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The object of Duplicate Dominion would similarly change.  The object wouldn't be to win any individual Dominion game but to get the best VP score difference than the other people playing your seat.

I feel pretty confident that players will despise the use of VPs as a primary tool for tournament scoring.

I think winning and losing needs to remain key.

In any case, is there anything bad about playing 4 or 5 games per round in order gain larger continuum of results?

I'm not sure if this is what deadlock was trying to say, but pre-determining the cards can actually literally lose someone a game.

For example, lets say we have a chapel/Militia board and the shuffler decides that turn 3 will be: MCCCC and turn 4 will be ChCEEE.

Whoever goes first in that board is basically getting screwed by luck.

Turn 3 player A:
Militia, CCCC, buy gold. Draws ChCEEE

Turn 3 player B:
Miltia, CC, buy a $4. Draws his ChEEE

Turn 4, player A's chapel got messed up by pre-determined militia.
Turn 4 Player B gets a full 3-estate + 1 copper chapeling.

While this will happen with complete randomness, pre-determined randomness leaves a much more bitter taste in the mouth (my opinion).

I think it are misunderstanding the concept here. The first premise is that you would have dozens of games with the exact same board. A particular predetermined shuffle only affects one player in each game and only once each game. However, the predetermined shuffles in the prescribed order are identical across all of the games for each player in the same position

To correct your example:
Suppose the shuffler determines for player A (the player in first position) will be: turn 3 MCCCC and turn 4 ChCEEE.
and for player B: turn 3  MEECC and turn 4 ChCCCE

Then for player C (playing first) and player D playing the same game in the tournament, player C will end up with MCCCC and ChCEEE just like player A in his or her game. And likewise player D will end up with MEECC and turn 4 ChCCCE

In this regard, the results between A and B as well as C and D can be accurately compared.

I should also point out that your example, in fact, as very little to do with prescribed shuffles rather more to do with the natural fact that Militia benefits the player that goes first.

Even if this were the case, I do not understand how this is a problem.

The hands can become completely different immediately. There is no point having an ordering if it becomes indistinguishable from random draws after the second shuffle since players have used different action cards. Just shuffle some cards and compare a herbalist/royal seal opening to a courtyard/trading post opening. Then try lighthouse/tactician.

The intention of the duplicateness is that the same choices yield the same results. The fact that different choices yield vastly different scenarios is expected. In any case, I do not see how having a fixed shuffle pattern is any worse than random ones in the rare event players do make vastly different choices. Specifically, while as you point out an ordering would not be relevant if the choices made are vastly different, it is important if the choices are very similar.

There are a number of reasons I don't think this would work very well, and the reason it's so different from bridge is that there are unlimited reshuffles of the deck. You can play thousand turn games - there are some possibilities with monument or bishop, possession, and a kc-masq type lock where the locking player is behind. These are inherent problems with dominion actually, but in real life any sane arbiter is going to declare a draw. Or maybe in some of these cases, somebody's actually going to win, but it might take a thousand turns.

While off-topic: Do you actually have an example where a game, optimally played would take thousands of turns?

Regarding the topic, it would practical, say after the 50th shuffle, to just make the shuffles random. Even though this might not duplicate the matter precisely, since most games do not go beyond 50 shuffles, this would not affect the duplication issue much at all. And if a game truly does take a thousand turns, there would other bigger issues (i.e. physical time) that would be more substantial.

Also, I don't really see how this helps actually. Guaranteeing player 1 and player 2 the same draw across all boards is great in terms of fixing the board-to-board luck skill, but what about the inequity between players 1 and 2? You can't really have them play the same game over, because now they KNOW what they're going to draw. So apart from it being a huge practical nightmare, I don't think it has much positive point.

That is a good question. In order to have an effective ranking, you have to have ways of effectively comparing players to another. The key here, while counterintuitive, is that the games do not rank player A against player B well, but rather help rank all of the player A's against each other (as with all of the player B's).

I think it's still going to have problems. The card sequence effectively becomes random between players as soon as they use different action cards on turn 3. Consider a mint, market, trading post, wharf, treasury, outpost, tactician, harvest, hunting party, lab, venture, royal seal, ghost ship, rabble, ....

Even if this were the case, I do not understand how this is a problem. The most important consequence of having duplicated shuffles is that the first few shuffles are the same. Thereafter, it is not as big of a consequence. What if only the first 3 shuffles were duplicated?

That is a good point.

One potential solution to that is that players play 3-5 boards (e.g. games) in one round. That way, instead of Win, Lose, and Tie, there is closer to a continuum of outcomes: (for 5 games: 0-5, 1-4, 2-3, 3-2, 4-1, 5-0).


Dominion has been growing recently- and with that questions regarding competitive Dominon has started to come forth. Does it exist? How does it work? And so on. Another question is: How does one make it fair and fun?

That is a tricky question. Dominion certainly does have its unfun moments and unfun moments- and many times that are induced by unlucky occurrences: not going first, bad shuffles, or most especially poor openings.

Now we are going to compare the situation to Bridge. In Bridge, there are deals where one pair is clearly favored to gain points on the hand just based upon where the cards lie. In order to mitigate that luck factor, Bridge tournaments typically feature a “Duplicate Bridge” format where the exact same deal is played by a large proportion of pairs. The each pair scores points NOT based upon whether they win or lose on the hand, but how they perform relative to the other pairs.

A similar concept could be implemented with Isotropic (or similar electronic scheme) in Dominion.

Simply put, the idea is simple: Given a large number of players playing the same board, all of the players in first position (or second) will have the exact same shuffles.

The technical details are as follows:
At the start of the game, the game generates 80 (or however many) random permutations of the numbers 1 through 100 for each position (e.g. the first player and the second player) which is kept secret. For the i-th shuffle, the i-th permutation (restricted to the appropriate numbers) is used to determine the order for that shuffle. Where the numbers corresponds to cards in the order in which they were added to the deck.

Example 1:
This scheme guarantees that all of the players playing first have the same opening hands and that the players playing second have the same opening splits.

Example 2:
If the first permutation (restricted to 1 through 12) for the first player is (6,3,9,10,12,1,4,2,7,5,8,11), then the after the first shuffle, the two cards (the 11th and 12th cards) bought before the first shuffle will be placed in the 12th and 5th position. If the player playing first neglects to buy a card during his first two turns, the single card bought will be placed in in the 11th position (as the 12 in the permutation is ignored). The key point here is that in order to promote fair and fun games, ALL of the players playing first for this game will have a “dead” buy.

There are, of course, other finer details to hammer out, but before I present them in a boring detailed manner, I was wondering if this idea interests people at all. Keep in mind that players need not be aware of any of the details.

Hello, the next article in the series is delayed. It contains commentary for some games which I am currently seeking permission to use. Otherwise, it is ready to go.


Great series! All very well said so far, can't wait til you tell me how to get from from ~35 to 40 :P

A few quick typos/grammar things:

I continue to see players misplay and learn from all the concepts I have learned along the way -> ? something is weird here
mind set -> mindset
that takes some time -> that take some time
their loses -> their losses
do math, is not -> do math is not
a much smaller rank -> a much lower rank

Thanks, edited

1. Turn 16 purchase Colony/Mining Village with 15 coin and 2 buys, "You are still stuck at one Platinum; I would have bought Platinum+Gold here. You engine allows you to buy multiple cards per turn."  Is this because I need more Platinum in my deck to fuel future Colony purchases?
2. Turn 21 Dutchy purchase with 7 coin.  "This is questionable. If you were to buy a Gold instead, that Gold would help you earn you at 4 points by buying a Colony instead of a Province." At turn 21, should I start realizing I am diluted by too many green cards and need to add Gold to increase my Treasure to Green Card ratio?

End game buys can be very tricky.

1. To buy a colony you need an average of $2.1 per card. Typically, I make sure I have 2-4 Platinums before I consider buying Colonies because you need that many Platinums in order to satisfy that average. Here, you only have 1 Platinum.

2. This is simply a risk versus reward scenario. IF you buy a Gold, that Gold can help you buy a Colony over a Province which is a net gain of 4 points. So you can buy a Duchy for a sure 3 points, or you can by a Gold for a potential (net gain) or 4 points. Even though it seems like a bad bet, it is bet I think is barely worth making.

I hope this answers your questions.

This post has good information in it, but I would make sure you have the consent of both players before you open up their game and discuss all their failings.

I personally would relish the opportunity to have top players critique my mistakes - but I have pretty thick skin and take constructive criticism well. If I did this sort of analysis on my wife's games (for example), she'd never play a game of dominion again. Some people just don't like criticism, especially in a public forum.

Just curious, does this mean that for any user to post a link to a game log, he/she should get the consent of their opponent, in your opinion? It is pretty common practice to say "Hey, I just played this crazy game with such and such cards, here is the {link} log {/link}..."

I do not know what happened to the original post, but SuperDad raises some excellent points. So let me give you my input:

1. Ordinarily, I would seek the approval of both players, however, I do not know how to contact or even who the other player is. Many times, unless you talk and get to know your opponent (which I totally recommend doing), you have no idea who they are.

2. I strongly believe that players have entitled to the privilege to improve their game. Players should never be unnecessarily inhibited from becoming better players.

That being said, we must balance the privacy of one player with the rightful ambitions of another player wanting to improve.

3. I should point out that all the game logs are currently public anyways. While there is a distinction between publication and promotion, if a player is upset that his or her games are public, then the underlying issue also includes the initial publication also well as the subsequent promotion.

I have no intention of hurting players or discouraging players from playing Dominion; if you feel uncomfortable, you should let someone know!

These are the guidelines I intend to follow:

1. Where possible, we should seek the permission of both players. However, given the near impossibility of identifying and contacting an opponent after the fact, it is not unreasonable to proceed given points (2) and (3) below.

2. Commentary should only be directed toward players where express permission is granted. No commentary should be made about other players' turns or decisions.

3. The/An-other player can request that the commented game be taken down for any reason, and this request will be satisfied.

I hope people (including SuperDad and his wife) would find this a reasonable compromise between privacy and improvement. If you have any suggestions, let us know.

Do we really need to attach Word documents to forum posts? Just type your analysis in the post =/
I would think the same thing too, except then that leads to an extremely long post.
Post your own and see what I mean if you really want to.

The logs are really really long. I originally did it as a post, but it was too long.

Plus coloring and editing is easier in a .doc file.


I have attached some commentary for this game

@WanderingWinder, et. al:
Feel Free to download and add your own commentary

On a general note, I think having 2-3 experts analyze a game between two novices would make for very good articles.

If any one is interested (on either side), let me know.

Other Games / Re: Are any Dominion inspired games worth playing?
« on: July 06, 2011, 06:53:37 pm »
Probably not- and let me explain my reasoning why:

Dominion's focus is to build your deck. Almost every card in the game revolves around deck building in some way (it helps buy cards for your deck, it trashes cards from your deck, it adds/discards cards from the opponent's deck, and so on)- the only real exception are Victory cards- they do the opposite of deck building- they hurt your deck. But in any case, the victory condition is simple: you buy cards (just like any other card) that gives you points.

The issue with many of the forementioned Dominionesque games is that they attempt to combined the deck-building aspect of Dominion with something else. Hence, they lack focus. In Thunderstone, you buy cards one way, then have to totally change gears and earn points in a completely different way all the while worrying about "light" (and what have you). This lack of focus contributes to unnecessary complexity, a steeper learning curve, and no guarantee that a set-up is actually viable (e.g., play and feel like you are playing the game).
I actually, haven't played Puzzle Strike or Ascension, but I suspect the issues are similar.

It is blessing in disguise that Dominion came first. By being first, it could be simple while maintaining its elegance whereas subsequent games would have to add something else to the game in order to be viewed as elegant or worthwhile.

That being said, the next great deck-building game is not going to be great because it adds aspects that are lacking in Dominion. Rather, it will fundamentally change the underlying method by which decks are built.

Tournaments and Events / Re: Competitive Dominion?
« on: July 06, 2011, 06:31:25 pm »
If you are RGG, you want eyeballs.  I think GenCon draws about an order of magnitude more people than WBC.

(From my experience, convention quality is inversely proportional to size, WBC > origins > spiel in quality, but spiel > origins > WBC in size).

Conversely, if you are RGG, you want to please the loyal customers you already have, and further you want eyeballs that are you going to more than eyeball. That being said, there are different pros and cons between the two choices.

In any case, I strongly believe that competing against the largest (we are talking 200+ players) and most established Dominion tournament is a bad move by RGG.

My initial reaction without trying it out is that the VP score makes it too complicated for my taste.  I would probably get rid of that completely, so it is just a question of when the best time to get that spare $1.  I suppose the VP helps out if you get "unlucky" and don't ever need a spare $1, but if you are lucky enough to have just the right amount on every turn, you probably don't need extra free VPs.

The issue is that since Dominion a positive feedback loop, almost always you should use it in the first four turns. The idea of the VPs is to balance the timing of when to use it.

Tournaments and Events / Re: Competitive Dominion?
« on: July 06, 2011, 04:56:23 pm »
There really isn't anything. There will be a world champion this year, but that event is struggling to be more fun than serious. The WBC no doubt crowns a champion; that is probably as serious as it gets.
What is that event?
All I know about "that event" (as opposed to the WBC, which is something else), is from the RGG site:

Please visit our booth (925) and gaming rooms (140-141) at Gencon this year. We have a new promo card for Dominion. Also, we will host the US qualifying event for the Dominion World
Master Tournament (to be held in Essen, Germany in October). The winner of this event will win a trip to the convention in Essen to particpate in the Tournament. Preliminary rounds will be held on Thursday and Friday; finals on Saturday. Visit us in rooms 140 & 141 to enter and play.

This seems a bit backwards. I went to GenCon last year with the intention of playing a lot of high-strategy board games (among other things) and was disappointed because WBC happened to land at the same time. Dominion (given that it's Dominion) did not have much presence. The same thing is happening this year. In fact, the two main events for Dominion in Indianapolis and Lancaster occur on the same days!

In any case, given my experience last year, holding the tournament at WBC would probably be a better idea.

The variant is simple:
Each player sets aside an additional Copper at the start of the game.

Each turn, if a player has yet to play the copper, he chooses:
 Play (and subsequently trash during cleanup) the Copper
OR Score X (even fractional) VPs

The question is:
What is the appropriate value for X?

I am going to guess around 0.6 but I could be way off here.

These numbers are terribly misleading.  Assuming you're talking about 2p games, if it were possible to win only 64% of your games, then 36% of your games you would have no chance of losing - even if you never bought a single card.  There's no magical way that some games will randomly roll for your opponent - they have to earn their victory through a reasonable strategy.  If their strategy is "Buy as many Pirate Ships as possible regardless of the other cards", they're going to have a poor overall winning rate even if every once in a while that strategy will be somewhat successful.  If they play straight Big Money regardless of the kingdom, they'll have a better win rate, and so on as they incorporate more good habits into their strategy.  There is a definite incline of playing skill wherein players make progressively better judgements throughout the game and reach, on average, better strategies.  It would be slightly more reasonable to say "The top ranked players have only a 64% win rate against players Level 1 or higher", but I'm not sure if such a statistic is available.  My personal win rate against un-Leveled players feels like it is much greater, and there have been numerous games against such players where I never felt I had a chance at losing.

My number(s) where simply looking at this page: who happened to be the number one ranked player at the time of writing. And further a quick survey of other top rated players yields similar results.

In a large enough population wherein matchmaking is heavily based on rating, everyone's win rate is pretty close to 50% (except for the tail ends).  I'm unsure whether rating goes into how auto-match finds people, but I presume that at the top end the higher ranked players specifically seek each other out and there's at least a little bit of people declining matches against players of vastly different rating.  If the top ranked players on isotropic win 64% of their games, it really says that they're playing people against whom they have an average 64% win rate.

Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but the match making is based more upon who is available (and preferences therein) than your ranking. The top rated players definitely do seek each other out, but I am tell you that I am lucky if there is a player above 35 logged on and often play players sufficiently below my ranking.

You do make excellent points; the percentage of the time a player wins is largely affected by who they play. Even so, the higher rated players who seek each other out still win (2 player games) 60-65% of the time. In any case, the point is that luck still plays a heavy role in the game while the game is very skill intensive. The corollary being, luck is easy to blame but is rarely the culprit.

Thanks for the comments, I plan on editing the above article and posting the new one when I have a chance.

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Post an interesting set of 10
« on: July 02, 2011, 01:08:59 am »
This is one I kinda like:


Great Hall
Trade Route
+1 Random Card

It turns out the 1 extra card can have a huge effect on the strategy.

Variants and Fan Cards / Re: Really bad card ideas
« on: July 02, 2011, 12:59:42 am »
$5 - Action
You may put the trash pile on top of your deck.

I am not going to lie- with a little work- this could actually be quite interesting. Perhaps:

"Dumpster Diver"
$5 - Action
+1 Action
+1 Buy
Place the contents of the trash pile, except for Victory cards, into your hand or trash 3 cards from your hand.

Dominion General Discussion / Is Dominion Autobot for real?
« on: July 01, 2011, 09:25:23 pm »
It has been playing on isotropic. It is faster than my pace for play, and it is not listed on the Leaderboard or at Council Seeming to pass my Turing test.


Dominion Isotropic / Isotropic Point Counter
« on: June 26, 2011, 05:57:52 pm »
Just a thought: The isotrpoic point counter for auto-matches only has there options (of the top of my head): "Require", "Don't Care", and "Don't Allow". I think it would be nice to have to the option of "Prefer" and "Don't prefer".


General Discussion / Math Nerds...
« on: June 24, 2011, 06:09:09 pm »
As one who is mathematically inclined, I cannot help but notice all of the math-related handles both here and on isotropic. Who else is out there?

Of course, the simplest answer is: Unless you have a good reason not to, discard the two cards.

However, the exact answer is definitely more complicated than that. Does anyone have any inputs about this?

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