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/

SSLY: Hi everyone! Here is a text interview with Mercury444F, one of the quarterfinalists of Dominion Online Championship 2021. Congrats, Mercury! Besides 2017 and 2019, this is the third time you made the way to the top 8. So well, could you tell us about yourself? How old are you, what did you major in in the university, what do you do for living, and anything else?

Mercury444F: Born in 1995, I’m 26 now. I haven’t been as highly educated as other Japanese players graduating from well-known universities that they are willing to reveal, unlike me. I’m barely surviving shachiku — an exploited lower employee — life. The job is one in the strong Dominion cards.

SSLY: How has your life changed since the last time you were interviewed? In particular, how did the pandemic hit you?

Mercury444F: Honestly, I feel not much has changed in my everyday life. The pandemic actually caused irl Dominion circles I used to attend, including To-Domi, to stop their activities, and deprived me of opportunities when I could interact with other players. It terribly made me less enthusiastic about Dominion, as proved by the result of the last championship. 2020 was to me a year of stagnation, though the defeat in turn fired me up.

In the meanwhile my friends introduced to me the Pokemon TCG in late 2020. It reminded me of the fun of card games, and so I got to more Dominion this year. It had a very positive effect on me.

SSLY: Looking at your Tweets, you seem to have been busy with work lately and also very absorbed in a lot of games. What game do you play other than Dominion, and what do you like about it?

Mercury444F: I’ve played a wide range of games, though not played each deep. I don’t play player-versus-player games these days. Pokemon TCG and Dominion are the only exceptions.

Now I enjoy Genshin Impact on PC, and Arknights on smartphone.  All parts of Genshin Impact such as the world, character modelling, and motions are IMO of the highest quality. Highly recommended if you can play with a good computer. Arknights is a sort of tower defense game. It achieves both joy and complexity of the genre, and offers a really enthralling story and world. It has a useful autoplay feature that can do almost all tasks you otherwise might have to spend time completing. Even if you are shachiku like me, you can enjoy all the entertaining sides of the game.

My main focus is on the two competitive card games, but those stories and characters bring great pleasures to me.

SSLY: Do you have a favorite board game other than Dominion?

Mercury444F: Generally I’m bad at games, bad at fighting for wins. I’m a perfectionist too, who can’t bear any mistakes at the early stages of games. Maybe my nature is not ideal for a kind of board game. Anyway I can say I like it, especially the one that gives an uncompetitive “win” to a player with the greatest excitement. Some of the games I’ve enjoyed before are Seasons, Village, Concept, etc.

SSLY: Your R6 match with another Japanese player kazumaru0828, continued for loooooong hours with just a break and you finally won the great battle. Can you review it? What do you think is a decisive game/choice?

Mercury444F: All the games, except G3 of a Governor board, were intensive engine-building boards, so I had to super concentrate throughout the match. I was beaten thoroughly in the games I lost, while when I got I had to take an adventurous risk. I was lucky as a whole. In G7 I fortunately got the first player, and even after my opening for Recruiter was different from his, I confidently accomplished my plan.

SSLY: Do you have any logical/superstitious moves you always do when you have an important match?

Mercury444F: I don’t play before the match on that day. Listening to music, and caring for my conditions to be ready.

SSLY: Among the top 8 players, who do you pay much attention to, and why? If you were not, who would be the champion?

Mercury444F: One is sillypotter. He is now really one of the best players in Japan. I played with him in 2019 and barely won, but I guess he has improved so much in these 2 years that he can reach the final. If I have a match with him, I’ll do my best to win again.

Of course all the others are famous strong players too. I’ll have to have a severe struggle with them. All of them are worthy of the belt, but nasmith99 is the most eye-catching. I want to be a dark-horse contender.

SSLY: You answered in 2019 that you started Dominion after Guilds was released. Can you tell me more details on your career? What drove you to Dominion, with whom/how have you played? 

Mercury444F: One of my friends I played with Yu-Gi-Oh introduced Dominion to me, and I found it very inspiring. I played a lot in the group. Looking for hints for improvement, I watched the videos sangatsu uploaded at the time. Quite shocked by his higher level of playing than mine, I started Goko he played, with a genuine desire to be much much stronger.

SSLY: And I think you joined To-Domi at some point. How did you find it?

Mercury444F: While playing online, I luckily got acquainted with a lot of players. When an offline event took place for them, I was invited and got to talk with the main members of To-Domi. They kindly asked me to join. So far I’ve played there.

SSLY: Which do you like between the 4-player format (note: popular in Japan) and the 2p?

Mercury444F: Having a background of playing TCG, I think I’m better at and prefer 2p than 4p, which involves a bunch of interactions between players. 4p for sure has amusing aspects the other doesn’t have, but I admit that I play hard in 4p partly for domestic reputation, whose prerequisite is being good at the format.

I’m sure that multiplayer games are more interesting if you have a lot of people getting together in excitement. I like both of the two after all, but from the perspective of pure competition I’m for 2p.

SSLY: 2 years ago your least favorite card was Sea hag. Is it still the case after Menagerie came out?

Mercury444F: The card I hate the most now is Black Cat. It deals out a lot of Curse at once ignoring any kind of defences, and thus stops us from buying Victory cards. Its stalemate where we first have to collect a bunch of cats reminds me of that of Possession.

SSLY: Your most favorite card was Remodel. Is it?

Mercury444F: Yes, Remodel. So far, and definitely for the future.

SSLY: Have you deep played Menagerie? What is the most favorite card in the set?

Mercury444F: I feel getting to a certain level of skills the set demands, but still having little experience with the set and more cards to research, especially compared to the performance other top rankers show. My favorite is Falconer, but I like it so much that I’m often deluded into picking in situations when it doesn’t fit. I should appropriately value it on each board.

SSLY: Of all the cards, which do you think is the most difficult/challenging that you are the best at all over the world?

Mercury444F: Renaissance and Menagerie added a lot of somewhat powerful cards that deserve to be mentioned here. I came up with Innovation. Above all, I’m always careful of decisions about Remodel even despite its non-complex appearance.

SSLY: Any rampant speculations about the next expansion, Allies?

Mercury444F: In the last expansion, Ways made a lot of changes to Dominion. Since Adventures I’ve seen various elements added by Landscapes. I hope that Allies have cards with simpler abilities that will be able to develop astonishing chemistry with Landscapes, and that will open up a frontier in the card pool, as coming complicated gimmicks no doubt will do.

SSLY: If you take a sightseeing trip, or a grand tour abroad for ultimate mastery of Dominion, where do you want to go?

Mercury444F: I often say my ambition is to win the Japan Championship and use up the prize of travel money to the World Masters in Indianapolis, for a pilgrimage to Manhattan instead, one of the places of my favorite novel GOSICK. Anyway I know so many strong players in the U.S. and Germany that I would visit them to play irl.

SSLY: Do you have any words for your fans?

Mercury444F: “Fans” sound like a one-way relationship. I don’t think I have, but I’m glad if they watch anime so much, because now I have few to talk with about it in Dominion communities.

SSLY: Whose fan are you?

Mercury444F: I’ve loved for a long time Kazuki Sakuraba, the author of GOSICK. Of course I‘ve read many of her works. All the stories she writes are very fascinating, intricate, and compelling to me. 

I’m also dedicated to Rimi Nishimoto, a voice/stage actress. Her activities and performances give me a lot of energy. She is very strict with herself and always does her best to the full extent. She provides me with a model in any field.

SSLY: What advice do you have for those looking to improve? In addition, a few aspiring to the top of the leaderboard ask you for something helpful.

Mercury444F: Though my answer was always “Read GOSICK” in previous interviews, repeating once more will be boring, and I know increasing Japanese players as well as ones overseas will read this interview, so I have real advice here. The most important thing, I believe, is to play as many games as possible, without being worried about your level or rank so much. Though aiming at a certain rating or rank might be good, slipping it into your purpose would be a kind of sheer waste. We have a lot of competitions, for example the Dominion League and its counterpart in Japan. Those are the best chances to show your skills. Practice every day so that you can win the tournaments, and your rating will go up after all.

Well, as for the 1st rank, it would depend not only on your skills but largely on luck and condition of other top players. If you are really ready and see them suffer, you could eagerly go for it.

SSLY: Finally, how do you want to dive in the concluding phase of the tournament?

Mercury444F: I admit I don’t have as good real skill as the other quarterfinalists. I can’t afford mistakes in games. I’ll do everything I can until the matches, so that I can show more performance than you would expect from my skill.

SSLY: Thank you very much for answering the interview!

Notes

To-Domi: To-Domi (The Tokyo Dominion Circle) started as The Dominion Circle of The University of Tokyo a long ago, and was one of the groups in which many top Japanese players in Tokyo gathered every weekend.

Genshin Impact: https://genshin.mihoyo.com/en/home

Arknights: https://www.arknights.global/

GOSICK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gosick

Kazuki Sakuraba: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazuki_Sakuraba

Rimi Nishimoto: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rimi_Nishimoto

Posted in DO2021, Dominion Online, Tournaments & Events | Leave a comment