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Topics - Quadell

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Dominion General Discussion / Poor House + Hamlet?
« on: December 17, 2012, 07:15:33 am »
Poor House can net you Provinces, but to do so you need a way to get rid of your treasures, and you need +actions. It's also good to have drawing ability, and it's very nice to have +buys (for extra Poor Houses and other engine cards early, and extra provinces toward the end). So combos like Poor House + Worker's Village + Chapel seem promising to me. But lately I've been exploring whether I can get Poor House to work without Chapel (or other heavy trashing), and a combo that has surprised me is Poor House / Hamlet. Hamlet gets rid of Coppers by discarding them, and gives you a card, up to +2 actions, and +1 buy.

The simulators don't play it very well, but I've found that buying only Poor House, Hamlet, and Province seems to beat big money. An early-midgame turn might look like "play Hamlet, Hamlet, Poor House, and buy 2 Poor Houses and a Hamlet", and a lategame turn can look like "play 3 Hamlets and 4 Poor Houses, buy 2 Provinces".

The thing is, I'm not a good enough player to know if this can be tweaked into an actual good strategy. I know it can be swingy from having too many cards in the deck. I may not be playing it as well as I could, and I'm sure the strategy could be improved with other cards to buy: a light trasher (e.g. Forager) might be useful, though a heavy trasher would just negate the advantage of Hamlet. What do you guys think? Is this a workable combo?

Puzzles and Challenges / A Perfect Ten
« on: May 18, 2012, 01:47:01 pm »
New puzzle: "A Perfect Ten".

The following ten cards have something specific in common. Can you figure out what it is? And there is one more Dominion card (so far) that would also fit in with these ten... can you name it?

  • Council Room
  • Expand
  • Farmland
  • Festival
  • Harvest
  • Saboteur
  • Spice Merchant
  • Trusty Steed
  • Vault
  • Warehouse

Variants and Fan Cards / Trash and draw to replace
« on: May 09, 2012, 09:15:43 am »
One mechanic I haven't seen explored much is a "trash and then draw to replace" ability. This could be quite powerful, and could lead to some interesting decisions. Here are two possible cards ideas that use such an ability.

Winnow ($4)
Trash 2 cards from your hand. Draw until you have 5 cards in hand.

Abandon ($5)
+1 Action
Trash your hand. If you trashed any cards this way, +3 cards.

Note that Abandon fails to deliver if you have no other cards left in your hand, whereas Winnow works fine then. And Winnow is a "dead draw", whereas Abandon gives you an action. Although based on a similar idea, I suspect these cards would play quite differently. Winnow seems like it would work well in a BM deck, and could be effectively incorporated into an engine with no-draw villages like FV. Abandon seems like it would work best in engines that want to get rid of your treasures anyway, combining with things like Scrying Pool and Conspirator and any cantrip.

So what do you think, at first glance? Do these seem balanced? To swingy?

Dominion Isotropic / TrueSkill questions
« on: April 19, 2012, 08:27:10 am »
1. If I win a game 41-40, or if I win a game 62-10, do these both affect my "skill range" on the leaderboard the same? (In other words, are all wins equal for the purpose of TrueSkill evaluation?)

2. If I come in second in a 3-player game, or if I come in third, to these both affect my "skill range" the same?


I recently watched a video (though I can't seem to find it now) of a very good player winning with what he called a "golden deck". Bishop and Chapel were in the supply, with no attacks available besides Pirate Ship. He bought a Chapel and Bishop on turns 1 and 2, and then chapeled down to 5 cards as quickly as possible. He then bishoped his least useful card each turn, buying money, until he had enough to bishop away a Province each turn for 5 VP, and still buy a new Province each turn. (Actually, he was buying/trashing a Colony each turn, but the principle is the same.) The strategy was extremely fast, and although it's susceptible to most attacks, Pirate Ship did nothing to it.

I was impressed, and looked for discussion on how to set this up. I couldn't find posts on it... is there one I missed?

Sure enough, yesterday I found myself in a game containing Bishop, Chapel, and no likely attacks to slow it down. I set it up the same way, and it worked beautifully. (Game log.) Bureaucrat could have slowed it down, but I don't think it would have prevented me from winning. I know I messed up on turn 4, chapeling only 2 instead of 4 cards, a slip of the finger. But other than that, did I play this optimally?

My shuffle luck was decent in that game, but I'd like some advice on setting this up when the shuffles don't work out, and I assume the same skills would be applicable when setting up any extremely-small-deck combo strategies. With good shuffle luck I can buy my first Province on turn 8, and then on each turn afterwards. But I'm not sure how to handle bad shuffle luck. For instance, bad luck might lead to a Chapel-Bishop collision on turn 3 where I chapel 2 Estates and a Copper, then 4 Copper on turn 4 where I buy a Silver, then $6 (4 Copper and a Silver) on turn 5. It seems like I should pass in that case, buying nothing, hoping to shrink my deck as quickly as possible. But it seems ridiculous not to buy a Gold, since I'll need a Gold soon anyway. Which is the better move?

In general, I trying to figure out what the best way is to set this up when the shuffles aren't cooperating. Thanks for any advice.

Simulation / The limits of simulation
« on: April 12, 2012, 10:10:25 am »
Simulation won't exactly duplicate real-world play, obviously, but for some strategies that doesn't seem to matter all that much. Double-Jack is Double-Jack. But there's a very subtle problem I encountered recently that I think demonstrates the limits of simulation when determining the power of a strategy.

I was attempting to see how good a "Workshop Gardener" strategy was against other standard strategies, and I tweaked it in all kinds of ways. I finally found that against standards like Big Money, Village-Torturer, Double-Jack, etc., the best strategy was to buy all the workshops first, and then buy gardens, buying up estates with spare cash as you can along the way.

Code: [Select]
  name: 'Fastest Workshop-Gardener'
  author: 'Quadell'
  requires: ["Workshop", "Gardens"]
  gainPriority: (state, my) -> [
  torturerPriority: (state, my) -> [

This is very fast, and seemed to beat nearly every simulated strategy I could throw at it. It beats Big Money 96% of the time and Double Jack 59% of the time, whereas other Workshop-Gardener strategies (such as the one described in the Gardens article on DS) were slower and had lower percentages. I thought I knew how to win Dominion (at least when Workshop and Gardens are on the board) better than the experts.


A very small number of real games showed me how wrong I was. Although this strategy is the best at beating players who ignore Workshop and Gardens, few decent players will do that (unless they see something better on the board). And when "Fastest Workshop Gardener" goes up against a similar strategy that switches to Gardens earlier, it loses badly. For instance, I call the following strategy "Workshop-Gardener switch after 4", and it more closely simulates what's described in the Gardens article:

Code: [Select]
gainPriority: (state, my) -> [
    "Workshop" if my.countInDeck("Workshop") < 4

Although it only beats Big Money 83% of the time, and Double Jack a measly 34% of the time, it beats "Fastest Workshop-Gardener" 72% of the time. So is "Workshop-Gardener switch after 4" the best strategy? Not against "Workshop-Gardener switch after 2"! It seems to me that the best Workshop-Gardener strategy depends entirely on what your opponent does. I like to open double Workshop, and if my opponent does as well then I immediately switch to Gardens. But if my opponent starts with only 1 or even 0 Workshops, I keep buying Workshops instead of Gardens until I feel I have to switch. It's almost a game of chicken: it's best to put off Gardens buys, but you really don't want to be the second player to buy one.

And this is for trying to find the best strategy for a very simple artificial situation, where Workshop and Gardens are the only things I buy. In a real game I'll buy a good $2 or an excellent $3 instead of Estates, and there are probably other card interactions that will effect this strategy in subtle ways. There's obviously a lot about this strategy that I'll only learn through real-game experience, no matter how much simulation I do. But even for this artificially constrained situation, it's easy to overestimate the value of simulations in the absence of experience.

Rules Questions / If Secret Chamber is the Bane...
« on: April 06, 2012, 09:05:06 pm »
So if Secret Chamber is the Bane card in a game with Young Witch, and I am attacked, can I first use Secret Chamber's reaction ability (to draw 2 and put 2 back on my library) and then reveal the Secret Chamber to prevent the attack from affecting me?

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