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Topics - Epoch

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Game Reports / Rats!
« on: February 14, 2021, 08:28:39 pm »
I had two fun wins on today, both featuring Rats:

First game:  Worker's Village + Pooka + Rats + Transmogrify

I got two transmogrifies and would use them (usually on Rats) to start off my WV + Pooka engine on rounds when I didn't get both a WV and a Pooka in hand.  WV allowed me to keep myself in Coppers to feed to Pooka and Rats, and I could use my Cursed Gold freely and feed the curses to Rats.

Second game:  Hunting Party + Rats + Fortress + Warehouse + Forge

Hunting Parties would seek out my Forge, and I'd forge two rats into a province, pretty much every turn.  Fortress provided a no-risk way to keep the Rats gains going once my deck had been pretty thinned, and Warehouse let me continue drawing my whole combo even late game when I had a ton of provinces -- it was a Colony game, so I bought out all 8 Provinces, which obviously ordinarily slows you way down.

Both were against opponents significantly lower-level than I was, so a more efficient opponent might've prevented these fun combos from being game-winning (especially the second game, when my opponent didn't really contest Hunting Parties at all, which was clearly a mistake).  But my view is any time you can turn Rats into profit, you gotta try.

Game Reports / Throne Room, Grand Market, Embassy... and Royal Seal
« on: March 02, 2012, 03:00:42 pm »

Just played a very interesting game.  I don't think that my win was much other than luck, because I didn't actually think of this interaction, but just lucked into it.  However, check out my turn 17:

  Epoch's turn 17
   Epoch plays a Throne Room.
   ... and plays a Grand Market.
   ... ... drawing 1 card and getting +1 action, +1 buy, and +$2.
   ... and plays the Grand Market again.
   ... ... drawing 1 card and getting +1 action, +1 buy, and +$2.
   Epoch plays a Conspirator.
   ... drawing 1 card and getting +1 action and +$2.
   Epoch plays a Conspirator.
   ... drawing 1 card and getting +1 action and +$2.
   Epoch plays an Embassy.
   ... drawing 5 cards.
   ... discarding 3 cards.
   Epoch plays a Grand Market.
   ... drawing 1 card and getting +1 action, +1 buy, and +$2.
   Epoch plays a Grand Market.
   ... drawing 1 card and getting +1 action, +1 buy, and +$2.
   Epoch plays an Embassy.
   ... drawing 5 cards.
   ... discarding 3 cards.
   Epoch plays 4 Silvers, a Potion, and a Royal Seal.
   Epoch buys a Grand Market.
   ... putting the Grand Market on top of the deck.
   Epoch buys a Throne Room.
   ... putting the Throne Room on top of the deck.
   Epoch buys a Throne Room.
   ... putting the Throne Room on top of the deck.
   Epoch buys a Conspirator.
   ... putting the Conspirator on top of the deck.
   Epoch buys a Vineyard.
   (Epoch draws: a Silver, a Grand Market, 2 Throne Rooms, and a Conspirator.)

Royal Seal enables me to turn my first, um, kiloturn into a near-guaranteed megaturn by setting up TR-TR-Grand Market-Conspirator.  This leads to, on turn 18, $40 + potion and tons of buys = buy out the remaining 5 Provinces and a vineyard for the win.

Usually, it's hard enough to set up TR-trees that it's not necessarily worth the effort outside of a deck that's already drawing most of itself each turn.  But Royal Seal, Throne Room, and +buy lets you snowball into bigger and bigger turns.

(NateY, my opponent, was a gentleman and a pleasure to play against, and we had a nice chat post-game.)

Game Reports / Governor/King's Court/Monument/Colony
« on: February 22, 2012, 07:01:16 pm »
This was a hell of a game.  I won, though it was close, and I was never sure I was doing the right thing.  Was I?  You tell me!

So I went with a fairly straightforward Governor Golds->Provinces strategy, ignoring Colonies for the most part (I head-checked in the direction of Colonies at one point by remodeling a Province into a Platinum, which ended up clearly hurting me).  Got lots of Monuments on the theory that Monuments are undervalued, particularly with KC, but so did he.  In his last turn, I made the nerve-wracking decision to remodel a KC into a Province, and then kept his point differential low by remodeling a Monument into a Duchy.

Variants and Fan Cards / Attack Idea
« on: January 06, 2012, 01:16:57 pm »
This isn't a fully-fledged card, but an attack mechanic.  It's somewhat similar to Jester:

"Each opponent reveals his hand.  You choose a card from the revealed hands.  The opponent in question chooses whether to gain another copy of that card plus a Curse, or trash that card."

What do you think?  Interesting?

Game Reports / I'm proud of this one
« on: January 06, 2012, 12:54:40 pm »

So the board is:
Black Market, Cellar, Chapel, Conspirator, Menagerie, Mountebank, Pearl Diver, Potion, Scrying Pool, Woodcutter, and Young Witch ( Warehouse♦ )

I look at this board, and say, in what I think was kind of a brave move, "I'm going to open Potion/Chapel."  My plan is, "trash down to a slim deck, go Scrying Pool at first, suck up his curses with the knowledge that my Scrying Pools sift my Curses and draw my Chapel, then once I get three or four Scrying Pools, I'll be able to go Scrying Pool/Conspirator and tack on a Mountebank to catch up on cursing, and I'll draw my Mountebank every round so it'll be okay."

And, yes, that's exactly what happened.  I think that's the first time that, outside of some very obvious big money games, I've just completely thought out the entire game in advance and had it go exactly to plan.

Game Reports / Noble Brigand FTW
« on: January 04, 2012, 08:06:00 pm »

I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that this game was largely won by the use of Noble Brigand, with which I stole 3 Silvers, 2 Golds, and gave out 1 Copper, crippling his buying power and interrupting two Upgrade-chains he was attempting through to Province.

(Admittedly, my opponent, presumably accidentally, Remade one of his Provinces, but the game would not have been close even without that mistake).

Game Reports / Highway!
« on: December 22, 2011, 03:12:11 pm »
I've never actually been on a good board for Highway before, so I was pleased as punch to build a Hamlet/Watchtower/Ironworks/Upgrade/Highway engine on this table, successfully exploding into turns where I could Ironwork multiple Provinces per turn.

And so my opponent apparently rage-quit and left me with the timeout.  Thanks, dude!

Game Reports / A close one
« on: December 19, 2011, 11:52:12 am »

This is a game that came down quite tightly -- if he hadn't bought the final Province on the turn he did, I probably would have won (maybe not, if he had bought a Duchy, but it ended with an 11 point victory for him, and I had the capacity for doing Monument -> Province).

We played fairly divergent strategies, and I'm wondering who made the best decision, since it felt like it could go either way.  He was planning on going Duke, but the game ended too soon.  I was hoping for some turns of 2x or 3x Monument, which never happened.

EDIT:  Hmm, I remembered my final hand as better than it actually was.  Hard to say if I'd have been able to buy the ultimate Province with that -- the possibility was there, with the HP and the Wishing Well to draw into more money, but definitely not guaranteed.

Simulation / Noble Brigand bot (PROBABLE SIMULATOR BUG)
« on: November 01, 2011, 05:37:23 pm »
This bot:

Code: [Select]
<player name="2xNoble Brigand" author="Epoch" description="Big Money + 2 Noble Brigands.  Waits until after turn 1/2 to buy the NBs, to minimize chances of just missing and hitting Coppers.">
 <type name="Province"/>
 <type name="UserCreated"/>
 <type name="SingleCard"/>
 <type name="Generated"/>
 <type name="Bot"/>
 <type name="TwoPlayer"/>
 <type name="BigMoney"/>
   <buy name="Province"/>
   <buy name="Duchy">
         <left type="countCardsInSupply" attribute="Province"/>
         <operator type="smallerOrEqualThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="5.0"/>
   <buy name="Estate">
         <left type="countCardsInSupply" attribute="Province"/>
         <operator type="smallerOrEqualThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="2.0"/>
   <buy name="Gold"/>
   <buy name="Noble_Brigand">
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Noble_Brigand"/>
         <operator type="smallerThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="2.0"/>
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Silver"/>
         <operator type="greaterThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="2.0"/>
   <buy name="Silver"/>

Seems to beat Single Smithy, Single Mountebank, and Single Witch by substantial margins.

Can that seriously be right?

Variants and Fan Cards / An "Inflation" theme idea
« on: October 12, 2011, 05:19:14 pm »
Paper Currency
Cost: $4
Value:  $3
When you play Paper Currency, the player to your left reveals his hand.  For each copy of Paper Currency in his hand, reduce the value of this card by $1, to a minimum of zero.

I don't think I have the wording in proper formal language, but hopefully you get the idea.  It's worth less the more of it there is in play.

Doing it with just the player to your left means that you could get an unfair advantage in a multi-player game, where one opponent avoids Paper Currency and thus major advantages a player to his right.  You could do it with an "all opponents" deal, but then Paper Currency's value diminishes in larger games.

I doubt it's a very good or well-implemented card right now, but I thought the conceptual mechanic was neat, and was wondering if anyone else had a good way of fixing it.

Game Reports / Scrying Pools, no trashing
« on: September 29, 2011, 11:39:15 am »

A game against NinjaBus, clearly generally a greatly superior player to me, which I won, I think, not through incredible luck.

And this is sort of a comment to people who think that Scrying Pools are only useful in very narrow situations.  This is a board with no trashing and kind of awkward money-gaining Actions (Monument (terminal, obviously), and Market (too expensive to get a lot of early, low buying power)).  But Scrying Pool --> Hamlet --> Monument wins the game handily.

A lot of the credit for that actually goes to Monument itself, which amassed me 15 VP at the end of the game, and, I think, made the end-game impossibly awkward for NinjaBus.  He can't rush Provinces due to a deficit of more than 2 Provinces, and his deck will stall out if he tries to amass enough Duchies to counteract the VPs.  I suspect that the best bet would have been to swap into Monuments and tried to spam them (he had a mini-drawing-deck with Hamlets and Ghost Ships, not enough to cycle his deck consistently, but enough to draw the Monuments much more frequently than they would have "naturally" come up), but I don't think it's a very high-percentage play.

Variants and Fan Cards / An Attacking Village
« on: September 21, 2011, 02:51:56 pm »
One of the major, and most fun, types of Dominion deck is a cards/action two-card engine, the most vanilla example being Village/Smithy.  (As a side note: do we have a name for this besides "cards/actions two-card engine"?  I think we need one.  If I say cards/action engine, do people understand that as being the village/smithy type, rather than the Laboratory type?).

Unfortunately, these decks also, well, kind of suck.  Particularly in Province games.  They're very difficult to make competitive with big money.

There are a few ways that they can be made more competitive, most of which we have examples of already:

1.  Include +buy as part of the engine (Wharf, Council Room, and Worker's Village (and Festival, maybe) provide this)
2.  Include +money as part of the engine (Fishing Village, Bazaar)
3.  Include an attack as part of the engine (Torturer, Rabble)
4.  More efficient card drawing (Wharf, Council Room)

So an interesting aspect of that is that both (all?  We might count Witch or whatever) of the "engine + attack" cards are on the +cards side of the engine -- they're Smithy variants.  What if the attack were on the Village side of the engine?

An attacking village would probably want a few different features:

1.  Since it's easily spammable, it probably doesn't want to be an accumulative attack.  Like Militia, it should probably be just "it hurts you once, and then you're done."  The only easily spammable accumulative attack I can think of is Familiar, which is balanced by the Potion buy and the eventual run-out of Curses.
2.  It probably does not want to accumulate well with Torturer or Rabble.  Village/Torturer doesn't need any help.
3.  Since we don't want to price the engine out of the roof, we probably don't want a very severe attack.  If the card gives you all of +1 Cards/+2 Actions, and an attack, its minimum price is $4, and it could go up.


Fortified Village
Action - Attack
Cost:  $4
+1 Card
+2 Actions
Each opponent with 5 or more cards in his hand reveals his hand.  If he has two or more cards with the same name in his hand, he discards one such card.

Whaddya think?  A chance of a Cutpurse effect in the early game (if your opponent has 1 or fewer Estates, most likely).  In the later game, a chance of a worse attack.  Barring weird situations (Council Room or whatnot), only affects an opponent once in a turn.

Dominion Articles / Card Strategy: Wharf
« on: September 12, 2011, 01:49:46 pm »
Wharf is, bar none, the best card-drawer in the game.

And on some level, that's what you need to know.  Card drawing is valuable.  Wharf is the best one.  It works well in all the cases that you want to draw cards.  It excels, paired with a village-type card, in a cards/actions engine.  It is also extremely good, bought in moderation, with a big money deck, or practically any other deck.  As a terminal, it should be bought somewhat sparingly if you do not have a village-type card.  And that's pretty much how card-drawers work in Dominion.

But it may be a bit surprising that Wharf is the best card drawer in the game.  It, after all, gives only +2 Cards, in the same category as such low-tier terminal drawers such as Witch, Steward, and Vault (all of which are good cards, mind you, but not principally due to their ability to draw cards).  Of course, Wharf gives you the +2 Cards effect twice, but the general rule in Dominion is that one big turn counts more than two little turns, so you might imagine that Smithy, with its +3 Cards now, would beat Wharf, with its +4 Cards split up in two.

As it turns out, however, the +2 now/+2 later dynamic really works, and is, especially in a cards/action engine, perhaps better than a single massive draw, like you'd get with Council Room or Envoy.  If you're building an engine, what you really want is consistency.  It's easy to build an engine that sometimes draws your entire deck with 6 cards to spare, and other times stalls out instantly.  Village/Wharf engines are substantially less likely to do that than any other two-card engine.  The action economy of Wharf, and its consistency across turns, allows you to MUCH better weather turns when Villages are sparse in the top of your deck, and leaving several Wharves out each turn effectively lowers the size of your deck, increasing the density of the Actions you want to play next turn.  Nothing cures the deck-stalling blues like using Wharf as your card-drawer, and no two-card engine will remain powerful longer during the greening phase than village/wharf.

And, speaking of buying greens, the one thing that you always want with a cards/actions engine is +buy to let you catch up with faster-to-accelerate but lower top-speed decks like Big Money.  Convenient, then that Wharf gives you that built right in to your engine, which enables you to both often buy multiple engine components in the early-mid game, and then catch up on greens in the late game, without costly diversions to buy a Market, Hamlet, Pawn, Festival or even (shudder) a Woodcutter or Herbalist.

Indeed, the draw of Wharf is so powerful that you can more-or-less make it work with even the +2 Actions/no cards village variants such as Festival, University, or Shanty Town.  University arguably makes up for its lack of +Cards by enabling Wharf draws, but these engines are certainly more prone to stalling and failing than a vanilla Village/Wharf engine.  Still, Wharf is powerful enough that, given a decent board, they can still be victorious in a way that, say, Shanty Town/Smithy never could be.

How good is a Village/Wharf engine?  It's so good that Village/Wharf, with no other enablers, can completely stomp Big Money Ultimate on a Province board, a distinction it shares only with (to my knowledge) Village/Torturer.  In fact, this simple Village/Wharf engine also beats BMU + 1 Wharf, which is quite a high bar.  It utterly destroys BMU, 77-20-3.  (Notably, in Province games without other enablers, other BMU variants may beat all but the best-made Village/Wharf engines, such as BMU + 2 Wharves.  But that's the nature of engines in Province games, and the built-in +buy of Wharf does mean that when anything even vaguely enabling is on the board, you can pick it up pretty easily).

Code: [Select]
<player name="Village/Wharf Simple">
   <buy name="Province"/>
   <buy name="Duchy">
         <left type="countCardsInSupply" attribute="Province"/>
         <operator type="smallerOrEqualThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="3.0"/>
   <buy name="Estate">
         <left type="countCardsInSupply" attribute="Province"/>
         <operator type="smallerOrEqualThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="2.0"/>
   <buy name="Wharf">
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Wharf"/>
         <operator type="equalTo" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="0.0"/>
   <buy name="Gold">
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Gold"/>
         <operator type="smallerThan" />
         <right type="constant" attribute="2.0"/>
   <buy name="Wharf">
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Wharf"/>
         <operator type="smallerOrEqualThan" />
         <right type="countCardTypeInDeck" attribute="Village"/>
         <extra_operation type="plus" attribute="3.0" />
   <buy name="Village">
         <left type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Village"/>
         <operator type="smallerThan" />
         <right type="countCardsInDeck" attribute="Wharf"/>
         <extra_operation type="minus" attribute="1.0" />
   <buy name="Gold"/>
   <buy name="Silver"/>

When not paired with a Village, well, Wharf is still a terminal.  It's a good terminal, and +cards is welcome in pretty much any kind of deck, but you can't flood your deck with it.  Its Duration effect means you can buy a few more Wharves than you otherwise would -- 2 Wharves + BMU beats 1 Wharf + BMU, but a third Wharf doesn't help any (neither does it hurt).  In a non-Village situation, it's a strong terminal that doesn't require a lot of strategy to play.

Getting back to the central claim of this article:  Wharf is the best card drawer in the game.  By that, I mean that it is the best card drawer qua card drawer.  Torturer will usually beat it as a compliment to Village if your opponent can't deal with the attack of the Torturer, certainly, but Wharf will allow you to more consistently draw your deck.  Council Room is the only card that challenges Wharf's supremacy in terms of allowing you to draw, but the advantage it gives to your opponents is potent.  Council Rooms paired with Militia or Goons will tend to beat out Wharf, however -- +4 Cards in one turn is better than +4 Cards over two turns, if Council Room's singular disadvantage can be ignored.

The final verdict: Wharf is one of the best all-round cards in the game.  There are hardly any boards on which it should be ignored, and if there is a Village-type card in the game, it is likely that Wharf will dominate the game and its supply pile will be bought out.

Dominion General Discussion / Compare the Single-Card Engines
« on: September 08, 2011, 03:34:48 pm »
Companion to "Compare the Villages" and "Compare the Smithies," this thread looks at the cards which are by themselves spammable, and give you massive drawing power (I guess that the formal definition would be: +1 action and better than +1 card).  The canonical and most vanilla of these is Laboratory.

The cards:

Hunting Party
Scrying Pool
Activated Cities

Cards that could potentially fill this function, but which I think actually can't really, but hey if you want to make the case go for it:

Wishing Well

My comments:

Top Tier:

Scrying Pool stands out for me as #1.  The fact that it has a (mild, sure) attack built into it and the ability to cycle through your worse cards is huge, and the relatively low cost really helps it, in my mind.  If we're looking for a one-card-spammable draw-your-whole deck, I've never had as much success with the others as with Scrying Pool.  Though obviously to really shine, it wants to be paired with some kind of useful Action that also gives +1 Action (or villages + terminal actions, but at that point we aren't talking a hybrid engine).

I don't think I'll hear a ton of argument in putting Hunting Party into the top-tier.  The gem of the Cornucopia set, Hunting Party shares the ability of Scrying Pool to cut through your worse cards, and is of course unmatched in drawing that one critical card in your deck.

Minion has the unique property of being more self sufficient than any other one-card engine, providing its own money as well as a mild attack.  It's poor in Colony games and perhaps just slightly underperforms to its reputation, but that's just because its reputation is so strong.  Clearly top tier, particularly in the absence of trashing.

Mid Tier:

Laboratory and Alchemist, perhaps the closest cousins of any two cards in the game, are both solid, nice cards that just lack the something special of the top tier cards.  They need support since they don't provide their own money, they don't filter through bad cards, they don't attack.  Laboratory is expensive enough that in the early game it's hard to get your engine going.  Alchemist is a Potion card, and a more expensive one than Scrying Pool.

Low Tier:

Nobles has been described persuasively as a Smithy with some extra bonuses.  It's a good Smithy.  It's a very poor engine all by itself.

Activated Cities are amazing when they work, but the initial period of high-cost Villagery is rough to get through.  Very situational, and probably the only card on this list that you are fairly likely to want to entirely ignore in a Kingdom.

Honorable Mention:

I do not believe that you can get an "engine" of Menagerie going.  It's a worthwhile support card in some decks, but spamming it is counter-productive.

Maybe some kind of nutty deck with a specific trashing strategy would make Wishing Well into an engine (buy one Coppersmith, one or two Markets and spam Wishing Wells and Coppers)?  But not usually, not even if you have robot-like deck counting skills.  Not a bad card, but not an engine.

I had a game this morning which went... absurdly well.  Most of it was just shuffle luck on my part, but the big difference was that on a board with Sea Hag and Masquerade (and no other absurdly good $4 or $3 cards, and with both of us opening 4/3), he opened Sea Hag/Masquerade, while I opened Masquerade/Silver.

Was that the correct play?  My thought was, any time he Sea Hags with my Masquerade in hand, I'm guaranteed to be able to return the curse to him, and, obviously, the Curses I miss immediately are fairly likely to eventually be returnable.  Meanwhile, he has a deck with no buying power besides his opening 7 Copper, and only the effective +1 card of Masquerade to draw that, plus of course collisions and hands with Sea Hag lowering his buying power.

In the game as it turned out, on turn 3, I was able to Mint away 5 Coppers and rapidly bootstrap into Golds and Platinums.  It was totally one-sided, but I got to wondering how it would have gone without the lucky 5 Copper hand on turn 3, or without Mint in the supply.

Anyone have any opinions?

Variants and Fan Cards / Messing with Treasures
« on: September 06, 2011, 06:36:06 pm »
Supply Variations
$3 - Action
Trash this card.
You may set the cost of the Silver card to $2, $3, or $4.  This change is permanent for the rest of the game (or until another card like this changes the cost again), and affects all Silver cards.

Gold Rush
$4 - Action/Duration
Now and through next turn:  Gold cards cost $4 and produce $2 instead of their normal costs and effects.

$4 - Action
Trash this card.
Choose one Treasure supply pile.  Trash all but two of the cards in that supply pile.

Boom Town
$3 - Action
+2 Actions, +1 Buy
All Treasures cost $2 less and produce $1 less in play.

Paper Currency
$7 - Treasure
If anyone buys a copy of this card, put a Forbidden token on the Gold supply pile.  A supply pile with a Forbidden token on it may not be bought from.

Dominion General Discussion / Compare the Villages
« on: August 25, 2011, 03:36:12 pm »
It recently came to my attention that I was maybe undervaluing Bazaar (or perhaps thought I was undervaluing Bazaar, since apparently I actually buy it a lot and am effective with it).

Which brings up the question, how do you rate the villages?  By "villages," I mean any card which gives +2 Actions, and I believe this is an exhaustive list:

$2:  Native Village, Hamlet
$3:  Village, Shanty Town, Fishing Village
$4:  Mining Village, Worker's Village, Walled Village, Farming Village
$5:  City, Bazaar, Festival

Obviously, in some strategies, you'll just say, "I absolutely need a +2 Actions card, there's only one on the board, and so I'm gonna go for it."  But other times, there will be two Villages on the board, or you might say, "If I had a different Village, I might go for this engine, but as is, screw it, I'll do a non-engine deck"?  Which ones do you regard more favorably?

My tentative thoughts:

I think there's general agreement that Walled Village is low-tier.  Cities are pretty bad if you don't anticipate any piles depleting until the late game.  I think Festival is... good, but hard to build an engine around because of its unique lack of card advantage.  In most cases, I treat it as "+1 Action, +$2, +1 Buy....  oh yeah, and +1 more Action," unless there's a good reason to believe that my deck will be unusual in a way that will let it coincide with lots of other Actions.  I very rarely find myself wanting to use the Mining Village's special ability, which implies to me that I'd prefer a normal Village for the greater availability.

Middle tier, I think that Village, Native Village, and Farming Village are all pretty equivalent.  I guess I've been convinced that Bazaar is here instead of low tier, as I was thinking.

High tier:  Hamlet and Worker's Village are nice for the +buy, which I'm likely to want in any game where I'm going to buy significant numbers of villages.  Fishing Village is obviously highly regarded by most people, and I'm no exception.  Cities if you think a pile will deplete early are obviously super-good.

But I'm not hugely confident of these rankings.  What do you guys think?

EDIT:  Left off Shanty Town.  I'm not sure what to think of Shanty Town.  Sometimes, I think it's awesome because it makes the "drew one Village, nothing else" problem a lot less problematic.  Other times, I think it sucks because of the overall much less card advantage.

Dominion General Discussion / What would make you go Village/Smithy?
« on: August 23, 2011, 01:25:23 pm »
Here's the set up:

1.  It's a Province game.  Village and Smithy are in the kingdom.  You know that Village/Smithy loses to Big Money + 1 Smithy.

a.  What other cards on the board would convince you to go for a Village/Smithy engine over Big Money + 1 Smithy?

b.  What's your general buy strategy to get all of those cards?  When do you start buying Villages?  What proportions do you try to obtain?


2.  Same questions, but a Colony game.

NB:  You can assume other cards, but not a whole other engine.  No, "Torturer, and I'll use Torturer instead of Smithy."  We know Village/Torturer is good.

Game Reports / Divergent Strategies
« on: August 17, 2011, 07:53:07 pm »
Hot off the presses, a game with some, to put it lightly, divergent strategies:

cards in supply: Bishop, Chancellor, Hoard, Hunting Party, King's Court, Quarry, Royal Seal, Talisman, Venture, and Wishing Well

We both started 5/2 and went Hunting Party/nothing, which you might think would indicate a mirror match.  But here are our ending decks:

#1 Epoch: 71 points (8 Provinces, 4 Duchies, 8 ▼, and 3 Estates); 24 turns
       opening: Hunting Party / nothing
       [39 cards] 3 Hoards, 2 Hunting Parties, 1 Bishop, 1 Chancellor, 1 King's Court, 1 Venture, 1 Wishing Well, 5 Coppers, 9 Golds, 3 Estates, 4 Duchies, 8 Provinces

#2 the wanky shit demon: 59 points (49 ▼, 2 Duchies, and 4 Estates); 24 turns
                      opening: nothing / Hunting Party
                      [15 cards] 4 King's Courts, 3 Hunting Parties, 1 Bishop, 1 Copper, 4 Estates, 2 Duchies

He did a KC/Bishop trashing strategy, where I went essentially BM enabled by Hoard.

Perhaps the most fundamental question you should ask yourself at the start of a game of Dominion is "how will this game end?"  Correctly determining whether the game will end through the depletion of Colonies, Provinces, or via a three-pile ending is critical to creating a strategy that can be the winner at that end of the game.  Cards which may be excellent in a Province game could be terrible in a three-pile game or a Colony game.

This article will explore the various ending conditions, how to determine whether your game is likely to end in that condition, and what that will mean for your tactics.


When Colonies are available, depletion of the Colony pile is typically the way the game will end.  Unless you see strong reason to believe that there will be a three pile ending or (very unlikely) a Province ending, you should plan on a Colony ending in a game where Colonies are present in the first place.

Colony games are very likely to be the longest types of Dominion games.  They give you more time to build a stronger deck, and are the easiest kind of game to win with an "engine" deck.  Obviously, they also require a stronger deck in order to consistently hit the $11 target buy.  If a game is likely to end with a Colony depletion, then you can look at the higher tier of Action cards ($5+) and reasonably build your deck around getting a bunch of those cards, rather than just a few crux cards, even without cards that rapidly improve the buying power of your deck.

When you expect a Colony ending, it takes a higher class of card to be useful in your deck.  Your end-game expected hand value needs to be $11+.  That means that cards that are worth only $2 in your hand (like Silver) are not themselves pulling their weight in a Colony game.  Of course you can use Silver (and Copper), particularly with strong card drawing, but you don't want to weigh your deck down with a bunch of copies of cards that only are worth $2 in your hand.  It can be tempting to get lots of Silver or similar cards (terminal +$2 actions, for example) in your deck early, as a way to afford the higher-cost Actions, Gold, or Platinum, but remember that you won't love those cards in the late game.


Most Dominion games end with Province depletion -- specifically, most Dominion games without Colonies available end through Province depletion.  When Colonies are on the board, it is very rare for Province depletion to end the game, and should almost never be planned for.  But when Colonies aren't available, the default is to assume that the game will end with Province depletion, unless you see a strong reason to believe there will be a three pile depletion.

Province games are what you should have the most experience with.  They reward rapid engines and modified big-money strategies.  Copper is overall a negative in the late game in Province decks, but Silver is fine, delivering well more than the $1.6 average value needed in a card to produce the $8 hands that you're aiming for.  Many engine decks are just too slow for Province games, producing a deck that's very strong in the late game, but which is already suffering from a 2 or 3 Province deficit to a faster, Big Money-esque game.  If you build an engine in a Province game, you should do so knowing that either:

1.  This is a particularly fast engine.
2.  This is a particularly strong engine, able to guarantee you multi-Province buys to come back from your deficit.
3.  The game is likely to be slower than usual, probably due to Attack cards.

Three Pile Depletion (End Game)

A not-very-interesting type of Dominion game endings is the late game three-pile depletion.  This usually happens when there are a small number of Provinces or Colonies left, and both players' decks have been clogged up with green cards and can no longer summon $8 or $11 to end the game on Provinces or Colonies.  Usually then a race on Duchies (or Provinces) commences and sometimes the game ends up squeaking to a slow close on piles.  However, this is basically just a failure case of the Province or Colony ending conditions.  You don't need to worry a lot about this at the beginning of the game, and your strategy is likely to be similar to what it would be in a basic Province or Colony game.

Three Pile Depletion (Early/Mid game)

The rarest form of Dominion game ending is a rapid three pile depletion.  These games can be very rewarding, as they are uncommon enough that many players miss the possibility of a rapid three pile depletion, and can be very unprepared for the game to end, allowing you to obtain a solid win.

In order for a rapid three pile depletion to be viable, there needs to be a way to deplete three piles quickly and for the player driving the game-end to do so with a safe enough VP lead that his opponent can't derail the strategy by buying a solitary Province or similar card.

The best-known board state for a rapid three-pile depletion is for both Gardens and Workshop (or Woodcutter) to appear on the board.  Such a board typically ends with the depletion of Gardens, Workshop/Woodcutter, and Estates, and ends much faster than a Province game.

But any time you see one stack of cards that is almost certain to deplete itself rapidly, it is worthwhile to consider the possibility of a quick three-pile ending.  The classic pile that is likely to deplete itself in the mid game is the Curses pile in the presence of strong cursing attacks, particularly Witch, Familiar, or Sea Hag (Torturers will probably only deplete the Curses in the late game if there are Villages on the board, or not at all otherwise; Mountebank often stalls out and doesn't deplete curses until fairly late because the attack can miss; Young Witch is often skippable or counterable, but if it isn't, it will cause Curse depletion).  Popular, strong, spammable cards like Fishing Village and Caravan are also likely to deplete in the early game and can set up a three-pile ending.  Grand Market is an interesting special case -- usually, it is expensive enough that it can't be depleted in the early game, but if there is something that starts a GM run early, it is so good at setting up other-pile depletion that it can very easily create a three-pile ending.

Duke/Duchy can also lead to a fairly early three-pile depletion.

If one pile looks likely to rapidly deplete itself, then a three-pile ending is much more likely than otherwise, and you should consider whether you can build a deck that will be substantially quicker than a Province/Colony deck and can take advantage of a three-pile ending.  Typically, you'll need some way to deplete a VP pile (most likely Estates or a non-standard VP card) quickly without stalling out your deck.  That will probably mean buying a lot of some enabler card that will be your third pile to deplete.


Understanding how a game will end is usually not particularly difficult.  For most games, it can be reduced to "Colonies if Colonies are available, otherwise Provinces."  Because of that, it's not heavily commented on here on Dominion Strategy.  But despite being simple, it's crucial.  You can't make a strategy for a board without understanding the pace of the board -- whether it's worthwhile to buy more expensive cards that will make your deck better in the long run, but slower in the first part of the game.  And you can't understand the pace without knowing how the game will end.

Don't let yourself just assume that every game will end on Provinces or Colonies -- study the board before your game starts and look for the possibilities for a less-common ending condition.  You'll save yourself several losses to people who end the game on three piles when your deck is just starting to kick into gear.

Dominion General Discussion / Contesting a card vs. buying the best card
« on: August 15, 2011, 01:32:58 pm »
You and your opponent both are going for Minions, and you draw $6 (or $7).  Do you get a Gold or a King's Court, understanding that they are the better card for your deck (let's stipulate that they are the better card for your deck), or do you get another Minion on the basis that denying your opponent the Minion is better than the differential in utility in your deck?

You and your opponent are racing for Duchies in a Duke kingdom.  You draw $5.  You already have 4 Duchies, and no Dukes, so a Duke buy gets you more VP than a Duchy buy.  Do you go Duchy to deny your opponent?

Fishing Villages are out and likely to be depleted to 0.  You get $4 or $5 with good $4 or $5 actions on the board.  Do you get the Fishing Village instead?

Obviously, the answer is "sometimes."  But how do you make that decision?  What are your heuristics for deciding when it's better to end up with the majority of a contested card, and when it's more valuable to get a card that's stronger overall, but will not likely be depleted, and will be there for you later?  I feel like I'm reading tea leaves when I try to make this decision.

Game Reports / Fishing Village/Torturer countered
« on: August 03, 2011, 07:09:38 pm »
Can I get an analysis of this game?  I thought for sure that I had it in the bag when my fishing village/torturer engine started firing, but my opponent eventually returned 9 (!) curses to me with Ambassadors and won the game.

Did I get unlucky or was his the winning strategy?  I felt like I got a little abused by chance towards the mid/late game, but perhaps not enough to make a huge difference.

Dominion General Discussion / Must-Buy Cards?
« on: July 20, 2011, 07:33:05 pm »
Are there cards -- besides the obvious high-end treasures/VP cards -- that you feel like you will almost always buy if they're on the table, even without any particular support from the rest of the kingdom cards?  Like, say, 85%+ of the time, regardless of the board?

I can't think of too many, besides the Cursing Attacks.  Maybe Tournament.

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