Interview with Witch Division champion: RisingJaguar

2011 Championships Witch Division champion

Initial seed: 47
Round 1: def. (210) prospero III 4-0
Round 2: def. (82) LexiphanicLemur 4-3
Round 3: def. (18) Rabid 4-0
Round 4: def. (15) Elyv 4-2
Division semifinals: def. (2) painted_cow 4-3
Division finals: def. (7) quasi 4-3

RisingJaguar will be facing off against (14) manzi in the second semifinal.  We caught up with RisingJaguar and asked him a few questions.

Congratulations on winning your division! What do you think was your toughest match?

This is a toss up between painted_cow and quasi who I feel are among the top players on Isotropic. In both matches I was down 0-2 in matches where I clearly lost the games and against quasi I was down 1-3. The added adversity on top of facing strong opponents is what made these matches tough. I’m probably splitting hairs here, but the match against painted_cow had some very difficult boards that required to really adjust during games which made the matches incredibly tough. The beating I took in game 1 was really impressive, adjusting to Scrying Pools midway was so demoralizing. Then the intricacies in game 5 where we spent minutes deciding each move was tough. And of course the final game 7 was back-and-forth, it was just so close all the way through, every turn was nail-biting.

Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you, where are you from, what do you do?

I am 21 year old dude in the wonderful city of Toronto, Canada. I am a student currently studying business (accounting) and in my fourth year. I am an avid fan of most sports like basketball, hockey, and mainly baseball. The game of baseball has some surprisingly analytical/statistical work that is wonderful perspective to look at sports. It allows the fan to be more of an expert. Like many of you, I am fascinated by games with layers of strategy and this is partly why I love my sports. I love the new strategies created. I love the metagame behind the strategy. Of course, I love the competition too. It seems obvious why I love Dominion then.

How did you get into Dominion?

I was first introduced to Dominion at a family reunion, but was not thoroughly impressed to be honest. I was never introduced properly to the strategies and had a very hard time grasping it. I was buying Duchies and Gardens turns 6/7 and avoiding Gold because I had actions like Thief that would theoretically grab them for me. It was bad.

A few months later, my closest friend told me to check out the site and we played many games. At first, I just played with him for fun. He introduced me to the very basics, like how to build economies and the power of trashing. The little taste of the strategy got my curiosity hooked. Every game had a new strategies and combos that could be made. It helped that Isotropic made finding opponents really easy.

Here’s a shoutout to my friend with a thousand alias on Isotropic, recently known as Irrationally Sad Man, for teaching me this game.

I also should say that I was one of the last entrants to the tournament. I am grateful that theory had the last few slots for those above lvl 35 or I would not be here. I remember his reasoning was “but I wouldn’t want to exclude a potential champion” and here I am!

What are your favorite board games other than Dominion?

Unfortunately I have not been exposed to the many games such as Settlers of Catan (which I hear is awful….. ly similar to Dominion). I think Bang! and Monopoly Deal are great fun because they are so simple which is quite the opposite from Dominion. The simplicity allows for all players to join together and have a great time which are the point of board games in the end. I know they are very reliant on its luck but I do enjoy them a lot.

For board games and their pure strategy, I love chess. For someone that plays it without knowing many openings, my games require a great amount of adaptability which I love. Its balance is so great for such a simple set up. I also have a soft spot for clue. There’s something interesting about clue and being able to deduce information constantly to solve the ultimate puzzle.

With that said, I love most board games.

What are your favorite and least-favorite Dominion cards, and why?

Before I explain my cards, I should explain my playstyle. As you can probably guess, I love building combos and engines. I think there’s a place for BM combos of course, but being able to get synergy from cards is what I like to see. The list for least favourite is a simple list as they usually kill creativity within games. Favourite cards are the opposite, but there are so many cards that make creativity, it is harder to narrow it down. So here is a list of 5 of my favourite and least favourite cards in no particular order.

Favourite Cards:
1. King’s Court – who doesn’t like the engine built off 7 King’s Courts? Probably only the person having to wait 2 minutes for a turn but man they are fun.
2. Gardens/Duke/Crossroads – In a game that usually rewards those with slimmer decks and avoiding green cards, these are a breath of fresh air for strategies.
3. Tactician – The card highlights that 1 big thing is usually better than two is a great way to sum up dominion. Also its sneaky ways to make it a constant drop through Black Market, Vault or using only actions makes it fascinating.
4. Peddlers – Every game, its valued slightly differently depending on +buys, trash for benefit, repeatable actions. One of the cards that really change in value depending what is available
5. Vineyard – Nothing better than buying cards that add to your engine AND get you points, Vineyards allows you to do this.

Least Favourite Cards
1. Treasure Map – It provides either a huge reward or a huge bust, I guess that’s the nature of Treasure Map but I never enjoyed this card.
2. Black Market – I admit I do delve into this card a lot, but for the same reason as TM, the swings are frustrating. For example, in a game with no curse attacks, getting the only witch or sea hag is too big a swing that is solely based on luck almost.
3. Possession – Nothing makes me sadder than watching someone use the engine you just built to buy themselves a Province.
4. Ill-Gotten Gains – The race for IGG then to Duchies just takes over so many games. Occasionally trash for benefit make these games fascinating but moreless it is not enjoyable to play these games.
5. Jack of all Trades – I admit I had no idea how powerful DoubleJack would be when it first came out but wow, mindless plugging is not something I enjoy to see. Also that a simple strategy dominates so many games and forces players to switch is frustrating to an engine builder like me. Although I will applaud those found this out on their own because it is something I completely overlooked

Most feared opponent on Isotropic?

Myself of course!

All kidding aside, I have not faced all of the top opponents yet. I’m quite certain that among the top… 50 or so, anybody can beat anybody. Thus my answer isn’t all that useful. If I had to narrow it down, I think WanderingWinder, who is still in this tournament, has the results and knowledge to strike fear into anyone. I have played a few games against him and they were not pretty.

Finally, some one-sentence strategy advice you’d give to someone new to the game?

To someone who is extremely new to this game, do not be afraid to face strong opponents as they will be the ones to learn new tactics. Take that embarrassing loss to LEARN new stuff like their openings, new engines, how they adapt and of course, why.

For those wanting to make that next jump, take full advantage of Council Room. You can revisit past matches and more importantly, popular buys. Comparing your % of use and the effects with/without can tell you if you really understand how to use that card. For example, my council room effects with indicates that I know how to use the card properly but for warehouse, I should really learn to revisit how to use that card with the negative effects with. It will not give you all the answers, but it will identify areas that need change.

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6 Responses to Interview with Witch Division champion: RisingJaguar

  1. def says:

    Interesting to see that both of your least favourite cards are there because of their swinginess, yet you don’t have problems with the possible swinginess of your favourite card, King’s Court.

    For the mentioned “nail-biting” games, care to put in some direct links for some lazy people/people who don’t know where to find them?

    • RisingJaguar says:

      Most of the matches (along with the round 4 onwards) I’m describing here on this site
      painted_cow is on the second page and quasi’s is on the 3rd page

      • RisingJaguar says:

        To answer my love for King’s court, I find its different than other swingy cards because I think KC decks take and/or show creativity. Granted there is a lot more luck involved than the average engine (ie. getting two KC and a +cards together), but it promotes creativity which I like.

        It should also be noted that IGG and JoaT are my two least favourite cards. Although WW’s game shined a new light on IGG.

    • theory says:

      Good idea. I inserted links for this interview as well as olneyce’s yesterday.

  2. Chris Morrow says:

    Funny how olnecye and RisingJaguar have opposite opinions on King’s Court, as well as Settlers of Catan. (Although I guess RisingJaguar is just reporting secondhand reviews.)

    In my humble opinion, Catan is quite fun and not very similar to Dominion; about the only major commonality is that in both games, early decisions about what to aquire will affect your later abilities to acquire more stuff, which will affect (etc). The precise details of how resources are aquired, and what you can do with them, are quite different.

    Catan is arguably more “social”; a lot of the game involves decisions about which other players to reward/penalize, in contrast to the democratic attacks/benefits in Dominion. So I don’t think it translates as well to online pay, although I admit I haven’t played it very much online.

    • GigaKnight says:

      I also don’t think Catan and Dominion are very similar. When everybody knows what they’re doing, winning at Catan is almost all luck and politics. And the strategy variance between games feels very, very small.

      My biggest complaint about Catan is actually the politics. If you can’t win, you can often decide who does win, which is a recipe for 2nd place feeling bitter and cheated. Catan was fun at first but became a lightning rod for drama in our group. I don’t miss it at all.

      I was reading the “Bible of Donald X Vaccarino” subforum and ran across his opinion on politics in games, which echoes mine almost exactly. The creators of Catan clearly do not share the same opinion. 🙂

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