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Messages - Donald X.

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Colonies and Fleet each tweak the game-end condition; on reflection I'm kinda surprised there aren't more things that change it.
I've tried some.

I surmise that the 3-pile-rule was originally made to accommodate the base game, which didn't have so many powerful cards, and on top of that to accommodate the game as experienced by new players.
The rule was originally there to make sure there's a way to end the game, when Provinces are harder to come by, e.g. in games with Curses and no trashing. It has worked out to be a significant part of play though.

There are banned and disliked card lists now; you can put cards that make for faster games on those if you want. That's about the extent of it; there probably will not be a feature to change the game end condition online. IRL of course you can play however you want.

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Re: Captain and Church
« on: August 14, 2019, 12:55:17 pm »
Are these free? How long do I have them? I'm not sure I even have them now, I've set them as cards I "like" but they never show up.
My account shows the expiry date for the sets, but does not mention the promos...
They're free to players with subscriptions.

any rough idea when these'll be available via bgg?
I think that's entirely up to BGG, who you could ask.

Other Games / Re: Super Mario Odyssey
« on: August 05, 2019, 08:58:40 pm »
Also, thoughts on JoyCons vs Pro Controller for Odyssey? I use Pro Controller for basically everything; and it definitely feels better in my hands. But Odyssey seems to have some motion controllers that are specifically designed for the JoyCons being used separately; so I'm wondering if I'm missing out by using Pro.
The speedrunners are using the pro controller. So, whatever you're missing out on, it doesn't matter for doing well.

I was trying not to say that in a thread DXV is frequenting but man you brought me there.
It's okay, I can take it.

Other Games / Re: Super Mario Odyssey
« on: August 05, 2019, 11:45:36 am »
For example, in the sand world, we got the required 16 moons needed to go to the next area, but we did so without completing "Showdown on the Inverted Pyramid". This allowed us to leave to the next area. We came back to fight the boss on the inverted pyramid, but was that completely optional? I'm assuming that if we had just done the story moons and not found other random ones, then even after completing all story, we still would have to find 16 total moons before going to the next area.
Yes, the boss was optional, as many of them are, and you needed whatever total of moons regardless of whether or not you did the boss.

Donald (or testers), you mention in the secret history that you didn't want to do the "2$ less than this" thing on Captain, which seems very reasonable. Was "less than Duchy" taken in consideration?

Incidentally,  you hinted at an errata fixing the BoM/Ferry/Captain thing (in addition to using "leaving it there" technology on BoM I assume). Do you already have a fix in mind? I'm having trouble coming up with a simple one, apart from simply blocking BoM-Durations.
I did not consider "costing less than Duchy." That's weird but does the trick.

That's the fix; roughly "Play a cheaper non-Duration Action card from the Supply, leaving it there."

The point to non-duration isn't so much to get rid of the 3+ card combo, it's because the tracking is so poor on duration cards (similarly Necromancer says non-duration). I don't think I'd change the card just for that, but I already really want to change it to not shapeshift.

The official(?) FAQ on the wiki is also confused about this:

The "leaving it there" clause takes priority over effects of the card being played that move it. Thus Reserve cards are not moved to your mat (and hence not gained). Similarly, Acting Troupe and Death Cart are not trashed.

This is wrong. "Leaving it there" means that the played card doesn't move to your play area when played, which has implications for all cards. It does not refer to "effects of the card being played that move it". Without the clause, you would actually "gain" all cards you played, not just Reserve cards.
I haven't clicked on the FAQ yet, which isn't official, but you have that right. "Leaving it there" means you play the card without moving it into play, which you would otherwise do; it's the same as on Necromancer. If it didn't say that, you would move the card into play, so it would be yours although you wouldn't have triggered when-gain abilities. Odds are I wouldn't use such a wording, I'd have you gain the card and then play it.

You don't e.g. trash Captain when you play Embargo with it because Captain doesn't say to trash it anywhere; Embargo trashed Embargo, not Captain. There's just nothing telling you to trash Captain. If it feels like there is, it's because Band of Misfits, the hyper-confusing card that Captain is reminiscent of, turns into Embargo and so trashes itself. For the moment! Again when we next print Dark Ages I may change that.

Interestingly, Stef said there that a trasher from the BM deck is a "bomb" (an "exceptionally strong card") - which matches my experience, of course if a strong trasher is missing from the kingdom. But Donald said they tend to suck, based on the data I assume. Is Stef wrong or the data?

Many of the "tempo" trashers seem to do well off the BM. This includes Butcher, Junk Dealer, Sentry, Masquerade, Counterfeit, and Recruiter, among others. The trashers that don't do so well include Forager, Remake, Sacrifice, Spice Merchant, Raze. It's an odd pattern.
I think the key thing is that you get Black Market cards later. You don't get them turns 1-2; you only have one shot at getting them turns 3-4 (well two shots if you open with two Black Markets). Many of the trashers just aren't good enough (typically) if you don't get them right away (and people get them from the Black Market anyway).

The data for Black Market buys is scant though, 50-150 games per card.

I'm super interested in this data, can a kind soul direct me to the best way to find it?
On the Dominion discord, you can type !help to get a list of dombot commands, and one of them is !stats. With e.g. "!stats fishing village" you get a page of stats for fishing village. There are also some special pages you can get, e.g. trashers, black market buys. And you can private message dombot if you don't want to share the stats with whatever channel.

A magical link:

It's just that you called Smithy (and then Lab) high-luck. I saw this as a weakness in the data, or rather the interpretation of it. Like you, and most people, I was confounding high-luck and low-skill (and vice versa) when I wrote what you quoted from me about BM. I do think that it's high-luck, and I do think that it's not particularly high-skill, but as we have learnt those are not necessarily related. Smithy/Lab is certainly neither high-luck or high-skill.
You have one card instead of having another. The presence of Laboratory in a kingdom means there's one less slot that could be something that favored the better player. However innocent it looks, it being in a game, again instead of something else, reduces our ability to predict the winner based on ranking.

But later I was mainly talking about the data and why I don't really trust the way people normally use it. I was saying that even if we assume that the data is correct in how it flags high-skill cards (which would mean I'm wrong about that aspect of BM), the data doesn't seem to say much about a card's luck level. Maybe we agree on that part?
Skill multiplier is simply the card's effect on our ability to predict the winner based on ranking. It can't separate out luck vs. skill. Randomness on the part of the card will make us less able to predict the winner based on ranking; trickiness will make us more able to.

There's lots of other data to look at too, to try to understand the impact of the card.

But regarding the data in general. I don't really have that great of an impression about how accurate it is (meaning how it's interpreted - I assume the data itself is correct). Maybe if I took the time to delve deep and research it thoroughly, I would be converted, but I want to use my time... arguing in the forum instead. :p Isn't it the same data being used in the "best card" threads to talk about how good a card is based on how likely buying it makes you win? There have been some crazy claims based on that data that nobody seemed to understand.
When aku chi types "!stats lurker" and an image with lots of stats comes up, yes, it's that data. You can also see some of it in chart form covering multiple cards. markus wrote the software that assembles the charts.

The stats are a lesson in how tricky statistics can be. For example, one thing we saw early on was cards where it was good to have 2 or 4 or 6 more copies than your opponent, but bad to have 3 or 5 more copies than your opponent (good/bad meaning, how often does a player in that situation win). We realized that this was because if you have 2 or 4 or 6 more copies, maybe the pile emptied, but if you have 3 or 5 for, it didn't (except in exotic situations). And markus added a line for when the pile is empty so you could see that on the chart.

I'm saying that it doesn't matter much what one person views as his favorite card.
It does not matter what one person views as their favorite card.

Like any argument-by-authority, it was an attempt to get somewhere faster than having a long real argument. I also gave a real argument, but then, maybe this argument by authority would do something for you, is what I thought.

I am confident that Stef views Black Market as high skill (in addition to it being his favorite card). But, I didn't want to go ask him, to have up-to-the-minute data, and improve what would still be an argument by authority. He does cite it as tricky to play well in his article on it.

If Stef's being a good player and having that as a favorite card is evidence that the card is high skill, why isn't my being a good player and having it as my least favorite card evidence to the contrary? Of course I'm not as good as him, but I'm still among the best players. This tells us that there is something lacking with taking this as evidence.
I was not factoring in any skill level on your part; that is not information I had before, and all I know now is that you say you're good, though I can believe you're at whatever level you say. Stef is good; I know that. If I had started out thinking e.g. "Jeebus is basically 2nd best to Stef" then I would not have offered up, in addition to my real argument, that argument by authority.

So far my estimate of how good you are goes down due to seeing that you think Black Market is low-skill. But, that could just be your weak point; the leaderboard tells a better story.

Sure, but data can be interpreted in many ways.

We were both talking about whether BM was a high-luck card. You used the term high-luck as the opposite of high-skill. Maybe "the presence of Laboratory in a game reduces the chance that the higher-ranked player wins" doesn't mean that Laboratory is high-luck. Maybe "the presence of Black Market in a game increases the chance that the higher-ranked player wins" doesn't mean that Black Market is not high-luck. In fact there was a thread about BM where someone was saying that a card could be both high luck and high skill.

We might also be using our cognitive biases when we interpret data.
Luck is not the opposite of skill; they are two different axes. Poker is high skill high luck, as is Dominion; Chess is high skill low luck; Tic-Tac-Toe low skill low luck, Chutes and Ladders low skill high luck.

But, making the better player lose more often is just what people in general, but who knows about present company, would call "high luck." In conversations about cards being swingy, it is rare that anyone is interested in getting into the fine details of luck and skill. And your initial post called Black Market out as being low skill, not just high luck.

Finally get to ban Black Market. You can't convince me that this isn't the most swingy card in the game. Maybe it's high-skill in that it's a good card to beat bad players with, but when both players are decent, it's just "who get's the missing engine pieces, trashers or junkers - and who doesn't? let's roll the die".
If that is not you saying that Black Market is low skill, then we have a significant language barrier.

We are all affected by cognitive biases constantly; there's even a cognitive bias that makes you think you're less affected by cognitive biases due to knowing about them. One thing I do is ask disinterested third parties what they think about situations where I'm trying to rule out bias on my part.

The Bible of Donald X. / Re: The Secret History of the Dominion Promos
« on: August 01, 2019, 01:35:56 pm »
Church: Church was an early card in Nocturne. That version set aside up to 2 cards, and trashed up to 2 cards. We enjoyed it, but it was too powerful, and also there was a lot of competition for trashing in Nocturne. Other cards made it in instead. So then we needed a promo for a tournament Altenburger was running, that would have a winning province of Germany. What landmark, that there would be lots of in Germany, would be recognizable from medieval times? Hey, how about a church? That suggested a trasher, and I remembered this card. Changing the numbers to 3 set aside and 1 trashed fixed up the power level while also shifting the focus of the card. Now it's this way you can set up a turn, and hey it's also a trasher. Altenburger had people vote on which church, after a province won, and they picked Schwerin Cathedral. The German version of the card is called Schweriner Dom. This particular church changed a lot since medieval times - they built that tower. The art shows it as it exists today, not as it did then, because it makes it the recognizable thing and no-one minds that kind of anachronism, no-one I say.

Captain: Altenburger wanted another promo, for the player winning the big tournament. They forgot about this later, or misunderstood, but we'd already said we were doing it, so we still did it. Since Church was a more normal card, this one tried to be more exotic. We tried a bunch of things. One card that stood out as fun was Big Feast, which was trashed to gain two cheaper cards ($4's) and play them. It had issues, like being crazy and running out piles like mad. I replaced it with Two Bands, which was a one-shot two plays of Band of Misfits. It was fun too, but had (easier) infinite loops, which I briefly addressed (but did not remove) by having it gain a Silver too. That made it clunkier and uh less a thing of joy. The next version switched to being Band of Misfits on two different turns, and hooray, that's how it ended up. The final version has an infinite loop due to saying "up to $4" instead of e.g. the odious "costing no more than $2 less than" (you put Ferry on it and play e.g. a Bridge, and then it can play Band of Misfits and Band of Misfits can play it). That still may get fixed via errata to Band of Misfits when next we reprint Dark Ages, as part of my purge of shapeshifting problems (with Band of Misfits, Overlord, and Inheritance). The German version will be Kapitšn Tobias, after the winner of the tournament, and the art depicts him. He is around on the discord and forums as RTT.

(1. Yes / 2. No)

In the presence of ferry, band of misfits and any other cost reducer, Captain enables the following infinite loop:
This will probably go away when I fix Band of Misfits (though I won't know for sure until that day comes, when we work on the Dark Ages layout).

BM is my least favorite card, so going by this metric, I should be among the lowest rated players.
No, there's no sense to what you're saying. If you want me to take what you say seriously, I don't understand why you would say something like this. I'll guess that you don't. That's a bummer, since you're that rules guy.

I have not tried to understand how the skill multiplier is calculated, nor what that actually means in practice (which are two different things) - and I won't. I think it's not very unlikely that it doesn't actually mean what you (not just meaning you Donald) think it means. At the very least it's clear that, even if we assume that a high score identifies a "high-skill card", the opposite of such a card is not a "high-luck card", since it's absurd to say that Laboratory (or even Smithy) is high-luck.
The presence of Laboratory in a game reduces the chance that the higher-ranked player wins. I don't need to argue over what we call that.

It sounded like you were interested, but man no-one needs you to understand or care about it. It's real data; I trust it way more than gut feelings.

People are incredible at believing false things. At this point I'd tell you to look up cognitive biases, but I mean, let's guess that you don't care about those either. Most people don't. I always think of how Paul Erdos couldn't believe the answer to the Monty Hall problem. He didn't accept it until seeing a computer simulation. How is his name on so many math papers, we might wonder.

No-one needs you to understand or like Black Market. It's great that you can not play with it, as in real life.

Will they be available outside GenCon eventually?
English copies will be available at BGG. For other languages, it's up to those publishers as to if/how they make the cards available.

People get matched against people of similar skill levels; the skill multiplier isn't the story of good players beating bad players. Black Market has a skill multiplier of 1.23, which is crazy high. It feels high-luck; it's actually high-skill. As further evidence, it's Stef's favorite card. Smithy meanwhile is high-luck and no-one complains about it. That's just how it goes. (Swindler is an example of a card that looks high-luck and is).

You can choose the level of the players you want to be matched with, right? I have +/- 10, so I'm usually matched with people 8-10 levels lower than me. That usually means I'm a better player. Still, I have very rarely seen an opponent choose the wrong cards from the BM deck. If a junker is missing, they buy the junker. If a village is missing, they buy the village. It's not that complicated. Maybe with very high-level play, the opportunity to construct a crazy engine via BM makes it a high-skilled card in that sense, but in most games where one of the players has my skill level (i.e. me), it's how I described. That's been my experience, which is all the evidence I have. Whether it's Stef's favorite card doesn't really say much, sorry.
Stef is the highest rated player. That doesn't prove his favorite card wouldn't be a luck-fest; but, the odds are against it.

The philosophy, "x is missing, buy x" sounds like a poor way to do well with Black Market. What does your deck need now, is where to start. "!stats black market buys" on the discord will get you a chart of how Black Market buys correlate with winning (for a small number of games, minimum of 50). You didn't give "trasher" as an example, but trashers from the Black Market tend to suck. That's not obvious to everyone, as we can see from the people who bought a Black Market Chapel anyway. If a junker is missing, they like to buy the junker; Mountebank is one of the most-gained cards on the list. It's not at the top in terms of how it performs for you though (though it's fine), just for how often people take it.

If a village is missing, Black Market is doing way less, may not be worth having.

I also really wonder what exactly it means that Smithy is high-luck? Seems odd. Maybe my definition of high-luck and whatever the skill multiplier signifies is different.
The skill multiplier means that our ability to predict the outcome of a game with that card, based on the ratings of the players, is that much affected. There's a video by aku chi that explains all of the stats at length; it was way long and I haven't sat through it. markus made the charts and well on the discord you can ask questions about it in #skynet.

It seems clear that there are luck-based scenarios for Smithy, e.g. do you draw it with a village or not, that could affect its skill multiplier. However Laboratory also has a low skill multiplier. So probably a bigger factor is, these cards are so simple. They don't give you anything to finagle well.

Also you'll be able to play them online tomorrow (at

Finally get to ban Black Market. You can't convince me that this isn't the most swingy card in the game. Maybe it's high-skill in that it's a good card to beat bad players with, but when both players are decent, it's just "who get's the missing engine pieces, trashers or junkers - and who doesn't? let's roll the die".
People get matched against people of similar skill levels; the skill multiplier isn't the story of good players beating bad players. Black Market has a skill multiplier of 1.23, which is crazy high. It feels high-luck; it's actually high-skill. As further evidence, it's Stef's favorite card. Smithy meanwhile is high-luck and no-one complains about it. That's just how it goes. (Swindler is an example of a card that looks high-luck and is).

But, it's great that now you can ban the card if you don't like it.

The hexes have a skill multiplier of 1.00; they don't have an effect on our ability to predict the winner from skill level. Isn't that interesting.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Duration ":" or ","
« on: July 21, 2019, 05:25:55 pm »
Noticed some durations use a colon for separating "next turn" from that effect, others just a comma. Is there a rule behind it, which one got choosen? Am i right assuming there is no additional or hidden meaning in in each case?

Someway related: Noticed in wiki Hirelings "+1 card" is set in own line (similar to e.g. Market). Until now i had the impression, the effects are told in whole sentences, so  why here not?
Colons and commas and blank lines have no special defined meanings in Dominion; they are being used as regular English punctuation.

In all cases I am trying to have the best possible wording / punctuation / formatting, to have the meaning be as clear as possible. However what I think is best has changed over time, and also I've made mistakes.

Maybe we can clear this up with some hypotheticals.  If Throne Room told you to "play a card, trash it, then play it again", would that Throne Room move it from the trash to the play area the second time, or would it have lost track?
Cards know what they've done with cards; that Throne Room would know the card should be in the trash.

Procession plays a card from your hand twice, then trashes it. It expects the card to be in play, where it put it, and trashes it from there (and from nowhere else).

On the other hand, if Necromancer didn't have the "leaving it there" clause, would it move the card from the trash to the play area?
That's the same hand, and yes.

Did I miss something; is there an announced planned third edition? Or is this just hypothetical talk?
There isn't even a "2nd edition" except for Dominion and Intrigue; in places like these forums we have been calling the new-layout versions 2nd editions to distinguish them.

Jay decided to fix the layout of all expansions personally, due to subtle things and sometimes invisible things. It all started with the $3 on Courtier being wrong as reported by Ben King. Things will be more consistent now, and there will still lots of tiny things to fix; a go-to example, the black line below the banner of some Seaside cards e.g. Pearl Diver. He has already done Intrigue, Seaside, and Prosperity; I don't have a date for Intrigue or Seaside (since Prosperity is what people have asked about) but would guess it's mid-July, same as for Prosperity (and of course Intrigue will have a new cover).

So, when he's doing Dark Ages, well, it's an opportunity to fix Band of Misfits.

"Printing" could be a better term than "edition" for after-Intrigue sets, but all sets between Seaside and Guilds already received a second printing that fixed layouts, fonts, wordings, etc, didn't they? So this is another separate set of making-things-look-better that is now happening after the last one?
"Printing" would include printings with no changes, of which there have been many.

Yes, there were the original cards, then a version with improved layout, and now another version with more improved layout. The difference won't be as visible as last time; mostly it's fixing little inconsistencies, e.g. with the numbers on coins.

The rules problems are just too bad. Again there is a situation in which you can play a card and not know what it does.

Also that particular rules problem is 1) intensely rare, requiring Inheritance, Mandarin, Crown (or Capitalism), Herald, a gainer, and either Masquerade or Ambassador and 2) while yes, very complicated, it still seems pretty clear what should happen.  You can look over at your opponent's Estate token and go "oh okay I'll do that".  You Throne your Estate, play it as you Inherited, wacky shenanigans and give it to your opponent, it now belongs to them, so when you replay the card, you play it as their card.
Feel free to re-read that thread; you can actually have a card where you don't know what it should do when played, where there's no way to find out.

I like Band of Misfits literally turning into the card, rules weirdness be damned.

(I also don't really want to buy Dark Ages 3rd Edition for one changed card)
You mean to scan it? I can try to scan it for you.

The rules problems are just too bad. Again there is a situation in which you can play a card and not know what it does.

It's less for the wiki and more for when I play with them.  It'd be one thing to still have 1e Moneylender and tell other players "oh this should say 'you may'", whereas with BoM it'd be "actually this card works a lot differently than what it actually says".  Isn't that sort of thing why you were reluctant to do card changes in the first place?
My hope is that there won't be too many people like you who want to be the reason we can't have nice things. No-one needs the new Band of Misfits.

It's fixing a real problem that endlessly comes up - not the "what does this Estate do" problem, which is of course exotic, but the real problem of people endlessly being confused by this card (and the other two), as evidenced by this new thread. They do not work, they need to be fixed. It's not like e.g. Mining Village, where I'd like to change it but didn't get to. I could improve Mining Village, if only; I can fix Band of Misfits. "But my Band of Misfitses won't match the new published version" is not a compelling argument to me when the problem is that the card is so fucked up.

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