Transcription and translation of text interview by terracubist. The original audio of the interview can be found here: (podcast link coming soon). hsypsx plays sillypotter on Sunday, October 31st at 1700 UTC. For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/
hsypsx’s YouTube channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE4esLI0i-jkijEdUL1oEcQ
terracubist: Hello. Would you like to introduce yourself, and perhaps most importantly, how to pronounce your name?
hsypsx: I actually don’t know how it’s pronounced, it’s whatever you want to pronounce it in your head as. In case people are interested, I just randomly generated usernames until I got one that was pretty unpronounceable, so it’s intended to be that way. So anyways, a bit about myself I guess. I’m a grad student right now on the East Coast, so I don’t have a job. Any other hobbies…like, I used to play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee, actually, before the pandemic, but that kinda shuttered down. I’ve been trying to find some pickup games recently, but I haven’t gotten back into it. That would be my main other hobby, I’d say.
terracubist: Yeah, I feel like pickup Ultimate is big with grad students. My brother’s in a group with people also doing that. It’s a nice fun activity for people who mostly sit indoors all day.
hsypsx: It’s a nice form of exercise, and you don’t have the super athletic freaks playing, they’re off playing actual sports. Wait, uh, Ultimate Frisbee is a real sport.
terracubist: What is your favorite and least favorite card in Dominion?
hsypsx: Let’s start with least favorite. Let me see my banlist… my least favorite card to play with is Catapult. It’s just these games where both you and your opponent have to open Catapult a lot of times, and you have a lot of $2 hands that you can’t do anything with. I just really don’t enjoy that. As for favorite card, I think I enjoy alternative sources of draw. Cards like Shepherd and Storyteller, I think. There’s a lot of little tweaks you can do to play them right, and I really enjoy that part of it.
terracubist: So I’m familiar with some of the tweaks you can do for Shepherd, like topdecking and stuff, but what are you thinking of for Storyteller?
hsypsx: For Storyteller, it’s a lot of the same ideas. Gear and Storyteller work together pretty well, because you can stash aside a Storyteller. Because one of the main problems with Storyteller decks is that you need a lot of Treasure, so if you don’t have a Storyteller in your starting hand you dud. So it’s just to guarantee you have a Storyteller in your starting hand. It’s a lot of the same things that help Shepherd.
terracubist: That’s an interesting take. I haven’t heard the two compared to each other so hm. Would you say that they’re interesting because they’re different, or that you like the challenge of them, or that you outplay people on boards with those cards?
hsypsx: If I’m on ladder I think I’ll generally outplay people with those cards, but if I’m playing in a tournament where everyone knows what they’re doing I definitely can’t say the same thing. But I just enjoy playing with them.
terracubist: And what would you say you find the most challenging card or card-shaped object to play with in Dominion?
hsypsx: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is Donate. But generally I think it gets a bad rap. A lot of play with Donate in my mind is Donate down to getting the best five card deck you can as quickly as you can a lot of times. So it’s actually not that bad. Another one I find challenging is Governor. I still don’t think I play Governor properly, but I think I was playing a lot worse before.
terracubist: Before what? Did something happen?
hsypsx: I think I’ve slowly gotten better at playing with Governor. Governor’s been out for a long time.
terracubist: Do you think that the tradeoffs between giving your opponent a benefit is the difficult part, or picking between the three options, or…?
hsypsx: I think one big thing that helped a lot was aku chi said a lot of Governor games are a race to five Provinces. And I hadn’t really thought about that before. It makes sense because your alt-VP gains are kinda limited. Obviously there are exceptions, but before that I was randomly flailing around and I had no idea how many Provinces I should take in certain positions. That helps simplify the endgame calculations a bit. I think in general I’ve gotten better at endgame positions since I’ve started playing, which is a long time ago.
terracubist: Like in general, non-Governor games?
hsypsx: Yeah, just in general.
terracubist: So I guess that’s a nice transition to our next question, which is: can you talk about your career in Dominion? How have you developed as a player, are there any memorable tournaments or highlights that you’d like to share, like “oh, there was this one time I did well in last year’s Dominion Online tournament” or something.
hsypsx: I don’t think I’ve actually had that much success in tournaments before this year. I actually hadn’t entered that many tournaments before this year. I would always just play ladder and not enter any tournaments. I’ve actually been playing for a long, long time, since 2011. Maybe not as long as some of the other quarterfinalists, but I think longer than most of the others.
terracubist: I mean, game’s been around since what, late aughts, right? So that’s a majority of the game’s lifespan.
hsypsx: Yeah, exactly. I played on Isotropic, but to indicate where I was, even, I looked at my most recent Isotropic games and there’s one where I’m playing WanderingWinder. My first $5 is Merchant Ship, and this is a Kingdom with Minion and Border Village and stuff. *laughs* WanderingWinder did not get any Merchant Ships that game.
terracubist: Perhaps an indicator of how good that card is.
hsypsx: Yes, exactly. In terms of most memorable games, though, I remember maybe the most exciting game of Dominion I’ve ever played was the one game where I rolled King’s Court, Goons, and Masquerade in the wild. This was before Masquerade got changed. I was so excited, I played this game out, my opponent wouldn’t resign until they had literally zero cards in their deck. And I was actually supposed to meet someone for dinner and since this game took so long I was kinda late to meet them. I didn’t tell them why I was late.
terracubist: Playing games on the Internet, bullying strangers.
hsypsx: *laughs* Yeah, exactly. I was bullying this poor opponent, who wouldn’t resign. They could’ve resigned.
terracubist: That’s interesting, I’ve never heard anyone talk about actually pulling it off.
hsypsx: My understanding is that it was killed after Royal Carriage came out, because Royal Carriage + Masquerade was a lot easier to pull off. But I’ve actually been on and off for 2011. I wasn’t playing around the time Adventures and Empires came out.
terracubist: So you took a break for school or something and then you came back.
hsypsx: Yeah, I’ve taken a lot of breaks throughout the years. I’ll play for a few months at a time, and then not play for a few months at a time. Or years, in the case of Adventures and Empires. It was really jarring, because the last expansion I had played with was Guilds, and I come back and there’s these sideways objects. They were really cool to play with; they did really neat stuff.
terracubist: Very different though. The first time I opened Empires I was like “what is this?” Do you think that this current stretch that you’re on is your peak, or do you think you played better in the past, or where do you think this matches up to your past.
hsypsx: I mean if you look in terms of rating, I’m playing at a higher level than I was in terms of that. I’d say this might be my current peak. I’ll try to get some more peaks but I don’t really see how that would happen to be honest.
terracubist: Well, this is a good spot to be in, top 8 at Worlds.
hsypsx: Yeah, with a fair bit of luck along the way. I don’t know if you saw any of my matches.
terracubist: I might’ve seen one, I don’t remember which one.
hsypsx: There was one match against jakkdl where it came down to game 7 and I basically had to have a miracle draw on the last turn, and I got it. Otherwise I would’ve been out of the tournament.
terracubist: That’s the way the game works. What cards were involved?
hsypsx: Basically my Patrician had to find my Market at the bottom of the deck, and then my Market had to draw several other Markets for me to afford the stuff I needed to afford, and that’s exactly how it played out.
terracubist: So everything just lined up perfectly.
hsypsx: Yeah, exactly.
terracubist: Sometimes those hot stretches of luck are all you need.
hsypsx: Yeah, and I hope it continues.
terracubist: Only three more matches left?
hsypsx: Theoretically. It could just be one. It’s probably likely one.
terracubist: Who’s your next opponent?
hsypsx: sillypotter, who’s probably the top Japanese player I’d say.
terracubist: Which I don’t believe is scheduled, but hopefully by the time we finish transcription we will have something to point to. This question wasn’t on the list but it’s a nice thing to close out with that truffles did a few years ago, which was to let people have a catchphrase. I think we’re going to try and expand that and say is there any statistical project or card that you would want to shill for, anything you want to say while you have your thirty second soapbox.
hsypsx: Hmm, let me see. This is very open-ended, huh?
terracubist: Yeah, it’s a chance for you to say “Gold is a good card, actually”, or whatever your crazy take is. Or if you just want to use this time—you’re a mod of this tournament, you could comment on how it’s been, running the tournament.
hsypsx: Yeah that’s probably an easier question for me to answer. It’s hard for me to come up with a good catchphrase, don’t want to let people down. It’s been a lot of fun to mod this tournament. There were a lot fewer hiccups than I anticipated. A lot of it was due to the prior work that truffles has done, so I gotta give a lot of credit to her and all the other mods who have helped out along the way. I’d just like to thank everyone for playing in the tournament.
terracubist: That’s a good thing to close on. You have what, a team of 10 people managing 500?
hsypsx: This year there were only like 300. So technically there’s 8 mods, one per region or “castle”. That’s the idea we came up with this year. It’s basically a team of 8 mods, and truffles still helped out a little bit.
terracubist: Still impressive.
hsypsx: As I said, standing on the shoulders of giants.
terracubist: Yes, every year we get better. Alright, well thank you for taking your time to interview.
hsypsx: Thanks, and thanks for conducting these interviews.