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1
Game Reports / The Haunted Vineyard
« on: November 27, 2013, 04:53:32 am »
When it comes to VP benefiting from attack cards, we all know that Mountebank helps the opponent's Garden deck… but that's about the extent of the obvious examples.  I stumbled upon one in a Goko game last night.  See if you can spot it:




Even without the combo I'm about to describe, this is already an interesting board.  Golem+Rebuild/Marauder looks tasty, as does Big Money Cultist.

My opponent opens Cultist/Vagrant, and I open Silver/Rats.  As my Rats eat through my Coppers and Estates, my opponent fills my deck with Ruins.  I buy some Festivals and stuff for good measure, and I buy my first Potion before my fourth reshuffle.  Meanwhile, my opponent is playing textbook Big Money Cultist.  I buy my first Vineyard on turn 13 and my second on turn 15, and I think my opponent caught on to my plan around that time because she buys her first Potion on turn 15.  The Vineyard split ended up being 6-2, but the Vineyards distracted my opponent from Big Money and the game from there turned into pretty much of a slog.  Thanks to the Ruins and Rats, though, I ended up getting 12 point Vnieyards by the end of the game, which ended by three-piling on Rats, Ruins, and Vineyards on turn 26.

Full log: http://dominionlogs.goko.com//20131127/log.50aaec49e4b02bf1d5a3c786.1385542208653.txt

2
Dominion Articles / Dark Ages: Scavenger
« on: October 01, 2012, 02:53:53 am »

Scavenger is a card whose power may not be obvious at first glance.  It looks a whole lot like the card Chancellor always wanted to be, similar to how Noble Brigand is like the card Thief always wanted to be.  So, what makes Scavenger worth having its own article?

Scavenger's power arises from the fact that it lets you search essentially your entire deck, finding exactly the card that you want, and topdecking it.  This is actually pretty awesome.  If Scheme is the card that lets you save an Action that you played this turn, Herbalist is the card that lets you save a Treasure that you played this turn, and Haven is the card that lets you save something that you could have played but didn't, Scavenger is the card that lets you save something that you never even saw this turn.  Better yet, unlike Scheme and Herbalist, it works on non-actions as well as actions.

Early in the game, you can Scavenge cursing attacks like Sea Hag and Witch to win the curse split.

Later in the game, You can Scavenge your Platinum, Goons, or other power card, depending just on the frequency that you draw a Scavenger.

Scavenger also helps put together unrelated combos.  For instance, consider Tournament.  If your only Province is in your discard pile and you know you have Tournaments coming up soon, Scavenge it to the top of your deck.  If you have +Actions, you can even Scavenge a Province that you revealed this turn in order to gain multiple Prizes at once.  If you have lots of Scavengers and even more +Actions, you can topdeck more complicated combos together.  For example, play a Village followed by two Scavengers, topdecking your Talisman and your Quarry.  In an engine, Scavenger increases reliability by being able to topdeck key components for next turn.

In a similar manner, Scavenger rewards you for diligent deck tracking.  Yeah, you can just dump your whole deck into the discard and pull out the power card, but if you are already going to play it next turn (or at worst the turn after), you may get more by just top decking from the cards already in the discard. On the flip side, some cards like altar can be so powerful that it is worth it to dump the deck every time they aren't in hand in order to play them ASAP.

However, Scavenger really shines when it is part of its own combo.  Below, I point out a few of the most notable.

Combo: Scavenger/Stash

Requirements: 2 Scavengers, 3 Stashes

This is one of the first combos that was documented in Dark Ages.  It is pretty straightforward: every turn, play Scavenger, put your deck into your discard pile, and topdeck your other Scavenger.  During cleanup phase, you draw the second Scavenger, and when you reshuffle, put all three Stashes on top.  In the absence of handsize-reduction attacks, you are now guaranteed a Province every turn.

Some players might be more comfortable with having 4 Stashes instead of 3 to guard against the possibility of drawing both of your Scavengers in the same hand.  However, the probability of this happening before you buy your fourth or fifth Province is quite low, and if it does happen, the combo is quick to get going again.

Works With: Cursing attacks, Looters

Conflicts With: All handsize-reduction attacks, Minion, Pillage

Combo: Scavenger/King's Court

Okay, what card besides Counting House doesn't combo with King's Court?  I am pointing out this combo because it is extremely resilient, and it guarantees a Province or Colony every single turn.

Requirements: 2 Scavengers, 2 King's Courts, 2 Silvers (or 2 Platina for Colony games)

Here's how it works.  Draw King's Court, Scavenger, Silver, and two other cards.  KC the Scavenger, don't discard your deck, and instead topdeck the KC, Scavenger, and Silver that are in your discard pile from last turn.  Play the Silver.  Buy a Province.  Draw 5 Cards.  Rinse and Repeat forever.

What makes this particular combo worth noting is that it is immune to Militia, Goons, Margrave, and Ghost Ship.  In fact, the only cards that could normally mess up this combo are Minion, Pillage, and (immediately after a reshuffle and with bad shuffle luck) trashing attacks like Rogue and Thief.

Works With: Handsize-reduction attacks and most other attacks

Conflicts With: Minion, Pillage, faster King's Court combos, Masquerade in the presence of handsize-reduction attacks

Combo: Scavenger/Golem

Requirements: 1 Scavenger, 2 Golems, exactly 1 other Action

This is similar in principle to Golem/Scheme.  Play your Golem, making it find your Scavenger and any other Action card of your choice (say, a powerful attack).  Play the wildcard Action, and then play the Scavenger, discarding your deck if necessary and topdecking your other Golem.  Rinse and Repeat.

Counting House fits extremely well in the wildcard spot, even better than it did in Golem/Scheme.  Let your Golem find your Scavenger and your Counting House, play the Scavenger to discard your deck, and play the Counting House to draw all of your Copper.

Works With: Strong attacks, Counting House

Conflicts With: Minion, Pillage, Looters (for ruins are actions), Necropolis, Masquerades that give you action cards

Combo: Scavenger/University

Requirements: At least 1 Scavenger and 1 University; the more the better.

Watchtower is a powerful cards because it lets you topdeck something you just bought or gained, enabling you to play it an extra time than you normally would have been able to before the end of the game.

Scavenger can work in a similar manner to Watchtower for Action cards that gain something.  Gain your card, then Scavenge it for next turn.  Unfortunately, most card-gainers are terminal.

University not only lets you gain a card costing up to $5, but it also gives you actions.  So, you can play University to gain a $5 Action and then immediately Scavenge it.  If you have a cantrip in hand, you can even draw and play the $5 Action from University on the very same turn that it was gained.

Works With: Good $5 Actions, Cantrips

Combo: Scavenger/Reactions

Requirements: At least 1 Scavenger and 1 or 2 Reactions

Scavenger comes to the rescue when you blow out your birthday candles and wish, "if only there were a way to ensure that I always have my Trader, Tunnel, or Watchtower in hand when my opponent plays an attack."  Since Scavenger doesn't require that you actually draw the card from your discard pile right away, if Scavenger is your last Action, you can ensure that your Reaction is available between turns.

Works With: Strong Reactions in the presence of Attacks

Conflicts With: Minion, Pillage

Combo: Scavenger/Scavenger

Requirements: 2 Scavengers

With 2 Scavengers in your deck, you can simply Scavenge a Scavenger every turn to ensure that you always start with at least $2.  Nifty!

The guaranteed $2 is useful in many situations, but especially in Alternate VP games, when your money density becomes exceedingly low.  With a guaranteed $2, you just need $2 out of the other 4 cards in order to get your Silk Roads or Gardens; that's a $0.5 average card value.  For contrast, you woud normally need a $0.75 average card value to consistently purchase $4 AltVP.

Scavenger/Scavenger works especially well in the presence of Throne Room.  Throne your Scavenger, topdecking your other Throne Room and Scavenger.  You are now guaranteed $4 every turn.  Just one Copper and you have your Duke (requiring $0.33 average card value).

Scavenger/Scavenger and especially Scavenger/ThroneRoom are also resilient to most attacks, including handsize-reduction attacks.

Works With: Most attacks, Throne Room

Conflicts With: Minion, Pillage, faster non-AltVP strategies



Do you know of any other Scavenger combos?  Let me know here, and I can incorporate them into the article. :)

3
Rules Questions / Farmland + On-Trash Abilities
« on: September 30, 2012, 02:24:27 am »
I've recently played several F2F games that involved Dark Ages cards and Farmland.  The text of Farmland says:
Quote
When you buy this, trash a card from your hand.
Gain a card costing exactly 2$ more than the trashed card.

Cards including Rats, Overgrown Estate, and Cultist say:
Quote

When you trash this, +1 Card.  (+3 Cards for Cultist)

The special effect of Farmland is triggered only in the Buy Phase (except for Black Market).  Suppose you buy a Farmland, then trash a Rats from your hand.  I have a few questions:
  • Do you still add a card to your hand?
  • If so:
    • If it is an Action, do you get to play it?
    • If it is a Treasure, do you get to play it?
    • If it is a Reaction, if the reaction ability is triggered, do you get to use it?
  • In the edge case of Black Market, do you draw the cards and continue your Action Phase as usual?
In addition, if the on-trash ability is not "+Cards" (e.g. Squire), does that ability still get resolved?  One example would be to buy Farmland, trash Fortress, return Fortress to your hand, then gain (but not buy) another Farmland.  Does that combo work?  (Heh, Fortress would make for an unbalanced game if Farmland were on-gain instead of on-trash.  Good planning by Donald X.)

One other edge case.  Suppose you play a Haggler, buy a Farmland, and trash a Rats.  Do you get to choose the order in which to resolve the Rats' +Cards and the Haggler's gain cards?  For example, one weird situation I thought of is if you have a Watchtower in hand.  Suppose there was an Embargo token on Gold.  Could you gain a Trader from the supply with Haggler, then topdeck it with Watchtower, then draw it with the trashed Rats, then gain a Gold, then reveal Trader to gain a Silver instead of the Curse from Embargo?  (Pardon the ridiculousness of this situation; it's more for proof of concept than anything.)

Finally, seeing the order of the statements on Farmland, do all on-trash abilities get resolved before the card is gained from Farmland?

I think I know the answers to most of these questions, but I wanted to ask here to get an official answer.

4
Dominion: Dark Ages Previews / Puzzle: The Four Mysterious Ruins
« on: August 08, 2012, 02:58:55 am »
We saw the +Buy Ruined Market in yesterday's preview.  But what will the other four Ruins (+1 Card, +1 Action, +1 Coin, and unknown) be called?  Also, what will the unknown Ruin be?  Guess away!

Try to think of your own guesses before reading everyone else's.

5
Dominion Articles / Combo: Forge/Hoard
« on: August 05, 2012, 05:05:25 am »

Forge is one of my favorite cards to play in Dominion.  When you have a Forge in your hand, you look at your cards differently: in addition to counting actions, buys, and draw power, you now also need to add up card costs.  Rather than playing a Rabble, maybe you could forge that Rabble with a Quarry (and a couple Coppers while you're at it) to get a Platinum, et cetera.  Unfortunately, Forge has one of the lowest win rates among the Prosperity cards.  So, I thought I'd share a neat little Prosperity-only combo that shows off some of Forge's power.

In order for Forge to be anything more than an expensive Chapel, you need to have cards whose total costs add to something useful.  In a Prosperity game, there will probably be Colonies on the board, and so you need cards whose costs add up to $11.  Unfortunately, this is not always the easiest thing to accomplish, and you will usually be stuck with forging whichever unrelated cards you happen to draw with the Forge.  It would be great if there were 2 types of cards in our deck whose costs added to $11 that we could just keep forging into Colonies.

Enter Hoard.  Hoard's most obvious purpose is to keep your big-money deck running into the late game, by counteracting that victory card you just bought with some coin.  But, this is not Hoard's only strength.  If you can muster $5 with a Hoard, if you buy a Duchy, you gain a Gold.  Guess what: $5 + $6 = $11, exactly the combination that Forge needs!  So by buying a hoarded Duchy, you automatically get the fuel you need for your Forge.

My Council Room search didn't yield any games that demonstrate this combo, but I played this combo in a face-to-face game yesterday and prevailed.  Forge is a difficult card to simulate, but based on what I got out of the simulator, this combo seems to work best when there is a helper card to get Forges early in the game (no later than the third reshuffle), especially if it costs $5: Vault and Rabble are two examples.

It's not clear that mixing Hoard and Forge is enough to beat a fast King's Court / Grand Market deck, but, in my opinion, it is a whole lot more fun to play. 8)

6
Dominion Articles / Combo: The Embargoed Spice Venture
« on: July 27, 2012, 06:38:16 am »

Venture is a card most often associated with powerful money-based decks.  In such decks, it's guaranteed to be at least a Silver, and if you have a high enough concentration of Silver/Gold/Platinum, it may often be a better purchase than Gold.

However, Venture has another unique trait: in a deck without any other treasures at all, Ventures cascade off one another.  In a deck with 8 Ventures and no other treasures, all that is needed to guarantee a Province is a single Venture in hand.

But such a deck is going to take a little while to develop.  How can we slow down our opponents, without slowing down our own deck development?  Enter Embargo.

Many, if not most, strategies rely on Gold in one way or another.  However, our Venture Cascade can do perfectly well without any Golds at all.  So, we buy Embargoes to embargo the Golds.  We can double- or triple-embargo the Gold so that our opponents' money-based decks cannot pan out as planned.

But now, what is the fastest way to trash all of our starting coppers?  If we're not buying any silvers, traditional trashers (Chapel, Remake, etc.) will destroy our economy before we can invest in Ventures.  Enter Spice Merchant.

Spice Merchant is a quick, non-terminal way to get rid of our coppers.  But it needs some +Coin in order for us to hit that crucial $5.  Guess what?  We already have Embargo to do that for us!  Spice a Copper, draw an Embargo, embargo the Gold, buy a Venture.

Okay, great!  We have a cool combo that even has some nice thematic flavor.  But does it actually work?

To the Simulators

First, I want to preface this by saying that I searched Council Room, and I could not find a game in which this strategy was played in pure.*  I also have never to my knowledge played a game in which this combo was available.  So, my stats will be coming from the simulators.

For reference, here is an XML of the Embargoed Spice Venture compatible with Geronimoo's Dominion Simulator: http://pastebin.com/BJK9BU0c

First test: The Embargoed Spice Venture obliterates BMU, with a win rate of 94.2%.  Check.

Second test: BMU was modified to also buy Ventures.  Embargoed Spice Venture still wins, this time with 83.3%.  Check.

Third test: BMU was modified to also buy an Embargo in order to embargo the Ventures.  While the margin is closer, Embargoed Spice Venture wins with 62.9%.

I have also run dozens of additional tests, and here is the general trend.  Embargoed Spice Venture obliterates any discard-based attack engine, like Fishing Village/Ghost Ship.  In most money-based strategies that ignore it, Embargoed Spice Venture wins.  However, it loses by about 10% to DoubleJack.  The big thing that makes other strategies hold up against Embargoed Spice Venture is when they buy an early Embargo themselves and embargo the Ventures: this approximately doubles the opponent's win rate.  Nevertheless, in a real game, it is likely that the opponent would not catch onto the whole Venture thing until it's too late to for the opponent to embargo the Ventures for any good.

* My search did turn up a few close matches (kudos to the players who performed the combo): Link (no Embargo used) | Link (no Embargo used) | Link (no Embargo used; player with least treasure at end of game wins) | Link (included for completeness; both players embargo the Golds)

Additional Commentary:

Spice Merchant's closest relative is Moneylender.  Could Moneylender replace Spice Merchant in this combo?  Well, the answer is that Moneylender is indeed a substitute, although it performs about 10% worse in the simulators.  The reason is probably two-fold: first, Moneylender risks a terminal collision with Embargo (or your alternative terminal silver), and second, Spice Merchant cycles your deck faster, allowing you to play it more often.

Additionally, if Embargo is not available, this strategy still works, although not nearly as well, with a decent $2 or $3 terminal silver.  For example, with Fortune Teller or Swindler, the win rate against BMU falls to about 55%.  With only Woodcutter, we lose to BMU, which is never a good thing.  It seems that Steward would be a decent choice as it helps in both early game and in late game, but I can't get any stats on it because the simulator plays Steward suboptimally for this particular strategy (it trashes when it should be giving +$2).

In Colony games, Embargoed Spice Venture still obliterates BMU, though it needs a single Platinum in order to hit $11 fast enough against other strategies.  Depending on the kingdom, the simulators seem to indicate that Embargoed Spice Venture does best in Province games.


Disclaimer: I came up with this card combo because I was looking for a quick way to achieve a Venture cascade.  It is very possible that there is still a faster way to get to a pure Venture deck.  This is my first article on Dominion Strategy, so I hope it is appropriate to write about a manufactured card combo that hasn't really been used before.

7
Hello!  I'm am amateur Dominion player, and although I'm a newcomer to these forums, I've been reading the Dominion Strategy blog for a good six months now.

In January, I saw that Rio Grande Games issued a press release with some 2012 plans for Dominion:

Quote
For Dominion, … [we are] planning to release a set of all base cards (treasure, victory, and curse) that players can use to replace used cards from the base game or Dominion: Intrigue, or to use with the expansions that do not include these base cards. The planned release for this product is March, 2012. We have changed the schedule a bit and will release the large expansion Dominion: Dark Ages at Gencon to accompany the Dominion World Masters Tournament that will be held there.

Seeing that it is now mid May, I was wondering if anyone knows updates on:
  • The Dominion World Masters Tournament… is it still happening?  I can't find it on the GenCon Indy event listing when I search for "Dominion".
  • Is Dominion: Base Cards released to the public yet?  I can't seem to find it for sale on BGG or Amazon.
  • Is Dominion: Dark Ages still planned for arrival at GenCon Indy in August?
And yes, I have done my due-diligence searching the web, these forums, and BGG for the answers to these questions.  ;)

Thanks!

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