DO2021 Interview with JNails

JNails plays Mercury444F on Sunday, October 31st at 1600 UTC. For info on the other quarterfinalists see https://dominionstrategy.com/2021/10/28/dominion-online-2021-championship-final-8/

strumphf: Hello, everyone! I am strumphf, and today I’ll be interviewing JNails, who has once again made it to the top 8 of the Championship! Congratulations, and hi!

JNails: Howdy. Thanks, I’m happy to be here.

strumphf: Once again, JNails is very lucky with very professional interviewers who lose their audio midway through their interview. If we’re counting correctly, this is the fifth interview you’re doing with us?

JNails: I do believe so. Maybe I’m just bad luck. Last year in 2020 we had the same problem of the audio dropping and me redoing the interview.

strumphf: Thank you for your patience. This is our annual check-in with you. You already shared things about yourself in the previous years. Is there anything major you would like to share that happened with you in the past 12 months?

JNails: Nothing major that isn’t captured by the previous interviews. I got a dog. I got a new puppy, she’s 6 or 7 months old now, her name is Bijoux.

strumphf: We heard her in the audio that is now lost. Maybe she’ll pipe up again.

JNails: Yeah, she was barking up a storm, I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts again. She sees a car go by and needs to let it know who’s boss.

strumphf: I’m trying to recall what I asked already. Let’s start with your typical favorite and least favorite card in Dominion. Is it still Necromancer and Swindler?

JNails: I think Swindler is a given. That card is just evil. That answer is never going to change. No surprises there. As far as favorite cards go, it’s harder because there are a lot of cards I really enjoy, honestly, and none of them stand out as the best. I think in the past, I’ve listed Necromancer, Exorcist, Black Market. All of those are still on the short list for sure. I guess to say something different, I really enjoy a lot of the cards that really shake up the kingdom a lot, that really make you fundamentally rethink some of the basic elements of strategy. Things like Gamble, or Capitalism, or Way of the Mouse or Way of the Chameleon often have that effect as well, where you really have to fundamentally rethink a lot of stuff. There are novel interactions that show up in those games that you might otherwise not be familiar with. I enjoy that aspect of a lot of those.

strumphf: All right and then we talked about how Gamble is one of those enigmas to me, that I really don’t know how to play. Then we talked about the other tournaments, right? I was asking you about what other tournaments apart from League and the Championship you enjoyed playing.

JNails: I played in a few of the mixes. I really enjoyed the Hand Mix tournament, the one that was themed around hand size. It had a lot of draw-to-X stuff, which is a lot stronger there than usual, so you had to do a lot more of it. That was fun. Friendly Mix was really nice. Attack cards are generally some of the most unfun cards, so Friendly Mix was the one that didn’t have any attack cards. That was great. No Terminals Mix I enjoyed because I won it. But I think as far as theme, that was number three on my list as far as mixes go. I also really enjoyed WELP. The Way, Event, Landmark, Project tournament. I really enjoy four landscape games, so I’m looking forward to EEEE, I don’t even know how you pronounce it, the one that nasmith [[also in the top 8 for DO2021]] is hosting. There are just a bunch of E’s because it’s all events. I will almost certainly enjoy the kingdoms that have four Events in them.

strumphf: I’m looking forward to that too, because for me, I find it hard to distinguish between Events, and Projects, and Landmarks. I understand that there are thematic differences, but to me, they are all just the same, I guess. Fun or not fun.

JNails: The Landscapes take the longest to learn. At least that was my experience. I think it’s because they show up less often, proportionally speaking, than your average card. I still remember needing to read the text of each individual Landscape long after I had learned all of the Kingdom cards. To anybody who is interested in the Landscapes, definitely do play with them even if you haven’t learned those expansions yet because I think the Project and the Events are probably some of the most fun aspects of Dominion.

strumphf: Definitely. What do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion?

JNails: I think in the past I’ve said Develop, and that’s still a tricky one. I just missed a Develop pile out in the Round of 64. It’s a toughie. Also, honestly, a lot of those ones I listed as my favorites just a second ago also are really difficult. Part of what I like about them is because they so radically affect the kingdom that it’s hard to just use your normal preconceived ideas on strategies. Gamble, Capitalism, and whatnot. Actually, to bring this up, so I remember. I did just manage to throw League finals this past season in the championship match versus nasmith. I just needed to win the last game to win the Championship. I had a guaranteed win the last turn of the last game. A simple play with Gamble. I totally flubbed it with everyone watching. And despite having played with Gamble a bunch and enjoying the card, clearly I’m still not perfect with it.

strumphf: We all saw it. We were all sad.

JNails: I know, I know, I know. I’ll get my revenge this season.

strumphf: You’ve talked about how you got into Dominion before and your “Dominion career.” In your opinion, what have been the highlights?

JNails: Still one of the big highlights of my career, I think I mentioned it last year – I got to play Dan Brooks in the Tournament Big Money, which was really significant to me because I basically learned Dominion watching his videos on YouTube back when I was still a novice. Actually getting to play him in a tournament environment was great. I kind of had a similar one where I also watched Burning Skull’s How to Play Base Dominion videos when I was learning. I got to play him in the Base only tournament. Playing Burning Skull in a Base only environment was scary. We went 2-2, so apparently his videos taught me something. Maybe too much. He’s un-strategically teaching people how to beat him in Base tournaments. Beyond that, I also enjoy League. I don’t know if any particular moment is significant, but I’ve enjoyed a lot of my experiences playing in the League in the last year or so.

strumphf: Is there anything about League that you would change, if you could?

JNails: Definitely nerf nasmith. I think he’s just a little bit too OP. Create a Supra-A League and just put him in it by himself.

strumphf: C’mon, you almost beat him!

JNails: Give everyone else a fighting chance.

strumphf: You almost beat him in the finals. It was just this Gamble.

JNails: I’m kidding. Playing nasmith is always fun.

strumphf: Oh yeah, another thing I was curious about. (1) how much do you play? And (2) when you don’t ladder, but you have a set match do you have a pre-match routine or anything?

JNails: I play pretty often. I wouldn’t say every day, but probably most of them. Playing random ladder matches is something I like to do in my free time or between things I have to do. I know a lot of people discuss ladderphobia and they’re worried about laddering because they view it as a really competitive thing. For me, I don’t try to focus too much on the games. Usually it’s something to do for fun. For me, it’s a very low-stress environment. I treat those very differently than League. If I’m playing a League or tournament match I’m properly focused and paying attention and stuff. But I get a lot of casual ladder games in between those. As far as routines go, I don’t think I have any particular ritual or anything I do for luck. Usually it involves setting up OBS making sure I have the recording set and ready to go. Grab a glass or two of water so I can stay hydrated without having to take breaks. That’s about the size of it.

strumphf: Specifically for the Championship, do you prep at all? Or is it just another tournament?

JNails: I do remember for the Round of 16, which I just played, I made sure to add March to my ban list versus sangatsu. That seemed strategically important. Beyond that, I don’t think I do too much prep for any specific matches.

strumphf: Was that an insider I didn’t get? I feel like I always have to be on my toes with you because you are so quick.

JNails: Oh no, no. Everything I say is fully in earnest. I’m not wanting to make my little remarks.

strumphf: I know, I know, You keep mentioning that every other day.

JNails: I don’t know why people don’t believe me. 

strumphf: I don’t either. I don’t think you’re a person with a sense of humor.

JNails: Very serious.

strumphf: Going back to the Championship. In your experience, are there notable differences between this year’s Championship and the last one last year?

JNails: This year it’s Castle themed. All the individual sections of the bracket are named after the Castles.

strumphf: What was it last year?

JNails: I don’t remember if they had a theme last year. This year I’m representing the Sprawling Castle, which wouldn’t be my first choice of favorite Castle, but we’ll make do with what we got.

strumphf: What is your favorite Castle?

JNails: Opulent Castle has the best art and I think is nifty as payload sometimes and that can be interesting. I also enjoy Humble Castle because the choice of when to take it is not obvious. Even if you want Castles, you don’t necessarily want to buy Humble Castle very early. That’s an interesting dynamic. I think I would like to rep Opulent or Humble if I had the choice.

strumphf: But no one asked you. Very rude.

JNails: Yeah, I know, right?

strumphf: I saw your quarter final this year is actually a repeat from two years ago. How do you feel about that?

JNails: Well, it can’t go worse! Mercury444F beat me pretty soundly two years ago when we last met in the Round of 8. I got 4-0’d. And then last year I also lost in the Round of 8, but 4-1, versus Freaky. So unfortunately, I think that means I’m likely to lose 4-2 this year if I were to extrapolate from the trend so far.

strumphf: Well, we don’t have to.

JNails: Hopefully right.

strumphf: I feel like there’s so much more I want to ask you, but I feel like I just need to invite you on the pod for a longer interview some time.

JNails: Sounds good.

strumphf: Thank you for now. I don’t know if you have a date for the match yet.

JNails: Mercury literally just messaged me shortly before I got on this interview and I haven’t gotten back to him yet. Very soon we’ll have a date scheduled.

strumphf: We’ll all be there to watch you and cheer you on. Good luck and thank you for taking the time.

JNails: Thanks, and thanks for conducting the interview.

strumphf: Bye!

JNails: Peace.

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This account posts work of various authors to the dominion strategy blog.
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