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Messages - Titandrake

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Dominion Articles / Re: Bard is not weak
« on: November 18, 2017, 06:03:08 am »
You don't get to pick though. That is a huge downside. It makes it tough to build and execute a plan. It might be worth picking up, but not over something more reliably good.

It doesn't make it tough to build and execute a plan. This is how you do it:

1. identify a key $5 you have to buy on turn 3 or 4
2. buy Bard
3. Bard lets you buy that key $5 on turn 3 or 4

4. Have Bard collide with your terminal 5 cost card you just bought in the next shuffle

I mean, sure, Bard can be good at getting 5 in turns 3/4, so it sometimes can be a good opening, a bit like Horse Traders (though HT is definitely better at reaching 5), which is a decent opener, but Horse Traders gives +buy which can be super important later. One thing to also note is that Silver is also actually a pretty good card at getting 5 and you will always have that.

But, yeah, if you have spare actions and/or want action payload Bard can be a good card, but that's pretty much the same situation where you would get Fortune Teller, Navigator, Harvest and a few other power cards... (granted Bard is probably better than those, or at least in the same level as Navigator)

It's way better than Navigator. It's more comparable to Scavenger's power level.

Eh.....not sure I agree. Scavenger's midgame of trashing mostly Copper isn't great, but its late game of trashing Province to help buy more Provinces is pretty good.

You have argued that Bard is not weak because it's good at hitting $5 and giving money early. Sure, I agree. But Silver isn't that much worse than Bard at helping you hit $5, and it's non-terminal. (I'd like to see the math if you disagree.) Is opening Bard worth not opening the other $4s, and worth having an extra terminal in your deck? I would guess that the answer is "No" at least half the time. Is buying Bard after the opening worth it? Again, I'd guess "No" at least half the time - there should be terminals you want instead by that point. At which point I'm more inclined to place it closer to Navigator in power.

Groundskeeper + Wild Hunt
Play the former first, which is natural since it's the non-terminal.
Then play a Wild Hunt to gain an Estate, triggering VP gain from Groundskeeper.  All the better if you have multiple of them in play, and bonus if you get the VP tokens on the Wild Hunt pile as well!

Similarly, Groundskeeper + Hunting Grounds is nice. You overbuy Hunting Grounds, then trash the extra HGs on your final turn to empty the Estate pile and get a lot of points.

If you trigger a reshuffle the turn after you play Inn, you don't get to play the shuffled actions any more than you would if you hadn't bought Inn, since if you didn't buy Inn the actions would have gotten shuffled into your deck anyways. However, you do guarantee that those actions are not going to miss your next reshuffle. If you didn't buy Inn, your Actions could end up on the bottom of your shuffle, which would be sad.

Most of the value from Inn on-gain is on guaranteeing that you draw all your Actions in your next hand. Think of it like the Tactician argument: one big turn can be better than two small turns. Shuffling all your Highways into an empty draw pile is way better than hoping you draw and play all of them naturally. The extra shuffles part is more of a side bonus.

Rules Questions / A Peddler cost reduction edge case
« on: October 29, 2017, 05:14:30 am »
Peddler says "During your Buy phase, this costs 2 less per Action you have in play."

Say I play Possession, and the possessed player plays at least 4 actions. During the possessed player's Buy phase, I make them buy Cursed Village. I gain the Cursed Village instead, so I get the Hex. The Hex pile turns up Locusts and trashes a Peddler. Did my trashed Peddler cost $8 or $0?

The way I've been thinking about endgames recently is that you need to think about "pile emptying power", which comes from either getting lots of money and buys, playing cards that gain other cards, or in rare cases trashing directly from the Supply (Lurker, Salt the Earth.) On a separate axis is "VP gaining power", which is how many points they can threaten to gain on their turn. The two are pretty correlated but they have their differences. For 3-pile endings in particular, the more cards you leave in the pile, the less flexibility they have in gaining VP if they want to end the game. (Unless the VP is from a VP token giving card like Goons, in which case you're just screwed.)

A good rule of thumb is that if you're behind, you should break PPR more often - that way you need to get lucky fewer times in order to win.

Dominion: Nocturne Previews / Re: Previews #2: Shepherd, Pooka, Cemetery
« on: October 24, 2017, 03:26:04 am »
Me reading Shepard/Pasture for the first time

"...I have no idea how this plays."

Me reading Pooka/Cursed Gold for the first time.

"...I guess Smithy and Stables merged together and you trash instead of discard? And I have no idea how Cursed Gold plays."

Me reading Cemetary/Haunted Mirror/Ghost for the first time.


Guesses that will probably be wrong:

* Devil's Workshop is weird but will be pretty good - a card you usually want. It will be easy to gain too many Imps if you aren't careful, forcing different names is actually a pretty big restriction. But money decks will love that Devil's Workshop always gains a Silver or Gold, and that you can never draw it dead. And engine decks will like that it starts by gaining actions that cost < $4, then gains Imps later on.
* You will basically always buy Raider over Gold. If you can get away with playing fewer Treasures, your Raiders become more powerful, and delayed money is pretty good. If you do buy Gold, it's only after the first few Raiders.
* Ghost Town will be like Villa - you don't want a lot in your deck but sometimes you'll get the effect anyways. (Edit: actually, changed my mind: this seems pretty good early on because you get to play it immediately, and although it's clunky the turn you play it, it should help with consistency. I think you still don't want a lot of them, but this could be a common buy to make over Silver.)

It's worth emphasizing that you can play any number of Night cards and they don't take an action - I missed that the first time and it changes how they play by a lot.

General Discussion / Re: Random Stuff Part III
« on: October 19, 2017, 01:04:54 am »
Man, talk about exclusive.

You just need to post on every page of the Random Stuff thread from now to, to get insurance in case schadd does something similar again.

General Discussion / Re: Random Stuff Part III
« on: October 16, 2017, 05:12:17 am »
Oh now I get it. Your point is that because both assigning "true" and assigning "false" to the signs leads to the same result, so therefore the treasure MUST be left. I was wondering why you'd have to believe any of the signs in the first place.

Ok. In that case my original reply misses the point because misunderstood what you were trying to say.

The actual problem is what I said about self-referencing: "exactly one of us is truthful" depends on itself. It afaik not possible to replicate that effect without having a self-referencing statement.
Not true. It's difficult, but possible. For example:
"yields negation when preceded by its quotation" yields negation when preceded by its quotation.

You'll have to explain that. Negation of what?

Negation of the phrase "yields negation when preceded by its quotation".

Suppose ""yields negation when preceded by its quotation" yields negation when preceded by its quotation" = false. Let's call that entire statement A. If we took the phrase "yields negation when preceded by its quotation", and added its quotation in front of it, we get A, so it's false. But it's also true, because we did indeed get a negation when we preceded the phrase with its own quotation.

By a similar argument, if A is true, then A should be false, because we're supposed to get a negation.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Help me solve an idealized endgame
« on: October 14, 2017, 01:53:41 pm »
Strategy stealing doesn't work, first player loses when he ties score.

And empty piles can mean that mirroring is not always possible anyway.

I don't think either of those matters.

By "first player wins or ties", I didn't mean 1st player ends the game with the same number of points. I meant that if 1st player cannot win, they should be able to put the game in a state where 2nd player has to end the game in a tie.

Suppose 2nd player can get more points than the 1st player, given optimal play. Then the best strategy for player 1 is to buy nothing on their 1st turn, then copy the 2nd player's strategy. If both players follow this strategy, they'll both buy nothing for eternity, which was so absurd that it felt it had to be wrong.

Dominion General Discussion / Help me solve an idealized endgame
« on: October 14, 2017, 05:53:13 am »
I was thinking about endgame buy decisions, came up with a simple setup, and spent a few minutes trying to solve it. I didn't get a finished solution so I'm passing it on to you.

Alice and Bob are both playing an engine that's capable of drawing the entire deck every turn. Both of their decks start by producing $13 each turn. They both have a reasonable amount of buys: at most 4 buys a turn. (Enough to do most things you want, but not enough to empty the Estates in one turn.)

Neither has bought any VP yet. There are no ways to gain cards mid-turn. The only way to get more money is by buying Treasures. You're guaranteed to draw all Treasures you buy. To make this better model a real game, you are not allowed to buy Copper, you must buy Gold instead of 2 Silver, and you cannot buy Estate unless there are 6 or fewer Provinces in the supply.

Alice goes first. What is Alice's optimal strategy? She's guaranteed to either win or tie by a strategy-stealing argument, but I'm not sure what the right buy-path is.

General Discussion / Re: Random Stuff Part III
« on: October 11, 2017, 12:20:29 pm »
So I was aware of a game called Kingdom Hearts, and I knew it was Disneyed, which may explain why it never really made a serious blip on my radar.

But I've seen claims that it's a really amazing game –even possibly the best video game of all time.

Is it really that great, I ask of the people who are probably younger and hipper than me. I still have my PS3, so it should be a very simple purchase if I decide to go that route.

And for the sake of getting my wife involved, does it have spiders?

I have not played any Kingdom Hearts game. I watched my housemate play an early part of the first Kingdom Hearts game once. It looked super boring.

I got into it when I was a teenager and a bit more impressionable, but yes it's fun.

The battle system in the first game looks less impressive than the battle system in later games.

They can be a bit easy in that on regular difficulties you can mash the attack button and end up winning anyways.

Dominion Articles / How Do I Hit $5? An Opening Principle
« on: October 11, 2017, 03:39:47 am »
Stream of consciousness article. Might polish this later if I have time. I was just in an article-writing mood.

Costs in Dominion work out roughly like this.
$2: Always openable, players might want a lot of these, competes with Silver.
$3: Always openable, can open with 2 of these on 4/3, competes with Silver.
$4: Always openable, competes with Silver.
$5: Openable only if you get lucky, competes with Gold.
$6: Not openable except for weird edge cases, competes with Gold.

In practice, because $5 cost Actions compete with Gold, the gap in power between $4 cost Actions and $5 cost Actions is big. Big enough that on several boards, figuring out how you buy a $5 cost is one of the biggest considerations in the opening.

Not all boards are ruled by their $5 cost Actions, but on boards where the $5 costs are important, you need to have a plan for how you're going to buy those $5 costs early. By early, I mean the first 4 turns.

Why the first 4 turns? Barring weird shenanigans, your first reshuffle is right after turn 2, and your 2nd reshuffle is right after turn 4. If you want a $5 cost, you want it by the 2nd reshuffle, just because of how much more powerful they can be. You want them by then because of the cascading effect of Dominion: the better your deck, the better cards you can buy, and in practice $5 cost Actions are often very good at helping you buy more $5 Cost Actions.

Why $5 in particular? In practice it's difficult to get good guarantees of hitting $6+ before turn 4. There also simply aren't that many $6 cost Actions in the game.


In the first 4 turns of the game, it's tricky to get more than 5 cards in your hand, and most of your sources of money are Copper. This limits how many ways you have to get to $5. Here are the broad ways you can get there.

1. Draw 5 Coppers

With 3 Estates in your starting deck, it's hard to draw 5 Copper. Usually, this happens by pure luck. Sometimes, you open a card like Smithy or Oracle, to get more than 5 cards in your hand.

2. Draw 3 Coppers and a card that gives $2

The "card that gives $2" can be Silver, or a terminal Silver like Fortune Teller or Swindler, or Mill discarding 2 cards, or even Salvager + Estate. This is a common way people aim for $5, because it's fairly safe and flexible.

3. Draw 1 Copper, 1 Silver, and a card that gives $2 (Silver or terminal Silver)
This is the safest option, because if you don't hit this option, you have good odds of hitting Silver + 3 Copper anyways.

3. Draw 4 Coppers, get $1 from something else

The "something else" could be the +$1 from Poacher, or the Duration effect of Lighthouse, or a saved coin token from Candlestick Maker. Note the last 2 options require drawing Lighthouse / Candlestick Maker on turn 3, so that the +$1 effect happens on turn 4. So again, not something you can count on. Poacher/Silver and Tournament/Silver, however, are tried-and-tested openings. Compared to Silver/Silver or Silver/terminal-Silver, they trade off a slightly lower chance of hitting $5 for the upside of having 1 fewer Silver / terminal in the deck.

4. Horse Traders

Horse Traders + 2 Copper = $5. Opening Horse Traders almost always guarantees hitting $5, except for exceptionally unlucky scenarios.

5. Expedition

An early Expedition can be worth it over buying a Silver when it comes to hitting $5.

I'm most likely forgetting a few cases, but the key principle is figuring out how to count to $5 when most of your deck is Coppers and Estates. Everything else follows from that.

The cards you buy on turns 1 and 2 influence which paths you can take. If you don't buy a Silver, or a terminal Silver, and don't buy a +Cards action either, then you're stuck with hoping you just draw 5 Copper, which isn't great odds. If you open 1 Silver + a card that doesn't give money (like Silver/Sea Hag or Silver/Remodel), you're hoping you draw Silver + 3 Copper. If you open Silver/terminal-Silver, you get more safety. If you open Silver/Warehouse, you're aiming for Silver + 3 Copper, but can use Warehouse to set it up.

I'm not here to enumerate all the variations, so stepping back a bit, this is roughly how the opening goes.

1. There are some cards you want as early as possible. Trashing effects like Chapel and Steward top this list. Gaining effects like Workshop and Ironworks can also be important if there are important cards that cost $4 or less. Trash-for-benefits like Remodel, Salvager, and Remake are nice to open with because it's easier to collide them with Estate.
2. Those cards usually don't help you hit $5. This pulls you in 2 different directions and forces you to guess at the correct trade-off. A bit of payload now to hit $5, or accept higher risk and buy a card that helps me sculpt my deck?
3. Furthermore, the cards you open with are going to matter for the rest of game. Maybe I don't want 2 Silvers so early! But on the other hand, maybe I really don't want to miss $5! AHHHHH DECISIONS.
3. The correct answer depends on just how important hitting $5 is, the risk-reward of openings with less chance of hitting $5, and your personal risk tolerance.
4. No one has all the answers, so it's on you to make the call.
5. Welcome to Dominion.



I generated these by picking a few random boards. Assume I always open 3/4.

It's hard to care a lot about hitting $5 if there are no $5 costs to buy.

Governor, Cultist, and Upgrade are all great $5 costs. Workshop has lots of great targets (Scheme, Conspirator, Magpie). No +Actions means you need to be pretty careful. This is a tricky board and I'm not sure what I'd open, but for sure I'm buying at least one of Silver, a Conspirator, or Horse Traders. Missing $5 is pretty bad here. You can definitely still win if you don't hit $5, but it gets a lot harder.

Here, $5 is pretty important, because it gets you Council Room, Bridge Troll, and Crowns. The end-goal is to play a ton of Bridge Trolls. I would open Ironmonger/Silver or Transmogrify/Silver, more likely on Ironmonger. Transmogrify is secretly a way to get $5 if you're lucky, because you can transform Estate into Silver in your hand which gets you $2. That being said, it takes a bit of time to do this, and given that I want $5 early, I think Ironmonger is the better open.

Here, you want Giants eventually, but you don't need it right away. Your main draw is going to be Rangers and Masquerade backed up by Fishing Village, so you can focus on the $3 and $4 costs and pick up a Giant or 2 later. (This is in some ways similar to the First Game engine: you mostly want Village + Smithy, want to pick up a Mine at some point, but don't want to go too far out of your way to get that Mine ASAP.)

This is easily Ironmonger/Silver for me.

Ironmonger/Candlestick Maker: too easy to miss $5.
Silver/Silver: doesn't hit $5 that much more often than Ironmonger/Silver and having an Ironmonger instead of a Silver is way better long run.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Forced Wins Training Sessions
« on: October 05, 2017, 03:10:12 am »
The discard pile is 1 Horn of Plenty, nothing else. I went first, so you need at least 2 VP to win.

General Discussion / Re: Random Stuff Part III
« on: October 03, 2017, 02:34:11 am »
If it's like, each element points to its successor, or something, I'm not sure what stops you from just like going down the list until you get somewhere you've already been.

Sure, you can do that, but how do you know if you're visiting a place again, if you're only allowed a constant amount of space to store things?

I agree with blueblimp that this doesn't seem like a good question, I only know the trick solution and it's more like a novelty. (Like the problem of switching a and b without defining a 3rd temporary variable.)

Dominion Articles / Re: How to Win at Dominion, With Minimal Jargon
« on: October 03, 2017, 02:19:55 am »
I had some free time today and made some changes.

Mostly, I added some discussion of trashing, tried to replace cards with Base / Intrigue cards where I could, gave more examples of cycling cards, and removed some lines that didn't seem newbie friendly. I also reworked the ending.

Re "payload only" decks including things like Duchy/Duke: I agree but I'm not sure how to fit it into the article, and I'm worried it'll distract too much.

Today I set aside Ironworks with Inheritance. "This'll be great! I can pile down the Estates because Ironworks gaining Estate will give +1 Card +1 Action".

It turns out that after you pile the Estates, a deck with 10+ Ironworks is really bad at doing anything besides gaining Actions that cost < $4.

(Setting aside a better action and using 1-2 Ironworks to gain the Estates works a lot better.)

Stonemason / Sacrifice. Just load up on both. Especially in the lack of other villages.

How does that work? By itself it doesn't seem that great, without other +Actions I can see it being important.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Dominion Confessions
« on: September 29, 2017, 10:20:17 pm »
I've never owned a physical copy of Dominion. I last played IRL over a year ago. I never paid for sets on Making Fun. I didn't buy a gold subscription until the ShuffleIT tournament required it. Bureaucrat is one of my favorite cards. I have never bought Miser because I was too lazy to figure out how to use it.

Not sure making a Copper subscription tier is necessary if there are ways to disable expansions you already own.

I saw in the ShuffleIT thread that there were concerns that disabling expansions for rated games would slow down matchmaking, because there would be more possible constraints and finding a good pair would become more difficult. That's true but I'm not convinced it would slow down matchmaking by a lot. If there isn't a market for buying individual expansions, there probably aren't many people who would disable expansions in the first place, so you shouldn't have many matchmaking edge-cases to worry about.

Dominion Articles / How to Win at Dominion, With Minimal Jargon
« on: September 25, 2017, 02:30:29 am »
This is intended to be a newb-friendly article.

How do you win a game of Dominion?

You win by ending the game with more points than your opponent.

How do you do that?

You do it by buying cards that let you win the game, and playing those cards more often than your opponent does.

How do I identify which cards let me win the game?

Generally, you want to look for cards that either give you lots of coins, give you lots of VP, or let you quickly end the game while getting a small amount of VP. You want to combine these cards with a story for how it's going to come together.

Here are some examples.
  • I'm going to play Golds and Silvers to get lots of coins.
  • I'm going to play a lot of Bridges in one turn, to get lots of Buys while making cards very cheap to buy.
  • I'm going to play Ironworks to gain Ironworks and Gardens, aiming for a 3-pile ending.
  • I'm going to play a lot of Goons to get VP tokens.
Sometimes, it's enough to look for cards that stop your opponent from winning the game. Examples:
  • I'm going to play Militia every turn, to force my opponent to start their turns with 3 cards instead of 5.
  • I'm going to play Witch to drown my opponent in Curses.
The avenues-to-victory aren't mutually exclusive. In a given game, your plan might be to play Festival/Library, but also with some Bridges and 1 Militia thrown in. Or, your plan could be to play Witch, while buying Golds and Silvers to hit $8 for Province. The strategy comes in figuring out which avenues-to-victory are fastest, strongest, and most complementary to one another.

Most games are decided by the person who makes the most coins each turn, and that's the case I'll be implicitly talking about for the rest of the article, but there are exceptions where having more Buys or more VP-giving cards is more important, and it's worth keeping those exceptions in mind.

Before continuing to the next section, an important distinction. Cards like Smithy, Village, and Council Room are not winning cards. They are cards that let you draw your winning cards, but they don't win games by themselves. Nobody wins just by drawing lots of cards. They win by drawing lots of winning cards. And again, an important clarification: this doesn't mean buying Smithy, Village, etc. can't help you win. In fact, they often do help you win, just in a different way.

I've identified my winning cards. How do I play them more often?

Broadly, there are two approaches.
  • Buy lots of winning cards and try to win on pure quantity.
  • Buy Actions that let you cycle through your deck quickly, then play a few winning cards very often.
Let's bring this back to the terms commonly used in the community. Cards that directly win you the game are payload cards. Generally, these are the cards that give you coins, or buys, or gains, or some other resource that lets you obtain VP cards or stops your opponent from getting VP. Cards that help you draw your payload more often are cycling cards. Smithy and Village are cycling cards because they draw more cards. Cellar is a cycling card because it lets you discard bad cards to draw better ones. Chapel is a cycling card because it trashes away your low quality cards, which makes it easier to draw your winning cards more frequently and to shuffle more often. Cards like Chapel are called trashers, and they are often the first cards top players look for when deciding how to approach a Kingdom. Although trashers don't directly draw cards, their effects are among the strongest in the game.

Again, repeating for emphasis: Payload cards directly give you what you need to win. Cycling cards help you play your payload more often.

Some cards straddle the line between both categories. Poacher and Market both draw cards and give some coins. Minion also straddles the line, because you can either play it for +$2 (payload) or discard and draw 4 (cycling). The one truth of Dominion is that the categories are always a bit loose.

When it comes to overarching strategy, there are usually two broad approaches: buy mostly payload cards, or buy mostly cycling cards. A payload-focused strategy is historically called Big Money, since it usually applies to decks where your payload is Gold and Silver. More recently, some people have called payload-heavy strategies "the good stuff deck", to indicate that the payload isn't always a Treasure card. For example, Haggler is a perfectly fine payload card. A cycling-focused strategy is historically called the engine, because it focuses on buying Actions and combining their effects to make something bigger than the sum of its parts.

Let's say I want to play the "good stuff" approach. How should I do so?

Buy payload cards instead of cycling cards.

Let's say I want to play the "engine" approach. What should I do?

Buy cycling cards instead of payload cards.

That didn't really help, you're just repeating the definition! Which approach is best?

Trick question! In most games, you do both.

...say what?

Whenever you gain a card in Dominion, you have to make a choice: payload or cycling? Sometimes you can buy a card that does a bit of both, like Market. But usually, you have to make a choice between a card that will give you more money / attacking power / VP, or a card that helps you draw other cards more often. Each choice has trade-offs. A payload card increases what your deck can potentially do, but it doesn't help you play your existing payload more often. A cycling card lets you play your existing payload more often, but may not increase what your deck can do.

A good stuff approach focuses mostly on buying payload, but may buy Cellar over Silver because it wants to cycle a bit faster. An engine approach focuses mostly on cycling, but may pick up an early Silver or Gold because it lets the engine buy more powerful cycling Actions. Focusing on only one kind of card or the other is overly simplistic and can lead to bad play - I have lost several engine games because of underestimating the value of an early Silver.

Okay, okay, I get it. Which is the better approach on average?

With the caveat that there are very few 100% truths in Dominion, most new players overestimate payload. On many boards, it's better to focus on cycling cards, and a properly built engine will beat everything else.

Why is the engine often better?

It's more efficient.

Here's one way to think about Dominion: after buying a card, you get to play that card at most once per shuffle. (There are cards that get around this, like Harbinger, but let's ignore those for now.) Given this, if you want to get as much value out of each buy that you can, it helps if you can shuffle your deck more often. And how do you shuffle your deck more often? You do so by buying cycling cards! Cycling cards let you get through more of your deck each turn, which lets you reach the end of your shuffle faster. Again, this is why trashing cards is good - a small deck shuffles itself much faster than a big deck.

Another reason to favor the engine is that there's a higher ceiling on what an engine can do. Let's say you want to play Witch every turn. You buy lots of Witches. Okay, cool. But what if you also want to play Militia every turn? Ignoring Action constraints for a second, if your deck can't draw lots of cards, you have to buy lots of Militias too. Buying both a lot of Witches and a lot of Militias is a lot of buys to spend, and often Buys are the limiting resource in Dominion. Add back the action constraints, and it quickly becomes infeasible. In contrast, if you can set-up an engine that draws itself every turn, you can buy 1 Witch and 1 Militia, and then draw and play them every turn.

Engines are like an investment. You invest your early buys on cycling cards, even though the only payload you have is Coppers, because it will pay off in the long term when your payload is higher quality.

Is the engine always better?

No. It isn't better when the investment takes too long to pay off. In those games, if you try to go for the engine, you durdle around for a long time, your opponent Keeps Calm and Buys Provinces while you're still building, and you lose while feeling really silly. This has happened to everyone - don't feel too bad when it happens to you, and don't let it stop you from trying. Because every now and then, you'll identify an engine that's just barely better than the payload-focused deck, win the game by 1 VP on your final turn, and feel like a legend.

Cool. How do I actually implement any of this?

Like most things, practice and experience.

At lower skill levels, games are won and lost by whether you correctly identify when to go for a cycling-light approach or a cycling-heavy approach. This is the level where boring strategies like Smithy-Big Money tend to dominate, since it's harder to play those strategies badly.

At higher skill levels, players will often agree on the broad approach of a board. Top players will certainly still disagree on whether the engine is good enough, but the main differentiator between players is the execution of an overarching strategy.

This, to me, is where the depth of Dominion really expands. Remember earlier, where I said you have to choose between payload and cycling on each buy? Those choices are where games are won and lost. If you buy cards in a more optimal order, it's common to hit the deck you want 1-2 turns faster than a worse order. Dominion is all about snowballing incremental advantages. Small mistakes add up, and proper sequencing is just ridiculously hard to do consistently, especially when you factor in the inherent randomness of card games.

Dominion isn't like Chess or Starcraft, where a new player can memorize a well-studied opening and copy it until they understand how it works. The random Kingdom prevents this - you have to learn good game intuitions to do anything productive improvement-wise.

If you're new to the game, like it so far, and want to get better, here is what I would recommend.
  • Play whatever you want. Over time, you'll naturally notice which cards tend to be more important. (Reading the Qvist card rankings can shortcut this step, but it helps to experience the strength of cards firsthand. I didn't understand Ambassador until somebody destroyed me with it.)
  • During that period, play a few Big Money decks. I'd recommend Smithy + treasures, Council Room + treasures, Courtyard + treasures, and Witch + treasures. These are all surprisingly effective, and it helps remind you what you're racing against if you decide to go for an engine.
  • Once you get a handle on the cards, practice making judgments on whether you would play an engine. Err on the side of playing engines more than you think you should. They're often better, and cycling-based decks usually have more decisions than payload-based decks. It's hard to practice engine decision-making if you're only willing to play the obvious engines.

Finally, when your opponent beats you, don't look just at what their deck did at the end. Look at how they built their deck, what cards they bought on which turns, and try to spot what made their deck work when your deck didn't. You will certainly have games where your opponent plays poorly and wins because of luck, but that doesn't mean there's no lessons to learn from the game.

Baths + Debt

It's more okay to buy high-Debt cards early if Baths is in the game, because you can get 2 VP on the turn you're paying off the debt. I recently lost a game because I bid too low on Mountain Pass, thinking that it was worth 8 VP. With Baths in the game, it was actually worth 10 VP.

Dominion Articles / Re: Occasionally Relevent Rule Edge-Cases
« on: September 16, 2017, 03:52:52 pm »
I updated the post to

* Elaborate a bit more on costs.
* Add that you can't overpay by $0 or with debt with Stonemason.
* Explain Throne Room + Durations (which are annoyingly hard to explain.)
* Chang the "Hermit + Events" section to just "Events"
* Add something for tokens + Travellers
* Add something for Summon + Border Village (which I didn't even know about.)

Game Reports / Re: Develop>Chapel?(here:)
« on: September 12, 2017, 01:58:57 am »
I think I would open Chapel/Develop, hoping that they don't collide and that Develop gets drawn with at least 1 Estate, with the goal of getting 2 early Urchins. If they collide, you still get to trash 3 with Chapel. If you draw Develop + 4 Copper, you can trash 1 and still have $3, plus there's a good chance you draw the Estates with your Chapel. Then you can either trash Chapel to your Merc or your Develop.

If you get lucky on the trashing, maybe you just go for Silver instead of Merc, to make sure you can still hit $4 for Villa. I do think Develop + Villa is the thing you want to do here. there are a lot of good $5 and a lot of good $3s, but I wouldn't skip Chapel entirely.

Urchin/Urchin is, as always, a valid opening, but here I don't think you want to risk how far behind you'll be if your Urchins don't collide on your 2nd shuffle.

Relic is stronger than it looks, it's hard to appreciate the impact of the -1 Card until you've played against it yourself a few times. That being said I don't think you want more than one.

General Discussion / Re: Brag Board
« on: September 11, 2017, 04:39:21 am »
My respect:post ratio is finally higher than 1:1.

Oh, also a paper I was 2nd author on got accepted to the conference we submitted it to, but clearly the first one is a bigger accomplishment.

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