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Messages - Titandrake

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Dominion Articles / Re: Turn 1 Plan's effect on Turns 3 and 4
« on: September 14, 2018, 01:54:29 am »
Notice that "turns 3/4" is not an interesting concept on its own. "2nd reshuffle" is. If you open Plan/Poacher, then your turn 4 buy will miss the 2nd shuffle.

Yes, I note this in the final assumption. I didn't want to bother making special cases in the code for this.

Dominion Articles / Turn 1 Plan's effect on Turns 3 and 4
« on: September 14, 2018, 01:25:10 am »
On a recent trip, I had a few hours free with my computer and no Internet. Out of curiosity, I wrote a script to simulate a few thousand opening turns given openings where you open Plan/X vs Silver/X.

I'm assuming a bunch of things here:
  • You buy Plan turn 1, placing its Trashing token on an Action you buy turn 2.
  • There are no Heirlooms.
  • You don't get attacked.
  • There are no Shelters (didn't want to simulate Overgrown Estate.
  • On turns 3 and 4, you buy nothing. Depending on your opening, you may reshuffle before turn 4, and I didn't want to assume anything about what you buy on turn 3.

Obvious caveat: You don't buy Plan only because of what it does in the next two turns, you buy it because of the long term trashing you get to do. Given all these assumptions, idk how useful this data actually is, but it's sure a bunch of data!

Let me know if you see something interesting. Two things I noticed:

  • Plan + Terminal Silver guarantees you hit $5 in the next two turns
  • Plan + Poacher (or Tournament) is even more absurd of an opening than it sounds. Either you hit $5, or you hit $4 twice because you draw an Estate on turns 3 and 4. But in the 4/4 case, you just buy 2 Poachers to trash your last 2 Estates.

Silver + Terminal Silver
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 8.85%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 76.22%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 14.93%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 35.34%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 64.66%

Plan + Terminal Silver
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 100.00%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 0.00%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 28.03%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 71.97%

Silver + Terminal Copper
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 27.83%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 70.20%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 1.97%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 51.51%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 48.49%

Plan + Terminal Copper
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 55.39%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 44.61%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 0.00%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 44.61%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 55.39%

Silver + Terminal Giving $0
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 50.41%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 49.59%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 0.00%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 5.15%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 73.16%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 21.70%

Plan + Terminal Giving $0
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 83.23%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 16.77%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 0.00%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 100.00%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 0.00%

Silver + Poacher
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 8.06%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 83.87%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 8.07%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 37.38%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 62.62%

Plan + Poacher
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 10.19%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 86.09%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 3.72%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 25.45%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 74.56%

Silver + Smithy
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 5.10%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 71.83%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 23.07%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 32.11%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 67.89%

Plan + Smithy
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 67.52%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 32.48%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 22.44%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 77.56%

Silver + Terminal Giving +2 Cards
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 5.06%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 94.94%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 0.00%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 39.97%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 60.03%

Plan + Terminal Giving +2 Cards
Money on turns 3/4Probability

Hit exactly 0 $5+ hands: 22.66%
Hit exactly 1 $5+ hand: 73.72%
Hit exactly 2 $5+ hands: 3.62%

Hit exactly 0 $4+ hands: 0.00%
Hit exactly 1 $4+ hand: 23.76%
Hit exactly 2 $4+ hands: 76.24%

Code is at

Other Games / Re: Celeste
« on: September 14, 2018, 12:34:18 am »
About 14k deaths later, I beat the final C-side. I had so many issues with the final jump of 8C for some reason. I'm pretty sure I died there 10 times before getting the timing right.

Other Games / Re: Celeste
« on: August 20, 2018, 03:56:05 am »
About 2 weeks ago, I decided to finally try Celeste (after buying it when it was on sale back in June.)

I am now hopelessly addicted. I got all the strawberries, got some of the red crystal hearts, and am on 7B for the B-sides.

Other Games / Re: Dicey Dungeons
« on: July 24, 2018, 11:51:56 am »
An update:

* Game is officially announced. (Chipzel is on for music! They made the music for Super Hexagon, which was pretty good.)
* There was 1 more free build update that rebalanced a bunch of stuff. Curse is now "50% chance you fail to use an item" instead of "all your dice become 1", Witch got buffed a lot (extra dice + you start the fight with 1 spell learned), and other changes.
* All future builds are behind a paywall at, if you pay once you get access to all future alphas and the full game when it's finished.

I haven't bought in yet, but I might, since the full game is going to cost more than the price.

Fun / balance are subjective. It feels like Possession is the only card people have lots of agreement on, and in that case, it was less about the power level of Possession, and more that the game was really not fun when both players decided Possession was the best thing to do.

Re: people whining about changes to make games more competitive: the core thing about competitive games is that it has to feel good to win. Like, if Dominion was actually winnable by pure Big Money with no Actions on ~70% of boards, it wouldn't be nearly as good of a competitive game. I think a lot of these complaints are based on trying to turn the game into a game they want to improve at. (I mean, I think Chess 2 is still ridiculous, because it's incredibly, incredibly warped around Sirlin's fanaticism with 2D fighting games, but Chess960 is significantly less ridiculous of a variant.)

Re original post: I haven't played a game of Dominion in a few months, mostly because it wasn't fun to play ladder games anymore and I decided to try MTG: Arena instead. But I'll probably come back at some time. I agree with most of Awaclus's opinions and in particular agree about waiting time. I'm guilty of spending a lot of time on some decisions, but was trying to cut it back before I took a break from Dominion. I realized I'd rather play more games than have a slightly better chance of winning the game.

Dominion Articles / Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« on: July 03, 2018, 11:48:59 pm »
I actually think you're underselling the importance of careful card play (mostly in the final sentence). Bad reshuffles, missing gain and play, etc. can often cost a player an amount of deck improvement they might accomplish in a whole turn. This can add up to a few turns if several such mistakes are made throughout the game. In a game which typically has 10-20 turns, this is a big deal.

After thinking about it, I agree, but I also think the two things pointed out (gain and play, reshuffle timing) are both the ones that are most important and the ones that are most subjective. Which makes them trickier to cover, but they should probably be mentioned.

I have a small issue with the Wishing Well section. If you are trying to maximize the number of cards you draw, then playing Wishing Well last is correct because you have more information about the contents remaining in your deck and can maximize the probability of a successful guess. So you're good there.

However, if you are wishing for a SPECIFIC card which is NOT the most common card in your deck, then there is an argument for playing Wishing Well earlier (i.e. second to last) and guessing the most common card remaining in your deck instead of the card you want.

To give a concrete example: assume there's one Goons left in your deck together with a ton of Coppers. Also assume that with just a single WW in hand, optimal play dictates wishing for Goons if you don't draw it. Then with both a WW and a single cantrip in hand, playing the cantrip first would force you to make a "suboptimal" (in the sense of not being most likely to succeed) WW guess, resulting most of the time in you drawing just 2 Coppers. If, on the other hand, you play WW first and now guess for Copper, you'll end up with 3 Coppers rather than 2 if the Goons isn't in the top 3 cards, without risking missing it because if it's revealed you can still draw it with your cantrip.

So by playing the WW second to last and wishing for Copper you still get the Goons when it's in the top three cards, but you also increase the coin you get when it's not.

I totally misremembered Dan's article. If you read it ( he says exactly the same thing - spend all but your last wish on the most common card in your deck. Which makes a lot more sense.

I forgot about that SCSN advice but it also makes sense (i.e. it hedges better if you don't hit the card you want)

Dominion Articles / Making the Most of Your Turns
« on: July 03, 2018, 02:02:39 am »
This is basically a rewrite of an old article I wrote.

If you have an example of one of these, I'd appreciate a picture / replay.

Competitive Dominion is first and foremost a game of optimization. It's not enough to do something cool - you have to do it quickly. Accordingly, a lot of the strategy is about figuring out what's cool and whether you can do it fast enough to make it worth it.

I like to think of Dominion gameplay as two broad categories: strategy, and tactics. Strategy is your plan for the entire game - tactics is your plan for this turn. In this article I'm going to focus on just one aspect of the tactics: how to play your hand. This is the nitty-gritty of Dominion optimization - you can usually autopilot your hands, but sometimes you get a slight edge if you don't, and those edges can add up over the course of a game. More importantly, the correct play is a lot less ambiguous - this makes it easier to give advice that actually doesn't depend on the board (which is a rare situation in Dominion.)

There are two principles to keep in mind.

1. Keep your options open as long as possible.
2. Watch your reshuffle timings.

Let's begin.


If you have a card that gains other cards to your discard pile, and you want to draw those cards, then playing the gainer before you reshuffle lets you get that card into your draw pile sooner. Conversely, if you don't want to draw the gained card, playing the gainer after the reshuffle guarantees you can't draw it for 1 cycle through your deck.

In either case, you should play the gainer as late as possible - if you can, gain cards right before the shuffle, or at the end of your turn. This gives you more information - depending on what you draw, you may decide to gain a different card than you intended.


For cards that trash from your hand, play them later rather than earlier. It doesn't matter when you trash your cards, because you've already drawn them. The only thing that matters is that they get trashed before you finish your turn.

This is most important for Junk Dealer - because Junk Dealer is a cantrip, it can be tempting to play it early to draw another card, but unless you need that card now, you should play your other draw cards first, to see if you can find a better trash target.

Saving Your Throne Rooms

Some cards are better to copy than other cards. You always want to double the Action that gives you what you're lacking the most. If you need draw, then Throne Room Hunting Grounds. If you can comfortably draw your deck, save it for a card that gives +$ or +Buy. If you need Actions, then try to save your Throne Room for another Throne Room if you can, and then double a card that gives +Actions if you can't.

In any of these cases, it is better to hold onto Throne Room until you know what you need this turn. Maybe you need the +Cards because you drew poorly. Or maybe you don't, in which case you'd rather have the +$.

If you draw a hand of Throne Room and 4 other Actions, then playing Throne Room first is probably wrong. You want to play your other Actions first, to see if you can draw a better target for Throne Room, and then play Throne Room only when you're at-risk of running out of good Throne Room targets. (Either because you are running low on Actions, or because you are drawing too many Throne Rooms and not enough non-Throne Room actions.)

This logic is especially important for King's Court - the best target for King's Court is almost always another King's Court, so you want to save your KC until as late as possible.

A smaller note is that if you have plenty of Actions, you actually don't need to Throne Room your Throne Room. TR-TR-Action1-Action2 takes 1 action. TR-Action1 then TR-Action2 takes 2 actions. In both cases, you play Action1 twice and Action2 twice. The latter case costs 1 more action but gives you more flexibility. (For example, TR-Action1 to get close to the end of a reshuffle, play Butcher to gain a card, TR-Action2 to trigger reshuffle.)

Cards relying on cards in your deck

These are cards like Ironmonger, Chariot Race, and Golem, where they reveal cards from your deck and do something based on what you reveal. In games where you can draw your deck, you want to play your card-revealers first, while you still have cards in your deck to reveal. It's always sad when someone saves their Golem and then it only reveals 1 Action instead of 2.

Wishing Well ordering

Dan already mentioned this in another article. Say you have N cantrips, 1 Wishing Well, and the only thing you care about is drawing a specific card (say a Remodel to Remodel for the final Provinces.) You should play the Wishing Well last.

  • If the Remodel is in the top N+1 cards, you draw it no matter when you play Wishing Well.
  • If the Remodel is the N+2nd card, then you only draw it if you play Wishing Well last and wish for Remodel.

The same is true if your hand is generally draw cards, instead of just cantrips.

Card-Revealers and Shuffle Timings

Speaking of Wishing Well, note that because it draws a card and reveals a card, it triggers a reshuffle if you have fewer than 2 cards in your deck, even though it only draws 1. If you don't want to shuffle, your hand is Peddler + Wishing Well, and there are exactly 2 cards left in your draw pile, then you need to play WW first (wishing for a card you don't have), and then Peddler.

Similar principles hold for Sentry (reshuffles with < 3 cards), Cartographer (reshuffles with < 5 cards), Patrol (reshuffles with < 7 cards), and others.

Unintuitive Discards

If you get hit with a discard attack like Militia, you have to choose the best 3-card hand. Note this may be different from the 3 best cards in your hand.

Here's the game state: It's early in the game. I have 2 cards left in my draw pile. My hand is Warehouse, 2 Coppers, 2 Estates. My opponent plays Militia.

The play here is to discard 2 Coppers. Why? Well, I'm not going to buy anything that costs $2. If I discard 2 Coppers, I can play Warehouse to trigger the reshuffle, making both Estates miss the shuffle. Sure, the Warehouse misses the shuffle too, but that's worth it. This was a rare scenario where the best hand was actually one that had Estates in it.

Throne Roomed-Minions

An old classic. If you Throne Room a Minion and plan to discard your hand, you should discard your hand first. That way, you have the choice of +$2 (if your new hand is good) or a 2nd discard (if your new hand is terrible).

It's usually impossible to attribute a win entirely to these choices, since each choice only gives you a small edge. On the other hand, there's no reason to not do these things, so you should just do them. It takes a bit of practice to keep it all in mind, but soon it becomes second-nature, and then you can focus on the important strategy questions instead.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: is royal seal underrated?
« on: June 24, 2018, 09:43:38 pm »
Itd be fine at $4.
It would, except, as Donald X once said, "look, I can't make a Treasure that gives $2, has some other effect that is always beneficial, and costs $4; that's just better than Silver, and people by Silver for $4 all the time".

And then he made Delve.
The main problem with Silver-with-a-bonus for $4 (for games where people want Silver and aren't gaining it with a Silver-gainer) is that the pile just automatically empties. It's also not great that then you have that bonus in your deck, but didn't care about it at all, weren't making a decision there.

Delve has neither issue; it hits the Silver pile rather than a new 10-card pile, and those Silvers have no other abilities.

I don't know. If Royal Seal cost $4, would players drain the pile in most 2-player games it appeared? I tend to think not. The top-decking is not an ability that stacks, for one thing... i.e., having multiple Royal Seals in play confers no additional benefit.

Maybe not in 2-player, but I could see it happening in 4-player pretty quickly. Buying 2 Silvers per player is already 8 cards.

I don't think the argument relies on them stacking well, buying a $4 Silver is just a thing you do sometimes, if they don't stack they don't stack, but it's not like that makes buying it any worse if you were planning to buy a Silver anyways

Worth noting that I assume the point of playtesting is not to find which cards are strong and which are weak, it's to figure out which cards are fun. It's okay for a card to be ridiculous (King's Court, Goons, Chapel) if they lead to interesting games and you still have some neat things to do in the actual game.

In this respect, I assume that a fun card in 3-player / 4-player is usaully going to be fun in 2-player.

Of course, if a card is too strong, it can stop being fun, and if a card is too weak, it's just taking up space, so you do have to care about power level somewhat...but I don't think it's the primary thing you're looking for and it seems like people are thinking about it from a standpoint of game balance / making card power levels flatter, rather than from the stuff that gets people to play your game in the first place.

I suspect 2-player Dominion is pretty robust in terms of balance - if a card is nutty in multiples, and both players go for it, it'll still break out even. So not too surprised sets can turn out well even without a lot of 2-player testing.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Fix the worst cards
« on: June 19, 2018, 02:31:45 am »
But seriously, I have no doubt that some players are just so enthralled with Dominion that they put up with the nitpicking, the endless meta-discussion, and the board's unhealthy obsession with becoming a "good player". That is much more a testament to how good Dominion is than how welcoming the board is to people who do not conform.

If you don't want to become a good player, there are plenty of discussion boards online where you can discuss Dominion without getting better at it, such as reddit and BGG.

Man, I'm disappointed that you didn't include f.ds in that list. Like, there was the thread about Dominion memes. There was a thread about Card Alchemy where people were just doing wacky wordplay. These were all in Dominion General, which, you know, sounds like the place to talk about general things. (This is in Dominion general too FWIW.)

To be blunt, this is the point where I be that guy, and say that f.ds is not just what you think it should be, it is the amalgam of what everyone who posts there think it should be. Consider this as a signal of "your point is noted but I disagree that f.ds should only be for people who are trying to get better at Dominion."

Sure, the Dominion subreddit has a lot of Dominion storage posts, but looking at the front page right now, it has a thread about what to do on boards with no trashing, a thread asking how long it takes to get good at the game, the weekly Kingdom of the Week, and if you scroll down a bit there's a thread asking about whether Goons is as ridiculous as it feels like it is.

The way I see it, you go to f.ds for the memes and to read articles comparing engines to phase diagrams. You go to Reddit to read about the Nth storage solution and people asking what expansion to buy. You go to Discord to play Pokedominion and to make fun of Seprix. As for actual Dominion strategy advice, you do that wherever you want to - there are enough good players overlapping all of them that you're sure to get somebody to tell you something reasonable. (Well, except for BGG - last I checked, it was too inactive for people to bother visiting there much.)

I feel the primary thing is that Dominion was super big before and is less big now because several people have moved on. Sure, people still watch for new expansions, but unless told otherwise, I would assume that the number of players has been holding steady or slightly dropping over time. (Where # of players is including people who only play IRL, but we need sales figures for that, and I assume they can't be publicized.) There's just less to talk about for the enfranchised people. That's why there's always a big burst of activity when new expansions drop - suddenly there's a big pile of stuff that everybody wants to talk about.

An expansion is coming out at some point, and I got to play with the cards a few times, and oh man, they're pretty neat and Dominion is still a pretty cool game. I feel like that's the most important thing.

Other Games / Dicey Dungeons
« on: June 14, 2018, 02:19:40 am »

One of the latest games Terry Cavanagh is working on. He's most well known for VVVVVV and Super Hexagon. It's a dice-based roguelike, and it's free to play in the browser. New builds have been coming out every 2 weeks. Interface is pure drag-and-drop, there's no save file and you'll lose progress on a refresh.

It's somewhat unpolished, but it was still strangely fun. I beat Warrior and Inventor on my first try. Thief took me a few tries, I beat it when I got the Thieves Guild and learned Backstab which helped my damage output a lot. I still haven't beaten Witch, I feel like I'm always too low on health, and die on floor 4 to a high damage enemy or a Banshee that keeps silencing me.

Edit: just beat Witch, essentially by lucking into a floor 4 where I only had to beat one enemy to pass, and where I set up a good spellbook before I got silenced every turn.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Data Mining: Card Impact Factor
« on: April 29, 2018, 05:53:02 am »
I don't think that this measure is useful. If I understand it correctly, it is high when you're more likely to gain all other cards in its presence.
Wouldn't that at first glance mean that the card is weak, because I'm more likely to want other cards?
Junkers make people gain Curses, Ruinss, etc, such that they end up high on the list, but not because people want to gain those cards.
Or it really favours engines, such that I want to gain a lot of different cards.

In the end, I can maybe explain why a card has a high or low impact factor, but I wouldn't know the reason, without knowing the card. The theory is that this is a proxy for measuring how much a card changes what you'd be planning to do.

I think a more useful version would define categories for cards (Village, Smithy,...) and calculate the impact on those, e.g. am I more likely to gain Villages in the presence of Rebuild or not.

A card is high on the list if it is likely to change what cards you gain. So the impact factor goes up both if a card's presence makes you want to gain more of a card, or less of a card.

Things that gain other cards (Cursers, Ruins givers) may be over-represented. That's probably why Tunnel is so high, for example.

idk, I think there are some interesting things in there. Colony and Platinum being so high is some interesting commentary on how strategy changes in Colony games.

My intuition is that a card is powerful if strategy discussion tends to warp around that card. It's hard to not think about Wharf / Cursers / multi-card trashers / non-terminal trashing when thinking about how to approach a board. It's pretty easy to pretend Raider doesn't exist. You usually have to think about Village because it's not only a source of +Actions, it's one of the best sources of +Actions in the game (the +1 Card on Village is actually ridiculously important and getting it for $3 is a bargain.)

Mandarin is usually ignorable. Sure, it becomes very important to consider if Capital in the kingdom, but otherwise it's not a big deal. In contrast, if you drop Capital into a random board, it's usually worth thinking about. So I'd say Capital is stronger than Mandarin.

If neither player buys Familiar, it doesn't mean it's a bad card, it probably means they have an idea for how to counter it in a way that justifies not spending the buys on Potion / Familiar. There was a game I played against Sicomatic a while back, where I considered a HT/Duke slog against an Ambassador deck. Given my shuffles, I would have gone for it if Familiar wasn't on the board. But Familiar was on the board, and the threat of -10 VP from Curses was too big, so I decided to mirror Ambassador, and then neither of us ended up buying a Familiar because it didn't make sense to.

Metrics based on number of gains, win rate with and without, etc. have the issues that Awaclus mentioned. I feel the right approach is to compute those metrics and then treat them as an interesting source of data. If you try to treat them as some ground truth number indicating power level, you're going to run into issues.

I think the funniest one from the CouncilRoom days was that buying Curse was one of the most winning plays you could make, because people only buy Curses when they're winning and have the 3-pile. I suspect most metrics have a failure case like that somewhere.

General Discussion / Re: Brag Board
« on: April 24, 2018, 02:34:28 am »
My wife is pregnant!!!!   :D
This works the other way too. She got her period!!!

...I don't get it.

Think about reasons why someone might miss their period.

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Offering, the Heirloom that time forgot
« on: April 05, 2018, 03:20:45 am »
Timmy plays games for the experience. They favor big, flashy effects.

Johnny plays games as an outlet for creativity. They favor weird cards that can be used in innovative ways.

Spike plays games for the competition. They favor powerful cards that let them outplay their opponent.

Hunting Grounds is a Timmy card because it draws a ton of cards.
Rats is a Johnny card because it reads weirdly, but can be very powerful with the right enabler.
Margrave is a Spike card, because it's very powerful, but doesn't completely simplify the game.

Players can be a mix of archetypes and cards can appeal to multiple archetypes. For example, Margrave could also be seen as a Timmy card.

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Offering, the Heirloom that time forgot
« on: April 03, 2018, 07:42:06 pm »
Black Market is swingy, but it ends up being a high-skill card because of all the choices it introduces - when do you buy your first Black Market, when do you play your Black Market, and do you choose to buy any of the cards.

Offering also looks swingy. I don't think it's as swingy as Black Market or Swindler though.

It looks cool, my main criticism is that there's basically no choice involved. You add the top Boon to your Offering, and then picking the order for the Boons you set aside should usually be straightforward. Have you tried revealing the Boon and having the set-aside be optional? It'll add some action paralysis, but it could introduce some neat play patterns.

Dominion Articles / Re: Castles
« on: March 30, 2018, 04:21:31 am »
I made some edits.

Re the 1-3 turns thing: after thinking about it I agree that you usually start greening a bit later just because there's more VP, so I made that clearer in the heuristic.

Re Small Castle: I also find that I usually don't keep my Small Castle all the way to King, but I do find it useful to trash it in quickly to gain one of the more expensive Castles. In more engine-like games I've also found that having Small Castle in your deck helps exert a lot of pressure over the Castle pile.

I'm pretty sure in a BM game, mostly-Castles-and-some-Provinces beats Provinces-first-and-Castle-sniping-late. This should be reasonably simulatable because it's Big Money, I'd be curious to see the numbers.

Re Humble Castle: I mostly find the card very confusing, because the card text suggests that you want to pick it up early, but the payoff is so small that it's rarely worth buying early. I wasn't sure how to explain that, so I wrote something completely different instead. Changing it to say what I wanted to say.

Agreed that Haunted Castle is a pretty good VP card, added a note for this.

Dominion Articles / Castles
« on: March 28, 2018, 02:40:07 am »

Despite having lots of different effects, Castles aren't that complicated. Just think of them as having a 2nd pile of Provinces in the game. If it's the kind of game where that's appealing to you, then imagine when you'd start greening in a game with 2 Provinces, and start buying Castles about 1 shuffle or 1-3 turns before that.

If you do the math, buying 8 Castles gives you 45 VP, plus whatever VP you gained from buying Grand Castle. 8 Provinces gives 48 VP. In principle, this shows that buying only Castles in competitive with buying only Provinces. In practice, no one will ever let you buy all the Castles uncontested. At minimum, expect competition on the $8+ Castles. Sprawling and Grand are almost always worth more VP than a Province, and players will buy King just to deny VP from the player who has more Castles.

Having more VP in the kingdom leads to all the follow-on effects you'd expect. More VP makes the game go longer, and longer games favors building your deck more. Many of the Castles help with this - all the Castles between $4 and $7 give you more than just VP. The two Action castles, Small Castle and Opulent Castle, are particularly important. Small Castle can quickly upgrade itself into a better Castle, whereas Opulent is important because it can produce a lot of money when players start greening. This makes buying either Crumbling Castle or Haunted Castle a bit of a risk, because it gives your opponent the first chance at buying Small Castle and Opulent Castle respectively. Of course, how big a risk this depends on how long you think the game is going to go. The sooner the game end, the less the Action castles matter. Buying Haunted Castle also makes it less likely your opponent hits $7. I often find that the risk of revealing Opulent Castle is worth the 2 VP + Gold + topdeck attack that Haunted Castle gives.

As for Humble Castle, it's a little weird. It gives VP for every Castle, and there's only 1 Humble Castle, which can make it look like it's worth fighting over. However, it's still a genuinely bad card to buy. At the end of the game, Humble Castle is usually worth 3 VP to 5 VP, and although that's above-average rate for $3, buying it early on is a huge opportunity cost. There are two cases where it's worth buying Humble Castle early. One is Shelters games, to turn your starting Hovel into a Copper. The other is Keep. In a Keep game, Humble Castle is always worth at least 6 VP. Even in this scenario, I don't like opening Humble Castle. 6 VP for $3 is very cheap, but opening buys are very, very important. On most boards I'd gladly give my opponent 6 VP if they were forced to open Copper.

Besides these considerations, Castles are mostly a tactical decision, not a strategical one. They aren't like Gardens, or Duke, or Fairgrounds, where you have to plan a bit to get VP out of them. Castles are just there, and whether the VP is worth it or not depends on where you think your deck and the game are at.

Other Games / Re: Celeste
« on: March 14, 2018, 02:01:45 am »
Celeste is excellent. I didn't try it right away because it's been compared to Super Meat Boy and I didn't really like that, but turns out I like Celeste anyway. Not sure what's the difference. (Maybe it's mostly that I don't like the SMB aesthetic.)

I haven't played Celeste yet, but the distinction I've heard is that Super Meat Boy is a precision platformer and Celeste is a momentum platformer. Precision platformers are about hitting very small jump windows, but your movement is very consistent and it depends very little on how you reach the jump point. Momentum platformers give you larger timing windows, but in exchange your movement state matters a lot more, and the game is more about maintaining speed and understanding the movement system.

Dustforce is a momentum platformer and so far everyone in the Dustforce Discord recommends Celeste.

Other Games / Re: In defense of Monopoly
« on: March 07, 2018, 05:10:41 pm »
Someone rename this thread:  "The Necro Wars".  Then everyone immediately shut up and let the games begin.  See you in 2 years.

I shall reclaim my title.

*marks March 7th 2018 on Google Calendar*

pacovf, you joked about doing it.

I actually did.

Dominion Articles / Re: What's stopping AI from mastering Dominion?
« on: March 02, 2018, 10:16:35 pm »
What is a realistic target skill level to shoot for, given the resources available?

My understanding is that the current Dominion AI projects are from a group of grad students working on it in their spare time.

These predictions have a habit of being very wrong, but I think a group of grad students working in their spare time have a solid chance of hitting Base-only level 50 pretty quickly, assuming that money strategies are enough to get there. If they work on it for months, they have a reasonable (~50%) chance of hitting level 55, which is about the point where I'd expect you'd need to learn non-trivial engines (the kind that only beat Smithy-BM by 1-2 turns.)

Provincial was able to get pretty far with genetic algorithms to learn buy rules + hardcoded play rules, and that included Intrique and Seaside, so I do think it's definitely possible.

Does Dominion change too much and too rapidly for an AI to have time to develop? Or rather, could a neural network be built to be able to learn completely new mechanics that hadn't yet been programmed into it? My hunch is not generally, depending on how different the new mechanics are. There's 2 extremes: (1) "$4 | Action | This is just like Village but with some vanilla add-on", (2) "$4 | Action | Play a game of Go with your opponent; if you won, +$3". If needing to handle such drastically new mechanics requires a complete overhaul of the AI, then the problem is more than there not being enough motive for people now to build an AI; there is also the problem of having to update the AI every 12 months or so, which may or may not require a complete start-from-scratch overhaul, and may or may not require more than 12 months. Chess, Texas Hold Em, etc. have the luxury of a static ruleset.

This is another argument in favor of sticking to Base-only for a proof of concept. In principle, it is possible that a bot can get good at evaluating new cards. I believe Provincial showed this - the author of that bot implemented a custom card, and showed the genetic algorithm learned how to incorporate it into its strategy.

It just depends on how close it is to existing cards. You see a similar thing in card evaluations. In Cornucopia previews, people thought Jester was going to be nuts, but it turned out it was just good, not insane. So there was a lot of error there, but Jester was doing something very different from the things before it. In contrast, everyone knew Junk Dealer was going to be a good card, because they had experience with Upgrade, and Junk Dealer is pretty close to Upgrade effect-wise.

Dominion Articles / Re: What's stopping AI from mastering Dominion?
« on: March 02, 2018, 04:27:29 am »
Okay, so I've seen a few threads about Dominion AI, which I have tried to ignore, but I don't think I can anymore.

I'm doing machine learning stuff right now, and in the past have messed around with game AIs. If you want you can read some blog posts I've written about the subject, here and here and here and here. None of those posts will be necessary, I'm linking them just to prove I have thought about this stuff before.

This is a subject where I can probably rant for a long time, and I'm not looking to rant, so my hot takes are

1. CouncilRoom has logged all games from Isotropic days, if you're interested I'm sure you could asked the current runner of CouncilRoom for the database.

2. I'm not that concerned by the number of starting states. It makes your problem harder, but is not a deal-breaker by itself. Chess / Checkers / Go only have 1 starting state, but it quickly branches into several different situations. If you take a start-of-the-art and throw it in the middle of a random Chess / Checkers / Go game, we'd expect it to perform well. A good AI should generalize to different game states - a good Dominion AI should do the same. That being said, it is definitely easier if you stick to a fixed board, but it isn't as interesting of a problem.

If anything I'm concerned more about the number of unique things cards do. Stuff like Young Witch or Landmarks or Events, where their mere existence drastically changes the landscape, and each one is super different. Game difficulty is guided by a mix of branching factor and ability to generalize across states.

3. Randomness is definitely an issue, but this doesn't have any relation to whether a Dominion bot can calculate an exact win chance. To be pedantic, it can, it's just not guaranteed to be accurate or to have low-variance estimates. But sometimes that's fine, as long as the right move is given higher value than all the wrong moves. Although this does affect search trees, I think credit assignment is a more important problem - it's a lot harder to attribute winning / losing moves when the game is random.

4. I'm not sure you need to learn all the small choices. I could see some handcoded heuristics taking you very far for that.

5. Basically I think 5 is the same as point 2.

AFAIK, the project Dan is on is focusing on Base-only. To me, that seems doable but also non-trivial. Superhuman performance in full Dominion sounds really, really hard. I think difficulty-wise, full Dominion is harder than multiplayer Texas Hold'Em, because there's so much fiddly stuff / uniqueness in all the different cards. I don't think this is a "12 ML researchers for 1 year" project. I think full Dominion is more like a 30-50 ML researchers project, and even with that many people, they only have about a 20% chance of doing it in a year.

Edit: realistically, the biggest thing stopping it is that there aren't enough people interested. The Computer Go community wasn't that big, but was around for long enough to make several very fast Go engines (~thousands of games/sec on a single CPU thread running highly optimized C) + hold Computer Go tournaments + get servers to support letting bots play against humans. The Dominion community is a lot newer and not as many people care about the problem.

Game Reports / Re: Dear My Opponent: I am Sorry
« on: February 24, 2018, 03:57:49 am »
In a game against Cave-o-sapien, with Scrying Pool, Swindler, no way to play more than 1 terminal a turn, and no +Buy.

Step 1: Start building.
Step 2: Hit Potion with Swindler, turn it into Death Cart.
Step 3: Start buying Pools while Cave doesn't have a Potion, using Pool's attack to force a Copper topdeck so that I can guarantee Swindling into Curse.
Step 4: Win Pool split 7-3, then use my Pools to hunt for Cave's remaining Pools to Swindle them into nothing.

I ended the game with 6 Pools. Cave ended with 1 Pool. Oh, and I ended up turning 5 of Cave's Coppers into Curses.

It was not pretty.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Semi-Interesting Dominion Moments Thread
« on: February 23, 2018, 12:44:00 am »
In a game against Lord Rat, I Inherited Page, then messed around with Goons and Groundskeeper.

On my final turn, I played a bunch of GKs and 3-piled by emptying the Estates. Then I auto-played the Traveller upgrades, which accidentally returned all Estates I'd played that turn to the pile. Had to play 2 more turns to actually end the game.

If I wanted to, I could have gotten infinite VP off Groundskeeper and Goons by buying and returning Estates indefinitely.

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