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Messages - aku_chi

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During the Renaissance previews, I thought that Star Chart + Envoy / Catacombs / Patrol / Journeyman might be fast money strategies.  Having tested them out: I was wrong.  Star Chart + Embassy is okay, but inconsistent.  Star Chart + Scavenger can also be good (start each turn with a Scavenger + Gold), but is inconsistent.  The best monolithic Star Chart strategy I've found is:

Star Chart + Masquerade

The idea here is to open Star Chart + Masquerade, keep an 11 card deck and topdeck Masquerade every turn.  Replace your Estates and then Copper with Silvers and then Golds.  Starting on turn 7 or 8, you can start buying Provinces.  Around turn 9-10 (after you've trashed 3-4 Copper), you should consider not trashing any more Copper (especially if doing so would drop you below $8).  Once you have more than 11 cards in your deck, don't mindlessly topdeck Masquerade.  Track your remaining deck and try to distribute your money to maximize Provinces over the following two turns.

4 Provinces: Turn 10-11
6 Provinces: Turn 13-15
8 Provinces: Turn 16-19

You can also do something similar with Goat.  Open Star Chart + Pixie and maintain a 9 card deck.  This is about as fast to 4-6 Provinces, but chokes harder to get all 8.  Also, it's less noteworthy, because Goat makes everything faster.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Spices > Gold
« on: November 11, 2018, 11:19:08 pm »
ehunt is underselling how good Spices is for money decks.  Wandering Winder pointed out how strong monolithic Spices + money is on Discord; it's about as strong as Gear + money.  The idea is to buy Spices to stockpile a bunch of Coffers to smooth out Province buys.

Open with whatever makes it most likely to hit $5 on turn 3.
Buy Spices with your first $5+ hand.
Before turn 7, buy Spices on all $3+ hands.
Turn 7+, buy Province or Spices.  Buy Province on all $7+ hands, probably.  Buy Spices on most $4-5 hands.  On $6 hands (and sometimes others), use your judgement based on your Coffers reserve and how close the game is to ending.
Perhaps this could be refined with some simulation.

4 Provinces: 11-13 turns
6 Provinces: 14-16 turns

Tournaments and Events / Re: Renaissance: The Tournament
« on: November 11, 2018, 07:37:20 pm »
aku chi 3 - 0 GreyEK

I decided to try my hand at optimizing some Guildhall combos.

Beggar + Guildhall
This can be insanely fast, but it's very inconsistent; if your Beggars clump together, you lose a lot of turns.  My strategy was to always get three Beggars and Guildhall in the first 4 turns.  Buy Provinces when possible.  Buy additional Beggars on turns 5-7 if you miss Province.  After that, buy Silvers instead.
   Turn 8-12: 4 Provinces, ~27 VP
   Turn 10-14: 6 Provinces, ~39 VP
   Turn 13-17: 8 Provinces, ~51 VP

Delve + Guildhall
This combo is pretty comparable with Masterpiece, but with slightly higher highs and lower lows.  My strategy is to buy Guildhall ASAP (a 2/5 or 5/2 is great).  Pre-Guildhall, just Delve as much as possible.  Post-Guildhall, use a Coffers if you have an odd amount of money, buy as many Delves as you can, plus a Copper.  Green starting on turn 6 if you have an amazing start, turn 7 usually, and turn 8 if you have a weaker start (often caused by Guildhall on turn 4+).  If you get $9 or $10 naturally, you can Delve + Province.
   Turn 9-11: 4 Provinces, ~27 VP
   Turn 12-13: 6 Provinces, ~39 VP
   Turn 15-16: 8 Provinces, ~51 VP

Masterpiece + Guildhall
This strategy is the most reliable to 8 Provinces, but the slowest to 4 Provinces.  I just buy Silvers pre-Guildhall.  Post-Guildhall, use all your Coffers and get the biggest Masterpiece overpay you can!  Green starting on turn 7 if you have ~15+ Silvers.  Green starting on turn 8 otherwise.
   Turn 10-11: 4 Provinces, ~27 VP
   Turn 12-13: 6 Provinces, ~39 VP
   Turn 14-15: 8 Provinces, ~51 VP

So, these are all really strong!  Monolithic Guildhall strategies are also worth looking out for with Banquet and Cache (and maybe other cards I'm not thinking of).

Edit: Banquet + Guildhall is also very strong.  The baseline Banquet for Silver isn't as strong as the above, but it isn't hard to find something on the board that helps.  A better treasure (or treasure gainer) helps, as does +buy.  I got 8 Provinces in 13 turns with Banquet + Spices + Guildhall.  Counterfeit and Charm were strong.  I expect Treasure Trove is also great.

Tournaments and Events / Re: Renaissance: The Tournament
« on: November 10, 2018, 04:16:48 pm »
aku chi 3 - 0 ospond

Inventor + Alms

Alms is already pretty great with Bridge, but its even better with Inventor.  You can open double Inventor.  When you play a single Inventor, you can gain a $4 (which could be another Inventor) and a $5.  If there's a village that costs $5 or less, you can easily chain Inventors for more spectacular results.  Building this way is so fast, it could be reasonable to skip or defer weak trashing.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Homage to the Best Card
« on: November 05, 2018, 10:48:30 am »

Dominion Articles / Re: Island
« on: October 05, 2018, 09:33:42 am »
So X years later, the consensus seems to be that this is a very situational finesse card that you most likely buy at specific times depending on the board and your shuffle luck?

One problem with this card as an alternative to Duchy is that the action doesn't help you until two shuffles later.  Sometimes, that's too late, and you threw away 1 VP for nothing.  So in this case, it can still function as $4 consolation prize.  You don't always want to spend $4 on 2VP three or more shuffles before the game ends...

According to the stats markus has been collecting, Island is gained pretty often:

Island is gained substantially more than Duchy, Gardens, and Silk Road - and just as often by the winner, unlike those three cards (which are gained more often by the loser).  Island is even gained more often than Distant Lands; I think there's a case that Island has been underrated in recent years.  Temple is also an interesting comparison point, and I think Island comes out looking better.

Counting House + Night Watchman

This is beyond neat and certainly more than potentially useful!

This is can't seem to get to work at all.  I imagine it is that I am playing the night watchmen wrong.  Care to unpack how you are playing the night watchmen here.  I try and discard all coppers and try not to trigger reshuffles, but I am getting bogged down a lot, so i magine i'm doing something wrong.

I wrote a slightly more detailed description for the blog.

You can watch RTT play the combo here (though he ought to have opened with Silver, IMO):

Can you take the treasure chest if Swashbuckler doesn't give you coffers, and you just have leftover coffers from previous turns?

You cannot.  It's all after the "If your discard pile has any cards in it:" clause.  Also, Donald X. stated this explicitly in the OP: "... but you still need a discard pile at least once to get the Treasure Chest".

Tournaments and Events / Re: Renaissance: The Tournament
« on: September 26, 2018, 10:41:41 am »
I don't know when this starts, but... sure, I'll participate.

Recruiter looks disgustingly strong on a 5/2.

Yes, this was the first thing I thought. I think it could be the strongest 5/2 opening in the game, with the possible exception of Mountebank.

Sentry and Vampire seem stronger, at the very least.

Dominion Articles / Re: Chariot Race
« on: September 18, 2018, 11:27:27 am »
I think this:
It behaves a lot like some other $3 cantrips (Harbinger, Scheme, Sage etc.) in that it hardly ever hurts to add it, so the main question becomes "could I do something better"?
is more true than this:
You usually want maybe 3 of them, on boards where you want them. When buying them late-game, you should ask yourself whether you expect to activate them twice before the game ends.

When it comes to most sub-$5 cantrips, how many you ought to get comes down to the opportunity cost.  In some kingdoms, you only have 1-2 opportunities past the opening to gain Chariot Race without passing up a $5+ card.  In other kingdoms, you have more sub-$5 gains than you can use productively and Chariot Race is the only/best cantrip at that price point.  So the relevant question is how far should you go out of your way to get Chariot Races?  How often is Chariot Race better than a weak $5 cantrip (say, Treasury)?  Is it often correct to invest in early +buy to try to get double Chariot Race on $6?  When (and how much) does winning the split matter?  I don't know how to answer these questions in general, unfortunately.  Chariot Race seems to be one of the most contextual cards.

I like the Diminishing Returns section, and it makes me suspect that winning the Chariot Race split rarely matters.  It seems like in most circumstances, 3-4 can do almost as much good as 6-7.  One exception is games where you can manipulate the opponent's top card.  Another exception is games where you cannot completely rid yourself on sub-$3 cards; if you ever reveal such a card, you can activate nearly every Chariot Race you play that turn.

I don't know if it's worth mentioning, but games where you can mill Provinces (e.g. Butcher, Salt the Earth) are especially bad for Chariot Race.  A deck that greens early with Golds and Provinces isn't going to lose many Chariot Races, so if there's a way for that player to end the game quickly and reliably, Chariot Races are a pretty bad investment.

Dominion Articles / Re: Turn 1 Plan's effect on Turns 3 and 4
« on: September 14, 2018, 09:02:26 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.

If you open Plan + cantrip, you might also shuffle (3rd shuffle) after turn 4 (unless you buy a stop card on turn 3), so you'll see your turn 4 buy about as quickly.  Plan + cantrip does let you see your turn 3 buy earlier.

Rules Questions / Re: Watchtower+Market Square
« on: August 31, 2018, 03:59:39 pm »
The rulings on Inheritance confirm that a card is yours for on-gain triggers and for on-buy triggers.  The latter is unintuitive to me.

Fugitive (without exchange) at $4 would be fine.  Yeah, it's a strong opener and a generically good buy, but so is Ironmonger.  I don't see Ironmonger receive tons of hate.

A $4 Followers is clearly a bad idea.  In games without Curse trashing (fully 1/3rd of games), it would be a mandatory open and a good buy the next two $4+ hands.  Even in games where you can trash Curses, it would be an oppressive opener - if not a must-open.  At $5, Followers occasionally gives a big advantage to a 5/2 opening, and just empties piles too fast when it's good.  Followers could be an acceptable $6 card, I think.  You'd still buy it in an engine if it's the only handsize attack, or if you can handle the Estate better than your opponent can handle the Curse.

Dominion Articles / Re: Storyteller
« on: August 28, 2018, 03:59:08 pm »
Governor is an especially strong card with Storyteller, since it can both gain gold non-terminally and remodel them into Provinces in the late game. This being said, itís still important to not over-gain treasures in a Storyteller deck. Thoughtlessly gaining loads of Silver or Gold will still clog your deck, making it hard to actually find...

I kinda made this point before about most of the "gainers" section, but I maintain most of it is just as true without Storyteller as with it. Particularly the part about Governor. Storyteller can help you play your Governors more, but midturn gain-and-remodel isn't the part of Governor Storyteller even helps with.

Without some non-money effect you're trying to draw into, feeding Storyteller money is kind of value-neutral for your turn anyway, other than for cycling. So to me the claims that treasure gainers have some special utility for cycling or that shoving more silver/gold into the deck with gainers helps you get it under control because of Storyteller are a bit dubious.

Governor + Storyteller is amazing and I'm baffled that you don't see this.  Storyteller is great in a Governor deck for the same reason that trashing is; the less you have to play Governor for draw, the more you can use it for payload and the less you help your opponent.  We can play some Governor + Storyteller games sometime if you're interested.

Dominion Articles / Re: Storyteller
« on: August 28, 2018, 01:56:03 pm »
All too often, I've seen someone play Storyteller, play some Treasures, draw lots of cards, play another Storyteller, play more Treasures, draw the rest of their deck, then mournfully reveal they've only got $4 left to spend having sunk something like $10 into drawing.

This just sounds like a bad deck.

Right, and this article should be about how to avoid that pitfall and build a good Storyteller deck.

The only way you can, on net, decrease your economy by playing treasures to Storyteller is if your deck averages < $1 per card.  There's really nothing special about Storyteller here.  If your deck averages < $1 per card, your deck is straight bad.  Either:
  • It's the opening, in which case Storyteller isn't much different from Stables or Laboratory (it cycles more, but slightly reduces economy).
  • You have completely failed at Dominion fundamentals.  A Storyteller article cannot help you.
  • You are under very oppressive junking attacks.  Stables is a little better in these situations, but not much.  Really, if your deck is bad enough, Silver and especially Gold become better than non-terminal draw.  A Storyteller article could mention oppressive junking, but it seems pretty low priority.

Dominion Articles / Re: Storyteller
« on: August 28, 2018, 12:45:01 pm »
All too often, I've seen someone play Storyteller, play some Treasures, draw lots of cards, play another Storyteller, play more Treasures, draw the rest of their deck, then mournfully reveal they've only got $4 left to spend having sunk something like $10 into drawing.

This just sounds like a bad deck.  I think the only time I've had this experience is in a game with Mountebank and no trashing.
And Storytellers were still worth it to play Mountebank more often.

Dominion Articles / Re: Feodum
« on: August 24, 2018, 02:08:42 pm »
aku_chi, what about a strategy involving Treasure Hunter-Feodum but advancing one traveler to Champion? Seems like attacks destroyed the Treasure Hunter- Feodum deck in two of the three games you mention at the end of your post.

My first instinct was to upgrade one Treasure Hunter to Champion, but some napkin math showed that this would likely be too slow.
Turns 3/4: Play at least one Page.
Turns 5/6: Play at least one Treasure Hunter.
Turns 7-9: Play Warrior.
Turns 10-14: Play Hero.
So, it's impossible to get a Champion into your shuffle faster than turn 15 (when pursuing a Treasure Hunter heavy strategy).  And your deck at this point is likely over 30 cards, so the odds that you even see your Champion before emptying Feodums is low.  And this is assuming neither your Warrior nor your Hero miss the shuffle!

Dominion Articles / Re: Feodum
« on: August 24, 2018, 09:58:35 am »
I was curious about this Treasure Hunter + Feodum thing.  I played several games against Lord Rattington to converge on the best build and get a sense for speed.  I never lost (the Rat is especially bad when you don't contest Provinces), but the speed to 48+ points was slower than I anticipated due to Lord Rattington having so many 1-gain turns.  Then, amoffett11 and I looked at 8 kingdoms and played 5 (the ones where the conclusion wasn't obvious).

2/8 A Treasure Hunter + Feodum strategy won two games.  In the first game, amoffett11 built an engine with several gains per turn, but I don't know if this could have been avoided in the kingdom.  In the second game, I was supported by Amulet and Tower, and prevailed against amoffett11's Knights onslaught.
2/8 Feodum was probably worth gaining or trashing in two other kingdoms: one with Masterpiece, the other with Salt the Earth + Jack of all Trades.  We didn't play these.  Maybe a single Treasure Hunter could have helped the Feodum player?  Unclear.
1/8 We skipped a Governor game where it seemed like that was the obvious thing to do.
3/8 amoffett11 won the other 3 games we played with a non-Feodum strategy.  One was a Colony game where Feodums couldn't compete.  In another, amoffett11 was able to get two Warriors and destroy my deck (if the opponent gets the Pages early enough, they can get Treasure Hunters before you have them all).  In the third game, I think amoffett11 defeated me with a low-gain strategy into a consistent Ghost Ship attack.

So, based on those results, a Treasure Hunter + Feodum strategy is neither usually dominant nor always counter-able.  It's worth keeping in mind, but I'd be very reluctant to play for Treasure Hunter + Feodums in a game against a skilled opponent; they have a lot of opportunity for counterplay.

Let's Discuss ... / Re: Lets discuss hinterlands cards:tunnel
« on: August 24, 2018, 09:04:57 am »
Dungeon is the strongest Tunnel enabler (at least, it's fastest to 5-6 Provinces).  Storeroom is also pretty great.

Dominion Articles / Re: Gear
« on: August 18, 2018, 08:57:24 pm »
I immediately thought of the comparison to Haven, rather than Moat.  How does it compare to that - what makes Gear so much more powerful despite Haven being a cantrip?

A few things:
  • Gear is significantly more flexible in that it can save 0, 1, or 2 cards.  If Haven could save 0-2 cards, I believe it would be almost as strong as Gear.
  • Gear is better in the opening, on account of drawing 2 cards.  And the opening is a substantial part of Gear's strength.
  • Gear is also much better in moneyish strategies, on account of drawing two cards.  It's pretty amazing how nicely Gear + money plays despite its modest +2 cards.
  • Saving cards goes especially well with terminal draw, because it helps mitigate the downside of drawing actions dead.
Also, Haven is a pretty good card!  And Save is super strong.  So, the saving mechanic in general is deceptively powerful.

Dominion Articles / Gear
« on: August 18, 2018, 07:21:59 pm »

At first glance, Gear looks similar to Moat: +2 cards and some additional text.  But itís this additional text that enables Gear to provide so much control over your turns, and makes Gear one of the strongest cards in Dominion.  Let's look at all the valuable things you can do by setting aside cards with Gear:
  • Save excess money from turn to turn.  This is especially important when you only have one buy.  Early on, you can save a Copper to turn a hand into a hand in order to hit on the next turn.  Later in the game, you can save money exceeding so you can buy Provinces more consistently.
  • Save an unplayable terminal action for the next turn.  This is especially important in games without villages.
  • Improve your starting hand.  You can set aside +card or +action cards that will make your next hand stronger.  This is especially valuable when you have a few powerful draw cards such as Scrying Pool or Storyteller.
  • Force bad cards to miss the shuffle.  If you're about to trigger a shuffle, you can set aside green cards so that you don't draw them in that shuffle.
  • Pair up synergistic cards.  Gear can help you pair up your Estates with a good Estate trasher, or Province with Tournament, or Gold with Encampment, and more!
Let's dive deeper into a couple contexts in which you might use Gear.

Gear in the Early Game

Gear is a very strong card with a / opening.  If you draw Gear on turn 3, you're guaranteed to be able to see and play your other opening card on turns 3 or 4.  If your other opening card doesn't draw, you will end turn 4 with an empty deck - having seen all twelve of your cards.  You will be able to freely distribute your deck's total money over these two turns.  If you draw Gear on turn 4, you might have to set aside your other opening card to play on turn 5 (if it's an action you can't play), but you will also have an opportunity to cause 1-2 weak cards to miss your next shuffle.

If there is a key - card on the board that you want to open with, consider a Gear opening carefully.  If the key card is non-terminal such as Quarry or Transmogrify, Gear is usually a great accompaniment.  However, if you open Gear with a terminal trasher such as Chapel or Steward, they might collide on turn 4.  Gear will probably only be worth opening if you can get a cheap village while trashing.

If there is a key card on the board, Gear + Silver is an excellent opening.  So long as Gear is drawn on turn 3 or 4, you are guaranteed to be able to buy a card and (almost always) a or card (perhaps another Gear, if the key card is non-terminal).  You can also open Gear alongside a coin-generating action such as Poacher or Swindler, but you run the risk of not hitting on turn 3 or 4 if you draw poorly.  Gear + Potion is also one of the most reliable ways to hit on turn 3 or 4.

In the rare event that there are no kingdom cards costing or less that you want early, double Gear is a good opening.  With a double Gear opening, if you draw Gear on turn 3, you have a good chance to hit on turn 4 for Gold (or something better).  If you don't see any Gears on turn 3, you can buy Silver and have a great chance to hit on turn 5.

Gear + Money

Usually, you will want to play a card-drawing engine, and a few Gears will fit in well.  But, sometimes there is no good engine to build, in which case you should play primarily with Gear and treasures.  This is often the case when there are no villages and no non-terminal draw in the kingdom.  Gear is a very strong card in moneyish strategies, because Gear's money saving and terminal spacing functions give you tremendous control over your turns

Gear + money strategies benefit most from Estate trashing and treasure gaining, so consider incorporating them into your strategy.  Gear + money's strongest supports are cards and events that can trash Estates with very little lost tempo: Trade, Transmogrify, and Plan.  With strong support, Gear + money can beat slower engines - especially if there are no handsize attacks or alternative VP available.

Non-terminal support cards such as Sentry or Treasure Trove are easy to incorporate into a Gear + money strategy.  Because Gear can help space terminal actions, using 3-4 terminal actions is a good rule of thumb for a Gear + money strategy.  Sometimes, Gear is better in a support role with strong terminal actions such as Witch or Haggler.  In this role you can use 1-2 copies of Gear along with 2 additional terminal actions.  More often, you will want to combine 2-3 Gears with one copy of a supporting terminal action such as Salvager or Bandit.

Sometimes, there aren't any other beneficial kingdom cards.  Unassisted, you should open double Gear hoping to get Gold on turn 4.  You should get a third Gear as soon as you are confident you can get Gold.  With 3 Gears, you should be able to play one Gear each turn pretty consistently and smooth your money to exactly buy Golds (3-4), and then Provinces.  Without support, Gear + money does not get 7+ Provinces very fast, so beware strong alternative VP.

Gear Tips

Gear is almost always good; buy it, you won't regret it.  Here are a few final Gear tips:
  • When playing Gear, if you choose not to set aside any cards, Gear will not stay in play.
  • In general, you should set aside all the cards you don't need on a given turn, even if it's just one card.
  • When using Gear as your primary source of draw (not recommended if there are alternatives), only save cards with your final Gear.
  • When trashing from your deck with cards such as Sentry or Lookout, stop using Gear to save cards you want to trash pretty early.
  • The cards saved by Gear are not in your hand during opponents' turns, so you can't use saved reactions such as Moat.

Tournaments and Events / Dominion Online Championship 2018
« on: August 13, 2018, 08:17:27 pm »
For the second year in a row, ShuffleIt is hosting and sponsoring a large online Dominion tournament.  You can learn more information and signup on the ShuffleIt forums:

  • It begins on September 17th
  • You need a Gold subscription
  • There is a prize pool!
  • It's a single elimination bracket
  • Matches are 6 games, like the Dominion League

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