Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with nerdbound

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview:

Transcription done by: truffles

“Be a nice opponent”

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

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

nerdbound: Thanks! Yeah, it’s exciting.

truffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nerdbound: Nah, I’m definitely a noob.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

truffles: Do you have least favorite cards in menagerie?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

truffles: Oh my gosh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nerdbound: Haha, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

truffles: “Be a nice opponent.”

nerdbound: Yeah, something like that. 

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

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

truffles: Awesome, bye!

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Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with nasmith99

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview:

Transcription done by: truffles

“Specifics matter”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features nasmith99 who will be playing Quarterfinals against catoftheyear (date/time TBD).

truffles: Hi everyone, I’m truffles and today I’ll be interviewing nasmith99 who has made it all the way to the top 8 of the championship. So, first of all – congratulations because that’s super cool. 

nasmith99: Thank you!

truffles: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

nasmith99: Yeah, so I grew up in a great Philadelphia area. Right now, I’m a college student in the midwest. I’m studying mathematics and economics. Yeah, I don’t know – I like learning about a lot of things and get sucked into things pretty easily. Like with Dominion.

truffles: Um, the math background explains a lot, I think. 

nasmith99: *laughs* yeah.

truffles:Yeah, seeing a lot of your analysis and listening to your commentary – it makes sense, haha. So, menagerie came out this year – I was wondering what your impressions of it are.

nasmith99: In general, I really like the expansion. I feel like there are a lot of really interesting cards and also just a lot of cards that are kind of more simple but do still make games pretty interesting in general. I don’t think there are a lot of cards from the set that I don’t like. 

truffles: Do you have a favorite or least favorite card?

nasmith99: My favorite card from the set is definitely cavalry. I feel like it’s kind of similar to villa in that it gives you a lot of really interesting and complicated decisions. I feel like the thing that makes it more fun than villa to me is that cavalry there are more spots where you could reasonably buy cavalry, but it’s unclear whether or not you should. Whereas with villa, it’s usually a lot more obvious when you’re supposed to buy it.

truffles: That makes sense. I’ve seen a lot of suggestions from people saying to buy cavalry turn two to trigger a shuffle to see your turn one buy, like amulet or something like that. It’s always pretty interesting to look at those mechanics. Do you have a least favorite card in menagerie?

nasmith99: I don’t think any of the cards really annoy me. If I had to pick a least favorite, I would probably just pick gatekeeper because it’s really weak and generally doesn’t add much to a kingdom.  

truffles: You’re the second person that I’ve interviewed and also the second person who has named gatekeeper as their least favorite menagerie card. Markus also said the same thing – that it’s weak and makes kingdoms kind of boring.

nasmith99: Yeah, that makes sense.

truffles: Do you have a favorite or least favorite card overall?

nasmith99: So least favorite overall is definitely tournament, just because the way games play out annoy me. Like followers makes games really messy. Having to buy early provinces and stuff is just not something I really enjoy. Favorite overall might honestly still be cavalry. But if I had to pick something different, maybe pixie.

truffles: You know, I was going to guess possession just because your current avatar is possession. But I’m happy to hear that it isn’t.

nasmith99: Haha, no it’s not anywhere close.

truffles: I think pixie is also one of my favorite cards. Definitely cards from nocturne especially like pooka, pixie, those type of heirloom cards. They’re really fun to play with.

nasmith99: Yeah, a lot of the nocturne cards are quite nice.

truffles: Switching over to talking about the championship, do you have a favorite moment in the championship so far? 

nasmith99: Favorite moment… do you mean from my games or in general?

truffles: In general.

nasmith99: Yeah, so actually last night I was commentating on auto_pp vs. Titandrake. There was this one really funny play where auto_pp had a shuffle of 7 cards with two patrols and no villages. 

truffles: Oh no. That’s really sad.

nasmith99: It was sad, but they actually did this play where they remodeled into a festival and bought annex. Which, was just really funny because well, we were discussing it in chat that it was super bizarre to see annex bought at all but you know nevertheless bought in the midgame.

truffles: The play did make sense right? I didn’t get to watch the game yet but deck tracking wise it is kind of interesting.

nasmith99: Yeah, I think the play was good. I mean obviously, a duchy isn’t super good at that point in the game but it did save their next turn so I think it was worth it.

truffles: For sure. Have you had a favorite moment of dominion overall? I guess in this past year, since this year has been pretty special!

nasmith99: Favorite dominion moment overall… hmm. Oh, probably just the WELP Finals in general. That was a really exciting match. I did end up losing it, but I was pretty happy with how I played and I think Mic also played really well, so it was a fun match.

truffles: At least you got to claim revenge against Mic in the championship.

nasmith99: I did, yes. That felt really good to finally get that “W”. 

truffles: In general, it’s been a really strong Dominion year for you. You’ve played in multiple seasons of A, reached the top spot in the leaderboard, won Friendly Mix and of course, reached the Quarterfinals of the championship. What do you think has contributed most to your improvement since last year or previous years.

nasmith99: Sure. Well, I think the obvious thing is just playing more and getting more experience with all the cards and whatnot. Other than that, I think my mindset’s improved over the past year or so. I also think the release of menagerie has been pretty kind to me.

truffles: If you had to pick someone other than yourself, as a guess, to win the championship – who would you pick?

nasmith99: A guess? As far as who I think is most likely to win, other than myself, probably Freaky? Although, I guess you could make the argument that you should pick someone who has already made the top eight since they have one fewer round to go through, but probably still Freaky.

truffles: Given last year, I think that’s a pretty reasonable guess. Do you have any advice for dominion players looking to improve?

nasmith99: I would say to just engage with other players, and see the kind of ideas that other people have about the game and always be open to revising your old ideas. It’s pretty easy to kind of get emotionally attached to certain ideas you have about a card or board or whatnot. It can be kind of difficult to let those go – and I’m definitely guilty of that myself. But yeah, the more open you can be to learning new things and admit when you’re wrong, the easier it is to improve.

truffles: Mhm, for sure. I think being able to be aware and modifying your strategy even if a shuffle didn’t go the way you wanted to, or something like that happens, not only helps you improve but I think it helps you enjoy the game more, when you aren’t tilted.

nasmith99: Yeah.

truffles: So, my last question for you is: if you had a dominion catchphrase what would it be?

nasmith99: Um, just something like “Specifics matter”, I guess?

truffles: “Specific matters” – that’s a good one.

nasmith99: Yeah, kind of just to focus all the relevant details of a given position or whatnot and not to get lazy.

truffles: Short and sweet, I like it. Well, thanks so much for letting me interview you! For those of you listening in, nasmith99 will be playing one of kayoshi versus catoftheyear – so tune to watch that quarterfinals match! Thanks and good luck on your next round!

nasmith99: Thank you! Bye!

truffles: Bye!

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Dominion Online Championship 2020: Top 8 Interviews with markus

This interview is an transcription of the audio interview:

Transcription done by: eh1414

“Don’t do stupid stuff”

This year we saw 471 players enter to compete in the Dominion 2020 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features markus who will be playing Quarterfinals against pop180 Saturday, October 31st at 7UTC.

truffles: Hi everyone, I’m truffles and today I’m here with markus, and I’ll be interviewing him for the Dominion Online 2020 Championship. I have a few questions prepared, but first of all, congratulations for making it all the way to the top 8 of the tournament!

markus: Thank you!

truffles: Yeah, it’s really cool. Because I think it’s over 400 players this year, so it’s pretty awesome to make it this far. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

markus: Sure, so I’m from Austria, I’m an economist, I’m 35 years old and I’ve been playing Dominion basically since it came out. Then I started playing a bit more online and when I got into league, and participated in the Championship since then. I don’t know how many times now, but it’s been some time.

truffles: Wow, you played dominion since it came out – I don’t actually know when it came out – 2010, 2009, I think? So you’re a long-time dominion player, you’ve played in 32 seasons of league so far – what’s your favourite aspect of the game?

markus: Well, of course there are some patterns and you start recognising them, and then some boards are more similar than others, but in the end you always have to figure out what’s the best thing to do here, and then what’s the state of the game, what’s your opponent doing and how you can respond to that.

truffles: So, menagerie came out this year, which is kind of crazy because this year has just flown by, but what are your impressions of the expansion?

markus: I like it very much. I must say I didn’t play that much, even though there was all this lockdown stuff going on, but I was quite busy so I didn’t get as many rated games in – just league and tournaments. But, I do like it.

truffles: Yeah, I think there’s some pretty cool mechanics in there. What is your favourite and least favourite card in Menagerie?

markus: So, favourite card, I guess Paddock. I would say Paddock now because it’s not super strong, but on some boards it can be quite strong, so I think that’s the favourite card I would name now. Just because I had one game today in the round of 16 with Transport, I think that’s a very nice event, so I will pick that as a landscape. Also the ways, I really like ways, but I wouldn’t single out one. Least favourite card, it’s Gatekeeper for sure.

truffles: Yeah, I also don’t really like Gatekeeper and I don’t like Cardinal, because it’s really sad to see your cards disappear. Especially with Black Market around.

markus: Yeah, but I think Cardinal is kind of fun because sometimes it doesn’t do much, but then you can, I think it’s an attack I like. Gatekeeper is somehow complicated and weak, so I don’t like that. I think it’s the only one that made it onto my banlist.

truffles: Do you have a favourite and least favourite card overall?

markus: Well, least favourite card is Star Chart. I think i’m famous for that – no, I really dislike that, at least online, you’re not allowed to see what’s in your deck when you shuffle. You have these two cards and you’re always figuring out, what are these two cards? I don’t like that aspect. Favourite card, I don’t know. I looked up what I said two years ago to be consistent, and back then I said Donate. But I don’t think I would name Donate anymore, so I don’t think I have a favourite card.

truffles: Oh, interesting. So, do you have a card that you really like?

markus: Haha, so actually I like it when I can play with a lot of different cards. Whenever I play a a match, I’m kind of hoping that I would get 60 different kingdom cards and a bunch of landscapes. Whenever there’s like a second Minion game or so, I’m a bit disappointed. So in that sense, everything that makes, let’s say gainers, but also landscapes in general. Even landmarks, but all the other landscapes are even better. I really like what they add to the game.

truffles: I know you’ve done a lot of work in card stats and card glicko – do those observations and data affect how you like a card at all, or is it just more for interest?

markus: No, that’s more for interest. It wouldn’t influence how I like a card, it might influence how I value a card, but also then it’s just when we have thunderdominion or whatever and we’re discussing cards – it’s interesting to see whether there is something to back up your feelings about certain cards. So in that sense I think it’s interesting.

truffles: That makes sense. So, what has your favourite moment in the Championship been so far, if you have one?

markus: Winning the last match I would say. It’s always fun when you win, and last year was bad for me and I was knocked out pretty early on.

truffles: Yeah, that was sad – I think the saddest part for me was that you were supposed to play markusin later on, in round 4 or 5, but that never happened –  and the logs would have been so great, to see “markusi” and “markus”. That was sad, but winning is always fun. Who do you think will win the Championship, if it’s not you?

markus: Then I would pick the top seeds. So, I guess Freaky and nasmith, but more or less anyone who makes it to the quarterfinals could win in the end if you’re a bit lucky, or if you play well. Preferably both.

truffles: Yeah, that’s true. Do you have a favourite overall Dominion moment this year so far? It’s been a pretty crazy year, with lockdowns and quarantines, so some people have gotten to play a lot of Dominion, or spend a lot of time online. Is there a favourite moment you’ve had so far?

markus: No, not really. I didn’t play that much – I guess the favourite moment of the year would be when Menagerie was released, or when the previews week starts. Then it’s pretty exciting to see what people think about the new cards, how do they work, so that’s the best season of the year I would say. But I don’t really recall any particular games or matches apart from that.

truffles: I think preview week is a lot of fun because there’ll be ten or so videos posted each day with people’s first impressions of new cards, but it’s just a very exciting time overall. So there’s also been a lot of new Dominion players joining – I think there was an article posted online, and also people have a lot of time at home. Do you have any advice for Dominion players looking to improve?

markus: I think once you join the community and listen to videos or commentators, I think that’s the best way to improve. I remember when I started getting into this and, I don’t know who I was playing in league, but someone was commentating and I was buying Gold. Now, I wouldn’t buy Gold but back then I was buying Gold because Gold seemed a fine card, and they were all surprised that I would buy Gold. So I think you learn from these kinds of comments that you get when you play, and just looking at top players play Dominion – I think that helps to improve your own play aswell.

truffles: For sure, I agree. I have one last question for you, which is: If you had a Dominion catchphrase, what would it be?

markus: Yeah, I didn’t prepare for that one. Haha, a dominion catchphrase.

truffles: It could just be something like “never buy Gold”.

markus: Well, you should sometimes buy Gold, but “Don’t do stupid stuff”.

truffles: Haha, that’s a good one – “Don’t do stupid stuff”.

markus: Unless it’s for fun, but not in the Championship.

truffles: For sure, that makes sense. Thanks for letting me interview you, and good luck! I think you’re facing pop180 next week, so good luck with that! It was great chatting with you, and have a great day! Bye!

markus: You too, bye!

Tune into markus vs. pop180 this Saturday, October 31st and 7:00UTC as they battle for a spot in the Semi-finals!

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Menagerie Previews #2: Horses, Horses, Horses!

Following the yesterday’s release of Snowy Village, Sheepdog, Animal Fair, Kiln and Barge, comes more cards – this time centred around Horses (very fitting for the Menagerie theme).

Below is Donald X. Vaccarino’s release statement for the second batch of Preview cards.

Menagerie Previews 2: Horses

Horse is a non-supply pile. There are 30 of them. You get one via a card saying “gain a Horse” or something. If the pile is empty you can’t gain one, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen much. Horse looks like this:

So Horse is a one-use Laboratory; it puts you up a card and then is gone. Or, you know, you don’t have to play it; you can Remodel it or something. It’s there for you. Once in your deck, it’s just like Experiment, from Renaissance; it turns out, they were experimenting on Horses. Eight total kingdom cards use Horses, and four landscapes. Here are some of those kingdom cards.

Supplies is an easy one: when you play it, you get a Horse. The Horse goes onto your deck, so normally you’ll just start with it next turn.

Scrap gives you a choice of bonuses, with more stuff for trashing a more expensive card. You could for example trash an Estate and get +1 Card and +1 Action, or trash a Horse and get +1 Buy, a Silver, and a Horse.

Livery makes everything that’s expensive enough come with a Horse that turn. This works on cards you buy, or cards you get other ways. With two Liveries, everything comes with two Horses. With two Liveries, and you buy Farmland, trashing Remodel to gain a Border Village which comes with a Laboratory, you gain six Horses. Many Horses could be yours.”

– Donald X. Vaccarino

The Preview Cards are now available on the client,, for users to play and test out. To engage in discussion about the new cards, check out the dominion strategy forum, or join the online discord‘s channel dedicated to menagerie.

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Menagerie Previews #1: Snowy Village, Sheepdog, Animal Fair, Kiln, Barge

Today on March 2nd, 2020, begins the Preview Days for the upcoming, new expansion: Menagerie.

Expansion “Preview Days” is a tradition Donald X. Vaccarino (Designer of Dominion) has continued for new expansion releases, similar to Renaissance Preview Days. It gives fans small tastes of what the upcoming expansion will entail.

Below is Donald X. Vaccarino’s release statement for the first Previews.

Menagerie Previews 1: 5 Cards

So, it’s come to this. Previews. I suppose I have myself to blame.

Menagerie – hey isn’t that the name of a card? – has 400 cards, like Adventures. That includes 30 Kingdom cards. There are two major themes: Exile and Horses. There are also two kinds of landscapes: Ways and Events, with 20 of each. I’ll do the math for you: 30 kingdom cards is 300 cards, plus 30 randomizers is 330, plus 40 landscapes is 370, and I’ll just tell you now that there are 30 Horses. That means no Victory cards, and no other surprise extra piles.

Day 2 of previews will cover Horses, and day 3 Exile; day 4 will have landscapes, and day 5 will have… some more cards. Here on day 1 we have 5 miscellaneous cards, to get you started with a bunch, because as before the cards are immediately try-out-able at

Snowy Village gives you a bunch of actions and a buy, but closes the door on even more actions that turn. Some of you may remember this from the holiday joke cards that were on dominionstrategy a few years ago. I wouldn’t be expecting those other cards, but this one was worth doing.

Sheepdog gives Dominion another blue dog. You can play it anytime you gain a card. It may not even be your turn. Playing it means you put it into play and get your +2 Cards; it will be discarded in that turn’s Clean-up, even if it’s not yours. Using the Reaction part doesn’t use up an Action; it just leaps into play and draws you cards. If it draws you another Sheepdog, you can use that one right away too; you can keep playing Sheepdogs until you run out of them.

Animal Fair gives you a weird way to pay for it. The card costs $7; the alternate payment just applies when you’re buying one. At the point at which you’d pay your $7, you can trash an Action from your hand instead (and can do this when you don’t have $7). And then what do you get, you get +$4 and some number of Buys.

Kiln is another in the long line of Explorers. It most easily gains Treasures, but if you can play an Action after it, you can gain a copy of that, and it can even gain Night cards.

And finally Barge is a Duration card with an effect you can have now or later. Handy if you don’t want to draw dead cards, or have drawn your deck already. If you take it now, it’s just discarded that turn. All the sets seem to squeeze in a few Duration cards these days, and this set has four of them.”

– Donald X. Vaccarino

The Preview Cards are now available on the client,, for users to play and test out. To engage in discussion about the new cards, check out the dominion strategy forum, or join the online discord‘s channel dedicated to menagerie.

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Dominion: Menagerie – New Expansion Announcement

On January 7th, 2020, Donald X. Vaccarino announced a new incoming expansion: Dominion: Menagerie. This marks the 13th expansion to Dominion, following the 12th expansion, Dominion: Renaissance, released back in November 2018.

From the official Rio Grande Games’ website, Donald X. writes

“Dominion, that’s what you’re trying to achieve. This time with animals! They each have a lesson to teach, whether it’s how to spit really far, or what kind of grass tastes the best. It’s a lot to keep track of, but you’re like an elephant: you remember everything. And you’re afraid of mice. You’ve taken up riding. Horses are intimidating; they say you can lead a horse to water, but you haven’t managed it. So you’re working your way up, starting with dogs. So far so good; the dog hasn’t bucked you off yet. Your menagerie got off to a poor start, with just a goat, two rats, and the advisor who suggested starting a menagerie. You couldn’t get that fox you wanted, but it was probably bad anyway. Now you’ve got some camels, which are just as useless for sewing as you’d been warned, and a turtle that can hold its breath for longer than anyone can stay interested. Soon the animal kingdom will be yours.

This is the 13th expansion to Dominion®. It has 400 cards, with 30 new Kingdom cards. There are Horses that save a draw for later, Exile mats that cards can be sent to and rescued from, and Ways that give Actions another option. Events return.

Dominion®: Menagerie is an expansion, and cannot be played by itself; to play with it, you need the Basic cards and rulebook (Dominion® provides both). Dominion®: Menagerie can also be combined with any other Dominion® expansions you have.
We hope you enjoy this expanding world of Dominion®!

The expansion shares a name with the card Menagerie, released in the expansion Dominion: Cornucopia. It is unknown what, if any, inspiration is drawn from this card for the new expansion.

The only information we have so far is that there will be new types of card interactions, mats and events in this expansion. It will be exciting to see previews of cards in the upcoming weeks.

The current expected release date of the physical expansion is March 18th, 2020. Join the discussion on this new expansion on the Dominion Discord or the Dominion Strategy Blog!

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with elementmario222

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features elementmario222 who will be playing Quarter Finals against Frealy this Sunday, October 27th at 15UTC.

[Audio interview: ]

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

elementmario222: Sure. I’m originally from the Mid-West, but I spend most of my time now in New York, where I work in Finance. I do split my time between Chicago and New York. That’s basically all I do.

xtruffles: Oh cool. Your username is pretty unique: elementmario222 – and you have a pretty cool Yin Yang water/fire avatar. What’s the story behind that, if there is one?

elementmario222: When I was a kid, I used to lurk around on GameFAQs, which is probably before a lot of people – I don’t know, maybe I’m showing my age here. GameFAQs used to be where everyone went for game guides and participated in forums. On that site, I had a bunch of usernames. My first was “watermario222” and then I switched to “firemario222”. Then, I created a ton of alts for some reason. Eventually, I used those names for other sites but I wouldn’t need 100 different accounts so I consolidated it to “element”.

xtruffles: Oh, wow. That’s a pretty cool story.

elementmario222: Yeah, haha. If you look at GameFAQs now, you can still see some of the reviews I wrote for really old games when I was 10 years old. It’s kind of fun for me to read those reviews and see how my writing has improved – or not – over the years.

xtruffles: Awesome. So, speaking of games, how long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

elementmario222: Dominion, I’ve been playing since college, I guess. But I haven’t played too much. There was a period of time in college when I would play with my roommates a lot in Board Game Nights, and it just ended up being one of our favourites. So, we actually went online after we all graduated and kept playing on the online clients we have now. I kind of wanted to keep playing with them – well, I wanted to play more – but they kind of moved on with their lives and I kind of just kept playing Dominion.

xtruffles: Well, it is a pretty good game.

elementmario222: Haha. Yeah, it’s okay.

xtruffles: So, what are your favorite and least favorite cards in Dominion?

elementmario222: Oh, this is tough. I really enjoy playing with all of them – I don’t have a ban list or anything because I think Dominion is a lot more fun with variety. Sometimes discovering these weird interactions with cards that are weaker is pretty exciting. I think that’s my favorite part of Dominion, to be honest. I would say my favorite card right now is Guildhall because I’m trying to get better at playing money boards and that card incentivizes me to play more money.

xtruffles. Yeah, a lot of times I’m more tempted to play the engine than money because the engine is just more fun to play.

elementmario222: I agree for sure. I actually think that engine boards are sometimes easier to play than money boards. I’ll look at boards and I’ll always assume that the engine will win. Even now, when I was spectating a match [B League Match: amoffett11 vs. kaplane], I thought there was one board that the engine should win, but they both went money, so I was super surprised. But looking back, maybe that was the way to go. My least favorite card is Squire. I just don’t like that card. It does too much and it does so little at the same time.

xtruffles: Yeah, I can definitely see that. It doesn’t cost a lot, but there are so many options that you can choose for it to do. It also has the effect of when you trash the card, you gain an attack. Lots of things going on with just $2.

elementmario222: It’s just a copper half the time, let’s be real. It’s like a Necropolis, Copper, weird, I don’t know.

xtruffles: Haha, yeah. What do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion and why?

elementmario222: For this one I would say – this is recency bias here for me – I played a match in the championship, where I didn’t know how to – Encampments and Plunders, these two cards always kind of vex me. I’m often not sure whether it’s worth hoarding encampments and sometimes I think “Oh, it’s a single buy board, so maybe Encampment isn’t really the way to go”. I don’t even know if that’s true, but it’s the feeling I get. When buying Encampments, it maybe takes too long to get all the Encampments and Plunders, especially when you’re playing a board with a different engine available. I just don’t know when to pop those encampments. I like hoarding them, but they’re kind of just dead cards in your hand. Similarly, with Madman and Hermit, it’s tough to play those cards because I’m genuinely a hoarder in life. If I could hold onto those Madmans and Encampments, I would love to – but I haven’t found the right balance between playing and not playing them.

xtruffles: I can definitely see that because when you play your Encampments and Madmen, you run into the risk of either 1) giving up a bit of your turn for a bigger turn or a more guaranteed-keep-your-encampment turn later on or 2) taking that risk and making your turn better than it is now. So I can definitely see it being a very challenging card. So speaking more on cards, what are your impressions of the new promos? Church and Captain.

elementmario222: I definitely like both cards. I’ve read some of the interviews of the other people and they’ve summarized the nuances of these two cards really well. I think Captain is, of course, very strong and often you just auto-click it when you hit 6. Church is good for trashing – sometimes – but I think it’s often more important for the Haven-type effect: spiking stuff and managing shuffles. As a trasher, it’s fine – but it’s a pretty cool card because it has these extra layers to it. It’s also non-terminal, which is always cool. I always love playing with these new cards. Apparently there’s a new expansion coming out soon, right?

xtruffles: Yeah, I think so? I remember Donald posted somewhere that there will be a new expansion released next year. I think it’ll be interesting to see what kind of cards are inside. Speaking more on games, what has been the most memorable Dominion game you have played so far? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be from this championship).

elementmario222: I have don’t very good memory in general. So, I remember the games that I’ve just played a week or two ago. I played cha-shu in the last round. I think it was in the last game, I played with Cultist and had very nice draws and shuffles. I think the ruins split 8 to 2, or 9 to 1. I did the whole thing where you buy a lot of cards – I think people call it “spinning” when you don’t really do anything – and cha-shu almost beat me rushing down the Duchies and Duchesses. I got really lucky to pull out that win – which is not saying much for my ability to build a deck.

xtruffles: Haha, yeah sometimes it definitely feels that way. But you went 4-1 against cha-shu so, very impressive.

elementmario222: I think it’s misleading because in Dominion you sometimes get lucky and it’ll look very decisive. But it’s just that you had 3 lucky games and suddenly you’re up 3-0.

xtruffles: Yeah, I guess it’s pretty important to look at the games sometimes. Because sometimes the final score is really close and it’s just whoever can hit that last Province. The decks may be very similar but you just keep hitting 7 for some reason.

elementmario222: Yeah, I think that in every match I’ve played so far, I haven’t actually outplayed my opponent. I think in every match I’ve played so far, I’ve gotten lucky in at least two or three games. You see these tournaments and you have to realize that there’s too much luck to say anything about whether the winner is actually the best player ever. The winner is a good player but you can’t make any decision as to whether or not this champion is the best one.

xtruffles: Yeah, that’s true. But I think for you – it definitely takes at least some skill. And to make it all the way to this point, it definitely takes quite a bit of skill. So make sure you don’t discredit yourself.

elementmario222: Alright, alright. I’ll take some credit. “I’m good at this game”, haha.

xtruffles: Haha. Speaking about champions, other than yourself, who do you think will win the Championship and why?

elementmario222: I would say that going by seeding is the easy answer but like I said, everyone that’s gotten to this point only has to win another 3 matches. I know people are doing this betting thing, but I don’t believe that any particular match has a super, super strong favor anymore. There’s just too much randomness that goes on and someone can just get lucky and win 4-0. It certainly could happen. It’s tough to say who might win. Actually – JNails – I’ve watched JNails play a lot in ladder, he’s a Dark Horse. I think people are sleeping on him a little bit.

xtruffles: Yeah, I’ve heard that too. Going back to the betting thing, I’ve definitely looked at the odds and some of them are like 2.5:1 or even 2:1, which is crazy for players who have made it all the way to Quarterfinals. Since these wins are by no means deterministic – like you said there’s some element of luck/shuffle luck involved – that everyone who has made it this far is quite good at dominion.

elementmario222: Yeah, shuffle luck can be huge. And I don’t think that any individual player has more than 60, 65% chance of winning any given match anymore. We’re at that point in the tournament.

xtruffles: So, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

elementmario222: Outside of Dominion, well – I work. I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, but that definitely is what occupies most of my spare time. But, work is work. My main sort of hobby outside of work, and outside of Dominion… I’ve competed in other video games like Super Smash Bros – Super Smash Brothers Melee is the big one. That’s part of why my username is what it is.

xtruffles: Ohhh, so it’s the Mario from Nintendo.

elemenmario222: It is Mario from Nintendo. When I find time to do other things, I try to travel a bit, but there’s not a lot of time for me anymore.

xtruffles: Yeah, time is definitely precious.

elementmario222: And we’re all spending it playing Dominion, haha.

xtruffles: Hahaha. Yeah, sometimes I’m not sure if Dominion is the best use of my free time but it’s fun.

elementmario222: Yeah, it’s fun. You need a hobby where you can just relax and play. Not everything has to be super meaningful.

xtruffles: I have one last question for you: What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

elementmario222: Just try and have fun playing. Like I just said, it’s just a hobby after all. None of us are professional Dominion players. So if you treat it too seriously and you take your results too seriously, you’ll have a bad mindset. If you take your records and think “I have a losing streak,” it might discourage you from playing more. Honestly, if you want to get better, you just need to play a lot, watch a lot of other people play and just think about the game. And to do all of that, you want to have the right mentality, which is to say: you want to approach the game with a willingness to admit you maybe played poorly one game but that doesn’t reflect on you as a player. It’s just everyone plays poorly sometimes. Sometimes you might also get lucky and your opponent builds a better deck than you but you just happen to win. Take it all in context, right? Because there’s this part of Dominion that if you look very narrowly at your recent results, it’ll really cloud your mindset. You might be on a winning streak or losing streak but it doesn’t have to mean anything.

xtruffles: Yeah, I like thinking of it as.. In my interview with Freaky, he said that you sometimes have to treat it as Poker and the short-term results don’t really matter. Professional Poker players never look at one single game of Poker. It’s always like a year’s worth of results and average winnings over a year, rather than a single game. Because there’s definitely RNG involved.

elementmario222: Yeah, I do play Poker as well and you have to play tens of thousands of hands or logged so many hours before you actually have meaningful data to look it. So never just look at one tournament or one league season as an indication of your ability as a player. We all have it in ourselves to improve. You just don’t want a short term mindset that will discourage you from getting to the point of being able to improve more.

xtruffles: Well, thank you so much for doing this interview! I think you’re facing Freaky next. Best of luck in your game and have fun.

elementmario222: Yes, I’ll need some luck. Thanks!

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with JNails

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features JNails who will be playing Quarter Finals against Mercury444F this Thursday, October 24 at 15UTC.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

JNails: I’m from the United States – the Southeast specifically – I grew up in Louisiana and Georgia. I noticed how everyone else in this competition seems to be a Computer Science major or in the field one way or the other. I actually just got a degree in Business Economics recently – I’m in my mid-twenties – and most of what I do is related to High School debate, coaching and teaching that.

xtruffles: Oh wow, that’s really cool. Yeah, a lot of people in the community are Computer Science majors, but I’ve definitely come across people in Liberal Arts or studied Economics. It’s nice to see some diversity. So how long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

JNails: I think first discovered it two years ago. My friend and I were on Tabletop Simulator from Steam and we were just looking at random games. He saw Dominion and said “Oh hey, I’ve played that like once before and it was kind of fun”. So we played the game and tested it out. It was like the blind leading the blind – neither of us had any idea what were doing. I remember seeing chapel in the kingdom thinking “Why the hell would anyone want that card? It looks so terrible.” Then he said, “Well there’s this card named Witch, that’s not here, that gives you curses and you might want to get rid of that.” I thought, “That makes sense, but nah, I don’t want chapel.” Mm, obviously we were horribly wrong.

xtruffles: Wow, so what is your favorite and least favorite card in Dominion?

JNails: Least favourite, well that’s easy, is Swindler. Yeah, anyone that likes the card has got to be a psychopath. Beyond that, I dislike the other cards that most people dislike: Cultist, Mountebank and so forth. So like, really strong, centralizing attack cards. The one that I dislike that doesn’t get a lot mention is Salt the Earth. I feel like that card takes out everything that I enjoy in a Kingdom. Instead of building a big deck, or coming back from behind, you just build the minimal deck possible and go straight for provinces and just start destroying the rest of the game. So I’d say Salt the Earth as well.

xtruffles: I can definitely see that Salt the Earths really discourages building too big of an engine. What is your favorite card?

JNails: That one is hard because I feel like there are a lot more good cards than bad cards in the game. There’s a lot more that enjoy. In no particular order, just ones that come into my mind are: Exorcist, Black Market, Recruiter. I really enjoy, in general, Events and recently, the new Projects from Renaissance. I think those, more often than not, are some of my favourite things that drastically improve the quality of the game. Donate, Dominate, Innovation, Summon, Captialism – They all add a lot of interesting and unique dynamics that goes well with the Kingdoms we play.

xtruffles: Yeah, for sure. So what do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion?

JNails: Um, I’m not sure if they are objectively hard but the cards I suck at are: Haggler and Jester. Cards that are usually pretty good, but seem awkward to get, so I don’t get them and usually lose. I think that’s more commentary on myself than cards. I think the cards that have the highest skill ceiling are usually the ones that have interesting interactions with your deck – because it requires you knowing what cards are in your deck and having a good overall concept of what your deck is doing. Develop, for example: the cards go on top of your deck. Or Graverobber. They usually involve more nuanced interactions, which lead to really nice plays or drastically messes things up.

xtruffles: That makes sense. What are your impressions of the new promos? Church and Captain.

JNails: I like both of them a lot. I think they’re both really well designed. They both seem like on the strong side of cards, especially Captain in a lot of kingdoms. But they also are on the fun side of cards because they have nice interesting choices – with Captain it’s thinking about which card do I play with? With Church it’s about do I buy something now or set aside my coins to buy something really nice next turn? I like the element of choice.

xtruffles: Yeah, for sure. Moving away from cards and onto games, what has been the most memorable game you played? It doesn’t necessarily have to be from the Championship.

JNails: From the championship, it has to be the first game from Double Octofinals [Double Octofinals refers to Round of 32 versus hakha3] where there was a lot of interesting things from the kingdom – like vineyards, minions. I don’t remember why I felt that but I just said I’m not feeling it right now. So I bought a Trading Post and Courtyard and played straight money. It ended up working out. It normally goes against every fibre of my being to ignore the interesting cards and play money, but it won at the end. Besides the Championship, there’s probably too many to count, but one that comes to mind was a Kingdom that had: Rebuild, Knights, Wolf Den etc. If I have any excuse to not go for Rebuild, I’m going to do it. So I started going for the Knights. I was only 4 Knights in when I realized that Knights and Wolf Den do not really go well together. That’s when I was like “I’m too committed to this to back out”. At one point of the game, I had all 10 Knights and my opponent had 6 of the provinces, so it was like -40VP to 30VP. But it was about time that the Knights finally kicked in and trashed every single card in my opponent’s deck except for Coppers and Provinces. Then I spent the next 20 turns slowly building back out of the hole that I dug myself in and trashing the knights to slowly get my points back, while my opponent spent his turns buying coppers, buying silvers, losing his silvers and buying coppers again. Just a slow grind. I just really enjoyed that game.

xtrufffles: Yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun. One of my favourite cards is Black Market, so whenever I see Black Market and Wolf Den on the same board, I’m always really sad. Every card you buy from the Black Market is negative VP.

JNails: I know that feeling. I usually go for it anyways – I enjoy Black Market a lot.

xtruffles: Talking more about the championship, who do you think will win and why?

JNails: I don’t know many of the other players well enough to evaluate their relative skill – I assume they’re all very good because they’re in the finals. I think I have to root for anybody except for drsteelhammer though, because I obviously view drsteelhammer as my natural nemesis in this event.

[xtruffles here. It wasn’t until I transcribed this interview that I understood that this was a reference between hammer and nail. That’s why JNails sees drsteelhammer as his natural nemesis. I know, I know. I’m slow.]

xtruffles: Yeah, I can see that. So what do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of Dominion?

JNails: The other big board game I really enjoy is Chess; more accurately, chess variants. I really like Bughouse – it’s like 2 on 2 chess. If I had to pick, I’d say that one.

xtruffles: Yeah, Bughouse is a lot of fun. I don’t really know how to play Chess that well, but a lot of my friends play Bughouse all the time.

JNails: Bughouse is all of what I like about Chess and none of what I don’t like. There’s a lot more crazy tactical plays – sacrificing your Queen and stuff like that – and none of the boring like memorizing the opening and end games. Just because the game is way too much craziness for that to matter anymore.

xtruffles: You’ve had quite an impressive run, beating a lot of well known players. Have you thought about playing competitively in the Dominion League?

JNails: I did do the League once. I didn’t rejoin since I didn’t have time in the Summer. Maybe I’ll rejoin again. I was in C League and I didn’t promote or demote, but it seemed pretty fun and I liked it.

xtruffles: So I have one last question for you: What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

JNails: There’s a lot. If I had to pick one piece of advice, it’s that you have to think of cards as having compound interest of sorts. Where a card that’s good for your deck now, is just going to be a lot better long term than a card that’s only good for your deck later. So especially for your opening, you have to buy cards that immediately help your deck and get you jumpstarted – instead of the cards you want long term. I see a lot of times – and I definitely did this when I started – players buy cards that look good in their general decks. They’ll hit 8 on turn 5 and buy a province – they think that “A province is 8 points, oh, 6 points – I knew that – and that card is good for my deck”. Or they’ll buy defiled shrine when it reaches a whole 5 points. But they have to realize that buying a green card or a curse is just slowing down your deck a ton – and that’s going to cost you way more than 6 points in the long run because you’re going to get outbuild. Always buy the best card. Even if you have $6 and the best card for your deck is Herbalist because you need the +buy, you buy the 6 dollar Herbalist, because it’s going to pay back in the long run since you’ll get more buys and those cards do things and so forth. So I always think about the short term and long term. “What’s the card, if it goes into my deck right now, improves my deck the most?” Rather than thinking about the card I really want in the long term. I think my big problem that I really struggled with for a while – a huge learning block for me to overcome – is that in kingdoms where you don’t really want silver, I’ll never buy silvers. But then it frustrates me because I’ll never hit 5. I eventually realized that I have to buy at least one silver to get that Junk Dealer and Sentry and I can get stuff cleaned out. Then in the long term, I can trash that silver later. So my advice is to avoid that sort of mindset.

xtruffles: Right. I feel like when you used the “compound interest” analogy, I was like this guy is probably from a Business Economics background. It’s a very good way to describe the situation. Definitely I’ve seen a lot of players take defiled shrine way too early which slows down their deck to a point that allows their opponent to catch up or outbuild you at some point.

JNails: The one I still haven’t taught myself is: I still buy temple like a madman. I’ve had way too many temple games where I buy like 8 of the temples at 2 points. I really shouldn’t, but I enjoy that card as well.

xtruffles: Yeah, it’s kind of tempting to see the VP in front of you. But sometimes, you have to think if I could get a province, would I buy it now? If I wouldn’t buy the province, it might mean that I shouldn’t buy the defiled shrine. It’s also really hard to say because you can also just trash your curse at some point. It’s definitely very challenging to figure that part out.

JNails: Agreed.

xtruffles: Well, thank you so much for doing the interview. I think you’re facing Mercury444F tomorrow at 15UTC. Best of luck!

JNails: No problem!

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with drsteelhammer

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features drsteelhammer who will be playing Quarter Finals against ospond this Thursday, October 24 at 13UTC.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

drsteelhammer: Hi! Most people call me Julian. I am 24 years old and I come from Germany, but I do live in Austria now. I study Economics.

xtruffles: Oh cool, that reminds me a lot of markus.

drsteelhammer: Oh yeah, he’s from Austria and switches back and forth a lot. I’m on my first way down to Austria haha.

xtruffles: Cool. How long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

drsteelhammer: Oh, I think it must have been 6 years, or could be even 7. I was in high school and friends of mine had it at home. I wasn’t really into board games – I always thought that learning rules was kind of annoying and then you play it three or four times and it gets boring and isn’t worth my time. Dominion was different and after playing it couple times and being so excited about, I went online and found out chapel was actually good. Once I beat my real life friends, I discovered the online Goko client.

xtruffles: Oh! You were there for the Goko client.

drsteelhammer: Yeah. Great times, it’s been a while.

xtruffles: What are your favorite and least favorite cards in Dominion?

drsteelhammer: Black Market has to be my favorite one. Just because you can go really crazy and get a lot of done, and everything is in your kingdom. I also like Peasant a lot So lots of different cards, I guess – that’s a theme. My least favorite card is probably Cultist. First, because it’s super annoying and just too good. Also because drawing a hand of two coppers, estate and two different ruins is one of the most depressing feelings in Dominion – just no fun.

xtruffles: Yeah, it’s super depressing on a board with no trashing and no villages.

drsteelhammer: Exactly – at least that’s over now. Banlists made me forget about Cultist.

xtruffles: What do you find to be the most challenging card to play with in Dominion and why?

drsteelhammer: I’ve seen the previous interviews had really good picks – like Shepherd, Procession, Develop. I think Artificer for me is a card that’s really hard. When you have a ten or twelve card hand with three Artificers and Freaky says “There is a pileout and you have to pileout the entire kingdom,” you have to math in your hand how much you have to redraw. That’s too tough for me, so I chose not to play with it this Championship to spare myself the headache.

xtruffles: Right, there’s definitely some micro-optimizations and calculations you have to do.

drsteelhammer: Also as a runner-up, maybe Donate. Just because it’s so different. Usually the shuffles throw problems at you and you have to solve them. With Donate, you have to plan 6 turns in advance and I’m not good at that.

xtrufffles: What are your impressions on the new promos? Church and Captain.

drsteelhammer: Oh yeah. Captain, of course, has beautiful art. From the gameplay, my first impression was a little disappointment because I thought “Band of Misfits is pretty lame and Captain is a duration version of that,” but it turns out the card is pretty good. It’s actually quite enjoyable to play with draw cards, or using Captain as your village, makes for pretty fun games. Church is okay, I guess. The Haven effect is kind of fun, but I think it’s just an average card.

xtruffles: Yeah, I’ve definitely heard a lot of comparison between Church and Haven because they both set aside cards.

drsteelhammer: That’s my favorite part of Church – putting 3 bad cards away and then shuffling. That’s nice.

xtruffles: Moving a little away from cards and onto games. What has been the most memorable game you have played? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be from the Championship)

drsteelhammer: Oo. I remember, for example, the last time I played in the Championship, Black Market betrayed me in Game 7 against singletee. That was kind of sad. I just got the wrong cards out of it and he got the right ones. Other than that, I once piled Harvest and that was kind of fun. Tactician was the only buy and I don’t think Harvest was a pile that was empty before or after that game.

xtruffles: Yeah, I don’t think Harvest is a pile that piles often.

drsteelhammer: Yeah, I think that’s why the game has stayed with me.

xtruffles: Other than yourself, who do you think will win the Championship and why?

drsteelhammer: Um, I think Mercury4FFF has pretty good chances. I’m not sure why he isn’t talked about more as a favorite. He has made it to the Finals I think, once, and played pretty well so far in this tournament. I lose pretty often in ladder when I meet him. He’s pretty good. Other than that, I think RTT has good chances because I think he’s pretty good at never playing stupid strategies. He always does reasonable things and doesn’t throw many games. Being consistent helps a lot as well.

xtruffles: That’s for sure. I think you said ‘Mercury4FFF’but I think it’s ‘Mercury444F’ haha.

drsteelhammer: Haha, yes. That sounds a bit more familiar.

xtruffles: I haven’t seen him play a lot, but from the games I have spectated, he definitely seems like a pretty spooky opponent. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top. So you were also a moderator for this year’s Championship. Thanks for all the behind-the-scenes work you’ve done – can you give us a bit of insight on what you’ve enjoyed from this Championship, maybe both from a player and moderator perspective?

drsteelhammer: Yeah, I’ve been helping out a bit for a couple of years now. I remember running it with Stef on the forum. I was really happy when he made the ShuffleIT Championship competitive with a prize pool – it makes for a really great community event. I like how so many people, that aren’t so active, come back to Dominion at least for that tournament. People are excited for matches that are online every round and it makes for a great spectator and community experience. Like these interviews as well.

xtruffles: Yeah, I definitely think it brings a lot to this community. What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

drsteelhammer: Other than the obvious of watching good players – especially those who explain their thought process really well. Some of the pros kind of assume that everyone is as good as them, which makes it kind of hard to follow, but there are some as well that do it really well, I think. Other than that, I think that’s where the community fails a little bit – I think you should seek out really simple advice first. Like “always buy double urchin”, “get a third urchin”, “get two mercenaries and thin down”. And, discover the nuances later once you get burned with it.
An example is, when I started playing I thought “Oh, highway is a good card when you have +buy. It’s not a good card when you don’t have +buy.” Then, somebody wrecked me with highway/butcher and then I could build upon my foundation: “ah yeah, maybe it’s gainers that matter”. So build up your knowledge slowly and steadily.

xtruffles: Yeah, I guess it’s quite overwhelming to listen to high-level play when you’re just starting outespecially looking at really complex boards where you’re trying to build for a megaturn or look pileouts, such as ones involving stonemason.

drsteelhammer: Exactly. I think there’s a lot of advice for when somebody asks “How good is this card?” and people say “In some situations it’s a good card and some other situations it isn’t”, that it isn’t really clear which ones are which. And if you don’t really know the other Dominion lingo, it’s like talking past each other a lot.

xtruffles: Yeah. Cool, I have one last question for you – to sandwich this interview between two personal questions. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of Dominion?

drsteelhammer: I have played table tennis for over a decade now and compete there. I like to read, mostly non-fiction books. I volunteer quite some time and yeah, those are the main things I guess.

xtruffles: Cool! What kind of volunteer things do you do? Other than volunteering to help out with the championship.

drsteelhammer: I do community building for effective altruism and animal work a little bit on the side.

xtruffles: Aw, that’s really nice.

drsteelhammer: Haha, yep.

xtruffles: Well it was awesome getting to know you a little bit more. I think you’re facing ospond next – this Thursday at 13UTC. Best of luck and it’ll be interesting to spectate your match.

drsteelhammer: Ah, thank you very much.

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Dominion Online Championship 2019: Top 8 Interviews with Mercury444F

This year, over 200 players entered to compete in the Dominion 2019 Online Championship. Only 8 players remain. This interview features Mercury444F, who will be playing Quarter Finals against JNails this Thursday, October 24 at 15UTC.

Special Thanks To Seesaw (SSLY) for helping me with this interview as well.

Congratulations again on making it this far in the Championship! 

xtruffles: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? (Ie. where are you from? What do you do?)

Mercury444F: I’m from Japan. Employee.

xtruffles: How long have you been playing Dominion and how did you discover the board game?

Mercury444: I started after Guilds was released. I was introduced to a friend and started this game.

xtruffles: What is your favorite and least favorite card?

Mercury444F: My favorite card is Remodel. Remodel has a great balance between trashing and gaining cards when building decks. The card I hate the most is Sea Hag .This card is very powerful and dominates the field, making it the first candidate. Sea Hag denies the act of player “choice”, which is the main idea of ​​Dominion, and widens the gap between the first and second player, favouring the first player.
とりあえずSEA HAGを選んでおけばよく、ドミニオンの主旨である“choice”という行為を否定し、また先手と後手の格差も生み出しやすい。

xtruffles: Are you happy about being able to add it to your ban list?

Mercury444F: Sure, I chose it first.

xtruffles: What card do you think requires the most skill to play in Dominion? Why?

Mercury444F: Generally speaking, there are cards that have good compatibility with “dull” cards, and the strategy of a board depends on the combination of cards on the board. Even the “dullest” cards are good with the right cards. Challenging does not mean difficulty of handling the card alone, but figuring out the route of building a deck centred around it on the board.
I want to insist on the difficulty of choosing to build a castle deck, so I don’t want to give each card a rating of difficulty. If I choose, it will be Humble Castle.

xtrufffles: What are your impressions on the new promos? Church and Captain.

Mercury444F: Church has so interesting an ability that I want to play with cards which take advantage from reducing hand size, but I think the power alone is low. Captain has the ability worth its cost of 6. In addition to the versatility you can choose for any card, you can get the effect you need on the next turn depending on your hand. However, the strength of this card depends on the cards with a supply cost of 4 or less, and many special combos have disappeared due to revised rules. I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect card. I conquered the game using Church in R4 and Captain in R5.

xtruffles: What has been the most memorable Dominion game you have played? (Doesn’t necessarily have to be from the championship)

Mercury444F: I will never forget the seventh round of the final year. I was immature in that match. I want to have no regrets this year.

xtruffles: You have made it very far already! Best of luck moving forward into Quarterfinals

Mercury444F: Thanks!

xtruffles: Other than yourself, who do you think will win the championship? Why?

Mercury444F: I support Cha-shu, who is also Japanese. He won the Dominion Japan Championship this year and is a player with far superior skills than me. It’s a shame that I don’t usually play online so I don’t appear on the leaderboard. Also, RTT will be powerful among the winning players. I have played against him many times, but the win rate is not good. He also uses means that I can’t think of.

xtruffles: Oh cool! There is a Dominion Japan Championship? And do you play a lot of Dominion with physical cards?

Mercury444F: That’s right. In Japan, the national team will be selected to participate in the World Championship held in Indianapolis every year.
Yes. However, in Japan, when playing with physical cards, the battle with four people is the mainstream. The reason is that the Japanese Championship is played by four players.

xtruffles: Oh cool. That’s awesome. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of Dominion?

Mercury444F: Play with other games and read books, like mobile games and video games like Smash Bros.
主にゲームか読書 グラブルやスマブラ等

xtruffles: Dominion seems to have a lot of great Japanese players. Will you be playing in the Dominion World Cup next year?

Mercury444F: Unfortunately, fighting between two people is not popular in Japan. That version of the game is very difficult. For this reason, it seems that Japanese people are not interested in the two-player competition. However, this year’s championship may have more Japanese participants than the previous year, so it may be possible to form members. There is also a reason why it is difficult to schedule due to the time difference.

xtruffles: What advice do you have for Dominion players looking to improve at the game?

Mercury444F: Just read GOSICK.

xtruffles: What is that?

Mercury444F: This is my favorite novel. It’s my selling phrase.

xtruffles: 🙂 Thank you so much. Best of luck for your match!

Mercury444F: You’re welcome:) Thank you for your support!

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