Dominion’s change from rounds to heats in 2017 was well-received, and the event recovered from a low of 79 unique players back up to 133. However, there were still several areas where the event could be improved for 2018. The format for heats was simplified to only allow the more well-known sets (Dominion, Intrigue, Seaside, and Prosperity), and to simply deal out 10 Kingdom cards, instead of allowing players a chance to veto them. This streamlined setup and cut down on round length. We also introduced bidding for turn order in the playoffs – more on that later.
The remaining significant problem from 2017 was a lack of copies of the game for the heats. While a note was included in the event preview for players to bring copies, it should, in retrospect, have been more strongly worded. Copies became a much more real worry a week before the start of WBC, when the final GM update let us know that the game library had been culled to include no more than two copies of any given game. In the case of Dominion, only one copy of each expansion was kept, so only two playable library copies (base and Intrigue) were available. Since we’d used about five library copies the year before, this was troubling.
With help from AGM Andrew Drummond, registration for Heat 1 proceeded well, but even telling everyone who asked to, yes, please get that copy of the game from your car/hotel/friend, we only had 20 copies available, and had to turn many people away. Some of them simply left; others stuck around to sign in for Heat 2, which then caused us to turn different people away from that heat, including some who had won Heat 1. Not a fun situation for anyone.
A few extra copies of the game did show up for Heat 2, so we were able to run 24 tables, but at least a dozen people were still turned away. Hein Hundal receives thanks for retrieving a box of partially-sorted Dominion expansions and base cards after completing Heat 2, handing them over in case they were helpful. I was able to construct a couple extra playable sets out of those in time for Heat 3. That heat had the lowest turnout of the three, either because of player frustration or schedule competition, and with Hein’s extra copies taking the place of departing games, we were able to run 20 tables without turning anyone away.
With the lower number of games played, and because some winners were turned away from Heat 2, our number of players with two wins – the threshold to guarantee playoffs - dropped from 21 last year all the way down to 8. This meant that the quarterfinals we had added to make sure all of the double-winners could advance were no longer needed, so we proceeded directly to the semifinals, taking the double-winners and the top single-winners. Copies of the game were almost problematic even at the semifinals, as only two of the top 16 had brought copies along, but the two library copies were used, with the GM copy reserved for the finals.
Bidding for turn order in the playoffs had been introduced this year, using a system shamelessly borrowed from the Thurn and Taxis and Puerto Rico WBC events, among others. After seeing the Kingdom card setup, players bid in half-VP increments for the seat of their choice. Once bidding was completed, the turn order was set, with bids being deducted from the final scores. While earlier seats in Dominion are definitely better than later ones, the question was by how much.
Melody Loder advanced to the finals from the set brought by Mary Roelofs, while Andrew Freeman’s home set advantage paid off for him. The Dominion/Prosperity library set provided Kingdom cards that all cost 4 or more, with Dominic Blais the big spender. Finally, Intrigue/Seaside gave some good karma to Ray Wolff, who advanced as the only player to eschew the dreaded Saboteur – the only card in the game that can trash your opponent’s Provinces.
As is tradition, the finals was a curated setup with a special rule attached to it: Lighthouse, Ambassador, Catapult/Rocks, Forager, Envoy, Messenger, Port, Hunting Party, Margrave, Border Village.
Special rule: whenever you shuffle, trash a card from any supply pile other than Province.
This setup has the chance to lead to a very short game, between the special rule and various cards that can be handed out like candy. Andrew and Ray both bought early Catapults, trashing more to get to Rocks quickly, but then trashed Estates with the Catapults, earning no immediate bonus and costing themselves VP to set up for a later that might never come. Melody handed out some Coppers with the Ambassador, but it was Dominic who forced the game to a conclusion, grabbing victory cards and then buying and trashing the last Ports to close out the game. Even with his bid for first chair, Dominic won with a comfortable lead. The bids did affect second and third, with Melody’s bid taking her score down to where she lost the tiebreaker to Ray. Congratulations to Dominic and to all of the finalists!
Bidding for turn order in the playoffs was well-received. Interestingly, the bid for first chair was -1.5 VP in all four semifinals; Dominic went up to -2.0 for the finals, which worked well for him. This system is planned to continue for next year. While the overall Dominion configuration is good, the sticking point continues to be copies of the game. The lack of copies in each of the last two years will be strongly emphasized in the 2019 Event Preview. Other than this, I plan to post appeals on Facebook and BGG about a month before WBC 2019 to ask everyone who has base cards to please bring them along. Hopefully the response next year will allow Dominion to be open to everyone who wants to play.
Finally, special thanks to Andrew Drummond and Robb Effinger for their assistance with registration. This event could not have run as well as it did without help from others, and I am very grateful.