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Dominion: Fall 2019 Tournament Summary

This weekend, on Saturday, September 21, 2019, I hosted my eleventh Dominion tournament in Cincinnati, OH.

Fall 2019 Tournament

Since I last wrote about my tournaments, several things have changed in the IRL Dominion Tournament world: RGG, the publisher, has decided to stop hosting a "world championship" tournament at GenCon, and it seems they are no longer interested in actively supporting other smaller Dominion tournaments, even by just providing promo cards to give out like they have in the past. These were the main reasons why I was holding 3-player tournaments, so it looks like my tournaments will consist of 2-player games, unless I decide to splash in a 3P tournament every once in a while for variety.

The other big thing that happened was my tenth Dominion tournament. I wrote a blog post about it and published it, but it has mysteriously disappeared from the blog and short of writing a completely new post, I don't have another way to recover it -- in any case, that tournament was held in January 2019 and between flu season and a huge snowstorm that came through, the tournament had a very low turnout. I even had to cut the tournament short after the Swiss rounds because of the weather.

Between all of these factors, I've decided to make a few changes in my IRL tournaments. The previously-mentioned shift to 2P tournaments will be one of them, but I also want to move away from a Winter/Summer cycle and towards a Fall/Spring cycle to prevent most weather-related issues from causing another "snowpocalypse." This tournament was the first one in that new cycle.

I also have ambitions of running a larger tournament at GenCon, now that there is no "official" tournament that I'd be stepping on. If I can make it to GenCon in 2020 I definitely plan to do this, so once that gets closer, stay tuned for the details on that event. I'm hoping for a tournament with hundreds of people in it.

Enough of the intro, though. We had 18 people show up for the tournament, and from that field we crowned a winner: Ari Silverton. This was Ari's first time at one of my tournaments and it's always nice to see someone win who enjoys the game as much as he does -- congratulations! Ari has a YouTube channel where he plays Dominion as well. Also, a shout-out goes to Jake, Marlene, and Jessica who also cashed in the tournament.

Ari, Marlene, Jessica, and Jake with their winnings

For the rest of this post I want to talk about the designed kingdoms used for the elimination rounds of this tournament. I'll link the Google Sheet that has every kingdom used for your reference, but I'll only go in-depth about the designed kingdoms here. I'll post the kingdoms first, then my commentary down below in case you would like to play them yourself before reading what I have to say about them.

Overall, I had a great time at this tournament. Even though I didn't have 30+ people like I have in the past, I feel like this one was very successful and we got to see some really talented players do their thing. Again I want to thank everyone who makes the trip to Cincinnati and the local people who consistently show up, it's because of you that these tournaments continue to be successful.

Finals Set 1: Hermit, Diplomat, Treasure Trove, Caravan, Bridge, Hireling, Outpost, Rogue, Old Witch, Vassal, Sewers, Ferry

Finals Set 2: Patron, Tragic Hero, Library, Grand Market, Loan, Necromancer, Harbinger, Oasis, Ghost Ship, Journeyman, Capitalism, Museum

Finals Set 3: Baron, Crossroads, Watchtower, Hamlet, Forager, Talisman, Bandit Camp, Council Room, Treasurer, Fishing Village, Triumph, Canal

Finals Set 4: Faithful Hound, Pillage, Market, Shepherd, Courtier, Ironworks, Mill, Prince, Storeroom, Haven, City Gate, Silos


SPOILERS BELOW


SPOILERS BELOW


Finals Set 1: Hermit, Diplomat, Treasure Trove, Caravan, Bridge, Hireling, Outpost, Rogue, Old Witch, Vassal, Sewers, Ferry

The idea behind this kingdom was to have a really good deck you want to build that plays a lot of Bridges, but have a few strange ways to enable that deck. Regardless of what deck you'd like to build here, the opening part of the game revolves heavily around the synergy between Hermit and Sewers. It may not look like much, but with Sewers active and just one Hermit play, you can trash an Estate, two Coppers, and "buy" a Madman that turn by gaining a Hermit with your Hermit and trashing another Copper when the Hermit you played trashes itself for a Madman. This is a surprisingly fast way to get a very thin deck that can quickly add payload here as well, and no matter which build path you go for, I think this type of opening is very strong.

The first idea is to go straight for a Madman/Bridge build. You can gain Hermits back from the trash with Rogue if you just need to get more Madmen, but being contested on Bridges is a real concern, and this deck can be finicky and slow to actually build and play. I saw a couple of people go for a Madman-fueled Bridge megaturn and both of them ended up losing the game because their big turn just wasn't enough to win the game.

Another path you can take is to use Diplomat as your village. The issue is that there are only a few ways to get actions from your Diplomats to start out with: you can play an Outpost and do everything cool on your Outpost turn (you have to forego all of the other Outpost-related synergies I put in here like Caravan and Hireling though), you can have only five or fewer cards in your entire deck, or you can rely on your opponent playing an attack on you. If any of this lines up and you have enough Diplomats and Bridges in your deck, you can have some pretty big turns, and though it may look scarier than just Madman/Bridge, I think this style of deck is likely to be the best one you can build here. If nothing else, you can just use Outpost to enable yourself, and Outpost is something you probably wanted anyways.

The last path is to build a deck that uses the duration draw resources and Treasure Trove to flood with Treasure and just buy Provinces the old fashioned way.

Finals Set 2: Patron, Tragic Hero, Library, Grand Market, Loan, Necromancer, Harbinger, Oasis, Ghost Ship, Journeyman, Capitalism, Museum

Capitalism is the only village here -- well there's Patron, but it really just serves to enable Capitalism. If you have Capitalism active, your Patrons are treasures, which means you can play them in your Buy phase without spending any Actions, and bank a bunch of villagers for future turns. You can do all kinds of cool things here if you have extra actions!

There are a bunch of smaller synergies here that are a big deal as well: Patron can be revealed by Loan and Journeyman, Tragic Hero can gain a lot of really good cards once you have Capitalism (hello, Grand Market!). And finally, you can actually trash your Estates using Zombie Mason if you either draw your deck first, then use Oasis to discard an Estate, then play a Zombie Mason. The problem with that is that it's really hard to draw your deck here, but never fear, you can skip the part where you draw your deck if you just play a Harbinger instead. Oh yes, Harbinger is actually important here and it's not just because of Museum. You'll find yourself wanting to stay away from Treasures while you're still trashing with Loan, and you don't want too many Oases, and the Harbinger remains useful later on as a way to ensure that your Loan hits your last couple of Coppers after you buy Capitalism.

So I like to open Patron/Loan, and get a Library with my first $5 buy. I really want to get a Villager or two from those first couple of turns, they will be very important for getting this deck to function, because you get more Villagers for later if you have bigger turns earlier. From here, I want a single Necromancer and a bunch more Patrons. Maybe a second Library, some Oases and Harbingers, and at some point I want to make a quick transition away from using Library for draw and towards using Tragic Hero for draw, and around this time I want to get Capitalism -- hopefully after I have 4 or more Coppers out of the deck. This decision point and how to set up for it is usually tricky and depends heavily on my draws. After a few Tragic Heroes, I transition to Journeyman as my main source of draw because of its synergy with Patron.

This deck is pretty fun to play if you can find all of the synergies. If you don't, then you can be subject to Ghost Ship pain, which isn't too much fun.

Finals Set 3: Baron, Crossroads, Watchtower, Hamlet, Forager, Talisman, Bandit Camp, Council Room, Treasurer, Fishing Village, Triumph, Canal

This set was designed by Wandering Winder, not myself. He did a bunch of playtesting with me for the other ones, but this one was his idea. The main focus is on Triumph because it has a billion great enablers here (Talisman with tons of buys, Canal, Bandit Camp, and even Watchtower; plus the ability to draw a bunch of cards), but there's a decent amount of counterplay because it's not totally crazy to deny Estates if you see your opponent commit too hard in that direction. Winning here usually involves building a deck with a lot of options (potential for gains and trashing) and paying close attention to what your opponent is doing.

I like a Baron/Forager opening here. You can use Fishing Village and Watchtower for a while as draw but soon enough you'll want Council Rooms in the deck.

Finals Set 4: Faithful Hound, Pillage, Market, Shepherd, Courtier, Ironworks, Mill, Prince, Storeroom, Haven, City Gate, Silos; with Platinum and Colony

The "cool thing" to do here is build a deck that has a Princed Storeroom and a bunch of Faithful Hounds. If you can start your turn with a big hand size and use Silos on top of that, you're able to pretty consistently enable Shepherd as your main source of draw and use Courtier and Pillage for some great payload options. You have City Gate and Haven to help you get your Prince and line it up with Storeroom somewhat reliably.

I prefer an Ironworks/Storeroom opening. I want to get a lot of Mills and Shepherds so a second Ironworks is usually a good idea. I also want to get Silos online as soon as possible so I can find my Ironworks more often. Get a few Havens and a Market or two to help hit $8, and then start getting lots of doggos while I'm waiting for my Prince to get online. Once the Prince is out with a Storeroom, you can add payload to the deck quickly because of Courtier (Pasture has three types which is a big deal here) and it's usually a priority to play a Pillage every turn once you're drawing enough.

There are some neat tricks you can do with Mill and Silos. The deck is somewhat reliable, but if you're not quite drawing everything, you may want to use Mill to discard a bunch of Coppers, then trigger a shuffle so that your next starting hand is all Coppers. Not only is this a soft defense against Pillage, but if you have Silos, this actually improves your draw because once your Coppers are in your discard, you're more likely to find your Shepherds and other green cards.

Be careful, though, because if you take too long to set this up, an opponent can potentially end the game on you with a competitive amount of points. Mills will usually empty super-fast, and Estates are worth two points each because of Pasture.