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Author Topic: I hate Mercenary  (Read 6341 times)

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LastFootnote

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I hate Mercenary
« on: September 07, 2014, 01:14:08 pm »
+13

I am so, so sick of Mercenary. It's the ultimate "I have to get this in order to fight it" attack, and whoever gets it first has a huge advantage. The problem is that you have to trash 2 cards from your hand to use it, which is a tall order when you only have a 3-card hand because of your opponent's Mercenary. If you keep two bad cards in your hand with Mercenary, you're probably drawing dead Actions. If you keep a Village and a Mercenary in your hand, you may not draw another bad card. But if you try to pursue a different strategy, your opponent can just steamroll you because he has the huge advantage of playing Mercenaries with a 5-card hand. I find it infuriating.

OK, now that that's off my chest, does anybody have any good Mercenary-fighting tips?
« Last Edit: September 07, 2014, 01:15:40 pm by LastFootnote »
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Awaclus

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2014, 01:26:03 pm »
+3

Be first player and open double Urchin. That usually beats any Mercenary based strategy, though sometimes you might lose because of bad luck.
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liopoil

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2014, 01:32:13 pm »
0

I too don't like urchin/mercenary, for the reasons you said and also the swingy-ness of colliding attack cards, and how it often forces you to open double urchin. Usually you just have to go for it too. The only time when you can really safely ignore it is when there are sufficient alternative ways of trashing and dealing with the attack or discarding them down to 3 with another card.

Be first player and open double Urchin. That usually beats any Mercenary based strategy, though sometimes you might lose because of bad luck.
Yeah, first player advantage is pretty big too. I'm finding FPA to be more and more important in general lately.
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theright555J

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2014, 01:37:51 pm »
+1

The thing with Mercenary is that you first have to get one--as in colliding urchin then some other attack. Then what to do afterward. Merc is great for a while then it just dies without fuel. It's a rapacious consumer of fuel and I've lost games I've dominated with it by running out of fuel and I've seen my opponent go for it and think "all I have to do is ride out the storm and he'll run out of fuel". So you really need to have village + draw + gainer/+buy to add fuel and then be able to reliably draw the merc with 2 actions and 2 junk in hand.  If there's no +buy and there are other way of trashing I at least think about skipping merc. Even better if draw to X or menagerie is there.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2014, 01:48:12 pm by theright555J »
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Mic Qsenoch

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2014, 01:38:01 pm »
+9

Urchin/Merc is crazy good, so unfortunately (if one doesn't like it) a lot of boards require going for it. From a strategy point of view, the simple answer is just "you have to go for Mercenary." The Merc on play effect is incredibly strong the first few times you do it. Trash two cards and probably buy a $5, that's nuts. And of course Urchin's cantripiness, and the Merc trashing means the attacks get played a lot more often, you can be constantly under attack.

Getting Mercenary first is a huge boost, but getting it second usually means you are able to attack longer into the game. In some situations that late attack hurts more. I have lost or nearly lost a lot games by blowing it after getting a huge lead with Merc luck   because I didn't account for my opponent attacking me late into the game. It's very easy to green too early once you have a clean Merc deck because you feel way ahead. I would advocate being patient in Mercenary games, take your time and build. This is true of Goons/Militia/Ghost Ship games too.

I don't have any special insights into how to counter it, it's a discard attack so there are the obvious things like draw to X. I think a lot of people forget how good the Lab variants are against discard attacks in general. The best way to beat discarders is to draw your deck. I don't believe much in the fill your deck with ok junk approach to fighting discarders, it's almost always better to try and thin and have 3 really awesome cards in hand.

If you want to ignore Merc entirely, you probably need to wait for a special board: one that doesn't reward deck thinning. Something like Duke maybe.
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silverspawn

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2014, 01:38:28 pm »
0

well, the most important thing is to always go for mercenary, unless there is a very good reason not to. but you probably figured that out already.

the second most important thing is that you usually want to get 3 urchins, or 2 urchins + another attack, and usually 2 mercs. almost never open urchin + non-attack.

it's also worth keeping in mind how extremely strong merc is in terms of raw power. getting rid of 2 bad cards & +cards & +2$ & attack is one of the strongest effects ingame. often the trashing port becomes a liability rather than a bonus later in the game, but if you can reliably use it to trash bad cards, it can be reason to skip even the best junkers

but none of that really changes the core problem. my advise here is, if your opponent gets a big advantage early (like, he gets merc 2 shuffles earlier then you), just resign the game and don't try to come back.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2014, 01:39:31 pm by silverspawn »
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2014, 02:03:57 pm »
+8

Overall, I feel DA has three of the strongest and also swingiest cards in Dominion that also are not that the fun to play against--Rebuild, Cultist, and Urchin/Mercenary.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2014, 02:06:53 pm by Beyond Awesome »
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Awaclus

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2014, 02:09:24 pm »
0

I like Rebuild and Cultist.
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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2014, 03:02:00 pm »
0

I am so, so sick of Mercenary. It's the ultimate "I have to get this in order to fight it" attack, and whoever gets it first has a huge advantage.
...
OK, now that that's off my chest, does anybody have any good Mercenary-fighting tips?
If you don't like a card, don't play with it?  (Doesn't work in Goko pro mode obviously but there have been other threads to talk about that.)
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2014, 04:55:45 pm »
0

I am so, so sick of Mercenary. It's the ultimate "I have to get this in order to fight it" attack, and whoever gets it first has a huge advantage.
...
OK, now that that's off my chest, does anybody have any good Mercenary-fighting tips?
If you don't like a card, don't play with it?  (Doesn't work in Goko pro mode obviously but there have been other threads to talk about that.)

Considering the vast majority on this board play only pro mode, that advice is not really applicable.
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theblankman

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2014, 05:04:21 pm »
0

Considering the vast majority on this board play only pro mode, that advice is not really applicable.
I know, the pro-mode advice would be "agitate for veto mode or something similar," but considering the quote below and discussion that followed in that thread, I don't think the OP would receive it well.
This talk of banning "skill-reducing cards" turns my stomach. That is all.
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LastFootnote

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2014, 05:08:32 pm »
0

To be fair, I don't play much Pro mode at all. I don't have a problem with not playing certain cards, but I do have a problem with cards being widely banned because they're too "luck-based".
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theblankman

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2014, 06:56:41 pm »
0

To be fair, I don't play much Pro mode at all. I don't have a problem with not playing certain cards, but I do have a problem with cards being widely banned because they're too "luck-based".
I'd prefer constructed (or partially constructed) kingdoms to the complete randomness of Pro too, but Pro seems to be where much of the toughest competition is right now, so that's where I go.  Anyway to your original question, I guess the non-pro-mode answer is "put counters to Merc on your Urchin board."  But that imho is still taking issue with a luck-based card, just instead of vetoing it you try to neuter it.
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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2014, 03:47:41 am »
+8

Gotta have moat.
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theJester

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2014, 04:36:49 am »
0

Overall, I feel DA has three of the strongest and also swingiest cards in Dominion that also are not that the fun to play against--Rebuild, Cultist, and Urchin/Mercenary.
I second this so much. You know something is amiss when some cards (like 3 above) are by themselves so dominant in majority of boards thy appear in.

The main problem with Mercenary is that it's basically a Master of All Trades - it trashes, cycles, provides virtual money and is a discard attack. And the only method of obtaining it is pretty luck-based.
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Davio

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2014, 04:56:10 am »
0

To be fair, I don't play much Pro mode at all. I don't have a problem with not playing certain cards, but I do have a problem with cards being widely banned because they're too "luck-based".
I'd prefer constructed (or partially constructed) kingdoms to the complete randomness of Pro too, but Pro seems to be where much of the toughest competition is right now, so that's where I go.  Anyway to your original question, I guess the non-pro-mode answer is "put counters to Merc on your Urchin board."  But that imho is still taking issue with a luck-based card, just instead of vetoing it you try to neuter it.
I would encourage that pro mode uses an advanced "interesting" board generator. The problem with that is two-fold:
1. Interesting means something else for every player, it's highly subjective
2. It's very complex to generate interesting boards

If you try to create interesting boards, you will start making assumptions that every board needs at least one village, at least one trasher, etc., etc. and power cards like Rebuild might never appear anymore even on boards where they are supposedly skippable. You could make the opposite of interesting boards if you go down this path.

So a compromise would be veto mode where both players can ban one card. I think it worked like a charm on Iso and you could always just veto random if you didn't care. I don't think always vetoing a particular card (say, Rebuild) would have a huge impact on the leaderboard.
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Zappie

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2014, 08:18:52 am »
+2

I think they should create something where players can give the board a rating eg, 1-3. If it receives 3s, then the system should give other people the board once. When the board is played by somehting like 50 people, drop it so there is a circulation of interesting boards.
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theblankman

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2014, 12:21:39 pm »
0

I would encourage that pro mode uses an advanced "interesting" board generator. The problem with that is two-fold:
1. Interesting means something else for every player, it's highly subjective
2. It's very complex to generate interesting boards

If you try to create interesting boards, you will start making assumptions that every board needs at least one village, at least one trasher, etc., etc. and power cards like Rebuild might never appear anymore even on boards where they are supposedly skippable. You could make the opposite of interesting boards if you go down this path.

So a compromise would be veto mode where both players can ban one card. I think it worked like a charm on Iso and you could always just veto random if you didn't care. I don't think always vetoing a particular card (say, Rebuild) would have a huge impact on the leaderboard.
Kingdom creation is a skill in itself, and one people seem to like practicing and seeing done well, as evidenced by the popularity of the kingdom design challenge.  As you say full freedom to create boards might result in some cards never appearing, among other issues.  Veto mode can do the same at the individual level, I could simply decide I hate Possession that much.  I have another proposal: For an N-player game, let pro mode choose 10-N cards at random.  When everyone is locked in and the game's ready to start, show those cards to all players, then each player chooses one card to complete the kingdom.  That way every card can appear in pro games (there's no ban or veto), but if some of the "board dominators" we've discussed here and elsewhere happen to show up, and you're not in the mood for that kind of game at that moment, you can put in a specific counter. 
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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2014, 12:45:01 pm »
+1

I have another proposal: For an N-player game, let pro mode choose 10-N cards at random.  When everyone is locked in and the game's ready to start, show those cards to all players, then each player chooses one card to complete the kingdom. 

The risk under that plan is that every board now has Mercenary/Rebuild/Cultist/whatever.
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Awaclus

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2014, 12:49:54 pm »
+1

I have another proposal: For an N-player game, let pro mode choose 10-N cards at random.  When everyone is locked in and the game's ready to start, show those cards to all players, then each player chooses one card to complete the kingdom. 

The risk under that plan is that every board now has Mercenary/Rebuild/Cultist/whatever.
Yes, I think that the risk of every board having whatever would be pretty high.
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theblankman

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2014, 01:29:10 pm »
0

I have another proposal: For an N-player game, let pro mode choose 10-N cards at random.  When everyone is locked in and the game's ready to start, show those cards to all players, then each player chooses one card to complete the kingdom. 

The risk under that plan is that every board now has Mercenary/Rebuild/Cultist/whatever.

Fair point.  I don't think it'd be the same set of cards, it might be more like "Now every board with Cultist also has Chapel, and a lot of boards have King's Court."  I'm not sure if that's better or worse than veto mode though, open to arguments in either direction.  I was just throwing out an idea.
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Davio

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2014, 02:24:06 pm »
+11

Veto mode always worked for me, I really liked picking random when I just didn't care.

And considering we're playing just for fun and bragging rights, I would rather let my opponent ban a card he hates - giving us a more enjoyable game - than force him to begrudgingly play with a certain card.

Kingdom design is an art form, but the beauty of this game is that you can complete a game rather quickly and try a new possibly better kingdom in minutes.
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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2014, 09:52:31 pm »
+2

Interesting means something else for every player, it's highly subjective
Yes, it's definitely an interesting problem to even define "interesting" in a way that doesn't exclude kingdoms that really are interesting.

My tentative attempt is: generate kingdoms where no card is trivially irrelevant to an experienced player. I think it's fair to say that kingdoms with few relevant cards are among the least interesting kingdoms. Kingdoms with many relevant cards also are less likely to admit boring 1-card or 2-card strategies.

There are certainly other things that could be considered "interesting", like a kingdom that's designed to make a usually-strong card irrelevant, or a kingdom that enables a rare combo. Still, I think in those cases, it'd still usually make the kingdom better to swap out the irrelevant cards.

A few easy consequences of this rule:
  • Extremely weak cards tend to make kingdoms less interesting, because they are often irrelevant. For example, having Scout in a kingdom typically makes it less interesting, because in most kingdoms, it's both obvious and correct that Scout is irrelevant.
  • Extremely strong cards that combo poorly tend to make kingdoms less interesting, because they make other cards irrelevant. For example, Rebuild tends to make slow cards irrelevant.
  • Interesting kingdoms tend to permit strong strategies that buy/gain a wide variety of cards over the course of the game. This includes engines, obviously, but sometimes also slogs, simply because you have so many turns available to make buying decisions.
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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2014, 12:17:30 am »
0

Veto mode always worked for me, I really liked picking random when I just didn't care.

And considering we're playing just for fun and bragging rights, I would rather let my opponent ban a card he hates - giving us a more enjoyable game - than force him to begrudgingly play with a certain card.

Kingdom design is an art form, but the beauty of this game is that you can complete a game rather quickly and try a new possibly better kingdom in minutes.
this. this this this.
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Davio

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Re: I hate Mercenary
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2014, 02:28:54 am »
+1

Interesting means something else for every player, it's highly subjective
Yes, it's definitely an interesting problem to even define "interesting" in a way that doesn't exclude kingdoms that really are interesting.

My tentative attempt is: generate kingdoms where no card is trivially irrelevant to an experienced player. I think it's fair to say that kingdoms with few relevant cards are among the least interesting kingdoms. Kingdoms with many relevant cards also are less likely to admit boring 1-card or 2-card strategies.

[..]
Well, what I meant by "interesting is something different for everyone" also considers that some people like to tweak the heck out of simple strategies and find the optimal number of Courtyards for instance. So even when there is only a small number of interesting cards, it can be enjoyable for people to optimize such "simulator" strategies even if they buy only one or two kingdom cards.

Trying to make every card in the kingdom a possibly interesting card is probably not the best approach. There's nothing wrong with having some "traps" (like Scout) or for example some bad Swindler targets (like Scout).
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