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Geronimoo

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Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« on: February 23, 2012, 08:41:47 am »
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I originally wrote this to appear on the blog, but wasn't sure it'd be interesting enough after re-reading it, so I never asked theory to publish it. Anyway, it might still be a fun read, so here it is:

A few months ago I attended a board game convention in the Netherlands. That's not something I usually do, but there was a compelling reason: an actual Dominion tournament would take place. Not just A Dominion tournament, but THE official Dutch championship. The winner would, apart from being crowned Dominion King/Queen of Holland, get an invite to the World Championship at the biggest game convention of the world in Essen, Germany. There was one little problem though, I'm not Dutch… I live in Belgium which is a tiny country just below the Netherlands. We're famous for our chocolate, beer, child molesters and the world record for longest period without a government. An e-mail from the organizers guaranteed me I could participate despite my nationality so on a sunny Sunday morning I drove off to the north.

Luckily I wasn't the only Belgian in Duthcie land, my good friend Braam and his girl friend Inke, both board game fanatics, were going to be there for the full two days. After the 2 hour drive I met up with them and of course we immediately started up a game because the tournament wasn't going to start for an hour or so. We played Quarriors, a cool dice game that is clearly inspired by Dominion, if not completely ripped off. I won because I'm really smart and luck had nothing to do with it. Then it was time to start the tournament.

48 Dominion players showed up so 16 tables had been fitted with 3 chairs, a brand new box of base Dominion and a result slip. There were going to be three preliminary rounds with 3 players using only the base set. Then 9 players would advance to the semi-finals. The three winners of those games would make up the finals.

My first opponents were already seated and waiting for me so I took my seat according to the result slip. I was going to be the last player to play. The starting player was a young guy with glasses but no other distinguishing features. I'll call him Egghead. The second player was a 50 year old woman who looked intelligent and very eager to play. I'll call her Ms Marple for easy reference.

The organisor shuffled up the cards and one by one showed and yelled out the cards that would be used for this first round. Each table would use the same setup.

Here's the board I saw before me:

Adventurer, Moat, Cellar, Chapel, Market, Village, Gardens, Chancellor, Festival and one I've forgotten

No attackers, no real Gardens support (Festival?) and no Smithy. Egghead opens Chapel with $2. How lucky! Ms Marple follows suit despite her $3    as do I. Then Egghead picks up a Festival which is slightly worse in this setup than Market. Ms Marple and I choose a sensible Silver. Nobody went for Gardens. Now it's the third turn and Egghead lays his cards on the table, showing 3 Coppers, an Estate and a Chapel. He picks up a Silver trashing nothing and now Egghead doesn't seem appropriate anymore. Ms Marple buys a Festival and I go for Market. Next turn Ms Marple smartly trashes some junk with her Chapel as do I. Eventually I manage to trim my deck nicely and pick up a few Markets in the meantime. My opponents are still of the opinion that Festival is better than Market as they pick up some more and I'm fine with that. Ms Marple surprises me a little by picking up an Adventurer with her first $6 while I go for Gold. I pick up a second Gold a little later (a mistake, it should have been Adventurer!). Soon we're in the greening stage and my trimmed Market deck allows me to grab the first Province. I never get a shot at the Adventurer anymore and Ms Marple and me stay really close point wise while Egghead plays his Coppers and buys more Festivals. Once I have 2 Provinces I pick up a Cellar over Silver to keep things rolling. Everyone gets good draws so the Provinces are draining fast and I grab the last Province for the win. I didn't realize it at the time, but I got really lucky. My deck was only a fraction better than Ms Marple's thanks to her early Adventurer and despite her Festivals. Optimal strategy would have been for me to buy an Adventurer over the second Gold or over the first Province. Chapel is great to create a super efficient deck, but the greening quickly chokes the deck. Adventurer allows your  deck to keep going despite the Victory cards. Buying an Adventurer before the Province would have increased my win rate to 50% (while it was only 37% and a little lower than Ms Marple's according to simulations)

My friends Braam and Inke both got second place in their pods using pretty much the same Chapel/Market strategy. I did hear that some tables went for Gardens but they seemed to be a minority.

I had time to grab a sandwich and a Pepsi Coke (yuk, no real Cola?) at the bar and then the next round started. This time my opponents were a big young guy and a pretty girl. Both were clearly having a great time and we chatted for a bit about the game. I learnt they both played regularly but not online and didn't know the dominionstrategy blog, so I liked my chances. The organiser once again shuffled the Kingdom cards and called them out. When she yelled 'Heks' (Dutch for Witch) the crowd produced a loud moan which amused me. It's clearly the card everyone loves to hate and probably only surpassed by Saboteur in that regard. This was the board:

Moat, Chancellor, Village, Workshop, Militia, Laboratory, Witch, Mine, Woodcutter and one more I've forgotten

Despite Moat I knew this was going to be about the Witch. Big Guy took a Silver and I was lucky enough to open $5 and grab the Witch. They both looked at me like 'you lucky bastard' and also 'ooh, I hate you, but in a kind way'. I didn't mind and just smiled back. Pretty Girl went for Moat with her $3, clearly as a reaction to my purchase. In his second turn Big Guy took Militia which I liked because the card was going to be weak in this game: you'll draw it with Witch or Moat and if you play it, people will have plenty garbage to discard (Curse, Estate, Copper, excess terminals). Then it was my second turn an I took nothing (with $2) … Yeah, I brain farted. I was a little cocky thinking "hey, these guys are little bad, I don't need no freakin' Moat. I'll just keep my deck thin so I can draw Witch more often". Then Pretty Girl took Militia as well. Later, they both got Witches as well and I grabbed a Moat realizing my mistake. Then God/ punished me for my cockiness. I had to wait for the Witch until my 5th turn and when I played it Pretty Girl and Big Guy showed me their Moats. I got a second Witch and started on the Silvers while Pretty Girl was busy buying too many terminals and randomly choosing between Village and Silver when she had $3 to spend. In the meantime Big Guy had at least 3 consecutive turns buying Laboratories. I got really unlucky this game getting $4 very often and when I had $6 or $8 for a crucial Gold or Province I got hit with Militia sending me back to $5 and $7… I tried to stay in the race with Duchies, but Big Guy soon ended the game with a huge Province lead while Pretty Girl got a close second place and I was miserably last. After the game I thought I got a little unlucky, but simulations show I actually got very unlucky despite my opening mistake and should have easily gotten 2nd place because Pretty Girl's strategy was very poor.

Braam got a first place and was still in the running for the semi-finals while I knew I was probably out because first place got 3 points, second 2 and last 1 and you needed 8 points to advance.

The third round saw me seated next to two quiet guys. The board was really lame and I only remember these cards:

Village, Remodel, Smithy and Laboratory

I was the first player and had to reveal my strategy immediately because I opened with $4. Did you guess it? Yeah, I took the Smithy planning never to get another action card in that game again. My left opponent went Laboratory and the last one took a Remodel. Second turn I took a Silver and then the Laboratory guy shows his 2 Coppers and me and the other guy start joking: "you could take an Estate, or a Copper… hey you know what: do us both a favour and buy a Curse!". He bought a Copper… We try not to laugh and the game eventually continues in quiet fashion. The smarter of my two opponents builds a decent Village/Smithy/Remodel engine which I'm sure impresses his play group at home, but I'm just feeling sorry for the guy as I get my second Province to his zeroeth. He does get a lucky turn where he Remodels a Gold into a Province and buys a Province in the same turn, but my much simpler and effective strategy allows me to buy the Ultimate Province for the game.

I end up with 7 points which is not enough and Braam wins his pod so I'm sure he advances. His girlfriend and me end up watching the semi-final. I'm expecting an interesting game because Braam is a good player (Ixius, lvl 25 on isotropic) and I expect the other guys to be decent as well because they won at least two of their pods. The semi-final was going to be played with Intrigue and Braam correctly opens double Swindler while his opponents get one Swindler and then get busy buying Shanty Towns, Throne Rooms and Ironworks resulting in impressive turns with a flurry of actions, ultimately buying another Shanty Town, Throne Room or Ironworks. Braam just goes for Gold. Then more Gold and eventually a little more Gold making his deck invulnarable to his opponent's Swindler(s) while his own Swindlers mess up his opponents'decks even more. Meanwhile, Inke and me are cheering from the side each time Braam Swindles a Copper into a Curse which gets us some nasty looks from the Duchies. But these guys play atrocious and Braam easily wins his heat advancing to the finals.

We congratulate Braam on his win and have a drink. When the finalists take their seats there's a crowd watching and Inke and me struggle for a good view. Again, they were going to be playing with Intrigue and the Base game and the board showed Masquerade, Torturer, Baron, Library, Steward and Swindler as cards of note. Braam opened Steward because he loves that card, but Masquerade would have been better. His left opponent got a Masquerade and the last one (apparently the Colonists of Catan World Champion) took a Baron. I had good hopes that this was going to be a better game, but now even Braam got sucked into playing poorly. The Colonists of Catan champ bought a Scout in his third turn while the other guys kept buying terminal actions when their decks were already filled with them. Eventually Braams brain kicked into gear and he switched to Silvers and Golds for the rest of the game, Masquerading his superfluous terminal actions to his opponents while the other guys kept buying Libraries, Tortures and Stewards with no Village in sight. It was painful to watch as I could have been in that finals and crushed these guys (as would most of you reading this), but in the end I was happy to see Braam win deservedly.

He received his trophy and two boxes of Dominion. Braam isn't Dutch, so the title of Dutch Champion and invitation to the world championship in Essen went to the second player… Braam received an e-mail a few weeks later that he also got an invitation representing our country in Essen (where he didn't reach the finals, but some Japanese guy won)

Despite my bad luck and poor play I had a blast and hope to see more Dominion tournaments organized.
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Dubdubdubdub

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2012, 09:43:45 am »
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Really nice writeup. Where in the Netherlands was this championship held, and do you know about any other tournaments around here?
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Geronimoo

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2012, 10:23:07 am »
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spellen aan zee (Den Haag)
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Dubdubdubdub

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 10:29:29 am »
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Thanks!
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Davio

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2012, 10:43:11 am »
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Gods be damned!

I was there too and knowing you were there feels like a missed opportunity. Next time, let me know please so we can meet up and rant about bad luck together. :)

I did feel kind of proud when they announced that I was the #1 seed for the semi-finals with 3 straight wins and massive VP of course.
But my luck turned. I was player 1, but couldn't draw my Swindler on turn 3 or 4 and sure enough, it got Swindled before turn 5. That was basically gg. The game also featured Saboteur so it was a pretty pile of madness. The Silver pile almost emptied by each player trying to claw their way back. I did wonder if going TR-Ironworks or some sort of Duke/Duchy combination which was present was an alternative, but I never got back on my feet after the early setbacks. Never had enough money for even one Province.

I don't think I played that different from you.
Game #1 was Chapel into Markets and money. I got incredibly lucky with my draws and won easily.
Game #2 was Smithy BM for me too and an opponent to my right broke PPR so I could buy the last Province for the win.
Game #3 I opened Witch/Moat, had Moat in hand on turn 3, but didn't play it out of fear of drawing a dead Witch. Sure enough, the Witch was the first card I picked up for my next hand, so I was pretty happy with that decision. I had researched Witch/Moat 3p games and knew Moat was actually pretty good.

Previously to the event I had done some research on 3 player games and when to switch from Silver to Duchy and this helped me quite a lot. Those 3p games can be over before you know it and you'll be happy you sneaked an early Duchy into your deck.


Overall it was great to play in such an event and again I'm disappointed I still don't know who you are. :)
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 10:49:06 am by Davio »
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gamesou

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2012, 11:40:44 am »
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I'm confused. Is Davio the Big Guy, or the Pretty Girl ?
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DStu

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2012, 11:45:04 am »
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I'm confused. Is Davio the Big Guy, or the Pretty Girl ?

The point with semifinals is that there usually are at least two of them...
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DG

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2012, 12:28:58 pm »
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Quote
The smarter of my two opponents builds a decent Village/Smithy/Remodel engine which I'm sure impresses his play group at home

Most play groups do start with the first example game in the Dominion rules and in that kingdom that engine actually does impress (until someone buys a militia).
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Davio

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2012, 12:52:39 pm »
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I'm confused. Is Davio the Big Guy, or the Pretty Girl ?

The point with semifinals is that there usually are at least two of them...
There were three with the winner of each advancing to the final.

I don't remember playing Geronimoo, but I remember seeing Braam at the other semi-final table.
If I recall correctly, Braam was playing one of my buddies who has a tendency to overinvest in Shanty Towns. :)
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ArjanB

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2012, 08:03:48 am »
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lol, I was there too.
It was a fun tournament.

This year is the second one! 2-9-2012 at spellen aan Zee.
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Davio

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Re: Tournament report (Dutch championship 2011)
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2012, 08:06:10 am »
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Hey, Gero, I'm really looking forward to your report from sunday.

So....get off your lazy ass and write it already!  ;D ;D ;D
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