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Author Topic: Solving The Big Money Problem  (Read 11873 times)

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Matt_Arnold

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Solving The Big Money Problem
« on: May 26, 2014, 07:57:05 pm »
0

I know that the Big Money strategy only predominated when our sets were limited to the cards in the original Dominion box. It's been less powerful since then. But ask yourself: Isn't it still too powerful? Look on Androminion, under "Statistics", and see what the win rate is for Earl, the AI who uses Big Money.

Please post Earl's win rate here. I'll go first. True confessions time: Earl wins 20% of games against me. One in five. I admit that even when I see a set which Big Money will win, I try to challenge myself to beat it. Yes, I could just try to use it and hope to beat Earl. But I would die a little inside.

The Patrick AI plays Big Money plus one card. His win rate against me is 16%. After playing Dominion multiple times per week for years, does this mean I'm a bad player?

Imagine if every game of Dominion started with each player holding twenty victory point chips. Each play of a Silver and Gold costs a victory point chip. A player who has no VP chips may only play a Silver or Gold by gaining a Curse, if there remain any.

What are your ideas for variants that disadvantage Big Money?
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Drab Emordnilap

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2014, 08:28:09 pm »
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I know that the Big Money strategy only predominated when our sets were limited to the cards in the original Dominion box. It's been less powerful since then. But ask yourself: Isn't it still too powerful? Look on Androminion, under "Statistics", and see what the win rate is for Earl, the AI who uses Big Money.

Please post Earl's win rate here. I'll go first. True confessions time: Earl wins 20% of games against me. One in five. I admit that even when I see a set which Big Money will win, I try to challenge myself to beat it. Yes, I could just try to use it and hope to beat Earl. But I would die a little inside.

The Patrick AI plays Big Money plus one card. His win rate against me is 16%. After playing Dominion multiple times per week for years, does this mean I'm a bad player?

Imagine if every game of Dominion started with each player holding twenty victory point chips. Each play of a Silver and Gold costs a victory point chip. A player who has no VP chips may only play a Silver or Gold by gaining a Curse, if there remain any.

What are your ideas for variants that disadvantage Big Money?

Why do you need to disadvantage Big Money? A strategy with only a 16% win rate seems naturally disadvantaged enough as it is.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2014, 08:42:02 pm »
+7

Aprils Fools Day was 55 days ago, man.
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eHalcyon

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2014, 10:38:11 pm »
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Earl's win rate against me: 0%.

But I just recently got a new phone and have only played 8 games so far (and have not lost yet).  I've been playing Bonza instead.
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A Drowned Kernel

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2014, 11:20:15 pm »
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I'm not that familiar with Androminion. By "big money" do you mean that Earl plays by buying just gold, silver and provinces?
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GeoLib

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2014, 12:28:25 am »
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Earl's win rate against me is 13%. I'm sure it would be much lower if most of my androminion games were not played while I was on the toilet. I don't really think that pure big money is too powerful.
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eHalcyon

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2014, 12:43:01 am »
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I'm not that familiar with Androminion. By "big money" do you mean that Earl plays by buying just gold, silver and provinces?

As far as I can tell, the Earl bot is programmed to play BM-X with certain X cards.  I'm not clear on priority.  I think Witch is one of the top ones.  I can't remember but I think Market might actually have higher priority than Smithy.  It will play pure BM if nothing in the kingdom is on its list.
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popsofctown

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2014, 01:26:41 am »
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I mean, if in your ideal world Big Money is never the dominant strategy on the board, you could always just select kingdoms such that Big Money is never dominant, since you would only have to remove like, what, 20% of them at this point, I have no idea the exact amount, some kind of minority.

If Gold was considered a kingdom card and not an always available every time card, I don't even know if it would be considered to have as much impact as Chapel or or Minion.
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Qvist

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2014, 05:06:21 am »
+4

The win rate of Earl and Patrick are the highest is not because Big Money is too strong, it's just that a Big Money AI is easier to implement well than an engine AI.

silverspawn

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2014, 01:08:38 pm »
+4

your post seems to be based on the assumption that big money is a bad thing, which well I don't think it is.
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Kirian

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2014, 01:16:54 pm »
+1

Matt, is this a followup on the FB discussion re MTG?

If so, some context for others: it involves yet another person who didn't like Dominion because "obviously" BM was too dominant.  I think Matt is looking for debunking arguments here, and I do think that simply having designed kingdoms rather than random is one option.

(And even if this was not intended as a followup, I think that discussion is worth having as well)
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LastFootnote

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2014, 01:24:39 pm »
+3

My take:

The fact that Big Money seems to be such a good strategy to newcomers is one of Dominion's few failings. Could the game have been designed differently such that this wasn't the case? Maybe. I can't think of any easy "fixes" that don't make the game worse in the long run. The Base Set could definitely have fewer weak cards and more cantrip Actions. I think that would go a long way toward curbing these arguments.

Among good players, engines almost always beat Big Money. I like the fact that Big Money can sometimes win. Turns go quickly and there's usually still a lot of tactical play to be had.

If a player thinks Dominion is bad because Big Money is usually the best strategy, that player should either improve their game or stop playing. The argument just doesn't hold up.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2014, 01:32:16 pm »
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IImagine if every game of Dominion started with each player holding twenty victory point chips. Each play of a Silver and Gold costs a victory point chip. A player who has no VP chips may only play a Silver or Gold by gaining a Curse, if there remain any.

Holy crap, when I first read this I thought it said you lost a chip when you bought a Silver or Gold. I was about to explain why that was a bad idea when I realized it said "when you play a Silver or Gold"! So you're basically turning any game where you can't play very many Action cards into a horrible slog as players…

1) Opt to buy nothing for a bunch of their turns.
2) Buy way too many terminal Actions and can't play them.
3) Lose 20 points and eventually fill their deck with Curses.

None of these are fun! The first two lead to your deck going nowhere fast. The third one lets you actually build a deck, but then it collapses in on itself.

In most games with this variant, players ain't getting to Provinces. The best strategy is probably to fill up on terminal Silvers (Militia, etc.) and 3-pile with Estates and maybe Duchies. Does that sound fun to you? What made you think this was a good idea?
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silverspawn

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2014, 01:37:09 pm »
+4

Quote
Among good players, engines almost always beat Big Money. I like the fact that Big Money can sometimes win. Turns go quickly and there's usually still a lot of tactical play to be had.
I keep hearing this, and I don't know, it's just not true. Engines are the way to go in over 50% of all games, but it's far away from what I define as "almost always". It really feel like this is becoming an incorrect preconception, maybe because the games with engines are more memorable or interesting, or just because they take more time because players spend more time thinking, or mabye because people think it's a sign of skill if they say that engines are dominant. but slogs + Big Money do take up a reasonable amount of all games, and I really don't get why people pretend they don't. I'd say you go for an engine in 60-75% of all games.

There is some gray area too, and for these games the exact definition of "engine" is crucial.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2014, 01:39:07 pm by silverspawn »
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LastFootnote

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2014, 01:42:34 pm »
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I keep hearing this, and I don't know, it's just not true. Engines are the way to go in over 50% of all games, but it's far away from what I define as "almost always". It really feel like this is becoming an incorrect preconception, maybe because the games with engines are more memorable or interesting, or just because they take more time because players spend more time thinking, or mabye because people think it's a sign of skill if they say that engines are dominant. but slogs + Big Money do take up a reasonable amount of all games, and I really don't get why people pretend they don't. I'd say you go for an engine in 60-75% of all games.

There is some gray area too, and for these games the exact definition of "engine" is crucial.

I think our terminology is getting in the way here. The term "Big Money" can mean so many different things. There's a lot of middle ground between engines that draw your entire deck every turn (which I find distasteful) and decks that have 2 copies of an Action and then Treasure (which I find boring). The deck I enjoy building most builds up an "engine" just enough such that it can destroy itself by buying Victory cards and cannibalizing its pieces, but still trot up to the finish line just in time. Is that an "engine" or "Big Money" or neither?
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markusin

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2014, 01:46:33 pm »
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Quote
Among good players, engines almost always beat Big Money. I like the fact that Big Money can sometimes win. Turns go quickly and there's usually still a lot of tactical play to be had.
I keep hearing this, and I don't know, it's just not true. Engines are the way to go in over 50% of all games, but it's far away from what I define as "almost always". It really feel like this is becoming an incorrect preconception, maybe because the games with engines are more memorable or interesting, or just because they take more time because players spend more time thinking, or mabye because people think it's a sign of skill if they say that engines are dominant. but slogs + Big Money do take up a reasonable amount of all games, and I really don't get why people pretend they don't. I'd say you go for an engine in 60-75% of all games.

There is some gray area too, and for these games the exact definition of "engine" is crucial.
And then there are the rushy slogs. I feel like there might be a whole area of BM-ish strategies whose strength is not well understood, at least not compared to the engines.
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silverspawn

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2014, 01:56:52 pm »
+2

hm i stand corrected,
I keep hearing this, and I don't know, it's just not true. Engines are the way to go in over 50% of all games, but it's far away from what I define as "almost always". It really feel like this is becoming an incorrect preconception, maybe because the games with engines are more memorable or interesting, or just because they take more time because players spend more time thinking, or mabye because people think it's a sign of skill if they say that engines are dominant. but slogs + Big Money do take up a reasonable amount of all games, and I really don't get why people pretend they don't. I'd say you go for an engine in 60-75% of all games.

There is some gray area too, and for these games the exact definition of "engine" is crucial.

I think our terminology is getting in the way here. The term "Big Money" can mean so many different things. There's a lot of middle ground between engines that draw your entire deck every turn (which I find distasteful) and decks that have 2 copies of an Action and then Treasure (which I find boring). The deck I enjoy building most builds up an "engine" just enough such that it can destroy itself by buying Victory cards and cannibalizing its pieces, but still trot up to the finish line just in time. Is that an "engine" or "Big Money" or neither?

I'd define engine as "a strategy that uses several action cards which work together and goes through big parts of your deck in single turns", so, the last thing you described does sound like an engine to me.

I stand corrected, your claim wasn't that engine is almost always the way to go, it was just that engine almost always beats big money, which I don't disagree with nearly as much, because it doesn't count slogs and rushes. I have heard other people claming the former though.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2014, 01:58:18 pm by silverspawn »
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dondon151

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2014, 03:44:32 am »
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It is, in my opinion, much easier for cards to have synergy in an engine than it is for them to have synergy in a slog or a rush. There are many more ways for an engine to exist, and the whole idea of an engine is to increase the likelihood of colliding cards that work together.
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popsofctown

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2014, 06:25:21 pm »
+1

IImagine if every game of Dominion started with each player holding twenty victory point chips. Each play of a Silver and Gold costs a victory point chip. A player who has no VP chips may only play a Silver or Gold by gaining a Curse, if there remain any.

Holy crap, when I first read this I thought it said you lost a chip when you bought a Silver or Gold. I was about to explain why that was a bad idea when I realized it said "when you play a Silver or Gold"! So you're basically turning any game where you can't play very many Action cards into a horrible slog as players…

1) Opt to buy nothing for a bunch of their turns.
2) Buy way too many terminal Actions and can't play them.
3) Lose 20 points and eventually fill their deck with Curses.

None of these are fun! The first two lead to your deck going nowhere fast. The third one lets you actually build a deck, but then it collapses in on itself.

In most games with this variant, players ain't getting to Provinces. The best strategy is probably to fill up on terminal Silvers (Militia, etc.) and 3-pile with Estates and maybe Duchies. Does that sound fun to you? What made you think this was a good idea?

What's hilarious to me is that the idea sounds so bad and debilitating, but it's really close to what Sirlin thought was a clever way of correcting his terribly imbalanced dominion knockoff.
You have to play actions to win in that game, one of the vp actions is terminal, one is nonterminal.
The nonterminal one ended up being so strong on virtually every board (Combine, the 4$ chip that good players happily spent 7$ to buy) that it got "-1$ this turn when you play this" in a later "patch" (at the consumer's expense, for the physical game). 
It makes the game so painful to play, it feels like "losing the game as little as possible" instead of "winning the game as much as possible".
It's the inverse I guess, losing economy whenever you use the key victory card instead of losing victory whenever you use the key economy card.  But, yeah.. not fun times either way.
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Matt_Arnold

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2014, 03:24:55 pm »
0

Does that sound fun to you? What made you think this was a good idea?
Simple. Because I did not predict it would have that effect. I am not so interested in having a conversation about me and my qualities. I'm interested in alternative proposals that you can brainstorm, and I'll keep the conversation focused on the proposals. I appreciate your response, which was highly informative.
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Holger

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2014, 02:34:26 pm »
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I'm interested in alternative proposals that you can brainstorm, and I'll keep the conversation focused on the proposals.

If you don't want to destroy the game, you need a much smaller anti-BM incentive.
E.g. the German gaming site Hiespielchen (http://www.hiespielchen.de/dominion/index.php?ctl=varianten#geldkauf) has suggested the following back in 2009: Give each player a match for every turn they don't buy a Treasure card; after turn 2, you may only buy a basic Treasure card if you have (and presumably spend) as many matches as the value of the Treasure card is worth (i.e. 2 for Silver, 3 for Gold). This might make for a still playable game, though it ironically increases the incentive to open double Silver.

If you only play with the base game, you could also try to counter the relative weakness of many base Action cards by decreasing their costs by $1 each. I think most* of the non-$5 Actions would still be balanced, but a bit stronger, if they cost $1 less. (If you don't mind the potential for weak double-attack openings...)


*all except Militia, Smithy, Throne Room?
Moneylender, Remodel and Chapel don't need to be cheaper either, but wouldn't be (more) broken at the cheaper price, I think.


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eHalcyon

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2014, 03:01:51 pm »
0

I'm interested in alternative proposals that you can brainstorm, and I'll keep the conversation focused on the proposals.

If you don't want to destroy the game, you need a much smaller anti-BM incentive.
E.g. the German gaming site Hiespielchen (http://www.hiespielchen.de/dominion/index.php?ctl=varianten#geldkauf) has suggested the following back in 2009: Give each player a match for every turn they don't buy a Treasure card; after turn 2, you may only buy a basic Treasure card if you have (and presumably spend) as many matches as the value of the Treasure card is worth (i.e. 2 for Silver, 3 for Gold). This might make for a still playable game, though it ironically increases the incentive to open double Silver.

I don't know if this "match" system is any good, but it's trivial to remove the incentive for double Silver.  Require the match payment from the very first turn instead of after turn 3, but start everybody with 4 matches.  It still makes the first two silvers "free", but it carries on beyond the opening turns (and also gives a step up for people who skip Silver to go directly for Gold.

One tweak I'd suggest is to have this requirement only for basic treasures.
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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2014, 03:06:18 pm »
+2

One tweak I'd suggest is to have this requirement only for basic treasures.
It already is.
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eHalcyon

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2014, 03:31:37 pm »
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One tweak I'd suggest is to have this requirement only for basic treasures.
It already is.

Oh, so it is for the actual purchase!  But what about the match-giving?  Holger wrote, "Give each player a match for every turn they don't buy a Treasure card".  That's the part I read; it's a little odd if it isn't consistent between the two.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Solving The Big Money Problem
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2014, 03:58:33 pm »
0

I'm interested in alternative proposals that you can brainstorm, and I'll keep the conversation focused on the proposals.

If you don't want to destroy the game, you need a much smaller anti-BM incentive.
E.g. the German gaming site Hiespielchen (http://www.hiespielchen.de/dominion/index.php?ctl=varianten#geldkauf) has suggested the following back in 2009: Give each player a match for every turn they don't buy a Treasure card; after turn 2, you may only buy a basic Treasure card if you have (and presumably spend) as many matches as the value of the Treasure card is worth (i.e. 2 for Silver, 3 for Gold). This might make for a still playable game, though it ironically increases the incentive to open double Silver.

I don't know if this "match" system is any good, but it's trivial to remove the incentive for double Silver.  Require the match payment from the very first turn instead of after turn 3, but start everybody with 4 matches.  It still makes the first two silvers "free", but it carries on beyond the opening turns (and also gives a step up for people who skip Silver to go directly for Gold.

One tweak I'd suggest is to have this requirement only for basic treasures.

Um, if you start with 4 matches, then you can just buy treasure like normal throughout the game (except Platinum)... you don't spend the matches when you buy treasure, you just have to have the matches.
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