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1
Dominion Articles / Gear
« on: August 18, 2018, 07:21:59 pm »

At first glance, Gear looks similar to Moat: +2 cards and some additional text.  But itís this additional text that enables Gear to provide so much control over your turns, and makes Gear one of the strongest cards in Dominion.  Let's look at all the valuable things you can do by setting aside cards with Gear:
  • Save excess money from turn to turn.  This is especially important when you only have one buy.  Early on, you can save a Copper to turn a hand into a hand in order to hit on the next turn.  Later in the game, you can save money exceeding so you can buy Provinces more consistently.
  • Save an unplayable terminal action for the next turn.  This is especially important in games without villages.
  • Improve your starting hand.  You can set aside +card or +action cards that will make your next hand stronger.  This is especially valuable when you have a few powerful draw cards such as Scrying Pool or Storyteller.
  • Force bad cards to miss the shuffle.  If you're about to trigger a shuffle, you can set aside green cards so that you don't draw them in that shuffle.
  • Pair up synergistic cards.  Gear can help you pair up your Estates with a good Estate trasher, or Province with Tournament, or Gold with Encampment, and more!
Let's dive deeper into a couple contexts in which you might use Gear.

Gear in the Early Game

Gear is a very strong card with a / opening.  If you draw Gear on turn 3, you're guaranteed to be able to see and play your other opening card on turns 3 or 4.  If your other opening card doesn't draw, you will end turn 4 with an empty deck - having seen all twelve of your cards.  You will be able to freely distribute your deck's total money over these two turns.  If you draw Gear on turn 4, you might have to set aside your other opening card to play on turn 5 (if it's an action you can't play), but you will also have an opportunity to cause 1-2 weak cards to miss your next shuffle.

If there is a key - card on the board that you want to open with, consider a Gear opening carefully.  If the key card is non-terminal such as Quarry or Transmogrify, Gear is usually a great accompaniment.  However, if you open Gear with a terminal trasher such as Chapel or Steward, they might collide on turn 4.  Gear will probably only be worth opening if you can get a cheap village while trashing.

If there is a key card on the board, Gear + Silver is an excellent opening.  So long as Gear is drawn on turn 3 or 4, you are guaranteed to be able to buy a card and (almost always) a or card (perhaps another Gear, if the key card is non-terminal).  You can also open Gear alongside a coin-generating action such as Poacher or Swindler, but you run the risk of not hitting on turn 3 or 4 if you draw poorly.  Gear + Potion is also one of the most reliable ways to hit on turn 3 or 4.

In the rare event that there are no kingdom cards costing or less that you want early, double Gear is a good opening.  With a double Gear opening, if you draw Gear on turn 3, you have a good chance to hit on turn 4 for Gold (or something better).  If you don't see any Gears on turn 3, you can buy Silver and have a great chance to hit on turn 5.

Gear + Money

Usually, you will want to play a card-drawing engine, and a few Gears will fit in well.  But, sometimes there is no good engine to build, in which case you should play primarily with Gear and treasures.  This is often the case when there are no villages and no non-terminal draw in the kingdom.  Gear is a very strong card in moneyish strategies, because Gear's money saving and terminal spacing functions give you tremendous control over your turns

Gear + money strategies benefit most from Estate trashing and treasure gaining, so consider incorporating them into your strategy.  Gear + money's strongest supports are cards and events that can trash Estates with very little lost tempo: Trade, Transmogrify, and Plan.  With strong support, Gear + money can beat slower engines - especially if there are no handsize attacks or alternative VP available.

Non-terminal support cards such as Sentry or Treasure Trove are easy to incorporate into a Gear + money strategy.  Because Gear can help space terminal actions, using 3-4 terminal actions is a good rule of thumb for a Gear + money strategy.  Sometimes, Gear is better in a support role with strong terminal actions such as Witch or Haggler.  In this role you can use 1-2 copies of Gear along with 2 additional terminal actions.  More often, you will want to combine 2-3 Gears with one copy of a supporting terminal action such as Salvager or Bandit.

Sometimes, there aren't any other beneficial kingdom cards.  Unassisted, you should open double Gear hoping to get Gold on turn 4.  You should get a third Gear as soon as you are confident you can get Gold.  With 3 Gears, you should be able to play one Gear each turn pretty consistently and smooth your money to exactly buy Golds (3-4), and then Provinces.  Without support, Gear + money does not get 7+ Provinces very fast, so beware strong alternative VP.

Gear Tips

Gear is almost always good; buy it, you won't regret it.  Here are a few final Gear tips:
  • When playing Gear, if you choose not to set aside any cards, Gear will not stay in play.
  • In general, you should set aside all the cards you don't need on a given turn, even if it's just one card.
  • When using Gear as your primary source of draw (not recommended if there are alternatives), only save cards with your final Gear.
  • When trashing from your deck with cards such as Sentry or Lookout, stop using Gear to save cards you want to trash pretty early.
  • The cards saved by Gear are not in your hand during opponents' turns, so you can't use saved reactions such as Moat.

2
Tournaments and Events / Dominion Online Championship 2018
« on: August 13, 2018, 08:17:27 pm »
For the second year in a row, ShuffleIt is hosting and sponsoring a large online Dominion tournament.  You can learn more information and signup on the ShuffleIt forums: http://forum.shuffleit.nl/index.php?board=53.0

Logistics:
  • It begins on September 17th
  • You need a Gold subscription
  • There is a prize pool!
  • It's a single elimination bracket
  • Matches are 6 games, like the Dominion League

3
The Best Cards - Part 1/3

~34 votes for Nocturne cards, as many as 39 votes for the rest.

#111 =0 Harvest (Cornucopia) Weighted Average: 3.8% ▼1.4pp / Unweighted Average: 4.0% / Median: 0.9% ▼1.3pp / Standard Deviation: 6.4%

Harvest wins the Bilbo Baggins award for eleventy-first place.  Harvest was ranked last by 12 people.  Harvest is weak in a moneyish strategy, usually generating - terminally.  Harvest is also poor as engine payload: you have to play it before you draw your deck and a terminal - isn't very exciting.  Sometimes, you absolutely need coins from actions, and Harvest is the best/only source.
#110 ▼2 Stash (Promo) Weighted Average: 5.7% ▼3.4pp / Unweighted Average: 8.5% / Median: 4.6% ▲0.4pp / Standard Deviation: 15.0%

Most of us haven't played with Stash in a while, and it has a high standard deviation to back that up.  It was ranked last by 5 people.  Stash is quite weak.  It has a powerful combo with Scavenger, but is otherwise an unexceptional addition to moneyish strategies that aren't relying on other cards.
#109 ▲1 Cache (Hinterlands) Weighted Average: 6.0% ▼0.9pp / Unweighted Average: 5.6% / Median: 2.7% ▼1.5pp / Standard Deviation: 7.5%

Cache remains near the bottom of the rankings with high agreement.  It was ranked last by 5 people.  Cache is only good when you want Coppers, which doesn't happen very often.  But, sometimes you only need to hit - to green in a slog, or you want fodder to trash in an engine.  In these situations, Cache is okay.
#108 ▼3 Mine (Base) Weighted Average: 8.0% ▼3.6pp / Unweighted Average: 10.7% / Median: 8.2% ▼1.3pp / Standard Deviation: 9.3%

Mine falls a little in the rankings, even being ranked last by 2 people.  Most of the time, there are better things to be doing than using Mine to upgrade your treasures.  Mine can be good in games where you can play it a lot and treasure is good payload.  It's stronger with Platinum and some kingdom treasures.
#107 ▼1 Mandarin (Hinterlands) Weighted Average: 8.1% ▼2.3pp / Unweighted Average: 9.8% / Median: 7.1% ▼1.0pp / Standard Deviation: 10.9%

Mandarin remains near the bottom of the pack, receiving one last-place vote.  Mandarin's on-play ability is pretty weak; occasionally, you can use the top-decking to your advantage, but it's usually a hindrance.  Mandarin's on-gain ability is also usually a disadvantage, but it does enable some golden decks - the fastest of which involves Capital.
#106 ▼2 Royal Seal (Prosperity) Weighted Average: 9.3% ▼2.4pp / Unweighted Average: 14.6% / Median: 8.2% ▼1.6pp / Standard Deviation: 14.8%

Royal Seal falls a couple ranks, but avoids any last place votes.  Royal Seal has a pretty powerful effect, but it's very awkwardly priced.  Ordinarily, the most important cards in the kingdom cost or less, so buying Royal Seal forces you to forgo one of those purchases.  Royal Seal can be handy if a key card costs or more: like Altar.
#105 ▲4 Counting House (Prosperity) Weighted Average: 10.4% ▲2.8pp / Unweighted Average: 8.9% / Median: 4.6% ▲0.4pp / Standard Deviation: 13.6%

Counting House, so long in last place, rises once more!  Not everyone is convinced; it still received 3 last place votes.  Counting House is an extremely narrow card.  It has a very strong combo with Travelling Fair, a few other combos with Night Watchman, Scouting Party, Banquet, and Beggar.  Outside of specific combos, it is very difficult to make Counting House useful.  Colonies help.
#104 ▲3 Contraband (Prosperity) Weighted Average: 10.6% ▲1.0pp / Unweighted Average: 12.5% / Median: 5.6% ▼1.3pp / Standard Deviation: 13.6%

Contraband rises a few ranks, mostly due to some highish outliers.  Contraband is often a trap card; the opponent can lock you out of the card you really need.  However, events and alternative VP make Contraband more viable - which Adventures and Empires provided in large quantities.  Still, it's hard to get too excited about a card that is a Gold with a +buy at its best.
#103 =0 Explorer (Seaside) Weighted Average: 10.9% ▼1.1pp / Unweighted Average: 10.6% / Median: 9.1% ▼0.7pp / Standard Deviation: 7.9%

They can't all be the best ever.  Explorer stays near the bottom with a lot of agreement.  Explorer is pretty poor in a moneyish game, but it has some utility as payload in engines that have at least one Province and appreciate Gold.  It may not be the best gainer, but sometimes it's the only gainer.
#102 =0 Raid (Adventures) Weighted Average: 11.4% ▼4.8pp / Unweighted Average: 13.1% / Median: 9.1% ▼3.5pp / Standard Deviation: 13.1%

Raid stays at the same rank.  Raid is a pretty situational event; it's a reasonable buy in moneyish games when you get 2+ Silvers in play.  Be aware, the handsize attack of Raid makes Silver worse than usual.  Rarely, Raid can be part of a potent Silver flood strategy, with Tower or Feodum.
#101 ▼2 Merchant Ship (Seaside) Weighted Average: 11.9% ▼10.5pp / Unweighted Average: 16.6% / Median: 10% ▼7.1pp / Standard Deviation: 19.3%

Merchant Ship falls again in the rankings.  Terminal coin payload is rarely exciting, and Merchant Ship is no exception.  If there's available terminal space, it's usually a little better than Gold, but there's almost always something better to do.
#100 ▼2 Venture (Prosperity) Weighted Average: 13.2% ▼9.7pp / Unweighted Average: 18.7% / Median: 10% ▼7.9pp / Standard Deviation: 19.0%

Venture also continues to fall year after year.  It is rated higher by less skilled players.  Venture is exceptionally weak in engines where you draw your entire deck.  In most other decks, it's rarely much better than Gold.  Venture has a role in games where you can remove your Copper, you can't draw your deck, and treasure is the best payload.
#99 ▲1 Pillage (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 15.3% ▼6.1pp / Unweighted Average: 20.3% / Median: 12.7% ▼5.2pp / Standard Deviation: 19.1%

Pillage stays around the same position.  Pillage is strong engine payload, but it requires a lot of draw to support.  If you can't draw and play the Spoils on the turn you play Pillage, your engine might fall apart.  Pillage also demands that you regain it each turn, which is a lot to ask.
#98 ▲3 Rogue (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 20.5% ▲0.4pp / Unweighted Average: 22.4% / Median: 13.9% ▼2.0pp / Standard Deviation: 17.6%

With a big gap of 5.2%, Rogue distances itself from the bottom tier of cards.  Rogue has two functions: trasher and gainer.  As a gainer, it works nicely with trash-for benefit and powerful one-shot cards.  As an attack, Rogue usually disappoints.  If any mediocre cards like Silver are added to the trash, Rogue will stop attacking.  But, sometimes the trash remains clean and you can punish your opponent's engine with consistent Rogue attacks.
#97 ▼3 Mystic (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 24.2% ▼8.1pp / Unweighted Average: 26.4% / Median: 19.1% ▼7.2pp / Standard Deviation: 17.4%

Mystic falls a little in back-to-back years, but is still clearly outside of the bottom tier (being 8.9% higher than #99).  Coin payload continues to be unexciting at .  Mystic is at its best when you know what the top card of your deck is, and there are several ways to get that information.  Without that, Mystics just clog up an engine.
#96 ▼23 Duke (Intrigue) Weighted Average: 26.2% ▼21.8pp / Unweighted Average: 26.5% / Median: 20.9% ▼24.4pp / Standard Deviation: 18.5%

Duke is a huge loser in this list, down 23 ranks and 21.8%.  Duke was only rated above average four times.  A Duchy + Duke greening strategy competes with a Province-greening strategy most of the time.  The Duke strategy generally has the edge if the game lasts long enough and the extra victory cards are manageable.  There are two common cases for this: in a low-powered non-engine board, and when a slow-to-build engine needs to contest a faster strategy.  As the average power level of Dominion kingdoms rise and players get better, Duke becomes less and less relevant.
#95 =0 Graverobber (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 26.3% ▼2.7pp / Unweighted Average: 28.6% / Median: 25.5% ▼0.4pp / Standard Deviation: 14.2%

Graverobber stays around the same spot with a lot of agreement.  Graverobber is primarily an engine payload card which lets you convert actions into Provinces.  Graverobber can also gain cards from the trash, which provides some self-synergy.  If you have enough +actions, Graverobber as payload is generally better than just buying Provinces, but it can't compete with the best payload cards.
#94 Tormentor (Nocturne) Weighted Average: 27.6% / Unweighted Average: 27.5% / Median: 18.2% / Standard Deviation: 22.5%

Tormentor is the first Nocturne card to make an appearance.  Tormentor begins the trend of Nocturne cards that are awkward in some way.  As an attack, Tormentor is below-average.  The Imp-gaining is most valuable in an engine, but it's very difficult to play Tormentor first in an engine.  In the kind of decks that do regularly play Tormentor first, Imps are least valuable.  Tormentor is a pretty strong opening buy, and sometimes you need attacks to slow down the opponent, so Tormentor has a role.
#93 ▼2 Windfall (Empires) Weighted Average: 27.6% ▼5.6pp / Unweighted Average: 27.4% / Median: 22.7% ▼3.6pp / Standard Deviation: 18.9%

Windfall stays in about the same place, and with more agreement.  Windfall is a great influx of money for decks that have thinned down.  Some games, though, you can't activate the condition.  Sometimes, you only have one buy and the three Golds are superfluous.  In yet other games, by the time you could get Windfall, it's more valuable to work towards a 3-pile ending.
#92 Bandit (Base - 2nd Edition) Weighted Average: 28.3% / Unweighted Average: 29.5% / Median: 28.6% / Standard Deviation: 17.6%

Bandit was added in the second edition of base Dominion.  Bandit is a pretty good engine payload card if Gold is desirable.  The attack is usually minor, but it can punish money-centric decks pretty hard.  Bandit is also sometimes the strongest terminal in a moneyish game.  Bandit is one of the likeliest culprits for emptying the Gold supply.
#91 ▼4 Giant (Adventures) Weighted Average: 29.1% ▼6.9pp / Unweighted Average: 35.8% / Median: 31.5% ▼3.2pp / Standard Deviation: 21.1%

Giant continues to fall, but there is significant disagreement.  Less skilled players tend to rate it higher.  Giant is pretty strong engine payload, provinding both money and a powerful attack.  But Giant is slow to get going, so it doesn't play a role in some games.  Giant is spikey, so there's an incentive to play at least two per turn.  Giant's spikiness can be a benefit in low-powered single-terminal games.  Every other Giant play is very likely to lead to an + hand for Province.
#90 ▼1 Cartographer (Hinterlands) Weighted Average: 30.1% ▼4.7pp / Unweighted Average: 31.5% / Median: 25.5% ▼6.1pp / Standard Deviation: 18.6%

After last year's big drop, Cartographer has stabilized.  Cartographer provides lategame utility in both engines and non-engines alike.  But is a tough price point for utility cards; there's usually a lot of competition.
#89 ▼4 Library (Base) Weighted Average: 30.9% ▼6.2pp / Unweighted Average: 35.4% / Median: 29.6% ▼4.1pp / Standard Deviation: 18.3%

Library continues to fall a few ranks.  Library has a really high ceiling, but it's tricky to build a deck to capitalize on Library's draw.  Library engines struggle with greening and with reliability in general.  Still, sometimes it all comes together and Library is a great card.
#88 ▲7 Mint (Prosperity) Weighted Average: 31.0% ▲4.0pp / Unweighted Average: 28.9% / Median: 29.6% ▲7.9pp / Standard Deviation: 18.3%

Mint makes a solid jump up 7 ranks.  Mint's main appeal is trashing Copper on-buy.  This is a powerful effect that is tricky to time and take advantage of.  Mint's on-play ability is less exciting, but Platinum and kingdom treasures make it better.
#87 ▲7 Treasury (Seaside) Weighted Average: 31.5% ▲3.3pp / Unweighted Average: 33.5% / Median: 27.3% ▲1.5pp / Standard Deviation: 20.6%

Treasury also rises 7 ranks.  Treasury is the least exciting of the Peddler variants.  The top-decking helps a little bit.  It has synergy with some cards that appreciate a high action density, like Throne Room and City Quarter.  Empires introduced a lot of ways to get points while still top-decking Treasury, which might explain its rise this year.
#86 ▼3 Wine Merchant (Adventures) Weighted Average: 31.7% ▼6.2pp / Unweighted Average: 34.3% / Median: 29.1% ▼12.0pp / Standard Deviation: 22.0%

Wine Merchant falls a few ranks and a massive 12% in median.  Coin payload is unexciting, but Wine Merchant's contagious laughter and +buy make it a little more appealing.  Wine Merchant is best in an engine with plentiful +actions, so you can play multiple Wine Merchants and minimize the downside.  Wine Merchant is also handy for spiking high price points.
#85 ▼4 Band of Misfits (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 31.9% ▼6.3pp / Unweighted Average: 38.7% / Median: 32.7% ▼4.1pp / Standard Deviation: 23.6%

Band of Misfits drops a little, but it has a lot of disagreement.  Stronger players are less fond of the card.  The value of Band of Misfits depends heavily on the board.  Sometimes, the key cards cost and there's no value in picking up the Misfits.  Other times, multiple engine components are all or less, and Band of Misfits is a versatile card.  The former is more common than the latter.
#84 ▼16 Treasure Trove (Adventures) Weighted Average: 32.4% ▼16.1pp / Unweighted Average: 33.3% / Median: 29.1% ▼14.1pp / Standard Deviation: 22.1%

After Treasure Trove's big jump last year, it's back a little below where it started.  Treasure Trove is a strong addition to most non-engines, especially those with sub- terminals like Gear or Masquerade.  Sometimes, a single Treasure Trove is a good addition to an engine - if the engine wants the Gold and can deal with the Copper, but this is not common.
#83 Pooka (Nocturne) Weighted Average: 32.9% / Unweighted Average: 33.7% / Median: 27.3% / Standard Deviation: 21.8%

Pooka is the next Nocturne card on the list.  Trashing Copper and increasing one's handsize are both great, but this particular combination is a little awkward.  In games with Pooka, you'll have 4+ non-Copper junk cards (thanks Cursed Gold!), so you probably want another action that can clean those up.  Early on, Pooka might draw your trasher and other actions dead, until you have sufficient village density.  Later in the game, Pooka can once again become awkward as you run out of Copper to trash.  Still, Pooka is powerful, so it's often worth it to try to work around its limitations.
#82 Sacred Grove (Nocturne) Weighted Average: 33.2% / Unweighted Average: 34.2% / Median: 32.7% / Standard Deviation: 17.6%

Sacred Grove is the next Nocturne card on the list, and it has relatively high agreement.  Terminal coin payload with +buy reminds us of Wine Merchant, and Sacred Grove seems to have a similar power level.  The boons one gets from Sacred Grove sometimes help the opponent more, but high-rolling a + boon is great.
#81 ▼7 Vault (Prosperity) Weighted Average: 33.5% ▼10.0pp / Unweighted Average: 38.6% / Median: 30.9% ▼12.3pp / Standard Deviation: 20.6%

Vault is a big loser once again, especially among more skilled players.  A simple Vault + money strategy is pretty decent (as far as single-card strategies go) and is resilient to junking and greening.  But this is very rarely the strongest strategy in the kingdom.  Vault can also be used as supplemental engine payload that increases in strength while greening, but it's ignorable much of the time.
#80 ▲6 Ball (Adventures) Weighted Average: 33.9% ▼1.1pp / Unweighted Average: 29.1% / Median: 22.7% ▼8.9pp / Standard Deviation: 19.1%

Ball is a statistical oddity with a abnormally low median, but 6 votes above average.  Ball's value is highly dependent on the board.  If the important kingdom cards cost or more, Ball might not ever be purchased, but if there are strong cards costing or , Ball is a great way to get them.  Ball works especially well with cost reduction - especially Highway.
#79 ▲10 Emporium (Empires) Weighted Average: 35.0% ▲2.8pp / Unweighted Average: 32.3% / Median: 29.1% ▼2.5pp / Standard Deviation: 15.4%

Emporium rises 10 ranks from last year and has more agreement.  Emporium is deceptively attractive.  Patrician is just good enough that Emporium is likely to be exposed by the time you're thinking about greening.  And Emporium allows you to slightly improve your deck while getting some victory points.  Emporiums tend to empty in games in which they appear, but they're only marginally better than the next-best option.
#78 Tragic Hero (Nocturne) Weighted Average: 35.2% / Unweighted Average: 34.1% / Median: 28.7% / Standard Deviation: 19.3%

Tragic Hero rounds out a trio of awkward Nocturne cards.  Tragic Hero is solid terminal draw - with a twist!  If you're relying on Tragic Hero for your engine's draw, you will most likely want to hold onto your Tragic Heroes and have a difficult time doing so.  In non-engines, you'd be happy to have a terminal draw card that turns into a Gold, but you're not likely to activate the self-trashing.  Sad!  Tragic Hero is at its best as supplemental draw in kingdoms with Platinum or strong kingdom treasures.
#77 Crypt (Nocturne) Weighted Average: 35.2% / Unweighted Average: 36.9% / Median: 38.2% / Standard Deviation: 18.5%

And here's another Nocturne card: Crypt.  Crypt has a surprisingly low deviation for such an unconventional card.  Crypt can help you get control over your deck by removing a bunch of Coppers at once and giving them back one turn at a time.  This approach is best if you can get Crypt in an abnormally large hand somehow.  Crypt is also a solid support card in moneyish strategies, helping one smooth out coin from one hand to the next and allowing good treasures to be played multiple times per shuffle.  But is a steep price point for a utility card.
#76 ▼21 Ill-Gotten Gains (Hinterlands) Weighted Average: 36.4% ▼15.5pp / Unweighted Average: 42.6% / Median: 44.6% ▼9.1pp / Standard Deviation: 25.2%

Ill-Gotten Gains is another big loser, falling even further than it did last year.  There's a lot of disagreement on its rank, and less skilled players still tend to value it highly.  There is a monolithic Ill-Gotten Gains strategy that involves buying them until they pile and then buying Duchies.  Some flavor of this still occasionally comes up if there is no other (good) way to trash or distribute Curses.  More often, it's possible to build an engine that can deal with the occasional Curses from Ill-Gotten Gains and can spend their buys more productively.  Ill-Gotten Gains sometimes has value in an engine; especially when there is a productive way to trash the Ill-Gotten Gains.
#75 =0 Capital (Empires) Weighted Average: 37.1% ▼3.2pp / Unweighted Average: 38.8% / Median: 37.3% ▼3.8pp / Standard Deviation: 20.8%

Capital's ranking remains mostly unchanged.  There are a few ways to cheat Capital's downside, like Mandarin, Counterfeit, and Crown; Capital is usually dominant on these boards.  Capital can be valuable to a lesser extent as the only source of +buy, a way to spike a high price point early, or a way to spike to a big turn to end the game.

Part 2/3, presented by drsteelhammer
Part 3/3, presented by ceviri

4
Dominion Videos and Streams / aku chi on Youtube
« on: December 02, 2017, 07:34:25 pm »
I have finally joined the 21st century and created a Youtube account.

I've only uploaded a single video so far (my Noctournament match with Anders), but I plan to upload my future tournament and League matches.  All feedback welcome!


5
Tournaments and Events / Dominion Online Championship 2017
« on: August 10, 2017, 01:31:54 pm »
ShuffleIt is hosting and sponsoring a large online Dominion tournament.  You can learn more information and signup on the ShuffleIt forums: http://forum.shuffleit.nl/index.php?board=37.0

Highlights:
  • It begins on September 18th
  • You need a Gold subscription
  • There is a prize pool!
  • It's a single elimination bracket
  • Matches are 6 games, like the Dominion League

6
Taking trivialknot's suggestion, here is a thread where we can discuss the Landmarks in particular.

Landmarks

21. Labyrinth
20. Aqueduct
19. Baths
18. Arena
17. Colonnade
16. Basilica
15. Battlefield
14. Palace
13. Defiled Shrine
12. Tomb
11. Tower
10. Obelisk
9. Moutain Pass
8. Orchard
7. Triumphal Arch
6. Wolf Den
5. Bandit Fort
4. Fountain
3. Keep
2. Museum
1. Wall

7
Taking trivialknot's suggestion, here is a thread where we can discuss the $6 cards in particular.

+ cards

32. =0 Adventurer
31. ▼1 Harem
30. ▲1 Farmland
29. NEW Conquest
28. NEW Annex
27. NEW Wedding
26. ▼1 Expand
25. ▼4 Hoard
24. ▲2 Bank
23. =0 Forge
22. ▲2 Prince
21. NEW Castles
20. =0 Training
19. ▼1 Nobles
18. NEW Royal Blacksmith
17. ▲1 Fairgrounds
16. ▼4 Hireling
15. =0 Altar
14. ▲2 Peddler
13. =0 Hunting Grounds
12. NEW Overlord
11. ▼2 Border Village
10. NEW Dominate
9. ▼2 Lost Arts
8. ▲1 Pathfinding
7. ▲5 Inheritance
6. =0 Grand Market
5. NEW City Quarter
4. NEW Fortune
3. =0 Goons
2. NEW Donate
1. =0 King's Court

8
Game Reports / Distant Lands Cage Match
« on: May 22, 2017, 12:03:25 am »
I played a set of eight games against Rabid in which Distant Lands was always present.  Rabid pursued Distant Lands as a greening strategy in all but one of the games.  He vetoed two kingdoms where it didn't look like Distant Lands would be viable (or the board was otherwise unpleasant).  On the other hand, I avoided Distant Lands whenever that seemed reasonable (which happened to be 7/8 of the kingdoms we played).  Here's how it went:

Game 1 (3596085)


Code: [Select]
Militia, Mill, Pirate Ship, Distant Lands, Mint, Donate, Royal Blacksmith, Encampment, Ambassador, Forager, Envoy, Training
Rabid went first.  We both opened with Militia.  Rabid Donated on turn 4 to Militia + Silverx2.  I Donated on turn 5 to Militia + Silverx2 + Encampment.  Rabid bought one Encampment and one Gold and started gaining (starting turn 7) and playing Distant Lands.  I gained a second Encampment, a Gold, and a Forager (for +buy) by turn 8.  By turn 12, I had gained all of the remaining Encampments and all five Plunders (trashing my Silver and Gold along the way).  Starting on turn 13, I stopped playing my Forager and my game plan was to play as many Plunders as possible and buy a Province.  I trashed a Province at some point for dubious reasons.  Rabid got his eighth and final Distant Lands into play on turn 15 and started buying Provinces on turn 16.  However, my Plunder points were too much and I grabbed the final Province on turn 18 for the 52 - 50 win.  I can't say for certain that it was optimal to avoid Distant Lands completely, but winning the Encampment and Plunder splits was key on that board.  Amusingly, Forager was the best way to do so.

Game 2 (3596379)

Code: [Select]
Herald, Navigator, Courtier, Cultist, Distant Lands, Tactician, Crossroads, Shanty Town, Bishop, Conspirator
I went first.  This was a big Cultist board, obviously.  Rabid opened with Silver + Silver.  I dubiously opened Herald + Silver.  Rabid got four Cultists on turns 3-6.  I got two Cultists and a Crossroads (this game had Shelters, FYI).  Rabid won the Ruins split 7-3, and that was pretty much game over.  Much to my surprise, Rabid did decide to transition into Distant Lands (which I thought were bad for his deck).  Rabid's midgame was pretty spotty, but he eventually got enough Heralds and Cultists to put together some decent turns.  I decided to grab Bishops and try to win through attrition.  Rabid ended the game on piles (Ruins, Cultist, and Distant Lands) on turn 22 to win 23 - 10.  I don't think Distant Lands was great on that board, but Rabid demonstrated that it was one way to end the game after winning the Ruins split.

Game 3 (3596717)


Code: [Select]
Militia, Port, Temple, Cultist, Distant Lands, Groundskeeper, Duchess, Vagrant, Philosopher's Stone, Duplicate, Museum
Rabid went first.  We both opened Militia + Silver and followed it up with Cultist + Ports on turns 3 and 4.  We eventually got 3 Cultists a piece, though Rabid got his earlier.  I ended up losing the Ruins split 7-3 again, but this wasn't nearly as catastrophic as in Game 2.  Due to Museum, I had a point advantage.  So, my plan was to empty piles aggressively while staying in the lead.  We each got a Temple on turn 10.  I ended up getting a Duplicate on turn 12 and another one on turn 15, which gave me some pile control.  I bought a Temple on turn 19 for 6 VP.  I managed to empty piles on turn 20 (Ruins, Port, Vagrant) for a 34 - 21 VP victory.  No green cards were purchased.  It was a weird game.

Following this game, Rabid vetoed two kingdoms because they were unfriendly to Distant Lands, or just plain unpleasant.  I didn't catch the first game Id, but the second was 3597007 (where it looked like Keep would dominate in VP department).

Game 4 (3597061)


Code: [Select]
Distant Lands, Giant, Groundskeeper, Horn of Plenty, Wine Merchant, Envoy, Magpie, Poacher, Salvager, Baker, Baths
I went first.  We both opened Magpie + Salvager.  By the end of turn 6, our decks were pretty similar, each of us had a Baker and a Horn of Plenty.  I had a couple extra Magpies (one purchased, one gained).  Rabid had an extra Silver and Groundskeeper.  At that point, our strategies diverged.  Rabid stuck to a single Horn of Plenty and went heavily into Groundskeepers, gaining five by turn 11 and buying his first Distant Lands.  I decided to get three more Horns of Plenty, to take advantage of my Magpie lead.  I gained a couple more Magpies with Horn of Plenty and a few more from Magpie plays, to win the split 8-2 by turn 10.  Beginning turn 10, I started gaining Groundskeepers.  In turn 11, I drew three HoPs and gained 4 Groundskeepers!  At that point, I switched to gaining Bakers with my Horns and buying green.  I bought a Province on turn 12.  Rabid bought another Distant Lands on turn 12.  I couldn't even afford a Duchy on turn 13.  Rabid bought another Distant Lands, bringing him up to 7 VP from Groundskeeper VP, but he hadn't played a single Distant Lands.  On turn 14, I drew well enough to end the game on piles (Magpie, Groundskeeper, Baker) while buying a Duchy to win 13 - 7.  I think the key cards on this board were Magpie, Horn of Plenty, and Groundskeeper.  I was fortunate to win the Magpie split so completely.  Distant Lands weren't very good.  Nobody visited the Baths.

Game 5 (3597298)


Code: [Select]
Festival, Junk Dealer, Merchant Guild, Patrol, Pillage, Annex, Lighthouse, Merchant, Swindler, Cultist, Distant Lands, Training
Rabid went first.  We both opened Swindler + Lighthouse.  We both bought Lighthouses early and often.  We ended up with four each after my Swindler trashed two of Rabid's.  I bought a Cultist on my first $5.  It only managed to sneak in one Ruin, and so was probably a mistake.  We both got two Junk Dealers.  We then transitioned into buying Festivals and Patrols to draw our decks.  Rabid put Training on Lighthouse (not optimal).  I put training on Festivals (which we split 5/5).  Rabid started buying Distant Lands on turn 14.  I started greening on turn 16, with a double Province and Festival purchase.  Rabid followed up with a Province and two Distant Lands on turn 17.  I had a partial dud and could only buy a Province and a Patrol.  On turn 18, Rabid got all his Distant Lands into play (4) and bought another Province.  I had another partial dud and bought a Duchy and Province (lowering the pile to two).  On turn 19, Rabid did not dud and was able to draw his deck and buy the last two Provinces for the win (43 - 27).  I definitely handicapped myself a little by not dipping into Distant Lands this game.  The extra green cards in my deck made it a little more likely for me to dud.

Game 6 (3597745)


Code: [Select]
Bazaar, Distant Lands, Forum, Mountebank, Upgrade, Aqueduct, Scrying Pool, Harbinger, Steward, Swindler, Transmogrify
Rabid went first and opened Potion + Steward.  I had a 5/2 and opened with Mountebank.  Rabid focused on trashing and buying Scrying Pools.  He bought an Upgrade over Mountebank on turn 5, which surprised me.  I wasn't fond of an early Steward (due to potential collision with Mountebank), so I bought two Upgrades and two Harbingers (to see my power $5s more often) on turns 3-6.  I bought a Bazaar and Steward on turns 6+7 to make it more likely that I could play my Mountebank each turn.  I finally bought a Potion on turn 9, and a Transmogrify on turn 10.  By turn 11, Rabid had bought 4 Scrying Pools, 2 Upgrades, and two Harbingers.  Due to my superior deck cycling, I was able to buy five Scrying Pools on turns 11-15 and play Mountebank three times.  Unfortunately, Rabid blocked Mountebank all three times.  However, Rabid had a lot of duds, and was only able to buy a Scrying Pool and a Transmogrify on turns 12-15.  On turn 15, I decided that Distant Lands were too good to ignore on this board.  It's possible that I could have set up some big three-pile for Duchies, but gaining and playing Distant Lands midturn was so much safer.  Starting on my turn 15, both Rabid and I used our Transmogrifies and Upgrades to gain Distant Lands, and we also bought Distant Lands.  Action space was limited, so we both trashed our Stewards.  Rabid gained a Bazaar.  I also finally gained a second Bazaar on turn 18 to be able to (theoretically) play a Mountebank and two Distant Lands.  Foolishly, however, I left the piles low enough (Scrying Pool, Transmogrify, Distant Lands) for Rabid to take the win on turn 18 (18 - 17 VP) with some Transmogrify shenanigans and a fortunate draw.

Game 7 (3598315)


Code: [Select]
Trader, Bandit Camp, Distant Lands, Upgrade, Forge, Wall, Gear, Merchant, Steward, Noble Brigand, Remodel
I went first.  I determined that the engine would definitely want to play with Distant Lands, so I decided to attempt a money strategy instead (though I had my doubts about my chances).  I decided to play with Gear and Upgrade.  I opened with Gear + Silver.  I bought Upgrade and a second Gear on turns 3 and 4.  I chose not to buy a Silver (or Gear) on turn 5 - expecting to get all I needed from Upgrade gains.  By turn 8, I had Upgraded a Copper and all my Estates (into Silver x2 + Gear) and bought two more Upgrades and a Gold.  Rabid opened with Steward and Silver, got an early Merchant, an Upgrade on his first $5, and two Bandip Camps on turns 7 and 8 - and thinned heavily.  On turn 9, I bought my first Province.  On turn 10, I trashed a Copper, an Upgrade for a Gold, and bought a Gold. On each of turns 11-14, I bought a Province, setting the pace of the game.  I also Upgraded an Upgrade into Gold.  Rabid bought Distant Lands on turns 9-13, thinned his deck, and got all five into play by turn 14.  Rabid bought a Province on turn 14, putting the Province pile to two.  I was sufferring -6 VP due to Wall, so Rabid led 26 - 24 heading into turn 15.  So, I Duchy danced, but Rabid was able to buy the last two Provinces (and gain a Duchy) on turns 15 and 16 to win 41 - 29.  Rabid and I agreed after the game that the combination of Distant Lands and Wall was what flipped the board in favor of the engine.

Game 8 (3598655)


Code: [Select]
Talisman, Crown, Distant Lands, Mine, Royal Seal, Conquest, Embargo, Herbalist, Stonemason, Fortune Teller, Scheme, Pathfinding
I went first.  Both Rabid and I ended up getting Pathfinding on Scheme and our early buys are targetted to that goal.  We both opened double Silver.  Rabid was able to get Gold and Mine on turns 3 + 4!  I wasn't so fortunate, and I settled for Embargo + Royal Seal.  In retrospect, Mine was pretty reasonable on this board, and I probably should have picked one up (though Royal Seal was good in the midgame).  I bought another Embargo on turn 5.  I was a gentleman and chose not to Embargo Distant Lands (at Rabid's request), though he could have hypothetically worked around the issue by using Stonemason gains (either play or buy) to get Distant Lands.  I bought a Gold on turn 6 and Pathfinding on turn 7 (despite having no Schemes...).  Rabid gained two Silvers (from Mine), three Schemes, three Crowns, and a Stonemason on turns 5-9.  He bought Pathfinding on turn 10.  I overbought Stonemason for two Schemes on turns 8, 9, and 10.  On turn 11, I used Stonemason to gain the last Scheme (winning the split 7-3) and gained three Crowns and a Stonemason.  I can't seem to see the end of the game (maybe an undo bug?).  Ultimately, I believe Rabid got some points from Distant Lands.  I got some points from Conquest, which might have been a mistake.  Once again, I misplayed the endgame and left the piles low enough for Rabid to win (Scheme, Crown, Stonemason).  It's hard to say how valuable Distant Lands were here.  Certainly, they were a viable way to get points.  But, I think I could have done a lot better if I had gotten a Mine of my own and either worked up to Platinum for Colonies or just got Golds to Stonemason into Duchies.

Ultimately, Rabid won 5 games and I won 3 games.  Of the 10 kingdoms we saw, Distant Lands was definitely a part of the optimal strategy in three of those games (Games 5, 6, and 7).  Distant Lands were marginally or arguably useful in three other games (Games 1, 2, and 8 ) - but they did not impact the outcome.  Thanks for the games, Rabid!  Please weigh in if I'm misrepresenting something.

9
Dominion League / Suggestion: 4-game matches
« on: March 04, 2017, 05:53:19 pm »
We've always played 6-game matches in the Dominion League.  I don't know all of the reasons for this precedent, but I'd like to at least consider transitioning to 4-game matches (not this season, of course).  I believe that circumstances have changed recently in two relevant ways:

Games last longer
Empirically, this is the case.  I'm a slow player, but on the Making Fun platform, I never had a 6-game match last longer than 2 hours.  On the ShuffleIt platform, almost every Dominion League match has lasted over 2 hours.  My experiences are not unique; others have reported that recent matches have been lasting longer than they used to.  The new platform (and getting familiar with it) might be responsible for some of the game duration increase, but I believe that the following reasons are more important:
  • The addition of Adventures, and - especially - Empires.  Adventures and Empires both introduce cards with a lot of decision points.  They also introduce Events and Landmarks, which add additional nuance to the games they appear in.  Most importantly (IMO), Empires adds a lot of different ways to get VP.  Games with alternate VP tend to last longer, and Empires has so many alternate ways to get VP (including all of the landmarks).  I find it increasingly rare that buying only Provinces (and some Duchies) is the correct strategy in a random kingdom.
  • The removal of 1st edition duds.  12 dud cards have been removed and replaced with reasonable cards that might be purchased.  This makes it more likely that any given kingdom has all of the components necessary for an engine.  Monolithic strategies are less effective than they've ever been for this reason (and the Empires Alt VP).
While these two factors make an average game of Dominion more interesting, they also make it take longer.

Games have less variance
The same factors that result in games taking longer also provide more opportunities for a skilled player to tilt the game in their favor, or even bring it under their control.  While there are still some kingdoms with obvious strategies - where victory hinges mightily on shuffle luck, there are many more kingdoms with so many decision points where skilled players can reasonably disagree about the best approach.

For these two reasons, I believe many people would look more favorably towards 4-game matches.  I think that 4-game matches in the current climate will take about as much time as 6-game matches in the past, and offer sufficient opportunity for a more skilled player to turn the match in their favor.

10
Let's Discuss ... / Let's Discuss Second Edition Cards: Secret Passage
« on: January 16, 2017, 09:59:32 pm »

Tip for making your passage more secret: extinguish the torch illuminating the entrance.

- Isn't this the niftiest card?
- What are some of its niftiest synergies?  Personally, I like Native Village and Lookout.
- Even on boards without any nifty synergies, Secret Passage can help you avoid terminal collision, space out your villages and terminals, seed your next turn, smooth money, or make bad cards miss the shuffle.  How valuable is this?
- Under what circumstances would you open with Secret Passage?

11
Game Reports / Bonfire vs. Plan Cage Match
« on: December 17, 2016, 12:29:18 pm »
I played a set of six games against markusin in which Bonfire and Plan were always present, but I was not allowed to buy Bonfire and markusin was not allowed to buy Plan.  We seemed to be pretty evenly matched otherwise.  Here's how it went:

Game 1


Code: [Select]
Bonfire, Plan, Crossroads, Raze, Apothecary, Masquerade, Scavenger, Talisman, Worker's Village, Cultist, Haunted Woods, Journeyman
The first game was dominated by Masquerade and Cultist, but we did decide to make use of Bonfire and Plan, respectively.  I opened with Masquerade + Potion, pursuing Apothecary.  markusin opted for Masquerade, a couple early Silvers, and a Bonfire.  markusin got a little unlucky in the early game; his Masquerade missed the shuffle and he didn't hit $5 until turn 5.  We both purchased a Cultist on turn 6.  markusin went heavily for the Cultists, picking up three more in the following three turns.  Meanwhile, I didn't hit $5 until turn 9, when the Ruins were half gone.  So, I opted for Plan (on Worker's Village) + Worker's Village - immediately trashing an Estate.  I trashed another Estate and two Ruins with Plan in the subsequent turns.  markusin bought Bonfire a couple more times, trashing a total of 5 Copper and a Ruined Village.  By the start of turn 12, we each had 0 Estates and 3 Ruins; but I had 7 Copper to markusin's 2.  markusin decided to invest in payload, getting Gold, Gold, Haunted Woods on turns 12-14.  Copper wasn't terrible for my deck (due to Apothecary), but I wanted to get rid of the Ruins ASAP, so I picked up a second Masquerade on turn 12.  My deck came together nicely, and I was able to rid myself of Ruins and buy Province + Apothecary on turns 13 and 14.  I got ahead in VP and was able to finish with a win, despite a brutal Haunted Woods attack followed by Masquerade on turns 17 and 18.

I'm not sure which of us had the better strategy.  I was certainly forgoing Cultists by investing in the Potion and Apothecaries.  I figured that Masquerades would be defense enough against the Ruins barrage.  It worked well; I didn't need to slow down for payload thanks to my Apothecaries and Coppers.  I wonder, however, if things might have gone differently if markusin's Masquerade hadn't missed his second reshuffle.  He would have been a little thinner and with an earlier Cultist.  Hard to say.  Either way, Bonfire + Plan were pretty useful in our respective strategies; slightly better than getting an additional Masquerade, I suspect.

Game 2


Code: [Select]
Bonfire, Plan, Lighthouse, Pawn, Develop, Swindler, Tunnel, Plaza, Apprentice, Relic, Hoard, Peddler
This was a solid victory for markusin.  There were three important factors involved, as far as I can tell.
  • Bonfire was definitely better than Plan here.  Apprentice is great at trashing Estates, but lousy at trashing Coppers.  Peddler rewards Copper trashing, so Bonfire was great.  markusin bought Bonfire three times by turn 9.  I didn't even pick up a Plan.  I probably should have, but I didn't find the opportunity.
  • I had terrible shuffle luck with my Apprentices.  They missed shuffles without fail, and rarely collided with Estates.  markusin's Relic definitely hurt here.
  • markusin's single Lighthouse defended against my two Swindlers better than I anticipated.

Game 3


Code: [Select]
Bonfire, Plan, Squire, Loan, Oracle, Coppersmith, Nomad Camp, Thief, Worker's Village, Embassy, Trading Post, Fairgrounds
The third game ended up being a Fairgrounds slog.  I opened with Loan + Oracle, while markusin opened with Silver + Bonfire (the first and last).  On turn 3, I used Plan on Worker's Village - which I bought on turn 4.  I ultimately trashed two Estates with Plan.  markusin looked to be pursuing a simple Embassy money strategy, picking up his first Province on turn 7.  Faced with racing against that, I decided to settle at 4-point Fairgrounds.  Noticing that I was not cooperating in emptying the Province pile, markusin began diversifying his deck to get to 4 VP Fairgrounds.  Neither of us were well prepared for the intense greening that occurred in the second half of the game.  Ultimately, I was worse off because of all the Coppers my Loan had trashed.  markusin pulled ahead and I couldn't close the gap.  I'm sure I misplayed this game.  Ultimately, neither Bonfire nor Plan was super critical here.

Game 4


Code: [Select]
Bonfire, Plan, Vineyard, Squire, Lookout, Masquerade, Oracle, Storeroom, Marauder, Mining Village, Bandit Camp, Highway
The strategy in this game seems pretty clear in retrospect: get a bunch of Highways and +buy.  The draw is poor, so you'll want to trash heavily.  This is the strategy that markusin pursued.  I thought that Vineyards were going to be important, so I focused on getting Squires early.  As a consequence, I couldn't afford Highway and got blown out of the game.  Some details:

markusin opened Masquerade + Bonfire (his only Bonfire).  I opened with Masquerade and Lookout.  I never bought Plan.  Bonfire seemed a little better than Lookout here.  markusin subsequently bought a Silver and Bandit Camps.  The Silver seems like an obviously good idea, to afford Highways.  I'm less fond of the Bandit Camps, given the lack of draw.  Storeroom did help markusin get to his Spoils, though, which was cool.  But who am I to critique?  I bought Squire over Silver at every opportunity (thinking Vineyards would matter).  I did manage to pick up a Highway on turn 7 and we were pretty even at this point.  However, I couldn't get another Highway and markusin's deck snowballed hard (as Highway and +buy decks tend to).

Game 5


Code: [Select]
Bonfire, Plan, Herbalist, Native Village, Pawn, Fishing Village, Death Cart, Duplicate, Plaza, Horn of Plenty, Library, Market
This was a cool draw-to-X engine.  Fishing Village and Plaza both work well with Library.  Pawn and Duplicate also disappear from the hand.  Native Village has the potential to store away some junk.  It's possible to discard Copper with Plaza, but there isn't any good way to set aside Estates with your Native Village.  Bonfire was pretty good, of course.  You don't want many Coppers in a draw-to-X engine, and markusin opened with Bonfire and bought it a couple more times to trash six Copper.  However, he could never get rid of his starting Estates.  Plan on Fishing Village was fantastic for me.  I ended up trashing my starting Estates and four Copper (and I had another set aside on my Native Village mat for much of the game).  Despite my slow 5/2 start, I was able to get the upper hand and end the game in a three-pile.  I think we both underutilized Duplicate here; it was better than I've seen.

Game 6


Code: [Select]
Bonfire, Plan, Courtyard, Great Hall, Swindler, Coppersmith, Salvager, Tournament, Cartographer, Council Room, Saboteur, King's Court
The last game was a Tournament blowout in my favor.  We both opened with Tournament + Swindler.  markusin followed it up with a Bonfire and Cartographer.  I Planned to get Tournaments and did just that.  I decided to go all in on Tournament and hope I'd be way ahead by the time markusin got a Province.  My gamble paid off.  My deck got super thin and strong as a I bought Tournament after Tournament and trashed all three Estates and a Curse by turn 7.  I bought a Province on turn 8, paired it with my Tournament on turn 9, and snowballed from there.  markusin had no way to get rid of his Estates or Curses and a single Cartographer wasn't cutting it.  He conceded when I gained and played Followers.  I believe Plan was the superior trasher here.

Summary
markusin and I played six fun games.  We each started three games, and we each won three games (not the same games).

In game 1, Bonfire and Plan were both decently helpful in our respective strategies.  Bonfire helped markusin collide Cultists.  Plan removed Estates from my Apothecary engine.
In game 2, Bonfire was definitely better than Plan, because thinning was very important and the trashers on the board (Apprentice and Develop) were much better at trashing Estates.
In game 3, neither Bonfire nor Plan made a huge impact, because it was a sloppy slog.
In game 4, Bonfire was a little better.  Masquerade handled most of our trashing, but markusin's opening Bonfire was pretty solid.
In game 5, Plan was better than Bonfire, because thinning was very important, Plan was the only reliable way to remove Estates, and Fishing Village made a great Plan target.
In game 6, Plan was better than Bonfire, because Plan was the best way to trash Estates and Curses (Salvager was an inferior option, IMO, but wasn't attempted), and fast Copper trashing wasn't essential.

Edit: I forgot that Salvager was in Game 6, so it isn't as obvious that Plan was essential (though I think it was stronger than Bonfire here).

12
Dominion Articles / Best Traveller Accelerators
« on: February 02, 2016, 12:04:38 am »


Page and Peasant: the Travellers.  These unique $2 cards get exchanged up to four times - upgrading themselves each step of the way.  The last steps in the chain, Champion and Teacher, are game-changing cards that you usually want as soon as possible.  It's worth considering, then, what other kingdom cards and events help accelerate your Traveller exchange.

In what follows, I reflect on the best Traveller accelerators.  The baseline card-to-beat is Ironmonger.  Ironmonger lets you look at two additional cards (rarely three) and play one (rarely two).  This is pretty good, but all of the following can be more powerful Traveller accelerators.  Sometimes, these cards are more limited than Ironmonger, or are otherwise inferior at helping your economy.  Often, I will speak of turns 3 and 4 - assuming you purchase a Traveller and accelerator on turns 1 and 2.  Know that the logic for turns 3 and 4 is also likely to apply to future turns, but in a less controlled way.


Play Traveller on Turn 2
Playing a Traveller on turn 3 or 4 is the norm, but it is actually possible to play a Traveller on turn 2 with these two events.  Great start!

Travelling Fair
If you open with $4+, you can purchase Travelling Fair + Traveller and top-deck the Traveller.  Then, you will have a Treasure Hunter or Soldier in your first reshuffle.  Great deal!  Subsequently, you can use Travelling Fair to top-deck additional Travellers.  Consider top-decking a couple Pages before you play your Warrior.

Summon
If you open with $5+, you can purchase Summon and gain a Traveller.  It will be played on turn 2.  This is especially useful with Peasant, because Soldier will make it into your first reshuffle.  Summon is less good with Page.


Find Traveller in Deck
Once you have a Traveller, the best thing to do is find it in your deck (or discard pile) - wherever it is!  There are a couple of cards that can do just that.

Sage
Sage can't help you find your $2 Traveller, but it will help you reliably find your $3+ Travellers - as long as you have no other non-Sage cards that cost $3+.  So, this is a very powerful, but very restrictive accelerator.  It works well when there are other good $2- cards in the kingdom.  Sage works especially well with Peasant.  A deckful of Sages looks a lot less bad when they have a +1 card token from Teacher!  Opening with Sage is a little risky.  It's fantastic if you draw your Traveller on turn 3 and your Sage on turn 4, it's good if you draw both on turn 3 (playing Sage will discard your entire deck), but terrible if you draw Sage on turn 3 and your Traveller on turn 4.

Hunting Party
Hunting Party can reliably find your Travellers - if you have a small amount of diversity in your deck.  Opening Traveller + Hunting Party is fantastic.  Otherwise, focusing on either buying just Silver or a single spammable $4- card might be ideal.  Hunting Party is better with Peasant for a few reasons: (a) Peasant and Soldier are a little better at helping you reach $5, (b) Treasure Hunter and Hero will add other cards to your deck, (c) Disciple can gain more Hunting Parties, and (d) Teacher super-powers a Hunting Party stack with +card or +coin.


Draw More Cards
Sometimes you need to find your Traveller the traditional way: drawing more cards (which you may or may not keep).

Warehouse
Warehouse is cheap and lets you draw 3 additional cards per play.  It's a great Traveller accelerator.

Dungeon
Like most situations, Dungeon is comparable to Warehouse, but probably a little worse on net.

Cellar
As a Traveller accelerator, Cellar is better than Warehouse!  You can draw four cards with Cellar.  You can also choose to draw fewer cards to avoid triggering undesirable shuffles.

Storyteller
Even with just Copper, Storyteller can draw four new cards.  With Silver or Gold (conveniently provided by Treasure Hunter and Hero), Storyteller can draw even more cards.  Storyteller is a top-notch Traveller accelerator.

Minion
Like Cellar, Minion can also draw four more cards.  It stacks better and provides better economy, but it's more difficult to acquire.  Slightly better with Peasant.

Stables
Stables draws three cards, so it's comparable to Warehouse as a Traveller accelerator.  It is more costly, but it provides more economy.


Take More Turns
Taking additional turns is similar to drawing more cards, but better; you might get to exchange the same Traveller twice!

Mission
With Mission, you can exchange your Travellers twice as fast as usual.  And... possibly do nothing else.  So, it's tricky to decide how often to use Mission when Traveller is on the board.  Mission is better when there are ways to gain cards other than buying them.  It's better with the Page line, because Treasure Hunter and Hero will gain cards themselves.  Disciple also gains a card, but only if you can pair it with an action - a challenge if you use Mission frequently.

Outpost
Outpost will also provide another turn, but with only three cards.  So, it's generally a little better than Warehouse and Stables as it concerns Traveller acceleration (but it isn't stackable and misses more shuffles).  Outpost works better with the non-terminal Travellers, of course, but it's not obvious which line that favors.


Skip Past Non-Traveller Cards
These cards aren't much help getting a Traveller into your hand when you play them, but they let you see your Travellers more often by sifting through non-Traveller cards.

Scouting Party
For just $2 (no additional buy needed), you can discard three non-Traveller cards.  You should buy Scouting Party often when you're trying to upgrade a Traveller.

Navigator
Each play, Navigator can discard five non-Traveller cards!  But, if the next five cards contains a Traveller, you don't get much benefit.  Navigator is better with Page, because it and Treasure Hunter are non-terminal.

Messenger/Chancellor
If, when you play Messenger/Chancellor, your deck doesn't contain a Traveller, you can discard all of those cards.  Great!  Better with Page, because it and Treasure Hunter are non-terminal.  Consider opening Page + Messenger/Chancellor.  If you get them both on turn 3, it's fantastic.  In any other case, Messenger/Chancellor is, at best, only slightly more useful than a terminal Silver.  Messenger has additional synergy by making it easy to acquire additional Travellers - either with its on-buy ability or +buy on play.  Scavenger can be used like Messenger/Chancellor, but it has additional utility, and so is mentioned in a separate entry later.

Tactician
At its best, Tactician is discarding non-Traveller cards and drawing five additional cards for the next turn.  If your Traveller is non-terminal, you aren't even concered about collisions.

Guide
When Guide is on your tavern mat, you can skip the next five-card hand that doesn't include a Traveller.  Huge acceleration!  Guide is non-terminal, so it never gets in the way of playing your Travellers.

Wandering Minstrel
What do all of the Travellers have in common?  They are all action cards.  So, Wandering Minstrel will never discard them.  Instead it discards ~2 other cards you don't care about.  It's non-terminal and easily chainable.  Better with Peasant, because Champion has no need for villages.

Cartographer
The most flexible sifter.  It replaces itself and can discard up to four non-Travellers.  It never conflicts with Travellers.

Apothecary
Unlike the other cards in this category, Apothecary skips past non-Traveller cards by drawing them to hand.  Without trashing, Apothecary is likely to draw approximately three additional cards.  Apothecary is difficult to acquire, but boosts one's economy.  Slightly better with Peasant.


Bring a Traveller from Discard to Deck
These cards don't help much when your Traveller is in your deck, but it can place a recently exchanged Traveller on or in your deck, to let it be exchanged again.

Scavenger
Almost strictly more useful than Messenger/Chancellor.  It's great if you draw both Traveller + Scavenger on turn 3, but it's also great if you draw Traveller on turn 3 and Scavenger on turn 4; you can ensure another exchange on turn 5.  Works better with Page, because it and Treasure Hunter are non-terminal.

Herald
The overbuy effect is the real attraction.  If your have a Traveller in the discard pile and $5+ coins, you can exchange it again next turn.  Otherwise, Herald synergizes better with the Peasant line.

Inn
The on-gain effect is very helpful, but the on-play effect is also helpful to dig for your Travellers.  Shuffling Inn and Traveller into a deck of fewer than ten cards provides pretty good odds of playing the Traveller next turn.  Inn synergizes better with the Peasant line; Champion has no need for villages.


Trash Non-Traveller Cards
Last, but not least, we can exchange Travellers faster by thinning our deck of non-Traveller cards.  Some of these cards share qualities with the other categories of Traveller enablers, but also thin one's deck.

Raze
Raze will remove an Estate (or itself) and let you look at two additional cards.  If one of them is your Traveller, you can play it that turn.  Fantastic.

Spice Merchant
Trash a Copper and draw two cards.  If one of them is your Traveller, you can play it that turn.  Also fantastic.

Lookout
Look at three additional cards.  Trash one and discard another.  Definitely helps you get to your Travellers faster.  It's non-terminal, so it doesn't conflict with terminal Travellers in hand.

Apprentice
Apprentice can trash Estates and draws two cards non-terminally.  However, if you don't collide with an Estate you'll need to find something else to trash.  Apprentice works well with the Page line, because Treasure Hunter and Hero provide good fuel for Apprentice.

Doctor
If you open with a Doctor overbuy on turn 2, you can guarantee that your Traveller is drawn on your third turn.  The on-play effect is also useful.  You're likely to be able to trash two cards from your deck, and if a Traveller is revealed, it will be placed safely back on top of your deck.  Because Doctor is terminal, it conflicts with Peasant and Soldier, but Peasant works slightly better with a Doctor overbuy on turn 2 (trash exactly one card and you can immediately shuffle the Soldier in after turn 3).

Steward
Steward trashes two cards from hand.  It works a lot better with Page for a few reasons: (a) Page and Treasure Hunter are non-terminal, (b) gaining extra Pages after a Steward trash is helpful, (c) Treasure Hunter and Hero gain treasures to replace lost Copper, and (d) post-Champion, Steward becomes a Laboratory.

Chapel
Nothing fancy.  Just trash four cards from hand.  Needless to say, this speeds up your Traveller exchange.  Chapel is significantly better with Page for most of the same reasons as Steward.

Mint
Buying Mint lets you trash five Coppers.  If you open with Mint + Traveller, you have 71.4% chance of seeing your Traveller on turn 3.  Even with a $3/$4 opening, it might be valuable to buy Mint on turn 3/4 if you can trash 4-5 Coppers.  Missing 5 Coppers from the get-go definitely hurts one's economy, but thankfully Treasure Hunter and Soldier provide economy that can get you out of the 2 Copper hole of an early Mint.  Before you play Treasure Hunter and Soldier, you will likely have turns when you can buy additional Peasants or Pages.  The Page-line has additional synergy with Mint, because Mint can duplicate the treasure gained with Hero.

There you have it: 32 cards and events that are, at least situationally, very good Traveller accelerators.  If any of these kingdom cards are present in conjunction with a Traveller, you should strongly consider purchasing them.  If a Traveller is in the kingdom, the conditional probability that one of these accelerators is also in the kingdom is ~67%.

Edit 1: Added Storyteller and Apprentice.  How could I forget!?
Edit 2: Added Mint.  Seems strong enough.  I'm on the fence about Bonfire; the trashing is valuable, but the opportunity cost is multiple additional Travellers (at the very least).

13
Variants and Fan Cards / Tribute (Alternate Version)
« on: November 18, 2015, 08:30:21 pm »
In my experience, Tribute is a pretty frustrating card to use.  If you're hoping to get +action, do you play it before your other actions?  Here is my simple attempt to fix my biggest frustration with Tribute while keeping its flavor and general power level (I think my variant is a little more powerful - which Tribute deserves).



So, what do you guys think?  Would this card be more playable than the Tribute that was printed?  Is it stronger or weaker?  Is it too strong or too weak?

14
Dominion Articles / Combo: Bridge and Royal Carriage
« on: October 20, 2015, 01:16:21 am »
This combo is similar to Native Village and Bridge; the goal is to end the game with a megaturn where you play and replay Bridge several times to buy out the remaining Provinces (and perhaps some Duchies).  Multiple Royal Carriages can replay the same Bridge.  The condition for the megaturn is 6+ Royal Carriages in reserve and a Bridge and 1 additional coin in hand.  If some Provinces are gone, you can also end the game with 5 Royal Carriages in reserve, a Bridge and sufficient coin in hand (6 additional coin for 6 Provinces, 4 additional coin for 5 Provinces).

Strategy (without supporting cards):
  • Open with Bridge and Silver.
  • Buy Royal Carriage whenever you can.
  • Buy Silver with 3 or 4 coins.  Buy an extra Bridge or two if the opportunity presents itself and you aren't worried about collisions.
  • Use Royal Carriage on Bridge to buy more Royal Carriages (as many as you can - 6 may be required for a Province-rush strategy).
  • Once you have 6+ Royal Carriages in reserve (or 5 with the coin to buy out Provinces), play a Bridge and re-play it 5+ times.  Buy out the Provinces and as many Duchies as you can.

The speed of this combo depends on shuffle luck.  With very good luck, it is possible to buy all eight Provinces in 12 or fewer turns.  With poor luck, it is still possible to buy out the remaining Provinces and several Duchies by turn 16.  If Royal Carriages are contested, it is important to get at least 6.  However, 5 Royal Carriages are enough to buy the majority of Provinces and several Duchies.  Bridges are not heavily contested with this strategy.  1 is sufficient; 3 is plenty.

This strategy is moderately affected by attacks.  Ghost Ship is the most debilitating; it makes it harder to reach 5 coins to buy Royal Carriage, and it reduces the speed at which you can play and use Royal Carriages.  Discard attacks are an inconvenience; invest in more Silver.  Junking attacks slow this combo down a little; sifting becomes extraordinarily valuable.  Trashing attacks can hurt if they hit Royal Carriage; buy more copies than you need and keep them in reserve longer.

Synergies:
  • Sifting (find your Royal Carriages faster to set up the megaturn)
  • Estate trashing
  • Ferry (make it trivial to get Royal Carriages)
  • Save (save your Bridge until the last turn before your shuffle to maximize the impact of your Royal Carriages)
  • Colony games (your opponent is less likely to compete over Provinces, and you can end the game with your megaturn before your opponent can get 5+ Colonies)

Anti-Synergies:
  • Ghost Ship
  • Embargo (an early embargo on Royal Carriages kills the strategy)

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