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Messages - Titandrake

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1
Puzzles and Challenges / Puzzle from Galactic Puzzle Hunt
« on: August 10, 2021, 07:31:23 pm »
Figured I would share this in case people didn't see it a few weeks ago. (I know there's a decent overlap between puzzlehunting and Dominion, but it's not a full intersection.)

https://2020.galacticpuzzlehunt.com/puzzle/action-adventure

2
Dominion Articles / Re: Knights
« on: July 19, 2021, 02:08:16 pm »
Knights don't really need a nerf. They slow the game down but the same is true of pretty much every attack in the game, and I think the average Curser is more of a bother than Knights are, assuming you pick up Knights as defense.

From a flavor perspective I'm pretty sure Knights are down to take whatever - it depends how idealistic you want your medieval flavor to be.

3
So the AI cheats? It plays a few turns ahead and makes decisions based on that?

Not really? I mean, it doesn't know exactly what shuffle it's going to get. It just simulates a bunch of potential shuffles based on what happens if it makes certain moves and then picks ones that made it win more in those simulations.

OK, that's fine for shuffles. But say it plays Wishing Well, or decides whether it's going to play Wishing Well. What then?

I guess I don't really understand what cheating you think could be happening. It plays Wishing Well, it runs some search, it guesses the card it thinks will give more win rate.
I think the confusion here is LastFootnote thinking you're referring only to future shuffles, while I assume you mean to also re-randomize the shuffles that already happened (which, practically, would mean re-shuffling the deck before each simulation).

IMO, though, properly re-randomizing unknown info is subtly difficult, both from an algorithmic perspective and to code it without bugs.

At first it seems simple enough to just randomize everything it doesn't know before each simulation: the order of its deck, the contents & order of its opponent's hand, deck, and discard (and possibly other things I'm not thinking of). But actually it can know something about these:
  • The top few cards of the decks may have been revealed for various reasons.
  • The opponent may have revealed their hand at some point.
  • etc.
Even trickier: it's possible to make inferences from the opponent's play about certain things that aren't actually known. e.g. If the opponent didn't play an action last turn, they probably didn't have their Smithy in hand; but this is just because we're assuming something about the opponent's strategy, because it would have been legal for them to not play it.

To do this all optimally is (I think) comparable to playing poker, and having it mixed in with all the other parts of Dominion makes it extra hard.

And it would be really easy, when programming this, to accidentally leak info that the AI is not supposed to have. The safest way might be a sort of clean-room approach: only provide the AI with public info, from which it would create a new game state. (The easier and more bug-prone approach is to copy the game state and try to scrub hidden info out of it.)

That said, if the objective is just to make a fun AI opponent for an app, none of this is too important. I mean, if it's just playing strategies like BM+Smithy, then whether it plays Wishing Well optimally or legally doesn't even matter.

Doing it optimally is a somewhat difficult programming question. But I think you could just assume 0 info about the draw deck and reshuffle it at the start of each simulation. You'd lose a bit, but that wouldn't be a big deal until you got to the point of the bot trying to play engines (at which point you've already done quite well as an AI programmer)

4
So the AI cheats? It plays a few turns ahead and makes decisions based on that?

Not really? I mean, it doesn't know exactly what shuffle it's going to get. It just simulates a bunch of potential shuffles based on what happens if it makes certain moves and then picks ones that made it win more in those simulations.

OK, that's fine for shuffles. But say it plays Wishing Well, or decides whether it's going to play Wishing Well. What then?

I guess I don't really understand what cheating you think could be happening. It plays Wishing Well, it runs some search, it guesses the card it thinks will give more win rate.

5
So the AI cheats? It plays a few turns ahead and makes decisions based on that?

Not really? I mean, it doesn't know exactly what shuffle it's going to get. It just simulates a bunch of potential shuffles based on what happens if it makes certain moves and then picks ones that made it win more in those simulations.

6
The devs (more specifically keldon) are in the Dominion Discord and have talked about the AI a bit there. It's all spread out (because Discord is bad at concentrating discussion) but here is the summary:

* It's inspired by AlphaZero
* There's one NN that predicts value and another policy head that picks actions.
* NN architecture is Transformer-based, right now only takes in current game state (have tried conditioning on previous buys but did not see noticeable improvement)
* At playing time it does a search rollout. Generally with their computation budget the search tree gets to a few turns out for the deepest paths (i.e. on first turn the search tree usually rolls out to the end of 1st reshuffle).
* It's all self play, no human data.
* They started with Base-only and have been slowly introducing more expansions over time (restarting bot training from scratch every time due to needing to change NN layout + not wanting the bot to get stuck on strategies that only worked in the simplified game). This might be what the CEO is talking about? That the same method is able to handle new cards as long as you let it train against itself for long enough.
* The bot is generally very good at big money + a few action card strategies, which is how I'd describe the MF bots. (But worth noting this indicates the self-play learned BM + X on its own which is a good sign.)
* For difficulty levels, they'll probably tune the amount of search it does.

7
Someone who knows more should confirm, but my understanding is that dominion.games is supposed to co-exist with the new version. ShuffleIT promised some single-player and mobile parts that never came out. Rio Grande Games reached out to another company to make a mobile app and I believe this is that mobile app, except it'll have some cross-platform support as well according to the article.

I suspect that the competitive community won't move off ShuffleIT that quickly, but more casual players will find the app to be a better experience.

Edit: Given that ShuffleIT still lets you buy subscriptions 2 years out into the future, I assume the site is still legally allowed to operate at least that long.

8
Dominion Articles / Re: Menagerie Hot Takes
« on: March 14, 2021, 12:53:10 am »
I figured I would revisit this to correct some of the worse comments I made.

Quote
In general, "Gain X Horses" can be treated as "+X cards" for power level.

Horses are better than +X cards. The benefit of saving extra Horses makes up for the 1 shuffle delay in getting your draw.

Quote
Stockpile is insane, especially in 2 player. I'm still not sure how to play it, all I know is that if you play against someone who skips it you tend to win. My suspicion is that early on, you want to get all your Stockpiles off the mat before your reshuffle, but after you get a few, you only want some in the reshuffle.

Stockpile is still insane. I also still have no idea idea how to play it, but your goal is much closer to trying to get all your Stockpiles into the shuffle.

Quote
Cavalry's top portion is kinda eh. Its bottom portion is insane. Quite nice with trash-for-benefit.

Still true but I don't think I conveyed how good the on-buy effect is. It's really good. $4 and 0 net buys is a low price for getting to try to save your turn by drawing a card you need, or shuffling in cards you just bought. And the top half of 2 Horses isn't as bad as I thought it was. In Cavalry games, you tend to be overterminaled because you buy Cavs to rescue your turn, but another way to put it is that you will always use up your available actions and those actions will, at worst, turn into 2 Horses each when you play your leftover Cavs.

Quote
Groom is great with Alt-VP rushes, and even outside Alt-VP rushes, Horse gains on your actions is good, and double Silver gains for money decks isn't bad either. In engine games it's already worth opening Workshop to gain $4 cost actions, Groom is the same thing except you get Horses along the way.

Understates how good Groom + alt-VP is. It's not just good, it's centralizing. It's almost disgusting how fast mass Grooms can empty the Estate pile, or itself. Given 1 Groom + 1 Horse in hand, and an empty draw + discard pile, you can do Groom -> gain Groom + Horse -> play Horse, which loops, converting 1 action into 1 Groom gain. It's a very easy setup that makes it possible to end games out of nowhere.

Quote
Barge should usually be played for your current turn, but if it's your last action and you have a decent buy in your current hand, playing for next turn is nice.

I think that if Barge is your last action, you should default to playing it as duration and be looking for reasons why you want to play it this turn instead (normally the answer is that you really want the +Buy).

Quote
Similarly, Wayfarer is insane - it's arguably the strongest in the set. (Or at least, if you argue it is, you won't be laughed out of the room.)

Hahahahaha no if you argue Wayfarer is the strongest card in Menagerie, you'll be laughed out of the room. I blame playing too many Wayfarer-Counterfeit games at the time of writing. In terms of power, Cavalry, Stockpile, Groom is a clear top 3, and then Wayfarer vs Scrap are competing for 4th and 5th.

9
Other Games / Re: In defense of Monopoly
« on: March 08, 2021, 02:38:59 am »
Yup. Could even say 12pm forum time.

What time zone is that? I have everything set to local time right now.

10
Other Games / Re: In defense of Monopoly
« on: March 07, 2021, 02:59:09 pm »
Someone rename this thread:  "The Necro Wars".  Then everyone immediately shut up and let the games begin.  See you in 2 years.

I shall reclaim my title.

*marks March 7th 2018 on Google Calendar*

pacovf, you joked about doing it.

I actually did.

Man, imagine if I had actually noted it down on my calendar, then missed posting on the thread long enough that someone else managed to ninja me. That would be stupid.

...see you March 7th, 2021.

Nothing I could say today would change the meaning (if there is any) of this post. So I will say nothing.

Man, imagine if I had actually noted it down on my calendar too, but set the event time too late.

...I guess the next date is March 7, 2025?

11
Rules Questions / Re: using a trader on beggar
« on: October 16, 2020, 03:23:48 pm »
This is correct, when you use Trader it's a different gain, and Trader doesn't know where the gained card was "supposed" to go, so it defaults to discard. The location is only attached to the initial gain event.

12
Dominion Articles / Re: Dominion Cap Management (Unfinished)
« on: October 12, 2020, 08:03:40 pm »
Looking back on this, it was ambitious but just really not a good idea. I think now I'd argue to think of Dominion in terms of immediate next turn primarily and an emphasis on gain and play, and all of that is just much simpler to track, both for players and AI.

I'd agree with this, but I wouldn't describe it as "immediate next turn". The long term impact of your choices is definitely still important. However, the newer expansions are making it easier to turn one good turn into lots of better future turns, and a general rise in player skill is adding to this. The one-time resources like Villagers and Horses are adding to this - there are boards on the extreme end where you can do something unsustainable with, say, Lackeys villagers, and its fine because the game ends before the unsustainability kills you.

Gain-and-play is really just the most extreme case of the argument for engines, i.e. more reshuffles = the time between gaining a card and playing it gets shorter. Gain-and-play is mostly just saying that if you can you should bring that time to essentially 0.

13
Dominion Articles / The Church/Church opening
« on: September 24, 2020, 05:04:07 pm »
This is an opening that's getting popular, which I like, but people haven't really talked about it yet.

The idea: Open Church/Church. Hope you draw a Church turn 3. Set aside a bunch of Coppers on turn 3, buying nothing, then buy a $5 cost on turn 4. If you draw a Church turn 3, you are almost 100% guaranteed to have 5 Coppers on turn 4, and will usually be able to trash an Estate as well.

It's good when: there is a $5 cost you'd really like in your deck by the end of the 2nd shuffle.

It's less good when: there is some other $3 or $4 cost you also really want early. Your expectation should be that you spend your 2nd shuffle trashing 1 Estate and buying a $5 cost. If there's an alternative card that will do more than 1 Estate trash while giving you good $5 cost odds, it'll be better.

The deceptively powerful parts: If you draw a Church turn 4, you can set aside any extra cards you don't need and they'll miss the shuffle, letting you draw and play your $5 cost faster.

Let's show a few scenarios to show how this thinner shuffle can be good.

If you draw one Church turn 3 and one Church turn 4, it's not too rare to trash an Estate, then set aside 2 cards on your turn 4 (Estate + Copper). That gives a 9 card shuffle (1 Church, the $5 cost, 1 Estate, 6 Copper, with 1 Estate trashed, and Church + Estate + Copper all set aside). If you then draw the $5 cost in your first hand of the 9 card shuffle, it'll get reshuffled at the end of that turn, you get small chances of high-rolling redrawing the $5 cost.

If you draw both Churches turn 3, you set aside your entire hand, then get 2 trashes and a $5 cost.

If you draw both Churches turn 4, you will likely miss $5. However, you can set aside your entire turn 4 hand, and your shuffle will be 6 cards (your turn 3 hand + turn 3 buy, with 2 Churches and your entire turn 4 hand set aside). You then will almost 100% hit $5 on turn 5, and that $5 cost will get shuffled in right away thanks to how thin your deck is.

In short: the open is best if you draw a Church turn 3, which is pretty common given you opened 2 Churches. If you don't do that, but draw a Church turn 4, it isn't that bad of a fail case. And if you don't draw any Churches on turn 3 or turn 4, then you sombrero-ed, which is very uncommon, and can't be played around anyways.

14
Dominion General Discussion / Re: RNN generated cards
« on: September 18, 2020, 02:25:33 pm »
One thing I heard about the MTG cards is that some of the models got too good, they would just output exact copies of existing cards due to memorization, or the new cards they generated wouldn't come up with new mechanics because those mechanics didn't appear on real cards. The entire point is that the model is trained to mimic the existing text - if it mimics it too well then you're stuck. There's a sweet spot where the model's output is coherent, but also still gets things wrong in a funny way. Training the model for longer may not give you want you want.

The state of the art language models are based on Transformer models, not RNN / LSTM. There have been past efforts at taking the GPT models from OpenAI and trying to get them to generate Dominion cards. http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=20446.msg848017#msg848017

15
Weekly Design Contest / Re: Weekly Design Contest Thread
« on: August 21, 2020, 03:23:45 pm »
Heirloom for Counting House

Ledger
Cost $2: Treasure - Heirloom
$1
You may trash this, to gain 3 Coppers to your hand.

This guarantees you can open Counting House if you want to. You can also treat it as a one-time +$3 bonus in the late game, or a way to open an expensive card if you're very desperate (Forge? Less debt on Donate?)

I considered having it gain 4 Copper to take you directly to 10 Copper for Fountain, but decided that wasn't necessary, might be a bit too much money.

16
Dominion Articles / Mandarin-Scepter Loops
« on: August 21, 2020, 05:37:34 am »
To forestall any questions: no, this will never come up in a real game of Dominion. It's fun to think about though.

Mandarin is a bad card. Scepter is an okay card, but is limited due to its only letting you replay Actions during your Buy phase. By their powers combined, you can do some funny pileouts.

The core pieces you need in the kingdom are:
  • Mandarin
  • Scepter
  • An Action that will gain a $5 cost Action on-play, while staying in play. Without cost reduction, this basically means Artisan or Altar, although Altar requires having things to trash.
  • An Action that draws cards.

The idea is that you play your turn as normally, getting a +Cards and the gainer into play. After drawing N Scepters, you play N-2 of them as Actions, play the N-1th one as the gainer to gain Mandarin (topdecking all your Scepters), then play the Nth one as +Cards to redraw your Scepters. This brings you to the same start state, with 1 fewer Mandarin and 1 Scepter in play. You can repeat this loop until the Mandarin pile runs out, and hopefully your action plays are giving you net +$ or net +buy. At minimum you are piling down the Mandarin pile.

An example with Inventor and Smithy, assuming you start your buy phase with 3 Scepters in hand.

1. Play Inventor and Smithy (now $5 costs are gainable from Inventor)
2. Play Scepter as anything
3. Play Scepter as Inventor, gain Mandarin, topdeck 2 Scepter
4. Play Scepter as Smithy, draw 2 Scepter + Y
5. Play Scepter as Inventor, gain Mandarin, topdeck 2 Scepter
6. Play Scepter as Smithy, draw 2 Scepter + Z
7. Repeat steps 5-6 forever.

In this example, you draw 1 card deeper and get one more cost reduction from Inventor each turn, but you aren't netting Scepter plays. However, once you draw into a 4th Scepter, you get to loop as

(start: 1 Scepter in hand, 3 on top of deck)
1. Scepter as Smithy
2. Scepter as X
3. Scepter gaining Mandarin, topdeck 3 Scepter, back to loop start.

That lets you get in other action plays, until you run out of Mandarins to gain. If you spend X on an action that gains Scepter, you can do increasingly more each loop, assuming you draw into the extra Scepters. Here is an Artisan example, where it's easy thanks to topdecking.

(start: Artisan and Smithy in play, 1 Scepter in play, N Scepters in hand)
1. Scepter as Artisan, gaining and topdecking Scepter.
2. Repeat step 1 until you have 1 Scepter in hand.
3. Scepter as Smithy, draw your topdecked Scepters
4. Go back to 1) and repeat until N = 2
5. When N=2,
   5.1 Scepter as Artisan, gain Mandarin, topdeck all Scepters
   5.2 Scepter as Smithy, draw Scepeters.
   5.3 Repeat Smithy until you redraw all topdecked Scepters, then go to step 1 with a larger N than last time.

17
Dominion Articles / Re: Castles
« on: August 17, 2020, 04:39:03 pm »
It's tricky to convey how bad Estates are to have in your deck. They're pretty bad.

There's this whole meme where Awaclus says "trashing Estate is like gaining a Lab", but it's sort of right. Imagine that instead of trashing an Estate, you gained a Lab, that was always drawn right before you draw the Estate. It you draw Copper-Copper-Copper-Copper-Lab, and play that Lab, your 1st draw is the Estate, and the 2nd draw is the card after it.

Now, if you had instead trashed that Estate, you would have drawn Copper-Copper-Copper-Copper-X, where X is that 2nd card your Lab drew.

Connecting to the Crossroads example, if you have Crossroads-Estate-X-Y-Z where X,Y,Z are not victory cards, and you play Crossroads, then you draw 1 card deeper. But if you had trashed that Estate, you would have already drawn that extra card in your starting hand. You only go net up on cards on the 2nd Crossroads you play. Crossroads is somewhere between a Cellar variant and draw engine and I think it's easier to treat it as a Cellar variant first - keeping around an Estate for your Cellar is not getting you more than about-a-Lab's worth of value.

Now, in a Castles game in particular, Crossroads is better because you're going to be spending more time greening, and Crossroads starts to shine when you have higher density of Victory cards. But that doesn't mean you should never trash your Estates if Crossroads are in the Kingdom. If you're trying to win you'll be buying VP cards eventually, and I think normally you get more value out of trashing Estates now and gaining Crossroads around the time you're first gaining Castles or Provinces. Since by that point, you're taking those Victory cards for points, you have to keep them in your deck if you want to keep those points, and Crossroads is helping mitigate how badly that hurts you.

18
Dominion Articles / Re: Menagerie Hot Takes
« on: August 09, 2020, 09:02:00 pm »
I have recently played a Colony game with Oracle. Colony, as in Platinum is fairly dominating. Yet Oracle was absolutely essential to win.
So I find the notion that cards that net draw only 1 card are somehow bad or wrong for engine play quite dubious.

When did I ever say that?

Quote
Otter: I usually don't find a use for Otter, it's pretty easy to find something better to do with your actions, but sometimes you just gotta draw.

I'm not sure if you think this, but we don't disagree that you can build an engine out of +2 Cards. Nor do we disagree that doing so can be the right play. Nor have I ever claimed that playing with a +2 Cards action is bad or wrong for engine play. I'm saying

1. That it isn't where you want to be, but sometimes you have to if the board has nothing else.
2. It isn't very common that the board has nothing else.
3. Therefore it isn't that common that you have to use Otter for draw.

And based on how you're arguing, I think you misunderstood my position.

19
Dominion Articles / Re: Menagerie Hot Takes
« on: August 08, 2020, 07:13:09 pm »
To clarify, by "I have never played with this" for Mule, I mean I've never had a game with it, not that it's bad. I think it's pretty good as a backup option.

I think it's rare that you have a kingdom with no draw these days - it's been a while since I played a Village-Moat engine and that is basically what Otter boards are. Similarly I think that boards where Monkey are the only +Buy are not that common, if it's the only +buy then of course it's more important to thin kabout.


20
Dominion Articles / Re: Menagerie Hot Takes
« on: August 07, 2020, 04:58:21 pm »
The last batch of hot takes is short because there isn't a lot to say about the Ways. In general, they make double Action openings better.

Butterfly: fancy but eh, outside of weird costs like Animal Fair.

Camel: Also generally uninspuring in my experience.

Chameleon: Now we're getting somewhere. Very useful and very tricky to play with. The obvious combos are cards like Poor House, but another benefit is playing a +$ card for +Cards when you know that you will draw into the same amount of money, getting through your shuffles faster. Rewards the better skilled player a lot. In a Chameleon game you can build more than you normally would, because all excess draw can be turned into +$, and it's more likely that the Kingdom has draw to make it worth building, because Chameleon turns some actions into draw cards. Long story short, it's good and I think it's pretty fun.

Frog: You don't have to Frog every leftover action you have. Sometimes you should just let it go.

Goat: Goating away an Estate is deceptively useful early on.

Horse: horse. Good for Hail Mary plays.

Mole: Tricky to find a good use for it, but can really help you cycle.

Monkey: Random +buy is random +buy

Mouse: Depends entirely on the set-aside Action, but if the set-Aside action is good, you can get away with some incredibly heinous buys. The Mouse action is your floor, so you can buy cards with high-ceiling low-floor (like Baron, for example), and play them as Mouse if the draws don't line up with the high-ceiling outcome.

Mule: I have literally never played with this.

Otter: I usually don't find a use for Otter, it's pretty easy to find something better to do with your actions, but sometimes you just gotta draw.

Owl: Draw-to-X is bad in general, outside of effects like Cursed Village, but a conditional draw-to-X can be nice because you only use the draw-to-X option if it's going to be good for you.

Ox: If this is the only +Actions source, you're sad. You really want a better village than Necropolis, but sometimes Necropolis is good enough.

Pig: Pretty good

Rat: A lot harder to find a good time to play it than I expected. Having a treasure to discard is easy. Passing up the Action play this turn is hard - the cards you most want to Rats are the cards you most want to play. That being said, I think you do play as Rat 1-3 times in most games.

Seal: I really like Seal. The topdeck effect is great, and unlike Tracker, it doesn't have to be a terminal sitting in your deck. Is it as powerful as Chameleon? Absolutely not, but it's still fun.

Sheep: lol terminal silver. I mean, it's still good at smoothing out bad luck on hitting price points.

Squirrel: Using this as the centerpiece of your draw is possible, but hard and I wouldn't recommend it on most boards. You may be reminded of Enchantress, but remember Enchantress comes with an attack, the card is much worse without the attack.

Turtle: Turtle-Bridge is the notable megaturn, but in general Turtle is very useful. Turtling cantrips to get a +Actions source and turtling draw cards to get +Cards at the start of your turn comes up the most.

Worm: Enables Estate pileouts much more easily, especially when players are playing as Worm just because they have the spare actions. Watch out for that.

21
Dominion Articles / Re: Menagerie Hot Takes
« on: August 06, 2020, 05:16:52 am »
Continuing the hot takes, with the Events. These takes are probably worse because I've seen each Event less often.

Delay: Turning a terminal +Cards into duration draw is sick. The problem is that it costs a buy to do so, and usually buys are really valuable. That being said, the fact you can set up a stronger, more reliable next turn means I tend to like using Delay.

Desperation: Hey, remember how annoying Cursed Gold is? Well, if you want to, you can now play with Cursed Gold all the time! Uh, like the name suggests, you really don't want to do that. Save it for the late game, the Curse hurts a lot.

Gamble: Really neat event, rewards decktracking a lot. I find that in many of my Gamble games, I mostly use it to discard junk cards off the top of my deck to get closer to a reshuffle, and any Action hits I happen to get are for furthering that goal. That ends up being good enough.

Pursue: Looks like Scouting Party but it's way better than Scouting Party. Lets you be much more risky with triggering bad reshuffles since you can just Pursue the junk cards away with the extra money you got from triggering that bad shuffle.

Ride: Simple but generally unimpressive. $2 is about the right cost for a Horse, but you usually want your buys to do more than that.

Toil: It looks cool but it's very easy to get in the trap of Toiling everything and not actually getting anywhere. Yes, you can Toil a terminal silver and get its effect for net +$0. You could also buy a +Actions card and get net +$2, and to win a Dominion game you eventually need to make money. I've yet to see a game where Toil was central to someone's deck. It's more like a bailout if you didn't draw the +Actions you wanted. I'm sure you can construct a kingdom where Toil is the MVP though.

Enhance: I get why it says "non-Victory", but man, that does limit its power a lot. You'll know when it's good.

March: There are definitely things you can do with this, but it's not as busted as I thought it would be. It has the Swashbuckler problem, if you're triggering shuffles often then it can be hard to have a discard pile with an Action you want to March. It is, however, a bit easier to set up, because you're getting it in Buy phase, so you can buy an Action then March it. I generally haven't found that to be worth the extra $3 buy, but it comes up.

Transport: Just a great event in general. It effectively makes your 2nd copy and up of a card cost $3, but then you can even stack Transports across turns if you want. The simplest use (which still comes up a lot) is to Transport both turns 1 and 2 to effectively open a $5 cost that you always get to draw turn 3.

Banish: Again, you'll know when it's good. You can treat it like Mint where you try to build up a big hand before buying it, but you don't have to do that. I think there are boards where it's totally reasonable to spend a turn Banishing an Estate.

Bargain: I still don't have a good feel for when Bargain is correct, but my heuristic so far is to Bargain for the first $5s you want, then try to hit $5 naturally after you've done so. If Lost City has taught anything, it's that sometimes you just have to help your opponent out to get the right deck.

Invest: Speaking of helping the opponent out....despite the meaty +2 Cards effect, I've found that Invest is better when you take your Investment off early. You should view it less as an Embargo, and more as a baby-Transport. Similarly to Embargo, don't be too scared of giving them +2 Cards for their Invested action. You just gotta do it sometimes.

Seize the Day: By default, you try to save this for pileouts, but sometimes you can use to try to win a key pile split. I think this is one of the more complex Events to play with and I doubt we understand how to use it right now.

Commerce: Not too exciting. It's hard to gain a lot of uniques in one turn - if you can, you're probably building the kind of engine that wants to Commerce just once, or maybe twice.

Demand: A nice event, I get Demand pretty often. One approximation is that it's kind of like Summon, without the implicit +Action, because if you play the Horse, the end result is a 6 card hand where one of those cards is the card you Demanded.

Stampede: ALL THE HORSES. It's good if you have a turn that qualifies for it. It's kind of like Tactician - lose $5 this turn to get 10 cards for your next turn's starting hand. Combos well with the standard "wants a big hand" cards, like Count.

Reap: It's, well it's there. If you were going to buy Gold then go for Reap. I don't find myself buying Gold very often and the play-next-turn effect is not enough to entice me to buy it more often.

Enclave: I think you usually take Enclave instead of your first Province, then you go into Provinces after, but I'm not sure. Another event that's just there.

Alliance: Excellent late game greening card, 10 points for $10 is more efficient than Colony. Pretty messy to buy it anytime before you're greening though, unless you're playing a money deck.

Populate: This was definitely more broken in extra Menagerie, since card quality in Menagerie is pretty high, and Ways gave a way to use Action cards you didn't want to gain. It's still good, and if there are even 2-3 action cards I want, I'm willing to take Populate, since a lot of Actions you wouldn't normally buy are actually fine if you're gaining them for free. This is an effect where you are looking for reasons not to buy it. Better if there's trash for benefit.

22
Dominion Articles / Re: Menagerie Hot Takes
« on: August 05, 2020, 05:16:38 am »
The problem I have with Cardinal is that it is best in the late game when cards can get Exiled forever, but when you get to that point you're limited in the damage that Cardinal can do. You need to 1) have a pile that you know will empty early, and 2) know that you'll have time to play your Cardinal enough to hit cards from that pile, and until that point Cardinal isn't doing that much for you.

I don't usually find myself exiling Actions with Bounty Hunter unless I desperately desperately need the +$3. Giving up the action play is a lot. If you buy it back, it basically changes that exiled Action into a Gold for that turn. I guess that could be okay in some situations.

I also don't get what you have against Exile. I think it's neat, albeit very mechanical in its execution. In a flavor sense, why does gaining a copy of card bring back other cards from Exile? Who knows, but people don't play Dominion for the flavor.

23
Dominion Articles / Menagerie Hot Takes
« on: August 04, 2020, 05:00:36 pm »
(Is it even a hot take if it's been over 4 months since the expansion came out? Who knows.)

In general, "Gain X Horses" can be treated as "+X cards" for power level. It's different in several ways. You only get the draw 1 shuffle after you play the card, you can save Horses, but you don't always draw all your Horses. But very generally, it's basically +X cards.

Black Cat has an insane reaction that is held back by the terminal +2 Cards. You can definitely skip it, but if your deck can support Black Cat, it puts a lot of pressure on end-game VP.

Sleigh is similarly weak, where 2 Horses is just not great for a $2 cost (remember, it's roughly +2 Cards). The reaction can be nice but I haven't been impressed with buying Sleigh for just its reaction. If you're in the market for both the top and bottom of Sleigh, then you could try it.

Supplies is quite good. Some people say you should usually buy it over Silver. I'm not too far off from that. Topdecking a Horse is pretty nice and if you can draw deck then it's basically a $2 cost Peddler, except you get to frontload the draw to the start of your turn, which is good for reliability.

I have yet to get Camel Train to work for me. You're supposed to view it as a Duplicate, but one big benefit of Duplicate is that it sticks on your Tavern mat outside of your deck until you want to call it, and you can Duplicate Duchies. Camel Train just sits in your deck forever. I might be missing something but I find that it feels bad to play it before I have deck control, and by the time I have deck control I want to be spending my actions on other things.

Goatherd's fine. Sometimes skippable if there's no other trashing, +1 Action trash a card for no benefit isn't always good enough. But otherwise it's worth buying. Just remember the Goatherd draw isn't going to last forever.

Scrap's great, of the early Estate trashers it's one of my favorites. Unless you really need the +1 card now I think you should take the Horse over the card. I generally like turning my first Estate into Silver + Horse early, then the future Estates into card + action or horse + action. If you really need to, you can Scrap Silver --> Silver + action + buy to get a janky non-terminal +buy into your deck.

Sheepdog is another card that lives off its reaction, except you can actually trigger the reaction yourself. Can be inconsistent but the deck is powerful if when it triggers.

Snowy Village's +4 Actions effect is strong enough that I feel you normally buy one, even if you have other villages. If you have lots of cantrips, you think twice about it. Don't get more than 1, unless it's the only +Actions source, in which case you maybe get 2, but even then you want to get away with just 1.

Stockpile is insane, especially in 2 player. I'm still not sure how to play it, all I know is that if you play against someone who skips it you tend to win. My suspicion is that early on, you want to get all your Stockpiles off the mat before your reshuffle, but after you get a few, you only want some in the reshuffle.

Bounty Hunter is a nice thinner. (Or exiler? IDK what the terminology is). Makes it very easy to hit $5 and even $6 the first few times you play it. Usually buy 1, buying 2 can be reasonable, 3rd and up is a waste.

Cardinal is either great or awful and I feel it tends towards the "awful" side more often than not. It's not too rare to have a game where, say, your Village gets Exiled, but you just get it back immediately because you're looking to buy more Villages anyways. But when the attack is good, it's really annoying.

Cavalry's top portion is kinda eh. Its bottom portion is insane. Quite nice with trash-for-benefit.

Groom is great with Alt-VP rushes, and even outside Alt-VP rushes, Horse gains on your actions is good, and double Silver gains for money decks isn't bad either. In engine games it's already worth opening Workshop to gain $4 cost actions, Groom is the same thing except you get Horses along the way.

Hostelry would be fine even without the bottom text, the bottom text makes it interesting. It's basically "overpay for Horses". I will still take key $5s over Hostelry + Horses early, but later on I'm happy with overpaying for some Horses.

Village Green doesn't really need its reaction to be good, but if you have discard synergies, then yeah, go for it.

Barge should usually be played for your current turn, but if it's your last action and you have a decent buy in your current hand, playing for next turn is nice. And turns out a +3 cards +1 buy card is always welcome at $5.

Coven is weird. You can definitely outrace it, but if you get it wrong then you just lose. If you're trying to outrace Coven, skip Coven entirely, you don't want to help them get the Curses into your deck. If you're going for Coven, you want 2-3 as well as whatever other cycling you can get your hands on.

Displace is the standard Remodel tricks, except you also get to do Province --> Gold, Gold --> Province loops. Those loops are quite nice, because even if you don't fully loop the gains, turning a Province-in-deck into a Gold-in-deck (or another Displace) is already a good effect. You usually buy this card, there's something worth doing with it.

Falconer is conditionally good, you need good $2/$3/$4 costs to want it. Unlike Black Cat / Sheepdog, its base effect is good enough that you don't need to exploit the reaction a bunch to get your money's worth. But of course, if you can use the reaction, then you do so.

I've been disappointed by Gatekeeper, it just feels too slow to pick up a lot of the time. It's not Swamp Hag.

Hunting Lodge is the nuts. Like, dang, this card is great. You don't have to go full draw-to-X either, you just have to lean into the draw-to-X a little bit and otherwise just use the reaction when you draw it with a bad hand.

Kiln compares less favorably to Haggler IMO, but Haggler is a great card so that isn't saying much. I find that what happens is that you want to Kiln an Action card, but to do so, you need to go Village-Kiln-Village, or Village-Village-Kiln-DrawCard. It takes a while to get your deck to the point where you can Kiln Action cards, since your starting hand needs to have lots of +Actions in it. So you normally just Kiln Treasure cards...which is fine, free Gold gains are nice! But it's not quite what I hoped for out of the card. This is payload that you use after your deck is built to get more money into your deck, not a deck building accelerant to improve your draw.

By now everyone's praised Livery a bunch. When there's +Buy, Livery can really just turn into a Horse printer. Even without the crazy turns, you only need to gain 2 qualifying cards for Livery to become approximately +2 Cards +$3, which is a great deal for a $5 cost.

Mastermind takes a while to set up, but its effect is so good that you should get it early, it'll be worth it. Generally how Mastermind games play out is that you avoid putting Masterminds under Mastermind, until your last few turns, at which point you try to set up Mastermind-Mastermind-X-Y-Z chains and end the game.

Paddock is interesting. The base effect is close to the mythical +2 Cards +$2 for $5, a card that's very good in a money deck. In an engine deck, you still want Paddock, but you want to get an empty Supply pile fairly early to make it non-terminal. Once it's non-terminal, Paddock is insane.

The biggest difference between Sanctuary and its compatriots Junk Dealer / Upgrade, is that you can maintain a clean deck while greening by Exiling Provinces. Oh and the +Buy. Non-terminal +buy is always a win. I think Sanctuary is right around the same power level as Junk Dealer / Upgrade, they're all great cards and it's hard to go wrong with buying them as your first $5.

Fisherman is unexciting at $5 and you don't always have a good opportunity to buy it at $2, but you'll pick it up in both cases.

Destrier is better than Lab, which is a bit weird since Lab is already a really good card. If you can get +buy and draw then you get into situations where you're buying Destrier for $4 or $3, which is just absurd. You want to make deliberate moves towards getting cheap Destriers, because they snowball very rapidly - more Destriers = easier time drawing your gains or +buys = even more cheap Destrier.

Similarly, Wayfarer is insane - it's arguably the strongest in the set. (Or at least, if you argue it is, you won't be laughed out of the room.) It's just very easy to have some way of making the card cost less than $6, and if there isn't one, then you can pay $6 for your first Wayfarer and use the Silver gain to make your next ones cheaper. In Wayfarer games, focus more on draw. It's very easy to fill your payload space with free Silver gains off Wayfarer, so your aim is to make your payload space big (by getting lots of Wayfarers, wow this card does everything you want, wtf.)

And then there's Animal Fair, which is....eh, it's okay. Sure, it's a funny open with Necropolis. Otherwise, it's just kind of there. I'm not looking to go out of my way to get an Animal Fair, but I will pick one up if the opportunity shows up.

24
Dominion Articles / Re: Sometimes you don't need to trash right away
« on: June 23, 2020, 05:17:00 pm »
Drawing and sifting are always partial substitutes for trashing, i.e. the presence and strength of drawers and sifters in a Kingdom decreases the relative strength of trashers.

Eh, it's true that trashers are relatively weaker in that example, but Dominion is about finding the best thing in each Kingdom. If trashers are still the best thing to do, then you should do it, even if the alternatives are almost as good.

25
Dominion Articles / Sometimes you don't need to trash right away
« on: June 22, 2020, 03:51:41 pm »
Trashing is good, thinning is winning, so on and so forth. But why is thinning winning?

Well, thinning is winning because it lets you get rid of bad cards, and it makes you more likely to collide Action cards together to draw your deck. Usually, that makes up the tempo loss you get from trashing cards early. Thinning, by itself, is not intrinsically valuable - it is a means towards the end of drawing your deck, gaining lots of cards, and producing lots of money.

Let's suppose we waved a magic wand, and could guarantee that we draw our deck every turn. Then what is trashing doing for us? Pretty much nothing. In fact, it's actually bad, because you don't get the money from the Coppers you trashed. Of course, most games are not like this - you need the trashing to get to the "draw your deck" phase in the first place, or you get to "draw your deck" faster by trashing.

But, there are the rare games (think Wharf engines) where the draw is so potent that you can start drawing your deck without trashing very heavily in the early game. In those cases, it can be better to trash less aggressively early. That way, you have the money to buy the draw cards like Wharf. Once you have the draw set up, you can catch up on trashing later - if you draw your deck then you can play your trasher every turn and your deck should clean up pretty quickly from there.

Trashing almost always comes with a short-term tempo loss (except for Masquerade, because Masquerade's busted). It's just that usually the tempo loss is small enough that it makes up for itself super fast and you don't care. Sometimes, you do.

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