Dominion Strategy Forum

Dominion => Game Reports => Help! => Topic started by: phonological loop on May 22, 2018, 06:49:12 am

Title: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: phonological loop on May 22, 2018, 06:49:12 am
Hi, I'm new to the game and trying to learn to construct engines.

In the following YouTube video, Burning Skull builds an engine on a 2nd Edition base game kingdom that entirely lacks trashing. This is somewhat surprising to me, since often I've heard the advice that engine building is typically bad without trashing (or a way to exchange the starting cards for more useful ones).

The deck operates by chaining laboratories and merchants. This seems like it would be unreliable and slow but ends up working. However, while he manages to pull it off, I don't think his opponent provided very stiff resistance.

I'm wondering the following: Does his engine strategy beat a big money strategy based on council room? If so, is it more or less the optimal strategy on the board? If not, is big money optimal, or is there something better?

Thanks in advance for your help.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqGTC0CODw0
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: ipofanes on May 22, 2018, 07:04:42 am
The user's name is Drowning Skull, it may or may not be the person we know as "Burning Skull".
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: diedre91 on May 22, 2018, 07:57:57 am
What Drowning Skull did seems to be the optimal strategy here.
With a Council Room Big Money deck, you cannot include Artisan (a pretty good gainer in this board considering the presence of those powerful $5s) and Throne Room gets pretty weak in a deck full of treasures.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Awaclus on May 22, 2018, 08:04:58 am
Trashing just means you don't need to draw so many cards. In this case, it's not a problem to draw a lot of cards so it's not a problem if trashing isn't there.

And yeah Drowning Skull is Burning Skull's alt.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: DG on May 22, 2018, 08:06:45 am
Just looking at the kingdom, there is laboratory, market, artisan, cellar, merchant, throne room, council room, gardens, festival and library. What's bad about an engine here is unreliability. The coppers and estates slow you down. What's good about an engine here is fast gaining of many engine cards each turn using artisans, possibly throned, plus plenty of money and buys too. All those gained cards can help the engine. The draw is good too with laboratory and cellar. Cellar is really good when you have big hands to play with.

Against a money player, the only limit on how big you can build this engine is emptying three piles. Apart from that, you can build the engine up as large as you can with merchants, labs, markets, thrones and then play 4 throned artisans to empty the gardens on the last turn and buy up whatever vp and coppers you can to score a win. The garden scoring suits the engine player perfectly.

Is this fast enough to beat someone just playing council room + money, I'd expect so. In multiplayer you get two problems though. There will be less engine cards for each engine deck if more players use the engine. Council room + money gets faster when more than one person does it in multiplayer. So in multiplayer the money option looks somewhat safer.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: phonological loop on May 22, 2018, 02:43:24 pm
Trashing just means you don't need to draw so many cards. In this case, it's not a problem to draw a lot of cards so it's not a problem if trashing isn't there.

And yeah Drowning Skull is Burning Skull's alt.

Thanks, this is an interesting heuristic. So whenever I see +3 or better draw, and something that gives +actions, I should be thinking about how to make a +draw/+action engine work even without trashing (or with weak trashing) on the board? (See also my question to DG below; there are some overlapping concerns.)

Just looking at the kingdom, there is laboratory, market, artisan, cellar, merchant, throne room, council room, gardens, festival and library. What's bad about an engine here is unreliability. The coppers and estates slow you down. What's good about an engine here is fast gaining of many engine cards each turn using artisans, possibly throned, plus plenty of money and buys too. All those gained cards can help the engine. The draw is good too with laboratory and cellar. Cellar is really good when you have big hands to play with.

Against a money player, the only limit on how big you can build this engine is emptying three piles. Apart from that, you can build the engine up as large as you can with merchants, labs, markets, thrones and then play 4 throned artisans to empty the gardens on the last turn and buy up whatever vp and coppers you can to score a win. The garden scoring suits the engine player perfectly.

Is this fast enough to beat someone just playing council room + money, I'd expect so. In multiplayer you get two problems though. There will be less engine cards for each engine deck if more players use the engine. Council room + money gets faster when more than one person does it in multiplayer. So in multiplayer the money option looks somewhat safer.

Thank you for this breakdown. I'm mainly concerned about the 2 player game in the following questions, though I appreciate the comment about multiplayer.

So, the tip off for the engine here is the good draw, gaining, and presence of cycling?

(Quick question about cellar: is it mostly wrong to have more than 2 or -- for a quite big deck -- 3? This is the impression I get from watching people play.)

If the gaining were not there, it seems an engine would be worse because assembling the components would take much longer. Is this intuition correct, and would we prefer CR-BM in that case?

Skull wins without needing to do gardens tricks. If gardens were not there and you had to rely on provinces, would the engine still be fast enough most of the time?

Also, a question for anyone reading: I'm looking at the "suggested sets" in the back of the rules of both the base set and some expansions, playing through them with friends, and attempting to find the best build on them. I have some questions about most of them, since I don't know the expansion cards very well. I assume it would be unwelcome to create a new thread for each setup, since it would clog the forum. Would a "suggested setup strategy megathread" be OK? (Perhaps one per expansion?)
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Awaclus on May 22, 2018, 03:07:41 pm
Thanks, this is an interesting heuristic. So whenever I see +3 or better draw, and something that gives +actions, I should be thinking about how to make a +draw/+action engine work even without trashing (or with weak trashing) on the board? (See also my question to DG below; there are some overlapping concerns.)

Well, that depends. Here, you have Market, Merchant, Throne Room and Artisan, which means that you can generate tons of coins without spending any cards from your hand (because Artisan helps you gain a ton of those cards, especially when combined with Throne Room). Artisan also helps you gain more of the engine components fast. That makes a trashing-less engine more viable.

If there's just Village and Smithy and literally nothing else on the board, the best strategy is big money.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: aku_chi on May 22, 2018, 04:43:57 pm
If the gaining were not there, it seems an engine would be worse because assembling the components would take much longer. Is this intuition correct, and would we prefer CR-BM in that case?

Skull wins without needing to do gardens tricks. If gardens were not there and you had to rely on provinces, would the engine still be fast enough most of the time?

Interesting questions.  I think if you remove Gardens from the board, I'd still prefer the engine.  One factor is that Artisan can gain Duchies efficiently, so losing the Province split 5-3 isn't a big deal.  If you remove Artisan... I'm not sure.  Artisan is the big reward for overdrawing on this board.  I'd want to see it played out.  I think the money player would have a decent shot.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Awaclus on May 22, 2018, 05:23:57 pm
Thanks, this is an interesting heuristic. So whenever I see +3 or better draw, and something that gives +actions, I should be thinking about how to make a +draw/+action engine work even without trashing (or with weak trashing) on the board? (See also my question to DG below; there are some overlapping concerns.)

Well, that depends. Here, you have Market, Merchant, Throne Room and Artisan, which means that you can generate tons of coins without spending any cards from your hand (because Artisan helps you gain a ton of those cards, especially when combined with Throne Room). Artisan also helps you gain more of the engine components fast. That makes a trashing-less engine more viable.

If there's just Village and Smithy and literally nothing else on the board, the best strategy is big money.

To add to this, sometimes strong draw can be good enough on its own, but then it needs to be really strong and preferably allow you to build a deck that doesn't completely suck even if you fail drawing it every turn. Such as Storyteller or Wharf.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: DG on May 22, 2018, 05:34:46 pm
In this sort of deck, there aren't many hands where your cellars are failing since you play out all your labs and markets then dump copper and estates with the cellar, every time. I don't think it needs more than 3 or 4 cellars but you probably get a feel for it as you are playing the deck. You need to be a bit clever with cellars so that you don't create a bad discard pile, then draw from it and leave a bad hand in the draw pile for next turn, but that's a problem cellars can solve as well. Artisans can always gain cellars if you desparately need them.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: phonological loop on May 22, 2018, 08:39:24 pm
If there's just Village and Smithy and literally nothing else on the board, the best strategy is big money.

I just had a kingdom on Dominion Online somewhat like this that I wanted to ask about. Similar to the kingdom in the OP, it is a base game kingdom with no trashing.

3: Harbinger, Merchant, Vassal, Village
4: Bureaucrat, Poacher, Throne Room
5: Council Room, Laboratory, Market

I opened silver/silver and tried to put together a Village+Council Room engine, using Poacher for money. Somewhat unsurprisingly, this much too slow. With no trashing or gaining, I simply couldn't get enough buying power in time. The bot destroyed me with council room and treasures. It seems like without gaining or trashing (and lacking Cellar), an engine is much too slow.

Is CR-BM best here, or is there a better strategy?
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Awaclus on May 23, 2018, 03:27:23 am
If there's just Village and Smithy and literally nothing else on the board, the best strategy is big money.

I just had a kingdom on Dominion Online somewhat like this that I wanted to ask about. Similar to the kingdom in the OP, it is a base game kingdom with no trashing.

3: Harbinger, Merchant, Vassal, Village
4: Bureaucrat, Poacher, Throne Room
5: Council Room, Laboratory, Market

I opened silver/silver and tried to put together a Village+Council Room engine, using Poacher for money. Somewhat unsurprisingly, this much too slow. With no trashing or gaining, I simply couldn't get enough buying power in time. The bot destroyed me with council room and treasures. It seems like without gaining or trashing (and lacking Cellar), an engine is much too slow.

Is CR-BM best here, or is there a better strategy?

I just won against the bot by playing a Village+Council Room engine, but it was a close game. Basically first player advantage matters more on that board than the strategy you choose, so it's super hard to say which strategy is better.

In a no-trashing engine, it's very important to buy as few Silvers as you can because otherwise the Silvers will just get in the way, so your opening should be Poacher/Silver instead of double Silver.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Chris is me on May 23, 2018, 08:52:37 am
If there's just Village and Smithy and literally nothing else on the board, the best strategy is big money.

I just had a kingdom on Dominion Online somewhat like this that I wanted to ask about. Similar to the kingdom in the OP, it is a base game kingdom with no trashing.

3: Harbinger, Merchant, Vassal, Village
4: Bureaucrat, Poacher, Throne Room
5: Council Room, Laboratory, Market

I opened silver/silver and tried to put together a Village+Council Room engine, using Poacher for money. Somewhat unsurprisingly, this much too slow. With no trashing or gaining, I simply couldn't get enough buying power in time. The bot destroyed me with council room and treasures. It seems like without gaining or trashing (and lacking Cellar), an engine is much too slow.

Is CR-BM best here, or is there a better strategy?

The key there is going to be to use Throne Rooms, Markets, and Labs for most of your draw, with only 1-2 Council Rooms. The drawback of council room gets worse and worse the more you have to play it, and Throne Room here is like rocket fuel. I really think Throne Room more than a lot of base cards is what makes engines worth it in the base set. The main challenge here is that with no trashing or sifting youíll have trouble lining up your Thrones with stuff, so you should take a couple Villages when you have $3 just to be safe. A single Silver in the opening may be correct, but thereís an argument for Vassal / Poacher just to avoid adding yet another stop card (even though Vassal wonít hit a lot).
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Burning Skull on May 23, 2018, 02:48:11 pm
Yeah, the opening should be either poacher silver or poacher vassal. The argument for a silver is the presence of merchants.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Awaclus on May 23, 2018, 03:13:04 pm
Yeah, the opening should be either poacher silver or poacher vassal. The argument for a silver is the presence of merchants.

As far as I'm concerned, the argument for a Silver is that Vassal is also a Silver, only terminal.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: DG on May 23, 2018, 04:39:23 pm
That kingdom is pretty weak so bureaucrat could come into play. A deck with a bureaucrat, labs, poacher, is pretty simple and probably competitive. Bureaucrat + council room does better than council room + money in the simulator.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: ipofanes on May 24, 2018, 03:09:26 am
Yeah, the opening should be either poacher silver or poacher vassal. The argument for a silver is the presence of merchants.

As far as I'm concerned, the argument for a Silver is that Vassal is also a Silver, only terminal.

So is Conspirator.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Awaclus on May 24, 2018, 04:41:06 am
Yeah, the opening should be either poacher silver or poacher vassal. The argument for a silver is the presence of merchants.

As far as I'm concerned, the argument for a Silver is that Vassal is also a Silver, only terminal.

So is Conspirator.

No. As far as I'm concerned, Conspirator is a Grand Market without the +buy.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: ipofanes on May 24, 2018, 05:38:42 am
Yeah, the opening should be either poacher silver or poacher vassal. The argument for a silver is the presence of merchants.

As far as I'm concerned, the argument for a Silver is that Vassal is also a Silver, only terminal.

So is Conspirator.

No. As far as I'm concerned, Conspirator is a Grand Market without the +buy.

Vassal finding a Pearl Pile Driver does slightly more for you.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Chris is me on May 24, 2018, 09:54:01 am
Yeah, the opening should be either poacher silver or poacher vassal. The argument for a silver is the presence of merchants.

As far as I'm concerned, the argument for a Silver is that Vassal is also a Silver, only terminal.

To expand on this, Vassal early on cycles an extra card for you, which with Poacher makes it unlikely anything misses the first shuffle. Later on it had a chance of not wasting a terminal action, but with no trashing thatís pretty unlikely. Still if youíve built up with a bunch of Throne Rooms, you wonít be starving for terminal space anyway, plus Vassal itself can be Throned. Iíd probably do Poacher Vassal - while there is Merchant, youíre gonna be spending a lot of the game not lining it up with your Silver if you go for it.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: Awaclus on May 24, 2018, 10:12:33 am
The problem with Vassal is that it's a dead card when you play Council Room with no remaining actions, and you really want to be playing Council Room a lot in the early game (sometimes with no remaining actions). Silver doesn't have that problem.
Title: Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
Post by: dedicateddan on May 24, 2018, 02:10:40 pm
I was able to hit 39/57 coins on turn 17/18 in a test game playing Poacher/Market/Throne Room/Laboratory/Vassal (adding Merchant only when the other piles ran out).

With optimization, the engine might be a turn faster.

Laboratory is the most important early (to draw deck).

Once over half of the deck is actions, Throne/Vassal builds up a bit more quickly than Poacher.

The engine will sometimes lose to Council Room + BM hitting 40-43 points, but most of the time, Council Room will struggle to pick up the last few points.