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LastFootnote

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Butcher
« on: December 14, 2013, 12:16:58 am »
+21

Arguably the most versatile card in the Remodel family, Butcher is a strong option on most boards. Yet it's a card that's easy to misuse. Following these simple rules will help you get the most out of your Butchers.

1. Optimize your returns. In general, you want to use the fewest tokens possible to get from a card you don't want in your deck to one you do. In general, your Coin tokens will be better spent during your Buy phase to help you hit those high price points early and smooth out your purchase power later. This means that Butcher is a particularly strong choice on boards with $2 cards that you don't mind having several of, like Candlestick Maker. You can convert your starting Estates into these cards and keep the Coin tokens.

Butcher also does a decent job of mitigating cursing attacks in slog games where deck thinning isn't available. In games like these, especially if there are no useful $2 Kingdom cards, turning Curses into Coppers is a very economical use of Butchers. They may both cost $0, but Coppers are vastly superior to Curses and you're much better off pocketing the two Coin tokens than spending 3 or more to convert a Curse into, say, a Silver.

2. Don't trash Coppers. There are excpetions (e.g. a Scrying Pool deck), but most of the time trashing a Copper with Butcher is a losing proposition. You lose $1 of buying power that turn and you have to spend several precious Coin tokens to get any sort of useful card back. Butchering Treasures in general is a bad idea except in the endgame when you're happy to convert Golds to Provinces.

3. Trashing is optional. One very big edge that Butcher has over Remodel is that it's rarely a dead card. Even if Butcher shows up in your hand with no other cards you want to trash, you can still get value from it. Just take your two Coin tokens and opt not to trash a card. This is usually the way to go when you have a hand of only Butcher, Coppers, and Silvers.

4. Save a couple tokens for the endgame. When you're rushing for Victory points, you'll be very glad you have the ability to turn your $5 cards (like other Butchers) into Provinces.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2013, 12:18:38 am »
0

Butcher article. It's short right now. In general I think articles should be concise, but I plan to flesh out the intro a little and write a conclusion. There's a lot that could be added (like how many Butchers you want in different situations), but it's a start. If you have any comments or criticisms, let me know!
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Destierro

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2013, 04:56:06 am »
+1

I like the article. A few things that came to mind.

Some strong synergies include:

-Fortress: Butcher one into itself, gain two tokens and keep the Fortress. This is a given, because Fortress combos with TfB in general.
-Peddler: Turn your Peddlers into Provinces a la Swindler. Can be incredibly powerful in engines.
-Grand Market: You can either turn 4's into GM, or save your tokens in order to get one later when you have a hand that has more money.
-Border Village: Turn it into itself, gain a 5 and two tokens, or turn one into a Province. Either way, it's excellent.
-Good two cost cards: Hamlet, Pawn, Candlestick Maker, Lighthouse in looter/curser games

Places Butcher just doesn't cut it:

Slogs. I'm not sure that turning Coppers -> Curses is as good as you think it is. If it's the only option in that hand it's better than nothing, but some sort of increase in deck value is most likely better in many cases. The tokens can be nice to spike a Province, but in looter games it really fleshes out to be a terminal silver with a slight benefit.

Deck thinning. It just doesn't work with butcher. Trashing copper with butcher is so bad it's only done when there are power 2's in an engine board, and even then there are usually better targets.

Where Butcher shines is in the endgame. It gives an absolutely enormous amount of control, way more than salvager. It can turn a deck into an ungodly amount of VP. Golds -> Provinces is always nice, but there's always 4-6 costs to Duchy. You can keep the tokens for later and win the Duchy dance, or spend them now on Provinces. There is always the option of extending a lead by turning Province into Province when ahead, and that is done with an added benefit of 2 tokens.

All in all, Butcher is a card I wouldn't mind picking up with a 2/5, but be wary of the dreaded Butcher /CCCC hand that could arise. Picking one up in the midgame is rarely a poor idea, as it gives a lot of control over who ends the game, and when.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2013, 04:57:36 am by Destierro »
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terminalCopper

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2013, 05:42:52 am »
+2



Slogs. I'm not sure that turning Coppers -> Curses is as good as you think it is.

Guess you mean Coppers -> Curses, which is ... sometimes mediocre, sometimes surprisingly strong. It mostly depends on whether there is some other trashing or not:

If the card will be trashed after X shuffles, Butcher gives you +2coin tokens right now and +1$ for the following X shuffles. Not that bad.

If the card has to stay in your deck till the end, curse -> copper is even stronger than copper-> silver, due to the victory point. Just compare what Butcher does compared to Mine: Mine usually increases your long-term money density by one and gives you +1$ right now. If there is no other trashing, Butcher curse-> copper also increases your long-term money density by one, but instead of +1$ it gives you +2 coin tokens, +1VP. This is a bigger gap than between Abandoned mine and Monument.





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AHoppy

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2013, 06:00:48 am »
+13



Slogs. I'm not sure that turning Coppers -> Curses is as good as you think it is.

Guess you mean Coppers -> Curses, which is ... sometimes mediocre, sometimes surprisingly strong. It mostly depends on whether there is some other trashing or not:

If the card will be trashed after X shuffles, Butcher gives you +2coin tokens right now and +1$ for the following X shuffles. Not that bad.

If the card has to stay in your deck till the end, curse -> copper is even stronger than copper-> silver, due to the victory point. Just compare what Butcher does compared to Mine: Mine usually increases your long-term money density by one and gives you +1$ right now. If there is no other trashing, Butcher curse-> copper also increases your long-term money density by one, but instead of +1$ it gives you +2 coin tokens, +1VP. This is a bigger gap than between Abandoned mine and Monument.
I love how you went to correct him and made the same mistake :)
You both mean Coppers -> curses.  I mean, Coppses -> Curpsers.  Wait, Curses -> Coppers!  No, that can't be it...

By the way, great article LFN.  I love butcher, but I feel like I misuse it... But question: Is it better to save coin tokens to buy provinces, or save them to remodel things into provinces?  Because the  coin tokens also help smooth out those buys where you miss the Duchy/Province endgame, even without the butcher in your hand

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2013, 07:17:02 am »
+5

You both mean Coppers -> curses.  I mean, Coppses -> Curpsers.  Wait, Curses -> Coppers!  No, that can't be it...

Don't worry, it's a common problem.
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brokoli

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2013, 08:22:41 am »
+5

I'm not sure Butcher is bad in slogs. In slog games, getting a good economy is quite hard and butcher is a good way to 1) keep coin tokens to spend them at the right moment (in slog, you often draw a poor amount of money, like $4 each turn), 2) turn things into VP more easily at the end of the game (silver => duchy) and 3) trash curses or ruins of no better options available.
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DG

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2013, 09:44:16 am »
+3

I really wouldn't want that section about not trashing copper in the article. When you are building an engine that will draw the whole deck, trashing out the coppers to gain drawing cards or cheap villages is very important. There was even a kingdom posted on the forums recently where you could remodel coppers to embargo just to remove the card from the deck later.  I would rather see a statement in the article that suggested butchers be used to gather key cards or make structural changes to the deck, rather than just spending coins to trash copper for silver. Butchers do compare badly to mines.

I think the main point about the butcher is that it is actually easier to use than the rest of the remodel family. You can use it in a mixed gaining/buying strategy and choose when to use the coins. You are not constrained by kingdom card costs. You can use it as a silver. Its only drawback is that 5 coins can often buy you other strong kingdom cards instead.
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Re: Butcher
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2013, 09:57:22 am »
+1

I agree with DG saying the section on "don't trash coppers" doesn't need a whole section. Rather, it fits into the larger section of "trashing is optional."  If I open butcher, and my next hand is butcher and 4 coppers and no action engine or whatever, it is important to not trash a copper. But say you have butcher, market square, and 3 coppers, I will trash copper-> copper so I can discard for the gold while saving the tokens.

I know I just described a very specific edge case, but on a whole I think reorganixing and putting those two sections together would be a little better.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2013, 10:03:00 am »
+1

I really wouldn't want that section about not trashing copper in the article. When you are building an engine that will draw the whole deck, trashing out the coppers to gain drawing cards or cheap villages is very important. There was even a kingdom posted on the forums recently where you could remodel coppers to embargo just to remove the card from the deck later.  I would rather see a statement in the article that suggested butchers be used to gather key cards or make structural changes to the deck, rather than just spending coins to trash copper for silver. Butchers do compare badly to mines.

I think the main point about the butcher is that it is actually easier to use than the rest of the remodel family. You can use it in a mixed gaining/buying strategy and choose when to use the coins. You are not constrained by kingdom card costs. You can use it as a silver. Its only drawback is that 5 coins can often buy you other strong kingdom cards instead.

I did say there were exceptions, but trashing Coppers with Butchers is the biggest mistake I see most players make. You'd have to convince me that it's not usually a terrible idea. Like, when you're increasing your Action density for the sake of doing so (Scrying Pool, Herald), then it's totally worth the $1 hit to trade a non-Action for an Action. But for most other cases, I believe you're better off trashing your Copper using some other means, building an engine that can deal with having Copper (Stables, etc.), or not building an engine at all.

As a general rule, any situation where you'd Remodel Copper, you should Butcher it too. But in my experience, those situations are few and far between. I'd give the exact same advice if I were writing a Remodel article. I don't think it's almost ever worth it to spend a Coin (losing $2 of buying power) to turn a Copper into a $3 engine piece unless there's no extra buys for you to buy 2 copies of the engine piece outright. And if there are no extra buys and Butcher is on the board, you probably shouldn't be building a giant engine.
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BadAssMutha

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2013, 10:32:02 am »
+1

This isn't really a strategy question, but can anyone justify why Butcher gains a card up to the cost of the trashed card + coins spent, not exactly the amount? I can't think of many cases where you'd want to Butcher down (although maybe you're Butchering Gold into Duchy because you have to obey PPR). As is, Butcher can't just get rid of coppers, but I think it'd be fair to be able to do so if you spent 1 coin token (barring Poor House or cost-reducers, of course).

When I first started using Butcher, I made the big mistakes of thinking trashing was mandatory, and thinking it was "exactly" and not "up to". It seemed like a really good card, but I never got it to behave as well as I thought it might...
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DG

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2013, 11:27:31 am »
+1

Quote
This isn't really a strategy question, but can anyone justify why Butcher gains a card up to the cost of the trashed card + coins spent, not exactly the amount? I can't think of many cases where you'd want to Butcher down (although maybe you're Butchering Gold into Duchy because you have to obey PPR).

In this kingdom http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=9977.0 you are likely to use remodel with fortress. A key card in the kingdom is menagerie and it is quite possible that a winning strategy will be to remodel a 4 cost fortress into a 3 cost menagerie (or another 4 cost fortress or a 4 cost remodel).

Quote
I did say there were exceptions, but trashing Coppers with Butchers is the biggest mistake I see most players make. You'd have to convince me that it's not usually a terrible idea.

I still feel you can rephrase this to give good advice against poor play without advising against high quality play as well.
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Re: Butcher
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2013, 11:33:46 am »
0

I imagine the "up to" wording makes things so much less confusing with potion cost cards. Can I turn my Golem into a Duchy if it used the exactly wording? Also, I guess Butcher is meant to be used strictly as a gainer when it trashes, unlike say Upgrade.

Nice article, LF. I'm starting to suspect that a player would want to get. Butcher early whenever they'd want to get Remodel early unless it's imperative to get Mountebank or something.
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Kirian

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2013, 12:39:38 pm »
0



Slogs. I'm not sure that turning Coppers -> Curses is as good as you think it is.

Guess you mean Coppers -> Curses, which is ... sometimes mediocre, sometimes surprisingly strong. It mostly depends on whether there is some other trashing or not:

If the card will be trashed after X shuffles, Butcher gives you +2coin tokens right now and +1$ for the following X shuffles. Not that bad.

If the card has to stay in your deck till the end, curse -> copper is even stronger than copper-> silver, due to the victory point. Just compare what Butcher does compared to Mine: Mine usually increases your long-term money density by one and gives you +1$ right now. If there is no other trashing, Butcher curse-> copper also increases your long-term money density by one, but instead of +1$ it gives you +2 coin tokens, +1VP. This is a bigger gap than between Abandoned mine and Monument.

Yeah, Butchering a Curse is almost always better than playing a Monument (go ahead, edge case me, bro).  I dare say it's a very strong play.
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SCSN

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2013, 12:49:25 pm »
+2

I 100% agree with DG about the Copper trashing issue. Not trashing Coppers aggressively enough (or even at all) is one of the most common mistakes I see among decent but not great engine players, second only to randomly buying a Province mid-game for no other reason than having $8+.

But for most other cases, I believe you're better off trashing your Copper using some other means, building an engine that can deal with having Copper (Stables, etc.), or not building an engine at all.

Yes, having other means to trash your Copper is almost always better, and because other trashers are usually available, in practice you won't be using Butcher or Remodel to trash Coppers all that often. But it does not follow from this that it's a bad play. On the contrary. Very few engines can either deal with or actively utilize the 10 junk cards you start with, and while you can get some nice, quick and impressively looking results if you forgo trashing and get decent shuffles, for long-term reliability trashing is an absolute must. Engines, almost by definition, sacrifice early buying power in exchange for long-term reliability and explosiveness. So the initial loss in economy from trashing is more a feature than a bug, it's like sending your kid to school rather than having him work on the local farm.

Quote
I don't think it's almost ever worth it to spend a Coin (losing $2 of buying power) to turn a Copper into a $3 engine piece unless there's no extra buys for you to buy 2 copies of the engine piece outright. And if there are no extra buys and Butcher is on the board, you probably shouldn't be building a giant engine.

It's pretty much always worth it unless your engine actively wants the Coppers or can draw/sift through the deck regardless.

Quote
Optimize your returns. In general, you want to use the fewest tokens possible to get from a card you don't want in your deck to one you do. In general, your Coin tokens will be better spent during your Buy phase to help you hit those high price points early and smooth out your purchase power later.

I disagree with this too, at least when you present it as a general rule. It's true in BM games, but BM is decent on like, 5% of boards? And in engines I don't think it's a good heuristic even half the time. In particular, being able to draw and play the gained card during the same turn you gained it is sickeningly powerful.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2013, 01:22:10 pm »
+1

DG, I agree that I should rephrase that section and possibly combine it with the "trashing is optional" section. The reason it has its own bullet point is, again, it's the biggest mistake players make with Butcher. Turning Coppers into Silvers or even other Coppers (which falls clearly into "trashing is optional").

SheCantSayNo, I will be the first to admit that I'm not the best engine player. But what do you define as an engine? Only a deck that draws itself each turn?

Here's my claim: With few exceptions, if you're relying on Butcher to turn your Coppers into engine pieces, you shouldn't be playing a draw-your-deck engine. You talk about how engines give you the long term reliability that is so crucial. But what you aren't factoring in is that the Coin tokens you get from playing your Butcher and NOT trashing your Coppers also gives you reliability. While you're spending precious Coin tokens trying desperately to build an engine against the odds, I'm guessing your opponent can use his Coin tokens to buy 5 Provinces and stay ahead in the Duchies until he amasses half the available VP.

I'm happy to be proven wrong here. If you or DG (or anyone) would like to set up a time to play some Butcher games on Goko this weekend, I'll do my best to test our theories against each other. My top priority is a good article.

Side note: In a Colony game, it's way more legit to Butcher your Coppers if that's what it takes to set up a mega engine. I'm talking about Province games in the article and I'll make that distinction when I update it.
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PSGarak

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2013, 01:30:06 pm »
+1

One thing TfB cards get used for is trashing Provinces to gain Provinces, in order to burn down the pile and end the game faster. Butcher clearly outshines Remodel, Expand, and Salvager for this purpose because you pocket the coin tokens.

Trashing copper with Remodel is a very marginal gain, and while sometimes it's the best play to make with the hand you drew, it means you drew a bad hand. You should buy Remodel only if you have one or more specific upgrades in mind, and only rarely will that include Remodeling a Copper. Having to use it on a copper means your Remodel missed one of its intended targets.

That said, Butcher can sensibly used on Copper slightly more often. Again, you can have specific upgrade chains in mind, but you may be planning to have a few coin tokens spare. Say, if there's a $3-cost you want to acquire in bulk, store a coin token from Butchering an Estate and then use it while Butchering a Copper. The board would have to be awkward for that to be the best use of the coin token, but it happens.

This isn't really a strategy question, but can anyone justify why Butcher gains a card up to the cost of the trashed card + coins spent, not exactly the amount?
It allows you to gain a card costing less than the one that you trashed, just like Remodel allows. You can do things like Estate -> Poor House or Border Village -> $5. There's no case where you would want to spend coin tokens and then buy down, but the extra words to prohibit that would be pointless.
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dondon151

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2013, 05:31:16 pm »
+2

Trashing Copper is underrated. Even converting 2 of your 7 starting Copper into more useful cards (which may take 3, 4 Butcher plays, who knows) makes a big difference. After Butcher trashes the 3 starting Estates/Shelters, generally there aren't that many good targets left until endgame, anyway.
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Re: Butcher
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2013, 05:54:29 pm »
0

I just wanted to say that BUtcher gets way more powerful/flexible in the presence of other sources of coin tokens.  It's not always wise to convert estates into King's Court or whatever, but yno, there's a kingdom for everything, and this isn't so rare.  It certainly makes trashing coppers with butcher far more viable.
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SCSN

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2013, 09:53:12 pm »
+1

SheCantSayNo, I will be the first to admit that I'm not the best engine player. But what do you define as an engine? Only a deck that draws itself each turn?

Hard to give a precise definition, but a deck that aims to draw or at least sift through itself each turn sounds reasonable to me, with the caveat that I don't think of, say, the Bishop Golden Deck as an engine.

Quote
Here's my claim: With few exceptions, if you're relying on Butcher to turn your Coppers into engine pieces, you shouldn't be playing a draw-your-deck engine.

I just completely disagree with this. If an engine can be built it's pretty much always worth it, provided you know what you're doing (and if you don't, consider it an opportunity to practice). BM+X is so awful that it's only going to be good on boards where an engine simply isn't available. And as dondon said, you're not necessarily looking to convert ALL your Coppers, turning only 2-3 of them into $2-cantrips already makes a pretty big difference.

Quote
You talk about how engines give you the long term reliability that is so crucial. But what you aren't factoring in is that the Coin tokens you get from playing your Butcher and NOT trashing your Coppers also gives you reliability.

I'm really not sure what you mean with reliability. I'm using it as a measure of the control you have over your deck. As such an action-only deck with a schemed Scrying Pool is 100% reliable, whereas a deck with all 10 junk cards still in it is very unreliable, as it can randomly clog at each moment. Coin tokens only add some smoothing between turns, they don't give you any control over how your average hand is going to look like. They do make the amount of control you have over the game state a bit less dependent on your actual hand, so in that sense they add some reliability, but compared to being able to draw your whole deck it's very minimal.

Quote
I'm happy to be proven wrong here. If you or DG (or anyone) would like to set up a time to play some Butcher games on Goko this weekend, I'll do my best to test our theories against each other. My top priority is a good article.

I can play some games tomorrow, but I'm not sure what you have in mind: just playing some random boards with Butcher on it seems pretty pointless. If, on the other hand, you can come up with some decent engine boards where you think the engine will just be too slow, I'm happy to prove you wrong ;)
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LastFootnote

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2013, 10:22:36 pm »
+1

Um, not to be flippant, but first you say that engine is the way to go on 95% of boards, but then you say that random boards won't do and good engine boards must be constructed. What am I not understanding here?

I guess I'm still at the level of skill where it seems like there are decks worth making in between BM+X and draw-your-whole-deck-for-a-megaturn. Would you say that's not valid at the highest levels of play?

EDIT: After playing a bunch more Butcher games with Copper trashing in mind, I'm beginning to come around. Butcher is still one of the worst ways to trash Copper, but it's a better idea more often than I gave it credit for.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 12:19:53 am by LastFootnote »
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AHoppy

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2013, 06:30:36 am »
0

What do you guys think of using butcher to trash a copper and get 1 coin token back?  (assuming there is no poor house on the board of course)

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Re: Butcher
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2013, 06:39:15 am »
+1

What do you guys think of using butcher to trash a copper and get 1 coin token back?  (assuming there is no poor house on the board of course)

Because Butcher has you gain a card costing up to the cost of the trashed card + the number of coin tokens spent, you're still forced to gain a Copper/Curse/Ruin if you spend one coin token. Otherwise it would often be an excellent play.
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Re: Butcher
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2013, 06:59:15 am »
+3

I define an engine as a strategy which (theoretically, with an infinite supply) could (almost surely) produce exponential VP in the number of turns. Then again, I'm a mathematician.
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Re: Butcher
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2013, 07:27:35 am »
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Um, not to be flippant, but first you say that engine is the way to go on 95% of boards, but then you say that random boards won't do and good engine boards must be constructed. What am I not understanding here?

Nah, you can't make an engine 95% of the time. I guessed BM+X is decent on about 5% of boards, but, as you pointed out yourself, there are quite a number of other possible boards/decks beyond engine and BM+X. Many cursers, including IGG, invariably turn games into slogs. Swindler by itself makes most games it appears in into retarded crapshoots. Rebuild is dominant on most boards, and it alone appears in like 5% of randomly selected kingdoms. Then there are all sorts of combo decks, like Tunnel + Warehouse/Storeroom/Vault, Fool's Gold + Storeroom/Council Room/Wharf and Bishop Golden deck. Not to mention various rush strategies like Ironworks-Gardens/Silk Roads, Vineyard rush/slog, Duke games, Trader/Masterpiece-Feodum, etc.

In addition to this, most boards contain at least one other trasher besides Butcher, which will almost always be preferable for Copper trashing, but my claim wasn't that in most Butcher games you want to be butchering Coppers:

Yes, having other means to trash your Copper is almost always better, and because other trashers are usually available, in practice you won't be using Butcher or Remodel to trash Coppers all that often. But it does not follow from this that it's a bad play.

Taking all this together should show why you can't just play some randomly selected boards to experiment with the viability of Butchering Coppers. Again this doesn't mean that you almost never want to do it:

A game from yesterday where on T9 I Butcher a Copper into an Oasis.

A game from two days ago where I remodel a Copper and a Curse into Havens, and where I'd have been remodeling Coppers more aggressively had I not been keeping them for the Mint I was going to buy the turn my opponent resigned.

This thread that was already mentioned provides a clear case where you want to Remodel (Butcher too, had it been available) your Coppers into Embargoes.

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I guess I'm still at the level of skill where it seems like there are decks worth making in between BM+X and draw-your-whole-deck-for-a-megaturn. Would you say that's not valid at the highest levels of play?

Yes and no. Many boards just won't allow you to make an engine or sometimes they contain really strong non-BM+X alternatives, so in that sense you'll always be building quite a number of decks that are neither engine nor BM+X. When it specifically comes to engine-BM hybrids, however, the pure draw-your-deck-engine (not necessarily for a megaturn) is pretty much always superior. The most common mistake I see is players getting ahead in terms of deck building, but then giving the game away by spazzing out and randomly buying Golds or green cards. This is my all-time favorite example. I get atrocious early draws, but when my opponent buys a Curse Gold on T6 I just know that I'm going to win, even though it takes me 33 turns to get there.

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EDIT: After playing a bunch more Butcher games with Copper trashing in mind, I'm beginning to come around. Butcher is still one of the worst ways to trash Copper, but it's a better idea more often than I gave it credit for.

Sounds like we're in agreement, then :)
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 07:34:28 am by SheCantSayNo »
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