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Dominion Articles / Re: Shepherd
« on: February 21, 2018, 09:07:20 am »
This article contains a lot of incorrect information, in my experience. Shepherd can be made to work a lot of the time in a wide variety of decks, the points that going heavy Shepherd supplies are kind of a big deal not infrequently, what aku said is absolutely critical to include in a Shepherd article (as well as the possibility of purposefully triggering terrible green-filled shuffles with i.e. a saved Shepherd), and the math about Shepherd density is very misleading with respect to how to actually play the early game.

I appreciate the article, but I do have a ton of points of contention with this as to where I feel that someone who has not yet played with Shepherd much will walk away a worse player than they were before if they try to stick to this article's principles.

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Re: Is it okay to buy Possession?
« on: November 08, 2017, 01:16:35 pm »
Possession being banned from randoms is great, for two fundamental reasons:

1) The common play when Possession is good is to build a deck that can only play Possessions, and then you slowly squeeze down piles while playing multiple Possessions per turn in deck that has either none or nearly no economy. These games are not interesting, after you've played one of them, and perhaps more crucially they take about an hour and a half.

2) There are many Possession interactions which cease to be in the spirit the card was intended to be used in, and these are decidedly unfun. A lot of these are Adventures/Empires related, as reserve mats (especially with Overlord/BoM!), token placements, debt, etc., are just broken interactions. Also, cards like Masquerade and Ambassador are interactions that cause Possession to be devastatingly annoying to play with.

There is a third aspect that people don't like about Possession, which is the unfun nature of having someone play with your deck. I don't think this is ban-worthy (at least in the global sense), but I certainly get how annoying it is. The worse part of this, and I think this is something that strikes more at the heart of something I really truly dislike about Possession always, is that suddenly it makes turn ordering matter a lot more. By this I mean when you're playing Dominion decks and you dud it usually means your next turn will be good since you just got your dud cards out of the way. But no such thing exists if you get possessed on your good hand, and this can be incredibly frustrating to have happen to you.

And this isn't even mentioning all the stuff I'm forgetting, such as the pins and semi-pins such as bad shuffle triggering.

Tournaments and Events / Re: World Cup 2018 Interest Thread & Discussion
« on: November 04, 2017, 09:38:15 am »
I would like to join, but I don't think there's any other danish players.
There is a danish facebook board gaming group, where I can try to ask and search for 3 other players (or however many is required).

Emil is Danish

Like 3-player! ;)

3-player is actually the next thing I plan to do at this point for the site. I wish there was a noble reason, but really it's just been that I've actually recently caught myself enjoying 3-player Dominion.

No idea when I will finish it, because I haven't started. It's not that hard to do on the backend because the database stores results in such a way that I should basically just be able re-use all the two player code, but making the interface easy to toggle between 2-and-3 player will be the trickier part.

Quote from: Cave-o-sapien
This seems like the key phrase here. It seems like it should be possible to mine this sort of historical meta data into a separate structure that IS optimized for such queries. Obviously this isn't something YOU can/should do, but it would be a cool thing to have.

That's right, it's theoretically possible to partition/index/build to make lookups like this fast, but it isn't really practical to do so in this case. You would have to either build another index against the table or use a data store that's more optimized for these sorts of look ups, and that's too much work to make something like this possible (as well as, as you mention, largely out of my hands).

I hate the cards that play terribly like Page.

I like the cards that play really well like pretty much all of them.

The overall design of Dominion is wonderful--I don't really hate anything there, and any exacerbation of luck, etc., has more to do with specific cards than the game design itself. And the fact that I only really truly dislike about 4 cards is saying something for a game of this scale.

New request: would it be possible to find query head-to-head matchups between any two users?

I actually implemented this a little while ago, but it's too intensive on the database because it has to search back through all of the results indefinitely in order to locate the results between two players and the database just isn't built for that (there are a lot of results! Evidently gokosalvager had a similar thing at one point, and it was removed for similar reasons.). If I do a "compare players" feature it would just be something that gives X win%'s and the like, but that's not too high on my priority list of things to do.

How do you grab the logs manually?

Copy-Paste from in-game. Unfortunately logs go away as soon as game ends now, so you'll have to re-load games off the game ID's if you aren't able to copy the log before the game is over.

It'd be much better if the log still stuck around after the game ended, so you could copy it much more easily.

The Dominion Scavenger website now features a way to save logs and view them in a somewhat pretty format.

You still have to go manually grab the logs at first, but you can paste them on this page here:
to create a pretty log.

That will create a saved, shareable link where you can then post a link to the prettified version of the log. Here's an example of that:

This is Version 0.1 for many reasons, but mostly I'm just releasing what I have right now since it makes for a convenient way to save and share gamelogs, and at least the logs are much easier to read than the text blocks we're currently having to work with.

Known things, for which the reasons are either technical or I just haven't had time to get around to them yet:
1) The colors are a little off (Curses, for example, are blue).
2) Not all colors are there (Reserves, Ruins, Shelters, multi-type cards), etc.
3) There aren't any of the context features which would be nice to have (Kingdom listed at top, deck trackers, etc.).

It's still a far cry from the feature set of Salvager, but hey, it's something!

Thank you, everyone, for your kindness.

This is a fantastic resource that I use with almost every session. Much appreciated.

A couple questions:

1) It seems that the Y axis labels on the ranking over time chart is rounding in an unexpected way.

2) Is there a way to see the ranking over time over a longer period?

1. Yes it was rounding a bit too aggressively (and it was truncating instead of rounding). This has been fixed now.
2. I changed it to 60 days now instead of 14. Ideally it would be configurable, and there's no reason it isn't except for the fact that I haven't done it.

I use this website all the time to see where I'm going to be after the next leaderboard update.

I think it would be helpful to have your current rank on the learderboard displayed on your page.  I know this is available elsewhere, but if you want all the ranking information in one place, that would be included.

Yeah that would be nice--it wouldn't be too hard to put the daily leaderboard position on your page. The live leaderboard would be a little tougher since (A) it's only for the top 200 right now, and (B) I have to load a lot of stuff for the live leaderboard updates so I'd have to be smart about how I do that to avoid too much server traffic.

Thanks a lot for making this tool!
Just fyi, it looks like something went wrong with the leaderboard today and a lot of players are missing.

Edit: Seems this is fixed with today's leaderboard update. Must have been a fluke.

I cache those leaderboards every day, and sometimes a partial copy gets cached. I've done some things to try to mitigate this issue, but it shows up from time to time. Usually if someone pings me on discord it's easy enough for me to clear the server cache and fix it. I'm way more active on the Discord than I am on this forum.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: The swingiest card ever
« on: July 06, 2017, 08:18:01 am »
*cough Black Market *cough

Nope, Black market isn't swingy at all, but there are some people who like to blame their losses on this card.

I patently disagree with this. What and when you flip from the BM deck is incredibly important AND not in the player's control. Thus it's plenty swingy and I have won and lost plenty when the most important meter movers in the game were Black Market plays.

Page, though, receives my vote.

Dominion Articles / Re: Refreshing the Dominion Paradigms
« on: June 06, 2017, 06:01:10 pm »
Thanks for the explanation. Makes a lot of sense. The difference I described would indeed arise through different evaluations of tempo concerns. And it is fair to argue that this is more of an in game tactical insight then it is a strategical difference of deck type.

So the open question is then if there are deck archetypes that don't naturally arise out of your 4 point engine strategy. (and are not BM, slog or rush). (and can be optimal on a reasonable amount of boards). I wonder what ideas people have about this.

My engine categorizations are pretty broad, so it's probably almost always going to be possible to categorize every engine in to one of the four (if, sometimes, the line being blurred on which category a deck belongs to). I could certainly see people dreaming up things that don't fit at all though.

The main point of this article, really, was to try to introduce focus into engine play. Rather than just thinking "I'm going engine", to think more along the lines of, "I'm going engine, and this is what I anticipate this deck being capable of compared to the alternatives, and this is how I'm going to play this engine differently than that engine".

Many experienced top players don't usually need to think along these lines as they can see a board and digest it on a more natural basis, but I think there's a lot to be learned by players who struggle to i.e. make big explosive decks work, or to choose between money strategies and weak engines, etc. And even top players can struggle with these things from time to time.

New feature up: Live Leaderboard.

It's updated instantly throughout the day, and available at:
Due to performance concerns I've limited it to only the top 100 players, so it's really just for watching the top of the race. I may make a live leaderboard that contains more players, but it would require me to throttle/cache the results.

Leaderboards are now available at:

The in-game client has had some trouble updating the leaderboard display the past few days, but this display is up to date.

The default is a leaderboard of the top 1,000 players; there is also a full leaderboard option which has everyone that has ever played a ranked game on the client.

Feature request: keep track of win rates as 1st and 2nd player, respectively.

I don't have access to this information (the only way would be logs, and logs are not machine-readable by anything except the client itself right now), so this won't be happening until if/when I do.

Puzzles and Challenges / Re: 3 pile practice
« on: April 19, 2017, 11:07:13 am »
Here is a very difficult one. You start the turn Enchantressed, but you will reveal Stonemason from the Black Market part-way through your turn. Lots of Procession going on here. I failed on my first attempt at this (was $2 short), and I'm not even sure if it's possible, but I have to think that it is.

#2928750, play as me, the decision index should be set up correctly to where you can just go.

Is there a way to easily see your all-time W/L record?
Also a full leaderboard list would be interesting.

I'm going to add expected/actual W/L to the "Get Last Results" screen soon, so you can see it there by just typing in a high number. It's currently limited to 1,000 results, but I might eventually bump that up. You can expect this pretty soon.
EDIT: This has been done.

Full leaderboard is on my list of things to do. I just need to cache the results so I'm not hitting the DB for everything each time there is a request to see it. Not sure when you can expect this.

New feature up: chart of your level changes over time now appears on the Glicko estimate page.

Feature request: being able to type the username directly into the URL so that I can bookmark my own results.

This is done. Once you've navigated somewhere you can copy the URL and then all the things that you would expect to work should.

Why is the title of the page "Dominion Sparkle"?

Great work by the way, this is super useful.

I've asked for naming suggestions of several different things over the past few months, and sparkle has been involved a lot. As for this website, maybe I should just call it Dominion Scavenger instead. So hey, maybe next time I edit something it might be that. Glad you like the tool!

"X Win %" is using your current level, right? So you see now the "real" expected win percentage, not what Glicko-2 thought then. (Else, all games on day 1 would need to have 50%.)

That's right, and it's calculated based upon your current mu only (rating deviation is not used for implied win%, which is consistent with the internals of Glicko-2). While it's technically possible to go back and retrieve what your Expected Win% was on the day of each match played, it is (A) computationally a lot more expensive/difficult for me to program, and (B) arguably not as useful and nice to look at as current level comparisons anyways.

First things first just go play around, as that's better than my description will be: Dominion Scavenger

Stef was kind enough to grant me database access in order to make my Ratings Estimator much more accurate, and also not make you guys keep track of your own results. So I built a tool that has a bunch of features, and should be way more useful than that ratings estimator thing.

Live Glicko Rankings

Live Results History

1) Live Ratings. As soon as you complete games, you can click "Get Glicko Estimate" and receive info about what your ranking would be if the period ended now.
2) Opponent information and Expected Win% information. You can see your implied chances of beating any given player, as well as detailed information about players you've played today.
3) Games History. You can view past results, with all of the above opponent information included.
4) A graph of your level changes over time.

Features to come, probably:
1) A graph of your level change over time.
2) A "compare players" feature.
3) Game Id's included so you can find old games to load up and replay.
4) A top "X" (100?) leaderboard that's updated throughout the day.
5) Make tables sortable.

6) Other stuff that people point out to me as useful.

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Live Ratings Estimator
« on: April 05, 2017, 03:53:43 pm »
Edit: You should probably just go here now:

If you're as fraught with grief as I am, then daily updates of the leaderboard at 00:00 UTC might not be enough for you. Or maybe you just want to receive numerical confirmation of your ability as a human more frequently than that? Well, regardless of the situation, I've built a tool to estimate your rankings at any time based off of your current ranking and the players you've played against.

You just have to keep track of the level of players that you've played and your results against them. Then you can go here: and enter your current ratings and those results and receive an estimate of what your new level will be if the rankings were to update right then and there.

New Feature: If you don't keep track of every game, you can just enter in an estimated number of wins and losses as well as your estimated average opponent's level, and still get an estimate.

The number won't be 100% perfect because in order to keep things simple you just enter your opponent's level and I estimate their mu/rating deviation from their level, but the results you get should be really close to what your actual update should be.

Again, that's

Dominion Articles / Re: Refreshing the Dominion Paradigms
« on: April 04, 2017, 02:21:49 pm »
    However, your second advice is severely misleading: Cards, events or landmarks that give points are usually a major reason to go engine, even the as-good-as-it-gets-version! This is very important to understand, that's why I posted it. Your argument

     Buying a single Ill-Gotten-Gains and otherwise playing straight big money beats straight Big Money 70% of the time![/li][/list]

    refers to straight BM, which is usually an irrelevant comparison. Nearly always, alt-VP favor the engine.

    Sorry if this was misleading, but that's not what I meant to imply at all. You'll notice that the quote you've pulled is from the section on how to play money decks, not in the section on when to play non-forced money. So my point still stands: points (even just one) are really good for big money once you've already decided to play big money, especially in a mirror.

    I don't disagree that the presence of Alt-VP tends to make Engines better, of course, but "Curse" is obviously not Alt-VP.

    As for your first point on kingdom treasures, I must grant you that perhaps I've over-stated their general importance.

    Dominion Articles / Re: Refreshing the Dominion Paradigms
    « on: April 03, 2017, 05:43:46 pm »
    Many of us remember the terminology established by Wandering Winder on deck types: Engines, Big Money, Slogs, Rushes, and Combos. I would argue, however, that thinking about decks in these terms has become increasingly irrelevant

    And I would argue that it has become increasingly relevant. The fundamental deck types aren't a spectrum, they are very distinct from one another, and the existence of each type of strategy relies on particular rules and card interactions that are unique to that specific type of strategy. With new expansions, it's possible that new types of strategies pop up (such as the coin token hoarding strategy, which is technically a thing, it just sucks in practice because the coin token cards aren't strong enough for that to ever beat anything) and I wouldn't even be surprised if there turned out to be undiscovered types of strategies that are possible with the current cards, but the principles that the original 4 main strategies were built on do still exist.

    They still matter, of course, but my main argument is that with the vast majority of games being engine games nowadays, knowing the distinct deck types in the same manner as before is not as helpful as it once was when you more often played those non-engine distinct deck types.

    Your engine classifications are, however, just arbitrary points on two spectra: how reliable the deck is and how big the payload is. For all engines, it is universally true that first you should thin as much as possible, keep a little economy around so that you can actually build the deck, start adding more engine parts, and when you're drawing reliably, you should add as much payload as you can considering that it makes your deck less reliable and that while you're spending time getting it, your opponent might be spending his time getting points and ending the game. If that means you're able to buy 8 Provinces on the turn when you finally start to green or that you're able to thin very quickly to build a very reliable deck or that you can't build a reliable deck at all or that you can build a decently reliable engine that doesn't have very amazing payload, none of it is particularly noteworthy, that's just how things sometimes work out naturally as a consequence of playing the strategy the exact same way every game.

    I'll grant that for the most part the engine classifications above are generally based upon the criteria of reliability and payload. However, I do make the (and I know it's relatively weak) claim that you should play engines differently based upon those criteria. You mention that it's just "what ends up happening", which, while true, there are definitely things you can do if you properly anticipate "what ends up happening" that can give you an edge. For example, in the above no-draw Highway stack perhaps you should buy Gold before greening, or else you're not going to be able to buy anything useful after your first Provinces. These engines build differently, even if they do share the same core principles. Whether or not they build differently enough to deserve to be treated sub-categorically as different, well, that is not for me to decide; only to suggest.

    Also, the fact that engines are able to play a bunch of Action cards every turn is neither useful nor a distinction from other types of strategies: there is no inherent strategical reason to care whether or not it says "Action" on the card, and some big money, rush and combo decks can also play a bunch of Action cards every turn.

    You're missing the point here. Playing three Ironworks is not "playing a bunch of actions". Playing two Poachers and a Swamp Hag is not "playing a bunch of actions" Playing 8 Merchants and Goons is playing a bunch of actions. I didn't want to put a number on it, but hey, I'll do it. If you're playing on average 4+ actions a turn, it's an engine. Otherwise it's not. So it's definitely distinct, and I very much think it's useful because, hey, you should really know what your turns are going to look like. Of course there are shortcuts in any lexicon and formalization of a definition, but I would argue that this is completely sufficient.

    Dominion Articles / Refreshing the Dominion Paradigms
    « on: April 03, 2017, 04:36:21 pm »
    Refreshing the Dominion Paradigms

    Dominion has changed a lot. The cards have changed, the players have changed, and, well, perhaps what Iím getting at, is that the strategies have changed. Not completely or totally, of course. Many of us remember the terminology established by Wandering Winder on deck types: Engines, Big Money, Slogs, Rushes, and Combos. I would argue, however, that thinking about decks in these terms has become increasingly irrelevant, and therefore that re-thinking and generalizing our lexicon will help players adapt to the game more quickly.

    There are a couple of reasons for this. The first, most glaring note is probably on the victory of the engine deck in Dominion. It has become excessively common for Engine to be the best strategy in Dominion, although of course a player like myself would argue that they are played too often, but nonetheless Engine tends to be obviously correct on a good number of boards, so much so that calling a board an ďEngineĒ board is almost meaningless. We should establish more meaningful distinctions around different types of engines, since currently our only real distinctions in the lexicon refer to how the engines are drawn, i.e. draw-to-x, village/smithy, and non-terminal.

    Other reasons, which I will not dive into with as much detail in order to hopefully retain some readers for pieces of this article in which I actually say something, include the growing confusion about the difference between Big Money and ďGood StuffĒ decks (a proliferation added later by Wandering Winder), the awkward melding of Rushes and Slogs, what even constitutes the difference between a Slog deck and a Big Money deck with junk (I actually think WW answers this question well. More on that later), and the overwhelming rarity of the relevance of rush and combo decks.

    Defining the Engine Deck

    An engine deck, in the general sense, is quite simply a deck that seeks to reliably play a bunch of action cards each turn. While thatís a useful distinction from other types of strategies, it doesnít really give much insight into how to build the darn things. I am going to attempt to classify these decks into meaningful patterns, and then later (in different articles) circle back to distinctions to be made within even different subgenres of these classes of decks.

    The Control Engine
    Some engines donít care so much about what you do with them so much as they care that you can do stuff with them. Notably, these decks refer to the importance of being able to reliably draw your deck every turn, for the whole game, and to get there as fast as possible. And, generally, this is important because if you are able to do so and your opponent isnít, there is some way to just completely bury your opponent. These tend to be games where Silver and Gold become very bad cards quite quickly.

    Some examples of these games include:
    • The very obvious Ambassador war, in which you can junk your opponent to Oblivion by playing multiple Ambassadors of various junk ever turn.
    • Games featuring cards that can slow your opponent like Ghost Ship, where if you slow down your opponentís pace, it can be very difficult or impossible for them to recover. Militia-based games can be this way too, though control is slightly less fiercely important in those games.
    • Games where there are other ways to junk your opponent into oblivion while maintaining control of your deck. Think Kingís Court/Mountebank. Or just Familiar.

    Some important features of control decks:
    • Thinning tends to be very important in these decks. The thinning, however, should have a purpose, and that purpose should be to play as many cards as possible to slow down your opponent, as often as possible. If youíre the first one to slow your opponent down, and you keep the pressure on every turn, it can often snowball and be impossible for them to recover even if they have a card like Chapel in their decks.
    • Payload and greening should be delayed as long as possible in these decks. Draw and reliability should take absolutely priority. Points tend to really not matter, unless the game is ending incredibly soon, which, in these types of games, isnít going to be for a long time.
    • On some boards, thinning can be slightly less important than splits, though be careful about making this assumption. Imagine, for example, a board where Alchemist is the only draw. If you have 6 and they have 4, you are going to be able to support 2 extra stop cards that your opponent can not, and if those 2 extra cards are something like Ambassador you may be able to recover from being slightly thicker as long as you arenít completely overwhelmed in the thinning department. So focus on thinning, but donít ignore key cards, either.

    Control decks can draw from basically any engine draw paradigm. Draw-to-x, nonterminal, and village/smithy decks all apply. Note that non-terminal draw tends to be quite strong in these decks, since nonterminal draw becomes reliable much more quickly than village/smithy draw, and offers better guarantees of success. In games where you have choices, however, you should probably be using every source of draw available to you in order to maximize efficiency and reliability. Note that draw-to-x doesnít apply here, since draw-to-x doesnít mesh with other draw types, as drawing to 7 if you already have 10 cards in hand from your Lab stack is obviously quite poor.

    The Mega-Turn Engine
    This is an engine where there is the ability to do something really awesome, and you donít need to green over multiple turns, but only one. I donít have much thesis-level stuff to say about these decks, actually, so Iíll just hop straight into details.

    Some examples of these games include:
    • Horn of Plenty megaturns, where you get a bunch of Horn in Plentyís in play along with at least 8 unique cards, and you take all the green cards.
    • Bridge(Highway/Troll) megaturns, where you get a bunch of cost reducers in play, and with +Buy, you take all the green cards.
    • Humongous Engine megaturns. Think Council Room/Wharf/Champion, where thereís not any really great cards payload out there for a megaturn, but the deck supports so much draw that itís simply not necessary to green over multiple turns unless the game state dictates that you do.

    Some important features of control decks:
    • These decks are typically a race to mega-turn first, although sometimes in mirrors there can be enough denial to limit the effectiveness of a mega-turn. Nonetheless, you should be playing for the mega-turn all game, and then reacting to something else only if the game state (i.e. piles are too low) forces you to bail out early and start taking points.
    • Just because thereís amazing power on the board, you still shouldnít neglect thinning. At the same time, however, it can be important to slightly favor economy. In a control deck, for example, you might open Amulet/Amulet to get thin, but in a mega-turn deck maybe you open Amulet/Silver to add that Wharf in early to get big turns kicking off sooner rather than later.
    • These games often end in pile-outs, not mega-turns, so be careful about that. While a Throne Room/Bridge deck certainly can take 8 Provinces, and if your opponent allows you, it should, Throne/Room Bridge decks are also very capable of buying a lot of cards from the supply and a single Estate in one turn, and ending the game with 1-0 lead. You need to track your opponentís gains very carefully, and make sure that youíre never letting your opponent win on their next turn unless youíre far behind and need to take calculated risks that your opponent might dud on their turn.

    The As-Good-As-it-Gets Engine
    Sometimes, the engine is just not very good. Itís never going to draw deck, itís never going to be reliable, and itís certainly never going to mega-turn. But hereís the rub: Dominion is a game about turns. Namely, Dominion is a game about average turns. Sometimes the attempt to play a lot of actions cards every turn will be very finicky, but if youíre still going to have a better average turn than your opponent playing a money-centered deck (where their best case scenario is hitting $8 unreliably, for example), then you should build the engine deck.

    Some examples of these games include (these are little more complicated to outline):
    • Cartographer/Wishing Well/Conspirator/Nomad Camp/Inn, with no thinning. This board features weak thinning, weak draw, and weak +Buy. Your turns are going to be very finicky, because essentially unless you have two nonterminals in hand to start your turn, you arenít going to kick off, and thatís going to happen fairly often. But still, your average turn is going to be better than your opponent who is doing, what, playing Nomad Camp big money?
    • Fishing Village/Ghost Ship, limited to no thinning. Thatís weak draw, and certainly going to be very unreliable. However, just the fact that youíre going to be playing Ghost Ships more often than your opponent puts you in a good spot. Note that this differs from a control deck, because youíre not actually going to be reliably playing Ghost Ships every turn.
    • Highway/Chapel/no Draw. Sure, youíll have one or two pretty good turns with your 5-6 highways. But as soon as you green, you arenít drawing deck any more. So temper your expectations, but of course youíre still going to be doing better than the deck that doesnít play the weak Highway thing.

    Some important features about these decks:
    • Youíre going to lose with these decks, sometimes, even against a simpler strategy. Unlike a mega-turn or control deck, they arenít going to have a 100% win-rate against even poorly played or weak money strategies. You need good draws throughout the game, and Dominion makes no guarantee of that. Nonetheless, they should be played as long as youíre giving yourself a >50% chance of winning with them.
    • These are also decks where Silver and Gold can be a very bad card, because every stop card that you add to your deck decreases your chance of kicking off, which is already pretty bad to start with. Donít completely neglect payload, but add it in slowly, as you should be focusing on cards that help you kick off, even if that kicking off remains unreliable.
    • You green in these decks earlier than in Control and Mega-turn decks, since, well, you have to score points sometimes, and youíre never going to be too reliable anyways. Still, if youíre asking the question about if you should green or keep building, the answer is almost always to keep building.

    The Standard Good Engine
    I saved this one for last since, although it is probably most common (but not overwhelmingly so), it is also the least prescriptive. These decks tend to be decks where the payload is good but not awesome (think Wine Merchant/Courtier/Monument, heck, even Gold), but there are reliable sources of draw/actions/thinning/gains, and so the engine is the obvious choice.

    Some examples of these games include:
    • Village/Smithy/Laboratory/Wine Merchant/Remake. Obviously this is a strong engine, but itís okay if you dud a turn or two as long as youíre giving yourself a good shot at having nice big turns.
    • Alchemist/Workerís Village/Amulet/Advisor. This engine is going to be a little slow to set up, but youíre going to be building for a while and then probably greening over 2/3+ turns. Your payload here is probably Silver, just because you can use your Amulets to keep gaining it while you can focus your buys on adding draw.
    • Storyteller/Treasure Trove/Chapel. Again, this is going to be a quite good deck, but youíre going to have to green before you have $30 of buying power in your deck. Itís not a mega-turn, and control is not terribly important, but itís pretty reliable and can still pull off some fairly excellent turns (which is what differentiates this from a ďAs-Good-As-it-GetsĒ engine).

    Some features of these decks include:
    • You still typically want to do everything you can to make these decks reliable. Dudding remains really bad, even if itís not game over in these decks. This means you want to thin/trash persistently, add in sifting (such as Dungeon) if you can, and have some ability to overdraw your deck for (A) reliability, and (B) the ability to keep your deck running once you start greening, since youíre going to be greening usually over at least 2 turns in these decks.
    • Pay attention to the availability of +Buy. While +Buy is available on roughly 88% of boards, itís actually usable on a decent number less than that, and if thereís not usable +Buy itís usually in your best interest to build to a deck that reliably hits $8, and no more. Cards like Haggler can be really nice for helping you continue to hit $8 while staying reliable.
    • You can afford to take some chances on payload in these decks. Adding in extra payload that youíll probably but not definitely be able to play on these boards can be okay, and you can take some chances to try and get ahead since typically these games are going to be pretty close. Donít be stupid though, if youíre probably going to dud, you should be adding in reliability. But at the same time, feel free to make your deck less than 100% in the mid-game in order to get ahead.
    • Even if junk is eventually going to get cleaned up in these decks, you still want to do it. Donít ignore Witch in these decks ever, please. This is less about control than pace. If youíre adding payload while your opponent is still cleaning up, thatís another way to get ahead. And getting ahead is how you win, of course.

    Okay, so thatís it for the engine types that I think deserve distinctions. Of course there are meaningful distinctions to be made even within those paradigms, and many games tend to flirt between the lines. Keeping those deck types in mind, however, can help keep your expectations and buys aligned with a focused plan that will see you winning more games than you otherwise would with less focus.

    Money, Big Money, Money-ish, Whatever

    When it comes to money games, I take an opposite stance to that of Engines. Notably, itís that I think distinctions tend to be harmful here rather than beneficial. Iím not going to focus on specific examples here so much as describe the kinds of things to look out for and exploit in these types of games, and also to a lesser extend when to play these sort of decks over the above ďAs-Good-As-it-GetsĒ engine choice.

    Features of these decks:
    • Silver and Gold, are, of course good cards. Many kingdom cards tend to help out, however. A good rule of thumb is that two kingdom terminals is usually correct, and, if those terminals are durations, then three is usually correct. If the terminals are not draw cards (and, really, you should relatively rarely play terminal draw BM mostly because it prohibits this), you can add in other useful cantrips with impunity.
    • Kingdom Treasures are really good. Treasure Trove is tremendous for these decks (and also because it baloons your deck, allows you to play with extra terminals). But watch out for cards like Relic. If the engine is playing Relic most/every turn, youíre going to have a lot of trouble hitting $8 with 4 card hands.
    • Points are the name of the game. This generally means two things
      • Green early. You want to be ahead in these games, not have a better deck. Standard ďBig MoneyĒ means you donít Province until you have $18 in your deck total, but most Kingdom Card strategies allow you to buy Provinces earlier than that, which basically means typically you buy one Gold and then itís all Provinces on $8.
      • Cards that give points are really great. This means Monument. But it also means Witch/Swamp Hag/Ill-Gotten-Gains, and doing things that would normally be dumb like buying Temple mostly just for the VP Chips, or taking the Defiled Shrine relatively early (but please, donít over-do this. You still need to hit $8). If you need any proof that points are important, hereís some: 1. Swamp Hag BM beats Cultist BM 2. Buying a single Ill-Gotten-Gains and otherwise playing straight big money beats straight Big Money 70% of the time!
    • Any way you can add in reliability is great
      • Baker is a big help, because smoothing out your hands that are quite honestly completely random is great.
      • Cards like Gear are also really great to this, and to a lesser extent even Haven can be very useful. But be careful about opportunity cost, because Silver is great here!
    • Gaining extra cards is great, and trashing is good as long as it doesnít take you too far out of your way. Donít over-do it, as a single trasher is usually plenty.
      • An early Raze or Hermit can still be quite good to get some crap out, and, in the latter case, add some good stuff in.
      • In Colony/Platinum gains, put more emphasis on trashing since the game will go longer and itís more important to clean out Copper.

    When to play these decks, non-forced:
    Iíve garnered somewhat of a reputation for being a player who plays a lot of non-forced money, i.e. I play money-based strategies on boards where a ďAs-Good-As-it-GetsĒ engine is available. Although not really, after all, because the as-good-as-it-gets deck isnít always an engine, believe it or not. Here are some of the things I look for:

    • How well is the engine going to green? If the only engine draw is Menagerie and thereís no discarding, then the engine is going to start choking as soon as it gets itís second province.
    • How fast is the engine going to grow? If thereís no +Buy and the other gaining is weak or irrelevant, then the engine is going to take forever buying parts while youíre adding green consistently.
    • How is the engine going to score? If the money player has to take (at least almost) all the Provinces to win, then he/she is probably not going to have a lot of success. But if you just need 5, youíre going to have a lot better chance at success.
    • How fast is the engine going to be reliable? Maybe the engine doesnít have great payload, but if it can start having good turns relatively quickly, youíre not going to be able to out-run it with your relatively random money deck.
    • If the engine canít compete on Junk without adding in cards they donít really want into their deck, maybe the engine isnít best. Think Jack as the only trashing or Soothsayer as the only cursing.

    Donít be afraid to play with a lot of kingdom cards in this deck, but be careful, and donít try to over-complicate things by adding in cards that are only marginally useful. A village that might only sometimes be useful is probably worse than just sticking extra Silver in decks like these.

    The Points Slog

    Okay, this is really just a slog. The problem is, lots of people call games ďsloggyĒ just because there is junk involved even if the game is more of a money game. Hereís the key thing with slogs, and this is something Wandering Winder pointed out long ago: Itís not about if thereís junk involved or not; itís about playing a long game where youíre trying to amass an insurmountable number of points in a very unreliable, thick deck.

    Some examples of these games:
    • Masterpiece/Trader | Feodum. Oh, did I mention that Iím in favor of killing the ďComboĒ deck? Because I am. These are slog decks.
    • Silk Road/Herbalist/Inheritance/Treasure Trove. I mention this because it occurred in a recent game, but the point here is that youíre inheriting Herbalist and playing a thick deck very quickly, in which youíre buying a lot of Herbalist Estates and Silk Roads very early, after probably 2 Treasure Troves before any of that. Your deck is going to be ugly, but itís going to have a ton of points. And while hitting $8 remains nice, itís not the point of the deck (which is why this is a slog and not a money deck).
    • Ironworks / Garden | Silk Road. I think itís worth killing the ďrushĒ distinction too. Because the reality is that you play rush and slog decks exactly the same way, only slog decks donít attempt a pile-out while rush decks do. But every turn looks the same, as youíre doing something relatively weak but itís scoring points every turn, and itís starting early. Rushes just end faster because they have a natural third pile.
    • On the rush note, Ball/Death Cart/Gardens. This tends to end the game quickly with a decent number of points, but youíre still doing the same (relatively weak) thing every turn.
    • Horse Traders | Duchy/Duke. Yeah, I donít need to explain this one.

    Some Features of these games:
    • These decks tend to be very weak. If there is a good or even decent engine on the board, youíre probably going to get out-raced. However, strong enablers of these strategies tend to be able to far outpace money-based strategies and weaker engines.
    • These strategies tend to be focused around (A) getting to the part of the game where they score points very quickly, and (B) continuing to be able to score points throughout the duration of the game. This means you typically need extra gains, and to continue to be able to stick extra treasure and action cards in your deck while greening. Even if itís just Copper.
    • Of course, some of these decks arenít weak and will dominate almost every board. The above mentioned Masterpiece/Feodum, for example is one of those.

    Okay, that will wrap up at least part one of my work on trying to define and describe decks in a meaningful and helpful fashion. Iíve purposely omitted some deck paradigms or sub-paradigms, such as golden decks, etc. Iím sure I missed some things, and Iím absolutely sure I said some things that merit disagreement. Iím also completely sure that many will find the entirety of these distinctions nearly completely useless. But I also know this: thereís still a lot of room for us (and I mean all of us, all the way from poor to good players) to get a lot better at this game.

    Guide is best in weak engines where you're relatively (i.e. well short of 100%) unlikely to kick off.

    It's not a great slog/money card--though an early one or two can still be okay to good--mostly because it's competing with Silver, and Silver is a really good card in slogs. A notable exception to this is when you have 4-cost junkers that you can open with and you just want to play them as often as possible until the Curses are gone.

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