This interview of Mic Qsenoch was conducted by strumphf for the Dominion League Weekly Podcast. You can find the podcast here: https://dlw.podigee.io/
Mic Qsenoch: Hello.
strumphf: Hi! How are you?
Mic Qsenoch: I’m okay. How are you?
strumphf: I’m fine, I’m a little nervous, but it’s gonna be fine.
Mic Qsenoch: It will be good.
strumphf: How do I pronounce your name. Is *mick sen-awk* correct?
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah, I mean it’s more like “see-nock”, like a long “E”.
strumphf: Ah. But “mick” is correct?
Mic Qsenoch: It’s just nonsense, it’s not like a real anything. But how it’s pronounced I guess is *mick see-nock*. So “mick” is right.
strumphf: I see. Where did you get that from?
Mic Qsenoch: It’s an Internet handle that a friend of mine used at some point. It’s sort of a strong corruption of their real name, and at some point I co-opted it and started using it myself. So it is loosely based to a real-life name, but real loosely, and it’s not my name.
strumphf: I see. And your discord avatar? What is that? It reminds me of “Where the wild things are” but it’s not that, is it?
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah, it’s Renard the fox, is the little character. It’s the art that was used for Swindler on Isotropic, the old Dominion online client – and also the art on Isotropic is taken from the art that Donald X. uses in his prototypes, so it was used as the art for Swindler in a prototype version of Dominion.
strumphf: So why did you choose that for your avatar?
Mic Qsenoch: Oh, just because I love Swindler.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah. *laughs*
strumphf: Okay. Curious.
Mic Qsenoch: I love many of the cards that are commonly hated.
strumphf: Yeah no actually I’m really not as experienced as most of the other players and I used to like Swindler as well but then I had so many games where Provinces were swindled away. *laughs* And I was like okay maybe that’s the reason people don’t like them.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah, I think it’s like when they get their $5s turned into Duchies is the thing they don’t like.
strumphf: So I have a couple of quick questions for you just to warm up, and they are “either/or” questions, so if you would just answer spontaneously, or if you don’t want to you just don’t obviously.
Mic Qsenoch: Okay.
strumphf: Tea or coffee?
Mic Qsenoch: Neither.
strumphf: Cats or dogs?
Mic Qsenoch: Both.
strumphf: Winter or summer?
Mic Qsenoch: Both.
strumphf: mornings or evenings?
Mic Qsenoch: Mornings.
strumphf: Sweet or savory?
Mic Qsenoch: Both. I’m saying “both” a lot.
strumphf: That’s a part of the game, you’re allowed to. Peanut butter, smooth or chunky?
Mic Qsenoch: Crunchy.
strumphf: Oh, is it crunchy?
Mic Qsenoch: Well, I think both, I’m just used to calling it crunchy. But, no, I think both words are used.
strumphf: Oh, okay. Tomatoes or cucumbers?
Mic Qsenoch: Tomatoes.
strumphf: Vampires or werewolves?
Mic Qsenoch: Neither.
strumphf: Italy or France?
Mic Qsenoch: I don’t really know. I’ve never been.
strumphf: Dominion online, or in real life.
Mic Qsenoch: Online.
strumphf: Okay, cool. Now we’ve warmed up. So actually, the thing that was most interesting to me – seeing that you have been with the League since the beginning – is your thoughts on how the League has evolved, if you’d like to share some reflections on that?
Mic Qsenoch: Sure, so I think as a player the basic experience has not changed a whole lot, at least for me. You know, you’re still just playing your five matches and seeing how you do. As a player I don’t think it’s changed too much. I think the biggest change for me personally has been the shift from running it on the forums to running it on Discord exclusively. That, to me, was a big quality of life improvement as far as scheduling and such. I find the division channels to really aid in the “getting your matches scheduled” and just the communication and I think even just the social aspects of it, of communicating with your fellow division-people kinda in a shared chat is fun. But as far as the Dominion goes, the experience is really not different from my point of view. Obviously the League itself has changed a lot in terms of scale from the very beginning, just the number of players participating in League now is really impressively large. I’m sure from an organizational perspective, I mean I know, I have some insight into what goes on behind the scenes, but I think it’s impressive the scale they’ve managed to grow to and maintain. But I’m sure for the moderators, it’s certainly—it’s changed the experience from one that, depending on the moderator and what their responsibilities, they’re doing like actual work. It’s actually on the level of some kind of part-time job or something. And all the difficulties that that might entail. Certainly my appreciation for the moderation has always been high and continues to grow, for the number of things they have to manage and deal with.
strumphf: Yeah, I’m really curious too, because I mean I only joined half a year ago, so for me the state that it is now is kind of normal. But I mean now that I’m doing the podcast and am checking standings and everything more closely, it’s mind-boggling how large it is, actually. How do you feel the community has evolved? Or has it?
Mic Qsenoch: This is kinda hard for me to answer, or to give something that I think is coherent. The main shift, again from my perspective and my experience of the community, is just the competitive scene used to be organized on forum.dominionstrategy.com, all via forum, and then however many years ago, four, five years ago jsh started a Discord server and more or less the competitive scene has migrated to be focused on the Discord. There’s still some posts and things that occur on f.ds, but it’s definitely reduced from its heyday. And along with that shift the personalities change, of course as well, cause not everyone makes the transition, and who the active posters are. I mean, my experience of the community has always kind of been determined by who the handful of really active posters are at any given time, and it’s usually a small number. It’s usually a dozen or so people, who really determine, maybe two dozen, something like that. In both places, I tend to lurk more than post, so my experience of it is really—just tends to be dominated by the personalities that are actively posting at any given time. *laughs* and I don’t know if I want to reflect too specifically on any personalities, but that’s for me what determines the experience of lurking in the community than being a really really active poster. I tend to just get my one-liner in and kinda dip, which is probably not great social behavior, but *laughs* that’s how I tend to do it.
strumphf: No, that makes sense. So here is a question that Cave-o-sapien sent in, and I like the question a lot: Do you think the top players are better now than when the League started, or are there just more of them?
Mic Qsenoch: People like to tell the story about how much better people are now than they were in the past, but I really think the comparison is sort of impossible to make for a number of reasons. Just one is the changing cardpool, and also you can’t make the direct comparison, so it’s hard to say. Qualitatively, you can point to the streak where only Stef and I won the League for seventeen seasons or whatever and then you can say that obviously changed, where I don’t win the League at that rate anymore, and Stef stopped playing in the League and so that certainly shifted, and there’re more people in any given season who could win the League, you might say, but I think even during the period where it was just Stef and I winning that was in some sense a fluke. There were other players who were competitive with us in that period of time, it just happened that we kind of went on this streak. So for me there’s not like a qualitative difference in, like, the level of competition. I think it was hard back then, and it’s hard now, and I don’t have anything to point to that could describe a change that I’ve noticed. Obviously from the very start of the League there’ve been a lot more expansions released, so the cardpool is very different, so there’s certainly things that are available to players nowadays that simply didn’t exist, but I don’t have a strong sense that the nature of the competition has gotten way way way harder, maybe a little.
strumphf: So… I’m trying to collect my thoughts on this, but I feel like the window I got into the whole League and everything is too small to weigh in on that. But it is interesting to see fluctuation and there’s lots of statistics and data available, so that’s pretty cool. But I have to say your performance is quite impressive to watch, also on the spreadsheet.
Mic Qsenoch: Well thanks.
strumphf: What is it like getting to playtest new expansions?
Mic Qsenoch: It’s really fun, it’s interesting to see things go from basic ideas and get tweaked and just I feel like I’ve learned a lot about game design in general, not that I’ve ever attempted to apply those principles. Just one of the things I think is fun: Donald X always, if there’s a card idea, the idea is always to push whatever novel thing that card does as far as possible as the initial guess, and if you need to pull it back a little bit, if it’s too strong or does too many crazy things or whatever. It’s interesting to me that you start with the crazy thing always, and dial it back. And that makes playtesting a lot of fun, because you get to do things, that, well, maybe you wouldn’t want the card to exist in published form, but you get to see some fun things along the way, for a game or two, or a handful of games. That is something crazy. Those games are fun to play.
strumphf: How does it look like? Is it strictly online? Or how does it work?
Mic Qsenoch: So it’s been different. So for Adventures, Doug Z., the guy who made Isotropic, the first Dominion client I played on—this was after the public version of that had been shut down, but he updated it for Adventures playtesting, so that allowed Donald X to reach out to more people, to that community, and invite them to playtest. So I was invited, Stef was invited, and some other people. Adventures playtesting for me was exclusively online. We played a lot. I think probably, Donald X would be able to answer this better, but I think Adventures received probably more playtesting than any other expansion, because there were all these people being brought in new into the playtesting, and we could play just online, so we played a lot of games. And then for Empires, Doug Z. did some implementation of the cards online for playtesting, but some way through the expansion he stopped doing that. And at that point the only available way was to print your own prototypes and play. I did a little bit of that for Empires, you just play with people you know. Ongoing, it’s been a mix of whether somebody in the playtesting group has developed an online thing that has the implementation for the current expansion or not, so it’s been a mixed bag of what things have been tested. I did some IRL testing for Nocturne, I didn’t really do much playtesting for Renaissance. And I guess along with all these – once Stef took over the online client, I have playtested all the expansions at the point of them being implemented on the public thing, or for them to be released on the public thing. But that was not necessarily at a point in time when the cards were still changing. That was more a “playtesting the client” kind of thing. I don’t know, I don’t really remember what the question was about *laughs* but hopefully that answer helps.
strumphf: No, it did, thank you.
Mic Qsenoch: And I have gotten to playtest some other Donald X games IRL. For instance, Winter Kingdom which was just released this past fall, I did a decent amount of IRL playtesting for that.
strumphf: Oh cool, I haven’t gotten to play any other Donald X. games, I think.
Mic Qsenoch: I definitely recommend Kingdom Builder and Winter Kingdom.
strumphf: Cool, I’ll check them out. What other board games do you play, other than Dominion or Donald X. games?
Mic Qsenoch: Kingdom Builder and Winter Kingdom sort of became the game I would play IRL over the board with my family. The at least most common one, anyway. I dunno. I like Tichu, which is like a card game, like a partnership four-player card game, and then I like Troyes, I like Keyflower, those are kind of the Euro games of the ones I’ve experienced, that I kind of prefer. I do like word games, the quick paced kind of party-style games, things like Time’s Up or Bananagrams, just something that moves along pretty quick that has some dexterity or quick thinking components. Quite enjoy those.
strumphf: I don’t think I know any of those games you just mentioned. *both laugh* But Bananagrams sounds awesome!
Mic Qsenoch: Bananagrams is basically just Scrabble. It doesn’t play like Scrabble, but you have tiles with letters on them, and you have to form the crossword style words, but you just have a pile of letters and you just do it as fast as you can, and then you draw more, and you’re trying to run the pile out. But it’s not about scoring or anything, it’s just about making the words as quickly as you possibly can. It doesn’t matter if they’re long or short or whatever.
strumphf: I see. How did you start playing Dominion?
Mic Qsenoch: I bought Dominion, you know, cardboard/paper version, in 2011, just off of looking at Board Game Geek ratings slash estimated playtime, something that wasn’t super long. And then I played a bunch the summer of 2011 IRL, got quite a few more expansions. Maybe all of the ones that were printed at that point, which I think was everything but Hinterlands. Then Hinterlands came out somewhat shortly after I started playing. Then I really started playing online a lot, on Isotropic a lot in 2012. So…I was in graduate school, and that’s a perfect time to do things that you aren’t supposed to be doing in graduate school, like play a lot of Dominion. And that’s basically what I did. I’ve played a lot, pretty much, ever since.
strumphf: Do you play everyday?
Mic Qsenoch: No, I don’t play everyday. I play bots a lot. I don’t play on matchmaking hardly at all anymore. I do play the bots pretty frequently. Probably not everyday. Probably on a rate of every other day at least. Certainly average a game a day overall because I play several when I play. And I have a match for some tournament almost every week, so you know, that’s about the rate that I play it. When I first started playing on Isotropic I was playing a bunch of automatch games, like, you know, really playing a lot almost everyday. But after probably a year or two of that I stopped playing the automatch stuff as often, once we had switched to a new platform and things.
strumphf: What are your favorite Dominion tournaments?
Mic Qsenoch: By far League is my preferred format. I think it’s just really nice. I think for me League does a good job as far as balancing stakes versus kind of casual fun. League is nice in that every game has the chance to matter. Most likely to you, but at least to somebody in your division it’s going to matter. So I think League throughout the whole season does a pretty good job of making every six game match, every game in it, feel like it means something. I think that’s really nice. I definitely prefer the competitive style with this pool play or this round robin stuff, where you’re trying to get a high total score, versus like an elimination bracket, where you lose and you’re out. I don’t actually know that it actually is fairer across a large number of tournaments, they’re probably both reasonably fair competitive formats. But I think it feels a little more fair in the League, certainly for like a single season. You had thirty games, you know if you didn’t win, if you lost 15 of them or whatever you probably didn’t play the best of all your competitors. So it feels like it does a good job of being a fair competitive format, whatever that means, to me. And I also think it’s nice it’s not going away. If you don’t do well in one season, you know there’s gonna be another season. You don’t have to feel like “I gotta do this right now”. If it doesn’t go your way, you’re going to get another chance in the same competition. I think that’s really nice.
strumphf: I agree. I guess for me I only know League as it is now, so that’s like my normal, and I feel like I had a very nice start because to me divisions are like a little family of players, and I guess when I started I just happened to meet very very friendly people in my division, so that was my introduction to it, and my first impression was everyone is really nice, and we just play a couple of friendly matches that happened to decide what the family is gonna look like the next season. I enjoy the format as well.
Mic Qsenoch: I agree —I guess it depends on your division, there’re people who have bad luck and have people who aren’t so friendly. Even at the top it’s always felt to me like the competitive aspects never seemed to be dominating the friendly aspects of it for me, even at the top divisions. I never felt like people were so concerned about winning or losing that they behaved badly because of it. At least it’s few and far between.
strumphf: Going back to expansions, what’s your favorite expansion? If you’re going to a lonely island, and you can only bring the Base set and one expansion, what would it be?
Mic Qsenoch: Maybe…This is hard. Um…I get base set also…I don’t know, I think one of second edition Intrigue, Adventures, Cornucopia/Guilds double pack—that’s a product in the US at least—
strumphf: You’re cheating!
Mic Qsenoch: No no no … okay I have to pick one. I might just go with Adventures then. You get a lot of stuff with Adventures, so that’s nice. The other aspect—this is not an answer to this question but—a really great expansion is Nocturne, but it’s really kind of a weird expansion to have as your one expansion or in a small expansion environment. It’s one of my favorite expansions, but I find it really—Nocturne heavy games are kind of weird, but I like the cards sprinkled into full random a lot. So I wouldn’t take it to the lonely island, but it’s probably my second or first favorite expansion.
strumphf: So if you could take one Kingdom to the island, there would be Nocturne in it.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah. I think taking one Kingdom doesn’t do you much good though.
strumphf: I guess not.
Mic Qsenoch: You’d end up pretty sick of it.
strumphf: Yeah, probably after one day, that’s true. So in this 2018 interview for the championship, you said Butcher was your favorite card. Is it still your favorite card?
Mic Qsenoch: I don’t know, I’m bad at picking favorites. I don’t know that I have a favorite favorite. I still love Butcher. The other cards that immediately spring to mind are Haggler and Artificer, for cards that I really love. I imagine if I went through some of the recent expansions I could probably pick out a thing or two, but I think those are the three that stand out for me. I mean Haggler has existed basically as long as I’ve been playing the game, and I still love it just as much.
strumphf: It’s funny, I think the first time I ever played Dominion was at least 10 years ago. But now I’ve come to the League with all the expansions there, so to me it’s like normal to have this giant cardpool, and I find it so weird to imagine that soon there’s going to be a new expansion.
Mic Qsenoch: The new expansion is the most fun time for the community, in the conversations at least. I think it’s the most fun time for me at least, to read stuff from people, around the time of the new expansion releases.
strumphf: I’m very much looking forward to that. Do you wanna talk more about League? Because people sent in some potentially controversial questions.
Mic Qsenoch: I don’t think—I’m sorry tracer, I don’t think I can pick my favorite League moderator. That doesn’t sound like a good move. I mean if I knew who my moderator was going to be next season, then maybe I could answer that question.
strumphf: Lemonspawn mentioned division size, season length, and stuff. Is that something you want to get into?
Mic Qsenoch: I mean I have some thoughts. The big thing is the thing Sharur has mentioned, the flex divisions, which are terrible. *chuckles* They’re the worst. Flex divisions are secretly just, A and B now have 7 players a lot of the time. That’s at least for my experience. That’s not necessarily the experience at all tiers, but for my personal experiences flex divisions just mean I have to play another match in the same exact time period. And that I don’t really like. But it’s not a big deal. I just—every single season since flex divisions have existed I’ve put in some sort of feedback in my returning form about how much I don’t like flex divisions. It’s sort of a meme more than anything. I mean, I’m serious I really don’t like them, but I’m not torn up over it. But as far as division size and season length, I’m pretty okay with the status quo. I think it would be interesting, I don’t think it would ever happen, but it would be interesting to live in a world where we have something like a superleague kind of thing, where you have the top 10 people or something and you have them all play, like have a really long season, and have them all play each other like twice or something like that, just have a massive number of games amongst 10 of the strongest players. I think that would be really interesting to kind of get a more definitive answer of “right now, who is playing the best dominion” but I don’t think that’s sort of realistic to happen. And it wouldn’t really work within the League format necessarily, but it would be similar to League in the sense of playing a big round robin kind of format.
strumphf: Like an All-Stars.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah. And I think like A division over a couple of seasons or whatever basically achieves that, it’s just interesting, I would think it’d be interesting to expand that a little bit. But I don’t imagine that would ever happen.
strumphf: Well, somebody would need to pick up the idea.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah. I mean, well you could do it, I think the issue is getting participation, because ideally I think you would want—if you can convince them to play, you want all the people who are like in contention for being “the best”, quote unquote. I think League already does a great job of getting participation from the strongest players. I don’t think League is bad on that at all. But there are certainly, like, notable exceptions.
strumphf: How do you deal with losing matches or demoting?
Mic Qsenoch: I think, at least in League, if your goals are all focused on this immediate thing you’re just going to be dissatisfied over and over and over again, cause it’s just not going to work out. That’s not how the game works. There’s just too much randomness. You can’t just force a game win, you know, by sheer will, so you have to have a longer term feel on these things and basically I think it’s absolutely true that on a long-term scale if you’re improving, if you’re actually getting better at the game you’re going to see improved results over time. It doesn’t mean you’ll promote this season, or you’ll win this specific match, but if you’re getting better—if your goal is to—I guess one thing is you could just not care, right, you could just not care if you’re getting better or worse, and then you shouldn’t really worry too much about losing at all. That I think is a perfectly good and reasonable way of dealing with it. But if you’re upset about losing because you want to have success or because you really want to win or whatever, you have to take a longer view of things. Like, I guess the other thing I would say is, that if you’re like playing in a division, you’re good enough to be there. You just simply are. And so if you’re playing in a division you’re good enough to win it, or at least not far away. And so you just have to believe that, and keep doing whatever things do for you to improve, but know that it’s not necessarily going to happen immediately. But I guess especially for the League you know you have another chance in the future, or you can if you want it anyway. Also you can just win a lot. That’s what I do. Then you don’t have to worry about losing matches.
strumphf: *laughs* Great advice.
Mic Qsenoch: *jokingly* Just get good. I don’t know.
strumphf: As easy as that.
Mic Qsenoch: It’s easy to say this here. I’ve of course been upset about losses before that have hurt. But I think they do hurt more when it’s like a tournament that is ending. For me at least, then if it’s something that happens in the League context it’s easier to think “I’m going to get another shot at this”. But even in another tournament context, I think you just have to tell yourself “there’ll be another tournament, whatever it is”. The Dominion competitive scene is not disappearing.
strumphf: I hope not! Maybe this is a bit too personal but I’ve listened to some of your self-commentating and maybe it was like the specific games or the specific matches, but it felt to me as if you were being pretty harsh with yourself, and you were kind of beating yourself up a lot. Is that something that you just do because you were mad at yourself, because you made some mistakes, and then when the match is over it’s all good? Or is that like, lingering?
Mic Qsenoch: I don’t think it lingers too long. I sometimes lose a few hours of sleep running through games again in my head as I lay in bed. But it doesn’t stick around too long. I think it’s—I mean part of it—okay, it’s hard to sort of capture all of what’s going on when I’m commentating, because my mind is divided amongst a number of things. And I’m also just trying to talk for the sake of talking, right, I’m just trying to say something at any given moment while I’m also trying to think about this game. And so not everything I say is 100%, I don’t know if sincere is the right word… but it doesn’t always reflect some long-term view. I do not have a problem with saying that something I’ve done is really stupid. That to me is just part of identifying a mistake so you can think about the situation so you can build up that memory, build up that pattern recognition so that you don’t do it again in the future. So part of that is just to draw attention to it, myself, mentally. I think as part of a match it can be bad if you do that too much past the point of when it happened, which I do do sometimes. Which is I’ll think about a mistake I made two or three games ago, and that’s obviously not helpful for doing well in that particular match. I think if I did more—I don’t do a lot of match review other than what occurs to me as I’m laying in bed at night. I think a better habit—I don’t practice this, so this is advice that I don’t personally follow—but I think the best way to go about that is to not focus on it in the match—you know move on in the match, and then when you’re reviewing the games afterwards, then is probably a safer time to probably berate yourself a little bit. Just as a way of, again, keying onto these mistakes and pointing them out to yourself so that you can do better the next time. I don’t really feel that—I know sometimes that it’s hard. I said commentary is—what I say in the moment is not what I think of later on. I do do some self-beration but I don’t feel super bad about myself in general, I wouldn’t say.
strumphf: Okay, that’s a relief then. Okay so, I’m not terribly familiar with the whole Quarantine Cup situation, but SamE asked you to reflect a little on this experience.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah, so Quarantine Cup for those who don’t know is a weekly competition that’s held online. It’s just one day on the weekend, Saturday or Sunday, and it’s basically two hours in which people can match against and just play each other. You can play as many or as few matches as you like. If you win a match you get 5 points, if you lose a match lose 3 points, and so you’re incentivized by the way the scoring works to stick around and play more matches, but you don’t have to, and then we take the top 4 people, and they play a little single-elimination playoff. So it’s just, you know, a little self-contained one day competition, but it’s intended to be fairly casual. It’s intended to be sort of like a—you know you can just come and play however many games you want, leave or come when you like, if you want to stick around for the whole thing, try and make it into the playoffs, great, if you don’t, that’s cool too. And so we started it last March or February, last March I guess, in 2020, right about the time when the whole world was going into quarantine. So there were a lot of people you know sitting around at home on the weekends so it was something for people to do and we just kept doing it because I think it’s kind of fun and the participation has been high enough I feel like it’s worth still doing. And so it happens every week.
strumphf: Every week, for thirteen months, fourteen months now?
Mic Qsenoch: Yep, we haven’t missed a weekend.
Mic Qsenoch: So this Saturday will be the 61st.
Mic Qsenoch: I’ve said this many times throughout the whole thing is that—I don’t actually know if weekly is the best way to keep doing it because the numbers have gone down quite a bit from where we initially had people. And if you don’t get like at a bare minimum a dozen or so people, it’s hard to get the matches happening. A dozen or so throughout the whole thing, no one has to stay the whole time, but it can be harder to make the pairs—when you have 20 or more people, you have way more than enough, you don’t have to wait for matches, you’re able to find someone real quick almost always. So when it dips down into the teens it gets a little harder. I don’t know all the reasons for why the numbers have gone down, I think it’s just that, well, people are literally not quarantined in their homes anymore as much and so they just don’t want to use their time on the weekend to play Dominion or just the novelty has worn off, things like that. At some point we may switch it to monthly or something like that, but we haven’t quite gotten to that point yet. It still mostly functions week-to-week.
strumphf: Maybe move it to a weekday.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah, we haven’t tried anything like that. I don’t know—it would probably work for some of the audience which is often like student people—I think Dominion has a lot of that. Part of the thing is we try to do it at a time where both the American and European time zones can participate so it’s like an American afternoon, European evening. And I don’t know if, like, a weekday if that’s as likely to hit. But we haven’t tried it, so it’s maybe worth trying.
strumphf: Oh no, but that makes sense. You’re right. The timezones.
Mic Qsenoch: I mean the other thing is just to do it for a time that maybe only works for one, and see what kind of participation it can get. I think there’s a lot more in the space that could be done. Not Quarantine Cup specifically—I really like the Quarantine Cup format, actually, just again as something that has mostly casual—at least to me, the intention is for it to be a mostly casual environment, but just to have some little bit of competitive aspect. But then there’s a lot more that could be done in this space of like, self-contained one-day events, I think, on the competitive side. Where you can do more … the Quarantine format is a little bit wonky with the scoring, but you can do things that are a little more fair. I think the issue is just, like, pace of play is just not fast enough across the board for players to make it super feasible. I think you need timed formats and that’s just, we don’t really have them. But if there was like, built-in—that’s my thing, interest for the client, I think amongst—maybe not my biggest, but one of my biggest interests for the clients, for there to be support for more time restrictions, timed formats. I think that could really improve or open up a lot of different things that are currently not really available in the competitive formats because the matches—the six game matches take 2 to 3 hours for a lot of players.
strumphf: Yeah, I just really like this concept of having this weekly thing because—and specifically in the context of the pandemic—because I guess it gives you or maybe those people who participated in it last year some sort of stability when, like, nothing was stable anymore. So it’s a pretty cool concept.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah I was really happy with the participation, you know, just that people came out and played and we got—we had some fun. At the start there were a lot of people and we—it kind of led into like the finals, we would have commentary and stuff. I still usually—someone commentates the playoff part of it, but it was like this, you know, more of an event whenever the participation was a little higher. But it’s been fun. I should just shout out the people who have made it happen: alibby, rozyroz, formerly truffles, xyrix, and uh, I don’t know why I’m blanking on all of these people. Crlundy helped at the very beginning, and then eh1414 —anyway we have a bunch of League mods involved in it.
strumphf: And we love them all!
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah.
strumphf: What are your top 3 channels on the Dominion Discord server?
Mic Qsenoch: I don’t know, this is hard. I don’t really like—I don’t feel strong affection for any channels *laughs*.
strumphf: What? Not the #pets channel? Seriously?
Mic Qsenoch: No, I—I have most of the channels muted except for like the tournament section, where I have a lot of stuff unmuted. Part of it is that—I have dipped into #pets before, #pets could make it, I don’t read it regularly, but it looked good when I was there. I just forgot about it. I like #mix-kingdoms, the channel where you generate your Kingdoms for the mix tournaments. Nobody’s giving any takes, you just see those Kingdoms. Like I said, I do enjoy the discussions around the release of expansions, so there’s usually a separate channel for those. There isn’t one that exists currently, but you know, in the future there will be.
strumphf: Oh actually, I have a question for whenever the new expansion is released: Will this be added automatically to the Gold subscription? Asking for a friend.
Mic Qsenoch: It’s worked differently a couple of times. The first few times an expansion came out on Dominion Online, on ShuffleIT, basically the cost of the Gold subscription went up a little bit, by some proportion depending on some formula Stef has for the size of the expansions. But it was—I don’t know, some number of cents. But if you want to get that expansion, like if you add—the new expansion comes out, you’re already subscribed to the Gold, if you add that expansion, you just pay the difference, you don’t have to re-pay the full Gold for whatever overlapping time anyway. When Menagerie came out, it was done a little differently, which is that the Gold price did not change when Menagerie came out. People who were subscribed to Gold just got it but he kind of shifted all the formulas in a way to make that happen so … I don’t know what the plan is going forward for future expansions. Maybe he does that every few expansions where it doesn’t change the price but I don’t know if the plan is to do that with every expansion or release in the future. So the answer is I don’t know for this next one. I don’t have any idea.
strumphf: Yeah, I guess we’ll see.
Mic Qsenoch: I’m not even hiding insider info, I literally do not know *both laugh*.
strumphf: I didn’t think you were hiding anything from me. When did you feel you were playing your best? Cave wants to know.
Mic Qsenoch: I think results-wise my two best periods were probably either, like, spring/summer 2018 before the very end of it, or 2020, again probably before the very end of it. Both of those years I won four League seasons in a row.
Mic Qsenoch: Then in 2018 I won the Dominion Online championship in the fall as well and then 2020 I won a couple of little tournaments during the summer. And I think it, in particular in 2020 I won a tournament called WELP, which featured forced Kingdoms that were required to have a Way, an Event, a Landmark, and a Project, so there were four landscapes on every Kingdom. And I say either of those two because I’m not really sure which period was better because in the WELP finals between nasmith and I was probably the best Dominion match I’ve participated in, personally if I had to pick one, you know. As far as how I think we—I think the play was very high. That match was also really weird, so I don’t know the answer between those two. Those were like the clear ones as far as a period of time where I had a good run of tournament results. 2018 maybe is a little bit better, capping it off with the big win of the annual single-elimination thing, but I felt in 2020, I felt like in that WELP match was maybe the best match that I had personally been a part of. But that’s all—it’s very hard to say, it’s hard to compare these things.
strumphf: Yeah, I mean judging by how many matches and games and tournaments you’ve already played it’s probably hard to choose at some point. Do you have any other memorable moments or games?
Mic Qsenoch: There’re quite a few. There was a season—this was a sad one for me, but there was a season where I had to—in a League where I was playing Stef in the finals—this was an early season—where I had to win 5-1 in the championship match to win it and I lost the first game and then I won the next 4, and then I totally blew it on the last one. Like I had a totally good position and I totally messed it up. That’s one of the ones that I kind of have always remembered as one that I wish I had gotten. Just cause it would’ve been really nice to beat Stef 5-1 to take a season of the League. So that was—I mean it’s funny to me, cause it was like—I definitely had like, in the game that I lost at the end, I had like a good lead and I just blew it in some fashion, I don’t really remember now. I do remember some of the cards, it was like a big King’s Court thing, and I didn’t go for all the King’s Court stuff and Stef eventually came back and beat me. It was really close, that was a heartbreaker for me. It’s probably like my number one heartbreaker. But it’s funny. And I don’t know, I don’t have anything else. The WELP match—I keep talking about it but—it was really weird because I can remember like really losing time. At the end of it I was just like “what has happened”—I was like in some kind of flow state or something, which doesn’t happen to me a lot when I’m playing. Occasionally, but it doesn’t happen to me a lot when I’m playing because of the talking and stuff. I can remember finishing WELP and not really remembering almost any of the match, but having this sense that—well I remember like one or two games but there’s like this block of time which is like lost to me. It was really weird because it was like, exhausting, it was just a really bizarre sensation, mental experience, I don’t know.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah so, I don’t know, I have some other ones, there’s some other heartbreakers but I don’t know how many of them are interesting—there’s one that gets memed on a lot. There’re two that I’m a participant in, that I get memed on a lot. One is bad for me, one is good for me. The bad one is a Stables dud that I drew a hand full of Stables and no Treasures in the middle of this game that I was ahead and almost certainly going to win on that turn, and lost a game in one of these elimination tournaments to Seprix. And then the good one is there’s this game with BurningSkull. I don’t know if it was in League or what it was in, but … where he tries to Ambassador and give me a Province at the end of the game to try and run out the last Province, and neither one of us realized this until the prompt came up, but that I could—there was Changeling on the board, so instead of getting the Province I could take a Changeling instead. And somehow I managed to come back and win that game. So those were my two memorable games that at least have sort of penetrated the broader—I don’t know—I don’t talk about these games that much, but other people talk about these games pretty often, or with some regularity, and I have some association with them in the community.
strumphf: Yeah I saw the Ambassador Changeling Province thing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4M6XsbrxGk&start=5804) that resurfaced recently. That was quite the moment.
Mic Qsenoch: It was quite funny because neither of us knew it was coming and then it happened. And it’s also funny because you can see both players’ perspectives on it, there’s a video on it from both sides so if you want to see the whole thing, or if a person wants to experience the whole thing from both sides it’s possible.
strumphf: So Cave also wanted to know what you think if Stef had kept playing in League, who would have more League titles by now, you or Stef?
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah, this is another one of those questions where it’s like, who knows? I think for sure, Stef obviously maintained his level of play even after quitting the League. Stef didn’t stop being good at Dominion, and he is to this day extraordinarily good at Dominion. So, you know, he would’ve won more—I don’t know who would’ve won more, but Stef would’ve continued to win League seasons. That’s fairly clear to me. And so, I don’t know, the easy answer is probably Stef, because he had edged me out in the time we had overlapped, but it was, you know, close, so I don’t know. I don’t think there’s a really sensible answer, but that’s kinda what I think.
strumphf: How many players have you ever met in real life? Who’re now in the League?
Mic Qsenoch: I’ve never met anybody face-to-face. I mean I’ve been on Discord or voice chats in various capacities with people, different people throughout time, but I’ve never seen anybody in person. As far as I’m aware, maybe I have and I just didn’t know, but I’ve never met anyone IRL from the Dominion community.
strumphf: So I only saw this on the Discord, but there are some tournaments—I guess there was one in New York and there’s gonna be one in Chicago, maybe, so that’s not a thing that you participate in?
Mic Qsenoch: I’m not really anywhere near New York so that would’ve been a plane ride you know, some big commitment to go there. I could get to Chicago a little more easily. I have some interest in attending the Chicago tournament, whether I go or not I’m not sure. So we’ll see whenever the plans are finalized. I think it would be fun, but so far I’ve never met anybody in person.
strumphf: I’m just so jealous. I’m so jealous! I wanna go. I wanna meet people! *laughs, sighs*
Mic Qsenoch: You just have to organize one in—where are you from?
strumphf: I’m in Berlin.
Mic Qsenoch: I’m sure you can get—I don’t really know, but I imagine you probably have a good concentration of Dominion players near you, somewhat near you.
strumphf: I think so. I mean we have a good couple German players around, and then it’s not very far to Scandinavia and the UK and France and Russia. Not that far, but yeah, we’ll see. What’re some of your other hobbies besides board games?
Mic Qsenoch: I mean, just other nerd stuff. I like to play video games and read mostly sci-fi fantasy stuff. I don’t know, I just like walking. Walking around outside, do some hiking.
strumphf: What was the last book you read? Or, what are you reading right now, if you are reading a book right now?
Mic Qsenoch: Let me go look. I’m reading a book called The Tyrant Baru Cormorant. It’s some fantasy book. It’s part of some series. It’s okay. I don’t have a strong recommendation for it at the moment, but it’s alright.
strumphf: I haven’t been reading a lot, like ever since the pandemic, which is weird because I had so much time, but somehow I didn’t feel like reading, but I got into fantasy a bit more because it’s so interesting to have those visions of society, I guess.
Mic Qsenoch: Mhm. Yeah, I go on spurts with the reading. I haven’t actually been reading a whole lot right now, it’s taken me a while to get through these books, but sometimes it’s what I’m doing in all my free time, and sometimes it doesn’t happen much for a month or so.
strumphf: Yeah, same with me. It was so curious last year because all the things I used to do in my free time, once I had like 100% free time I just didn’t do them anymore. Like with reading, and also with music I was very—ah well, the human mind, I guess.
Mic Qsenoch: Yeah it’s weird. People are in weird mental states depending on the changes, you know, and how your mood affects what you want to do and stuff you know.
strumphf: It’s just a bummer I didn’t get to discover Dominion Online earlier. I only, like, started in November I guess, and then I started a job this January, so… *laughs*. Too few time. Oh well. Is there anything else you’d like to share? Do you even listen to the pod?
Mic Qsenoch: I did not know it existed until you sent me the message, but I did listen to parts of a couple I think. I didn’t listen to, like, the full recap stuff, but I jumped around some, listened to some of it. It’s interesting, it’s always cool, the different things people find to make about Dominion is always neat. It’s always been a cool thing about the community, it’s just, there’s just a lot of different contributions that people have made as far as just spending their own time to make something for other people to enjoy, and whether that’s like analysis tools or just like entertainment aspect things, it’s always cool to see.
strumphf: Is there anything else you want to share?
Mic Qsenoch: No, I don’t really have anything else in particular but thanks a lot for having me on.
strumphf: Thank you! You’re my first ever guest!
Mic Qsenoch: First of many, I’m sure you can get some, you know, I’m sure there’s lots of people that’d be happy to come answer questions.
strumphf: Who would you like to hear an interview with?
Mic Qsenoch: Hmmm … I don’t know. That’s tough. I’m trying to think of someone who, like, I don’t already hear them because they post a lot, or … some voice of someone who’s been around a long time, but I don’t have a conception of who they are as much. That’s hard, I’d have to think about it, I don’t have one off the top of my head.
strumphf: Sorry for putting you on the spot there.
Mic Qsenoch: It’s a good question. I think it’d be fun to have any of the other, like, long-term League people, someone like markus.
strumphf: Happens to be on the list.
Mic Qsenoch: Someone from the moderator side of the League would be good, I think. There’re lots of people to pick from there I think who’ve been around for a long time. It would be interesting—if the focus of the podcast is on League, it would be interesting to have, like, Stef on, to have him talk about starting the League and, of course, Stef has a lot of other things that he can be asked about as well—there’s tons of stuff that Stef’s been involved with in the community over the years. Or someone like assemble_me, who was around for the start of the League.
strumphf: Okay, noted.
Mic Qsenoch: Those are some possibilities. Those people don’t really meet—the other thing I said, people who are like enigmas to me, because I have interacted with Stef and assemble_me quite a bit over the years, but anyway, those are some people who come to mind.
strumphf: Mic, thank you so much! That was awesome.
Mic Qsenoch: Sure, I was happy, happy to do it. It was fun.
strumphf: It was, it was. Have a nice one. I’ll see you around.
Mic Qsenoch: You too. Bye.