Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with nerdbound

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview:

Transcription done by: truffles

“Be a nice opponent”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features nerdbound who will be playing Quarterfinals against RTT Saturday October 31st @ 18:30UTC.

truffles: Hi everyone! I’m truffles and today I’m here with nerdbound, who has made it all the way to the top 8 of the 2020 Dominion Online Championship. So first of all, congratulations!

nerdbound: Thanks! Yeah, it’s exciting.

truffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

nerdbound: Sure. I live in San Francisco and I grew up in Idaho. I work in Public Health – so my life’s exciting right now. I have two dogs.

truffles: Ooh, I love dogs. What kind of dogs are they?

nerdbound: There’s one that’s a whippet and one that’s a chihuahua mix.

truffles: Have you checked out the #pets channel in the main discord?

nerdbound: Occasionally. I have not taken any pictures of them and sent them, but I’ve considered it and gotten lazy.

truffles: You should definitely share some pictures of your dogs – it’s like free karma in there. Otherwise, how did you discover Dominion and how long have you been playing Dominion for?

nerdbound: So I probably first played Dominion a number of years ago, in real life. I didn’t really get addicted to it, until relatively recently in like the last year or so when I started to play a bunch. Yeah, I watched a bunch of Dan Brooks’ videos on YouTube and got really interested in it and then I started playing online. So last year’s championship was my first time ever playing at a relatively serious level and I’m excited to be playing again.

truffles: Oh wow, I didn’t know you were so new to the online world. I know you’ve only played in a few seasons of league, but that’s really cool.

nerdbound: Nah, I’m definitely a noob.

truffles: Well you made it all the way to the top 8 and you’ve also played in A league, so you might be new but definitely not a noob.

nerdbound: Where I was thrashed, you know what I mean? So it’s a little worrying, my future performance in this, but hey at least the past performance has been good.

truffles: Yeah, for sure. So, menagerie came out this year. I was wondering if you had any impressions on it.

nerdbound: It’s slowly become my favorite expansion. I think it’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy everything about it. Horses, in particular, are one of my favorite mechanics. It’s because I love draw, so that’s a good thing.

truffles: I noticed you also have the menagerie card as your avatar, do you like the expansion just because the names is awesome?

nerdbound: Yeah, well that’s true too. What you don’t know is that I’m unusually tall and thin, so I’ve always borne comparisons to giraffes so the giraffe has always been my thing. And that’s why I wanted it to be my Dominion discord picture. So it happens to be the case that giraffes are associated with menagerie, which is in turn associated with a lot of fun games.

truffles: That’s awesome. Do you have a favorite or least favorite card in the expansion?

nerdbound: I think my favorite card-shaped-object is Way of the Chameleon, which I think is a fabulously designed card that leads to ridiculously games all the time. I’m a big fan of Paddock – it’s grown a lot of me. What else? Cavalry, cavalry is amazing. Yeah, those are a few of my favorite things.

truffles: Do you have least favorite cards in menagerie?

nerdbound: Uh, I suppose I should have thought about that. But no, I don’t think so. I like them all. I saw a few responses name Gatekeeper, but I feel like no one ever plays Gatekeeper so it’s hard for me to mind it too much. So no, I think it’s all great.

truffles: Do you have a favorite or least favorite card overall, not limited to Menagerie?

nerdbound: Oh, I feel like I had an answer to that question. Hmm, honestly not really. I enjoy all of the cards. Hm, something like City Quarter is a really good card – it’s one of my favorites. I really like draw.

truffles: Do you have a least favorite card? Maybe Swindler? I would be surprised if there was no one who didn’t mind Swindler. Actually, I think it’s one of Mic Qsenoch’s favorite cards, which is a bit mind boggling to me, but I can see the appeal of messiness in type of decks.

nerdbound: Yeah, haha it’s on my banlist. It might be my least favorite card so that was a good guess.

truffles: Wow, haha. I actually don’t mind Swindler that much. I actually don’t play that often, but I spectate a lot and from a spectator view it’s a lot of fun to watch Swindler games. I think I remember one of the moments in the championship where markus had swindled his opponent’s Province into nothing because it was the last province on a fleet turn. It was definitely one of the highlights in the Championship for me. Speaking of that, do you have a favorite moment in the Championship so far?

nerdbound: Not really. There have been a lot of great games. I haven’t gotten to spectate as much as I would like, because, again, the Public Health thing and I’ve been hard to schedule with too I feel like, haha. One of the things that come to mind right now is the game I just epically lost against hakha in my last [championship] match, where he ignored familiar and I gave him 10 curses and it didn’t matter at all. That was a lot of fun. 

truffles: Yeah, I saw comments about that in the #championship channel, where people said “hakha, I really liked the way you played.” I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet but I’ve been meaning to. I’m definitely looking forward to those interesting moments and boards. I’m in the middle of moving so life is super hectic, but I’m looking forward to catching up on those games. As a follow-up to the championship questions, do you have a person that you think is most likely to win? And you can’t pick yourself.

nerdbound: Uh, well I don’t think I would pick myself anyways, haha. I think I’m sort of rooting for nasmith99 because he’s been playing really, really well and I think he has good chances.

truffles: That’s a good pick for sure. Have you had a favorite overall Dominion moment this year so far? I’m not sure if it’s been a little more crazy for you since you work in Public Health, but certainly the Dominion community boomed, such as league and discord, since more people are online.

nerdbound: I think I’m going to go with Menagerie Mix. I had a game where I played against aku chi where he invested Magpies and Villas. But then, I bought all of the Magpies and Villas in one turn and drew him his whole deck, while winning the game on, like, turn 5. 

truffles: Oh my gosh.

nerdbound: Yeah, because it was Menagerie Mix. And all the cards were crazy. Yeah, that was a highlight for me just because it was so ridiculous since he had a 30 card hand or something and didn’t get to play it.

truffles: That sounds both awesome and very sad for aku chi.

nerdbound: He seemed to be enjoying it, but I don’t know – you’d have to ask him, haha.

truffles: How would you describe your playstyle? I know you’re a bit more of a newer player. Though some people don’t think playstyle is a Dominion thing, but I think I do. Mostly, how would you describe your train of thoughts when you look at a new board or you have a new decision point?

nerdbound: Yeah, I think that’s alright. It’s hard for me to say because I haven’t been playing against a lot of high level people for all that long, to have a sense of how my style differs from theirs. I think the main thing I do differently than maybe some of the people I’ve played is that I worry a lot more about mid-game turns. How can I not underplay the turn? How can I make sure I get every ounce of buying power and gaining power into the deck? That’s what I think I’m good at? Exploding out of the midgame. I don’t even know. When you play someone like E.Honda, they’re all doing that too.

truffles: Mhm. Do you have a certain thought process?

nerdbound: Do you have an example of a thought process?

truffles: Hmm. I think Dan Brooks had once published an article trying to teach newer players how to improve, where when you look at a board you have to look at if there’s draw, if there’s plus buy, if there’s a village, etc. To figure out if you build an engine. I think that’s a very good first level thought process overview.

nerdbound: I think another thing that Dan Brooks has said that I really like is that he tries to identify the best thing on the board and go for that. Which I think at least if you’re learning the game, it’s definitely the way to go. Maybe at some high level, you should actually go “I see the best thing on this board is this huge engine, but I think some money deck might beat it so I’ll go with the money deck.” Most of the time that’s wrong anyways, but even when it’s right it’s hard to learn from. I typically do the same thing that [Dan Brooks] does, which is try to find the best thing and go for it.

truffles: That’s a good approach. Do you have any advice for Dominion players looking to improve.

nerdbound: Nothing that isn’t pretty standard I think. You should watch a lot of high level play and especially watch the chat, where people are disagreeing and such. That helps to ground you and learn what other people think might be best play so you can make up your mind about what the right answer would have been in that situation. I think that’s the main thing I do anyways – try to learn from other people.

truffles: I like spectating a lot because I really like engaging with other players and learning all of their cool thoughts and tricks… and then stealing them.

nerdbound: Haha, yeah.

truffles: Definitely a good way to improve. My last question for you is: If you had a Dominion catchphrase, what would it be?

nerdbound: I wracked my brains on that one – I don’t think I have one, haha.

truffles: Haha, you have to come up with one! 

nerdbound: What would be a good example of a good Dominion catchphrase?

truffles: Some of the ones that I have been said so far are “Specifics matter” and “Don’t buy gold”. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a good catchphrase, haha, but it can just be something you live by when you play Dominion.

nerdbound: I’ll follow the cue on something that you live off by, which is just that I think that it’s very important in online spaces to go out of your way to be polite or nice to people. I’m not sure how to turn that into a catchphrase, but it’s something I try to really think about. How can I be welcoming to newer players? How can I be someone that people would like to play against?

truffles: “Be a nice opponent.”

nerdbound: Yeah, something like that. 

truffles: That’s a good and wholesome one. Well, thanks for letting me interview you! I think you’re playing RTT next on Saturday, October 31st at 18:30UTC. Which is very spooky, because it’s Halloween. I wish you the best of luck and have fun!

nerdbound: Thanks, this has been a lot of fun!

truffles: Awesome, bye!

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