Accountant Dominion ...
What every Dominion tournament
needs - a card caddie with equal access to all.
Aaron Fuegi is under the watchful
eye of Holiday Saccenti and her young friends.
That's a lot of Dominion players
GM Nick Ferris oversees his finalists.
(inspired by Donald X. Vaccarino's Dominion intros)
What new challenges were in the cards for WBC's Dominion
players this year? Let's see... 7 coppers... plus 3 estates...
times 119 tournament participants... carry the 4... Well, let's
just say that a lot of people came hoping to turn Dominion
Copper into WBC Gold. Or wood. Or maybe golden wood? That certainly
sounds a bit more appealing than wooden gold.
Dominion's popularity (and its card count) increases,
so too do the number of games brought by players. And while the
number of copies of the Dominion base set were plentiful,
there was not as much intrigue in the crowd this year. To clarify,
there was plenty of mystery and secret planning during the tournament,
so maybe that should be Intrigue with a capital I, as
in Dominion: Intrigue, the first expansion to the game.
Fortunately, two preliminary round card sets were prepared in
the event that not enough copies of the Intrigue expansion
were available. Indeed, that was just barely the case as a number
of players chose to leave their copies of Intrigue at
home, perhaps to leave room in their luggage for Monopoly:
Duck Dynasty Edition. And who can blame them? Well, the GM
sure did. So only he will ever know the Base/Intrigue card sets
prepared for the Preliminary round in 2013. Or if you see him
walking down the street and ask nicely, maybe he'll tell you.
PRELIMINARY ROUND (Base Set Only)
Game 1 ("Last Action Hero"): Cellar, Council Room,
Festival, Laboratory, Throne Room, Library, Market, Village,
Game 2 ("Landfill"): Feast, Mine, Moat, Remodel, Thief,
Adventurer, Bureaucrat, Chancellor, Militia, Smithy
Maintaining its usual two-game advancement-point format, the
Dominion preliminaries pitted 119 players across 30 tables in
an epic struggle of shuffling lots of cards without dropping
them all over the floor. Yes, Joe, I'm talking to you.
Game 1 pairings gave players a plethora of Actions and additional
card draws, making for a number of tight games as players rushed
to gain prime Action Cards early until somebody pulled the Province
trigger and started the countdown to game end. Indeed, nearly
all tables ended the first game with an empty Province pile and
winning scores in the 20s and 30s. The standout in Game 1 came
from Table 22, where Natalie Beach employed a strategy of "buying
all the good cards" and "not buying all the bad cards"
to earn the room-high Game 1 score of 50.
A decidedly more somber atmosphere took hold as the room switched
over to Game 2 with its Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style assortment
of attack cards. Duchies were the order of the day for many decks
as floods of coin-killing and hand-ditching left players feeling
the pinch of poverty. In a few cases, the mere presence of Moats
was enough to dissuade would-be Thieves and Beaucrats from plying
their trade; those tables saw far higher point totals and much
shorter games typically ending in empty Province or Moat/Province
piles. But despite the attack-heavy card set, all players managed
to remain positive... at least in VP; emotionally, a number of
contestants were spotted sobbing in the corridor outside Ballroom
B after the game or muttering about the time that Thief got their
With a field just shy of 120, only 48 players advanced to
QUARTERFINAL ROUND (Base, Intrigue, Prosperity)
Game 1 ("My Kind of Party"): Moneylender, Witch, Spy,
Baron, Duke, Nobles, Scout, Bishop, Goons, Peddler
Game 2 ("Biggest. Money. Ever."): Colony, Platinum,
Courtyard, Harem, Pawn, Steward, Trading Post, Bank, Contraband,
Hoard, Mint, Venture
Of course, just because 48 players qualified for the quarterfinals
didn't mean that 48 actually played in the quarterfinals. Indeed,
only 34 of those who earned automatic advancement from the Qualifying
Round claimed their seats in Round 2, and then only four of the
nine alternates with eight advancement points appeared. And could
the top qualifier himself be bothered to play just a little more
Dominion, hmmmmm??? Noooooooo, he probably wanted to play one
of those cooler games that won't cripple him with Shuffling-Induced
Arthritis at a young age. Still, rather than lower the threshold
for Alternate qualification below half the maximum advancement
points, it was decided to play the next round with the field
of 38 who could be bothered to put on pants and march themselves
down to Lampeter Hall. Lesson learned for future years: if you
play even halfway-decent Dominion, you will probably get to play
more Dominion the next day! Heck, we'll even say "Pants
Optional!! ... maybe not.
Game 1, with a card set inspired by the great Victorian parties
of yesteryear (you know, those parties where magical Witches
appeared and somebody let in a bunch of Goons and Peddlers),
saw a number of tables with Curses flying off the shelf like
they were having a 75% off sale at Curses R Us. Fully a third
of the games reported empty Curse piles, with a number of additional
tables perhaps too traumatized to report any empty piles. Average
scores still ran higher than in the Preliminary games, perhaps
a testament to the qualifying players' skill and tenacity. Or
maybe they just Bishop'd away all their Curses. Yeah, it's probably
that second one.
Players retreated to the warm, cozy safety of vast treasuries
and plentiful cash in Game 2. Treasure Cards coupled with pick-your-poison
cards like Pawn and Steward made for big decks of Platinums and
Colonies. Nobody knows that feeling better than Erik Schlosser,
the only player to break the single-game 100-VP barrier in the
entire tournament with a Game 2 score of 101. But his quarterfinal
total score of 141 (the round's high two-game score) wasn't enough
to earn a spot in the semifinals as he placed third at a 3-player
table in Game 1. Only three tables reported double-first finishes:
Patrick Richardson and Mark Giddings each scoring 105 total points,
and Kelly Czyryca with 100 points.
SEMIFINAL ROUND (Base, Intrigue, Seaside, Prosperity)
Game 1 ("Secrets Revealed"): Bridge, Minion, Secret
Chamber, Scout, Wishing Well, Bazaar, Caravan, Island, Lookout,
Game 2 ("Bits and Pieces"): Colony, Platinum, Adventurer,
Gardens, Village, Swindler, Torturer, Embargo, Lighthouse, Native
Village, Monument, Trade Route
Dominion Quarterfinalist winners took their commitment to
the game much more seriously as all 16 qualifiers appeared promptly
the next day, bringing the journey to an end for several hopeful
but unfortunate top Alternates (a.k.a. those who probably should've
taken that first Province when they had the chance).
After determining seating in traditional Dominion WBC style
(a baking contest administered by the GM), players tackled their
first challenge of the day: a game of card guessing and deck
manipulation. Fortunately, there was only one report of a player
using a Wishing Well to guess a card that wasn't actually in
the game's set of Kingdom cards. Scores were once again tight
and rather middling, with one table recording an astonishing
Game 2 offered players two basic routes to pursue: play nice
and get lots of points, or unleash some of the nastier attack
cards in any of the Dominion decks. Ben Scholl's 18-VP win at
a table that chose the former route earned him 10 advancement
points (AP) in the semifinals, but it wasn't enough to get him
into the Final Four. Scholl finished sixth overall. Elsewhere,
defending champ Chad Weaver's two seconds also netted him 10
AP, coming in one point shy of victory in Game 2 and netting
him only fifth place laurels.
Indeed, it took 13 AP in the Semis to earn a spot in the Final.
Brandon Bernard managed this at his attack-heavy Game 2 table
(winning Game 1 and finishing second to Scholl's low-scoring
victory), as did Mark Giddings with the semifinal's high total
score of 103. The duo of Thomas Tu and Patrick Richardson each
earned a win and a second at their shared table, advancing them
FINAL ROUND (Seaside, Prosperity, Cornucopia, Hinterlands)
Game 1 ("The Thrill of Victory"): Fairgrounds, Hamlet,
Horn of Plenty, Jester, Young Witch, Crossroads, Embassy, Ill-Gotten
Gains, Oasis [Bane], Silk Road, Tunnel
Game 2 ("The Agony of Defeat"): Colony, Platinum, Cutpurse,
Ghost Ship, Haven, Sea Hag, Mountebank, Rabble, Fortune Teller,
Margrave, Noble Brigand, Trader
Game 1 of the Final round marked the tournament debut of the
Cornucopia and Hinterlands sets, introducing players to such
lovable characters as the Jester and Young Witch. Indeed, these
cards saw early play as Thomas Tu used his 5-2 Copper split to
pick up a first-turn Jester, while Patrick Richardson opted for
the cheaper Young Witch, not fearing that its cheaper-still Bane
card (the Oasis) would negate its powers later. Mark Giddings
chose the more conservative early route with an Oasis-Tunnel
combo, while Brandon Bernard mirrored Tu's opening Jester-Crossroads.
Giddings next turns saw him buy a powerful Embassy and a second
Tunnel, a machine that earned him the game's first Province in
the sixth round. Across the table, Bernard bet heavy on a longer
game with buys like Young Witch, Oasis, Horn of Plenty, and Ill-Gotten
Gains. His first Province didn't come until the 13th round, shortly
after Tu's 12th-round Province... but all of which came after
Giddings snapped up Provinces number 2 and 3. Richardson took
a dramatically different course than the other players, loading
up on Embassies and Tunnels and ultimately following the path
of the Estate-encrusted Silk Road.
In the late game, Giddings Curse count mounted as he eschewed
attacks for money and Tunnels, the latter of which ran out by
the tenth time around the table. While his Province-making machine
faltered toward the end, he did manage to snag four of the six
Provinces that were procured overall. And once the Curse pile
ran out and others found their Jesters and Young Witches neutered,
Giddings climbed aboard the Estate-Silk Road train. But it was
Bernard who--perhaps knowing he was solidly but distantly in
second place--ultimately pulled the trigger on the game end,
picking up the last Silk Road and emptying a third stack of Kingdom
cards. Giddings finished in first with 37 VP, followed by Bernard
with 23, Tu with 21, and Richardson at 16.
Following "The Thrill of Victory" in Game 1 came
Game 2's "The Agony of Defeat," a card set described
by its players as "pure evil" and "I want my mommy."
With eight attack cards and two tiny countermeasures, it wouldn't
be a matter of if players turned on one another... but when.
(Ultimately, "right away.") And also how much. ("A
Tu's 3-4 start guided him to the Fortune Teller and Trader,
while Bernard grabbed a Cutpurse-Silver combo. Playing it safe,
Richardson used his first two buys on a Haven and Trader, but
Giddings chose to duplicate Tu's first two acquisitions with
Fortune Tellers and Traders of his own.
As players decks began to flood with Silvers converted from
Trader'd Estates, some of the higher-priced attack cards found
owners. Giddings opted for the Montebank, ultimately picking
up three in hopes of slowing players' decks with Curses and Coppers.
Adding to the brawl, Richardson and Tu acquired Cutpurses and
Margraves, forcing players to choose between keeping their Coppers
on Margrave-induced discards or hanging on to their attack cards
for fear of Cutpursing. Perhaps hoping to capitalize on the mayhem,
Bernard chose to dabble in Rabble in the seventh round, a pick
he almost immediately regretted. Other surprise moves came from
Richardson who passed up a chance at a sixth-round Province for
Gold instead and a ninth-round Platinum. As players' decks filled
with Curses, Coppers, Silvers, and Duchies--the popular choice
of VP card for much of the cash-strapped mid-game--Provinces
and Colonies remained untouched through the 12th round.
It was Bernard who broke the seal on the big-VP cards, nabbing
the first Province in his 13th turn. Giddings followed suit immediately
after, as did Richardson. Tu remained Provinceless until his
15th turn, but he finished the game strong with final purchases
of three Provinces, a Colony, and a Duchy--enough for the game
win with 30 VP. The only other Colony ended up in the hands of
Richardson, but his heavy Curse count bogged down his final score
and kept him in third place with 27 VP. Giddings also finished
with three Provinces, but no Colonies pushed him to fourth with
26 VP. Bernard's three Provinces had some big Duchy company,
but he finished a point shy of Tu with a score of 29.
Tu's third-and-first finish and Bernard's two seconds earned
each player 10 advancement points, meaning the tournament victory
came down to the two-game total scores. And while Tu edged out
Bernard by a single point in Game 2, it was Bernard's extra two
points in the first game which won him the championship plaque
by a single Estate. (Or maybe Tu had an extra Curse. Glass half
empty, right?) Gidding's win was enough to give him third place
overall, and Richardson finished fourth.