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Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Weekly Design Contest Thread
« on: January 17, 2019, 05:16:25 am »

Here's my entry for this week.  A Duchy gainer, with some engine components built in, High Council gives you a choice of gaining a Duchy, a +Cards effect if you reveal a Duchy, or a Baron-like effect if you discard a Duchy.  The best options require you to line it up with a Duchy, but gaining Duchies isn't too sad either.  The effects all self-synergize too: + cards helps you draw more High Councils, Baron helps you buy more High Councils, and Duchy helps you activate the other effects.   

*edit: removed Village option

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Weekly Design Contest Thread
« on: November 21, 2018, 06:12:50 pm »

It‘s a cute mini-game, but I don‘t like the pricing.

At the beginning, it‘s better than Salvager, because +Silver is better than +buy.
When triggered, it gives at least +3VP, even 5 VP in the endgame.
If it trashes a Domain, it means „gain a silver, gain a gold, +5$“.

That being said, I think it should be a 5$ card.

I can definitely see the argument for $5: many official cards that gain Silver to hand cost $5, such as Mine, Explorer, Trading Post, or Sculptor (though each of these also provide additional benefits as well). However Treaty's restrictions for activating (the Silver gain, or the Domain gain) are pretty big ones, and I think it would make it way slower if it cost $5 since you couldn't open it most of the time.

The Salvager comparison is apt; Treaty is better at trashing Estates and Domains but it's worse at trashing literally anything else. That said, Treaty probably could probably cost $4 without changing the card that much, I agree that $3 is maybe too cheap. I'll see about updating the price later today or tomorrow.

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Weekly Design Contest Thread
« on: November 20, 2018, 07:08:50 pm »

Here's my entry: Treaty and Domain.  Treaty is a terminal, one-card trasher that especially loves trashing Estates in the early game, and then later, you can win a Domain from your Treaty.  Domain is 5 VP all together, though just 3 VP if you trash it later, which you probably will.  Trashing a Domain with Treaty gains you a Silver and a Gold to hand, yeeha--hopefully you still have some Coppers left to win that next Domain.  This makes for a fun minigame to try and churn through the Domains, though you'll need some extra help to keep lining up your Treaties with trash targets and the needed treasures to activate.  There are eight Domains in a two-player game, otherwise there are twelve.

*Edit: Adjusted Treaty's price from $3 to $4.

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Weekly Design Contest Thread
« on: November 09, 2018, 10:30:14 am »

Here is a revised version of Stowaway (also updated in my original post).

My initial submission of Stowaway was a Night-Attack-Duration card which was outside Asper's parameters for this week's contest as Fly-Eagles-Fly helpfully pointed out.  The Action version is a bit weaker since it doesn't play as nicely with terminal draw as the Night version, so to make up for this, I've made the junking on-play instead of delayed to the duration turn.  This is also better for tracking purposes, reaction timing, etc.

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Weekly Design Contest Thread
« on: November 08, 2018, 04:36:45 pm »
Cool card, but the contest is for an Action-Attack card. Or maybe he just meant any attack card. I really like the card idea.
Oh whoops, I missed that--this actually started as an Action, but then I thought it would work well as a Night card and forgot that the parameters specified Action-Attack.  I may revise it back to being an Action later. 

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Weekly Design Contest Thread
« on: November 08, 2018, 04:23:25 pm »

Here's my revised entry, an Action-Attack-Duration!  Stowaway is sort of a mashup of Gear and Ambassador: you save cards from this hand for next hand, and give a copy of one of them to your opponents.  Early game, this will neatly keep Estates and extra Coppers out of your shuffles while junking the other players, though being a duration means it only works every other turn.  In the mid and late game, a pair of these can function as handy utility cards to keep your shuffles clean, as well as set up big turns, just be sure to keep some junk around to hand out copies of (or perhaps a Province when you're ready to end the game).

*Revised to change to an Action type instead of Night, so to fit within the parameters of this week's contest.

Guildhall + Beggar

Even without +Buy or other help, these two together can make for a surprisingly fast Province rush.  Guildhall gives you +1 Coffers every time you gain a treasure, which means Beggar essentially reads +$6.  There's probably some optimization here that I haven't figured out yet, but the basic strategy is to open Beggar-Beggar, buy Guildhall with your first $5 (which should be very easy with a Beggar play), then buy Province every time you play Beggar, and buy extra Beggars on hands without Beggars.  I can usually get 7-8 Provinces in about 12 to 13 turns, and I've had a few games where I emptied Provinces by turn 10 or 11. 

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Weekly Design Contest Thread
« on: October 31, 2018, 10:22:37 am »
Here's my attempt at a card inspired by auction and price-setting games like Isle of Skye and The Castles of Mad King Ludwig:

It's wordier than I like for most cards, but I think it captures the price-setting mechanic as best as it can.  Not totally sure on the costs and the on-play effect (+3 Coffers might be too strong for $6), and I'm also not sold on being able to call it immediately after the turn you play it, (in games where this is the only way to gain Coffers, the first player to play it basically gets a free $5, which isn't super fun--making it so you can't open it helps some).  But in games with other Coffers cards, it can create some nice player interaction, where you want to hold onto Coffers in case someone else calls an auction.  Sometimes you might use this as a gainer, other times you might prefer to bait other players into boosting your Coffers for a bigger play later--just be careful not to get stuck paying for something you didn't really want.  Anyway, the idea definitely needs tweaking, but here's a stab at it. 

Dominion Articles / Re: Chariot Race
« on: September 18, 2018, 09:53:51 am »
Nice article!  You do a good job explaining the basics of the card and what it does for you, while also addressing how best to use it.  The Gist section especially is concise and says a lot of the most important things about Chariot Race in just a few words.  I also like the Pitfalls section, reminding players of how non-standard card costs, certain attacks, and overdrawing can affect Chariot Race. 

A couple things I'd point out: though you imply this in the section on how to make Chariot Race better, just as trashing is critical for increasing your average deck value (also, you could probably emphasize this point even more throughout the article--Chariot Race is often pretty bad on boards with no trashing), so too junking can be very good for decreasing your opponent's average deck value.

Also on specific card interactions, there are two especially important ones that are missing and/or criminally undersold.  First, Sea Hag is one of the most effective cards for manipulating the top card of your opponent's deck, by making them topdeck a Curse before playing your line of Chariot Races.  Secondly, putting Secret Passage in the same category as Mandarin and Count for controlling the top of your deck is crazy--Secret Passage is so, so much better than these (and the inspection cards as well) since it looks at more cards and is non-terminal, letting you topdeck the most expensive card in your hand, then play your Chariot Race for a very good chance of activation.  I'd go so far as to say that Secret Passage is the number one Chariot Race enabler in Dominion because of how much control it gives you; with just a little bit of support, a deck that can play lots of pairs of Chariot Races and Secret Passages with a few expensive cards sprinkled in for topdecking can consistently generate points every turn while mitigating a lot of the randomness that usually plagues Chariot Race games.

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Anticipating Renaissance
« on: September 15, 2018, 01:48:22 pm »
I've always thought an Attack that interacted with coin tokens would be neat, though probably tricky to balance.  Maybe we'll get one in Renaissance!  Here's my stab at it:


+2 Coffers
Each other player may remove one token from their Coffers. If they don't, they gain a Curse.
When you gain this, each other player gets +1 Coffers.

Puzzles and Challenges / Re: Easy Puzzles
« on: August 27, 2018, 09:37:20 am »
Here's a pretty easy one, with at least two different solutions:

Using only the five cards in my starting hand (i.e. no Duration effects or Reserves), I manage to buy a Province and a Duchy, as well as Curse my opponent four times.  How?

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Interesting Card Design Challenges
« on: August 14, 2018, 01:02:32 pm »
The idea of a $2 cost Attack is interesting--it's tricky to design since the attack and benefit need to be mild enough to fit the low cost, but not so mild that the attack effectively does nothing (i.e. imagine an attack even milder than Fortune Teller).  My solution is to make the card require multiple copies to actually attack and to get stronger with more copies, so while it's cheap, it still requires an investment.  Note: I have not tested this at all, so it could be a nothing card. 

By itself, a single Knave is just a Copper, not a great deal for $2.  But with two of them in play, you get a nice discard attack, and each one after that Curses your opponent too.  Knave is non-terminal so you can easily play several of them, but the tricky part will be when to gain them and how to line them up to start attacking.  It's a pretty bad opener, and the benefit to your deck apart from the Attack is very slight.  It will take a few turns to start attacking consistently, and once it does, the discarding and cursing will make it harder for players to keep lining them up.  It's possible that unlimited cursing after three in play might get a bit oppressive, but I figured that getting to a point where you play more than three of these consistently will usually take a while.  I toyed with the idea of giving them a +Buy to make it easier to get more of them, but +1 Action +$1 seemed stronger on average than +1 Action +1 Buy.  Not sure though.  Overpaying to get extra copies or Forum-style "When you buy this, +1 Buy" are also options, but that's a lot of extra text on an already wordy card. 

Thoughts?  What are other ways to make a $2 cost attack work?

I can't think of any real uses for this beyond rare edge cases, weird pile control, or maybe an unnecessarily fancy TfB strategy, but I recently discovered that you can move $3+ cost Action cards from the trash directly back to the Supply using Lurker to gain from the trash, and then exchange for Changeling.  Lurker gains the card out of the trash and then Changeling exchanges it back to the Supply.  Kinda neat (albeit usually not very helpful) interaction. 

Dominion League / Re: Season 28 - Signups
« on: May 25, 2018, 11:23:15 am »
Hello everyone!  I've usually never had the time to commit to league play, but this summer is looking a little less busy than normal, so I'm in! 4est
Discord: 4est#4768
Timezone: USA/Central (Chicago)

I haven't been playing as much in the last few months so my rating has slipped a bit, but I'm starting to play some more now.  Looking forward to this season!

Let's Discuss ... / Re: Let's Discuss Nocturne Cards: Tragic Hero
« on: March 29, 2018, 12:34:44 pm »
Tragic Hero can set up some powerful mega-turn endings, even just with Golds.  If you're careful about when you play them during the game, you can build until the moment is just right and then pop them all on your last turn for a nice payout.  In these cases, each of your remaining Tragic Heroes basically reads +3 Cards, +1 Buy, +$3, which is excellent for finishing off the Provinces or emptying a third pile.  In the presence of more exotic treasures like Platinum or Horn of Plenty, Tragic Hero mega-turns are even more potent. 

When used as your only draw in an engine, the trashing "drawback" can make playing with Tragic Hero tricky, but rarely unworkable.  Cantrip villages keep your first Tragic Hero each turn safe, and non-drawing villages like Festival, Squire, and Conclave play very nicely (these make Tragic Hero work sort of like a draw-to-X).  With its +Buy and payload generation, Tragic Hero also is a great source of supplemental draw alongside something else.

I feel like the biggest thing with Tragic Hero is: don't be afraid of trashing it or think it's a bad card because it might get trashed.  While you obviously need to be careful not to just mindlessly play these and suddenly lose all your draw midgame, Tragic Hero's treasure gaining is absolutely a feature, not a bug.  Yeah, it's no Margrave, but I mean come on, Margrave is crazy.

There's a 5$ thats very frequently worth grabbing the curse for on Cursed Gold boards in every game.

I'm still not totally sold on taking a Curse to open Pooka.  I've had it work out a few times, but usually Pooka just doesn't work if you're opening with another Action, and with the Curse and only six initial trash targets (since you can't trash Cursed Gold), it can be tricky to line up with Coppers.  Pooka can trigger unfortunate shuffles, and it loses its utility rapidly as you start buying other things.  It's a great card to open with on paper, but it just hasn't come through often enough for me in practice.

What I'm really trying to say is I have no idea how to play Pooka. 

Raze isn't so helpful once you have a few Bridge Trolls in play. 

Dominion Articles / Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« on: February 18, 2018, 08:56:14 am »
Thanks everyone for the comments and feedback (and for the classic f.ds thread derailment at the end there...)! 

I've updated the OP with a few touch-ups and edits, incorporating some of the key recommended changes: I added a line in the next-turn set up section about connecting cards, there's more nuance now in the spot about stashing a revealed Archive vs. playing it, and I've cleaned up a few other minor wording/phrasing items. 

If there's any other thoughts or criticisms on this Archive article, let me know, otherwise, I'm going to consider this one complete for now. 

Thanks again all!

Dominion Articles / Re: Leprechaun
« on: February 16, 2018, 12:37:25 pm »
Nice, to-the-point article on a newer card!  I think this does a great job reminding players that Leprechaun is not a card you can just play mindlessly, as it requires finesse and attention to play well (both for Wish-gaining and Hex-tracking). 

I agree with faust's point that you shouldn't get Leprechaun without having a serious plan for those Golds.  I think the article could spend a bit more time talking what sorts of decks want Gold-gainers.  It might also be good to talk more tactics about the Wish-gaining: reviewing the kingdom to see if playing Leprechaun as your 7th card is reliable (or possible), identifying strong Wish targets before buying Leprechaun, and the value of gaining and then playing Wishes on the same turn, etc.

Also, Leprechaun is not good at all in money decks, at least in my experience.  It's really not a good opener either--you ideally shouldn't get it until your deck is under control, so you can actually activate the Wish gains and make real use of the Golds. 

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: 4est's Cards
« on: February 13, 2018, 02:53:39 pm »
Thanks Gazbag, yes, Undertaker definitely should have a from-hand restriction.  I had actually thought about Salt the Earth while first testing the card and thought that would be kind of a rare but funny interaction to allow, but on second thought, it's definitely safer to get rid of that sort of stuff. 

Here's an awful attempt to retain the Possession-style set-aside language to allow for contingent effects while also trying to save cards from being lost track of when discarding multiple cards:

Action - Reaction
Cost: $3

+3 Cards
Discard 2 cards.
When you would discard or trash any number of cards from your hand, you may reveal this from your hand to discard or trash them one card at a time, then set each aside, and trash or discard each at end of turn.

I know, it's pretty bad (adding "would" to a card usually means trouble--I'm looking at you, Trader), and I'm not even entirely sure this is worded properly to actually stop lose track for discards.  Essentially, revealing this version of Undertaker is supposed to "modify" how discarding multiple cards works so that you can set each card aside before it gets covered up.  It's terribly clunky and unelegant; this is about as much text as I would feel comfortable cramming onto a card, so hopefully there's another more concise solution.

Thanks again you all for your help in trying to fix this surprisingly complicated card!

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: 4est's Cards
« on: February 13, 2018, 10:29:44 am »
Thanks Asper, you're right about the lose track thing for discards, I forgot about that.  Man, that pesky lose track rule.  I found a fix for trashing situations, but it breaks discards.  That's too bad. 

Well, let's see then, if my understanding of the lose track rule and the blue dog rule are correct, then Undertaker's current wording (with "reveal from hand" added) basically "breaks" any card that has a discard-for-benefit effect contingent on the discarded cards (Cellar, Storeroom, Vault, Mill, Artificer, Hamlet, Stables, etc.) or trash-for-benefit contingent on the trashed cards (Remodel, Replace, Trading Post, Upgrade, Salvager, Bishop, Expand, Apprentice, Forge, Remake, Develop, Farmland, Trader, Mercenary, Procession, Graverobber, Rebuild, Stonemason, Butcher, Raze, Catapult, Sacrifice, etc.).   

It does still "work" with any card that discards or trashes without a contingent benefit as Fragasnap explains, but the above list is a hefty chunk of cards, including many interactions I had been excited about.  I'll need to keep thinking about if there's any concise way the card can still somehow allow discard-for-benefit and trash-for-benefit cards to function normally while activating Undertaker's ability, without getting snagged on lose track and blue dog stuff. 

Don't worry LibraryAdventurer, I won't ditch it just yet, but I would like Undertaker to function with more than it currently does, if possible.  I feel like there's got to be a way to do it--it's a pretty simple effect to understand conceptually, it's just a matter of getting it to be worded such that it still abides by the rules of the Dominion universe.  Anyway, thanks folks for the help on this one so far!

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: 4est's Cards
« on: February 12, 2018, 10:51:01 am »
Thanks Holunder, Gazbag, Asper, and Fragasnap for the comments thus far, very helpful! 

I had thought Undertaker would probably need corrected wording--thank you Fragasnap for pointing this out.  Of course, the "reveal from hand" is missing, I'll add that.  I thought about the clean-up thing, and had assumed that since clean-up requires players to put their hand and cards in play into their discard pile at the same time, Undertaker would never actually be in hand to be revealed during clean-up, rendering clean-up phase language on the card redundant.  Is this a correct rule understanding?  If not, I can add clean-up language. 

As for the lose track stuff (e.g. with Trading Post, etc.), it appears that a number of other effects would not occur as I had intended, so different wording is needed.  While I hate to have to invoke Possession, that is the only official card I can think of that gets around this interaction with its "cards that are trashed are set aside" language.  Unless I'm misunderstanding the rule, if a Possessed player plays Trading Post and trashes two cards, I believe a Silver is still gained (albeit to the Possessor), even though the two cards that were trashed end up in the discard pile later.  Is that correct? 

Thus, what if Undertaker read:

Action - Reaction
Cost: $3

+3 Cards
Discard 2 cards.
When you discard or trash any number of cards, you may reveal this from your hand to set those cards aside and trash them or discard them at end of turn.

Would this be enough to still allow "if you did" or "for" effects to work on cards like Trading Post, etc.?  If not, what would the wording need to be?  As much as I'd love to get this unique effect to work fairly, if it's too complicated or requires tortured wording to work properly, I'll have to drop it. 

Also, I played a few games this weekend with Rebellion, and it definitely needs balancing as written and felt unnecessarily complicated for an attack.  Revisions pending.

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: 4est's Cards
« on: February 09, 2018, 03:38:42 pm »
Hello friends!

Well, it's a year later, and I’m revisiting my old fan expansion with a few revisions and updates.  A number of my original cards were initially bit uninteresting or unbalanced in other ways, and over the past month I’ve been tinkering with the set and redesigning a few of the cards just for fun.  Below are a few updates (also in the OP).  There are four completely overhauled cards and three brand new ones.  I’d love to get feedback on the changes!


Redesigned Cards

My first version of Falconer was a Sage variant.  It was mostly balanced but kinda eh.  The new Falconer is a cheap Band of Misfits variant that offers you a choice when you play it: a simple cantrip, or play it as the worst Action card in your opponent's hand.  Sometimes what they reveal just doesn’t work, but hey that’s okay, Falconer can never hurt you.  But sometimes, their worst card is still a winner.  Late game, it can become a tactical puzzle for your opponent on which of their good actions to reveal that will help you the least.   

I liked old Granary, but it was a wordy and unnecessarily complicated draw-to-x and none of my revisions worked, so I scrapped it.  When I was revising Rebellion to no longer be a Smithy, I decided to make Granary a Smithy instead, with a neat discard effect.  It does suffer from the Harbinger effect—you’re sad when your discard is empty, but when it’s not, trading out the worst card in your hand for the best card in your discard pile is a good deal. 

I had tried a few different versions of Marshal as a Militia variant, but never really liked any of them, so now it’s more like a cantrip Soldier.  It takes two of them gets your opponents down to 3 cards in hand, and Marshal counters other Marshals by giving you an extra bonus with a small handsize.

I decided the attack on Rebellion was too strong to be attached to terminal draw, even with on-gain bonuses for opponents, so now it provides terminal coin for each set of duplicate cards in your hand.  It's not too hard to get at least $2, but with some help, you can get a lot more.  The attack gives a Torturer-like Curse or discard choice for hands with duplicate cards, but can be countered by hands with no duplicates.  Rebellions need like-minded people working together in order to succeed.

I'll add that this card has not been play-tested yet, so it may need rebalancing. 

New Cards

Carnival’s “travel between players” mechanic is inspired by Last Footnote’s Wanderer and Asper’s Pilgrim, but instead of a draw card, Carnival provides some nice payload.  It’s great for hitting $5 and $6 in the early game, and higher price points later, and players are never sad to have one passed to them.  Another key difference is that taking the coins and passing to your opponent is optional—you can always play it just for the non-terminal buy and cash out at another time (or try to amass a few Carnivals for a big turn later).  $4 might seem pricey, but this is mainly to prevent double Carnival openings.  I had one too many games when everyone opened double Carnival, and well, I’ll just say that the Carnival is fun for a while, but there’s a reason you don’t go there every day.

It’s a giant Workshop!  Gainers that can gain that many cards per play are usually risky designs, but the differently named clause prevents it from piledriving, and on many boards, you end up taking stuff you don’t necessarily need.  Collector’s Shop’s value definitely depends heavily on what else is available in the kingdom, but that’s true of all gainers.  Finally, for each card you gain, you can discard something else to topdeck it, a handy little bonus. 

I’ve had this reaction idea for a while, but haven’t actually tried it until now.  Similar to Watchtower in its versatility, Undertaker has lots of neat little tricks up its sleeve.  It can turn sifters into trashers (including other Undertakers), it can defend against trashing attacks and make discard attacks actually helpful, it can turn trash-for-benefits like Apprentice into crazy discard-for-benefits instead, etc.  Is the reaction wording correct?  It should react similarly to Market Square for trashing and Tunnel for discarding (i.e. you can't reveal during clean-up).  I’ve tried a bunch of different things for the top, and settled on a terminal Forum for now, but I’m still testing other on-play options as well. 

Other Games / Re: Dominion clones
« on: February 08, 2018, 10:23:22 am »
I played The Quest for El Dorado (by Reiner Knizia) a few times after it came out last year, and while no other deckbuilder holds a candle to Dominion, I have to say El Dorado is the "Dominion clone" I've enjoyed the most (I've also played Clank, Ascension, and Star Realms). 

It takes a lot of the typical deckbuilder mechanics described in many of these clones: play actions, play resources, buy cards which go in your discard, draw a new hand, shuffle when needed, etc.  Instead of buying victory cards or earning points, players "race" across a variable hexagonal game board (which is randomized each game), passing obstacles and different types of terrain to be the first to reach "El Dorado."  There's a nearly infinite number of different routes to victory, so every player will likely take different routes depending on how they build their deck.  Taking the resource generation of a deckbuilder and applying it to the movement of your piece across a physical board is reminiscent of Clank, though different terrains use different card resources, and the randomization adds to replayability, unlike Clank's few set gameboards. 

There are a total of 18 piles of purchasable different cards besides your starting cards with only 3 copies each.  The market starts with just six of these piles which are the only ones you can buy from until a pile is depleted, and then the next player can buy any card, and thus choose which of the other piles gets added to the market, which adds some tactics of when to empty a pile.  Unlike Ascension and Clank's rotating supply, this mechanic is pretty neat and seems unique among the deckbuilders I've played.  With only 18 cards, it sounds like it might get boring quickly, but the limited numbers of each card and restricted purchase times, means every deck you build will be different and involves some healthy player interaction of when to empty a pile and when not to. 

A few other differences, you only draw 4 cards per hand instead of five.  Another neat thing, you can use excess cards in your hand to help buy cards (each 2 cards=one coin).  Finally, at the end of your turn, you are allowed to put any excess cards onto your deck instead of discarding them, which is poses interesting choices for setting up your next turn (e.g. a have an oar I cant use this turn but next turn I'm probably going over water, so I'll save it).  It's a neat puzzle to try and figure out the best route to the end, which cards to purchase, and how to set up your next hand.  If you haven't played El Dorado, it's definitely worth a try. 

What I really love about Dominion are the equal starting positions and that all cards are (usually) available to all players--rotating supplies add a bit too much randomness to me, and I never like seeing certain options suddenly closed off from other players just because it wasn't their turn when a specific card became available.  I've yet to play another deck-builder that emulates these principles of always available cards, yet also infinite replayability, as simply and as elegantly as Dominion. 

Dominion Articles / Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« on: January 30, 2018, 02:17:19 pm »
Here’s my article on Archive, which doesn’t have much written on it yet.  It’s not as concise as I’d like currently, so I’m looking for good ways to trim it down.  Also, as with my articles on Sentry and Secret Passage, I try to conclude with a general lesson we can take from the card and apply to playing Dominion as a whole.  The transition here is always a bit tricky, but I believe it’s valuable especially with card-specific articles to provide a nugget of wisdom that applies in all games, not just those with the specific card.  Is this helpful/relevant, and how could this be done better?  I would appreciate feedback and edits! 

Archive is an odd card. 

As a sort of mash up of Caravan, Haven, and Gear, Archive can provide duration draw, deck thinning, and next-turn set up all in one package, however it does each of these things very differently compared to other cards that provide these benefits individually.  This often means that on boards with better draw or thinning, Archive will be passed over in favor of more reliable and more typical options (especially given its high price which competes with other powerful $5s).  But under the right circumstances when draw or thinning are lacking, Archive can humbly step in as a quiet yet versatile hero.  By learning how to recognize boards where Archive is useful and where it’s less so, we can get better at noticing when key deck components are missing, and capitalize on “unconventional” solutions.   

What does it do?

As mentioned above, Archive provides three essential benefits: duration draw, deck thinning, and next-turn set up.  We’ll briefly examine each piece and discuss how Archive is different from other cards that fulfill similar roles. 

Similar to Caravan, Archive only increases your handsize on its duration plays.  When you take into account the ability to decide what you draw when, Archive plays as a strong cantrip the turn you play it, a strong Laboratory the second turn, and a weaker Laboratory on the third.  As a nonterminal action, Archive’s draw requires no village support; thus multiple Archives stack very easily (also similar to Caravan) giving you greater control and flexibility of what exactly your larger starting hand looks like.  However, Archive gets tricky in decks which want to draw themselves, since you’ll be required to leave some of your cards set aside.  This can hurt especially in conjunction with heavy trashing and powerful payload cards—it’s sad to see Archive turn over three great cards that you’d love to play all of, but be forced to set two aside for later (e.g. King’s Court, Platinum, Goons).  Thus, in slim and powerful deck-drawing engines, Archive is often passed over in favor of more typical draw cards. 

Archive is obviously not a trasher.  And as mentioned earlier, Archive can be a liability when used in decks that trash most or all of the starting cards.  However, in kingdoms where trashing is weak or unavailable, Archive’s ability to set aside cards can function as a sort of cycling/pseudo-trash ability, keeping Coppers and Victory cards out of your deck for a few turns.  With multiple Archives, you can very quickly get a large percentage of your cards set aside, literally making your deck thinner, and providing surprising control even in an untrimmed deck.  Archive can work well as both an early game cycler, and a late game Province stasher, keeping your deck reliable while managing the green.
Next-Turn Set Up
This component is not quite as important as Archive’s draw and thinning, but the ability to seed your next turn and help prevent duds is quite powerful.  This often occurs unintentionally—your Archive turns over two Villages so you take one and leave the other for next turn—but with careful deck tracking, you can use Archives to set up a big plays later.  Archive also works well in money-ish decks by smoothing your price points, very similarly to Gear—if Archive turns over Gold, Copper, and Estate, with $7 in hand, you can take a Copper, buy Province, and leave the Gold for hitting $8 again next turn.  Finally, this effect can be used for connecting cards like Tournament + Province, Crossroads + Victory cards, etc.

When is it most useful?

Archive is a situational card and not always a must-buy.  First, it has stiff competition at the $5 price point—many $5 attacks, draw, and trashers are of much higher priority.  Second, what Archive actually does is sometimes outclassed by more conventional draw and trashing cards when they’re available—on a board with Laboratory and Chapel, it’s possible you won’t really need Archive.  With this in mind, Archive is actually least useful in kingdoms with heavy trashing and strong draw

Where Archive shines is when crucial engine components are missing.  On boards with no +Actions, Archive’s ability to nonterminally increase hand-size looks pretty attractive.  On boards with no Copper trashing, Archive is excellent at sifting through those Coppers and keeping them out of your deck to get to your payload faster.  When Archive is in the kingdom, always look to see how it compares to other draw or thinning cards on the table—if they’re present, Archive may be of less use, but if they’re lacking, take care to consider Archive more highly in your deckbuilding process, as it might be the best patch for those missing pieces. 

Finally, this isn’t to say that Archive is useless if there’s other draw or trashing available.  To the contrary, Archive fits very well into the support card role, to supplement other draw and trashing as a sort of sifter/cycler, not unlike something like Forum or Cartographer.  It’s not a powerhouse card here, but it certainly can keep your deck more reliable and reduce the chances of stalling.  If there’s time, it’s definitely worth adding, but may be a bit lower on your priority list of other deck components. 

Playing with Archive

How you play with Archive largely depends on what you’re using it for—using it as your primary draw or deck thinner will look different than if you’re using it as a supplemental cycler or sifter.  Based on this, let’s touch on a few general play principles to be aware of with Archive.

First, how many Archives do you need?  With most Duration cards, you end up playing them less frequently than normal actions since they stay in play multiple turns and will often miss shuffles. This is exacerbated further with Archive since it stays out a full turn longer than typical Duration cards.  When it’s your primary draw and/or deck thinner, you’ll usually want several Archives, ideally played on staggered turns to maximize their effect and keep things consistent.  When Archive is functioning more as a support card and is supplementing other draw or thinning (e.g. as an early game cycler or late game Province sifter), usually just one is enough to get the job done—with too many, there’s the risk of having key cards stuck outside your deck. 

Next, how do you decide which cards to take after playing Archive?  Usually, this is intuitive—if you need +Actions right now, take the Village; if you need just $2 more to hit Province, take the Silver.  But more importantly than what you take now, pay attention to what you leave for later turns.  Do you know you still have two terminals left in your deck?  Maybe leave that Village for next turn.  Did you reveal two Estates and a Copper?  Great, they’ll miss some shuffles!  And what about when you reveal another Archive?  If you’re digging for a key card this turn or need to set up a big next turn, go ahead and take the Archive—but if you really need the consistency, stash it away for next turn so your Archives can alternate. 

Learning to Work with What You’ve Got

Archive is a unique and versatile card that fits in a variety of decks and plays different roles, depending heavily on what else is available.  The key with Archive is learning to recognize which role it can play in your deck, given each kingdom.  When Archive is out, look over the other actions to see if there are stronger ways to draw or thin your deck—if there are, Archive is more likely just a support card.  If not, then Archive might just be your best bet for building a winning deck.  Ideally, this is a skill that all players should be doing to begin with in any Dominion game: start by scanning the kingdom for the key deck components (draw, trashing, +actions, payload), and identify which cards will play which roles.  If you aren’t starting each game by doing this, try to make it a habit before jumping into your turn one buy.

So much of Dominion is learning how to work with what you’ve got.  Archive isn’t the best draw or the best deck thinner, but in some games, it’s your best option.  And that’s the funny thing about analyzing cards in a vacuum—we can compare and contrast and rank, but at the end of the day, the only cards that matter are the ones in the game you’re playing, which means sometimes an “unconventional” solution is the way to go.  Sometimes Summon is your only +Actions.  Sometimes Spice Merchant is your only +Buy.  (And sometimes a "boring" Big Money strategy is faster than that fancy Summon engine).  In Dominion, a little bit of adaptability goes a long way. 

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