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Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Dominion Scavenger is Back
« on: December 24, 2018, 11:36:56 am »
The online rankings site Dominion Scavenger ( has been down for a little over a month now, but I've finally had the time to make the changes necessary to bring the site back up.

Basically I cache a lot more aggressively now, so instead of constantly trying to pull latest results from the live Dominion Online servers, I pull them every minute and cache everything so when individual people load pages it all just happens on my server and doesn't reach out to Dominion Online's servers, potentially overwhelming them. So results should be updated every minute on Scavenger now (both on the "Scavenger" page as well as the "Live Leaderboards" page). As a side note, I've expanded the live leaderboard page to be the top 500 instead of just the top 200 now ( - must be in top 550 to start the day to be eligible).

My life's been too busy the past month to work on any of the suggestions that I've gotten for the site (quite obviously, as I didn't even fix the site), but the next few things I will work on will likely be:
  • Fixing the mu/phi/levels graph
  • "Recent live leaderboards" - such as leaderboard based primarily/only on the last 30 days of results.

I've also had several offers of people offering their help to work on the site. While that isn't currently too easy (my dev environments/repository settings are not easy to replicate as of right now, and most people aren't Django developers, which is what the site is written in), I want to make that more possible than it is right now, so I have a goal to make that better.

Hey folks, I'm sure most of you already know about Dominion Scavenger, the live rankings and leaderboards site that I run as a companion to Dominion Online.

The site has been up for about a year and a half now, and now that I've got some time opening up again I'm looking to add some new features to it. I want to know what to prioritize based on what people would actually use. The core functionality of the site will always be being able to see your rankings change after each game, but there's a lot more already to the site and a lot more I'd like to add.

Things I'm going to add soon to the site:

  • Making the dates for the past levels/mu/phi chart on the bottom of more configurable.
  • A little data dictionary explaining some general guidelines for how the rankings work

Ideas I already have or have been given for the site, let me know if you support wanting any of these:

  • A "Recent Past" leaderboard showing who has been the best player not just of all time, but also over the last 7 days and 30 days (this would use glicko2, but a slightly different formula to reflect the condensed time period).
  • Ability to download various things such as past results as Excel natively
  • Ability to view historical leaderboards easily (i.e. rankings as of December 31, 2017, etc.).
  • A forecast tool telling you how different hypothetical results would affect your level
  • Any other good suggestions I get!

Things that aren't all that possible:
  • Your past record against a single player (requires some database stuff that I'm not able to do given current constraints).
  • Features that involve game logs for every game, as the game logs are not stored in a terribly parse-able format.

I also have some vague plans to add other larger sections to the site, such as links to other Dominion content, a blog section featuring some specific good articles (or, alternatively, articles I myself have written), and/or various other Dominion data sections.

Please let me know what would be of value and any other suggestions you have, I want to make the site a great place to view Dominion stuff between games!

The Dominion Scavenger website now features a way to save logs and view them in a somewhat pretty format.

You still have to go manually grab the logs at first, but you can paste them on this page here:
to create a pretty log.

That will create a saved, shareable link where you can then post a link to the prettified version of the log. Here's an example of that:

This is Version 0.1 for many reasons, but mostly I'm just releasing what I have right now since it makes for a convenient way to save and share gamelogs, and at least the logs are much easier to read than the text blocks we're currently having to work with.

Known things, for which the reasons are either technical or I just haven't had time to get around to them yet:
1) The colors are a little off (Curses, for example, are blue).
2) Not all colors are there (Reserves, Ruins, Shelters, multi-type cards), etc.
3) There aren't any of the context features which would be nice to have (Kingdom listed at top, deck trackers, etc.).

It's still a far cry from the feature set of Salvager, but hey, it's something!

First things first just go play around, as that's better than my description will be: Dominion Scavenger

Stef was kind enough to grant me database access in order to make my Ratings Estimator much more accurate, and also not make you guys keep track of your own results. So I built a tool that has a bunch of features, and should be way more useful than that ratings estimator thing.

Live Glicko Rankings

Live Results History

1) Live Ratings. As soon as you complete games, you can click "Get Glicko Estimate" and receive info about what your ranking would be if the period ended now.
2) Opponent information and Expected Win% information. You can see your implied chances of beating any given player, as well as detailed information about players you've played today.
3) Games History. You can view past results, with all of the above opponent information included.
4) A graph of your level changes over time.

Features to come, probably:
1) A graph of your level change over time.
2) A "compare players" feature.
3) Game Id's included so you can find old games to load up and replay.
4) A top "X" (100?) leaderboard that's updated throughout the day.
5) Make tables sortable.

6) Other stuff that people point out to me as useful.

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Live Ratings Estimator
« on: April 05, 2017, 03:53:43 pm »
Edit: You should probably just go here now:

If you're as fraught with grief as I am, then daily updates of the leaderboard at 00:00 UTC might not be enough for you. Or maybe you just want to receive numerical confirmation of your ability as a human more frequently than that? Well, regardless of the situation, I've built a tool to estimate your rankings at any time based off of your current ranking and the players you've played against.

You just have to keep track of the level of players that you've played and your results against them. Then you can go here: and enter your current ratings and those results and receive an estimate of what your new level will be if the rankings were to update right then and there.

New Feature: If you don't keep track of every game, you can just enter in an estimated number of wins and losses as well as your estimated average opponent's level, and still get an estimate.

The number won't be 100% perfect because in order to keep things simple you just enter your opponent's level and I estimate their mu/rating deviation from their level, but the results you get should be really close to what your actual update should be.

Again, that's

Dominion Articles / Refreshing the Dominion Paradigms
« on: April 03, 2017, 04:36:21 pm »
Refreshing the Dominion Paradigms

Dominion has changed a lot. The cards have changed, the players have changed, and, well, perhaps what Iím getting at, is that the strategies have changed. Not completely or totally, of course. Many of us remember the terminology established by Wandering Winder on deck types: Engines, Big Money, Slogs, Rushes, and Combos. I would argue, however, that thinking about decks in these terms has become increasingly irrelevant, and therefore that re-thinking and generalizing our lexicon will help players adapt to the game more quickly.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first, most glaring note is probably on the victory of the engine deck in Dominion. It has become excessively common for Engine to be the best strategy in Dominion, although of course a player like myself would argue that they are played too often, but nonetheless Engine tends to be obviously correct on a good number of boards, so much so that calling a board an ďEngineĒ board is almost meaningless. We should establish more meaningful distinctions around different types of engines, since currently our only real distinctions in the lexicon refer to how the engines are drawn, i.e. draw-to-x, village/smithy, and non-terminal.

Other reasons, which I will not dive into with as much detail in order to hopefully retain some readers for pieces of this article in which I actually say something, include the growing confusion about the difference between Big Money and ďGood StuffĒ decks (a proliferation added later by Wandering Winder), the awkward melding of Rushes and Slogs, what even constitutes the difference between a Slog deck and a Big Money deck with junk (I actually think WW answers this question well. More on that later), and the overwhelming rarity of the relevance of rush and combo decks.

Defining the Engine Deck

An engine deck, in the general sense, is quite simply a deck that seeks to reliably play a bunch of action cards each turn. While thatís a useful distinction from other types of strategies, it doesnít really give much insight into how to build the darn things. I am going to attempt to classify these decks into meaningful patterns, and then later (in different articles) circle back to distinctions to be made within even different subgenres of these classes of decks.

The Control Engine
Some engines donít care so much about what you do with them so much as they care that you can do stuff with them. Notably, these decks refer to the importance of being able to reliably draw your deck every turn, for the whole game, and to get there as fast as possible. And, generally, this is important because if you are able to do so and your opponent isnít, there is some way to just completely bury your opponent. These tend to be games where Silver and Gold become very bad cards quite quickly.

Some examples of these games include:
  • The very obvious Ambassador war, in which you can junk your opponent to Oblivion by playing multiple Ambassadors of various junk ever turn.
  • Games featuring cards that can slow your opponent like Ghost Ship, where if you slow down your opponentís pace, it can be very difficult or impossible for them to recover. Militia-based games can be this way too, though control is slightly less fiercely important in those games.
  • Games where there are other ways to junk your opponent into oblivion while maintaining control of your deck. Think Kingís Court/Mountebank. Or just Familiar.

Some important features of control decks:
  • Thinning tends to be very important in these decks. The thinning, however, should have a purpose, and that purpose should be to play as many cards as possible to slow down your opponent, as often as possible. If youíre the first one to slow your opponent down, and you keep the pressure on every turn, it can often snowball and be impossible for them to recover even if they have a card like Chapel in their decks.
  • Payload and greening should be delayed as long as possible in these decks. Draw and reliability should take absolutely priority. Points tend to really not matter, unless the game is ending incredibly soon, which, in these types of games, isnít going to be for a long time.
  • On some boards, thinning can be slightly less important than splits, though be careful about making this assumption. Imagine, for example, a board where Alchemist is the only draw. If you have 6 and they have 4, you are going to be able to support 2 extra stop cards that your opponent can not, and if those 2 extra cards are something like Ambassador you may be able to recover from being slightly thicker as long as you arenít completely overwhelmed in the thinning department. So focus on thinning, but donít ignore key cards, either.

Control decks can draw from basically any engine draw paradigm. Draw-to-x, nonterminal, and village/smithy decks all apply. Note that non-terminal draw tends to be quite strong in these decks, since nonterminal draw becomes reliable much more quickly than village/smithy draw, and offers better guarantees of success. In games where you have choices, however, you should probably be using every source of draw available to you in order to maximize efficiency and reliability. Note that draw-to-x doesnít apply here, since draw-to-x doesnít mesh with other draw types, as drawing to 7 if you already have 10 cards in hand from your Lab stack is obviously quite poor.

The Mega-Turn Engine
This is an engine where there is the ability to do something really awesome, and you donít need to green over multiple turns, but only one. I donít have much thesis-level stuff to say about these decks, actually, so Iíll just hop straight into details.

Some examples of these games include:
  • Horn of Plenty megaturns, where you get a bunch of Horn in Plentyís in play along with at least 8 unique cards, and you take all the green cards.
  • Bridge(Highway/Troll) megaturns, where you get a bunch of cost reducers in play, and with +Buy, you take all the green cards.
  • Humongous Engine megaturns. Think Council Room/Wharf/Champion, where thereís not any really great cards payload out there for a megaturn, but the deck supports so much draw that itís simply not necessary to green over multiple turns unless the game state dictates that you do.

Some important features of control decks:
  • These decks are typically a race to mega-turn first, although sometimes in mirrors there can be enough denial to limit the effectiveness of a mega-turn. Nonetheless, you should be playing for the mega-turn all game, and then reacting to something else only if the game state (i.e. piles are too low) forces you to bail out early and start taking points.
  • Just because thereís amazing power on the board, you still shouldnít neglect thinning. At the same time, however, it can be important to slightly favor economy. In a control deck, for example, you might open Amulet/Amulet to get thin, but in a mega-turn deck maybe you open Amulet/Silver to add that Wharf in early to get big turns kicking off sooner rather than later.
  • These games often end in pile-outs, not mega-turns, so be careful about that. While a Throne Room/Bridge deck certainly can take 8 Provinces, and if your opponent allows you, it should, Throne/Room Bridge decks are also very capable of buying a lot of cards from the supply and a single Estate in one turn, and ending the game with 1-0 lead. You need to track your opponentís gains very carefully, and make sure that youíre never letting your opponent win on their next turn unless youíre far behind and need to take calculated risks that your opponent might dud on their turn.

The As-Good-As-it-Gets Engine
Sometimes, the engine is just not very good. Itís never going to draw deck, itís never going to be reliable, and itís certainly never going to mega-turn. But hereís the rub: Dominion is a game about turns. Namely, Dominion is a game about average turns. Sometimes the attempt to play a lot of actions cards every turn will be very finicky, but if youíre still going to have a better average turn than your opponent playing a money-centered deck (where their best case scenario is hitting $8 unreliably, for example), then you should build the engine deck.

Some examples of these games include (these are little more complicated to outline):
  • Cartographer/Wishing Well/Conspirator/Nomad Camp/Inn, with no thinning. This board features weak thinning, weak draw, and weak +Buy. Your turns are going to be very finicky, because essentially unless you have two nonterminals in hand to start your turn, you arenít going to kick off, and thatís going to happen fairly often. But still, your average turn is going to be better than your opponent who is doing, what, playing Nomad Camp big money?
  • Fishing Village/Ghost Ship, limited to no thinning. Thatís weak draw, and certainly going to be very unreliable. However, just the fact that youíre going to be playing Ghost Ships more often than your opponent puts you in a good spot. Note that this differs from a control deck, because youíre not actually going to be reliably playing Ghost Ships every turn.
  • Highway/Chapel/no Draw. Sure, youíll have one or two pretty good turns with your 5-6 highways. But as soon as you green, you arenít drawing deck any more. So temper your expectations, but of course youíre still going to be doing better than the deck that doesnít play the weak Highway thing.

Some important features about these decks:
  • Youíre going to lose with these decks, sometimes, even against a simpler strategy. Unlike a mega-turn or control deck, they arenít going to have a 100% win-rate against even poorly played or weak money strategies. You need good draws throughout the game, and Dominion makes no guarantee of that. Nonetheless, they should be played as long as youíre giving yourself a >50% chance of winning with them.
  • These are also decks where Silver and Gold can be a very bad card, because every stop card that you add to your deck decreases your chance of kicking off, which is already pretty bad to start with. Donít completely neglect payload, but add it in slowly, as you should be focusing on cards that help you kick off, even if that kicking off remains unreliable.
  • You green in these decks earlier than in Control and Mega-turn decks, since, well, you have to score points sometimes, and youíre never going to be too reliable anyways. Still, if youíre asking the question about if you should green or keep building, the answer is almost always to keep building.

The Standard Good Engine
I saved this one for last since, although it is probably most common (but not overwhelmingly so), it is also the least prescriptive. These decks tend to be decks where the payload is good but not awesome (think Wine Merchant/Courtier/Monument, heck, even Gold), but there are reliable sources of draw/actions/thinning/gains, and so the engine is the obvious choice.

Some examples of these games include:
  • Village/Smithy/Laboratory/Wine Merchant/Remake. Obviously this is a strong engine, but itís okay if you dud a turn or two as long as youíre giving yourself a good shot at having nice big turns.
  • Alchemist/Workerís Village/Amulet/Advisor. This engine is going to be a little slow to set up, but youíre going to be building for a while and then probably greening over 2/3+ turns. Your payload here is probably Silver, just because you can use your Amulets to keep gaining it while you can focus your buys on adding draw.
  • Storyteller/Treasure Trove/Chapel. Again, this is going to be a quite good deck, but youíre going to have to green before you have $30 of buying power in your deck. Itís not a mega-turn, and control is not terribly important, but itís pretty reliable and can still pull off some fairly excellent turns (which is what differentiates this from a ďAs-Good-As-it-GetsĒ engine).

Some features of these decks include:
  • You still typically want to do everything you can to make these decks reliable. Dudding remains really bad, even if itís not game over in these decks. This means you want to thin/trash persistently, add in sifting (such as Dungeon) if you can, and have some ability to overdraw your deck for (A) reliability, and (B) the ability to keep your deck running once you start greening, since youíre going to be greening usually over at least 2 turns in these decks.
  • Pay attention to the availability of +Buy. While +Buy is available on roughly 88% of boards, itís actually usable on a decent number less than that, and if thereís not usable +Buy itís usually in your best interest to build to a deck that reliably hits $8, and no more. Cards like Haggler can be really nice for helping you continue to hit $8 while staying reliable.
  • You can afford to take some chances on payload in these decks. Adding in extra payload that youíll probably but not definitely be able to play on these boards can be okay, and you can take some chances to try and get ahead since typically these games are going to be pretty close. Donít be stupid though, if youíre probably going to dud, you should be adding in reliability. But at the same time, feel free to make your deck less than 100% in the mid-game in order to get ahead.
  • Even if junk is eventually going to get cleaned up in these decks, you still want to do it. Donít ignore Witch in these decks ever, please. This is less about control than pace. If youíre adding payload while your opponent is still cleaning up, thatís another way to get ahead. And getting ahead is how you win, of course.

Okay, so thatís it for the engine types that I think deserve distinctions. Of course there are meaningful distinctions to be made even within those paradigms, and many games tend to flirt between the lines. Keeping those deck types in mind, however, can help keep your expectations and buys aligned with a focused plan that will see you winning more games than you otherwise would with less focus.

Money, Big Money, Money-ish, Whatever

When it comes to money games, I take an opposite stance to that of Engines. Notably, itís that I think distinctions tend to be harmful here rather than beneficial. Iím not going to focus on specific examples here so much as describe the kinds of things to look out for and exploit in these types of games, and also to a lesser extend when to play these sort of decks over the above ďAs-Good-As-it-GetsĒ engine choice.

Features of these decks:
  • Silver and Gold, are, of course good cards. Many kingdom cards tend to help out, however. A good rule of thumb is that two kingdom terminals is usually correct, and, if those terminals are durations, then three is usually correct. If the terminals are not draw cards (and, really, you should relatively rarely play terminal draw BM mostly because it prohibits this), you can add in other useful cantrips with impunity.
  • Kingdom Treasures are really good. Treasure Trove is tremendous for these decks (and also because it baloons your deck, allows you to play with extra terminals). But watch out for cards like Relic. If the engine is playing Relic most/every turn, youíre going to have a lot of trouble hitting $8 with 4 card hands.
  • Points are the name of the game. This generally means two things
    • Green early. You want to be ahead in these games, not have a better deck. Standard ďBig MoneyĒ means you donít Province until you have $18 in your deck total, but most Kingdom Card strategies allow you to buy Provinces earlier than that, which basically means typically you buy one Gold and then itís all Provinces on $8.
    • Cards that give points are really great. This means Monument. But it also means Witch/Swamp Hag/Ill-Gotten-Gains, and doing things that would normally be dumb like buying Temple mostly just for the VP Chips, or taking the Defiled Shrine relatively early (but please, donít over-do this. You still need to hit $8). If you need any proof that points are important, hereís some: 1. Swamp Hag BM beats Cultist BM 2. Buying a single Ill-Gotten-Gains and otherwise playing straight big money beats straight Big Money 70% of the time!
  • Any way you can add in reliability is great
    • Baker is a big help, because smoothing out your hands that are quite honestly completely random is great.
    • Cards like Gear are also really great to this, and to a lesser extent even Haven can be very useful. But be careful about opportunity cost, because Silver is great here!
  • Gaining extra cards is great, and trashing is good as long as it doesnít take you too far out of your way. Donít over-do it, as a single trasher is usually plenty.
    • An early Raze or Hermit can still be quite good to get some crap out, and, in the latter case, add some good stuff in.
    • In Colony/Platinum gains, put more emphasis on trashing since the game will go longer and itís more important to clean out Copper.

When to play these decks, non-forced:
Iíve garnered somewhat of a reputation for being a player who plays a lot of non-forced money, i.e. I play money-based strategies on boards where a ďAs-Good-As-it-GetsĒ engine is available. Although not really, after all, because the as-good-as-it-gets deck isnít always an engine, believe it or not. Here are some of the things I look for:

  • How well is the engine going to green? If the only engine draw is Menagerie and thereís no discarding, then the engine is going to start choking as soon as it gets itís second province.
  • How fast is the engine going to grow? If thereís no +Buy and the other gaining is weak or irrelevant, then the engine is going to take forever buying parts while youíre adding green consistently.
  • How is the engine going to score? If the money player has to take (at least almost) all the Provinces to win, then he/she is probably not going to have a lot of success. But if you just need 5, youíre going to have a lot better chance at success.
  • How fast is the engine going to be reliable? Maybe the engine doesnít have great payload, but if it can start having good turns relatively quickly, youíre not going to be able to out-run it with your relatively random money deck.
  • If the engine canít compete on Junk without adding in cards they donít really want into their deck, maybe the engine isnít best. Think Jack as the only trashing or Soothsayer as the only cursing.

Donít be afraid to play with a lot of kingdom cards in this deck, but be careful, and donít try to over-complicate things by adding in cards that are only marginally useful. A village that might only sometimes be useful is probably worse than just sticking extra Silver in decks like these.

The Points Slog

Okay, this is really just a slog. The problem is, lots of people call games ďsloggyĒ just because there is junk involved even if the game is more of a money game. Hereís the key thing with slogs, and this is something Wandering Winder pointed out long ago: Itís not about if thereís junk involved or not; itís about playing a long game where youíre trying to amass an insurmountable number of points in a very unreliable, thick deck.

Some examples of these games:
  • Masterpiece/Trader | Feodum. Oh, did I mention that Iím in favor of killing the ďComboĒ deck? Because I am. These are slog decks.
  • Silk Road/Herbalist/Inheritance/Treasure Trove. I mention this because it occurred in a recent game, but the point here is that youíre inheriting Herbalist and playing a thick deck very quickly, in which youíre buying a lot of Herbalist Estates and Silk Roads very early, after probably 2 Treasure Troves before any of that. Your deck is going to be ugly, but itís going to have a ton of points. And while hitting $8 remains nice, itís not the point of the deck (which is why this is a slog and not a money deck).
  • Ironworks / Garden | Silk Road. I think itís worth killing the ďrushĒ distinction too. Because the reality is that you play rush and slog decks exactly the same way, only slog decks donít attempt a pile-out while rush decks do. But every turn looks the same, as youíre doing something relatively weak but itís scoring points every turn, and itís starting early. Rushes just end faster because they have a natural third pile.
  • On the rush note, Ball/Death Cart/Gardens. This tends to end the game quickly with a decent number of points, but youíre still doing the same (relatively weak) thing every turn.
  • Horse Traders | Duchy/Duke. Yeah, I donít need to explain this one.

Some Features of these games:
  • These decks tend to be very weak. If there is a good or even decent engine on the board, youíre probably going to get out-raced. However, strong enablers of these strategies tend to be able to far outpace money-based strategies and weaker engines.
  • These strategies tend to be focused around (A) getting to the part of the game where they score points very quickly, and (B) continuing to be able to score points throughout the duration of the game. This means you typically need extra gains, and to continue to be able to stick extra treasure and action cards in your deck while greening. Even if itís just Copper.
  • Of course, some of these decks arenít weak and will dominate almost every board. The above mentioned Masterpiece/Feodum, for example is one of those.

Okay, that will wrap up at least part one of my work on trying to define and describe decks in a meaningful and helpful fashion. Iíve purposely omitted some deck paradigms or sub-paradigms, such as golden decks, etc. Iím sure I missed some things, and Iím absolutely sure I said some things that merit disagreement. Iím also completely sure that many will find the entirety of these distinctions nearly completely useless. But I also know this: thereís still a lot of room for us (and I mean all of us, all the way from poor to good players) to get a lot better at this game.

Dominion Articles / Opening Probabilities: A Study
« on: January 25, 2017, 05:37:18 pm »
Feel free to skip around this article. I know it's long with lots of text, and it's perfectly fine if you just go to whatever section(s) you find interesting.

An Introduction

Dominion is, at it's core, a game of probabilities. This is something we know and love, especially because the probabilities of Dominion are often so vast that they get in touch with our pure thought-stuff, and reckon with the limits of our reasoning.
But there is also much that we can know about Dominion, and that is what this article is about. Specifically, this article is going to be dealing with the first few turns of Dominion in very concise, exact ways. While there is much more to Dominion than the opening turns, they are often the most important ones and largely set the pace of the game. Also, those turns are rather simple, and you should nearly exactly know what chances you are giving yourself. Hereís what you need to know when considering openings, from both hitting numbers and trashing cards standpoints.

The Economy is Thriving
Weíre a salty bunch, Dominion players. We often get super mad if we do something like donít hit 5. But how unlucky are we? Iíll start this article gently with some basic openings, and compare the differences. The first table is the probability of hitting a number at least once on turns 3-4, while the second table shows you the probability you have of hitting at least a number on both turns 3 and 4.

Openings and $$4$5$6$7

Openings and $$3/3$4/4$5/5

The difference between a Peddler Variant (in this case Poacher) and Silver in the opening may surprise you, mostly because thereís not much of one. We all know that opening a cantrip card is great for cycling, and that cycling is great, but also youíre really not at all harming your chances of hitting a number by doing so. By opening Tournament/Silver your odds of hitting 5 are almost exactly the same, while your odds of hitting 6 or 7 are very slightly lower. Maybe if your plan is to do something like Hireling-Big Money then Silver/Silver is defensible since you have a 5% greater chance to hit $6, but other than that youíre always going to want the Peddler variant.

Playing or Praying the Chapel

Alright, letís move on to some less obvious stuff. One of the angriest moments of Dominion is if your Chapel misses the shuffle. So, whatís the difference between opening Cantrip/Chapel, and Silver/Chapel?

Openings and Cards Trashed034

It turns out thereís a pretty significant difference between average number of cards trashed with Chapel when opening with a Silver (or other stop card) and a cantrip. Namely, Chapel/Silver trashes on average 3.03 cards while Chapel/Cantrip trashes 3.64.

The reason for this is two-fold, the first being that having a Silver in your deck instead of a cantrip increases the chance that Chapel misses the shuffle by more than 7%, and the second being that the Silver will be sitting (nearly) uselessly in a collision with your Chapel 30.3% of the time. With strong trashing, the importance of opening a cantrip may be less about the presence of the effect of the cantrip, and more about just getting the heck out of the way of whatever else youíre doing.

Going Big or Going Home with Double Terminals

Another question often faced in the opening is pretty straightforward: Should I open double terminal? Well in order to answer that, you need to know how good the terminals are (i.e. is it worth risking collision), but also the chances of actually getting to play them. The table below shows %íes of the time that you get to play both cards or if you just get to play one of them, either because they collided or one missed the shuffle.

Terminal Plays012

A couple main points from this table: Both your cards will miss the shuffle 1.5% of the time. This is definitely something to get salty about, and often means you just lose. You only get to play both cards on turns 3/4 37.8% of the time, though of course it can be really, really good if you get to do so. Finally, you get to play only one of the cards 60.6% of the time. So you shouldnít be expecting to be able to play both cards if you open double terminal, though it can be a very real possibility.

Steward: A Double Terminal Case Study

Double Steward is one of those hot topic debates that keeps us up at night. Okay maybe not so much, but anyways, I want everyone to sleep well. There are a few key questions with Double Steward that you need to ask. How important is being thin? Am I fine with the $2ís? Do I need to hit numbers any time soon? How good are two Stewards in my deck long term?

Sometimes the answers to those questions are marginal, and then itís really important to know what double Steward actually does for you. Here are some tables detailing (a) how many cards Steward actually lets you trash, assuming you always choose to trash, and (b) what is the difference between opening Steward/Steward and Steward/Silver in terms of hitting numbers (again, assuming always trashing).

Openings and Cards Trashed024

A couple quick notes on the above table:
  • You should see the usefulness of knowing the double terminal opening odds for Steward/Steward.
  • Steward/Steward trashes 2.72 cards on average, while Steward/Silver trashes only 1.6. Recall that Chapel/Silver trashes on average 3.03 cards, meaning that Steward/Steward is remarkably similar to Chapel/Silver at thinning rates.

And hereís the economy table.

Openings and $$2$3$4$5$6

Openings and $$2/2$3/3$4/4$5/5

In terms of economy, itís not even close. Steward/Steward means that you arenít going to be able to buy high-$ cards for a while, since even your chance of hitting even just 3 just once before the next shuffle is only 57.1%, and if you were planning on picking up a $4 village before shuffling, well good luck with that since you only have a 31.9% chance of hitting $4. Steward/Silver is much, much stronger at nearly everything, providing reasonable chances of hitting most numbers, though of course being weaker than a straight-up double economy opening. Of course, one can choose to use their second Steward for economy, but that is a dubious plan for risking the double terminal. One of the main benefits of opening double Steward may in fact be in reducing the chance that your trasher misses the shuffle, giving yourself a 98.5% chance to trash at least once instead of only an 83.3% chance.

An Outroduction

Of course there is much more to playing Dominion than just knowing the percentages. You need to build a deck, and you need to know where youíre going. But knowing the percentages can help inform you and help the decisions you make be just a little less in the dark. I plan on doing more follow-ups to this article, some with more specific or in-depth focuses, or even just different concepts such as durations in the opening.

Until then, I hope we can all keep learning, and be just be a little less bad at Dominion.

Addendum: It's been brought to my attention that it would be good to include this, so here's a link to an old Wandering Winder article that shows probabilities of hitting price points for a variety of economy-based openings:

Dominion General Discussion / MOVED: Opening Probabilities A Case Study
« on: January 25, 2017, 05:23:29 pm »
Moved to:

Sorry about that. Feel free to delete this thread, mods.

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Making More ShuffleIT (1.1.2)
« on: January 12, 2017, 04:00:48 pm »
So I made a mod for the ShuffleIT implementation of Dominion that allows you to see the duration attacks that you have in play against you. It's been tested with some help from Discord (special thanks to fieldhouse!), so it should work!

Here's an example of Haunted Woods (bonus: The bat is a .gif!):

So, what's been implemented?
Haunted Woods, Swamp Hag, Enchantress, and Bridge Troll (each with their own special animal!).

How to install:
1) Install TamperMonkey for Chrome (I'm only officially supporting Chrome, though you can make it work in other browsers)
2) Install my script:

Note: When you go to, make sure to go and not I have no idea why, but my script breaks if you use www.

That should be all there is to it, those webpages should be very easy to use. You can even get updates through TamperMonkey automatically!

Known things for me to work on (which I may or may not do):
- Displays for other things, such as if you have a Teacher on the Mat, durations in play, Relic attacks, etc.
- Champion, Moat, etc. blocking the attacks.

Variants and Fan Cards / Dominion: Highlands
« on: January 10, 2017, 12:54:22 am »
I've been playing Dominion for a while, but haven't really spent any time on this part of the forum. Anyways, I made a small expansion (12 cards). They're mountain themed. I'll let you guys figure out the play theme (if there is one).

Anthropologist is a card that can give you quite a bit of cantrip economy, but you have to keep junk around in order to activate it. It also gives you the option to take on more junk in order to keep it activated.

This card is really great, of course, but has the disadvantage that it's difficult to use it to kick off a turn, since you'll often have to discard one.

Note: This is a pile of 20. It's a really nice card for early game economy that doesn't slow your cycling, but over-buy it (or just have the game go enough turns), and the pile will run out, and you'll run out of chickens!

This is a (not too) friendly swindler. It's quite bad when it hits your coppers, but can be nice on estates. This can definitely be quite a strong card, but it's a stop card and it can be dangerous as well.

This is a thinner that can also be a junker. Not as oppressive as Ambassador, as it's really good on estates but underwhelming (though useful) on other cards.

This is an Outpost variant that basically plays a schemed (weaker, because it doesn't seek through the deck) Golem at the start of your Outpost turn. It does not stack, and costs 6 just because extra turns are super good, and this is a village so flipping over just a single smithy, for example is not bad. Arguably worse than Outpost at $6, but I think that's fine.

This gives a lot of cards and actions, but with the significant drawback of decreasing hand-size by 2 (including the card play). The bottom half makes it so it can score you two points as well, but with the draw-back of taking on a bit of extra junk.

This can be a whole lot of points, especially in a slog. Which is why it costs 5 and has the harsh on-buy drawback.

Underwhelming as a trasher, but the defense reaction bit is quite excellent. Probably a weak card, but hey, they can't all be strong and I think the interesting nature of the bottom half makes it okay. Could probably cost $2.

A simple village variant. Advantage over vanilla village is that you get to see an extra card (and potentially unlock things that need top-deck information).

This is just a smithy variant with a little twist.

It's a silver that costs $2! It also can change the atmosphere of the game by handing out a lot of coppers. Can even be used by a player who has more deck control in order to bury opponents.

Dominion Articles / Caravan Guard Strategy Article
« on: November 11, 2016, 03:15:37 pm »
So, yeah, Caravan Guard, I think a lot of people don't really understand it.

There was discussion on the Discord about it yesterday in which I proposed some things that turned out to be right (this is rare), and my good friend Emil/Wachsmuth was kind enough to run the sims and confirm my back-of-the-napkin assumptions and calculations (more on that later). The thing to understand about Caravan Guard is that it varies a lot by deck type and purchase timing, and also that the differences are subtle but pretty obvious if you stop to think about them. Caravan Guard is not a card that is easy to "feel" the effectiveness of, which is why I think a strategy article is merited.

Big Money
This is always just the easiest one to talk about. Caravan Guard is better than silver in all big money that's not terminal draw. Ok, let me clarify. Caravan Guard is not always better than silver in big money--it's better after the first reshuffle. Meaning, you still open silver/silver, but then after that you buy Caravan Guards. The difference is small in straight big money, but you're almost never playing that, so that's not the point. Monument-BM with Caravan Guard beats the same without Caravan Guard. The reason is two-fold.
1) Caravan Guard is not a stop-card, so it helps you play your "key cards" more often (in this case, Monument).
2) As soon as the average treasure value of your deck is greater than 1, Caravan Guard is more money for your deck on average than a silver is. Caravan Guard is a peddler, after all, and it only costs $3!
The caveats:
A) Caravan Guard is delayed a turn, which matters a little bit
B) Caravan Guard can miss shuffles, which also matters less than you would think
The caveats matter, but the pros of Caravan Guard outweigh the cons of it in big money. You always open silver/silver still, especially if you want to do something like hit 5, but as the game progresses the cons of Caravan Guard start to matter less and less, and the pros matter more and more.

Also, obviously if you're playing attack-BM that's not terminal draw, then CG is a real all-star. But everyone already knew this. You still open silver/silver or silver/4-cost-attack, though. Then you pile on the CG's after that, but only instead of silvers. You still take your Gold and other key cards first.

This is where Caravan Guard is pretty weak. It doesn't help you hit 5 early that well, of course, although it does get you one card closer to cycling than Silver. This isn't a huge deal though, you still want silver over Caravan Guard early on in an engine. If the engine is super tight and you don't need a ton of coin then CG can be better, but be wary of things like Scrying Pool engines that need action density--Caravan Guard is only in your deck half of the turns.

Beyond the opening, it's important to realize what Caravan Guard is in your deck once you're drawing it. It's not a peddler. It's a half-peddler. So that means you're paying $3 for .5 coins/turn, which is just a terrible investment. You almost never want to add Caravan Guard to an engine that's under control, unless your only other option is nothing. If possible, it's usually better to take engine parts/treasure over another Caravan Guard. It just gives you so little economy.

So when do you want Caravan Guard in engines?
1) On the first few turns if it's a very tight engine (such as one with no handsize increasing and key cards), and during your build-up on your way to completing the engine on medium-powered engines. High-powered engines such as Wharf/Fishing Village engines have no place for Caravan Guards, as you're simply going to have too much power too soon for the Caravan Guard investment to be relevant.

Finally, the bottom-half reaction component matters pretty much not at all in engines. It gives you roughly an extra (5/deck size * 0.5 * attacked%) coins per turn. Not a big deal. With a deck of 25 cards where you get attacked every turn, it only gives you an extra 0.1 coins per turn on average. Of course, if you’re able to get down to a very small deck then the Caravan Guards get much better because you can chain them as well. If the board is otherwise weak and there’s an easy way to gain a lot of cheap cards, then this is probably worth doing.

Hey, my favorite play-style! I’ll keep this section brief, because it’s really quite simple and caravan guard in slogs plays very similarly to caravan guards in money. Is your average treasure value at least 1.1 or so? Then get a caravan guard. Are there attacks? Then move this number down to around 1.05, depending on your deck size. Again, mathematically if your deck is any big at all the presence of attacks matter a lot less with Caravan Guard than you would think.

Also, important note: when you’re calculating average treasure value, it’s important to not calculate what your average treasure value is now, but what it will be at the start of the next shuffle. That’s an important note for all of Dominion really. Make deck-state dependent decisions based off of your next shuffle, and not your deck state during the current hand.

So, there we go, that’s my Caravan Guard article, and also my inaugural article. I’ve been playing Dominion for 123 days now, so it seemed about time, and Caravan Guard seems like an unimportant topic and thus a good place to get started  :)

Introductions / breppert Introduces Himself
« on: September 13, 2016, 04:08:33 pm »

I've been around the Dominion Discord channel a bit lately so some of you know me from there, but I thought it would be good to have a proper forum introduction before I just start putting my opinion places.

I'm a software engineer, have always enjoyed playing probability-based games (though I don't like playing cards games), but have never played any one game too much. Well, until Dominion. A friend who is a good player (but hasn't played much online since Iso got shut down) introduced me to Dominion a couple of months ago, and needless to say I've been playing a lot since then. This is especially true since I started playing online two months ago.

I've joined the Dominion League; I'm in C1 this season and have been enjoying it while at least not getting embarrassed so far (2.75 points per match through 2 matches).

See you guys around, and PM me if you want play a few games sometime.

P.S. I have little interest in the forum games, which seems important to say here if I don't want to be invited  :)

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