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Messages - meandering mercury

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1
Dominion Articles / Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« on: October 05, 2017, 11:46:01 pm »
Somewhere in the 7000 range is knowing where certain decks and deck matchups are going to end up at the end of the game.  Hearing someone say, "This game will take 11-13 turns" always blows me away.

This isn't as hard as it sounds, and I think has something to do with how long you've been playing Dominion and reading the forums. These numbers came up more in the early days when Big Money was more prevalent.

Big Money only, no attacks: 4 provinces in 17 turns
Smithy only: 4 provinces in 14 turns
Moderately strong engine: 4 provinces in ~13 turns, plus endgame control
Super powerful engine: 11 turns

An example of a "super powerful engine" is the HoP megaturn game posted on the main DS webpage, Annotated Game #9 at https://dominionstrategy.com/2012/01/20/guest-article-annotated-game-9/. Very few games go faster than 11 turns. So someone saying "11-13 turns" is saying that there is a LOT of engine potential on the board and things will go fast. If the engine is weak, it'll be 14-15 turns unless there is duchy dancing.

These numbers also illustrate why Big Money is such a plateau, and why the entire dominion community was "stuck" on BM for multiple years. On many boards with an OK BM enabler (many cards are at least as good as Smithy) and no attacks, the line between great BM play and great engine play is razor thin: one or two turns. Past that, the BM player has 5 provinces and the engine needs 4 duchies to compensate. It's hard to play engines that well, but it's easy to play BM that well.

2
Dominion Articles / Re: Combo: Masterpiece/Feodum
« on: March 07, 2014, 10:37:38 am »
There's a chance that there are 0 villages on the board, and..... something?

It can also be a nice strategy particularly in City games where everyone is trying to run Cities out so you only really have to pick 2 piles to try and pile out on. I think Feodum might be my favorite alt-VP card in the entire game.

If there are Cities AND Goons out, I would normally look to giant mega-turn potential.

On the other hand, if "everyone" refers to 3 other players in a 4p game and everyone else is rushing Cities/Goons, going for Feodum/Silver once Cities and Goons are both out (which will happen pretty quickly if players are competent) at 7$ might not be such a terrible idea.

3
Help! / Re: Best opening on board with Chapel, Cutpurse and Familiar
« on: February 21, 2014, 11:22:34 am »
Getting $3P for a familiar will be harder if other players pick up Cutpurse and attack you. And in general, with Witch around Familiar is not going to be as attractive because of opportunity cost (anytime you can get a Familiar, you could have gotten a Witch if you had bought silver instead of potion; plus there are plenty of times when you would like silly with $1P or something like that).

This is a very attack-heavy board and a lot depends on what everyone else is doing. I would have started Chapel/Silver and trashed down curses, estates and coppers, with the help of either a Wharf or a Tactician if necessary, and then picked up a Festival. Then when things are going well, I would have added in a Witch if there were many curses left. Of course, if everyone is playing defensively, the person who is attacking will end up with a lead ... and if everyone is building engines (as was already pointed out) the person who races to get VP may end up the big winner too.

Note that after curses run out and coppers are trashed, the engine player can still keep up the pressure with Ghost Ship.

You picked up a lot of PStones, which are not too helpful for your small-ish deck. You could have trashed the potion after picking up one or two familiars, trashed all the coppers, and started to get other cards like Festival and Ghost Ship instead.

4
Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Mill: A spinoff of Workshop and Hamlet
« on: February 12, 2014, 11:00:37 am »
I discard two cards, gain and topdeck a Mill and gain a Gardens.

Probably too powerful.

Open Mill/Silver in T1-T2

Say you draw the Mill on T3. Topdeck a Mill, gain to discard a Gardens or SR, and buy an Estate (or Copper if you can't afford it)

Repeat T4-T10, empty all Gardens or SR.

T11 and T12, empty the Mills, and finish off grabbing the last Estates too.

12 turns to gain 8 Gardens/SR, 8 estates, 10 mills. It will be quite hard to find an engine to beat that.

In a mirror match, the game could be over in 8 turns!

5
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Other types of attack?
« on: January 21, 2014, 10:59:51 am »
We can mess with players' points without messing up their decks, just use negative VP-tokens.

An attack like that may seem pretty weak, but Curses can be removed from a deck by trashing, while these tokens stay. So overall the attack may be as strong/weak as regular Cursing. I think it's a tad weaker, because in no way do VP tokens mess with an opponent's deck.

From the standpoint of winning or losing, making everyone else take a -VP token is equivalent to you alone taking a +VP token. Either way, you end up one point ahead of everyone else.

6
Game Reports / Re: Diplomacy Recommended Set
« on: November 25, 2013, 10:39:34 am »
Fun fact: in a four-player game, if you Ambassador an IGG back to the supply with a Trader in hand you can curse everyone twice and pick up three silvers!

I agree that this board, like most recommended sets, has no single viable strategy. This one is especially interactive. I agree with ftl that the two broad strategies are Trader and engine. I think that playing the minority strategy is in your best interests, but all other things being equal I'd favor the mass-Trader approach myself.

In a 3p or 4p game, if everyone is buying Ambassadors and returning coppers and estates, your decks aren't actually getting thinner. So if everyone tries going engine, it'll take a long time before anyone succeeds. In this scenario, if 1 of the 3 players is doing Trader I'd bet they'd go out on top because they'd be able to buy a few Provinces before the engines are up and running, and even afterwards when they can no longer hit $8 reliably they can buy Farmlands or Duchies because Trader gives your deck great longevity. Without +buy the engines won't be able to get enough points to out take the Trader player.

On the other hand, in a 3p or 4p game, if everyone is going mass Trader I could see why an engine would pull ahead. At some point in the mid-late game you can start to Ambassador curses over, and hope that the deck is dilute enough so that no Trader is in hand. Also, the Silver pile will run out at some point.

Noble Brigand would be a decent card to pick up if everyone else has lots of silver in their decks.

7
Dominion General Discussion / Re: The stupidest mistake you ever made
« on: November 18, 2013, 10:02:40 am »
While I may have made worse ones, I never felt dumber than the time I opened Scheme/Treasure Map.

I take it you never thought to throne room a treasure map then.

I was going to edge-case this, then realized that no, there's no edge case.

Edge case: it's a 4P game so you want a high-variance strategy (TM), and Scheme is the bane to YW.

8
Dominion Videos and Streams / Re: best videos you've watched
« on: November 16, 2013, 06:40:54 pm »
I imagine most people will have seen this one (again featuring WW). If you haven't then I won't spoil the surprise by saying why I like it:

Best. Video. Ever!

I've watched it three times now and it still amazes me!

9
Dominion Videos and Streams / best videos you've watched
« on: November 13, 2013, 09:53:01 am »
It's great that there are a lot of YouTube videos out there, but a lot of the games are pretty straightforward. I was thinking that in this thread we could spotlight our favorite videos (either ones you've played in, or watched) so that more people can enjoy them.

Or even if you don't have a favorite video, just one that you liked watching, where the outcome and the strategy weren't totally clear.

I'll start with a recent one from the last game of GokoDom II, where WW and SCSN take divergent strategies in a pretty close match:


10
Simulation / Re: Simulator able to do small number of turns?
« on: October 28, 2013, 03:34:48 pm »
You probably already know this but in case you don't, you can first consult

http://dominionstrategy.com/2011/03/09/basic-opening-probabilities/

and

http://dominionstrategy.com/2011/06/21/opening-probabilities-part-ii/

Moneylender covers Silver/Silver-like cases; Bishop is kinda like a generic +$1; Sea Hag is like a +$0. What other probabilities are you looking to get?

11
Dominion Articles / Re: The Myth of Big Money Choking
« on: October 07, 2013, 12:09:49 pm »
My bad -- I meant "playing against" a very slow engine. That is, you're the BM player, and you're trying to decide how much money to get before turning over to Provinces.

I think it's been said that if you're going for Duchy+Dukes solo, you should also build up $$ because you're in it for the long haul.

12
Dominion Articles / Re: The Myth of Big Money Choking
« on: October 07, 2013, 10:50:33 am »
Another basic question on choking:

On a typical BM-vs-BM matchup, the conventional wisdom is to usually buy a Gold if you spike to $8 early (and in the sim, I think you need $18 total in your deck, or something like that).

Suppose you're playing a very slow engine and you have to buy out all 8 Provinces yourself. Obviously, as SCSN points you, you shouldn't touch the Duchies -- but how much money should you build up before buying Provinces? Since you're in it for the long haul, doesn't it make sense to build up some more?

13
Dominion Articles / Re: Doctor opening - note
« on: August 27, 2013, 08:27:47 pm »
At the beginning of turn 2, you have a 1 in 6 chance of drawing Doctor.

If you don't draw Doctor (5 in 6), you'll get it in turn 3; your draw deck is only 5 cards anyway.

If you do draw Doctor on turn 2, then you play it. Say you trash one card and you buy a Silver. Your draw deck is now 4 cards. On turn 3, you draw one card from (shuffled) discard, 1 or 6 which is Doctor (note that you have total 10 cards; each time you delete a card with Doctor, you've replaced it with something else). Hence, you had a 1 in 6 chance of drawing Doctor on turn 2; then a 1/6 * 1/6 chance of drawing it on turn 3. The probability is 1/36 + 5/6 = 86%, not 83%.

However, the exact probability is not really something you can calculate because it depends on player decisions -- which card you choose to name, which card you choose to buy, etc. If you draw Doctor on turn 2, your draw deck is CCCEE, and you have a legitimate choice between naming C and E (E is probably better, but in some cases C may be better). Instead of buying Silver, you might certainly buy a card like Wishing Well or Village, etc, which would serve as a cantrip.

14
Dominion General Discussion / Re: The Mathematics of Venture Chaining
« on: August 16, 2013, 02:40:06 am »
You're definitely correct mathematically. However, Venture can augment the value of another Venture by $1, and each Venture only adds $1 by itself. I think, though, that my original point wasn't supposed to be concerned with the average "value" of Venture at all (but of course it sounds a little ambiguous).

Well, venture vs gold is a pretty significant one - basically take the gold for a long time.

Wait, really? I mean, it depends on whether there is Copper trashing and several other factors, but I usually go by taking only 1 Gold over Ventures.

I feel like this is not necessarily true. Already having Ventures in your deck increases the average value of further Ventures, plus you have an effectively smaller deck. If you simulate BMU with Colonies, a bot that buys only Ventures at $6 absolutely crushes a bot that doesn't buy any Ventures (~73-21), even though according to you, one would pretty much never want a Venture at all in such a deck. I can't claim that the bots were optimized, but it shouldn't matter for the purpose of this argument.

Venture is relatively worthless in Province games, though, where hitting $8 is easy enough, unless you can couple it with +buy. The problem is that it also skips the vast majority of cards that give +buy.

EDIT: Scratch that last part. BMU Venture-only beats normal BMU by a fair margin as well (~51-40). Clearly average value isn't the metric that you want to optimize when buying your first Venture.

See, this is the sort of thing that the math helps you address concretely. The idea of Venture adding $1 to the average Treasure is extremely useful, but what exactly is the value of the Venture chain? Your intuition breaks down, and then your experience tells you the wrong thing.

This is why the math is helpful: you should *definitely* prefer Gold to Venture.

The value of the venture is

$1 + $d + $v/(1+N)

Let's say you go with your proposed 1 gold, then ventures, strategy. Let's say, generously, that you have 7 silvers in your deck. Then d = 1.4.

Now you start buying ventures because even though short-term it's bad, you believe that long-term you'll get nice pretty chains. How many ventures do you have to get before your venture (chain) does better than the gold? In order to get the total value above $3, you need v/(1+N) > 0.6, and with (7 coppers + 7 silvers + 1 gold) = 15 cards, you need to get 9 Ventures. You could get fewer silvers, but then d goes down. You could get more silvers to improve d, but then N goes up.

Yes, reshuffling and cycling helps a bit, but the more important effect is that, as WW points out, the Gold provides more value now. The Venture provides more value later ... but the math says, does it really? The Venture provides more value when you get 9 Ventures; are you really going to get 9 Ventures in the game?

Certainly you can drown in equations and there is no substitute to real, in-game experience. But the real experience is misleading because *your* experience mainly tells you, Venture is good, buy Venture, remember those awesome Venture chains; you don't realize that without trashing, the Venture chains you remembered fondly will just fizzle compared to gold until you get, like, all 10 Ventures, at which point the game is long over.

A corollary to these results is that in a Colony game without trashing, the reason why Ventures do better than Gold is not because of Venture chains. In order to get an extra $1 out of Venture chains, you need to buy more Ventures than are available in the stack. The reason why Ventures do better than Gold is primarily because of the chance that they'll run into a lucky platinum. (plus, as pointed out, one bot can buy venture at $5, and the other can't)

15
Dominion General Discussion / Re: The Mathematics of Venture Chaining
« on: August 15, 2013, 02:42:45 pm »
This is now off-topic because it's on-topic, but the original "authoritative one-liner":

I think it is far more useful to view Venture as a Treasure card that augments the value of another Treasure card in your deck by $1.

... is misleading when it comes to chaining and is the point of the OP. If you break down the equation and add in the + d, then it's:

value of venture = $1 + $d + $v/(1+N)

$1: this is the $1 you get from playing the venture
$d: this is the value of an average, non-venture Treasure card. So far, this is dondon's point.
$v/(1+N): this is (approximately) the ratio of venture to non-venture treasures in your deck and is the value of chaining. There's a +1 in the denominator so it's not quite the ratio.

In other words, if you have as many Ventures as non-Venture treasure cards (plus one), your Venture will get you, on average, $2 + the average Treasure card. If your Venture:other treasure ratio is 2:1, then it's about $3 + the average Treasure card. Thinking of ventures as being "1 + ratio of venture to non-venture" might be informative if you're trying to decide between e.g. buying a gold or buying a venture in the mid-game.

OK, back to your regularly scheduled programming ...

16
YES, YOU SHOULD BUY A SECOND TERMINAL.*

Here's two reasons why:

(1) The chance of collision is reduced. Let me approximate your 14-card deck with a 15-card deck. In this case you'll see all your cards on t5, t6, and t7. If the terminal misses the shuffle, then the chance of collision is 3/13 = 23% (with the approximation). If it doesn't miss the shuffle, the chance of collision is

(3/13)^2 + 2*(5/13)^2 = 59/169 = 35%

(Someone correct me if I'm wrong?) The downside of getting two terminals is the chance of collision, but now you've cut the probability of collision down by a third.

(2) You're already behind. Missing your terminal is not good news, and you might need to rely on some luck to get your back. -Stef- has pointed this out previously with his Borinion analogy.

* obviously it depends on the kingdom and all. There are plenty of kingdoms where a second terminal doesn't make sense. There are plenty of kingdoms where you'd buy a second terminal anyway. Guys, guys, that wasn't really the point of this thread.

17
Dominion General Discussion / Re: The treasure kingdom
« on: May 17, 2013, 11:34:07 am »
There's been a lot of theory, so I tried a few of these strategies out on Serf Bot (closest thing to solitaire available, I guess). My play wasn't perfect, and in particular I wasn't always thinking about the interaction between Venture/Bank/Counterfeit, so sometimes I would draw a Bank without having played my other treasures; sometimes I would draw a Counterfeit having already played the Coppers I would have liked to trash.

In each strategy I recorded final score/points, as well as # of turns to about 50 points (4 colonies + a province) which might be typical of human vs human play.

1) Ednever's strategy, opening Loan/Loan: 23 turns to 69 points, 20 turns to 53 points. Note: the bot usually proscribed Gold and then Colony, which seemed reasonable to me, but a human would do better.

http://dom.retrobox.eu/?/20130517/log.51018592e4b02b7235c3841f.1368801976553.txt

2) Geronimoo's strategy, single Counterfeit into Venture/Bank: 21 turns to 76 points, 19 turns to 53 points.

http://dom.retrobox.eu/?/20130517/log.51018592e4b02b7235c3841f.1368802370043.txt

3) My own "by feel" strategy, using double Counterfeit: 23 turns to 85 points, 20 turns to 48 points. This had a bad start wherein I drew $7 and bought a bank on t3, and then had trouble reaching the critical $5 for many turns. Did have a cool turn towards turn 19 where I had >$45 and 3 buys.

http://dom.retrobox.eu/?/20130517/log.51018592e4b02b7235c3841f.1368802765434.txt

I'm sure you guys could do better if you sat down and tried, but I don't know if there's a very obvious winner.

----------------------

A few general comments:

(1) Thin decks really would like +buy, but +buy is not reliable. Contraband is awkward to use, Counterfeit does not always appear in your hand when you would like it to.

(2) While I would not recommend Loan/Loan, it didn't do nearly as bad as I would have imagined. Contraband is also not a bad idea but does compete with Venture and Counterfeit.

(3) Knowing what to Counterfeit is a significant question. It's kind of like using Apprentice: obviously at the start you trash junk, but later on, when do you trash your good cards? Once the deck is thinned, Counterfeit on Venture can get huge cash (and you also have the +buy to use it).

(4) I don't think Hoard is viable here because of Colony. Stef comments that against a thin deck you could deplete Provinces and this sounds good, but I'd estimate offhand that BM + Hoard would take 15? 16? turns to get to 4 Provinces, and then another ~6 turns to get to 8 Provinces. All in all, I'd estimate 22 turns to 8 Provinces. In my attempt, Counterfeit/Venture/Bank managed to get 7 Colonies in 21 turns.

18
An important difference, though, is that Rebuild is not a terminal. In most kingdoms, you'd be able to add in some strong terminal card (as long as it's not terminal draw) to significantly boost the strength of the Rebuild-based deck in a way that can be hard with Jack/Wharf/Courtyard/Masq.

I don't think a pure Rebuild deck is representative of the strength of the card for the same reason that BM without actions isn't representative of the strength of BM.

19
Goko Dominion Online / Re: 6000 rating
« on: May 02, 2013, 10:51:13 am »
my thesis defense is on may 16th

GOOD LUCK! (Do you want to brag and share a link to your paper? I might even read it.)

My thesis defense is in 90 minutes!!

Why am I lurking these forums again?!

(and good luck for your defense too)

20
Dominion Articles / Re: How would you open on this board? #2
« on: March 03, 2013, 01:10:45 am »
SEA HAG/SILVER: would reasonably expect to play Sea Hag on t3 or t4, and buy more silvers on both t3 and t4. (well, that might be slightly optimistic, but let's just use that as the baseline) Hag could miss the reshuffle and turn up on t5; chances are 2/12 = 16%.

End of t4: 7 copper, 3 estate, 3 silvers, 1 Sea Hag.

SILVER/SILVER INTO MOUNTEBANK: would reasonably expect to buy Mountebank on one of t3 or t4, and buy another silver on the other turn. According to the old front page post, you have an 8.8% of not reaching $5 on t3 and t4. As P1, an opponent's Sea Hag would not change these probabilities. As P2, your chances of not reaching $5 are worse if the opponent plays Sea Hag on their t3.

End of t4: 7 copper, 3 estate, 3 silvers, 1 Mountebank, 1 curse from opponent's Sea Hag

Both strategies give you one curser and one "dead card" (if you count Sea Hag as a dead card, which it kind of is in terms of your own deck's production). The Mountebank deck has slightly better economy because the Mountebank acts as an extra silver. The added copper junking hurts some, but the moat effect is also not so great for Mountebank.

Overall, not as much difference as you might first imagine between the two, as the simulator shows.

I would add that to DG's post and suggest that the more important questions might lie in the endgame. What are good duchy/estate/even province buying rules when you have 5 curses in your deck? We know the rules of thumb for standard BM games (buy duchies with 5 provinces left, maybe take a gold with $8 if it's real early but otherwise go straight for provinces) but I don't have a feel for how these rules change with lots of dead cards.

Should you build for longer and add more golds/silvers to your deck before springing for provinces? It seems reasonable but your cycling would also be slower because of the bloatedness of your deck. When should you buy duchies if you find yourself with $6? What about with $5?

21
Dominion General Discussion / Re: Provincial: Cool looking Dominion AI
« on: February 22, 2013, 03:52:19 am »
I know of the author personally (although I probably only talked to him once or twice). He was something of a minor legend. His roommate was my TA for a class once and he told me that the author had some video game (Warcraft 3?) AI that would play against other humans and was ranked quite well on the leaderboard (better than most hobby players).

I have a feeling that there is an AI player rampaging on Isotropic, feeding on hapless human victims. You can download the executable and play against the AI using the built-in interface.

If you read over the documentation you'll find that there is some sophistication here, including the ability to know when to remodel Gold into Province or knowing what to Salvage. Also of note is that the fact that it sounds like the author is *capable* of writing more powerful ("classic" machine learning) AI engines but *chooses* not to in order to make the results useful to human players.

I'm a level 35 player. I played 3 games with the AI:

Game 1: Won 34 pts to 28 pts the first game: mostly a Bishop game that it seemed to play well.

Game 2: Won 27 to 24, using Chapel, Bazaar, Courtyard, 1 Explorer + 1 Expand against a Courtyard/BM? strategy (hard to tell exactly what AI is doing because log isn't as pretty) -- felt pretty close though. I think I only won because I Expanded Province -> Province to deplete the pile, but then again because the UI is more clumsy I didn't realize I had overtrashed my deck until it was too late, and then had to spend some time rebuilding.

Game 3: Won 83 to 47 last game. Key cards: Throne Room, Gardens, Village, Monument, Council Room, Loan. I used a draw your deck + play zillions of Monuments strategy and beat the AI's BM-like strategy fairly solidly.

Overall, quite impressive for an AI although I don't expect it to beat good players on engine boards. I get the impression that the AI buys a province every time it has $8+ so it just isn't setup for megaturns. I think it would play BM-style boards quite well, however.

22
Tournaments and Events / Re: New One Day Cup on February 16!
« on: February 15, 2013, 07:51:36 pm »
Are drop-ins allowed? I'd like to come (but might oversleep).

23
Dominion Articles / Re: Opening develop/terminal 4$
« on: February 04, 2013, 07:15:52 pm »
Really interesting and I appreciate the analysis. Two points to note:

1. If you want to get to $5, it still seems better to go for silver/$4, which (as theory has previously pointed out) has something like an 80% chance to reach $5 on the first shuffle. Your analysis didn't include the chance of getting to $5 on T3/T4, but I would have assumed that silver/silver or equivalent would do better.

2. I don't agree that topdecking a $5 is equivalent to a 5/3 open, because if you topdeck on T4, your $5 will miss the next shuffle. I'd say that this is closer to the more conventional silver/silver open that buys a $5 on T3 or T4 than it is to a 5/3 open. On the other hand, if you topdeck on T3, then you get to play your power card twice, which indeed is amazing. But the chance of that happening must be like 15%, which should be weighed against the 10% chance that your develop eats a copper.

24
Dominion General Discussion / Re: All Victory Card Kingdom
« on: January 23, 2013, 02:16:06 am »
Just played a game on a great silk road board which shows that you nevertheless have to take care not to green too early. http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201201/30/game-20120130-102233-ab0fe9d8.html

I would have opened silver/Island, and proceeded with Island/SR. The alternative is to win the SR split at all costs, but I mean, your deck only has $7 to begin with and it's only going to get worse unless you do something about it.

25
Dominion Articles / Re: Dominion Academy, game #1
« on: January 21, 2013, 01:29:57 pm »
I think the conventional wisdom is that the programmed engine will not be able to outplay a top-tier human engine builder like jonts. Although you can include some tricks like filtering over Estates with Courtyard, there will be other subtleties (reshuffle, etc) which are harder to code in.

On the other hand, I think it IS true that a programmed BM strategy will be able to simulate a reasonably good BM player (what the simulator lacks in decision making power, it can make up for by tuning the parameters a bit smarter). The fact that the programmed engine is able to beat the programmed BM is very suggestive to me. If you're talking engine versus engine-BM hybrid, well, that's a different story.

I still agree with Stef that for average players, even for top-tier players, BM is safer than engine just because engine is trickier to set up and requires much more skill to execute.

WW, in the two games you cited against jonts, one ended on piles and the other ended in 21 turns.

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