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Messages - JThorne

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As a software developer, and someone who knows a bit about intellectual property issues, I'd like to suggest an even broader idea.

If you're looking for a pet project, why not a deckbuilder-builder?

In other words, write a deckbuilder game framework in which all systems are abstracted, configurable and scriptable. In fact, you might even study some other deckbuilders to see if there are mechanisms that Dominion doesn't have that your project could implement.

The reason I suggest this is partly because even including the base cards, or using terminology or card names particular to Dominion, would be copyright violation, even for a project that you intend to release for free for fun. But partly because what I'm proposing would be more generally interesting.

If what you release is a configurable system, containing no card names or mechanisms, then individual users of your system could create their own configurations, card names, designs, artwork, whatever. If those people chose to use Dominion images, names, mechanisms, then if they already owned Dominion, it would fall under fair use. If they did not, or if they shared these configuration files with other users who did not own Dominion, then that would be a copyright violation, but it would no longer be your responsibility.

Maybe this sounds like a grey area, like a file sharing framework that's technically not responsible if their users use it primarily for piracy, but I think you could end up with something much different here, especially if your system were powerful enough to mimic many different existing deckbuilders, or even give users the creative potential to make new ones and experiment with game design mechanisms.

The fascinating thing about approaching a project this way is to start thinking about how abstract you need to be in order to create a configurable system. Instead of thinking about actions, buys, coin, debt, just think about imaginary values A, B, C, D, etc. that can be named anything and can be added to or subtracted from. (Wait a minute... Actions, Buys, Coin, Debt? That was completely accidental, I swear.) Empty your mind of specifics and see how far you can generalize.

Likewise, where can cards exist? Don't think in terms of supply piles, deck, hand, discard, in play, tavern mat, etc. Cards can go into card containers. Card containers have or do not have a number of attributes: Shared or player-specific, ordered or unordered, public/player/hidden/head-only/tail-only visibility, etc. The act of "drawing" is taking a card from the head of container A (player-specific, ordered, hidden) and adding it container B (player-specific, unordered, player visible). "gaining" is taking a card from the head of container C (shared, ordered, head-only visibility) and putting it in container D (player-specific, ordered, public tail-only visibility). The fact that you call A a deck, B a hand, C a supply pile and D the player discard pile is completely arbitrary. "in play" is a container, "set aside with Prince" is a container. The names and implications of each are all part of the configuration.

What do cards do? Well, they contain a sequence of instructions which must be followed in order, but even then, they're conditional. There are often several different instructions that are followed depending on which container the card is in. Some cards affect the game differently in different containers. Some instructions give the player a choice. Some simply add or subtract values from A, B, C, D, but even then, additions or subtractions need to be bounded (not less than zero?) or conditional (instruction is only followed if value F is greater than value G?)

And even the concept of a "card" may be too specific. Anything that can effect game state and can move between different containers needs to be tracked. Landmarks, events, adventures tokens, victory point tokens, etc., are all objects that move and affect game state and may contain instructions.

To say nothing of turn phases. Again, don't think about action/buy/cleanup. Think phase A, B, C, D, etc. Allow the configuration to specify what happens during each of these phases, whether it's optional or mandatory, how many times it can be repeated, etc. And keep in mind that the "what happens" part of these phases would allow setting, clearing or modifying the values described in the beginning. Different games have different phases. Many games draw one card at the start of turn. Dominion cleans up all cards from play and hand and draws a new hand at the end of the turn. These are just moving cards from one container to another during different phases and could be implemented in a sufficiently robust system.

If anything, exploring a generalized system like this will be a much more valuable programming and development experience than writing an implementation of a specific game.

Note: Starting as console-only is a good call. Writing a UI would be an unspeakable nightmare. If anything, what I'm describing above is kind of a game-development API which you (or someone else) could write a UI on top of for a specific game implementation. But again, maybe you want some API UI tools, as well, for implementing on-screen game object containers and manipulations.

AI, incidentally, is a lot harder than you think. I would keep that open and scriptable and just start with the concept of AI scripts, much like the Geronimoo sim, so that you could script AIs for pre-designed configurations. Making an AI that can handle any possible configuration, particularly if the system is sufficiently flexible and robust, is virtually impossible. However, if you allow specific AIs to be scripted, the you or others could create challenge games with a pre-configured game and AI that others could play against to see if they could beat it without reading the AI script.

I was thinking that this combo needs an extra buy but I couldn't think of any put your deck into your discard pile with + buy. But now I realized that I was being stupid and totally forgot about messenger. Yeah, messenger/counting house would be a really fun combo to try.

Um...geez...I hate to be the first, but...are you doing this on purpose? I mean, "Chase Aldolphson" is a pretty good troll name, but honestly, the shenanigans are getting a little thin. If you're really, truly as clueless as your messages imply then you need to do quite a bit more reading and studying before you post. If not, well, your particular brand of trolling is considerably less entertaining that roadrunner's Scout fetish. Which is a low bar.

At first, I just thought "newb" but now it's really starting to look more and more like a shtick. Then again, I'm a little slow and can take a while to catch on. I even tried Golem/Counting House once. Once.

Chancellor/counting house
All of your coppers go into your discard pile

What is this "Chancellor" of which you speak?

Oh, you meant Messenger/Counting House! And it even comes with +buy to take advantage of all that extra coin, and it comes with a free Copper for you and your opponent! And early you can even use the +buy to buy extra Coppers to make Counting House even better!

Ouch, I think I just sprained the sarcasm lobe of my brain.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Fix the worst cards
« on: March 10, 2018, 05:53:57 pm »
I like it when Treasure-heavy strategies are occasionally competitive.
When people denounce Gold gainers on the grounds that Gold is a bad card to have in your deck, I find myself hoping they're wrong or, if they're right, that Donald does something to fix that. Money ought to stay relevant!

Of course Money is always relevant, particularly Gold: It's always in the kingdom!

Let's not forget that a significant issue with learning Dominion is that just buying generic money is better than an unfocused actions-based strategy, and it's possible for beginners to conclude that the game is stupid because all you have to do to win is ignore all the other cards and just buy money.

If gaining Gold was always extremely good, then a single gold-gainer in the kingdom would too frequently outpace the engine and would allow you to ignore all other cards.

I love the fact that if a player overloads on Gold gaining, they generally lose to an engine player who uses Gold-gaining very sparsely in order to build economy but not at the expense of deck-drawing power; a player who knows that stop cards are bad, even if they generate $3.

Money is like direct damage in Magic. It's powerful, and always relevant, but needs to be reigned in so it doesn't dominate the game and make all other cards irrelevant, because it's especially boring.

That said, there are many awesome treasures that I do love, even if Gold is bad.

Quarry and Talisman occasionally make +buy a piledriving powerhouse, and combo with all kinds of cards.

Crown sometimes gets to not be a treasure. Or it can double big deal treasures like Bank. Gold, schmold.

Speaking of doubling, Fortune deserves mention for being the most expensive card in Dominion, and it's a treasure, and it's totally worth it.

Coin of the Realm: An engine-enabling treasure is one of the best things ever.

Of course, there is one treasure that stands head and shoulders above every other treasure in the entire Dominion universe.

All hail the mighty Goat!

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Fix the worst cards
« on: March 09, 2018, 07:35:31 pm »
Cache: Make it produce $4 as opposed to $3. I doubt if that would be too good.

It would be too good. Suddenly a hand of Cache/C/C/C/C buys a Province. Optimized Cache/BM would beat a LOT of more interesting strategies.

Don't make money better! Make players work a little harder for their wins. All these $2 Masterpiece suggestions are right up there, as well. Opening Masterpiece/Silver now puts three Silvers in your deck, so your second shuffle hands are going to be around $6 which is now enough for Masterpiece and four Silvers. You can pretty much start greening after the third shuffle. Not to mention if there's a draw card around. Delve/BM is already a thing. $2 Masterpiece would be even more powerful.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Surplus
« on: March 09, 2018, 03:56:46 pm »
Grand Market would be a fantastic card even without the +Buy, so you always get a ton of them and usually end up with a lot of superfluous Buys.

True, but the Surplus can still be illuminating. If it appears in a kingdom with Conspirators (drool) then it would probably be more efficient to stagger them so you're not spending for buys you're not using. With $8 and two buys, two Conspirators is going to be better than GM/nothing, then either two GMs or three Conspirators the turn afterward, depending on the split.

Regular Market can sort of swing both ways. It's expensive for what it does, but you usually need it if it's the only +Buy. On the other hand, sometimes it can make decent payload (like if you're getting it for free with Artisan), in which case it's the numerous +Buys that become superfluous.

But again, just gaining lots of Markets isn't usually a core strategy. What you're describing is a situation where it's just something to gain with Artisan after you've emptied all of the better $5s and isn't going to hurt your deck. Maybe you end up with surplus buys, but buying lots of markets is a sort of strategy that I've seen beginners use without realizing they're overpaying for resources they're not using. It would be better to fill out the deck with something else that's actually being used.

And, of course, if there's no +Buy at all but the board can still generate large amounts of $ then you end up with a lot of $ you don't use.

I would consider that one of the most common mistakes of all. If the board has no +buy, you need to get to a reliable $8 per turn as quickly as possible and no more. $10-20 with one buy is almost always an error. If there are gainers or Alt+VP, they need to be leveraged, but making lots more money than you need is genuinely bad.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Surplus
« on: March 09, 2018, 01:39:22 pm »
night comes after buy, so simply buying a card is sufficient to not waste your ghost

True. I've had "dead Ghost" syndrome when I was greening, though, which tends to go hand-in-hand with drawing deck. I do like the Silver Gainer/Exorcist-Imp/Ghost reliability bump for greening.

in my playgroup, the biggest example of surplus is FLUFF.

I love it! Fluff! That kind of dovetails nicely with my "payload first" thread.

The biggest problem in my playgroup is the opposite: "I'm going to by another Horse Traders because I keep not drawing my Horse Traders when I need it." What? No! You should buy more draw and draw your ONE Horse Traders every turn! (Asterisk: Sometimes rushes are a thing, but they're not good at seeing those, either.)

The saddest symptom of fluff is the disheartening need to buy more Silver. Bleah. Then again, it's kind of amazing that the game is so well balanced that treasure alone isn't good payload, meaning that sometimes people build fluffy decks when they should really just go money. The delicate balance between when money is good and when engines are good is a real triumph of game design.

A big reason for surplus that you don't mention is to mitigate a lack of consistency.

True. Sometimes I'll open double-Silver because there's a key $5 that I absolutely must have in the second shuffle and no better way to ensure it, and then end up paying $6 or even $7 for it. The Surplus is still bad, it's just unlucky.

overpaying $1 or $2 for the right card is fine. Buying Gold just because you hit $6 is often worse than buying a power $5. But if you're routinely overpaying, some sort of decision tweaking might be in order. Opening double-Silver is often wrong if there's a better way to ensure $5 that also makes your deck better. Overdrawing falls into much the same category.

Dominion General Discussion / Surplus
« on: March 09, 2018, 12:05:38 pm »
I feel like there's an article here, but every time I think about posting some kind of authoritative article, what I mostly want to do is get insight from the community on an issue (such as with my "payload first" post) so once again, I'm posting it as an open-ended subject.


Cards in Dominion are costed according to their function. What if you buy a card and are not using some key part of its function? Surplus anything left at the end of a turn could indicate that you're overinvesting. Sometimes that's acceptable, but sometimes the surplus can be used as a guideline to identify bad play or bad buying decisions. So, at the end of a turn, what do you have left over?

Extra actions -- Don't overinvest in cards that generate +actions you don't need. You could be a Village Idiot.
Extra coin -- Don't overinvest in coin-generating you can't spend if there's no +buy.
Extra buys -- Don't overinvest in buys that you don't have the coin for.
Extra action cards -- Don't overinvest in terminals you can't play.
Extra value -- "Gain a card costing up to X" is a fuzzy's frequently worth it to gain a card costing less than the maximum, but there could be some lost efficiency here.
Extra cards you couldn't draw -- All the cards left in your deck were an investment that didn't pay off this turn. If you can only draw half your deck, you've paid for cards that you can only use every other turn, making them fundamentally half as valuable.
Extra cards you could draw -- Overdrawing is a thing you want to do, but even then, it's possible to overdo it. If your deck is in hand and you can still draw more cards than you could possibly want for the whole rest of the game, you may be overinvested in draw (I hesitate to even suggest this, but I've done it.)
Underbuying -- Some cards are just terrible without the overpay. You generally don't pay $3 or $4 for a Masterpiece, or $2 for a Stonemason; doing so would be failing to use a key feature of the card. (Herald gets a pass. Buy all the $4 Heralds you want.)

Dominion is about efficiency, and if one player wastes resources and the other doesn't, the more efficient player is more likely to win.

So here's the question: What common overinvesting do you see when playing? Which ones would you consider mistakes, and when is it just a side-effect of wanting a unique function of a card that just happens to be giving you something else you don't need?

Here are some examples I see with particular cards:

Festival -- if you're not using the actions and/or +buy, you're paying $5 for Silver.
Minion for $2 -- I've seen players literally never get a new hand in a whole game. Facepalm.
Witch for draw -- if the curses are already gone, that's a $5 Moat. (Torturer, fine, I'll pay $5 for a Smithy.)
Wine Merchant -- if you never buy multiples, and you always leave $2 to get him back, that's a $5 Woodcutter.
Bank -- if ever a card needed +buy...
Highway -- is there +buy or gainers? If not, it's a bad Treasury, worth $4 according to conventional wisdom.
Cursed Village -- Used with terminal draw, it's a $2 Necropolis that hexes you. This is essentially another category: Any time you have a draw-to-X in hand and your hand is already >=X you've overinvested.
Scheme always topdecking itself -- Why did you buy it?
Ghost with deck in hand -- Oops. Exorcise something into an Imp right now or be sad.
Settlers with no Copper. Bustling Village with no Settlers. Either one with no discard pile or sifters -- You have paid for functionality you're not using. Maybe it's worth it, maybe it's not, but it's worth pondering if your plan could have been better.

Notice that I'm not listing bad cards here. I'm listing good cards misused by not taking advantage (or not being able to take advantage) of their natural synergy with other card categories.

Sometimes the overinvesting is subtle. I got into a long argument about Highway + University not being a synergy, and it hinges on this very issue: If you're not gaining $6/$7/$8 actions, University is overinvesting in surplus gain value. If you're not using the +2 actions, you're overinvesting in surplus actions. Highway (even without +buy) gains more Highways faster than University because of the addition of two stop cards (University/Potion) to the deck. With +buy it's not even close. And without +buy, Highway might not even be good. (But since many +buy cards are terminal, you might need that University after all!)

There are also plenty of examples where surplus just happens, such as City chains, Champion, King's Court -- lots of explosive engines accidentally generate gobs of +Actions that you don't need once they go off. KC often accidentally generates a bunch of +buys and other things you don't need, as well. But even then, the surplus could be a good indication of what to buy for next turn (if there is one!) Also, you sometimes generate surplus because you're battling to win the split on a key card, which will result in some inefficient turns after the pile empties but before you've bought the other pieces. But battling too hard over a split can also lead to suboptimal play, and a large surplus of anything helps expose this.


Dominion Articles / Re: Masquerade - Market Square is Not a Combo
« on: March 09, 2018, 10:38:11 am »
I see a lot of people go overkill with Masq and Market Square when there are lots more viable things going on.


Gold-gainers are seductive, and there very few strategies that can effectively use bunches of them. The best thing to do with a Gold-gainer is get ONE of them and use it to build economy as you're thinning down to the deck-drawing engine so that you don't have to buy Silver or pay retail for gold. Masquerade is an OK trasher (newbies get terribly confused when I tell them it's emphatically not a draw card but is a sifting trasher) which means there's a good chance the engine is possible.

For the record, I would not have assumed that Masq + MS was a strong combo. MS combos tend to be situations where you can draw massive amounts of cards and activate them all, such as with Hermit/Madman or the weird interaction with Donate. You also have to be able to draw all of the Gold. Masq, a terminal sifting trasher, just doesn't cut it.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Fix the worst cards
« on: March 08, 2018, 01:05:34 pm »
I don't know that most of these need "fixing." In fact, many of them already have re-designs in newer sets that used a similar mechanic but to greater effect. Cartographer is arguably a better Navigator, Bandit is a better Noble Brigand (that's how bad Thief was. It needed TWO redesigns.)

And more than half the list is terminal money, which really should remain nerfed. If made too powerful, then really boring money strategies would start to outperform more interesting and nuanced engine strategies. I mean, if Mine was $4 and you could reliably open with it, it would speed up BM significantly. Especially if you opened Mine/Silver and could trash four Coppers in your opening shuffle and start copying the Silver (sorry, couldn't resist.)

Just because a card is frequently ignorable doesn't mean it's bad. Who hasn't used Beggar/Gardens or Beggar/Triumph? Mandarin/Capital? Cache/Counterfeit/Banquet/Tower points for emptying the Copper pile in a 4-player game? (Ok, maybe that's a stretch, but it happened.)

Maybe some of the cards could be made slightly more attractive without breaking the game when they appeared. Harvest might honestly be broken if it had +Action. it would almost always be better than Gold and would almost certainly make a BM "Province rush" better than most engines. And Masterpiece gaining any <=3-cost card instead of Silver would be bonkers broken. Pay $7, gain four Encampments? That's a big nope!

The only cards on this list I would be tempted to improve are the ones that would make the game more interesting, not less so. Here are some possibilities:

Royal Seal : $4? Topdeckers are really interesting. Scheme, Traveling Fair, Courtyard, Tracker... these all potentially create very interesting situations for setting up combos. And hey, they're all cheap. I don't think a Royal Seal you could open with would break anything. But it's just too expensive to be worth it when competing with other $5-costs.

Philosopher's stone: Count ALL cards? It's useless in an engine. Single-card economy exploders like Bank and Fortune make engines especially attractive; adding one more treasure to this category couldn't hurt.

Transmute: Add a "may" to the gaining? Breaks the flavor, though.

But honestly, Donald X spent a lot of time and energy designing these cards and playtesting them, and it's likely that many of these ideas or ideas similar to them were tried and rejected.

In fact, second-guessing D.X actually belongs in a whole separate section:

This whole thread should probably be moved to "Variants and Fan Cards"

Posting your fun moments is fine and all, but can't we have just one thread whose goal is to actually make people improve at Dominion?

Discussion and debate is part of the process. I've learned quite a bit from someone posting something not all that great and being hog-piled by experts telling them why it's not that great.

What I would really like to see, though, is a compilation of actually good stuff from this thread (and others) that makes it into the wiki in a nice, clean, simplified version.

It's definitely worth listing interactions that are neat and interesting that don't rise to the level of "combo" but are nevertheless useful. There's a TON of stuff in this thread that would be far more useful on the wiki than Golem + Counting House.

I'd like to suggest a compromise:

CardA + CardB + [category] is a reasonable thing to post as a neat and potentially useful card interaction.

For example, Tunnel + Apprentice + [sifter] gets lots of free gold that Apprentice can use to draw large hands. Of course, that could be further generalized to Apprentice + [free gold] is good, but you get the point. There are enough sifters in the game to make a combination like that relevant. Likewise, categories like [+buy] or even [draw] are reasonable; there are certainly good two-card combinations that aren't good unless there is a third piece to the puzzle.

But even that compromise suggests a bigger-picture issue if you're thinking about posting a multi-card interaction.

In another thread, someone posted a video of a Dan Books turn 6 win as a result of something like a 4-card combination (Storeroom, Talisman, Villa, Peddler) He used Storeroom to put multiple Talismans together, did a buy-one-get-three Villa, Repeat until empty accumulating ridiculous buys, buy out the Peddler pile, then buy out a third cheap pile for a win (on Wolf den points, but could probably have pulled off a win on a couple of Estates instead.)

Posting that 4-card combination is useless, but the individual combinations are worth noting. But even then, the more general synergies are probably more important to get in your head than the specific combinations. Not Villa + Talisman, but Villa + [gainer], Peddler + buy, Talisman + buy, Talisman + sifting, Storeroom + special treasure, etc.

As a general rule, I would suggest to anyone thinking about posting in this thread, ask yourself this question: Is it really neat? As in, is there something unique that that two-card combination does? Could you not substitute another card for one of the others and achieve exactly the same result?

There's already another different thread for this specific thing, actually:

Two additional notes:

Stop posting Market Square + [trasher] gets lots of Gold. Yes. That's what Market Square does. It's not a combo, or particularly interesting. That's simply its job. If you can demonstrate a two-card combo with it unexpectedly sucking down 5 Provinces in 7-9 turns or something, like with Donate or Hermit, then sure, post it; otherwise, start learning how bad Gold usually is. It has taken me a long time to learn that, and my game has improved significantly. Learn to hate yellow cards, even Gold. My favorite thing to do with Gold gainers is trash-for-benefit them with cards like like Salvager or Apprentice. Every gold you gain should make you feel slightly uncomfortable trying to work how how you're going to draw it every turn.

That said, I do kind of like Rats + Monastery. For every Rat you play, you gain another card, so if you play Monastery at the end of the turn, it's almost turning each Rats into a trash-two. If you trash more Rats with the Monastery, you draw a card for each one, and since the ruling is that you trash the cards one at a time, you could potentially draw another card that you want to trash with the same Monastery, having earned multiple trashing opportunities. Now that is genuinely interesting..even neat and potentially useful.

Dominion Articles / Re: What's stopping AI from mastering Dominion?
« on: March 06, 2018, 12:32:24 pm »
Provincial was able to get pretty far with genetic algorithms to learn buy rules + hardcoded play rules, and that included Intrique and Seaside, so I do think it's definitely possible.

I agree. I still practice games against Provincial occasionally just to remind myself how good BM is sometimes. And I still occasionally lose if I try to get too fancy. But it's also a good reminder when a disciplined engine is dominant and to be patient with greening.

There are quite a few kingdoms where the best strategy really is a BM-variant, and it's quite good at those; interestingly, it peppers in several cards, not just a couple of terminal draws. The genetic algorithm plays so many games it can optimize what the best balance is for maximum points-per-turn. It also plays action/draw engines surprisingly well, and you'll find yourself buried under an avalanche of Torturer plays whenever it's in the kingdom with extra actions. It also seems to make a fairly reasonable decision about what to go for based on how much trashing is available, because all of the simulations will eventually show whether it's possible to thin quickly enough for the engine to fire reliably. It also happily plays slogs, easily learning that a strong attack will end the game on piles with plenty of duchies, curses and misery to go around. It also does pay attention to piles and piles out with a lead if it can.

What it doesn't do well are the fiddly cases. It doesn't ever play a rush, even in the presence of something like Ironworks/Gardens. It doesn't play for a megaturn/pileout, even in the presence of King's Court and Grand Market. It doesn't play a points engine (rather than greening) even in the presence of Goons or Monument.

However, I strongly suspect that what's going on there is that the programmers weren't high-level players to begin with, so they never explored these more advanced concepts (though the missing rush surprises me.) If the deck archetypes and play commands were updated to include these options as possible win states, I'm quite certain that the genetic algorithm would correctly identify when they were the fastest road to victory, and a good order and priority for buying cards.

What's interesting, of course, is that for any given kingdom, the Provincial AI genetic algorithm needs to "chew" on it for a while, playing hundreds of simulated games, before it settles on an optimal strategy. It can only play pre-randomized kingdoms. For a really great Shuffle-IT bot AI that could play any random kingdom, it would likely have to say "please wait, thinking" for ten minutes or so before the game started while it ran hundreds of simulations! (Totally worth it, by the way.)

Incidentally, a little-known feature of Provincial is a whole bunch of fan-cards. You can enable those by editing the .ini file manually, and you can run the Provincial kingdom-generating script for hours and it will generate dozens of new Kingdoms, many of which have cards that don't exist in the real game. Fun!

The bot plays some of them pretty well. Pauper (permanent duration, gain a copper to hand now and at the beginning of each turn) is a card it will happily buy with Gardens in the kingdom, for example. However, because it lacks the ability to know that it's a thing, it never plays a points-only starvation deck with Benefactor or Heiress or Promised Land (degenerate cards that Donald X would never make.) It's reasonably good at recognizing the power of Gambler and Haunted Village. It knows enough to avoid Cursed Land at any price. It will pull off surprise wins with Champion.

Oh, right. Champion. There are several fan-cards that were created for Provincial that predate many of the current expansions, so you'll see Champion and Squire and Hex and Ruins and they don't mean the same thing as the real cards. Just FYI.

I've run the generator and made about 400 kingdoms. If anyone wants to try it out and try playing the fan cards against the AI just for kicks, if you can't figure out the fiddly bits, let me know and I'll post a link to the files.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Homage to the Best Card
« on: March 06, 2018, 11:32:11 am »
There are also Morning, Brunch, Naptime, and Brunch phases now.

Second brunch? Mind blown.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Quick Questions and Answers
« on: February 26, 2018, 06:59:35 pm »
The trick with conspirators isn't the density of conspirators, it's the density of enablers (non-terminal actions.)

To have two enablers in an average 5-card hand, your deck should trivially be 40% enablers, or less if the enablers can draw cards (33% if they're all cantrips so you've seen 6 cards after playing the first cantrip, or even <20% if they're something like Village/Smithy.) And even then, the math changes, because with only a single Village, you can play Conspirator for coin, then the SECOND conspirator for card/action/profit, which could be all you need. Then there's weird stuff like Vassal and Throne Room that also change the math.

I've never had a significant problem activating Conspirators when it was possible, and when it's good, I also have a hard time imagining overbuying them, because winning the split could be key. In the right kingdom, they're like bargain Grand Markets. Could you be having a different problem? Perhaps not enough trashing? They REALLY like trashing. You want a moneyeless deck as quickly as possible. Oh, and sifting. Man, cards like Warehouse change the math again. You would really like a gainer, and a + buy is basically mandatory given that you should end up with coin coming out of your ears.

Definitely go to full random as soon as you know what all of the individual cards do. It's true that on some boards, certain card combinations are dominant, and other cards can be ignored. Figuring out which is which is part of the fun. The pre-game analysis and planning is the biggest skill-tester in the game.

A couple of other notes, though: Don't think of a draw-2 like Witch or Moat as a "mini-Smithy". Since you're playing a card on the table, the act of playing a draw-2 only increases your hand size by 1. Playing a Smithy increases your hand size by 2. It's effectively twice as powerful; you need half as many Smithies to draw your whole deck as you would need Witches or Moats. Also beware the lure of Festival. Non-drawing cards, even if they give +actions, actually decrease your hand size. A deck full of Festival/Witch can do no better than stay at the same hand size! It only sort of works at all because Festival gives coin, meaning you can skip buying extra Silvers. As soon as you try to combine Festival/Witch or Festival/Moat with any treasure, though, even Gold, it falls flat on its face. Same thing happens when you buy ANY green cards!

Go full random, play a few more games with Chapel and learn the glory that is trashing all of your starting ten cards as quickly as you possibly can. Trash early, trash often.

What you'll discover after some additional practice and reading is that complex action-based engines are usually the dominant strategy, but if they're not played correctly, they can be beaten by someone just buying nothing but money. Learning to play engines can be frustrating, but enormously rewarding when you draw your whole deck every turn, and every turn you can fire off all of the good stuff reliably: Gain a Gold...make everyone discard to 3...give out curses...trash the curse you got last a bunch of treasure, buy two or more Provinces... rinse, repeat. Glorious! (Note: Much easier to do in two-player, but still possible with more.)

Did I mention trashing? Chapel forever! A dozen expansions later, and a more powerful action has not been printed.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Right way to play when you canít win?
« on: January 29, 2018, 10:36:28 am »
3-4 player is tricky. Leans heavily toward money. However, an engine can win when money players start clogging, particularly if one opponent gets ahead and then stalls turn after turn because they have a disproportionate number of the green cards. You can still pull off an unlikely engine victory since the other opponents have very few points and the leader has nerfed themselves. I've held on to win many games I thought were hopeless after getting behind by two or more Provinces.

If it's totally impossible to win, an engine player should pile out the game as quickly as possible. That's the metagame: You, as a human being, want to get on to the next game, and the way to do that is to intentionally end it. All other players should be factoring in the fact that if they get a big lead on an engine player, they are inviting a pileout. Anyone who complains, "But I would have won on my next turn! You gave X the win!" is simply wrong. There's nothing unethical or unsportsmanlike about it. It's part of the game.

Every money player should be looking at piles and asking themselves, "Should I buy Gold with this $6, or buy a Duchy, because player X could gain four cards and pile the game to end it because they're losing and want it to be over? I might not get another turn."

e draws 3 Coppers, a Steward and a Leprechaun.

...didn't turn out so bad!...

Turn 3 - ehunt
e plays a Leprechaun.

I think you have a typo. That should have read "Turn 3 - ehunt plays a Steward, trashing two Coppers."

Who skips a turn 3 Steward play to gain Gold? I have Awaclus voice echoing in my head, "Trashing a card is equivalent to gaining a Lab." Is it really worth trashing two Labs to gain a Gold?

Yes, trashing on that turn would make it harder to hit $5 in the next few turns, but my guess is that $5 wasn't a critical price point to hit quickly in that kingdom or you would have opened Steward/Silver instead of Steward/Leprechaun.

Yes, you got super-lucky in the process of trying to not make your own shuffle luck.

Wow, now Awaclus voice is echoing right out of my fingers on to my keyboard. It's like a disease. I gotta go get that looked at.

Dominion General Discussion / Re: Nocturne: Yay or nay?
« on: January 09, 2018, 02:21:29 pm »
It's a hilarious skill-tester of a set.

Just when you think you know how to play Dominion, Donald throws you a curve-ball. Unpredictable, difficult, and a bunch of cards that just don't slot into existing strategies in the way you expect them to at first glance.

I've watched players try to play Cursed Village in a positive drawing engine, thus buying $5 Necropolises with downside. I've watched players try to play Village/draw engines with Tragic Hero as the only +buy and make themselves crazy trying to figure out how to get double-Province buys reliably as their Heroes die repeatedly. I've watched people gain too many Imps or Conclaves and run out of unique actions. I've seen a lot of too much Gold-gaining. There are so many gotchas in the set it's ridiculous.

Just played a game where my Castles-BM strategy revolved around a surprisingly fast Devil's Workshop and Save/Expedition. (Goat/Lookout for trashing.) On small money hands, buy Save/Expedition/Devil's workshop to gain gold. Next hand, buy the next expensive Castle. Save allowed lining up Golds or Small Castles with stuff to trash for bigger castles. (Side note: Save/Tragic Hero! Ha! Did I say "hilarious" yet?)

Lurker + Necromancer

Trash an action, use it right away. If it helps kick off an engine, there's a good chance you'll draw your second Lurker and pull the kickoff action into your deck.

These two cards have one notable anti-synergy. It is possible to buy Lurkers and pull all the actions out of the trash (including the starting Zombies!) giving Necromancers nothing to play. However, the above trash/use play makes at least one Necromancer good even with an empty trash pile.

Necromancer + cards that don't want duplicates in play (Imp, Magic Lamp, sort of Horn of Plenty)

Since necroing a card doesn't put it in play, you get more opportunities for high-utility spammable engine cards to not screw up your key plays.

Exorcist + Silver gainer (Delve/Masterpiece/Trader/etc.)

Obviously, Exorcising a Silver gets you an Imp, which is nice to start with. But what's especially awesome is if you can also afford to Exorcise a couple of expensive cards for Ghosts. If you can draw deck, during your night phase you can play the Exorcist first, upgrading a Silver to an Imp, then play a Ghost, which is now guaranteed to hit the Imp you just gained.

Starting each turn with +4 cards and (sort of) +3 actions is pretty amazing.

Rules Questions / Re: Ghost + Duplicate
« on: December 28, 2017, 04:28:48 pm »
However, you could Remake, trashing the Overgrown Estate into a $2, drawing a card, then trashing the card you drew, because Remake is one of the few cards that doesn't read "trash two cards." It reads "Do this twice: etc." so you're trashing and upgrading each card separately.

Right, but nobody said that University is good at gaining Highways quickly

The original poster listed "University + Highway" as a NaPUCI. There can be no other possible interpretation. Highway doesn't need the +actions.

this isn't an interaction between University and Highway specifically, it's just how Uni works. Repeat this simulation with other $5's and you'll see what I mean.

Done. And you're only sometimes right. University + Groundskeeper gains 5 Groundskeepers faster. Double-silver opening takes 11.1 turns to do so on average. So University is only slower when gaining cards that don't give economy. That's part of the redundancy: Highways already help you get more highways.

in a real game there will be a possibility that University will be the fastest way gain Highways.

A possibility. But a probability? In a real game, there is likely to be +buy or you might skip Highway altogether, and with +buy and cost reduction, you could be getting $5s by the handful. University is still likely to slow you down.

In fact, I'll offer that as a challenge: Show me a simulation where University is, in fact, the fastest way to gain Highways in a kingdom. Can you do it without making University the only source of +Actions?

It is also ignoring the other utility that University provides.

Correct. The original post was not "Highway + University + other cool stuff." It listed only Highway + University as a NaPUCI. I am saying that it is not. It is...let's anti-synergy?

Like I could post a simulation showing that Mandarin/Capital beats Travelling Fair/Counting House 90% (made up number) of the time but that doesn't make Travelling Fair/Counting House a "potentially harmful" interaction.

I said nothing about which simulation wins. I never simulated getting points. I only simulated getting Highways in order to demonstrate that University + Highway isn't a thing. Sure, you might gain a Highway with a University that you have in your deck for other reasons, on your way to a big engine. That doesn't make it a thing.

I have had to explain to beginners that Beggar + Moneylender isn't a thing. It looks good on the surface: Gain coppers, turn them into $3 each. But you would have to really create a tortured scenario to make that anything other than awful. Things that look good on the surface and turn out not to be so good are a key part of learning this game.

Ok, maybe "nombo" is a bit strong. However, I just ran a simulation, and it is, in fact, "potentially harmful."

Opening Potion/Silver, buying one University, then gaining and buying Highways as fast as you can, vs. opening Silver/Silver and buying Highways as fast as you can has clear results:

University method: 10.1 average turns to 5 Highways
Silver method: 9.5 average turns to 5 Highways

(Buying more Universities only gets it down to 10.0)

Mathematically, then, University, on its own, makes getting Highways slower, not faster.

Maybe that doesn't rise to the level of nombo, but it gets pretty close to "potentially harmful interaction."

I'm sure this surprises very few experienced players, but given that the original poster was probably a relative beginner to have posted the suggestion in the first place, learning that potion-cost cards really do slow down your deckbuilding that much might be a useful bit of knowledge to apply moving forward. If you're going to buy a poison potion, have a solid plan to make up for doing so.

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