Last week on the Dominion League Weekly Podcast host Strumphf interviewed Gamesou, who has played in every single one of the 46 seasons of Dominion League! The transcript of the fascinating interview is below, thanks to terracubist for the transcript. Let us know in the comments if you are interested in more interviews, and feel free to suggest interesting people to interview.
You can find the podcast here: https://dlw.podigee.io/
strumphf: Hello! How are you?
gamesou: I’m fine. It’s a bit rainy today.
strumphf: Are you in Lyon right now?
gamesou: I’m in Lyon. Not yet holidays. I spent a lot of time home this last year, as did many people I guess.
strumphf: So to start us off, I have ten little either/or questions, so I just give you two things and you can say which one you prefer, or if you don’t prefer any. So, the first question is: Pain-au-chocolat ou croissant?
gamesou: Pain-au-chocolat. So much better.
strumphf: Parc de la Tête d‘Or ou Théâtre Antique?
gamesou: Parc de la Tête d’Or.
strumphf: Breakfast or brunch?
strumphf: Strawberries or cherries?
strumphf: Donkeys or giraffes?
strumphf: Saturday or Sunday?
gamesou: Ummm… both? Is that allowed?
strumphf: Yeah, that’s allowed. You can say all you want to say. Computer or phone?
strumphf: Music or no music?
gamesou: No music.
strumphf: Great Britain or Germany?
strumphf: Dominion Online, or in real life?
gamesou: In real life.
strumphf: Okay. I am always curious about everyone, especially about names and avatars. So what is the meaning behind your username?
gamesou: Yeah, that’s a good question. So it’s old, because I’m—it comes from my childhood, so before Internet. I’m 40 and an old friend of mine was calling me gamesou. I don’t really know why. My first name is Guillaume which kinda sounds like “game”, so it became gamesou. So I used it, and the first time I had to choose a name I chose it and now I stick to it. But the funny thing is that in the last 10 years I’ve learned that it has a quite interesting meaning in Greek, it means “fuck you”. *laughs*
strumphf: What?! Oh no!
gamesou: Yeah. So some Greek people sometimes have some weird behaviour with me online. I think my childhood friend doesn’t speak Greek.
strumphf: I see, I see, wow. That’s some bad luck. I mean if you’ve had it for so long it would be weird to change it now. So what is your avatar on Discord? What is this thing I’m looking at?
gamesou: Okay yeah, so it’s a polytope. I’m doing maths, I’m a mathematician, and it’s a shape like a weird cube, and it comes out—so if you imagine if you take a cube in large dimension and you cut it through a plane—and you see think like this—if you take a usual cube, like a die, if you cut it you can have a triangle if you cut close to a vertex, you will see a small triangle. If you take parallel to some face you will get a square. If you cut it other ways, you can get a hexagon, if you cut it in an oblique way. And in the same way if you hide the cube in a very high dimension through a plane as I mentioned something similar to the world we live in, you would see an object similar to my avatar. It’s a random section of a cube in dimension 1000 I think.
strumphf: Okay, okay, I can’t say I really followed all of that.
gamesou: Yeah, but I guess the words have some poetry at least.
strumphf: So I have to ask, are you originally from Lyon?
gamesou: No, I’m not. I’m from Bordeaux, which is maybe a more famous city in France and I moved to Lyon for my first job. Yeah, so I’m from Bordeaux, but my parents don’t make any wine, so I got my wine education in Lyon.
strumphf: I was very happy when I saw that in the other interview you did in 2017 because I’ve lived in Lyon and I’m very emotionally attached to it.
gamesou: Oh really? When was it?
strumphf: Ages ago, I was 6. But I still have the best memories. That’s why I had the question about Parc de la Tête d‘Or.
gamesou: I was going to say I can see the Parc de la Tête d‘Or from my window. Very nearby to it.
strumphf: Aw, that’s amazing.
*gamesou shows strumphf view out window over video*
gamesou: Yeah so if people don’t know it’s a very large park, I think it’s the largest in France. I don’t know how it compares to Central Park, but for sure it’s large. The round trip is around 4 kilometers.
strumphf: So the last general question, it’s a question that is also interesting to me, but do you have a favorite color, and if so what is it?
gamesou: I used to answer orange. I don’t wear orange often, but I like it. And Duration cards, in Dominion.
strumphf: So before we dive into League stuff, I was curious, just as a little quiz, do you know how many unique opponents you’ve played in the seven years of Dominion League you’ve been playing?
gamesou: I would say close to 200, 150 maybe?
strumphf: Close, 115.
gamesou: I think there was some other player who had played all the seasons, MtMagus. I don’t know who’s played most opponents, because in the early years we played mostly the same people.
strumphf: So do you know who you played most games against?
gamesou: Qvist, maybe? No, no…
strumphf: No, you’re right. Wow. But they’re not playing anymore, are they?
gamesou: I haven’t seen them recently, so I don’t know. Possibly, yeah. We played last year or two years ago? I can’t remember the seasons, I’m mixing a bit.
strumphf: Yeah, it’s so impressive that you’ve played every single season. How did you do that?
gamesou: Well, I like it for sure. There was one season where I was close to quitting, because I couldn’t find time to play, so last week came and I played only one match, but the moderator was very nice and encouraged me to try again, to find some time and we did it in the end. But once you have such a long streak it’s hard to stop. I would like to play 50 more seasons.
strumphf: Do you play any other Dominion tournaments, apart from League?
gamesou: I’ve played for the World Cup, all the World Cups, for France, and all the Championships. All of them so far. I’ve never played for lesser tournaments. I know there are many of them, but I cannot commit to more Dominion. League is fine, it’s one game a week, it’s fine for me.
strumphf: Yeah, I see that. So you have witnessed all of League, from the beginning. How do you think, from your perspective, the League has evolved since its beginning?
gamesou: Well I think everyone knows it but I think the level is much higher. I was able to go to A league several times in my years, but not anymore. I’m often in B in the good seasons or D in the bad ones, but I don’t think I play much worse than before, maybe a little bit. Of course there are more players, but also there are much more good players. It’s quite clear for me. The average level for the top divisions is much higher, it is clear to me. Also there was a switch, because before Discord people used to discuss on the forums on dominionstrategy which were less interactive, and now there are much more live discussion and online events so it helps people improve more and commit to the league. So that’s a lot of change. I don’t follow a lot of online discussions and I don’t often watch games. I don’t read the Discord discussions for lack of time, but the amount of discussion around the League increased a lot for sure.
strumphf: Yeah it’s interesting because I only signed up in November so the way it is now with the Discord and the League and everything and also the expansions—that’s all normal for me. That’s how I got introduced to it, so the idea of this evolution is so fascinating to me. Also, like, you will have witnessed all the different expansions being released, right?
gamesou: Yeah, and all the different websites. Before Dominion Online we played on a site called Goko which was a bit buggy. If one player was disconnected the game may stop. And this would happen quite a lot. If a player was clearly winning, he would be given 0.75 to 0.25 points, and you can imagine this was not really easy to deal with. So it was a big problem. The new website is working really well. It was a big change.
strumphf: That’s also something I don’t know anything about. *laughs* I just know this.
gamesou: So even before there was a client in text mode, called Isotropic. I think it was before the League. There were also tournaments in that era. Yeah, that was also an interesting one. A purely text mode client. I think you can find videos of it if you search for it.
strumphf: I’ll check it out. How did you get into Dominion?
gamesou: My cousin got Intrigue as a present, so we played together and I loved it, and then I quickly bought the expansions. I think Prosperity was already out, so it was not at the very beginning. And then I bought all the expansions as they came out. At some point they stopped being translated into French, so I bought the English ones and now we have a mix.
strumphf: That’s going to be good for your son, though, right? He can learn English with Dominion.
gamesou: Yeah true. He knows what’s a Buy, and what’s an Action, and what’s a card.
strumphf: Are you still playing Dominion together?
gamesou: Yes, yes. So now we play regular games. I’m still trying to give me something of a handicap, because I cannot just play without trying to win. So we came up with the following thing: on each of my turns I would randomly choose one Kingdom pile, by rolling a die, and if possible I would have to buy that card as my first buy. But on some boards that’s quite an issue, if you have a single Buy it’s very hard to deal with. But there are some boards once your engine is running even if you have to buy a Curse every turn that’s not a big issue. In these games it’s not so easy for my son to beat me, and then if he loses we will play with the same Kingdom, then he will try to imitate whatever I did. We’ve had some very nice games. And he was very happy to run a complicated engine and win.
strumphf: You’re training him. So coming back to League, do you have any thoughts on just the structure, like are you happy with the way it is?
gamesou: Yeah, it’s working very well. Yeah I’m super happy. It didn’t change much with time. Only some divisions were added. I think it’s working very well.
strumphf: Do you have some memorable matches or moments from League?
gamesou: I think I was twice in the A finals.
strumphf: Oooh, wow, congrats.
gamesou: In the “easy times”. Against Stef, yeah, I don’t remember the actual games, but some of them were quite close. I remember at some point in a critical match, I was losing. It was a game with Harem, and I bought a Scout. Do you know about Scout?
gamesou: It was the worst card in Dominion, and it was not completely unreasonable to get. There were some other games where I was beaten by some nice engines. Some particular games I do remember, but most of them I’ve forgot. I’m sure if I watched videos of old games I would remember, that would be interesting. I should do that, watch over old games and see what I think of my play.
strumphf: So, there are recordings. Did you record those, or…?
gamesou: No, I never recorded. Many opponents did. Qvist did, even in those early times. No, I never recorded. I wouldn’t even know how to do it. I’m not a computer guy.
strumphf: That makes sense. When did you feel you were playing your best?
gamesou: Especially compared to other people, it would’ve been the early days of course. But it’s true that in seasons 5 to 15 was the time I was more into Dominion. I would try to follow everything that was on the forums. Now I’m often missing some combos and it was not the case at this era. I think the other people improved, or at least I hope so. I don’t think I play much worse than I did before. For sure other people play much better.
strumphf: I also feel, like you said, it also depends on how much time you have to watch other matches and improve, watch videos, and also what your expectations are for yourself, so that makes a lot of sense.
gamesou: Yeah, I don’t expect much now, I’m just having fun in playing the League. There is a part of randomness with regard to promoting…
strumphf: I mean, you are a pretty successful player, right. It sounds like you have some higher expectations, but you’ve been playing since forever and you’re pretty good.
gamesou: Well, not the very best but I’m still a reasonably good player. But when you’ve played for 46 seasons you start relativizing. You think of things in a more relative way, you can compare to many more things. It’s all the experience of the veteran.
strumphf: Yeah, you’re taking down the new ones. So in this 2017 interview you said that Ironworks is your favorite card. So I want to know, is it still your favorite card?
gamesou: Well, it’s one of them. I like all the gainers. Groom, Ironworks, Devil’s Workshop, all these cards I like, but it would be hard for me to single out one. Ironworks I like because I started with Intrigue. Yeah, I think that’s something with Ironworks. Whenever it’s on the board it makes me something. Yes, I think it’s still my favourite card. Because you can play an Ironworks, gain an Ironworks, and repeat.
strumphf: And is there a card you absolutely don’t like?
gamesou: No, I like all the cards. Possession I don’t get often because it’s on the banlists of many people, but it happens sometimes and it’s fun. I wouldn’t play a Possession cage match where you play with it every game. Might be a bit too much. All the cards are fine, even Scout.
strumphf: Yeah, I never quite understood this banlist thing, because I feel like I want to know how to play every card, so it doesn’t make sense for me to ban any.
gamesou: Yeah, but some people hate some cards or they wouldn’t have them banned. For some people the banlist was a real good plus. They would play with the banlist, they wouldn’t play without. So if it’s like this for sure we should have one. All my lists are empty.
strumphf: Oh, my banlist is empty too, but I have things on the other lists. You don’t even have a like list?
gamesou: No, no list. No list at all. I just like pure randomness. I was just saying that now we have so many cards. In the early times a banlist would make a bias to the calculation that was noticeable, but now the pool is so large that the effect is negligible. In the early times if you had a banlist and a like list, it may happen that you play with a card from your like list three times in a six game match. That would be too much.
strumphf: So the list feature came with the new, or the current, client?
gamesou: No, it was a bit later. It was maybe three years between banlists and the new client.
strumphf: Interesting. So if you were going to a lonely island, and could only bring the base set and one expansion, what expansion would it be?
gamesou: Okay, so the Base set and Intrigue. Ok, Base. I could have taken Intrigue just for Ironworks but that would be a bit boring. I would choose Menagerie. I continue learning new tricks about them, so I think that would be the case on this island. Can I bring my son?
strumphf: *laughs* Sure! The question is just for Dominion, you can take whatever you want. If you had not the base set but Intrigue, would your second expansion still be Menagerie?
gamesou: Yeah. The cards from Base and Intrigue, I’ve played a lot with them. Definitely I would choose Menagerie because they are quite new. Also I bought Menagerie not too long ago, like six months ago, so a bit late compared to when it was released.
strumphf: Do you have all the expansions? Like, as real cards?
gamesou: Yes. I’m missing some promos. I’m missing Prince, Church, Captain. I have a homemade Summon. You can easily play with homemade landscapes and card-shaped objects. These you can easily make a home version, just print it. I hope Donald is not angry with me for this. But yeah, I have bought all the expansions.
strumphf: Cool! That must take up a lot of space, no?
gamesou: I store everything in a large box but I couldn’t throw away the boxes, so they are empty, and my kid will store his Legos inside. But yeah, I could not throw them away.
strumphf: I see. That’s one thing that I like about the client, that all the cards are in there, and it shuffles for me, and draws for me, and also the client knows the rules about cards. So when I play with my mom for example, all of a sudden you have to remember all of the rules yourself and explain it to others and be like “No, now is the Action phase and then there’s the Buy phase”. But I’m a bit lazy, and like the client.
gamesou: Yeah yeah, for sure, for that it’s great. Also, some of the cards changed. It doesn’t matter often, but sometimes you have to know that you shouldn’t rely on what’s written. It seldom matters but sometimes it’s an issue.
strumphf: I remember the first Base edition as well, that had cards that it doesn’t anymore, right? So I think my brother still has it.
gamesou: I play with them. When I choose my cards in real life, of course I use all the old ones. With Thief I can steal Magic Lamp! And then have two Lamps pop in the same turn. You can do it on the client if you have the right set, but that was nice.
strumphf: Yeah, I can imagine, that’s so cool. So you do play one match a week for League with Dominion online, but then you play in real life…
gamesou: Yeah, I would play from time to time, casually. Per rate I would say two games a day, maybe, maybe less. Some of the time I would play while I would wait for something to happen. It may happen that I have to resign which is not very nice. It’s a way to spend time but I’m not really happy with it, playing games fast while thinking about something else. I do it, but I’m not happy with it. I shouldn’t do it.
strumphf: But it’s so easy to. You just click the button. How long did it take you to play on your current level.
gamesou: Well, I don’t know how to answer because I think my level is the same it was 8 years ago. That time it went quite fast. I think it was easier in the early days. I started playing on Isotropic, I think there were only 4 expansions? So it was easy to know all the cards. And it was much easier to reach a really good level. Now I think the learning stage is much longer, just from the cards. So I think it took a few months, let’s say maybe four months from the moment I started playing online to the moment I was at the top of my level.
strumphf: So what do you think is the best way to improve? Just learning cards and combinations? Or playing a lot? Or both?
gamesou: To start you should play a lot, you should play with all cards several times. But once you know the cards quite well, you should stop playing and look at other players, either watch videos or online games. Now there is a lot of material for this. Lots of videos, lots of online, lots of commentary. But it makes sense to go into this once you really know all the cards, I would say.
strumphf: How do you deal with losing matches or losing games?
gamesou: It doesn’t affect me anymore. I may be the person who’s lost the most matches in League, though.
strumphf: Yeah, because you’ve been playing all the seasons.
gamesou: Maybe I’m also the one who won most games. Anyway, If I don’t promote some season, or the next one… I’m much more detached than I used to be. In the early years I was really angry with myself. When I would demote from A to B the first time I was angry with myself, but no longer. The trick to be able to lose games and not care is to play forty League seasons.
strumphf: *laughs* Okay, pro tip. Do you play any other games besides Dominion?
gamesou: I’ve played a lot of Hanabi, which is now quite famous. I think at some time it was not so famous, I think I played it before it was really famous. I think it would be the game I’ve played the most after Dominion, in person that is. The other game I’ve played a lot was Height of the Galaxy. An old game, a game that came out the same time as Dominion. I played it online a lot through the client. There are other games I still play from time to time, I don’t know much about the most recent games. I’m sure there are many good ones, but I stick to my old classics. I play a lot of Scrabble. Competitively, I even competed twice at the World French Scrabble Championship, the French language. I would go to Dakar/Senegal. And then, there was this crazy story of this guy from New Zealand, Nigel Richards, who doesn’t speak any French, but was able to just read the dictionary and remember all the words and always find the best one. So he would just kill the game. So in French people play in duplicate Scrabble to eliminate chance. But he just wouldn’t fail. So this guy who didn’t speak French is by far the best French Scrabble player today.
strumphf: *laughs* How do the French take that?
gamesou: It was very hard, yeah. The French, Belgians, Swisses, Québec… the nice thing is that there are many countries that speak French, the community was worldwide, but yeah, Nigel Richards was really amazing.
strumphf: Do you happen to know Seven Wonders, the game? Because it’s French, I think. I just noticed, because you can play it online too on some platform, that all the French people play Seven Wonders.
gamesou: Yeah, it’s a French game. The same company as Hanabi I think. Was it on boardgamearena maybe? That is another platform where many games are available.
strumphf: I didn’t know Hanabi was a French game.
strumphf: I’ve only played the Seven Wonders Duel thing, and I like it, but I feel like it’s so competitive I always feel like the person who’s winning feels great and the person who’s losing is like “I hate this! I’m never going to play this again!” but maybe that’s also just the people I’m playing against.
gamesou: I meet with friends each summer for one week and play some games. I’m trying each year to buy a new game to play with everybody, and have heard a lot of good things from Clank. Did you know about it?
gamesou: But yeah, I think I’m going to buy that one for this summer. I cannot tell yet if it’s really great.
strumphf: Okay, so you are into numbers, and you are into letters, as you do maths and Scrabble. What are your other hobbies?
gamesou: I like running. I did Parc de la Tête d’Or quite a lot. I would just go and run laps around the park. But yeah, that’s my main hobby apart from games. Running.
strumphf: It sounds very well-rounded. You have many-faceted interests. And you will be playing Dominion for the next fifty seasons. We haven’t even reached fifty seasons.
gamesou: Yeah, it’s 47, right?
strumphf: This has been the 46th.
gamesou: 46, okay.
strumphf: And you are promoting, aren’t you? Congratulations.
gamesou: Yeah I am promoting to C, thank you. I may be the player who has promoted the most, maybe not. I don’t remember how many times I’ve promoted, but it is something I could check easily. I think from D to C I was never lower than D and maybe it was only twice… but I’m happy to go back to C. I think that’s where I should be.
strumphf: You feel like that’s where your level is?
gamesou: Yes. So if I’m good and lucky I go to B, but if I go to B and stay in B I would be happy.
strumphf: Well I still think it’s pretty amazing that you’ve been playing so long in those very high tiers. I mean I only joined the server half a year ago, so I guess my perspective is just different from yours, because I only know this huge, huge League with like 700 players.
gamesou: Yeah, I should say I’m not the only player who’s played since the beginning. There are many players who just had some breaks, but who played from seasons 1 to 46, except like 5. You can find many players like that. I’m not the only one.
strumphf: Yeah, but you are only one of two players who’ve played in every season. I’m still fascinated. If you could have anything, is there anything you would change about League? Like would you have smaller divisions or that the season is longer, anything? Or are you just happy with the way it is?
gamesou: No, I wouldn’t change anything. Maybe one could have a single B division, but I’m not sure it would be too great. Also it’s good to have consistency. Now we have a pattern which works well, so let’s keep it. It allows us to compare between different times more easily. I don’t see any reason to change.
strumphf: So is there any other player you would be interested in hearing an interview with?
gamesou: I’d like to hear about Stef. Sure, he doesn’t play in the League, but for sure he would be an interesting interview.
strumphf: He’s on my list.
gamesou: Great. Ummm…no, any top player would be interesting, but if you interview Stef I will for sure listen to it immediately. It was quite impressive, he was able to essentially create the website from scrap in a very short time to convince Donald X. to give him the rights. Quite impressive!
strumphf: Well, we’ll see, but he’s definitely on my list. Is there anything you’d like to share, storywise or whatever, any thoughts.
gamesou: Nothing which comes to my mind.
strumphf: We’ve covered it all. Well thank you very much. This was great. Thank you for coming on, and I hope you have a wonderful evening now. Thank you again and have a good one. Bye!
gamesou: Thank you. Bye.