An Interview with Karlis Povisils, 2022 Dune: Imperium NA Champion

An Interview with Karlis Povisils, 2022 Dune: Imperium NA Champion

This year at Gen Con Indy, Dire Wolf hosted the first ever Dune: Imperium North American Championship! After three days of intense competition and intrigue, Karlis Povisils emerged victorious, securing the title of the Inaugural North American Champion for Dune: Imperium.

We spoke with Karlis over email to learn a little more about his history with gaming, and how he handled the pressure of the Championship match!

Where are you from? What’s your occupation?

“I was born and raised in South Jersey near Philadelphia but moved to Charlottesville when
I joined Apex Clean Energy in 2010. Apex develops, builds, owns and operates utility
scale wind, solar, battery storage and green fuels projects across the United States. My
specific role is to lead the development team.”

Are you a Gen Con regular, or a first-timer?

“My eldest son and I (along with my brother-in-law and his son) first attended Gen Con
since 2016. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, we were thrilled to be back this year.”

What did you enjoy most about Gen Con?

“Gen Con for me is solely about playing great games.”

How do you generally play board games? Do you have a regular group?

“My game fix is appropriately varied, and Dune Imperium is in regular rotation in all of them:

  • At home with my eldest son and sometimes also with my wife and younger son.
  • A game group at work.
  • Two other game buddies in Charlottesville that I found through Meetup.
  • A Thursday night Charlottesville-wide group at a local bar that routinely attracts 15+ people.
  • My brother-in-law’s family when we travel up to PA for visits.

I also play Twilight Struggle regularly on Steam with a retiree from New Zealand.”

Were there any especially memorable plays or moments during the Dune: Imperium tournament?

” Yes, a few things come to mind:

  • I did not take the Swordmaster in any of my three games, and in game 2 I took neither Swordmaster nor High Council.
  • In game 1, I played Helena Richese and was wildly fortunate in my card drafting – Leit Kynes (on Turn 1!), Kwisatch, and CHOAM Directorship.
  • In the final game there was a paucity of good cards in the Imperium Row. Until late in the game, I had only Guild Administrator, Gene Manipulation, and Bene Gesserit Sister. With Guild Administrator, Gene Manipulation, and the Selective Breeding space, I was able to aggressively thin my deck. I picked up Thufir on turn 6 or so, and (critically) Guild Bankers and Smugglers Thopter on the penultimate turn.
  • Though I did not win the last battle of the final game, I scored 3 points during that period – 2 TSMF (thank you Guild Bankers) and an intrigue card that allowed me to score a VP on the faction track. I also lost the second to last battle, but earned a VP through the “Staged Incident” intrigue card.
  • Winning the final game required that I un-learn a recent lesson. In two losses before Gen Con, I came to realize that I was too addicted to card trashing in a misguided effort to create the perfect lean deck. That’s not the goal of the game. However, having a super-lean deck happened to be a key part to my winning the final game because it meant I could be confident that Smuggler’s Thopter, Thufir and Guild Bankers would come up. So, though it is important to learn lessons from your losses, you have to be flexible enough to know when to un-learn the lesson.
  • Human beings aren’t mentats and even mentats aren’t infallible. It is surprisingly easy to make mistakes in Dune Imperium because it is a challenge to stay focused with so many options: resources, battles, faction influence, swordmaster/high council, card trashing, deck building, intrigue cards, TSMF. In the final match I twice forgot to watch for opponent Helena Richese’s signet ring power and was needlessly surprised when my plan for the turn was foiled. In that same game, that opponent overlooked an opportunity to win the final battle which would have won him the game. I also goofed in game 2 and forgot to use Leto’s ring power.”

At the convention, you told us a story about Dune and your wedding; could you repeat some of that for us?

“My wife Jill and I were married onstage by the band the Flaming Lips on Tuesday, August 6, 2019. Before the concert, we took some mock wedding photos with the band and in one of them we used a copy of Dune as a stand-in for the Bible.

Space, the future and the vastness of the universe are some of the recurring themes in their music so it seemed a fitting connection. The cosmic connection of my Aug 6 wedding anniversary, Dune and the Flaming Lips augured well for my performance in the tournament.”

(The finals match of the Dune: Imperium North American Championship took place on August 6, 2022)

Anything else you’d like to share?

“Just a couple of random thoughts about Dune: Imperium I’ve been thinking about that may be relevant:

  • One of the things I love about Dune Imperium is the rich Dune theme –plots within plots, that spice is both essential and risky to obtain, second guessing, and discipline.
  • Don’t be rigid, but also don’t try to do everything. Be flexible, see the opportunities and pursue them.
  • Having intrigue cards is very important, even if you don’t play them. When I don’t have at least one intrigue card, my opponents can act with greater clarity and confidence. By contrast, having intrigue cards can throw opponents off because they don’t know what is up my sleeve – I could use my cards to win a battle I would otherwise lose, overtake a faction alliance token, or score VPs outright – or maybe I can do none of these things. Even though mathematically speaking I was comfortably ahead on the last turn of game 1, one of my opponents had 4 intrigue cards which had me fearful of multiple hidden VPs or at least cards that could impact the battle. Unless I have to play an intrigue card to avoid having one stolen through the Secrets space, my approach is to hold intrigue cards until they can be played for maximum benefit.”

Do you have a message to any would-be competitors for the title in 2023?

“May thy knife chip and shatter!”

Karlis may hold the title for now, but the sands of Arrakis are ever-changing. We hope we’ll see all of you in 2023 competing for next year’s title!

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