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Puzzles and Challenges / Re: Grand Market
« on: July 18, 2011, 01:01:25 am »
Good hint!

open secret chamber menagerie. Turn three draw copper copper estate sc menagerie. Both opponents play sea hag; when the second does, use sc to make your hand

Copper estate curse sc menagerie. Reveal menagerie and discard six to the secret chamber.

I disagre with Garfield's thought experiment. If I am playing an expert at real chess, I have probability zero of winning. Therefore, my optimal strategy in the variant is to stall the game. So there really is less (or at least, different) strategic thinking on my part.

Dominion Articles / Re: Vineyard
« on: July 17, 2011, 05:54:39 pm »
Great point. (On the flip side, your opponent can embargo vineyards and potions.) I just mean that I don't count embargo as a cheap buy when I'm scanning the board and deciding whether to go for vineyards or not, because I'll trash them anyway.

Dominion Articles / Vineyard
« on: July 17, 2011, 05:38:33 pm »
Vineyards are fun and underrated. It's easy to compare them to Gardens, which are often a consolation prize and rarely the dominant strategy, and they are similar to Gardens in that, when you employ a Vineyard strategy, you build a vastly different deck from the type that helps in a traditional strategy. But this comparison is not accurate, for two reasons:

1. Gardens is only the dominant strategy on the board in very specific circumstances; e.g., there's ironworks or workshop, you have some means of slowing your opponent down, etc. They essentially can't beat colonies, even in favorable circumstances. None of this is true for Vineyards.

2. A "gardens deck" becomes terrible quickly. Theoretically, there are two ways to win with gardens: one, to rush  the game on piles and hope your gardens are worth 3 or 4, or two, the way we all used to win when it was just the base set and nobody knew any strategy: play till you have 60 cards in your deck, and hey, they're better than provinces. But we all know that method two does not work: against even reasonably skilled players, you can't gain cards fast enough to beat the pace of the emptying province pile. This is false for vineyards: you really do have two opportunities to win, either by rushing the game on piles as for gardens or by dilly-dallying until your vineyards are worth way too much for your opponent to catch up.

I think the best comparison is actually to goons: a vineyards strategy is viable if any of a variety of helpers is on board, and becomes dominant if all are on board.

Essential ingredients in a vineyards deck (in descending order of importance):

1. Extra buys: If you average one action purchase per turn, except for the eight turns on which you buy vineyards and the, say, two on which you buy potions, then the game has to last 26 turns for vineyards to be worth as much as provinces, and this isn't quite viable. (You have no hope of ending the game on piles ). Workshop, ironworks, and university are fantastic; the presence of either of the latter two, in my opinion, promotes the Vineyards strategy to "must buy."

2. Cheap actions: there's virtually no reason to buy money, which just slows your deck down when you need to be getting to your potions. So you'll want to fill your deck up with pearl divers, cellars, etc. Pawn and hamlet are fantastic. Embargo doesn't work except in desperation at the end-game, since you have to trash it to get any use out of it. Herbalist has the disadvantage of not giving an action, but it gives you a critical extra buy and allows you to use your potion two turns in a row. Peddler is great. If the only cheap actions are 3s, it can be more difficult to win with vineyards, and if the cheapest actions are 4s, I would consider a different strategy (absent ironworks/university).

3. Villages and non-terminals: as your deck is going to be filled with actions, you're going to want to play them.

4. Trashing: This is a mixed bag, since you can't win with vineyards in a chapel game (see below). But you really have no need for your coppers or estates after a certain point. Trade route is great, steward is always a pleasure, salvager and remodel can help you get potions and also are great in the end-game when you don't need the potion anymore.

5. Miscellaneous others : you can transmute coppers and potions to more transmutes toward the endgame, but this makes your deck terrible. Horn of Plenty can grab you a cheap two or a potion, and is nice if you split 5/2 and there's nothing like market. Talisman is good, especially for picking up potions. Island cleans your deck and is an action card. Cursing attacks are good for you, since they slow the game down, but you may need to modify your opening buys to be sure you can attain one. You won't be able to afford a possession, and need to spend your money on a vineyard whenever you draw a potion. On the flip side, your deck won't be very helpful to your opponent if he isn't also going for vineyards, and if he is going for vineyards but spent a potion turn buying a possession, you're in good shape.

Setups that make vineyard decks bad:

1. Tournament: This goes without saying.
2. Minion, Laboratory, Hunting Party: You will not be able to afford a stack of good spammable fives, and your opponent will.
3. Chapel: You won't have time to make your vineyards dominant over provinces in a chapel game. I think that remake is another story, especially if there are cantrip threes you can remake your estates into, or cursing attacks to slow the game. down.
4. Colony : Vineyard absolutely can beat colony, and these are some of my favorite wins. But the favorables need to be higher. I'd still do it with ironworks and hamlet out, but maybe not if the only cheap buys were cellar, great hall, and woodcutter.


In the early game, start buying cheap actions, especially the ones that give you extra buys. Try to average more than 1 action buy per turn. It's ideal if you know how many actions are in your deck. Knowing the approximate number isn't good enough, because in the endgame, you will need to know the number of actions in your deck mod 3. There isn't much reason to buy traditional money at all. You should anticipate a median buying power of 4 or 5 before you start buying potions and vineyards and 2 or 3 afterwards.

At some point in the middle of the game, you are going to need potions. Your deck will move slowly, especially if the actions in it aren't cantrips, so you'll want more than one potion. One rule of thumb is to start buying potions around the time your opponent starts buying the second gold or first province (unless you already bought one for familiar or university). If you have too few potions, you won't win, even if you have a ton of actions. I've posted a link below to myself getting my clock cleaned for failing to get potions on time. My vineyards are worth 8, but I only own one when the game ends on piles, because my deck is too thick for me to get to potions, which I didn't buy fast enough. I end up ironworks-ing estates in a desperate attempt to find my potion:

You will want to have most of the vineyards before the province pile runs out, and usually one potion doesn't cut it, unless you have a lot of cycling. You want to be buying something like two vineyards every three turns, and you should increase this estimate if your opponent is also going for vineyards: if he gets more, and your strategies are otherwise similar, you lose.

After this, the strategy is simple: buy vineyards whenever you get a potion, and buy actions. Depending on how many provinces your opponent has, you may consider ending the game quickly on piles, as in a gardens game. Time is probably on your side, however, so if you're unsure, just keep buying actions. Look out for your opponent ending the game on piles. If you've lost count of the score, ask yourself how many action purchases you've averaged per turn and look at the turn number.

Do not buy provinces - if you have eight coin and no extra buys, something is wrong with your deck. Two action cards will often be worth more to you than one province, and emptying the province pile helps your opponent. Even in the very end-game, duchies are almost always a mistake, unless you strongly suspect that it's your last turn and you are certain that the number of actions in your deck is either 0 or 1 mod 3. I commonly make the boneheaded mistake of ending the game on piles and then buying an estate with my last buy, when an extra action card would be worth 7 or 8 points.

Puzzles and Challenges / Re: Grand Market
« on: July 17, 2011, 02:50:58 pm »
The ht solution was an addendum to the other one; that is, you open ht sc and get cr'd and, say, sea hagged

Puzzles and Challenges / Re: Grand Market
« on: July 17, 2011, 02:37:36 pm »

both opponents play council room and you have a secret chamber.

or, one of them attacks you instead, and you have a horse traders

The yw is good, but she's no sea hag unless the bane is truly awful. Embargo comes to mind,  since, if you don't trash it, it's taking up just as much room as a curse would've.

Tournament is a gamechanger and you'll lose if you don't give it some serious thought. also, it routinely allows you to ignore colonies. What other fours can you say that about? (bishop, or monument, if theres kc, but again the list is supposed not to be situational.) it would be my #two four

Similarly, I think menagerie is certainly the second best three.

Fortune Teller may be the worst -  sometimes she's a chancellor that helps your opponent cycle instead of you.

Puzzles and Challenges / Re: Tournament-shy
« on: July 17, 2011, 01:53:02 pm »

You have a watchtower so that followers helps you and hurts him, or a library or moat to a lesser extent.

Puzzles and Challenges / Re: Tournament-shy
« on: July 17, 2011, 01:50:34 pm »
the only prizes left are followers and princess; you have a good hand and you dont want him to switch it up with a minion.

Knowing that you might win a tournament will cause him to take the prize that most benefits your deck to stop you from getting it.

It will force an earlier reshuffle, the only prize left is duchy, and you know his deck has become terrible.

It's multiplayer, he cant win, but you will if he ends the game or buys the last duchy.

You are currently possessing him.

Dominion General Discussion / Trusty Steed for the silvers
« on: July 17, 2011, 01:18:52 pm »
Can anybody recall a game where both these conditions hold?
1. You used trusty steed for silver
2. You won, but would probably have lost had you not done so.

Bonus points if
3. Bag of gold was available but you specifically chose the steed for the silver.

I can see two situations where it could be useful:

1. Mean cursing games, but if the median card in your deck is worse than silver, how did you get a province and win a tournament?
2. Gardens, but surely buying all the provinces is better.

Game Reports / Re: 44-point swing on final turn ftw
« on: July 17, 2011, 12:23:24 pm »
Did he buy the last tournament to end on piles?

Puzzles and Challenges / Re: A fatal action puzzle
« on: July 17, 2011, 11:45:45 am »
Better: he owns nine curses and a total of fourteen cards, and he played a fishing village on the previous turn. thus he must have at least one curse in hand and your copper guarantees him the estate buy.

Puzzles and Challenges / Re: A fatal action puzzle
« on: July 17, 2011, 11:41:04 am »
This is admittedly not in the spirit of the "no matter what is in his hand" part of the puzzle.

his deck is tiny, say due to your having played lots of saboteurs, and is so small that you could in fact deduce by the pigeonhole principle and his previous turn (say workers village, torturer, torturer, shows six coppers and a gold and two silvers, buys a province and a duchy, draws last five cards without a reshuffle) that he must have at least one curse and one copper. the card you played without thinking was masquerade; he ties you this turn by trashing his curse and wins the next by buying the last estate (which you can't afford)
</spoiler> <\spoiler>

Game Reports / Menagerie Record
« on: July 16, 2011, 07:52:10 pm »
What's the record on isotropic for "most successful menageries played in a turn?"

Dominion General Discussion / Combo? Contraband/Expand
« on: July 15, 2011, 05:31:22 pm »
I realize that the hive mind must have thought of this before, as they're in the same expansion, but I just found it. The presence of expand (as with any 6 or 7) softens the blow of contraband; later, you can expand the contrabands into provinces. It just worked well for me in a game against a friend, but there wasn't much going on on the board. Anyone have thoughts? The board I played was, I think:

expand, contraband, counting house (?), royal seal (?), talisman, navigator (?), fishing village, warehouse, pawn, haven

Would this work on better boards?

General Discussion / Re: Dominion intrudes on real life
« on: July 15, 2011, 01:30:35 pm »
My incoherent thoughts as I fall asleep have become more dominion-y in nature, especially late at night after a long isotropic-sesh.

In particular, I'll conclude that I can't do something I'm thinking about doing IRL tomorrow because I don't have enough actions.

Also, "young witch" tends to put the song YMCA in my head, even hours after a young witch game, because of the first two words of that song. Likewise "city" puts "when the lights go down in the city," duke puts "sir duke" etc etc.

General Discussion / Dominion addiction interfering with life
« on: July 15, 2011, 01:27:34 pm »
Anyone else have this problem? Tips? I've quit forever at least 10 times. . . made a bunch of rules about when I can play, all of which I break, etc. It's really hurting me.

Dominion Articles / Re: Dominion 101: The Village
« on: July 15, 2011, 11:25:59 am »
" Also, you want to get that second ambassador before you get the village. Otherwise, what's it for? And if you're worried you can't hit $4 again any time soon, your deck isn't doing well."

Sorry, let me clarify my position. I agree with the first two sentences if you replace "that second ambassador" with any other "that second terminal action;" this is the basic reason that opening village is almost always a mistake and the point of your article.

The reason I think ambassador is different is that I think it's absolutely the case that you should ambassador duplicate coppers whenever you draw them, which means, contra the last sentence, that you really can't hope to have 4 at the end of your turn again any time soon (if you do, it's almost certainly because your ambassadors collide at some other point in your deck).

Dominion Articles / Opening Village
« on: July 15, 2011, 11:06:50 am »
I've got an exception, I think, to the "don't open village" rule. (I also think it is a decidedly "dominion 107" exception and not a "dominion 101" exception, though, and agree that it's much more important to get across to new players that they should never open village than to discuss fringe cases.) By the way, I'd love to get shot down with actual evidence.

In ambassador games, when the only village on the board is a 4 cost village, I think opening with the 4 cost village and ambassador, then picking up another ambassador as soon as you can on the second round, is superior either to opening ambassador/ambassador or to ambassador/silver.  It would be great to see a simulation on this, but I don't want to program it.

The reasoning behind this is:

1. (advantage over ambassador/ambassador) If there are no 2 or 3 cost village effects, you may well be forced to decide between ambassadoring two coppers and buying a village, because you may not get to 4 coin again for a very long time. This outweighs the risk that your opponent will ambassador twice before you do.
2. (advantage over ambassador/silver) if you decidedly win the ambassador war, you will win the game, irrespective of your opponent's ability to buy five cost actions earlier

The basic strategy is to ambassador as much as possible, always ambassadoring duplicates unless it puts your total copper under 3, then to buy a silver after your deck is razor thin (e.g. is ambassador copper copper ambassador villageclone copper).

In particular, I really like opening walled village/ambassador, which guarantees that you will use both ambassadors on the turn that you draw them. Worker's village is also nice, since the extra buy means you don't have to choose between making your tiny, weak deck a little bit better and buying that extra curse to really rub your opponent's inferior ambassadorial skills in.

Dominion Isotropic / Re: Isotropic Facts & Quirks
« on: June 24, 2011, 10:00:34 pm »
Agh! I just noticed that the copper plays automatically when you hit the +$ button with something like quarry quarry copper. That just cost me a game!

I think my least favorite card is Hamlet. To me it's a worker's village + 10 seconds of AP, and since it's priced at 2, those 10 seconds really tend to add up. Online, even if you know exactly what you want to do, it still takes 5 or 6 seconds to make the requisite clicks.

I hated Minion back when I was playing a lot of BSW, because it's slow on that site and because it combos best with itself, which requires little thinking on the part of strategy-building. But Horse Traders has made Minion much better to defend against. Those are the only cards that I always groan when I see.

I would like Ambassador much better if it cost 4. Ambassador/Ambassador openings are boring but too strong to ignore.

Places where I disagree with others:
I love Tournament, even when it's destroying me (which it does more often than not). I also think that "I need to win a tournament quickly" is not the same thing as "I need to open Tournament," and figuring out how to answer question 1 is really crucial.

Somehow in thousands of games, only one or two of mine have been destroyed by the Torturer chains that everyone seems to hate. I think there is a general problem whereby people don't take curses enough, which then compounds the attack value of the Torturer chain as it takes longer for the curses to run out.

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