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Dominion Articles / Duration Draw and Stop Card Capacity
« on: March 28, 2018, 12:38:37 pm »

tl;dr: More than just making it easier to line up your engine components, starting with a larger handsize increases the hard limit on the number of stop cards you can have in your deck before you dip below a 100% chance to draw your deck. Use this to your advantage when you decide on whether to add stop cards to your deck.


In this article, I'm going to be sharing some thoughts on the worth of pursuing duration cards that draw at the start of your turn. Having a larger starting handsize improves your deck's reliability by making it more likely that you start off with a combination of cards that will help you really kick off your turn. But, the benefits of duration draw go further than that. Duration draw also lets you flat out do more with your deck, and I'll be explaining what I mean by that.

I'm going to define a couple terms here for clarity that apply specifically to the context of this article. A "stop card" is any card that doesn't draw a card from your deck, and includes Throne Room variants. For simplicity, this article considers actions a non-issue, so Smithy is not a stop card. One's "stop card capacity" (SCC) is the number of stop cards your entire deck can contain before you risk not drawing your entire deck in a turn*.

Impact of Duration Draw
You start the game with a starting handsize of 5 and a SCC of 4. You also start the game with 10 stop cards, so realistically you will never get your stop card count within your SCC without deck thinning. A simple example of when you should be mindful of SCC is in a Bishop/Fortress infinite VP game. With an SCC of 4, you can have up to 4 Bishops (which are stop card) in your deck and still be guaranteed to draw and play them all. The moment you add a 5th Bishop, you run the risk of having a starting hand of all Bishops with no Fortresses to trash. If you and your opponent's VP were equal up to this point, then this dud is pretty much game losing.

But duration draw changes this math, in a way that pure trashing and pure draw cannot, by increasing your starting hand size and hence your SCC. Now imagine you have the same deck, but you have two Caravans that you alternate playing each turn, or you have a Hireling in play. Now you have a starting hand of 6, and an SCC of 5. Hence, you can now gain a 5th Bishop and still be guaranteed to play all 5 Bishops, eventually overtaking the VP count of a player that can only support playing 4 Bishops a turn.

So we see here that duration draw is more than just a reliability boost. It is actually a boost to the maximum potential of your deck because it allows you to include more stop cards in your deck before you have a chance to no longer draw your entire deck. Even if you have 10 Labs or 10 Smithies with the +1 Action token, so long as you have at least 5 stop cards, you might end up having a starting hand of all 5 of them if you are at the top of your shuffle, unlikely though this may be. The likelihood of such a dud of course increases the more stop cards you add relative to the size of your whole deck and SCC.

Some duration duration draw cards are stop cards the turn they are played, but still result in a net increase in SCC if one copy is played each turn. Examples of these cards are Enchantress, Den of Sin, and Haunted Woods. Enchantress and Den of Sin are stop cards when played, but give you a starting handsize of 7 and an SCC of 6. So you add 1 stop card but increase SCC by 2, allowing you to add an additional stop card to your deck before risking a dud turn. Haunted Woods gives a starting handsize of 8 and a net increase of SCC by 2.

Some duration draw cards are more peculiar in how they influence SCC. Haven increases it by one next turn at the cost of a card this turn, but you won't reduce your SCC this turn so long as you do not set aside a card that is necessary to draw your deck (e.g. setting aside a cantrip in a deck of only cantrips and stops cards), with stop cards being safe to set aside if the goal is to see all your cards. Even more interesting is the Dungeon duration effect, which if received at the top of your shuffle, can still allow you to see all your non-stop cards before your stops cards if your total number of stops cards minus the number of stop cards you discard to Dungeon is within your SCC (e.g. having 6 or less stop cards and then discarding two will let you see all your non-stop cards with a starting handsize of 5 and SCC of 4), and then you can still draw deck if those non-stop cards all together can raise your handsize to the number of stop cards in deck (e.g. you have Laboratory). And then there's Wharf, which isn't even a stop card the turn you play it and thus having the same net effect on SCC as Haunted Woods. By this measure, Wharf is busted strong.

I'll make a special mention to some non-duration cards that increase SCC. Any card that can push draw cards to your next starting hand can increase SCC. This includes Scheme and topdecking cards like Count or Mandarin. Combining discard and draw can also seed your next starting hand with spare draw cards if your deck and discard are empty, for example discarding spare draw cards with Storeroom for coin then playing a single draw card. And of course the Expedition event increases starting handsize and thus SCC.

Why This Matters
Stop cards can have powerful effects that are really good at helping you win the game. Province/Colony, Gold/Platinum, Bridge, and Haggler are just a few examples of potentially important stop cards. If your stop card count is below your SCC, you can be more aggressive in gaining more without any fear of a dud. While games where players slowly drain Provinces are likely to have players eventually exceed their SCC, games where you gain a Province or two then pile out the next turn, or at least threaten to, may not.

Knowing exactly how many stop cards you can support is something that should always be on your mind in games with strong deck thinning, and you should be aware that investing in duration draw increases the hard limit on how many you can support.

Thank you for reading.

*If the size of your deck is exactly equal to your starting hand size, then you still draw your deck even if all your cards are stop cards and by my definition you exceeded your stop card capacity by 1 in cases where your deck size is greater than your starting handsize. This matters particularly with Donate.

Edit: expanded the section discussing specific duration cards and their effect on stop card capacity, and remove the "StC" acronym for "stop card".

Edit 2: Expanded impact of duration draw section with explanation on dudding with regular draw and with examples of non-duration cards that increase stop card capacity. Also replaced mention of University in the bit about good stop cards with Haggler.

Edit 3: removing confusing bits in the definition of stop cards.

This article is now on the Dominion Strategy Blog:

Hey guys,

So I decided to get the second edition of the base game for Dominion some time back, mainly just do I can finally get some replacements for my worn cards. After playing countless 2nd Ed. games, I felt like sharing my brief thoughts on the cards and how well they stack up.

Here we go...

Cellar: Always a good buy when you can spare 2 coins. Why worry about trashing Estates when you can just discard them for cards anyway. One of the main cards that makes +Buy worth it in the midgame.
Chapel: Definitely one of the weakest cards in the set. By the time you can line this up with enough Curses, it's probably too late. At first you might feel a diabolic urge to trash your starting Estates with this, but you quickly realise that doing so gets in the way of buying good cards on the turns you draw Chapel and you just fall way behind, even more so if you try trashing Coppers. I find the best use for Chapel is trashing Estates when Bureaucrat is on the board. You're still stuck with the crummy Chapel, but hey Bureaucrat can't topdeck Chapel.
Moat: A real lifesaver against those nasty attack cards, and it can even be played for a nice card boost. I know some people insist on always including Moat when a strong Attack card is on the board, but the better course of action is to just not play with those Attack cards in the first place
Harbinger: I had my doubts about this card, but it's versatility is unreal! Once you get enough of these, you can even start topdecking a clutch Copper to be drawn with another Harbinger, not to mention the cases where you have even better cards in the discard.
Merchant: A very welcome addition to the game. New players love chaining actions, but don't realise how valuable Silver is. Merchant satisfies their craving for fun while guiding them towards having a proper Action/Treasure balance. One of the best designed cards in my opinion.
Vassal: Definitely one of my favourites. That joy of playing a Vassal that discards a Province and my opponents mistaking that for a "dud" always makes me smile. Though it's not the tactical juggernaught Chancellor was in the 1st edition, at least new players have a somewhat easier time picking up on the subtleties of Vassal.
Village: We've all been there. You buy a whole bunch of shiny action cards only to find you can't play them all when they clump in your hand. Luckily, Donald X. came up with a brilliant safety net you can point to if you see a new player struggling with too many action cards. The joy they feel when they finally manage to pair a Village with two other Action cards is just great for everyone involved.
Workshop: This one is easy. Is Poacher, Merchant, Harbinger, or Gardens on the board? If yes, get a Workshop. Otherwise, skip it.
Bureaucrat: It has been said that Bureaucrat is perhaps the most powerful card in Dominion. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but for sure it's a formidable card. It boasts a nice attack with a free Silver that gets into your hand before those Thieves, er, Bandits can get their hands on it (can you tell that I miss Thief?).
Gardens: Whenever this is on the board, really try hard to get at least 30 cards. The benefit of getting 3VP for 4 coins instead of 5 coins cannot be understated. Just be careful not to get them too early. You still gotta get those Provinces!
Militia: Ugh, you know I can forgive how this card forces players to counterintuitively draw back up to 5 at the end of their turn instead of at the start (it makes Bureaucrat better and gives players the chance to think on other players turns), but really this card either does no damage thanks to spare Estates in hand or cripples a turn and slows the game down. I usually veto this card unless I am particularly annoyed with my current opponent(s).
Moneylender: Another dud, sadly. The only time I found this card useful was to prevent my opponent's Thief from stealing my Coppers to power up their Gardens. I still lost, but it was a lot closer than it would have been otherwise. In the absence of Thief (i.e. every 2nd Ed. game), skip it, for obvious reasons.
Poacher: A power card from among the new additions to 2nd Ed. Dominion. Often it's a race to get a whole bunch of these, gaining them whenever you can't do better than Gold. Yeah they force you discard once their pile runs out, but by then you should have some spare Provinces to discard. Occasionally I'll see this card discarding two at a time in 3+ player games. That's when you have to watch out.
Remodel: Now this is my candidate for strongest card in the game. You want to open with Remodel almost every time. Turn Estates into Silvers at worst and Poachers or Merchants at best is excellent. There are some nice endgame tricks with turning Golds into Provinces and Silvers into Duchies. Even turning Coppers into Cellars or Moats can be effective.
Smithy: The benchmark for strong cards. Get a couple of these along with your treasure buys and you're good to go. Yeah, you can dream about playing Village, then Smithy, then another action you drew with the Smithy, but competitively speaking you probably could have already bought at least a Gold if that Village was a Silver instead.
Throne Room: Ah yes, the awesome but impractical Throne Room. Even in the midgame, you draw it with no other Actions maybe half the time. And that's just during the midgame. Some people like gamble on explosive turns but this card is just not for me.
Bandit: Sorry to say, but I feel like Donald X. replacing Thief with Bandit was change just for the sake of change. The original Thief was one of the pillars of Dominion, being especially effective in 4-player games with Gardens. Bandit's single, unconditional Gold is just not as satisfying. And did it have to cost more than 4 coins? Okay, sorry, mini-rant over.
Council Room: The life of the party! And that +Buy is quite nice to buy both a Province and another Silver or similar card on the side. This is even easier when others play Council Room. This card even lets you be a bit generous to new players who just want to chain their cards.
Festival: Well, it's basically Silver with +Buy, but it doesn't play nice when drawn with Smithy or Council Room. Maybe the +Buy also helps if you draw Festival with too many Golds as well. I want to say it's a safety net card like Village, but it doesn't draw so it's a lot less helpful for Action card chains in practice.
Laboratory: I'm surprised the 2nd Ed. left Laboratory unchanged. You need two to draw as much as a Smithy would, and they individually cost more than Smithy. Yeah you can play other cards besides Laboratories after you finish your chain, but Silvers are good enough in most cases anyway.
Library: So it's like Smithy, but it can skip my Remodel, Cellar, and other Library, as well as stick it to Militia? Sign me up!
Market: This combines that visceral chaining effect of Poacher with the +Buy of Festival. It doesn't slow your cycling like Festival does and thus you see it more often. That's very important if you want to use its +Buy on Copper for Gardens and have it pay off.
Mine: People keep trying to convince me that it takes two plays of Mine to even be on par with Silver, but I like to think of it as a card that slowly but surely gains Poachers (think about it). I often like to pick up exactly two as soon as possible.
Sentry: A friend explained that this is basically a worse version of a card from a later expansion at the same price. I'll admit it's underwhelming, but I have a soft spot for any card that synergizes with Vassal (this includes Harbinger as well). Plus, you can discard pesky Estates sometimes, or even trash them when the Bureaucrat is not looking ;).
Witch: I'll admit it's kind of a funny prank the first time when Witch takes people completely by surprise by how effectively it ruins one's deck. After that first game, however, everyone learns their lesson, rushes Witch, and makes the game completely dull. I appreciate Donald X. having a sense of humour, but I wanted to play a game with gags, I'd play Munchkin.
Artisan: Adventurer died for this :(. I mean, you can gain a Silver to hand, but Adventurer already drew you two Copper in the worst case, and didn't make you topdeck a card afterwards either. Yeah Artisan can smooth out your treasure if you are overflowing in coin, but generally I am not a fan of cards that tend to only be good for mitigating bad luck.

So what are all your thoughts on the new cards, or the old cards?



Dominion General Discussion / Reflections on the Dominion Cards List 2017
« on: January 26, 2018, 11:30:39 am »
The release of Qvist's Dominion Cards List results is a time of excitement. A time where you get the chance to tell everyone how the perceptions people have on the strengths of certain cards are completely wrong.

It seems like we don't have a convenient place to reflect on our thoughts concerning the rankings as a whole, so I opened this thread here for people to do just that. Maybe you want to comment to trends you've noticed in the ranking changes, or you want to throw out a "Top X 2017 Misranks According to Me" post. I don't know.

I am a bit busy right now, so to get the ball rolling I'll just post my top and bottom 20 cards overall (manually ranked).

Top 20:
1. Donate
2. Masquerade
3. King's Court
4. Goons
5. Ambassador
6. Mountebank
7. Cultist
8. Chapel
9. Remake
10. Steward
11. Witch
12. Sentry
13. Wharf
14 . Peasant
15. Lost Arts
16. Upgrade
17. Junk Dealer
18. Ironmonger
19. Ghost Ship
20. Governor

Bottom 20:
317. Raid
318. Embargo
319. Tax
320. Taxman
321. Death Cart
322. Venture
323. Cache
324. Counting House
325. Ritual
326. Annex
327. Noble Brigand
328. Pirate Ship
329. Beggar
330. Duchess
331. Philosopher's Stone
332. Bureaucrat
333. Merchant Ship
334. Transmute
335. Harvest
336. Stash

Uh, I'm not sure what Merchant Ship is doing so low. And Maybe Steward is too high, but the stuff it does when it's not trashing is still quite neat.

Below are the results of the Tournament Prizes rankings for the 2017 Edition of the Dominion Cards Lists 2017 organized by Qvist. The results are based on votes from 28 people. Keep in mind that these rankings reflect the strength of the Prizes relative to each other, and not their strength overall, as well as remembering that all of these prizes only exist in the context of other prizes being present in the kingdom.

Let's begin.

The Best Prizes

#5 =0 Bag of Gold
Weighted Average: 12.0% ▲2.5pp
Unweighted Average: 10.7%
Median: 0% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 12.4%

Bag of Gold saw a slight increase in its average, but still finds itself in last place. It has the lowest standard deviation of the Prizes and 16 votes for last place, with the rest voting it second last place.

While the Gold it topdecks can come in handy to buy Provinces to end the game, the Gold can still get in the way of you finding the cards that allow more fancy things to happen. It also happens to compete with Duchy when the game is reaching its conclusion. Perhaps there is more appreciated for Gold gainers these days to explain its slight increase in average. Even then, there is still the issue that Bag of Gold comes into effect later in the game than you'd normally hope.
#4 =0 Diadem
Weighted Average: 13.2% ▼2.5pp
Unweighted Average: 15.2%
Median: 25% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 13.9%

Paired with the rise in Bag of Gold's average, the drop in Diadem's average made for a close contest for the #4 spot. It has the remaining 12 votes for last place, with the rest voting it second last place just like we have with Bag of Gold.

There are some conceivable cases where the absurd amount of +actions that can be accumulated makes Diadem a top pick, but it's incredibly rare for these scenarios to arise in practice. In the common scenario, Diadem is something you get when you need the coin it produces to buy one of the remaining few Provinces. Diadem nets you fewer stop cards when you want to use it for cash compared to Bag of Gold, but it doesn't work well with trash for benefit the way Gold tends to.
#3 =0 Princess
Weighted Average: 66.0% ▲3.3pp
Unweighted Average: 64.3%
Median: 50% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 19.4%

After an enormous jump of over 50% in average, we find Princess sitting at the #3 spot. It received only a modest increase in its average from last year. It has the largest standard deviation in this list by a very small margin and has four votes for first place.

As far as payload goes, few cards compare with Princess. Princess helps immensely in creating double Province turns even with no other available sources of +buy, and it enables massive gains when other +buy or similar effects are available. And yet, it's only ranked third place among the five prizes. In English, we have a saying that goes, ďDon't put the carriage before the horse.Ē As great as Princess can be, it doesn't save a dud hand. A deck that can use Princess to the fullest might be too far away if you had to spend a bunch of time rushing for Tournaments and Provinces just to get Princess in the first place.
#2 =0 Trusty Steed
Weighted Average: 75.9% ▼3.4pp
Unweighted Average: 72.3%
Median: 75% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 19.3%

Despite the slight drop in average, Trusty Steed still has a comfortable lead over Princess for second place. It has the second highest standard deviation in this list and has seven votes for first place.

Introducing the horse. Those who can't shake the habit of picking +1 Card +1 Action from Pawn will be happy to know that the +2 Card +2 Action option for Trusty Steed is generally a solid play, and even helps you connect more Tournaments with Provinces. Sometimes you don't need the draw or the actions, or the coins guarantee something important, so you take the coins option. The Silver gaining option is a bit messy, but it has its uses and some special synergies. All in all, Trusty Steed is the all-around good card of the Prize bunch.
#1 =0 Followers
Weighted Average: 83.0% ▲0.2pp
Unweighted Average: 87.5%
Median: 100% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 17.0%

Solidly maintaining its place at the top of the Prize list is Followers. This card has the biggest disagreement between the unweighted average and the weighted average. It has 17 votes for first place.

Some games don't feature good ways of dealing with small hand sizes. In such games, getting the only discard attack in the form of Followers gives you a major advantage. At the same time, you distribute stop cards to both decks and draw some cards yourself. The distribution of Curses and Estates drives the game closer to being a slog, which is convenient for you if you are the one playing Followers considering the 2VP net increase you gain over your opponents every time it's played. Remember that wins you games of Dominion is not making your deck better, but making your deck better than the one your opponents have.

Thank you Qvist for organizing the Dominion Card List all these years. It was lengthy, but still fun to get a taste of having to do the results writeups.

Below are the results of the Knights rankings for the 2017 Edition of the Dominion Cards Lists 2017 organized by Qvist. The results are based on votes from 24 people. Keep in mind that these rankings reflect the strength of the Knights relative to each other, and not the strength of Knights overall. Also consider that every Knight only appears in the context of every other Knight being in the kingdom (except when Black Market is involved).

Let's begin.

The Best Knights

#10 =0 Dame Josephine
Weighted Average: 1.4% ▼6.4pp
Unweighted Average: 1.9%
Median: 0% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 6.9%

Things could hardly be worse for Dame Josephine. It was already in last place last year, but it still managed to lose 6.4pp and has the lowest standard deviation among the Knights. Only two people didn't vote it for last place.

The problem with Dame Josephine is that only gives an additional bonus if the game ends without it being trashed, except it's a Knight, meaning it always appears with other Knights and it is likely to find itself trashed in a Knight war. All for a paltry reward of 2VP if it happens to survive, less than Duchy at the same price point. Dame Josephine's existence supports the notion that the additional bonuses on the Knights matter. You are really biting a bullet when you have to gain Dame Josephine as the top-most Knight.
#9 =0 Sir Martin
Weighted Average: 23.2% ▲2.9pp
Unweighted Average: 25.5%
Median: 22.2% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 15.5%

Sir Martin saw a slight increase in its average, but otherwise stays at the same spot as last year. It has no votes for last place oddly enough. The jump in average from Dame Josephine to Sir Martin is also the largest one in the list.

A Knight that gives not one, but two + Buys and it only costs ? How can Sir Martin possibly be this low? Well I'll tell you, the + Buys have trouble lining up with a hand that produces enough coin to make use of it in games that involve Knights, whether that's because the Knights keep trashing your cards or because you bought a whole bunch of Knights instead of economy. If somehow the extra buys do happen to be very powerful on a specific board, you can bet it will get trashed by other Knights at some point. It might as well be a vanilla Knight for the most part, except it costs , so it has that over Dame Josephine.
#8 =0 Sir Vander
Weighted Average: 30.2% ▲8.7pp
Unweighted Average: 29.6%
Median: 22.2% ▲11.1pp
Standard Deviation: 23.1%

Sir Vander saw the second biggest increase in its average, but still stays at the same rank. It has the highest standard deviation among the Knights and has one vote for last place.

Contrary to Dame Josephine, Sir Vander has a bonus that only takes effect if it does get trashed. Gaining a Gold for your efforts doesn't seem like much, but the Gold can do a few nice things for you, like helping you afford another Knight to replace Sir Vander. The Gold saves you a bit of recovery time if you've begun to be bombarded by Knights. Sir Vander works okay for this purpose even if it's one of the first Knights you get. Maybe there is more appreciation for Gold these days that explains the improvement in its average, or for tempo in general.
#7 ▼1 Dame Sylvia
Weighted Average: 36.0% ▼10.8pp
Unweighted Average: 40.7%
Median: 33.3% ▼11.1pp
Standard Deviation: 18.9%

The 2016 Dominion card list saw no change in any placement of the Knights, but this year we have Dame Sylvia as the biggest loser which has resulted in a new ordering for the Knights and upsetting the Knights ranking stagnation. It dropped one rank and 10.8pp.

There is nothing bad to say about Dame Sylvia, really.  The + bonus is useful for when you need to hit important price points, say for buying Province or for buying more Knights. It just so happens that the other Knights above Dame Sylvia in rank also have good bonuses to go along with them.
#6 ▲1 Dame Natalie
Weighted Average: 47.8% ▲16.9pp
Unweighted Average: 42.6%
Median: 44.4% ▲22.2pp
Standard Deviation: 20.5%

Swapping places with Dame Sylvia is Dame Natalie. Dame Natalie is the big winner this year, with a 16.9pp increase in its average. It did get the other last place vote that didn't go to Dame Josephine.

You can conceive of situations where you'd buy a terminal that was just a Workshop but for cards up to . You might imagine the scenario where Dame Natalie acts as an awesome gainer that helps your engine get its pieces just fast enough for it to triumph, but honestly just gaining a Silver with Dame Natalie is already convenient enough to help counteract all the cards you could be losing to opposing Knights.
#5 =0 Sir Destry
Weighted Average: 53.2% ▼0.9pp
Unweighted Average: 50.0%
Median: 55.6% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 17.9%

Sir Destry hasn't moved much. Fun fact, it's unweighted average rounds out to 50.0%.

Playing lots of Knights in a Knights game is kind of a big deal, and Sir Destry's draw helps you find more Knights to do just that. The draw is also handy for helping you find the cards that help you accomplish the thing you wish you could do more easily if it weren't for those dang Knights. Drawing cards tends to be more valued in a deck than generating coin, as people who have built engines with Moat as draw might attest.
#4 =0 Dame Molly
Weighted Average: 59.2% ▼5.8pp
Unweighted Average: 60.7%
Median: 66.7% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 19.2%

Dame Molly saw its average drop a bit, but its lead over Sir Destry is still comfortable enough.

Dame Molly's bonus of giving +2 actions is quite handy. Despite not drawing any cards, Dame Molly can still help prevent whatever engine you might have cobbled together in the face of Knights from stalling too hard. Dame Molly can also help you play more payload cards than you could otherwise. Notably, this includes other Knights. The additional actions it gives might be inconsequential early on when it doesn't collide with any other actions, but often you hope that it will stick around for a bit before getting trashed.
#3 =0 Sir Michael
Weighted Average: 68.4% ▼8.3pp
Unweighted Average: 72.2%
Median: 77.8% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 21.3%

Sir Michael has the second biggest drop in its average, along with the second highest standard deviation of the Knights. To its credit, it is the first Knight to appear on the list with a vote for first place. It has three first place votes in total.

Sir Michael doesn't give any positive benefit to the one playing it, but the discard attack still makes it very desirable. The classic Militia is great for preventing early hands from reaching and for giving money-centric decks a really hard time gaining the last few Provinces and closing out the game. Slap that onto a Knight, whose presence makes the price point critical and the Knight trashing attack that eats through Silver and Gold, and you've got a very scary threat that is difficult to overcome without an engine.
#2 =0 Sir Bailey
Weighted Average: 85.4% ▲5.3pp
Unweighted Average: 82.9%
Median: 88.9% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 13.2%

After a string of averages that dropped, we finally meet Sir Bailey, a Knight in the Top 5 whose average has increased. The jump between Sir Michael and Sir Bailey is also the second biggest one in the list. Sir Bailey has three votes for first place as well.

Sir Bailey's bonus is replacing itself in your hand without costing an action. When you think about it, it's not hard to understand why it has ranked so high. Letting an opponent gain Sir Bailey and doing nothing about it makes it so that you opponent only gives up one turn in order to undo what you gain in several of your turns across the entire game. Sir Bailey is all the more dangerous if its in an engine deck that plays it a bunch. Not attempting to rid an opponent of an early Sir Bailey is a dangerous proposition.
#1 =0 Dame Anna
Weighted Average: 95.3% ▼1.6pp
Unweighted Average: 90.4%
Median: 100% =0pp
Standard Deviation: 13.2%

At the top of the Knights list is the notorious Dame Anna once again, with a convincing lead over Sir Bailey despite a slight drop in average score. It has 18 votes for first place.

Even trashing just a couple of junk cards from one's own deck with Dame Anna's additional bonus before losing it to another Knight can have a dramatic influence on the game. Trashing junk cards is one of the strongest effects in Dominion, and getting to do so early enough with Dame Anna has a cascading effect that results in an effective engine and/or Knight army coming online considerably sooner. The advantage becomes even more pronounced if the available trashing on board is otherwise poor. Having a player open with Dame Anna is especially frustrating.

Thank you Qvist for organizing the Dominion Card List all these years. Writing up this sub-list gives me new appreciation for what you do.

Rules Questions / Changeling Exchange for Non-supply Cards
« on: December 02, 2017, 04:33:08 pm »
Can you exchange a non-supply card costing 3 or more, such as Ghost, for a Changeling on gain?

Other Games / Pandemic: the coop game that's out to get you
« on: June 01, 2014, 12:05:20 pm »
I was introduced to the Co-op board game Pandemic the other night. We were at a graduation party no less. Amongst sleeping drunks was a group of us obsessed with besting the base game. Two of us had experience playing it, while the others including myself hadn't played it but have experience with board games.

After playing a few primer rounds, we decided to try winning on "Hard Mode". "Hard Mode" involves using the max number of epidemic cards and having roles randomly assigned. After at least 8 attempts and after staying up until 3:00am, we finally won with an unlikely set of roles. It felt good, especially since we were one turn away from losing by running out of time (running out of cards to draw).

I think this game is awesome when you're playing with a group in which all members can contribute to the decisions and have a sense of humour. If we can keep our group going, we might even get the expansion.

But gosh, is this game really supposed to be almost impossible to win with the hardest setup?

Dominion Articles / Graverobber Revisited
« on: February 10, 2014, 06:41:58 pm »
I've been meaning to finish this Graverobber article for quite some time now. The arrival of the 2014 Dominion Cards List was the push that got me to finish it. There is already a (werothe)great Graverobber article right here. Nevertheless, I decided to post this article of mine because:

1) We're more or less past the "ooh! Shiny Dark Ages cards" phase (and currently in the "Ohh! Shiny Guilds cards" phase). Despite this, I feel that a lot of players have trouble using this card effectively. With the newest edition of the card rankings coming up, I'd like to spur some discussion on it as people start their rankings.

2) My article takes a more skeptical approach than werothegreat's article.

3) This is my first Dominion article and I'm looking for feedback. Comments and criticism on both the writing style and the content of the article itself are welcome.

Alright then...


Graverobber is a card that requires a good deal of skill to use properly. Not only is it tricky to know when itís worth getting, but itís also really important to know at what point in the game to pick up Graverobber should you decide to get it.  Itís like the big guy in your typical fighting game: slow and awkward to use, but only needs a few precision strikes to achieve victory. This article aims to outline the considerations you should make when deciding whether or not your deck can use some Graverobbers.

The Worth of Graverobberís abilities
There are mainly three ways that Graverobber can prove useful:

1) Turning Action cards into VP cards:
The first thing that will come to most peopleís minds when looking at Graverobber is ďHow can I use it to gain ProvincesĒ. While itís by no means a one-trick pony, trashing Action cards for Provinces is definitely a powerful ability that can make the difference between winning and losing. You almost certainly want to have the potential of pulling this off if you do decide to get Graverobber.

Engines with lots of $5 cost Action cards that can reliably draw themselves tend to accept Graverobbers most readily. Such decks will find the Graverobber in your deck almost immediately. They are also more likely to have Action cards that can be sacrificed for Provinces. Often, such decks prefer getting a sudden surge of VP cards towards the end of the game instead of accumulating them gradually, and Graverobber helps towards this objective. In powerful engines, you ideally want to use Graverobber to end the game on a win before you need to lose time gaining cards back from the trash.

However, engines that are less reliable are more at risk of stalling once you add stop cards like Graverobber to it for this purpose. If you end up with Graverobber and a drawing card as the only Action cards in your hand early in your turn, youíll be faced with the dilemma of either playing your drawing Action card and hoping your turn picks up or trashing the Action card with Graverobber and stopping your turn dead to gain a Province. Weaker decks might benefit more by gaining an engine component over Graverobber to simply buy Provinces.

There is inherently more risk of Graverobber not colliding with any good Action cards to trash in a deck that doesnít draw much at all. However, those decks tend to be much more content with turns where you simply trash a $5 Action card (say, Mint,) to gain a Province. The 1-Province-a-turn payoff is relatively better in non-engine heavy decks that are just rushing to empty out the Provinces before too many more reshuffles pass. Itís worth weighting risk vs. reward before you make a firm decision about including Graverobber to your not-so-ideal-engine deck.

In rare cases, you might use Graverobber to trash action cards for VP cards besides Provinces. Having actions that can be turned into Duchies can help mitigate the loss of not being able to gain a Province with Graverobber, though itís still not as good as having bought a Duchy instead. Most of the time, gaining alt-VP with Graverobber is just going to be too slow, too risky, and too costly. One exception is with gaining colonies with Peddlers, but note that you canít gain Peddlers back from the trash without cost reduction. Also, $3+ action card->Fairgrounds is conceivably useful.

2) Turning Action cards into non-VP cards
Rarely do you want to pursue a strategy that heavily relies on Graverobber expanding actions for other actions. Itís bound to be very slow. Unlike the other members of the remodel family, Graverobber is very weak in the early game, where action density tends to be very low (and there isnít much wondrous stuff in the trash). Trashing a $3 Action card for a Grand Market can be nice, but chances are youíll still miss that $3 Action if you spend a gain on it. It's better when on-trash effects come into play, but lining it up with the right cards for on-trash benefits may be harder than connecting Treasure Maps.

Trashing actions for non-VP cards is best used in the mid-game to trash early game cards that have outlived their usefulness into ones you want in the near future. Early game trashers are prime targets.

3) Gaining cards from the trash
The potential to gain cards from the trash is rather significant. The gained cards are even top-decked. This is great when youíre gaining action cards from trash, as youíll be happy to see them very soon. Itís rather awkward to set things up so that you play the gained action on the same turn though. Every play that gains a card from the trash is one that wasnít used to expand an action card into a VP card. Gained VP cards, however, would usually be better off in your discard pile, where a Rogue would put them. In the middle of the road is the gaining of Treasure cards. Gaining Gold on top of the deck is less ideal for engines, but Gold is a powerful card in its own right. Graverobber might not be able to trash it for benefit, but there are other cards that can, like Remodel, Apprentice, Counterfeit, Stonemason, etc.

This brings up another point in Graverobberís favour. Graverobberís ability to gain from the trash is a great way to maintain a source of TfB fodder, even if Graverobber isnít your primary TfB card. You donít have to discard a card, or trash a card, or gain a VP card with it, or anything like that to get expensive trash fodder.

Keep a look out for the rare occasions where there are good actions in the trash abnormally early, which turns Graverobber into a super Armory. Knights, Pillage, and Saboteur are cards that can easily create that scenario. Also, don't miss the opportunity to gain a card with a desirable on-gain effect from the trash. This mostly applies to Inn and Border Village. In fact, Border Village/Graverobber is a powerful strategy that lets you gain more Graverobbers as you regain the Border Village from the trash for TfB fodder.

When to Get Graverobber
Here are some things you should ask yourself when considering to gain a Graverobber.

1) How often will I see the Graverobber before the end of the game?
Like with all action cards, the answer should usually be ďat least onceĒ. For Graverobber though, you have to consider that it will usually compete directly with Duchy. If you only see it once, then you want to maximize the chance that it was a better deal than a Duchy on the turn you do see it. Heavy cycling or not, seeing it 2-4 times before the end of the game is a sweet spot for Graverobber. Itís early enough that you get a few good chances to trash an action card into a Province. If youíll see it 5 or more times before the end of the game, you should ask yourself whether or not itís too early to get Graverobber. If thereís a high chance that the Graverobber will have something useful to do that early, then you can go for it. This often means that there's already plenty of good stuff in the trash to gain.

2) Whatís my action card density?
Trashing $5+ cost actions for Provinces is a neat ability. A deck that seeks to use this ability should be set up so that the majority of Graverobber plays will connect with the right cards. This might simply mean you have lots of expensive action cards. Decks with lots of action cards are more likely to have Graverobber find a target and will often find the trashing of one action card less detrimental.

That being said, decks with a lower density of expensive action cards can still work if they are abundant in sifters like Cellar and Warehouse. Sifters also help you find the most expendable action card to trash. Being able to transfer action cards from one hand to the next also adds reliability to your plans despite having a relatively lower number of actions in your deck. Some examples of these include Treasury, Scheme, and Haven.

3) Do I want multiple Graverobbers?
You probably do. More Graverobbers means more chances to gain Provinces. Graverobbers also have nice self-synergy. A Graverobber that fizzles can still top-deck an expensive action card for your other Graverobber(s) to trash next turn. And when it looks it youíve run out of fuel, you can trash a Graverobber with another Graverobber to complete that final push for the Provinces.

Whatís even better is playing it with Throne Room and the like. Top-decking an action for a Province with 1 action is rather neat, and so is gaining two Provinces with one action.

4) Are there Colonies?
Colony games tend to weaken Graverobber. To be more precise, they weaken the strategies that involve trashing lots of actions for Provinces. Even if Peddler is on the board, you have to remember that Peddlers canít be gained from the trash without cost reduction, so you have to win the Peddler split first when that's the case.

Like all gainers, Graverobber can still be the card that wins you the Colony game by letting you sneak an extra Province. Also, Graverobber will still be effective if you were mainly going to use it for its trash gaining ability.

Graverobber is a rather heavy card in that it needs a lot of support before it can be used effectively, but doesnít reciprocate much. Once you set up your deck to accept them though, they can deliver a large payload with very few plays. When the late game comes around, remember to re-evaluate them.

Works With
- Powerful engines looking for late greening
- High density of expensive action cards
- Cards with on-trash effects
- Lots of cards to gain from the trash
- TfB cards to refuel, including itself
- Cards with on-gain effects (i.e. Border Village)
- Sifters
- Cards that can transfer across hands (Treasury, Scheme, etc.)

Conflicts With
- Valuable deck components at the same price
- Decks that lack reliability and/or action density
- A lack of cards to gain from the trash
- Colony Games

Oh yeah, here's a sample game:

Unfortunately, Conqueror Bot's idea of conquest didn't involve getting Mercenary, which could have really hurt my strategy. Nevertheless, I feel that this game does a good job of showing some of Graverobber's potential. I also make the mistake of trying to gain Peddler from the trash on Turn 12.

Edit 2: Added the Works/Conflicts with section and expanded the "What's my action density?" section. Also made a few minor wording edits.

Edit 3:Wording clarifications.

Dominion Videos and Streams / Dominion videos by markusin
« on: January 29, 2014, 12:59:20 pm »
There have been so many times where I wished that I recorded the game of Dominion I just played with my commentary on why I made certain choices. I mean, I enjoy watching videos of other people playing Dominion with their commentary.

With Gokodom III coming up, I finally decided to try my hand at making Dominion videos of my own. A big thank you to jsh357 for his tutorial on how one can go about this, which you can find here. I took things one step at a time, and soon enough I succeeded at recording a Dominion video.

I used Livestream Procaster to record. My biggest issue was having the video be of a high enough quality when uploaded to youtube. I ended up being satisfied with a 16:9, 1280pxx720px resolution with a target bitrate of 1200bps, with the video cropped to fit the Goko interface as best as possible at that resolution.

Anyway, here's the link to my current test video:
And my channel is here:

This is far from being the first video I uploaded, but I took the others down due to unsatisfactory video quality.

I must say, it's pretty insightful to watch your own videos. You find all sorts of places where you played sub-optimally or where you made assumptions that don't necessarily apply to the current situation.

I am aware that I speak a bit fast at times and that I sometimes slur my words because of that. You can also hear the mouse clicks while I'm recording. Any feedback on how to improve the video, both in regards to technical issues and content, are welcome.

I will of course ask for consent from my opponent if I decide to record a game. For now, I'm just hoping to record some of my games during GokoDom III for those that might be interested in catching the action.

Innovation General Discussion / My First Game of Innovation
« on: December 23, 2013, 03:46:52 pm »
A while back (before Isotropic Dominion closed down), I was curious as to what Innovation was all about. I read the rules of the base game, and tried out a few solitaire games. I found the rules of the game were pretty straightforward. They weren't any harder to learn than the rules of Dominion. The game seemed like it could be a lot of fun, but I wasn't ready to take in 100+ cards into my brain.

Recently, I decided to finally give it a shot. I reread the rules of the base game, then the rules for Echoes and Figures, then played some more solitaire games while taking a look at a few of the Innovation topics on the forum. Today, I was brave enough to play my first real game of Innovation. The log is here:

I make many embarrassing mistakes. The biggest difficulty was keeping track of what my opponent was capable of doing with just the cards already melded on the board. The game already seemed to have been decided by the time I melded The Pirate Code.

I have everything to learn about this game, but it's still a lot of fun when playing with the fast isotropic interface that can handle all the rules automatically. I imagine playing this IRL can be a pain sometimes.

And so, I embark on the journey of Innovation.

Final note: I find it pretty comical that one of the cards is "Invention". For the most part, the cards can be interpreted as innovations, but a lot of the echoes cards seem more like inventions to me.

So I was playing a game, and then the game froze for a few seconds, then I got disconnected and logged out. When I logged in again, the game I was playing was still in session, and there were two slots with my name on it. I think I've seen other people having their name duplicated in the lobby, and I guess this is how it happens.

Has this happened to anyone else? It kinda sucks that you can be disconnected in a way that the system can't detect and forcing the game to end on timeout.

Variants and Fan Cards / The Reverse-Saboteur: It raises questions
« on: August 01, 2013, 04:33:37 pm »
So there is this idea that Saboteur is like an anti-remodel and the downgrade of 2 for your opponent is about the same as an upgrade of 2 for one of your own cards. However, Saboteur is not quite the reverse of Remodel as we know it. The reverse of Saboteur would look more like this:

Recreate - Action

Reveal cards from the top of your deck until revealing one costing $1 or more. Trash it and gain a card costing up to $2 more than it.

The key here is that you're not sacrificing a card from your hand to get the remodel effect. Lookout and loan also have the benefit of trashing a card outside of your hand and maybe providing some cycling at the same time.

A thought occurs when looking at this remodel variant though. If it were to cost $5, it would look much worse than Rebuild. It has no +action, no name-a-card thing, nothing. It's too bad, because this card looks like it could be fun.

Is it really that much worse than Rebuild? this card could be good in a gold centric deck and help put things together faster, but it's unreliable. If it is terrible, than what does that mean for Saboteur? Is Saboteur that much worse than Rebuild as well? Um... yeah probably, except perhaps when Saboteur is battling Rebuild itself. Kind of like the Spy-Admiral interaction in Stratego.

So I feel like Saboteur is better than this reverse-Sab thing for some reason. The Reverse-Sab is unreliable and can hurt your deck if it hits the wrong thing, though it probably adds uncertainty more than anything else. Sab on the other hand adds uncertainty to your opponent's deck, not your own. In particular, it can trash the remodel variant card of your opponent, which may be the key difference between the two.

 What are your thoughts on this?

With all this talk of browser extensions, simulators, and log parsers flying around, it seems like a lot of people here are computer savvy. I myself am currently studying software engineering and am working on a research prototyping project this summer.

Is there something about Dominion that naturally attracts programmers or are they just more likely to be active forum goers?

Dominion General Discussion / Scout in Envoy-BM Games
« on: February 03, 2013, 09:15:34 pm »
I wanted to know what your thoughts are about sneaking in a Scout or two when you're trying to go for BM-Envoy. I figured that later on in the game when you have lots of green cards in your deck, you can use the Scout to draw the victory cards before playing the Envoy so that you have less chance drawing a set of 5 like Province/Province/Estate/Gold/Copper. But is it really worth the attempt, or should the buy of Scout have just been another Silver buy?

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