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Dominion Articles / Gear
« on: Today at 07:21:59 pm »

At first glance, Gear looks similar to Moat: +2 cards and some additional text.  But itís this additional text that enables Gear to provide so much control over your turns, and makes Gear one of the strongest cards in Dominion.  Let's look at all the valuable things you can do by setting aside cards with Gear:
  • Save excess money from turn to turn.  This is especially important when you only have one buy.  Early on, you can save a Copper to turn a hand into a hand in order to hit on the next turn.  Later in the game, you can save money exceeding so you can buy Provinces more consistently.
  • Save an unplayable terminal action for the next turn.  This is especially important in games without villages.
  • Improve your starting hand.  You can set aside +card or +action cards that will make your next hand stronger.  This is especially valuable when you have a few powerful draw cards such as Scrying Pool or Storyteller.
  • Force bad cards to miss the shuffle.  If you're about to trigger a shuffle, you can set aside green cards so that you don't draw them in that shuffle.
  • Pair up synergistic cards.  Gear can help you pair up your Estates with a good Estate trasher, or Province with Tournament, or Gold with Encampment, and more!
Let's dive deeper into a couple contexts in which you might use Gear.

Gear in the Early Game

Gear is a very strong card with a / opening.  If you draw Gear on turn 3, you're guaranteed to be able to see and play your other opening card on turns 3 or 4.  If your other opening card doesn't draw, you will end turn 4 with an empty deck - having seen all twelve of your cards.  You will be able to freely distribute your deck's total money over these two turns.  If you draw Gear on turn 4, you might have to set aside your other opening card to play on turn 5 (if it's an action you can't play), but you will also have an opportunity to cause 1-2 weak cards to miss your next shuffle.

If there is a key - card on the board that you want to open with, consider a Gear opening carefully.  If the key card is non-terminal such as Quarry or Transmogrify, Gear is usually a great accompaniment.  However, if you open Gear with a terminal trasher such as Chapel or Steward, they might collide on turn 4.  Gear will probably only be worth opening if you can get a cheap village while trashing.

If there is a key card on the board, Gear + Silver is an excellent opening.  So long as Gear is drawn on turn 3 or 4, you are guaranteed to be able to buy a card and (almost always) a or card (perhaps another Gear, if the key card is non-terminal).  You can also open Gear alongside a coin-generating action such as Poacher or Swindler, but you run the risk of not hitting on turn 3 or 4 if you draw poorly.

In the rare event that there are no kingdom cards costing or less that you want early, double Gear is a good opening.  With a double Gear opening, if you draw Gear on turn 3, you have a good chance to hit on turn 4 for Gold (or something better).  If you don't see any Gears on turn 3, you can buy Silver and have a great chance to hit on turn 5.

Gear + Money

Usually, you will want to play a card-drawing engine, and a few Gears will fit in well.  But, sometimes there is no good engine to build, in which case you should play primarily with Gear and treasures.  This is often the case when there are no villages and no non-terminal draw in the kingdom.  Gear is a very strong card in moneyish strategies, because Gear's money saving and terminal spacing functions give you tremendous control over your turns

Gear + money strategies benefit most from Estate trashing and treasure gaining, so consider incorporating them into your strategy.  Gear + money's strongest supports are cards and events that can trash Estates with very little lost tempo: Trade, Transmogrify, and Plan.  With strong support, Gear + money can beat slower engines - especially if there are no handsize attacks or alternative VP available.

Non-terminal support cards such as Sentry or Treasure Trove are easy to incorporate into a Gear + money strategy.  Because Gear can help space terminal actions, using 3-4 terminal actions is a good rule of thumb for a Gear + money strategy.  Sometimes, Gear is better in a support role with strong terminal actions such as Witch or Haggler.  In this role you can use 1-2 copies of Gear along with 2 additional terminal actions.  More often, you will want to combine 2-3 Gears with one copy of a supporting terminal action such as Salvager or Bandit.

Sometimes, there aren't any other beneficial kingdom cards.  Unassisted, you should open double Gear hoping to get Gold on turn 4.  You should get a third Gear as soon as you are confident you can get Gold.  With 3 Gears, you should be able to play one Gear each turn pretty consistently and smooth your money to exactly buy Golds (3-4), and then Provinces.  Without support, Gear + money does not get 7+ Provinces very fast, so beware strong alternative VP.

Gear Tips

Gear is almost always good; buy it, you won't regret it.  Here are a few final Gear tips:
  • When playing Gear, if you choose not to set aside any cards, Gear will not stay in play.
  • In general, you should set aside all the cards you don't need on a given turn, even if it's just one card.
  • When using Gear as your primary source of draw (not recommended if there are alternatives), only save cards with your final Gear.
  • When trashing from your deck with cards such as Sentry or Lookout, stop using Gear to save cards you want to trash pretty early.
  • The cards saved by Gear are not in your hand during opponents' turns, so you can't use saved reactions such as Moat.

Tournaments and Events / Dominion Online Championship 2018
« on: August 13, 2018, 08:17:27 pm »
For the second year in a row, ShuffleIt is hosting and sponsoring a large online Dominion tournament.  You can learn more information and signup on the ShuffleIt forums:

  • It begins on September 17th
  • You need a Gold subscription
  • There is a prize pool!
  • It's a single elimination bracket
  • Matches are 6 games, like the Dominion League

Dominion General Discussion / Re: SepRanks for Top Player Rating
« on: August 02, 2018, 08:14:52 am »
Yes, the lists will not be accurate at first. That is okay. Course correction will happen.

What makes you believe this?  Is there a method for testing the results against reality?

Gear/Trade might be the fastest BM option out there. I happened to stumble upon it recently:

I forgot about that post (despite upvoting it).  When it comes to 2-card money strategies, Gear + Trade is only behind Donate + Market Square (if that counts) and Donate + Windfall, I believe.  However, it's possibly more likely that there's something on board to compete with those monolithic Donate strategies (still unlikely).  I was also able to get 4 Provinces in 9 turns with Envoy + Trade once, but it's less reliable and less elegant.

Dominion Videos and Streams / Re: RTT on Youtube / twitch
« on: July 29, 2018, 07:04:46 pm »
I spent far too much time this weekend playing 2-card combos solitaire and measuring their speeds.  Good news: You've already covered 4/6 of the strongest 2-card combos I've tested.  The only ones missing are Capital + Mandarin (though Dan Brooks already has a good video covering this) and Feodum + Delve (which can reliably get to ~50 VP by turn 13 or 14).  Feodum + Delve is a really simple strategy (start buying Feodum on turn 6 for best results), but maybe Feodum strategies in general are worth a video, or maybe the video could focus on the strongest Silver-pilers, and when that is relevant (Feodum and Tower).

The other strong 2-card combos that are interesting enough to be worth showing (IMO) are Counting House + Night Watchman, Hermit + Market Square, Bishop + Donate, and Bishop + Bonfire (the latter two could probably be in a Bishop golden deck video).

Mandarin + Capital
   Turn 9-10: 4 Provinces, ~30 VP
   Turn 10-11: 6 Provinces, ~42 VP
   Turn 11-12: 8 Provinces, ~55 VP
Feodum + Delve
   Turn 11: 0 piles, ~27-30 VP
   Turn 13-14: 1 pile, ~50 VP
   Turn 23-24: 3 piles, ~115 VP

Counting House + Night Watchman
   Turn 10: 4 Provinces, ~27 VP
   Turn 12: 6 Provinces, ~39 VP
   Turn 14: 8 Provinces, ~51 VP

Bishop + Donate (helps the opponent a little)
   Turn 10: 4 Provinces, 26-29 VP
   Turn 12: 6 Provinces, 36-39 VP
   Turn 14: 8 Provinces, 46-49 VP   

Bishop + Bonfire (helps the opponent a little)
   Turn 10: 3 Provinces, ~25 VP
   Turn 12: 5 Provinces, ~35 VP
   Turn 15: 8 Provinces, ~50 VP

Hermit + Market Square
   Turn 11-12: 5 Provinces, 30 VP
   Turn 15-16: 8 Provinces, ~55 VP

By itself, Gear money is pretty okay.  But, Gear money really appreciates trashing Estates and gaining extra Silvers without losing tempo.  It shouldn't be surprising that Gear money's strongest supports do both!

Gear + Trade (requires / opening)

The synergy here is pretty clear: Gear draw and saving helps set up Trade turns that turn your Estates (and a Copper) into Silvers.  But I was shocked at just how fast this strategy was.

Step 1: Open Gear x2.
Step 2: Buy a third Gear and execute a Trade on two Estates, followed by a Trade on an Estate and a Copper.  With decent draws (a Gear on turn 3 is usually enough), you can accomplish this by turn 5!  If your turn 4 is less fortunate, keep saving for the Trade and buy a Silver.
--- At this point, your deck is 3 Gears, 4-5 Silver, and 6 Copper ---
Step 3: If your opponent is racing for Provinces (and you were fortunate to get double Trade by turn 5), you can start Provincing as early as turn 6 and almost always grab 4 Provinces by turn 9!  This is super fast and reliable.  After this point, your green will gunk up the works, but you should be able to buy Duchies or save up for the fifth Province as required.  On the other hand, if you need to grab 6 Provinces (usually against an enginey strategy), you should start Provincing on turn 7 at the earliest.  If you've already Traded your Estates by turn 5, I recommend buying a Gold on turn 6.  You could Trade Coppers, but I think it's better to save the extra Copper for the next turn.  You might want to grab another Gold later on if you start to falter.  Depending on your draws, you can get 6 Provinces by turn 12-14, which is a very tough pace to beat.  You can't really get 8 Provinces in a reasonable amount of time, so I wouldn't recommend this in the presence of strong Alt VP.

Gear + Transmogrify (requires / opening and Estates!)

Transmogrify does three things that Gear money appreciates:
  • Removes Estates
  • Adds Silvers
  • Mills Provinces
And Gear helps put the Estates and Provinces into your starting hand for Transmogrify.  The result is a fast and very robust money strategy:

Step 1: Open Gear + Transmogrify.
Step 2: If you see Transmogrify on turn 3, do your happy dance.  Either way, get two more Gears and then Silvers with your sub-$6 buys/gains.  If you have Transmogrify on the mat, you might want to buy a Silver over a Gear (with the expectation to upgrade an Estate into a Gear on the next turn).  Once you have two Golds, you'll be ready to start Provincing.  You probably won't have trashed all of your Estates by this point - this is fine, just trash them when you have the opportunity.
Step 3: Do the Gear thing, where you exactly buy Province each turn and set aside the money you don't need.  If you get the opportunity, use your Transmogrify to trash Province into Province.  This strategy has a little more variance than the Trade one, mostly due to how often Transmogrify misses your shuffles.  Still, it's pretty fast in the worst case and scary fast in the best case.

4 Provinces, Turn 10-12, ~24-27 VP
6 Provinces, Turn 12-16, ~30-39 VP
8 Provinces, Turn 14-18, ~42-55 VP

Kudos for finding that one! I'm going to have to try it out.

Thanks, but I didn't discover the synergy; I just tried to optimize it and wrote it down.  Counting House + Night Watchman was first mentioned on Discord by Dan (not Dan Brooks) on 11/22/2017, and Emil and Dan Brooks validated there was something to it.  It's worth noting, this strategy plays very differently than most Dominion games, and counter to many of your intuitions, so it's worth practicing if you want to be able to execute properly when it comes up.

Counting House + Night Watchman

The second best Counting House synergy!  Similar in principal to Counting House + Scouting Party, but faster and more reliable, the goal is to alternate playing your two Counting Houses with 100% consistency.  This combo can consistently empty the Province pile by turn 14.

Your three goals, by turn 7:
  • Have the following deck: Counting House x2, Night Watchman x2, Copper x8, Estates (or Shelters) x3, one other card.  The other card could be a ninth Copper, a Silver, an Heirloom, or (if you're lucky) a Duchy.
  • Have the following hand: Counting House x1, Night Watchman x1, at least one Copper (the important part here is to have 4+ non-Copper cards in your deck or discard).
  • Be able to generate $8.  This is usually accomplished by having all Coppers in your hand or discard pile.
From this point on, you can buy Province, play Night Watchman, discard to a 5-card deck that includes your other Counting House and Night Watchman, and do the same thing over again.  Absent attacks, this should be 100% reliable through 7 Provinces.  For the 8th Province, you can discard your Night Watchman to find your Counting House.

Getting to this state by turn 7 is easier done than said!  Sometimes, you'll get unlucky and your Counting Houses or Night Watchmen will stick together, or maybe you'll have a difficult time affording your second Counting House, but these usually only set you back one turn.

Your early buys need to depend on your opening split:
  • /: This the best case.  Buy Copper turn 1, then Night Watchman turn 2, to set up on turn 3, which you should use to buy your first Counting House.  If all goes well, you might even be set up by turn 6.  However, you don't have enough non-Copper cards to take a Province while setting up your next turn; grab fewer Coppers with Counting House and buy a Duchy instead.
  • /: Buy Silver on turn 1, Night Watchman on turn 2 to set up on turn 3, which you should use to buy your first Counting House.  You still need to buy a Copper at some point, but there's no rush.  You can even buy it on turn 6 after you've set up offsetting Counting Houses; just be careful not to grab all Coppers with your Counting House and so leave yourself with fewer than 5 cards in your deck.
  • / or /: Open with Counting House and Copper.  Often, you can buy a Night Watchman on turn 3 and guarantee your second Counting House purchase on turn 4.

Any attack that can trigger a shuffle (plus Pillage) kill the combo dead.  Most handsize attacks and junking attacks merely decrease reliability; so don't expect to get all eight Provinces in a row in the face of these attacks.  Against Enchantress, you can protect yourself by buying a couple dummy actions (ideally cantrips) to protect your Counting House plays.

With $4, Stonemason for Razes is strong and often correct.  Also, Page + Raze or Ratcatcher could be correct.
With $5, there are a bunch of possibilities.  Stonemason for Urchins will often be best.  Stonemason for Lookout + another good $3 could be good.

Tournaments and Events / Re: Cage Match Tournament #2: Empires
« on: July 19, 2018, 11:43:44 pm »

I interpret the Fool's Gold flavor as a commentary on fiat currency.  The more Fool's Gold gets used and accepted as currency, the more value it has.  Unlike Silver and Gold, the value isn't in the commodity itself, but in its use as a medium of exchange.

Tournaments and Events / Re: Cage Match Tournament #2: Empires
« on: July 17, 2018, 12:20:42 am »
aku chi 3 - 1 Lemonspawn

Catapult + Tower

Catapult was gained in every game; the strength of the attack varied (it was at its best in the third game, I think).  Tower played a minor role in all the games; it was more important in the first and fourth games.

Tournaments and Events / Re: Cage Match Tournament #2: Empires
« on: July 14, 2018, 12:12:16 pm »
aku chi 3 - 0 xer

Aqueduct + Salt the Earth

Aqueduct played a minor role in all three games.  Salt the Earth was never purchased, though I thought I might end up purchasing it in game 3.

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Re: Missing auto-plays
« on: July 11, 2018, 10:29:17 am »
Sauna: stop trying to trash stuff

Oh yes!  This one, please!

Dominion Online at Shuffle iT / Re: Missing auto-plays
« on: July 11, 2018, 08:49:14 am »
Fool's Gold: Always react, never react, off
Vault (opponent's): Never discard, off

Tournaments and Events / Re: Cage Match Tournament #2: Empires
« on: July 08, 2018, 05:45:14 pm »
/in aku chi

Kieran's post is the one I agree with most here. The culture of thinking it's okay to spend several minutes thinking through actions at the top level has significantly hurt my own online experience, especially since having a kid. It gets harder to justify playing by the day.

For the record, if I had my choice of timer, no joke, i'd probably set it to 1 minute total down time pet turn for each player. I agree very much with the sentiment, "if someone makes a suboptimal play, so be it."

I don't think this is just a culture shift.  In Hinterlands and before, you could mostly autoplay your turns and then think about your buys.  It's a rare board where this is the case in modern full-random Dominion.  Adventures, Empires, and Nocturne significantly increased the number of meaningful decisions you can make on any particular turn.  Events (especially those that give +buy) and cards that have an immediate impact when bought (e.g. Villa, Night cards that are gained to hand) are the most noteworthy here.  Also, alternative VP (tons in Empires) generally increase game length.

Dominion Articles / Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« on: July 03, 2018, 08:50:04 am »
Play card-savers like Haven or Gear as late in your turn as possible.  And don't automatically play all of your villages and draw; you can save them for next turn if you don't need them this turn.  You can also play topdecking cards like Courtyard or Count at the end of your turn to topdeck a good card for next turn.

Imp and Conclave
If you have Imps and Conclaves remaining in your deck, prefer to play action cards that you already have in play.  If you need to play an action card that isn't in play, choose the card that, with all of its copies, will draw you the most cards.

I don't know why people are pretending that engines with treasure payload are rare.

So, I have noticed that people have said that engines don't necessarily require handsize increasers. I have always wondered how they were possible.

So far, I have come to the conclusions that trashing and/or sifting are necessary for a functioning engine, besides the usual village, payload, etc.

You can build (winning) engines without trashing or sifting.  And you can certainly build engines without villages or with only kingdom treasure payload.  An engine aims to see most/all of its important cards each turn.  Trashing and draw are on opposite ends of a spectrum for how to do this.  You do absolutely need one or the other (at least, I can't think of a counter-example).  For an engine to work without increasing handsize, you need to be able to trash all of your starting cards and have powerful cantrips.  For an engine to work without trashing, you need strong draw, and preferably some amount of starting-hand reliability (e.g. duration draw, Gear, Scheme, etc...).  For one of the most unlikely engines, with no trashing and weak draw, check out this Dan Brooks video:

"Yellow as Purple" is a meme.  It's based in some truth, but it has the potential to mislead, as this thread indicates.  I dislike the meme for this reason.

The constructive takeaway from the "Yellow as Purple" meme:
  • Treasures are stop cards; they make it harder to draw your deck.  If you can draw your deck, add as few stop cards as you can while building to that point.
  • Buying Gold and Silver is inefficient payload; do so only if there's nothing better.
What this does not mean:
  • It's bad to open Silver.
  • Silver and Gold gainers are usually bad.
  • Silver and Gold are bad in non-engine contexts.

Dominion Articles / Re: Contraband
« on: June 15, 2018, 05:46:26 pm »
I think alternative VP deserves a special mention.  If you invest in a Contraband, you need to have a greening strategy that your opponent cannot fully disrupt.  I think I've only seen Contraband pay off with non-Province VP: Colonies have been mentioned, Fairgrounds sometimes make Contraband worthwhile, Dominate, Triumph, and Conquest make Contraband a lot better.

Bishop + Bonfire

There's a pretty fast golden deck here (faster and more reliable than the Chapel + Bishop golden deck).  So, if there aren't any disruptive attacks, you might want to go for it.

Turn 1-2: Buy Bishop + Bonfire
Turn 3-4: Trash 1 Estate and exactly 3 additional cards.  Usually, this comes about with one Bishop trash and two Bonfire purchases, trashing only one Copper on the second purchase.  You can also get there with two Bishop trashes and one Bonfire purchase.  Sometimes, this doesn't work out and you are delayed one turn.

Deck: Bishop, 2 Estates, 2 Coppers

Turn 5: Trash Estate, Buy Silver
Turn 6: Trash Estate, Buy Silver
Turn 7: Trash Copper, Buy Gold
Turn 8: Trash Copper, Buy Province
Turn 9+: Trash Province, Buy Province

Your VP after turn 8 is 14-15, then you get 5 VP per turn and end the game on turn 15 with 49-50 VP.  Add 1 turn to these totals if you aren't fortunate enough to trash to a 5-card hand by turn 5.

Help! / Re: Base game kingdom with no trashing
« on: May 22, 2018, 04:43:57 pm »
If the gaining were not there, it seems an engine would be worse because assembling the components would take much longer. Is this intuition correct, and would we prefer CR-BM in that case?

Skull wins without needing to do gardens tricks. If gardens were not there and you had to rely on provinces, would the engine still be fast enough most of the time?

Interesting questions.  I think if you remove Gardens from the board, I'd still prefer the engine.  One factor is that Artisan can gain Duchies efficiently, so losing the Province split 5-3 isn't a big deal.  If you remove Artisan... I'm not sure.  Artisan is the big reward for overdrawing on this board.  I'd want to see it played out.  I think the money player would have a decent shot.

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