Interview with Thief Division champion: WanderingWinder

2011 Championships Thief Division champion

Initial seed: 4
Round 1: def. (253) jag149 4-1
Round 2: def. (132) Orange 4-2
Round 3: def. (61) lespeutere 4-2
Round 4: def. (29) allfail 4-3
Division semifinals: def. (84) toaster 4-0
Division finals: def. (5) Fabian 4-1

WanderingWinder will be facing off against (32) olneyce in the first semifinal.  We caught up with WanderingWinder and asked him a few questions.

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

My toughest match was probably against allfail (timchen), based on the combination of skill of my opponent and luck, both with the kingdoms as they fell out and in the shuffle.

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

I’m young enough to have been familiar with computers most of my life (though I suppose that wasn’t really common for people my age – the first computer I remember my dad built from scratch; also I remember that one of his co-workers once said that nobody anywhere should ever need a hard drive bigger than 20 MB), but old enough to remember quite a good bit of the ‘pre-internet’ era. And enough of both to be extremely paranoid of identity theft, and not wanting to give out personal information (probably this too I get from my dad). I’m from the central United States, and I’ve lived in suburbia basically all my life. I’m a physicist; my primary income is from teaching.

How did you get into Dominion?

A group of my sister’s friends from college play D&D every week and board games fairly often. Dominion was the first one I remember playing with them. This was a little bit after Seaside came out. I liked it pretty darn well right away. My sister’s boyfriend tipped me off to Isotropic, which was like a day or two before images first came about, to tell you how long I’ve been there.

What are your favorite board games other than Dominion?

First and foremost, chess. I know about half a dozen Grandmasters, maybe twice as many IMs, and many more ‘regular’ masters. I’ve beaten a master once over the board (I beat someone on a GM’s account online once, but based on the level of play, he was either asleep or letting someone else use his account…), and I’ve drawn other masters two or three times. If I played more, I’d probably make candidate master in a year or two. Master if I really cared. But I haven’t gotten the chance to go over the board in several months…

Other games… I like Thunderstone and Small World okay. I’m hoping to try out Agricola and Twilight Struggle soon. I love almost like all card games. Gin Rummy and Cribbage I remember very fondly – I played them with my mom before I was school age even – and spades, hearts, casino, canasta, and most of all, a little variant of Euchre called 500. Well, maybe not so little, it used to be the most popular game in America. Bridge I like in principle, but the conventions I could do without. Still decently enjoyable. And of course there are some card games *cough* WAR *cough* (also BS, I’m very un-fun to play with) which I cannot stand.

I want to make a shout-out to a very little-known game called Arimaa. It’s interesting. I recommend it. You can play it with a chess set, or free online here.

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

Favourite is easy: Silk Road, closely followed by Gardens. I also like Duke and Fairgrounds, what can I say. Maybe it’s because I like gaining cards, maybe it’s because I feel really nice with compiling what I call a Victory engine (though hey, we should come up with a better word for it, to not get confused with the normal use of engine… pyramid comes to mind, but given what it’s made up of… well, someone who’s reading this think of one). What I mean by that is figuring out which victory cards you need in the end to win, and what order to get them in. I also like Monument and Merchant Ship and Island quite a good little bit.

Least favourite is probably Ambassador, though it’s not nearly so bad now. King’s Court is up there (ironically I quite like Throne Room). Expand, Horn of Plenty, Tournament, Young Witch, Jack (wanna bet everybody put Jack?), Torturer. Outpost, Contraband, and Royal Seal I like way less than they deserve. Though I guess maybe I’m coming around on Contraband.

Most feared opponent on Isotropic?

You expect me to give one answer? Obi Wan Bonogi. I never feel right against him. theory is up there. Somehow I think chwhite deserves to be, but I always feel comfortable facing him. But there are lots of really strong players.

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

Figure out how many of each terminal you want to prefer over straight-up big money, weighing its benefit over the treasure equivalent of its cost against the risk of collisions. Man, one sentence is tough.

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4 Responses to Interview with Thief Division champion: WanderingWinder

  1. RisingJaguar says:

    You recently wrote an article on the forums about big money at some great length, then condensed the main thesis (or one of them) into a sentence. Bravo (to both).

  2. WanderingWinder says:

    I actually wrote this interview answer about a week before the article.

  3. ^_^_^_^ says:

    I figured that lol. Also, I thought you had answered all the questions in 1 sentence 😛

  4. Chris Morrow says:

    Arimaa is arimaazing. I personally prefer it to chess because I find I can both plan and anticipate many more moves ahead – but I admit I’ve so far only played against computers.

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