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Messages - Triumph44

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1
Possession finally got the boot because new rules made it too unwieldy to have in the game.
Incorrect, as previously noted.

The intention is to someday have small personal ban lists - you put a card on the list and it won't show up in your rated games. But we don't have that and who knows how far off it is. In the meantime I was seeing people playing games where Possession showed up, and they both agreed to just not buy it. They were playing with 9-card kingdoms due to this card. So I personally asked Stef to preemptively ban list it for everyone. At such a time as the personal ban list feature appears, it will be unbanned - you will need to put it on your ban list if you want to make sure it never shows up.

I am not going to ask Stef to ban Black Market - which incidentally is his favorite card. It is not causing problems. It's a high skill card that sure has people who love it or hate it, but whatever, there can't be cards people love without being cards people hate, and there have to be cards people love. If I had to pick more cards to be banned for everyone, Black Market would be nowhere near the top. It's not the most hated and it's not doing anything like Possession was. We would get way more out of banning e.g. Harvest.

Thanks for responding - I'll note that I don't think I ever argued it wasn't a high-skill card, but that it's also quite swingy and to me, somewhat tedious.  Obviously you know better than me where it's acceptable for a card to land on the skill/fiddliness axes.  I'm not surprised it's Stef's favorite card as I know he put a lot of thought into how the card would work on his implementation of the online game. 

I'm also not surprised that the vast majority of responders disagree - if more agreed, this would've likely been more discussed.

2
Quote
Black Market favors the more skilled player far more than most cards, based on an analysis from 2012. I'm not sure how Black Market was implemented at the time (I believe 25-cards, and you get to see them at the start of the game). Given the increase in player skill (so that players are better at building decks that can take advantage of it) and the 60-card Black Market in the current implementation, I'd assume that Black Market favors the skilled player even more in the current implementation.


I'm glad you dug this up, but I really don't see what it has to do with the game today.  Dominion in 2012 is a different world and Black Market's implementation was also totally different.  Seeing what was in the Black Market deck and also being able to track the Black Market deck meant that you could plan for what was in there - is there a Possession or Scrying Pool?  Maybe get a Potion mid-game if it hasn't showed up yet in the Black Market plays.  This made the card even more fiddly and reliant on deck and log tracking and I'm not arguing for a re-introduction of the 25 card BM deck.  I get why it was expanded to 60 and I supported that at the time.

To put it bluntly, you don't understand why people are banning Possession at all. It has nothing to do with VP tokens not being as viable of a "counter" to Possession, or whatever (keep in mind cards like Groundskeeper and Wild Hunt still didn't work with Possession). It is absolutely because the card is dreadful to play with and the winning strategy on boards is to play a long, miserable game nobody likes at best and stalemates at worst. It's not about "power level" or how "countered" it is.

You're just not in the loop with this decision, and using it as precedent for Black Market actually undermines your argument.

I thought that and the introduction of Donate were the final nails in the coffin of that card.  If it was just about being dreadful to play, it should've been gone ages ago.  But I'll concede that I must be misremembering what I read here.

3
The rules governing victory point chips and Possession was changed for Empires - the alt-VP cards in Prosperity used to act as a nerf to Possession, but now players keep VP chips they earn via Possessing their opponent - had those rules stayed the same, I am not certain that the card would've been removed, even with the possibility of stalemates.

Well, that change was already reverted (only debt tokens go to the possessing player now), and the card is still banned.

Fair enough; I didn't know that.  I still dislike Possession a lot and was quite glad it was banned, but can we at least agree that to an extent, new rules/cards changed the way that Possession interacted with the rest of the cards in the game, even if the rules governing VP chips were changed back?  I'm arguing that Black Market has undergone a similar, albeit smaller, transformation, and that while none of my points are compelling individually, taken as a whole they're at least a reasonable case.

4
I don’t really want to interact with most of your argument because I both disagree with it and believe the premises themselves are not really valid or compelling reasons to remove a card from competitive play. I do want to clarify though that Possession wasn’t banned from the ladder because the rules got too complicated. Not at all.

Possession got banned, officially, because there will eventually be a system where players can ban five cards from appearing in their rated games, and until that is implemented, it is widely understood that people would almost always put Possession on that list.

The reason most players would be putting Possession on their ban list isn’t because of rules complications, but because of the overwhelming tendency for Possession to lead to degenerate games where both players cripple their own decks in order to lock the other out of the game. With Debt tokens in particular, it is not even especially difficult to cause stalemates or near-stalemates.

Black Market doesn’t really have any of these problems. It’s like, a little swingy and that’s it. So is Tournament or Swindler.

The rules governing victory point chips and Possession was changed for Empires - the alt-VP cards in Prosperity used to act as a nerf to Possession, but now players keep VP chips they earn via Possessing their opponent - had those rules stayed the same, I am not certain that the card would've been removed, even with the possibility of stalemates.

Tournament and Swindler are swingy but generally lead to early resignations, at least in my very long experience with those cards.  Black Market can often do the opposite - a player may avoid resigning despite an overwhelming disadvantage because there might be that miracle card that saves the game.

5
I don't post here very often, but I do play a lot of Dominion.  I've no idea how many unrated games I've played, but I'd guess it's around 5000, which probably means around 7000.  I don't play rated games all that often, but I have played nearly 500 of those on dominion.games and played a little bit on the previous implementation.  I've been starting to play them more as my yen for Dominion during leisure time has increased and the availability of my regular Dominion partner has either plateaued or decreased.  All this preamble is to say that I'm not coming at this from the perspective of a relative noob, nor am I upset that I lost a recent game because of Black Market.  I'm also not arguing that Black Market should disappear from the game, just from rated games.  In casual games it can be a neat change of pace.

Thesis:  Black Market extends the game and causes a bunch of strange rule interactions while being a wildly swingy card that is contrary to the basic idea of Dominion.

Let's take each of these individually -

A:  Black Market extends the game

I'd be curious to see numbers regarding turns of games with Black Market, but I don't think there's any argument that it extends games by time.  Players who use Black Market get a whole new buy phase where they have to evaluate the strength of 3 cards relative to the board they are playing.  Players who are behind in the game late may try Black Market in an attempt to fish for alt-VP cards or attacks that can slow down their opponent.  I recognize that not all Dominion games will take the same amount of time and that short games may not be a virtue, but taken with the points I'm going to make I think it at least merits some consideration.

B:  Black Market causes strange rule interactions

As Dominion has expanded, so have the amount of possible card interactions.  One of the great things about Dominion is that it rarely sends me scrambling for a rulebook or other errata - it's a remarkably streamlined game for how complex some of the interactions are within it.  Again, a lot of cards have complex rule interactions, but that's not the only problem with the card.  Searching for Black Market on here to see if anyone had made a post like this within the last few months brought up pretty much entirely either 'what are the rules for Black Market in this instance' or 'here's a crazy edge case with Black Market'.

C:  Black Market is wildly swingy

The obvious huge swing card in the Black Market is Fairgrounds, which in a heavy Black Market game can be worth between 8 and 12 points easily.  Other alt-VP cards like Goons or Bishop are less likely to impact the game in a serious way, but could very well do so.  The other thing is that there are cards that are outright useless or decidedly nerfed in the Black Market deck - Potion cost cards in a game without other Potion cost cards, Travellers, cards that interact with a Supply pile, cards that would normally be in split piles, and so on.  Avanto and Wild Hunt become Smithy.  Farmer's Market becomes Ruined Market.  Meanwhile, some other cards gain in power - Experiment becomes a 3 cost Laboratory.  I understand from a strategy perspective why dominion.games made it so that the Black Market deck is not visible to other players.

D:  Black Market is contrary to the spirit of Dominion

I recognize the absurdity of this claim in that Black Market is a Dominion card like any other and therefore can't be contrary to the spirit of the game, but the thing that separates Dominion from most other games, even games of this ilk like Star Realms, is that what's available to my opponent is always available to me.  Black Market does the opposite - what is available to my opponent, if he or she buys the only copy, is necessarily now not available to me.  I can't really plan for that contingency, either, except by getting my own Black Market and hope to pull the powerful cards myself.

Possession finally got the boot because new rules made it too unwieldy to have in the game.  Black Market is not so potentially onerous as that - there's no real danger of stalemates/locked decks - but I don't like how it extends the game without really expanding the strategy space.  Yes, I recognize there are edge cases, but I think the card was created in a different era of Dominion and its current implementation does not reflect that.  I don't think there's much point in trying to find the balance in a fundamentally unbalancing card.  It should go.

6
Dominion General Discussion / Re: To Those Who Deny Undo Steps Online
« on: April 28, 2018, 01:03:57 am »
Requesting an Undo can be more egregious than denying one - the other day I had a guy request an Undo 3 steps into my turn because he realized he put his Overlord on his Tavern Mat and wouldn't be able to get it off of there.  It took him several minutes to realize he had to undo 4 more steps, which he did one at a time, and he was not responding to any of my chats about speeding up the process.  I allowed him the Undos but immediately blacklisted him after the game.

I've seen this discussion a thousand times in different games communities and there's always going to be a tiny subset of people who don't believe in Undos for any reason; they were raised on Chess or Go or some game that frowns upon takebacks and that's final.  There's another small subset of people who won't do it because they believe it will make their opponent angry causing them to play worse. And there will be people who will abuse people's generosity and try to get Undos when they've learned new information.   


7
Isn't it easier to build a deck that can draw the Develops you already have than to build a deck that can consistently hit $5 to Summon new ones?

Once you get enough Develops in your deck, yeah, but given the Kingdom I didn't want to Develop any coppers (because that would take forever), and I didn't want to Develop any 3s (because there was no playable 2).  I had forgotten that there actually was + action (Farming Village) but no +buys and the only real draw was Storyteller, which without Copper trashing is often more of a sifter than a drawer.  Jack was a gainer that definitely helped mitigate the siftiness of a Coppered Storyteller, but yeah, it was hard to build this one from the ground up with Develop, IMO.

Summon/Develop just built on itself well for a shuffle or two, I think I did it 4 times and then just rolled with the Develops I had.

8
Summon/Develop

If there's a 7-cost card in the Supply, if you can manage to get 5 money consistently, you can get rather consistent Province gaining by smashing a 5 to stick a 6/4 on your deck then Summon a Develop to smash the 6 into a 7/5 next turn and so on.  If that 5 is spammable money or some sort of sifting (in my case, there was Storyteller and I had gone Jack early - something like Apprentice might also work), this thing can get pretty powerful pretty fast.

I guess this will be pretty rarely great since 7 cost cards are usually great on their own, but this was a rare game that had no real Copper trashing and no + Action card.

9
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Synergies within individual sets?
« on: February 28, 2018, 01:06:10 pm »
Silk Road has a lot of intra-Hinterlands synergies - the presence of two other alt-greens as well as Crossroads can make Silk Road decent when usually it is skippable.

10
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Tom Vasel Nocturne Review
« on: December 18, 2017, 10:53:21 pm »
(pre-game shuffling is rare in Dominion besides your own deck),

Knights, Ruins

I did not say that you never pre-game shuffle a pile in Dominion other than your own deck.  I said it was 'rare'.  You've named two examples out of a game that has what, 300 cards now?  More?  Even if you play only Dark Ages you're probably only doing this in half the games you play, and how many live games of Dominion have been that?  So yeah, I think the word rare was pretty much the perfect word choice, but thank you for giving me the opportunity to distinguish between rarity and impossibility.

If you meant this to augment my point, more than two words would've helped.  If you wanted to circle back to my larger point about Boons and Hexes, ditto.

Honestly, I was just providing the data in some sort of Pavlovian f.ds-edge-case reaction.

I don't really care one way or the other, but if people want to get into a passionate argument about it, then I think this is the right place!

Fair enough.  Some indication that you were merely fleshing out my post rather than disagreeing with it would've been appreciated.  I do lurk this place enough to know how much edge case location is prized here.

11
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Tom Vasel Nocturne Review
« on: December 18, 2017, 12:19:51 pm »
(pre-game shuffling is rare in Dominion besides your own deck),

Knights, Ruins

I did not say that you never pre-game shuffle a pile in Dominion other than your own deck.  I said it was 'rare'.  You've named two examples out of a game that has what, 300 cards now?  More?  Even if you play only Dark Ages you're probably only doing this in half the games you play, and how many live games of Dominion have been that?  So yeah, I think the word rare was pretty much the perfect word choice, but thank you for giving me the opportunity to distinguish between rarity and impossibility.

If you meant this to augment my point, more than two words would've helped.  If you wanted to circle back to my larger point about Boons and Hexes, ditto.

Welcome to f.DS, where finding edge cases is kind of our... thing.

Were I to generalize this behavior, I'd suggest instead of 'finding edge cases', 'strictly enumerating the edge cases very obviously alluded to by other posters'

12
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Tom Vasel Nocturne Review
« on: December 17, 2017, 11:32:47 pm »
(pre-game shuffling is rare in Dominion besides your own deck),

Knights, Ruins

I did not say that you never pre-game shuffle a pile in Dominion other than your own deck.  I said it was 'rare'.  You've named two examples out of a game that has what, 300 cards now?  More?  Even if you play only Dark Ages you're probably only doing this in half the games you play, and how many live games of Dominion have been that?  So yeah, I think the word rare was pretty much the perfect word choice, but thank you for giving me the opportunity to distinguish between rarity and impossibility.

If you meant this to augment my point, more than two words would've helped.  If you wanted to circle back to my larger point about Boons and Hexes, ditto.

13
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Tom Vasel Nocturne Review
« on: December 16, 2017, 07:41:03 pm »
(pre-game shuffling is rare in Dominion besides your own deck)
Randomizer cards.

I assume most people use an app. 

14
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Tom Vasel Nocturne Review
« on: December 16, 2017, 01:12:16 pm »
I like Vasel's reviews for non-Dominion stuff, though we certainly don't agree on a ton of games.  I'm not surprised he came down hard on this set because there does seem to be a lot of fiddliness - not only are the Boons and Hexes piles themselves a bit fiddly (pre-game shuffling is rare in Dominion besides your own deck), the Boons are also fiddly because now you have to take the action on them, and sometimes decide whether you want it this turn or next turn, or decide whether you want to do it at all. 

I love Nocturne online - the Heirlooms in particular are a great touch IMO - but I can see why someone like Vasel would not enjoy it as a live experience, even though I find his criticism of the Night phase and the storage issue to be picayune and somewhat idiosyncratic to him, respectively.

You can always just leave out the stuff that's too complicated or rubs you the wrong way (in this case, all cards that use Hexes, Boons, and other dependencies like Heirlooms).  However, he is free to say he doesn't like this, and it's expensive to buy a new expansions, only to strip away so many other things.

There's not a whole lot in the set that doesn't have an Heirloom, doesn't use Boons or Hexes or somehow involve Imps, Will O' The Wisps, Ghosts, or Wishes, or isn't a Night card.  I think there's only 2 or 3 cards like this.

15
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Teaching Dominion to young children?
« on: November 05, 2017, 06:21:52 pm »
We curated a kingdom for my friend's child who was nearly 8 at the time - he had watched Dominion over his dad's shoulder as he played on the laptop but had never played himself.   The game didn't quite go as planned - as someone pointed out in the thread, the trouble was not reading (though we did use the simplest cards) but math.  He grasped the game and how to play it and even the strategy, but he had to count his money individually each time, plus we had stuff like Market and Woodcutter in the Supply which added to the complication.  So yeah, don't discount math as a limiting factor.

I like the idea of the simple game and had I read this before that experience I would've suggested it, I think.

16
Dominion: Nocturne Previews / Re: Bonus Preview #3: Fool
« on: October 26, 2017, 01:01:24 am »
Getting this back on track (and I confess I didn't read it correctly either the first time, but I also thought on my first game with Ironmonger that you always draw 2 with it until my opponent pointed out my error) -

I really like Fool and the Boons.  There's those rare games where Ruined Market can be a critical card because it provides the only source of +Buy, but there isn't really much else in Dominion where you can get minor benefits because of the general paucity of actions and the fact that besides Events, everything stays in your deck.  This brings that idea of 'can I get what's missing in the Supply' without the extreme luck and sloggishness of a card like Black Market.

And I haven't even talked about the Lucky Coin which affects games in ways I don't really understand yet, but it's a fun wrinkle to work out.


17
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Heralds are not so hot as we thought?
« on: September 14, 2017, 07:59:10 pm »
I do find myself skipping Herald more often than I would've before those new sets, I think.  Herald is a better Village when your deck is stuffed full of Actions and doesn't have a ton of draw, but there's so many more draw enablers now - City Quarter, Hireling, Haunted Woods, Enchantress and Expedition aren't all straight-up nombos, but they reduce the efficacy of Herald.  Donate and Herald don't seem like they go together well.  Throw in the fact that Herald was already dicey with any must-trash like Rats, Salvager, Bishop, etc.  as well as any double Tacticians as mentioned above and yeah, there's a lot of places where I think it's skippable.  It's still real powerful when it's not, though.

18
Fantastic first post, fantastic thread. Kudos to everyone involved.

I posted it earlier, but I also believe that post-Guilds Dominion changed quite profoundly. This has nothing to do with the quality of the expansion (Adventure is one of my favourite expansion), but with the raw numbers. In pre-Adventures times (and pre-2nd edition) quite often you could see these games with 2-3 overly dominant cards and many ignorable ones. These were perfectly playable just by following the Quist ranking. You felt smart if you picked an unknown combo, but more often than not, someone else had already posted it on the Wiki or on fds. It was a good time for being a beginner, because a few simple rules always remained true (Trash down, Ignore Scout, forget Chancellor, go with Witch, Sea Hag or Rebuild, if nothing works better: Big Money). You could not compete with top players, but you could feel like a beginning expert.

Adventures's cards, events and the 2nd edition shattered these truths: Suddenly you would have 5 to 7 viable roads in any match and tweaking these to the ebbs and flows of the game became even more crucial. It is like Titandrake said: The games revolved less about knowledge of the 'behaviour' of individual cards, but about understanding about the general rules that govern certain card types. It became more interesting, but also more demanding. It is interesting to look at the flow of the expansions:

1) When you played with Base (1st), Intrigue (1st), Seaside and Prosperity you would see certain cards return all the time. Knowledge and application of their combos was essential. This could feel quite repetitive after a while. (Remember the Goko campaigns? ;-) )
2) When you added Hinterlands, Dark Ages, Cornucopia, Alchemy and Guilds, you would see certain strategies return all the time, still with many matches dominated by certain cards. Combos increased in number, but they were still essential to know for good players. This already felt varied and interesting, though after the 100th Rebuild / Witch / Mountebank game you started looking for change.
3) When you added Adventures and 2nd edition, you would see certain strategies return from time to time, but games started to become far more balanced. Combos hardly matter anymore, as now they are both more and less of them in any game: Far more small combos in any given match, but much less chance for an unstoppable combo to appear in you total amount of plays.  You started to begin missing certain cards that you had not seen for quite some days in full random. And basically every game now became a surprise that needed to be studied very closely.
4) Empires just by itself upped the bar further: With Landmarks and all the new events, it became absurd to speak about cards without context. Even Silver now costs 2! It was not possible anymore to 'learn' a card in full random, because it could take weeks until any given card had a chance to appear again in a setup where it mattered. There are classical combos now that are even counter-productive, depending on the Landmark. I also believe that this is the main reason why people do not post more specific card articles anymore: Why bother with any specific strategy if the likelyhood of these specific circumstances to appear is so low?

This is why I think learning the game slowly, one set at a time, is the best way for newer players to enjoy themselves and to not be overwhelmed by the complexity of the whole thing.  Dominion as an IRL game has a nice limiting factor - it's just really challenging to play more than say, 5 different sets at a time.  I've done it and setup takes forever - you just want to play.  I think you can still get a fine game with 3 sets.  If it's 3 pre-Dark Ages sets, it might be a little bland and the strategy might be obvious.  That's the thing, though - I think newer players need to play those kinds of games to understand the fundamentals.  I'm glad that spamming one card is seldom the path to victory anymore in full random.  But newer players need to have that time with those cards to see them in those more limited situations to see their power.   

If I could recommend a way to start the game, I would recommend 20 Base only games first, then work in some Seaside over the next 20 games, then play 10 Seaside only, then work in some Intrigue with Base+Seaside, etc, play some Intrigue only, then widen the scope again.  Something like that, anyway. 

This discussion does have me a little concerned that only people who picked up the game before 2015 and have played thousands of games will be the only people to carry the torch for it.

19
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Any new thoughts on IRL handicapping?
« on: September 05, 2017, 07:49:12 pm »
Thanks for the thoughts, everyone.   Glad to hear that people have different handicapping methods.

20
As games both expand in size and man-hours played, the community collectively gets better, but what you're pointing out is that the community has not kept up in explaining strategy, meaning there's a larger and larger and perhaps unbridgeable gulf opening up between experts and players who want to be really good - a new player not only has to learn this now more-complex game, but isn't really given a decent guide with which to do so.  I watched a similar thing happen with the online poker community in the mid to late 00s decade as the game exploded online, but for different reasons - poker's a game where you get rewarded for knowing something the other guy doesn't, so as people would be playing against their message board compatriots more and more, they realized that giving away strategy tips was costing them money.  The difference between that and Dominion is that the rules to poker aren't changing.

I think more importantly than guiding novices along through particular strategies - though this certainly is important - they should learn the game more slowly than I think most people around here would have them do.  There's going to be 11 expansions soon and as Donald X has said before, every card is a new rule.  I think the only time a player should see more than 3 new cards is if A: they're playing their first ever game or B: they're playing against a player who is also not familiar with the new cards.  But what player, extremely excited for more Dominion, would actually heed this advice?

21
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Any new thoughts on IRL handicapping?
« on: September 02, 2017, 03:08:43 pm »
My first instinct is that handicapping in Dominion is doomed.

One of the beauties of the game is how differently it plays each time, depending on the precise Kingdom you choose. The relative worths of different things ebb and flow. And that makes it hard to choose a handicap that will be sensible across all kingdoms.

I agree that there would have to be errata in certain Kingdoms - e.g. if you had a handicap Curse in an Ambassador game, the first Curse that that player Ambassadors in a game goes to Token Limbo instead of back to the Supply - but I don't think the project is completely doomed.  And if it is an advantage in a very minor amount of kingdoms, so be it.

22
Dominion General Discussion / Any new thoughts on IRL handicapping?
« on: September 02, 2017, 02:18:00 pm »
I browsed the forum for threads on handicapping and saw that this had been discussed before, but not for several years.

I've played Dominion a ton online and play it a few times a year IRL.  IRL the games are usually 3 and 4 player games with people who are casual players.  I've definitely chosen some less than optimal strategies in these games to try to give others a better chance to win, but it's hard to overcome my natural inclination to want to win, or at least not to lose in a stupid way.   Does anyone here have any experience with handicapping the game in this situation?   Obviously always going last is one way, but has anyone tried altering their starting deck to give them a disadvantage - e.g. replacing Estates with Curses or one Copper with an Estate/Curse or anything like this?   I'm not sure I would ever suggest this in my own games, but I am curious if anyone actually does it and whether they've found something that works.

23
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Silk Road
« on: August 19, 2017, 04:54:05 pm »
I forget the precise details, but we once played a Hinterlands-only kingdom. I focused on Oasis, Tunnel and Silk Road, with a few Spice Merchants for +Buy and trashing.

People competed for the Tunnels, but let me get all the Silk Roads. 3*Estate, 12*Silk Road plus some Tunnels meant over 50VP when we ended on piles.

I feel like people who've played the game almost exclusively online and with all sets have missed out on certain weaker interactions like the one you've described that happen when you're playing an expansion standing alone or with base + that expansion.  Silk Road has a bunch of cards that interact well with it in Hinterlands - you've got Farmland, so you can upgrade your Estates into Silk Roads when you buy a Farmland, you've got Tunnel, which is an alt-VP card that it's usually best to get early rather than late, and then you've got stuff like Crossroads and Border Village that can help you out either with drawing when your hand is green or letting you gain a green when you buy a Village.

Silk Road also works very well with Trade Route if there's a non-Colony alt-VP out there, and Trade Route is also normally skippable.

24
Villa with Messenger and Counting House.  You use your Messenger to discard your deck, then if you have a Counting House in hand, you buy a Villa, play the Villa, then play the Counting House and pick up all your Coppers.  Also when you buy Messengers, you can pick up an extra Copper for yourself and give one to your opponent, who probably doesn't want it.

This is actually genius. I want to try this.

Got 8 Colonies in 23 turns - I honestly don't know if that's good or not, but it seems pretty good.  There was also Prince on the board and I did manage to Prince a Messenger late in the game which made this much easier.  My opponent also cottoned to this strategy and bought out the Villas finally, but there was no real draw on the board that would make a Villa/X engine possible.

25
Villa with Messenger and Counting House.  You use your Messenger to discard your deck, then if you have a Counting House in hand, you buy a Villa, play the Villa, then play the Counting House and pick up all your Coppers.  Also when you buy Messengers, you can pick up an extra Copper for yourself and give one to your opponent, who probably doesn't want it.

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