This post written by RTT chronicles his experiences at the 2019 German Championship.
On March 3rd I attended the finals of the national Championship of Germany and Austria (also known as “Jubiläumsmeisterschaft”) to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our beloved game. This shall be a report of my experiences and games I played during that competition.
Arriving in Altenburg
The finals were held in the castle of Altenburg which is the residence (Altenburg, not the castle) of the German dominion publisher (ASS). After a 3 hour drive on the day before, I arrived at the hotel and and met with some community members in a local restaurant. This was a real great start to this trip as getting to know some of the people I often played with online in person was really awesome. We had a nice evening and played some filler board games too.
So, the tournament starts and the first pleasant surprise is that it’s held in a 2 player format. Which is great since I enjoy a 2 player dominion game much more, and it also decreases the randomness of the game. Out of all the players who qualified through preliminary tournaments or games played at “Hotspots”, 50 people showed up to the tournament.
The first pairing matchups were randomly drawn and each couple gets to pick (without seeing the cards) one of 8 different kingdoms to play with. The cards used were a mix of all expansions without Alchemy, Prosperity, Dark Ages, Hinterlands and Renaissance (not released in German yet). A heavy focus of the kingdoms appeared to be on Nocturne cards, maybe to promote ASS’s newest release.
The first board was this little gem with a nice engine to build. An interesting twist was that Tragic Hero is the only +Buy but it’s pretty hard to keep since you are starting most turns with 6 cards in hand due to Ghost Town. My opponent was a woman who didn’t know any of the Nocturne cards yet. She opened Farming Village/Ghost Town and proceeded to buy a lot of Sacrifices to trash them to each other. Eventually she got a Tragic Hero and started actually doing some things but the game was long over by then. A neat trick on this board was “killing” the Tragic Hero for a Gold and then Stonemasoning the Gold into 2 more Tragic Heros (or Labs once the Heroes ran out). Storytellers were not touched, and I think rightfully so. You can trash your Coppers anyway and want to trash the few Gold you get with Stonemason or actually buy things.
From this round on the organizers started to do the pairings based on previous performance; that is winners played other winners and so on. So, as it turned out they used a variation of the Swiss style tournament format.
This game was a Bridge megaturn board. My opponent didn’t know the power of stacking Bridges and mostly bought a lot of Silvers and Chariot Races. She also was too afraid of playing Cursed Gold and thus got her Sentry way too late. I finished it with a big Megaturn in which I played a Ghosted Lost City to draw and play all my heralds and bridges. Oh, and the board also had the Landmark Museum and the Event Seaway, which were pretty irrelevant other than boosting up the endgame score for tie-breaking points. (Yes, they decided to use some weird calculation of points relative to your opponent as a tiebreaker).
This was basically a game about rushing to Champion and winning the Nobles Split. Goat allowed for that to happen pretty quickly. My opponent also realised that, of course. He opened Smugglers though and I carefully bought my own Smugglers turn 3 (as second player) when I knew he had his Smugglers in his turn 4 hand. He neglected to gain another Smugglers and chose to not play his at all. His only big mistake was an early Fortune Teller that really helped me get to my Champion a few turns faster than him. I also got a nice tactical Doctor trash in once, cleaning up a lot of junk at the end of my shuffle. I won the Nobles split (with the help of my two Smugglers) and, by playing multiple Sacred Groves each turn, the game ended on the Province pile.
In this round I encountered one of the people I met with the day before, and arguably the strongest one: Till (Sicomatic) who also plays in the Dominion League A division. The board though was not really that exciting. While you could theoretically build some engine here there just is no +Buy or extra gains other than some boons; money just closes out the game super fast with Baker and Lucky Coin support. Luckily I was first player here and did build a kind of one of everything deck aiming at Fairgrounds as a potential Province substitute. Till just got a bunch of Bakers and trashed a little with Raze. He piled up a huge amount of Coffers. We both started greening at the same time though, and without an extra Buy there’s really not much use for the tokens. I sometimes missed $8 and could only buy a Fairgrounds. I was at 14 uniques at the end of the game but Till bought the penultimate Province thinking he’s enough in the lead (online Dominion made us weak) and I am able to buy the last one for a 1 point win. It turned out he miscounted how many starting Estates had been trashed, thinking we had both trashed one where really he trashed two and I kept all of mine. Unfortunately that already kicked Till out of the tournament since he had tied a game in a previous round before.
After the Qualification rounds the top 8 finishers advanced to the quarterfinals. Having won all 4 games I probably finished first or second in the qualifying rounds since only one other player managed to win all 4 matches as well. Unfortunately that was of no use, since the QF pairings are for some reason purely random again.
I played this one with Wolfgang, another member of our group (Watno). And boy is that a board. We have great trashing with Monastery and Butcher. We both opened with that since Borrow allowed everyone to start with a 5 cost card. By the way, all 4 Quarterfinals played that same board which I found was a really nice thing for a tournament to do. I heard that in a a lot of the other quarterfinals they opened Baron instead of Butcher which I don’t think is as good. If you buy Ports on your Monastery turn you get to trash even more cards so we both got thin really quick. We did build a Port Faithful Hound engine that was aiming to play a lot of Horns of Plenty as payload. But before we could start scoring, piles have started to become really low and I was able to find a tricky pile-out on my turn by throning a Butcher to gain and later play 2 more Horns (I had to trash Horn into Horn for it to work). So I was able to win with just one Province against no victory points at all.
This was such an awful board for a IRL tournament. Originally it even included Swindler as an 11th card but since that’s too many cards it got removed at random. I was so happy about that swingy card being gone. But imagine if Lighthouse would have gotten the axe instead. *shivers* The board still was full of nasty attacks to really punish you for not having a Lighthouse down every turn. And to top it all off there is Keep to make the tracking of VP really hard. Fortunately I got a really amazing head start. We both opened 5/2 and got Vampire/Lighthouse. On turn 3 I gained a Cursed Village with my Vampire which flipped the Hex War. But, my deck didnt have any cards costing between $3 to $4 yet so I got a free Chancelor effect instead. I also got to trash my Magic Lamp for three Wishes very early on. Actually building something on the board is really messy, but I bought a lot of Cursed/Blessed Villages, Bridge Trolls and Secret Caves. I didn’t draw that well in the end so I couldn’t really close it out. I delayed the end of the game multiple turns to make sure to win most of the Keep splits beforehand. I didn’t want this game to end in a unpleasant surprise because I really was far ahead. In the end I won every single Keep split (other than Magic Lamp) and won the game on the back of that with a big points lead.
So I made it to the finals! This is where it gets exciting right? Honestly I was already very happy to have made it this far. For this game one of the organizers sits with us at the table acting as a “judge”. That basically meant that he picked up cards every now and then to read the text on them closely; sometimes even directly from play. Like once I played an Imp and thought about what to play with the Imp after drawing, but wait … where is my Imp gone? Well it’s in the hands of the judge.
And of course there were a lot of the other players standing around the table as spectators. My final boss was another member of our group: Lukas (tufftaeh).
We both were in great mood for this final and had some amazing banter. At the start I messed with all the spectators and the judge and did pretend to read all the cards as if I didn’t know them. At catapult I said out loud: “Man that’s a lot of text. I am not going to read all of that now.” Ah, we had a good time. So about the actual game: the kingdom has no +buy so all we have for gaining is Artisan (and Leprechaun). Catapult is a nice attack and Guide a pretty nice counter. We both opened with a Tormentor to gain some early Imps. Lukas hit an early Artisan while I get Plaza and Catapult. Lukas delays his Catapult a little too long and was thus a bit behind in trashing. He also had some sad draws where all his estates landed in the same hand and he couldn’t buy anything but a Pearl Diver. Skipping a whole buy like this hurts a lot in a single buy kingdom. One time I played my Catapult commenting it with the meme: “I am going to play my Catapult to trash a Copper and gain a Lab.” (Judge starts to read Catapult again) Even Pearl Diver had its time to shine as a card to play after your Imp. Once it saved my catapult form being bottom decked early on in the game. We both gained our Plazas and two Idols from Artisan. At one point I got hit by Envious and pretended to read Envy: “This card allows me to ignore Silver and Gold.” So we both try to hit $6 for the Nobles now. The big difference here I think was that I used 2 Guides to move through my deck much more quickly and to fight off the Catapult attack. There probably was the potential to gain a Leprechaun with Artisan and play it right away for a Wish but neither of us noticed that in time. When I am buying the 5th Nobles and with that winning the split Lukas offers a handshake as a sign of resignation. At that point I also had 7 Coffers compared to his zero so it’s basically impossible for me to ever miss Province. I also have my deck way better in control than he did so the resign was reasonable for sure.
So I actually did it. And the Prize was … a participation certificate. (and a 250€ voucher for their online shop) But seriously as far as prize support goes it was kind of disappointing. Not even a trophy for my shelf or a big unique Certificate. Anyways, I hope the biggest prize is yet to come and hopefully its for the joy of all of you.