ceviri (tailred) and michaeljb are playing their match tonight at 0.30UTC, which is in about 12 hours from this post. The game will most likely be streamed, it's not quite determined where but it will be posted. For our exciting pre-game coverage, we interviewed our semifinalists, as it is tradition. We thank our participants for their time and great insights.
Interview with ceviri:
How old are you, where are you from, what do you do for a living?
I'm 19, from Singapore. I'll be entering university in a little more than a year, but I have to serve 2 years in the military first.
How did you get introduced to Dominion? What kept you playing Dominion?
My first game was IRL, when my math teacher brought it to a class party in late 2014 or so. As a math geek something about the gameplay really grabbed my interest, and after just 3-4 games I was really hooked. I spent the next few months reading up on it sporadically since I didn't have access to the game, which exposed me to the immense depth of strategy that belied the game, which left me even more desperate to play again. I got together with some of my friends and we played some games with a ghetto self-created set out of slips of paper until we found Goko.
How much do you play Dominion IRL?
Not much any more, with my one friend who plays anywhere near as much as me we usually do it online, although I do own all the sets. Once in a while when we meet up I do bring it out, though. I also do play IRL when introducing newer people to the game, and it almost always gets a really good reception (especially among my fellow math nerds)
Have you played with Empires yet? How do you think it will change the game?
I've played a couple 3-4 player games IRL, and a few on the 2017 beta. It definitely adds a ton more tactical (through things like gathering, split piles) and strategic (landmarks being the obvious thing) decisions, though from what I've noticed from my IRL games, the complexity of some mechanics can be overwhelming for very new players. For experienced players, though, it definitely shakes things up in an exciting way. I had a really fun board involving Tax with drsteelhammer very recently, that sticks in my mind.
How did you find F.DS? What kept you coming back?
For one it's by far the best place for dominion discussion - it was quite apparent that places like reddit and bgg couldn't compete in quality and quantity. I think I found it via one of theory's old articles. I just lurk, posting once in a while to share game reports or join discussions. The discord channel satisfies my idle talk needs.
What was the most memorable Dominion match youíve ever played?
I usually have a poor memory for stuff like this, so usually I lean towards more recent things. Off the top of my head I can think of a couple, the first game I discovered RC/masq I was pretty proud of myself. There was another game where I went champion/crossroads/harem.. and some other stuff, I know there was buy but no other village or draw, and my opponent decided to go some BM. He got some ridiculously huge lead by the time I kicked off, so the BM was probably something strong, but I came back by the slimmest of margins. Final score was like 52-50, he had 7 provinces with me buying only the last one.
In fact this tournament has been pretty memorable, my first match lasted about 10 hours over two days of games, and each of them were engine boards, including what I think were 2 instances of Pawn/Peasant each? That was pretty epic. I also had a ridiculous game against Robz in the Game Reports section, which included me at one point having 3 possessions and losing 2 to Ambassador.
What are your favorite and least-favorite Dominion cards, and why? What about favourite strategies?
I really like masq, not just for the pin that I mentioned earlier (RIP) but moreso just for the building, trashing, and cycling early. Pretty much anything that accelerates the opener I like, but masq disproportionately so. Like I open masq/masq way more than I should, and I play masq BM way more than I should. Honorable mention to Dungeon, really love the acceleration it gives.
Least favorite, Governor? Not that I think it's monolithic or boring, but rather I'm garbage at playing with it and every time I think I finally got a handle on how to play it I get hit with another loss which makes me think that I'm lost again. I dislike how it makes endgames kinda a crapshoot with how many provinces to leave, especially at the 3-4 mark depending on support of course. Honorable mention: Chapel. Somehow mine always misses the shuffle, and even when it doesn't the game feels so mirrored and even afterwards that it seems very hard to force an asymmetry to generate an advantage.
My favorite strategy would be engines that really let you bear down on your opponent and near-cripple them (which is why I liked the masq pin), but it sucks to be on the receiving end. My favorite is therefore just smashing some super elaborate wonky strategy with a simple easy BM. It gives me some sort of sadistic satisfaction to win that way.
Whatís the most important Dominion advice you can give people aspiring to reach the semifinals? What's the most important skill a lot of people are lacking?
Er, I dunno, honestly, I don't really feel that I'm much or even at all better than my opponents so far, and a lot of my advantages had some luck element to them thus far. I guess I can say that it's important to stay positive mentally, to not get tilted by losses, even really silly ones, to avoid small misplays. Small misplays as we all know can have huge huge impacts on games, and its really easy to throw a practically won game by like say not buying messenger first in a 3 pile, so I think staying in the right state of mind is a underrated factor to success.
For an ingame skill, I think being able to judge when BM is good is one. Sometimes I think I err too much towards BM (generally I underestimate single province engines) but especially with fragile or wonky engines, I find myself winning while my opponent tries to do a lot but achieves nothing.
What cards do you think are over- and underappreciated by the community at large and why?
Man I think there's a bit of an underappreciation of Silver now. It's like the popular opinion of Silver oscillates over time and right now we're sort of at the point where it's underappreciated but it's beginning to right itself. At one point I was losing a ton of games due to buying too little silver and crippling my early economy. Not so much at the top level but at my "match appropriate rating" level I see a lot of people subscribing to the blanket 'yellow is purple' attitude without appreciating all the nuance which comes with it and losing out on a lot of speed early. Same logic applies to gold/silver gainers as payloads/accelerants.
For over-appreciated, I dunno, I think fds is kinda pessimistic when it comes to cards. The closest I can think of is Treasure Trove on release, but that quickly got corrected. Maybe shitty trashing (transmute, trade route) on sloggy/bm boards? I regularly see people going for trashing when it's not going to help much, especially in BM when killing an estate puts you in an awkward hole lategame.
If you could make a Dominion card/mechanic that describes you, what would it be?
Wow. Uh, probably something quick, simple and not very creative. +2 cards, trash a card. Sounds great, doesn't it?
How would you describe your tournament run so far?
I definitely never expected to get so far. I don't consider myself anything special, I just sort of... didn't lose? I certainly played quite a bit more careful than regular games and made much fewer mistakes as a result. Definitely quite a few memorable games in the process, though.
Suppose you're reaching the finals. In game 7 you win by spotting that one of the twelve removed cards is the key card. Which one would you want it to be?
Everyone's gonna pick coppersmith for sure, I bet. If bureaucrat had been removed I'd totally pick it. How about, secret chamber for the reaction?
Do you play games other than Dominion?
My first game that I really spent hours on and read up heavily about was Age of Empires 3, but I dropped it because it was a p2p game and ping from Asia was pretty nasty to play with. I still do follow the scene, though and I think it's an amazing game.
After that, till today, I've been playing League of Legends, been playing since the start of Season 2.
Recently I've gotten very into Eu4*[Europa Universalis] (as people on Discord might have notixed). I'm very keen on the setting and for once it's a sinple player game that I can sink hundreds of hours into. I get pretty bad ladder jitters sometimes and when that happens I don't feel like competing against other people.
For board games, literally none. Not even Monopoly, until very recently.
How do you like to spend your time when you arenít playing Dominion?
I like doing Olympiad math problems, reading about math, and playing LoL, mostly. Once in a while I'll dabble in some things, like the piano, building robots and stuff, recently even running, but noting much long term.
If you could choose one person on F.DS to be with you on an desert island, who would it be and why?
Woah, I don't think I really know anyone well enough to answer this question meaningfully. Maybe Seprix? He talks a lot, that could be entertaining for a while. Then again, maybe not.