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Author Topic: Ill-Gotten Gains  (Read 20511 times)

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Thisisnotasmile

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Ill-Gotten Gains
« on: December 01, 2011, 06:47:04 am »
+2



"$5 for a Silver that I have to flood my deck with Coppers to get full use out of? No Thanks!" That's what we all said as Donald X. announced Ill-Gotten Gains (IGG) in the lead up to Essen 2011. As usual, all of our first reactions were wrong. Very wrong.

We had all mostly ignored the cursing effect of the card. It's only a one-time thing, so does it really matter that much? Yes. Yes it does. It is true that after the cursing, each IGG buy is effectively a Copper with the ability to gain more Coppers in your deck, however the cursing happens immediately, making it the first (and currently only) card which can put a Curse into your opponent's deck before they shuffle it for the first time. The longer the Curse is in a deck, the more disruption it will cause, and the more damage it will do. Similarly, the curse is "unblockable" by conventional means. Everybody knows that cursing is the strongest type of attack in Dominion, but IGG is not an Attack card and the distribution of Curses is not triggered by playing the card. Because of this, Moat and Lighthouse can do nothing to block the Curse, and you can't even reveal a Horse Traders or Secret Chamber to "make up" a little bit for taking a Curse. Trader and Watchtower, however, can still be used to mitigate the effects of the IGG as they react to (would) gaining the Curse, rather than an Attack being played.

After you've handed out the strongest Curse in the game, you are left with a crippled Silver in your deck (but hey, it's better than the Curse the other guy has!). Luckily, it's not as bad as it sounds. By the time you've emptied the IGG pile, there are not one but TWO empty piles: IGGs and Curses. The game will now end not when Provinces are depleted, but when ANY single pile is depleted. Now, hopefully at this point you have a deck full of (weak) Treasures while your opponent has a deck of Curses (in reality you will have some curses too but let's assume you've won the IGG split 6/4 or better). All you have to do is run out any pile of your choosing while keeping ahead in points. Fortunately, Duchy can help you score points and costs $5, which with your density of Copper-like cards and potential to flood your deck with more whenever you please is a pretty comfortable price point to be aiming for. Every now and then you'll draw a hand something like Copper/Copper/IGG/IGG/IGG, in which case feel free to grab the Province.

If you like to do something 'fun' and not-necessarily optimal every now and then, there are a LOT of interesting things you can do with IGG other than rushing three piles with Duchy. Just check out the Game Reports subforum on Dominion Strategy and you will see plenty of examples of people using trash-for-benefit with IGG (who cares about losing a sub-Silver when you get $5 worth of benefit for it!), or even using IGG to facilitate a Coppersmith and/or Counting House strategy which are usually too weak to play at a competetive level.

IGG isn't always the Dominant strategy though. There are cards which can cause enough disruption to the IGG Duchy rush that make it a losing proposition. Essentially, any card which can cause the IGG and Curse piles to deplete at different rates will upset the rush. If the Curses run out first, you've got to spend $5 turns buying cards worth less than Silver and not even hurting your opponent in the process before you can start on the Duchies. If the IGGs run out first, well, you're in trouble. Other strong cursers are the first of these card that come to mind (they empty Curses quicker than IGGs). In this case it may be a better idea to play a more standard Curse game and buy one or two IGGs to back up your main curser and maybe swing a 6-4 or even 7-3 Curse split in your favour. IGG can be just as powerful a support card as it can be a centerpiece to a strategy. However, a slightly more subtle yet quite a lot more harming counter to the strategy are the two cards which can cause Curses to still be in the supply when IGGs have run out: Ambassador and Trader.

Works with:
  • Trash-for-benefit.
  • 5/2 split to give your opponent a curse before they shuffle the first time.
  • Coppersmith/Counting House and other Copper-based strategies.
  • Duchy.
  • Can provide support for other Cursers.

Conflicts with:
  • Other fast cursers conflict with an IGG rush.
  • Ambassador/Trader.
  • Opponent's heavy trashing MIGHT be able to overcome an IGG rush, but then you should trash away your Copper too and carry on as of the IGG rush didn't happen.
  • Embargo.
  • City. They'll be powered up for both players, but if you're focussing your $5 buys on IGG your opponent will have more Cities.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 05:56:12 am by Thisisnotasmile »
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LastFootnote

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2011, 09:12:10 am »
0

Ill-Gotten Gains is actually a good counter for most cursing attacks. It helps you run out the curse pile very rapidly, and with the Curse pile empty, most traditional Curse-giving cards are weaker than the Ill-Gotten Gains in your deck.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20111126-114856-dea72fb8.html

Here's a game where I beat Obi Wan Bonogi as he inexplicably tries to fight Ill-Gotten Gains with Familiar, wasting three buys (Potion, Familiar, Familiar) and still losing the Curse race 4 to 6. He eventually trashes all his Curses, but it's not fast enough to make a comeback.

The big exception I've found is Sea Hag.

http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20111127-191617-70d9116f.html

In this 3-player game, I can't even get to $5 until turn 10 because I'm being bombarded by Sea Hags from two players.
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Geronimoo

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2011, 09:42:06 am »
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IGG doesn't really conflict with the other Cursers, they complement each other in that you'll be throwing around Curses twice as fast (early Curses hurt the most). You should generally buy the cursing action first (Sea Hag, Witch, Young Witch), then start on the IGG's. Familiar is the exception because it's way too slow.
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Thisisnotasmile

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 09:48:48 am »
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That makes sense. I was focussing a bit too much on the IGG rush when I wrote this and other cursers DO conflict with that. I will edit the article to include these points.
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Geronimoo

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 09:58:06 am »
+1

One little advice if you want this article up on the blog is not to mention yourself ("If you're like me..."). These kind of articles will be used as a reference for learning players and need to be objective (which doesn't mean you can't spice them up a little with a little humor or references to tv-shows or...)
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Thisisnotasmile

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 10:08:25 am »
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I've underlined the changes I've made so people can comment on them. I personally don't mind if this goes on the blog or not, but in case theory is interested in putting this up I will remove references to myself.
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mnavratil

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2011, 10:25:10 am »
0

You might want to add City in the list of things it conflicts with. One of the only times I actually managed to defend against a pure IGG rush was by buying as many of the cities as possible. When the IGGs/Curses run out, you will hopefully be in a pretty good position with level 3 cities to make a quick comeback. This still may require some form of weak trashing though.

Also embargo is a pretty good deterrent to an IGG rush. One embargo on the IGGs and the whole thing becomes rather pointless.
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rinkworks

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 11:41:54 am »
+1

Great article.

After playing a couple of IGG rushes, it really becomes clear just how powerful a curser it is.  Figure if you buy a Witch or a Sea Hag or something, you can't use it until it cycles through your deck, and then you only get to use it once per shuffle (roughly) thereafter.  That's still quick enough that it makes cursing attacks dominant cards on most boards.

But with IGG, you can dispense curses every turn you scrape $5 together.  If you bought Silvers every time you had $3 or $4, you'll have $5 reliably every turn very quickly -- and that's not even usually the best way to build your economy.  So no waiting for a purchase to cycle through.  Better still, the fact that IGG is a treasure rather than an action means that you won't have problems with collisions, as you would if you raced Witches or Sea Hags.

On another note, I played an IGG game with Upgrade recently.  I bought an Upgrade after buying a few IGGs (but before the IGGs were depleted), and thereafter the Upgrade turned those purchased IGGs into Golds.  It may not have been necessary, because as you say, leaving the IGGs in the deck is still sufficient to race Duchies for the win.  But it was fun.
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ScottPilgrim92

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2011, 12:28:18 pm »
0

You might want to add City in the list of things it conflicts with. One of the only times I actually managed to defend against a pure IGG rush was by buying as many of the cities as possible. When the IGGs/Curses run out, you will hopefully be in a pretty good position with level 3 cities to make a quick comeback. This still may require some form of weak trashing though.

Also embargo is a pretty good deterrent to an IGG rush. One embargo on the IGGs and the whole thing becomes rather pointless.

Actually, a smart IGG player would buy as much cities as you, before buying up all the IGGs, expecting that it will be the first pile running out. After that, he'll buy the 4-6 remaining IGGs, and you'll be losing by the curses, without getting a substantial benefit from level 2 cities, and never reaching level 3 cities. I've got nothing to say against embargo, though.
A fun fact about IGG is that in most veto games I play it gets kicked out by my opponent (As it is my Favorite card, I'd never kick it out). It really might be the most hated curser in the game.
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ehunt

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2011, 02:04:06 pm »
+1

Actually, a smart IGG player would buy as much cities as you, before buying up all the IGGs, expecting that it will be the first pile running out. After that, he'll buy the 4-6 remaining IGGs, and you'll be losing by the curses, without getting a substantial benefit from level 2 cities, and never reaching level 3 cities. I've got nothing to say against embargo, though.

I'm skeptical - I've had some success defending against IGG with city. Sure, the other player can buy city too, but each city they buy is an IGG that they don't, so I don't think this argument can be used to prove that IGG > city. I'd like to see simulator data on this, though, as I may have just gotten lucky!
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jomini

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2011, 02:12:22 pm »
+1

A couple of other points for fun:
1. A strong play with IGG is bank. Because IGG allows you to always have multiple treasures in hand, banks are much easier to power up, even without +cards. Two IGG in hand with a bank is an automatic province. This can be particularly hilarious when you are facing a discard attack, like militia, as a hand full of garbage quickly becomes rather valuable.
2. An obvious synergy is with gardens. As easy as 5 coin is to hit with IGG, 4 is easier and IGG gives you an extra card each.
3. I'm not so sure that IGG conflicts too badly with traders. I haven't played this one yet, so please tell me if I'm wrong here. Yes the opponent gets silvers instead of a curse - if they have traders in hand when you acquire, but I could certainly see timing IGG buys for after you've seen the trader(s) in the opponent's deck go into the discard (or before they buy any) or just playing the odds that you will give them less than a copper on average (assuming they have <50% chance of having traders any given hand). Turning IGG into 5 silvers should also make for quick pushes to provinces, particularly if other 5s are weak on the board.
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timchen

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2011, 02:14:23 pm »
0

I don't like the article as it did not tell us why in a at least semi-quantitative manner. How strong is IGG and why, from what I can tell, is just given by experience.

For example, in this game, why did my attempt to rush IGG not work? It seems my opponent can handle the Curses relatively easily with Steward, while I am stuck with the IGGs. Should I forgo Gold/Province and buy IGGs as often as possible? How do you think about Cities? While it is true that they are a reason against emptying the two piles, in the game I played, I am in no way close to pile-end and that is not even a factor.

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Deadlock39

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2011, 02:37:50 pm »
0

Based on my experience, it doesn't look like you played the rush correctly in that game.  The way I have always played it is a pure rush.  I don't know if it was the right choice on this board with the City question that was already brought up, but if you are rushing IGG, you don't want to stop along the way to buy a Forge or even a Province until all the IGGs are gone.  Getting 10 Curses into your opponents deck in ~14ish turns is going to slow them down a ton (even with a Steward). 

It is clearly not as good as Steward, but in this game, my opponent loaded up on Lookouts to try to clean out his deck, and had nearly gotten his deck running again just as I ended the game. 
http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20111126-120050-bd1ece59.html

Tournaments with $4 seems like it might be a good choice, but I probably would have just bought Silver.  The simulators can probably sort that one out.  1 card is probably worth more than $1 in this deck and your opponent shouldn't have too many Provinces quickly or ever.

« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 02:41:39 pm by Deadlock39 »
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mischiefmaker

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2011, 04:44:24 pm »
0

Very nice article, TINAS. I'd add that IGG works well with Gardens (good third pile to empty since you should easily hit $4, plus you'll have a big fat deck for scoring lots of points), and if you're going to put "Itself" in the "works with" section, you might want to clarify and say "Duchies", since that's the natural thing to empty after the rush is over.

Also, a minor nitpick: I'd reword, "Everybody knows that cursing is the strongest type of attack". A lot of newer players read the blog, and they may not know this.
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AJD

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2011, 05:30:44 pm »
0

If you're going to put "Itself" in the "works with" section, you might want to clarify and say "Duchies", since that's the natural thing to empty after the rush is over.

If you're doing an IGG rush, is it also worth picking up Dukes when they're around after you've got four or five Duchies, or should you just go for emptying the Duchy pile as fast as possible? I guess it depends on how well and how fast your opponent is recovering from the curses.
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Thisisnotasmile

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2011, 05:54:58 am »
0

If you're going to put "Itself" in the "works with" section, you might want to clarify and say "Duchies", since that's the natural thing to empty after the rush is over.

If you're doing an IGG rush, is it also worth picking up Dukes when they're around after you've got four or five Duchies, or should you just go for emptying the Duchy pile as fast as possible? I guess it depends on how well and how fast your opponent is recovering from the curses.

Once the IGGs and curses are out you just want to empty the Duchies to end the game before your opponent can get their deck back on their feet. Usually, taking a Province or two if you make it to $8 is fine, but not really necessary. Similaraly, I'd say detouring for Dukes isn't necessary. A Duke isn't going to give you as big a score boost as a Province unless you've got 6+ of the Duchies, and in that case you're winning, so just take the Duchies and end it.

If anyone would like to run a simulation or two on this we could get a better answer, but my gut feeling is that taking the Dukes won't harm you, but it's not really necessary.
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Deadlock39

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2011, 09:55:49 am »
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I agree with TINAS.  However, Dukes could make things interesting in a IGG rush mirror match...

ackack

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2011, 12:50:30 pm »
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I agree with TINAS.  However, Dukes could make things interesting in a IGG rush mirror match...

That doesn't seem very likely. Both of them should still be gunning for Duchies first, and it's not going to be until the pile is almost done that getting Dukes is useful for a boost in score. If one person got out to a big lead in Duchies, even if the opponent starts playing Dukes it almost certainly makes sense to just keep ending the game, as the opponent grabbing Dukes instead of Duchies is usually falling even further behind. The only situation where I see the Dukes becoming meaningful in the postulated mirror match is when the curses split evenly and it's just a straightforward race for who can accumulate the most points. Straightforward drawing races of that sort with no help are generally about as uninteresting strategically as Dominion gets, in my opinion.

added: I think Duke could become strategically important in an IGG game only when one side is going all-out IGGs and the other side can recover from all the curses and make a serious play at Provinces. (This is undoubtedly quite rare.) If this happens, then the Dukes are very useful to the IGG player because they are easy to get to. Then I would think the major concern would be the IGG player preventing a pile ending before they are ready - so grab 4-5 Duchies, start getting some Dukes for support, then go back and Duchy the rest of the way.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2011, 12:54:22 pm by ackack »
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2011, 03:29:38 pm »
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I agree with TINAS.  However, Dukes could make things interesting in a IGG rush mirror match...

That doesn't seem very likely. Both of them should still be gunning for Duchies first, and it's not going to be until the pile is almost done that getting Dukes is useful for a boost in score. If one person got out to a big lead in Duchies, even if the opponent starts playing Dukes it almost certainly makes sense to just keep ending the game, as the opponent grabbing Dukes instead of Duchies is usually falling even further behind. The only situation where I see the Dukes becoming meaningful in the postulated mirror match is when the curses split evenly and it's just a straightforward race for who can accumulate the most points. Straightforward drawing races of that sort with no help are generally about as uninteresting strategically as Dominion gets, in my opinion.

added: I think Duke could become strategically important in an IGG game only when one side is going all-out IGGs and the other side can recover from all the curses and make a serious play at Provinces. (This is undoubtedly quite rare.) If this happens, then the Dukes are very useful to the IGG player because they are easy to get to. Then I would think the major concern would be the IGG player preventing a pile ending before they are ready - so grab 4-5 Duchies, start getting some Dukes for support, then go back and Duchy the rest of the way.
...or in a one-sided match where the other side, opposite the IGG rush, is scrabbling stuff together for Colonies.

yuma

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2011, 12:59:22 pm »
0

I have often felt that Ill-Gotten Gains struggles when in a kingdom with trashing cards because the curses don't seem to do enough damage fast enough. So when I started into this game http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201112/31/game-20111231-095217-527aaac2.html I wasn't planning on buying Ill-Gotten Gains, until it struck me. Once I buy them I can simply trash them--Salvager was on the board and I have recently fallen in love with the card buying it nearly every time it is out.

In the end the strategy worked pretty well, I think part of it was that my opponent also bought the Salvagers at a high rate allowing for a quick 3 pile ending and a low score of 7-2. If the Salvager pile wasn't low I think I might have been able to swing a Duchy advantage by trashing my remaining IGGs and potentially buying multiple Duchies a turn.  My opponent was able to swing one Province which made me panic for a bit.

Anyone else had success with IGG and a trasher?
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Mean Mr Mustard

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2011, 11:05:24 pm »
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Yes, with Remake as in <a href=http://councilroom.com/game?game_id=game-20111225-115912-a42f00e7.html>this game</a>, although I would say that the most important thing about playing an IGG rush well is to plan for it from the beginning and build your deck accordingly.  I feel that I win IGG games most when my opponent doesn't buy any IGGs at all or tries to build an engine deck while I am ramping up to $5 and then begins buying IGGs flatfooted.  I lose most often when I try to IGG rush someone on a Colony board.

This card is really a newbie killer.

With Watchtower or especially Trader on the board I have learned to avoid an outright IGG rush.  Getting the curse and IGG pile uneven really screws up the tempo of the game from the rush standpoint and it is difficult enough to clear the three piles in a win fast enough without trying to make amends.  On the whole though this is an easy deck to play and win with when the conditions are right.

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2012, 04:47:49 am »
0

http://dominion.isotropic.org/gamelog/201201/01/game-20120101-014229-35210436.html
What happens if you try to buy only a few IGGs and also attempt to buy a KC. Shows just how good IGG big money can be when there ain't trashers (closest thing is Island).
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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2012, 11:53:17 am »
0

Anyone else had success with IGG and a trasher?

I think that IGG is good with trashers which benefit you in a way that's proportional to the price of the trashed card (exception: bishop) and bad with fast (=more than one at a time or masquerade) trashers on the board.

Absent fast trashing, I prefer IGG to witch. With trashing, I prefer witch to IGG. Don't know if this is right.
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chwhite

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2012, 12:20:10 pm »
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Anyone else had success with IGG and a trasher?

I think that IGG is good with trashers which benefit you in a way that's proportional to the price of the trashed card (exception: bishop) and bad with fast (=more than one at a time or masquerade) trashers on the board.

Absent fast trashing, I prefer IGG to witch. With trashing, I prefer witch to IGG. Don't know if this is right.


If both Witch and IGG are on the board, I will prefer Witch 100 percent of the time, because the presence of another curse-giver screws up the mathematics of the IGG rush.  This is not to say I'll completely ignore the IGGs, but I'd buy Witch first every time and then maybe supplement it with an IGG or two on a $5 hand before the Curses run out.
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ehunt

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Re: Ill-Gotten Gains
« Reply #24 on: January 01, 2012, 01:27:39 pm »
0



If both Witch and IGG are on the board, I will prefer Witch 100 percent of the time, because the presence of another curse-giver screws up the mathematics of the IGG rush.  This is not to say I'll completely ignore the IGGs, but I'd buy Witch first every time and then maybe supplement it with an IGG or two on a $5 hand before the Curses run out.

Interesting! I'm skeptical. The witch buy slows down the cursing by a shuffle. Simulators? (I do agree that the duchy rush is not a viable strategy if the opponent buys witch.)
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