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.
markus will be playing JoMa Friday, October 26 at 600pm UTC (2 o’clock PM Eastern time Friday afternoon); you can watch the live-stream of the match at twitch.tv/dominionstreams.
This is markus’s pregame interview.
Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you, where are you from, what do you do?
markus: I’m 33 years old and from Austria. I have a Math and Econ background and I’ve been living in Germany for a couple of years now.
How did you start playing Dominion?
markus: I started playing it when it won the Spiel des Jahres, so I’ve been there all along. I played on Isotropic, but only became more involved when I joined the Dominion League for Season 11 three years ago.
What do you think was your toughest match in the tournament so far?
markus: The last one in terms of not getting eliminated, the first one in terms of keeping my focus.
What are your favourite and least-favourite Dominion cards, and why?
markus: In general, I like diversity and having all those expansions means that you don’t have to play too often with any card. I like Donate, because it really forces (and rewards) you to have a good plan before the start of the game.
I hate how Star Chart plays out with the new shuffle rule: you should take into account what say the last 2 cards of the old shuffle are that you are about to draw – do I need a Village or a Smithy using Star Chart? And it’s relatively easy to figure out what those cards are (in contrast to say Wishing Well), because youíre looking at your discard pile, hand, play area, set-aside cards and just need to add them up. Maybe also look at supply and trash, if you’re unsure what you’ve gained. It’s annoying to waste time figuring out those cards or waiting for your opponent to do so, when there is a seemingly simple fix (being allowed to see the remaining cards of the deck when shuffling).
But that’s just something that comes up online. In real life – and also with other games – my gaming groups tend to allow looking at everything that could be memorized, because we want to see who finds the best strategy and not who has the best memory. There, I should maybe pick Swindler as least favourite if I wanted to reduce my chances of losing games due to bad luck. But I will actually pick Black Market: what I appreciate in Dominion is the supply that is the same to everyone but differs from game to game. Your goal is to find the best strategy given the supply. Black Market removes that to some extent. Since the second edition and with 60 cards in it online, the Black Market deck has become strong enough that you rarely want to skip that. It’s still high skill because you need to pick the right cards at the right time. But you can’t plan on using positive interactions between cards in the supply so much anymore. I wouldn’t put it on my blacklist, but I would like to reduce the share of games with it a bit and I should put it on my blacklist every other day.
What cards do you think are the most overrated/underrated?
markus: Overrated is Sauna/Avanto. The nice thing is that it provides a lot that you want (trashing, +Actions, drawing), but it’s not very fast, if your opponent doesn’t help you to uncover Avanto. Before you open Sauna/Silver, check whether there’s better ways to trash, get +Actions, and draw!
Underrated is Summon. Yes, you typically can only gain a $4 cost that way, but playing it without having to draw it or spending an Action the next turn is very strong. This often makes up for it being a weaker card later on in the deck compared to the $5 cost that you could have bought instead.
What are your initial impressions of Renaissance, the newest Dominion expansion?
markus: First, I always like having a new expansion as it adds to diversity and gives you something new to think about. For sure, I wouldn’t play as much Dominion anymore, if Guilds had been the last expansion.
Second, I like Villagers. They seem like a nice way to rescue awful shuffles and weíve all had all the Villages and then all the terminal draw colliding.
Third, I also like having new landscapes, especially when they make you re-evaluate the rest of the board or do unusual stuff like Innovation. (Not so much when they waste your time when shuffling.)
Therefore, I’m looking forward very much to the full release of Renaissance!
What was the most memorable Dominion match you’ve ever played?
markus: I remember one of the games in the Monoset tournament against Dan Brooks that had Knights and Rogue (I believe). It went on for a long time and Dan was slowly winning it by better plays.
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t playing Dominion?
markus: I like playing board games in general. Usually, I play a lot of different ones and many not very often. Dominion is the exception that proves the rule and probably because every board is different.
What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to get better?
markus: Try to get someone to comment on your play (join the Dominion Discord!).
In terms of strategic advice, watch out for three-pile endings (finding them, when you can win; not opening them up for your opponent, when it’s not a necessary gamble; setting them up for a future turn).
In the early and mid-game try to play the best strategy that is available (maybe inspired by your opponent). I think you can easily get to level 60 ignoring what your opponent does in the early turns and as much fun it is to react to what your opponent does.