2018 Dominion Online Championship Quarterfinal Interview: jfrisch

254 players participated in the 2018 Dominion Online Championship.  Only 8 players are left, and we will posting interviews with each player this week before their match.

jfrisch will be playing Burning Skull on Friday at 1900 UTC (3’clock in the afternoon Eastern time); you can watch the live-stream of the match at dominion.games, or at .

This is jfrisch’s pregame interview.

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

jfrisch:  Hi, I am 26 years old. I’m a math Ph.D student in California. I also grew up in California.

How did you start playing Dominion?

jfrisch:  I learned Dominion at a summer program I went to about 8 years ago but I started playing in earnest in late 2011 thanks to some combination of real life friends, Dominion Strategy, and Isotropic.

What do you think was your toughest match in the tournament so far?

jfrisch:  I’ve had two really tough matches so far. My match for the quarterfinals spot against singletee went to the seventh game and it was a close game!

However for me the very hardest match was probably against Huevos Locos in round 3, they thoroughly crushed me in last years tournament so I went in really nervous and it was also a really close match. It was also decided on the 7th game.

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

jfrisch:  I’m a big fan of (most) cards that warp the game but increase the complexity in interesting ways.

My favorite Dominion card right now is Horn of Plenty. Gainers in general add lots of interesting tactics and thought into the game and Horn of Plenty in particular is quite strong but requires a good amount of finesse to build around properly. I also really like Bridge Troll which helps you gain more cards but, again, is not simply spammable and procession which leads to some excellent puzzles and incredibly precise game play. In terms of things that are not technically cards Windfall is probably my favorite event. It’s often worth warping your deck around but to do so requires careful planning.

My least favorite cards are cards which regularly dominate with limited support while dramatically increasing the luck in the game. Cultist and Rebuild both actively destroy otherwise fun kingdoms and they’re going on my ban list as soon as it exists. I’m also personally disinclined towards Possession. I don’t like the degeneracy it seems to frequently encourage (though I understand why many disagree).

What cards do you think are the most overrated/underrated?

jfrisch:  Bishop is trash. Opening with it is suicidal in most circumstances and merely disastrous in the others. If you’re both going for the engine it gives them a crucial tempo advantage. It can sometimes be a desperate source of alt-VP to enable engines (but, even then, unless they’re going Big money, you’re usually better off skipping it). The trashing it gives to your opponent is unforgivable and, for the vast majority of games, you never want it.

Gold is underrated. Obviously it’s crucial in big money games but, beyond that, you can often get it on the cheap (Courtier/Treasure Maps/Windfall/Soothsayer/Tunnel/Market Square etc). It’s actually uncommon for gold to make a deck worse. (Though there are certainly some cases where it does). Unlike silver it’s generally a good card!

What are your initial impressions of Renaissance, the newest Dominion expansion?

jfrisch:  Mountain Village seemed hilarious, Experiment delightful and Sculptor intriguing. I’m delighted that Donald is trying to push towards strategically complex, but simple to read, cards.

What was the most memorable Dominion match you’ve ever played?

jfrisch:  I remember a game which ended (on piles) in about 7 turns which just felt absurdly fast. I’m not very good at remembering specific games in general though.

How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t playing Dominion?

jfrisch:  I’m a math grad student so I do a lot of math! Other than that I really enjoy hiking, traveling (often for school), and especially trying to find hidden restaurant gems (which is what I might be principally known for in my friend group).

What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to get better?

jfrisch:  For new players specifically, you need at least 300 games (often more) before you’re going to be good (55+). It’s not just that there are lots of cards (and, honestly, you usually need to play with a given card at least 5 times before you understand its nuances) but there are so many ideas, tactics, and strategies that until you’ve played a lot of games you won’t be able to understand. Play these games trying to understand what your opponents are doing and try to make sure your deck is at least as good as big money plus one or two cards.

Don’t worry if you mess up. I don’t think there’s a player around who won’t occasionally pick a strategy that is worse than BMU (pure big money with no kingdom cards).

As in most competitive strategic games you’ll learn way more playing stronger players. Sometimes you’ll win but usually you’ll lose. If you can, ask them questions if you lose, usually they’ll have ideas of what mistakes you made which is the sort of precise tactical or strategic info and reasoning that is really hard to distill into articles. Also as in most strategic games when you’re tired or on tilt you will play much worse. Stop it when you’re no longer having fun.

In terms of specific strategic advice while strategy and deck planning obviously are the lions share of Dominion a close second is endgame play. Endgame play is sometimes simply looking for wins in 1 turn.  More often endgame play relies on paying deep attention to what your opponent could buy next round, determining how empty the piles are, figuring out roughly when the game will end, and planning tactics around it. Moving from weak to intermediate endgame skill is enough to increase your play by at least 5 levels.

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