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Other Games / Summoner Wars
« on: March 14, 2013, 07:08:50 pm »
I picked up the Summoner Wars: Master Set a few months ago, right around the beginning of the year. The game is absolutely great and I have been playing it as much as possible since then. Not sure if any of you other folks have tried it out, but I figured I would give my recommendation here.

Summoner Wars is listed as an "expandable card game of tactical combat." That description works fairly well. It's sort of a cross between Magic and chess with hand/resource management thrown in. Also, it is #2 in Tom Vasel's top 100 games.

I play on Vassal and there is an ios app with some of the factions. So if anyone plays or is interested in the game let me know.

Game Reports / drain provinces in 13 turns
« on: January 17, 2013, 11:01:04 am »
I'm pretty proud of this one, although I'm sure I get lucky. It's always fun to empty the Province pile on your own in 13 turns from 2nd position. We both get 5/2 on a Mountebank board. He gets apprentice while I grab the Mountebank. Then I get tournaments, apprentice, highways, a festival and then Provinces. Once you get ahead on someone in an Apprentice game it can snowball fast with the apprenticing of Provinces and that's exactly what happens.

Game Reports / IGG + Gardens Rush
« on: January 09, 2013, 03:46:57 pm »
I don't have the actual log atm but here is the kingdom from what I can remember:

2: chapel
3: ambassador, smugglers
4: salvager, moneylender, gardens
5: IGG, counting house

There were 2 other fives I think but nothing special, no other +buy for sure. I won this game and got a 5/2 opening. It is obvious that IGG - gardens rush is superior here. My question is how to optimally go about it? 5/2 should be IGG, copper right? What about 4/3? Double smugglers? Smugglers/silver? And then how quickly do you start grabbing gardens. I think you want 2 smugglers and silver won't hurt.  Should every 4 be gardens and anything over 5 be IGG? Would you consider counting house at some point to spike a Province, I guess if you lose the Gardens race this is a good play?

So lots of questions. I really wonder if even a Gardens/Smugglers open could work. So basically I'm interested to hear thoughts about when to start grabbing gardens and how many smugglers to get and when.

Help! / Ignore sea hag with upgrade on board?
« on: December 26, 2012, 11:15:25 pm »
So I'm sure I do a number of things wrong in this game, but my opponent says that sea hag is weak here because of the presence of upgrade. I don't understand that. I would like him to waste time upgrading curses right? I feel like he gets lucky hitting $5 on turn 3 and 4 to get 2 upgrades, but is the presence of upgrade here really enough to not open sea hag?

Help! / HP-Vault only hits $8 3 times in 15 turns
« on: December 20, 2012, 11:02:17 pm »
This is a loser's bracket tournament game where I try to use HP-Vault, as does my opponent. I open silver-silver to avoid having more unique cards to his moneylender silver. I buy vault before the HP. Then pick up 2 of those. I basically play with BM rules from here on out, except turn 10 where I pick up a duchy (could have been gold) thinking there's a good chance we split provinces 4-4 and I'm first player and will need the tiebreaker. Is that my major mistake? Did I need another HP? Should I buy HP before Vault? I feel like this strategy should get me to $8 more than 3 times in 15 turns? He has a moneylender and woodcutter and is faster?

Edit: My guess is there's just not enough money in my deck, plus I have 4 duchies. That early duchy instead of gold was probably the problem.

Game Reports / Colony game win without platinum
« on: December 20, 2012, 12:28:52 am »
I am usually terrible at Colony games and this board doesn't look all that great to me, but I somehow manage 5 colonies (trashing 1) in 18 turns without buying a platinum (which is probably a mistake). Anyway I thought it was interesting.

The key cards here are trade route, fool's gold, apprentice and there is swindler and ambassador. Thankfully, my opponent doesn't really use the attacks, he buys a swindler which could really hurt my slim FG deck plans, but only plays it twice before trashing it. This board didn't look like an 18 turn colony emptying board to me, but maybe I just underestimate FG. Any thoughts are welcome.

Help! / Possession & Alchemist
« on: December 07, 2012, 12:24:15 pm »
This is my first time posting one of here goes. I attached the game log (I saved the log instead of the link so I can't just post a link).

We both open potion-silver. I'm 2nd but think that the alchemist and possession are too good to ignore the potion here, so I mirror the opening. Turn 3 sucks with $2 but I grab the NV and then hit a $6 turn 4. I think the early gold will really help my economy so I take it, not sure if this is correct. I guess rabble could be better here?? Anyway I draw my potion with $2 and can't get an alchemist until turn 8, while my opponent buys a possession next turn (turn 9). Am I screwed now? Should I just try to bomb my deck and rush island and estates to mitigate possession damage? There's no + buy so that's probably too slow. Should I have ignored the potion opening and tried to build a village rabble drawing engine and hope it doesn't get possessed too much? With schemes I'll probably get possessed pretty often? I have no idea what to do here? Is it just bad luck or did I have options?

Other Games / Has anyone played Eclipse?
« on: November 20, 2012, 02:03:08 pm »
I'm looking for a fun game as a Christmas gift that I can play with friends. Eclipse won BGG's Game of the year for 2012. We don't mind long games, playing a decent amount of Spartacus lately, but was wondering if anyone played it and what they thought.

Dominion Articles / Beginner Strategy Guide Idea
« on: November 14, 2012, 06:55:51 pm »
Draft number 3 of the Beginner Strategy Guide. Feel free to make suggestions, offer feedback, or just heckle me. Also, can I change the title of this post to Beginner Strategy Guide (Draft) or does a mod have to do it?

Getting to $8: A Strategy Guide for Dominion Beginners

The simplest way to win at Dominion is to buy more Provinces than your opponent. There are obviously other ways, but as a beginner this is a very good place to start. So this guide is going to talk about important concepts that will help you get to $8 quickly and consistently.
There are 4 simple ways to make your deck better at getting to $8.
1. Put more and better treasure in your deck.
2. Get more cards in your hand.
3. Get the bad/dead cards out of your deck
4. Control what you put into your deck

A few quick definitions:
Terminal (or terminal action): An action card that does not give any +action(s) and therefore will often be the last card played. You may see a card type added behind terminal to further define a group of cards. For instance, Smithy (+3 cards) is a terminal draw card.
Dead card: a card in your hand that cannot do anything. Estates and curse are examples. Dead cards take up space where useful cards could be. Usually they are bad and you want to take or keep them out of your deck.
Trashing: permanently (most always permanently) removing a card from play. This definition is in the rule book. The trash pile is there for a reason. Use it.

More common Dominion terms here: 

On to the 4 simple strategies:
1. Put more treasure in your deck:
l   Beginners tend to overvalue actions and undervalue silver and gold.
l   The silver test is a good rule for beginners to learn. The silver test wants you to ask yourself "Is the card I'm about to buy better than silver?" If yes, then get the action, if no grab the silver instead. (Hopefully at the end of this you will have an idea of what is better and worse than silver)
l   It is almost never a bad idea to add silver or gold to your deck. When in doubt buy those treasure cards.
l   Treasure cards are never dead. A card that gives $2 may seem like a silver equivalent, but it can still end up dead. You always have the option to play treasure.

There is a basic strategy in Dominion called Big Money (abbreviated BM). BM involves buying only treasure cards and Victory cards (usually just Provinces). BM will buy 4 Provinces in approximately 17 turns. BM has a few variations and its meaning has changed a bit over time, but the simple BM strategy shows the power of treasure in Dominion.

2. Get more cards:
   It should be fairly obvious that 7 cards are more likely to result in more $ than 5 cards.
   Any action that gives you more cards will help with this, but typically you are looking for something that will give at least 3 cards (this doesn't mean it has to be +3 cards).
   Note that good drawing cards are almost always terminal. This means that it is likely the last action you can play that turn

If you combine BM with a drawing card or 2 (usually no more than 2), like Smithy (+3 cards), then you can get 4 Provinces in about 15 turns. This strategy is often called Smithy-BM (but any good drawing card can work). 15 turns is pretty good. Sometimes Smithy-BM is the dominant strategy on the board. Beginners will often benefit from playing Smithy-BM.

3. Removing bad/dead cards:
   Many beginners fail to recognize the importance of trashing. (Chapel is considered the best card in the game for its price. You know what chapel does… it trashes…and quickly. That's it. No other fancy stuff. No +buy or +action or + anything. Trash up to 4 cards from your hand. That's Chapel. And it's great.)
   Dead cards are bad for your deck. Removing them from your hand permanently, will allow you to play your better cards more often and get the better treasures into your hand faster.
      Trashing is especially important if you have cards (+ actions and terminals) that you really want to pair together in your hand at the same time, for instance, Village and Smithy. The less other cards in your hand the more likely you can those 2 cards together.
   There are very few decks that don't benefit from some type of trashing.
   What to trash?
o   Estates: those 3 VP from the starting estates rarely decide games. (Sometimes keeping 1 can be a decider in a close game, but oftentimes trashing all of them will help you.)
o   Copper: having coppers in your hand instead of nice actions or silvers can prevent you from reaching the coveted $8 spot or from playing that great action one extra time.
o   Curses: this should be fairly obvious. Realize that curses hurt more because they are dead cards cycling through your hand, than because of the negative VP. Either way trash ‘em if you got ‘em.
o   Action cards that have become useless. This could be a 2nd trashing card or a cursing attack that isn't helping anymore with the curse pile empty.
   A good general rule of thumb is to trash early and often, but pay attention to how much coin is in your deck (don't trash away all your coin and destroy your buying power).
   Some cards let you remove bad/dead cards by giving them to your opponent(s). These cards are wonderful. Think of them as trashers only better.
   Some trashers let you gain a card or give some other benefit when trashing. Make sure to read the text on these cards precisely.

4. Control what you put into your deck.
   This topic may not have the greatest title, but it means: pay attention to what you put into your deck. 
   You are not required to buy a card every turn.
   You are not required to use all your buys.
   You are not required to use all your money. Just because a card is more expensive that doesn't automatically make it better for your deck than a less expensive card.
   Think about why you are buying a card and how it will interact with your current deck. Don't buy a card because it looks cool. Buy cards that will help your deck.
So, how do you know what cards are good for your deck. We already talked about the silver test. Here are some other important things to consider when gaining or buying cards.

Terminals are generally strong cards. You are usually going to want some in your deck. However, having 2 terminals in your hand often means a choice between which one to play and leaves the other one dead. We call this situation collision. We hate dead cards, thus we also hate collision.
Pay attention to how many terminals you buy. Specifically, look for these 2 things:
1.   How many total cards are in your deck. The more total cards the more terminals you can get away with (1 per every 8-10 total cards is a good rule to follow, of course this depends on the kingdom).
2.   How many +action cards. The more actions you have, the more terminals you can play and therefore buy.
a.   Be wary not all +actions cards are the same. If you want to play 2 terminals you need an action card with +2 actions. This seems self-explanatory, but it is easy to buy a +1 action card and think that means you can have more terminals. This is often not the case.
New players have a tendency to buy up terminals without realizing that he/she can only play one of them per turn. Then hand after hand has dead actions that eat away at buying power. We'll talk about opening later, but if you want to buy 2 terminals with your first 2 turns, you better have a real good reason. An early game collision can hurt your buying power and put you behind in the game from the very start.

The term village does  not just specifically refer to the Dominion card Village; it is a Dominion term for any card that give +2 actions, and usually some other + as well. These cards usually (but not always) have the word village in their name (fishing village, border village, mining village, etc), hence the term. There are many different types and some are better than others, but put simply: villages help you play more terminals. 
   There is a Dominion concept called the Village Idiot. It is a player over-buying villages without good actions to pair with them. Playing villages just to play more villages accomplishes very little. Villages work with terminals. Without terminals, villages are basically useless.
   I recommend you start getting villages if you have or plan on having 3 or more terminals in your deck. If you know you want to buy 3 or more terminals, I would get a village after the 1st or 2nd terminal and then try to end with 1 more village than terminal. (Basically, open with the terminal, then buy villages and terminals at a 1:1 rate leaning just a bit more towards villages.)
   Village and terminal buying is a delicate balance. Too many terminals cause dead cards, while too many villages leaves you with useless actions. We hate having action cards we can't play, but we also dislike having extra actions with no cards to play. (Think about what other card that village could have been. Wasting buys on unnecessary villages can also mean you wasted a buy or possibly a turn. When you only have 16 turns, one bad buy can really hurt.)

Attack cards are usually powerful cards in Dominion, at times so powerful that you are more willing to risk a collision and decrease your ratio to get multiples (i.e. have 1 terminal for every 6 or 7 cards in your deck)
There are 4 major types of attack cards: card giving, hand-size reducing, card trashing, and top-deck worsening. Each of these types comes with their own style and strategy and specific counters, but that type of specific strategy is beyond the scope of this article. Here are some general guidelines about attacks.
l   $5 attack cards are usually good cards and will help you win in most kingdoms. It's usually a good idea to buy an attack card and really good with $5 attacks
l   Card giving attacks are typically the most powerful, followed by hand-size reducers
l   Curses hurt your deck because they are dead cards more than because of the negative VP
l   In a game with curses, you want to win the split. That means give more curses than you receive.
l   Attack early and often. The first goal is to get the attack card (this often means getting to $5 first). If the game is an attacking or cursing race, you probably want to pick up a 2nd terminal attack faster than normal.
l   Trashing attacks can be a gamble, because you usually don't know what's on your opponent's deck. That doesn't mean they're bad, they just require a bit more luck and sometimes buying them and using them can be a waste of your time.
l   Treasure-only trashing attacks are often useless in 2 player games. I usually love it when my opponent uses one of his/her actions to trash my coppers.

The opening in Dominion is your first 2 turns or the first 2 cards you choose to buy. These cards are the ones you will see the most and are among the most important choices you will make in a Dominion game. You have 2 options in your first 2 buys. Either you will have $4 and $3 or $5 and $2, this is called a 4-3 or 5-2 opening. Here are some tips about opening card choices:
   Know what you want to do before buying any cards in the opening. Do you want to trash and slim down your deck? Is there a great $5 card that you really need to have quickly? How many cards are terminal and are the cards I want terminal? Those are the basic questions to ask yourself before buying the opening cards.
   An important note here, it seems logical to assume that as cards increase in price they get better. That is not always true in Dominion. Typically, the elite cards are priced $5 or higher, but there is not necessarily a noticeable difference between a $3 and $4 card. (Chapel is awesome and it costs $2). So don't think that just because a card is more expensive it's better or always good for your hand.

So what to buy?
   Silver-silver gives you about a 70% chance to get $5 in turns 3 or 4. So if there is a $5 card that you really want then silver-silver is a good open
   I recommend beginners open with a terminal and silver. Typically, the stronger $3-4 cards are terminal so you will want one of them.
Here are the properties to look for in opening terminals. These rules are generally for 4-3 splits.
      1. Cards that trash and attack: Card-giving attacks that also get cards out of your hand
      2. Elite trashing: cards that trash more than 1 card at a time
      3. VP chip cards: cards that give VP chips when used. The early lead can be very helpful without hurting your deck.
      4. Other attacks: The same general formula as above applies here, cursing attacks first, hand-size reducers 2nd, then the rest.
      5. Other trashers: cards that trash only 1 card at a time.

I tried to put these in order of importance, but this is not set in stone. As always good openings depend on the Kingdom.
   Ambassador, Masquerade, and Chapel are all elite opening cards. As a beginner I would still only buy 1 of them and go silver with the 2nd card.)
With a 5-2 split these rules still apply, except attacks are much higher on the list. Most $5 attack card openings are game changers. Be happy with the luck and take that card. With the $2 feel free to pick up a non-terminal (+action) card, possibly grab a reaction card if you think it will help with the attacks, of course grab Chapel if it's there, or do nothing. There is nothing wrong with opening witch or mountebank then nothing. You are well ahead with just that 1 card. Probably try to get silver soon though.
Here is a good forum thread with more specifics about opening terminals.

One last note before ending the article. Greening is a Dominion term for buying Victory cards, in most cases Provinces and Duchies. The concept of knowing exactly when to start greening is well beyond beginner lever. It is often the difference between a good and great Dominion player. For completeness, however, I will offer a few simple ideas that should help you know when to start buying green cards.
1. Do you have any gold? If you got a lucky $8 without gold, you should probably buy a gold instead of a Province, unless you know that the $8 wasn't a fluke and could easily happen again. It's not a bad rule to think that you should have 2 gold in the deck before buying any Provinces.
2. Another simple general rule is to start buying Duchies (with less than $8) when the Provinces are more than half gone.
3. Watch your opponent and know the score. Know if a 4-4 Province split makes you the winner or your opponent. Did you trash estates? Did the opponent? Who has lead on Duchies or other VP cards? If you buy the last Province either know your gonna win or know that you are conceding.

The End. Have fun and play well.

Introductions / Dekryr decided to register
« on: November 03, 2012, 10:45:40 am »
Hello all. I am a bit late to this game and this website, but I just got hooked on Dominion a few weeks ago. I've been spending a lot of time on this website and on iso. Glad to join the community. This site has helped a lot and I'm becoming a better player. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute.

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