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Topics - BadAssMutha

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Dominion General Discussion / Choking
« on: May 24, 2014, 10:01:46 pm »
We've all had it happen - you've painstakingly trimmed your deck, setting up a great engine that's poised to go off and win you the game. Maybe you've got mega-Menagerie draw, are about to pull the trigger on a Horn of Plenty deck, or have a nice Festival-Library thing going on. It's time to green - you've either just started, or are continuing to plow through the Provinces - just keep up that pace and you'll win.

That's when it happens. The shuffle comes around, and... your deck chokes. You draw two Provinces off the top, killing your Menagerie draw. All 5 of your HoPs are in your hand, earning you 5 Poor Houses. Maybe you drew all of your Libraries together with no Festival. Seriously? Your deck is so chock full of good cards, how the heck did this happen?

Even with a high density of excellent action cards, it only takes a few non-drawers to stop an engine dead after a shuffle. Usually, there's not a whole lot you can do, but I wanted to make a thread discussing some options. To make a choke-resistant engine, there's a few things you can do.

1. Single-card strategies. Monolithic engines like Hunting Party or Minion don't choke so often, since having only one in hand usually means you're off to the races. Engines that rely on multiple cards for +Actions, +$, or +Cards can fail to line up more frequently.
2. Deck control. It's not so common when you can do this, but if you're drawing your deck every turn, think if there's any way to help set up your next turn. Maybe you can Courtyard or Count a Hunting Party or Lab on top of your deck for next turn, or perhaps use Warehouse on an empty deck followed by a cantrip to effectively put two cards on top. Anything to ensure that you've got at least SOME good cards on top of your deck, and won't run into a full 5-card choke.
3. Watch out for absolute deck size. Considering two decks of the same action density (of less than 1), the larger one will choke more often. If you have at least 5 card that don't draw, it's possible for your deck to choke. Think about if you really need that extra treasure for your last turn, or if it's just going to increase the chances of a catastrophic choke.

Any other ideas?

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Dominion General Discussion / Topdecking Scheme
« on: October 25, 2013, 12:36:55 pm »
I'd imagine that most of us play Scheme pretty similarly - use it to topdeck good actions when possible, putting Scheme itself on top only if you can't topdeck anything else worthwhile. This can actually be less effective than topdecking a Scheme instead of your good action - namely, this occurs when you are close to the reshuffle.

Suppose a case where I have 16 cards in my deck - all treasure, plus a Scheme and a Militia. It's the end of a turn where I just played both the Scheme and the Militia, and I'm at the very bottom of the shuffle, with no cards left in my draw pile. I imagine most people here would just automatically topdeck the Militia. You'll actually play it more if you topdeck the Scheme. Putting the Militia on top, you have a 4/15 chance of drawing your Scheme with it, and getting to play the Militia twice during this shuffle. If you miss, you only play Militia once this time around. Putting the Scheme on top, you have a 5/15 chance of drawing the Militia with it and getting to play it twice. Even if you don't, you can just topdeck the Scheme again and have a 5/10 chance of getting the Militia and still playing it twice this shuffle. Worst case, the Militia is in the last 5 cards and you only play it once this shuffle. Overall, you have a 66% chance of playing your attack twice during this shuffle if you topdeck the Scheme, compared to 27% by topdecking the Militia.

This happens because topdecking at the bottom of a shuffle might not have any effect - you might have gotten lucky and drawn that card anyway. You're better off topdecking your topdecker, so that you can play it early in the shuffle when it will certainly have an effect. This seems counterintuitive; I usually play my Schemes on autopilot, only Scheming Schemes as a last resort (or to enable Conspirator or KC shenanigans). This gets a little more complicated in reality because by not topdecking your attack, it might miss the reshuffle (playing it 0 times this shuffle), but this gets less likely as your deck gets bigger. Plus, timing of attacks can be important - sometimes it may be better to play an attack earlier rather than an extra time. Overall, though, I think the right play might be to topdeck the Scheme if you're about to shuffle, and hope your attacks get drawn at the top of the deck.

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Dominion Articles / Exploiting Asymmetry
« on: October 24, 2013, 12:43:34 pm »
In most games of Dominion, everyone has equal access to the same cards. There are, however, three cards that cause  unique elements to come into play. There is only one copy of each Black Market card, one copy of each Tournament Prize, and one copy of each Knight. Sometimes, these unique cards can be extremely important because they can offer a potentially crippling asymmetry.

This is most apparent with unique cursing attacks. In a kingdom with no cursing attacks, Followers can be a game-winning Prize. Getting the only Witch out of the BM can be a huge boon. With other cursers, however, these situations become less important. Other unique cards may have their uses as well. If you're playing an engine with no +buy, Princess can really shine. Got Bridges? She's much less important. Getting an early Monument or Goons out of the BM can build you a nice pile of VP chips that your opponent has to match with green.

Knights are unique, but most have powers usually found elsewhere in the kingdom - +$, +cards, +action. One important possible exception to this is Dame Anna. If she's the only trasher on the board, it can be the only way to build an engine if that's what you're after. I had an opponent once forego other strong $5s to open with Dame Anna. Knights weren't great on their own, but Anna was the only was to trash anything on a board with good engine potential. Dame Molly can be useful for extra actions, if she's the only +2 actions available.

It's interesting to note that the widely-regarded booby Prizes, Diadem and Bag of Gold, are weak due in part to the fact that their effects aren't really unique. There are plenty of ways to get +$, and buying Gold is always possible given the cash. Similarly, cards without unique effects in the Black Market tend to be a bit weaker. The key is to find cards that are not only good, but that are even better if you're the only one who has it.

Overall, my point is that when unique cards are on the board, it's very important to identify which ones are key. Abilities unique to the kingdom (only +buy, only curser, only trasher, only VP tokens) can be game-changing, so don't pass up an opportunity to grab them if you can put them to use.

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So I've recently had some unlucky games where my opening terminal action winds up at the bottom of my deck and misses the reshuffle. In these cases, I've tried "doubling up" on my terminal on turn 4, so that I can hopefully get 2 plays in on the next shuffle, and not fall too far behind (especially important for card-givers like Sea Hag or Maurader). Let's assume an easy case where there's no extra actions in the kingdom, I open Silver/Terminal, and the terminal in question doesn't give +Cards. I don't draw the terminal on turn 3, and buy a coin or a nonterminal. Then don't draw my terminal on turn 4. Should I buy another, or stick with what my plan would otherwise have been?

As I figure it, there's only a 25% of collision between the two terminals on the second reshuffle - draw the last 2 cards in the deck (one of which is terminal), then there's a 3/12 shot of getting the other terminal at the top of the shuffle. Seems having the second terminal might be the way to go, even if I normally wouldn't have gotten that terminal until my deck got a little bigger. Obviously, this depends on the kingdom and all, but I just wanted some thoughts. I got burned by this a few times in a row, so I'm forced to wonder if I'm thinking about this wrong somehow, or just got unlucky.

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Game Reports / When to take curse+copper in Gardens/Mountebank
« on: December 06, 2012, 12:14:46 pm »
So I just played an interesting game involving Mountebanks, Gardens, and Ironworks.
http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201212/06/game-20121206-085141-5d0931c8.html
I lost the Garden split 3-5, but won due to my larger deck size, fueled by my Ironworks. Both of us sort of ignored Lighthouse, as the Curse+Copper from Mountebank isn't that terrible in a Gardens deck anyway. I get so into this mentality that at one point, I voluntarily take the Curse+Copper even though I have a Curse to discard. If my opponent had done the same at some point, he would have won! This got me thinking as to when this is actually a good move. Let's consider the last reshuffle of the game, so the curse and copper never get played. Is this worth is from just a VP perspective?

Supposing that you have no idea how many cards are in your deck, adding 2 cards gives you a 1/5 chance that you'll cross into the next decile of cards and get more points from your Gardens. So, the benefit is dependent on how many Gardens you have.

With 3 gardens, you have a 1/5 chance of +2VP, 4/5 chance of -1VP = -0.4VP
With 4 gardens, you have a 1/5 chance of +3VP, 4/5 chance of -1VP = -0.2VP
With 5 gardens, you have a 1/5 chance of +4VP, 4/5 chance of -1VP = 0VP
With 6 gardens, you have a 1/5 chance of +5VP, 4/5 chance of -1VP = +0.2VP

So, with 6 or more gardens, it's beneficial to take the copper and curse. At 5, it's an even split. 4 or less, probably not worth it. That being said, we all know that Dominion doesn't work on averages. If you do get the 2 cards you need to go from a deck size of 38 to 40, it could just mean the win!

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