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Author Topic: what makes a good non-engine game?  (Read 6587 times)

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funkdoc

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what makes a good non-engine game?
« on: December 12, 2015, 03:38:11 pm »
+8

hello everyone, today's league championship match has sparked a fascinating discussion and i'd like to bring it here!

so every single board submitted for the championship was centered around some sort of engine, and some folks like mic & WW were disappointed in that.  i think what it shows is that this community has been strongly conditioned to think of engine games as the true form of dominion, and that there's not a lot of depth to our exploration of other styles nowadays.

speaking for myself, i don't have much of a clue as to what makes a slog or money board stand out enough to be championship-worthy, and i suspect the same is true for the vast majority of post-iso players.  it seems like the veterans have a better grasp there since those styles were thought to be stronger a few years ago and thus were discussed a lot more, though this is just an educated guess on my part.

so, i invite those who know their stuff to answer the question in the thread title!  we could also benefit from a debunking of the "non-engine games don't have interesting decisions" narrative, since that's widely accepted to at least some degree.  i think opening this up would not only make for cooler championship matches, it would help us newer players in general. =)

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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2015, 05:57:15 pm »
+3

Re: what makes a good non-engine game?

One that is played as Blitz 60.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2015, 06:03:07 pm »
0

bm is generally less interesting in a tournament context because people are good at the game because the decisions they make are better; when most of the decisions are silver and gold there is less opportunity to show off. there are a significant portion of games that come up even in random that aren't accurately described as engine because you're not drawing your deck or there aren't villages and you have to rely on non-terminal payload, but there are still enough non-treasure choices to be made for it to not really be big money.

good cards for this include:
alt-vp, colony/platinum maybe, half-engines (lab/stables, nobles, necropolis as the only village, ironmonger/herald/throne room/even king's court maybe with weak trashing and no other villages, an enticing horn of plenty, sifters, menagerie with not that much enabling, limited non-terminals, tactician, incentive to get peddler, hermit, open-ended combos like apprentice/market square), strong trashing, peddler+a remodeller, and in my opinion, the coolest card for the bm/engine hybrid, butcher (deplete 1 of the provinces and come out ahead, that's pretty unique).

importantly, there shouldn't actually be any bm cards, as in, you should not be able to look at the kingdom and estimate how many turns it would take to get 4 provinces, or anything simulatable like that. any pure bm kingdom has no place in tournaments, at all, no way, i think. that is intensely close to competitive coin-flipping, et cetera.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2015, 06:08:14 pm by schadd »
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2015, 09:34:52 pm »
+1

importantly, there shouldn't actually be any bm cards, as in, you should not be able to look at the kingdom and estimate how many turns it would take to get 4 provinces, or anything simulatable like that.

This seems overly strict.  It's becoming less and less common, but there are still times when you have to decide between something BM-esque and something more enginey.  A board where that decision was extremely difficult would be very interesting to watch if the players took different lines.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2015, 09:43:43 pm »
0

Whats Blitz 60 btw...? Does it come from playing a chess match in 60 seconds or something like that?
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DG

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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2015, 10:53:44 pm »
+5

A kingdom without an engine can still have a lot of interesting choices. If the choices have a good impact on the game, favour a good strategy, then these games without engines can be fun without needing extreme patience to play each turn. If you specifically like the card play of big engine turns then nothing else is probably going to replace that.

One feature of the non-engine games is that each decision can actually be more important and potentially impossible to remedy if it is wrong. A deck can be like an oil tanker at sea that is slow to turn round. This can also mean that an opponent will be unable to copy all your good ideas after starting on the wrong path.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2015, 01:22:28 am »
0

Well, the simplest answer would be a game that lacks +Actions or Thrones, but still contains useful or interactive cards.

For a more detailed response, you may want to look to someone that has more experience playing tournament (or online) games. My experience is mostly limited to casual (low strategy) play with family and friends.
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Davio

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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2015, 02:53:28 am »
+1

A game with some alternate VP cards, like Silk Roads, Gardens, Duke and Fairgrounds could be interesting even without an engine.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2015, 05:18:36 am »
+4

Only playing kingdoms that privilege certain strategies will find the players who are best at executing those strategies and not the players who are best at Dominion. I'm highly opposed.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2015, 05:39:57 am »
+1

I think it depends a lot on the players' choices. A game where one player goes for a slog and the other one goes for BM might be very interesting, but the same kingdom might result in a super boring game if both players just choose to go for the BM strategy. That also goes for kingdoms with very situational combo strategies (a famous example would be Stef's designed kingdom from the AI vs. JOG GokoDom match) it might be difficult to notice that such a combo even exists, and if both players just happen to miss it, a lot of potential for an interesting game is wasted.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2015, 09:02:57 am »
+3

Only playing kingdoms that privilege certain strategies will find the players who are best at executing those strategies and not the players who are best at Dominion. I'm highly opposed.

yea this is at the heart of why i see this as a problem.  you can guarantee that every championship will feature a game where procession is important, and that just completely goes against one of the main points of dominion (variety).  i think a wider range of macro-level strategies should be represented for sure.

i guess a good example of what i'm looking for would be a board from last season's championship where rebuild was arguably the way to go, but there was a competitive engine and it wasn't at all clear.  both players just went for the engine there though, which speaks to awaclus's point in a way.

keep it coming yall~

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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2015, 09:12:41 am »
0

Regarding what kinds of slogs I find interesting: If they involve decisions and it's not upfront how to play this at best.
I pulled out a Slog  I've submitted that I believe almost got played, maybe you get the idea (we had designed kingdoms that season but I've left everything the way it was).

Of course, it's a matter of taste as well and there will probably be ppl outside who think this is boring ;)

Hi,

I'm just submitting this interesting-ish junk board which was just generated while I played bots:
http://www.gokosalvager.com/static/logprettifier.html?20150727/log.50e7525ee4b0b5b74140a6c0.1437992084116.txt



Code: [Select]
Oracle, Scheme, Shanty Town, Warehouse, Familiar, Silk Road, Tournament, Treasure Map, Cultist, FairgroundsProvinces/Shelters

Lots of Alt-VP, two kind of junkers, Fairgrounds to somewhat counter Cultist (not really, though), Tournament being not that big of a deal here probably but you could get some extra uniques if you dare to. I was wondering about if I should replace Treasure Map... I guess no one is bold enough to try Warehouse/TMap here, but why not ;).
« Last Edit: December 14, 2015, 10:17:31 am by assemble_me »
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SCSN

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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2015, 11:50:34 am »
+1

Whats Blitz 60 btw...? Does it come from playing a chess match in 60 seconds or something like that?

It's similar in spirit to Blitz in Chess but not quite the same. See this post (near the bottom) for more information.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2015, 03:47:46 pm »
0

Is the selection process biased towards engines? People are asked to submit randomly generated boards that they found interesting.

If you randomly generate some kingdoms I think the chances are that the majority will feature some sort of engine. Out of those that don't a number of those will be money boards, which are very unlikely to be considered interesting. Is it therefore not surprising that the majority selected kingdoms will be engines?

Is having more design competitions for the final boards a suggestion? That way if anybody is unhappy with the kingdoms they can submit the type of boards they want to see.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2015, 02:48:35 am »
0

Engine is also a broad term; if Crossroads is the only non-terminal so you can play at most 3 terminals, is it an engine or not?
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2015, 08:32:00 am »
0

I don't mind if every board is an engine board.  I just like to see complicated ones or ones where the engine is somewhat weak or hard to produce.

Example,  If you have a board with Fishing Village, Wharf, Junk Dealer, Bridge and the rest duds or non factor cards its pretty easy to see what to do.  Even the choice of what to go for first is pretty easy and results in a boring game.

But boards with the only village as herald, or golem, or procession or kingdoms where the only payload is Graverobber or develop are going to be more interesting to watch even if they are engine games.

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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2015, 10:15:31 am »
+8

It bugs me how people associate engines with strategic depth and money strategies with mindless chance. There's a lot of depth to Big Money: calculated risks of varying amounts of terminal investment, action synergy, money density, attack frequency, and all sorts of things that people just skim right over when they go "ok buy two embassy and money haha isn't this so stupid".

Part of why I like Adventures is that it has a lot of cards that offer little tweaks or augmentation to Big Money that make the game interesting even in the absence of a pure engine. Gear, Treasure Trove, Amulet, Haunted Woods, Swamp Hag, several Events, all of these have strong Big Money utility on top of their engine potential.

What makes a good BM game? Depends on the board, but multiple terminal options that force hard choices helps. A few non terminals but limited utility. Alt-VP options.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2015, 10:57:02 am »
+3

The main problem with evry board being an engine board is that it removes the strategical decision of wether you want to build an egine or not.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2015, 10:57:41 am »
+4

Only playing kingdoms that privilege certain strategies will find the players who are best at executing those strategies and not the players who are best at Dominion. I'm highly opposed.

yea this is at the heart of why i see this as a problem.  you can guarantee that every championship will feature a game where procession is important, and that just completely goes against one of the main points of dominion (variety).  i think a wider range of macro-level strategies should be represented for sure.

i guess a good example of what i'm looking for would be a board from last season's championship where rebuild was arguably the way to go, but there was a competitive engine and it wasn't at all clear.  both players just went for the engine there though, which speaks to awaclus's point in a way.

keep it coming yall~

When I'm picking kingdoms to use, I give good scores to the kingdoms where I read the cards and I don't know what I'm going to do like right away. I like interesting and difficult decisions.

Let me give you an idea of what you're up against here: each season we get anywhere from 20 to 55+ kingdoms to pick six of for the championship match. I don't remember exactly, but I can't think of any seasons where we had more than about three submissions where an engine was not possible to make. Also, on boards where Big Money was competitive, I've only ever seen players go for Big Money in one game -- it was Embassy+BM vs. a cool Talisman/Vineyards thing that in playtesting we found was usually better. MQ had a 5/2 and went for Embassy (which may be correct with that opening) and his opponent mirrored (don't remember who it was). It's gotten to the point where I don't really consider Big Money or slog options on boards where anything resembling an engine is viable because I know the competitors won't even attempt them. Like, I'll playtest them but the fact that they're just plain better than super-awful weak engines in like all of the playtesting games doesn't stop me from giving them good scores anymore.

We make a huge effort to make sure that the six games we pick all feel different. If anything I have a bias against Procession because it makes games take a lot longer and we used to lose the audience that way. That said, all six games this season had some kind of village, two of them had Procession, and all of them were engine games; and this is representative of the submissions we received. We will include less-intersting money boards or slog boards for the sake of variety when we have them, but there are seasons where we just don't.

So let's say there are people out there who don't like the kingdoms we pick for these matches. Very few of them have actually submitted kingdoms -- in fact the only one who has is funkdoc. If you don't like the kingdoms we're using then submit more of them! Be the change you want to see! I actually think it's just that simple. Any worries that non-engine boards people submit won't make it into the matches are entirely unfounded -- these types of boards have always had a higher chance of making it in than engine boards. I don't think anyone actually believes that the selection process is flawed, do they?

What makes an interesting non-engine board? That's a really interesting and difficult question to answer because you have to define engine, and you have to define interesting, which are both subjective terms anyways. Fortunately, the solution to what you all want to see is not affected by the answer to that question -- just submit more of the types of boards that you want to see, whatever they are.

And also if you want to be part of selecting the kingdoms, that's not hard either. Just ask. The answer will probably be yes.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2015, 12:44:07 pm »
+3

Let me give you another example from playtesting:

Squire, Philosopher's Stone, Gardens, Navigator, Scavenger, Festival, Hunting Party, Library, Mountebank, Saboteur

This is a kingdom that made it into the Champion Match in Season 10. I think we playtested it 4-5 times and the engine never won against the Squire/Gardens/Pstone slog. If we wouldn't have taken this one, it would have been because the slog mirror is too obvious.

However, in the champion match we saw a (not very interesting) engine mirror with Mountebank. I still don't know exactly why this happened, maybe it was just the "safer" way to mirror your opponent here, but I still don't think that was right, or even that close.

My point is that maybe not only playtesting, but the players themselves are biased towards engine-play in kingdoms where it is a close decision.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2015, 12:49:28 pm »
+2

The games of Dominion that I enjoy (from a competitive standpoint, excluding any other factors like specific-player interaction, etc) are ones where there are both tactical and strategical decisions to be made. Now, from an engine vs. other point of view, the major strategy decisions come for an opening; usually the cards you want for competing strategies on the engine vs. other scale are very different, so that decision is very important and comes immediately. There are still strategy decisions that come after that, depending on payload options, opponent's strategy signals, etc etc, but that is the main strategy decision point. A board where it is "obvious" that you should build some engine removes this decision point, and can punt the other strategical decisions down the road (if they exist at all). Whether or not to choose Big Money on an enabled board against a weak engine is a very interesting strategical decision, and the fact that

Quote from: AdamH
It's gotten to the point where I don't really consider Big Money or slog options on boards where anything resembling an engine is viable because I know the competitors won't even attempt them.


suggests that even the best players are leaving potential win% on the table means that there is room to grow and compete.

As far as tactical decisions go, I wish I had saved the chat log from the channel of the discussion after the match had concluded. If I could quote the exact log, I'd feel comfortable naming the person who voiced this opinion, but since I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth I'll just say that someone voiced an opinion to the effect that "they wanted to play games where tactical decisions are relevant" in the context of playing BMish games. I think there are still meaningful tactical decisions to be made on BM boards, particularly about when it is appropriate to leave the "script" exactly when you hit 5 and there's a potentially useful action, or when you feel behind enough to pick up some more actions on a high-variance comeback attempt, when to violate PPR, etc. The fact that I lose most of my moneyish games against higher-rated players suggests that they do reflect the skill of better Dominion players. The same can be said for the tactical decisions in a slog, where decisions about what to do with your 4c hand in a Duke game, which junker "synergizes" more with your plan, etc can make differences in win% as well.

To bring this back around to the context of the championship match in particular, the fact that all six boards were "engine" games (we can debate the meaning of engine, but they were certainly no BM games or slogs) seems to favor better engine builders in what is ostensibly a match to determine the better Dominion player. The championship match format is a separate topic of conversation, but if the stated goal is to determine the better player of Dominion, then the games should be representative of Dominion games as a whole.


Only playing kingdoms that privilege certain strategies will find the players who are best at executing those strategies and not the players who are best at Dominion. I'm highly opposed.

yea this is at the heart of why i see this as a problem.  you can guarantee that every championship will feature a game where procession is important, and that just completely goes against one of the main points of dominion (variety).  i think a wider range of macro-level strategies should be represented for sure.

i guess a good example of what i'm looking for would be a board from last season's championship where rebuild was arguably the way to go, but there was a competitive engine and it wasn't at all clear.  both players just went for the engine there though, which speaks to awaclus's point in a way.

keep it coming yall~

When I'm picking kingdoms to use, I give good scores to the kingdoms where I read the cards and I don't know what I'm going to do like right away. I like interesting and difficult decisions.

Let me give you an idea of what you're up against here: each season we get anywhere from 20 to 55+ kingdoms to pick six of for the championship match. I don't remember exactly, but I can't think of any seasons where we had more than about three submissions where an engine was not possible to make. Also, on boards where Big Money was competitive, I've only ever seen players go for Big Money in one game -- it was Embassy+BM vs. a cool Talisman/Vineyards thing that in playtesting we found was usually better. MQ had a 5/2 and went for Embassy (which may be correct with that opening) and his opponent mirrored (don't remember who it was). It's gotten to the point where I don't really consider Big Money or slog options on boards where anything resembling an engine is viable because I know the competitors won't even attempt them. Like, I'll playtest them but the fact that they're just plain better than super-awful weak engines in like all of the playtesting games doesn't stop me from giving them good scores anymore.

We make a huge effort to make sure that the six games we pick all feel different. If anything I have a bias against Procession because it makes games take a lot longer and we used to lose the audience that way. That said, all six games this season had some kind of village, two of them had Procession, and all of them were engine games; and this is representative of the submissions we received. We will include less-intersting money boards or slog boards for the sake of variety when we have them, but there are seasons where we just don't.

So let's say there are people out there who don't like the kingdoms we pick for these matches. Very few of them have actually submitted kingdoms -- in fact the only one who has is funkdoc. If you don't like the kingdoms we're using then submit more of them! Be the change you want to see! I actually think it's just that simple. Any worries that non-engine boards people submit won't make it into the matches are entirely unfounded -- these types of boards have always had a higher chance of making it in than engine boards. I don't think anyone actually believes that the selection process is flawed, do they?

What makes an interesting non-engine board? That's a really interesting and difficult question to answer because you have to define engine, and you have to define interesting, which are both subjective terms anyways. Fortunately, the solution to what you all want to see is not affected by the answer to that question -- just submit more of the types of boards that you want to see, whatever they are.

And also if you want to be part of selecting the kingdoms, that's not hard either. Just ask. The answer will probably be yes.


I would like to preface, or postface for those present in the league championship match chat, the following comments with the fact that I was unaware of the selection process until I was illuminated in the chat during/after the match. I'd also like to point out that I have nothing against the playtesters and am not trying to accuse them individually of biasing in favor of certain board types. What I will say is this: if, again, this is only an if, the purpose of these matches is to determine the better Dominion player, then the committee that chooses the kingdoms should try to make the set representative of games of Dominion as played, not as the community thinks it should be played. I accept the argument that most of the boards submitted will be engine boards; I think its quite clear that those types of games are the ones most people enjoy and are likely to find interesting. However, I think that the committee should seriously consider looking at the selection of boards submitted and supplement the pool with games from types that are missing. Adam's comment here that they didn't receive any BM or slog boards as submissions shouldn't mean none appear in the match. I find it hard to believe that no-one on the team had played a remotely interesting game of Dominion in the last several weeks that didn't include a village or a throne-variant. Playtesting, and if necessary, tweaking, such boards to create a variety of games for the championship match will produce a set of games that better reflects the competitors' skills in different areas of Dominion play, not just engine building.

As a final note, if the playtest/board selection team would consider a player who hovers between levels 35-38 on the new leaderboard, I'd be happy to put my money time where my mouth is and help out for the next season's championship.
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2015, 01:23:02 pm »
0

My point is that maybe not only playtesting, but the players themselves are biased towards engine-play in kingdoms where it is a close decision.

The same happened with the Rebuild board I submitted that was used in the Season 10 Champion's match, which funkdoc referenced above. The playtesters found that Rebuild was best, but both players went for the Wharf-City engine. The board still generated a lot of interesting discussion and commentary.

JW: Beggar, Oasis, Shanty Town, Swindler, Baron, City, Hunting Party, Rebuild, Treasury, Wharf (Provinces/Estates)

In comparison, in Season 9 I submitted a kingdom where there was no typical deck-drawing engine since Sir Destry was the only draw and Worker's Village the only engine-relevant nonterminal. Mic went for the Silver flood with a Trader/Swindler opening while Stef opened Remake/Swindler and thinned down to a deck that played multiple Swindlers most turns (and won). The game went many turns and there were lots of interesting decisions to make.

JW: Transmute, Great Hall, Swindler, Trade Route, Bishop, Remake, Trader, Worker's Village, Knights, Fairgrounds, Provinces/Estates
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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2015, 01:25:13 pm »
+4

1. Simulators and bots are pretty good at playing Money-ish games.
2. Simulators and bots are terrible at playing engines.
3. The simulators and bots currently available aren't very smart. They just follow scripts.

draw any conclusions you like.

--

I'm not saying you don't have any decisions on a Money-ish board, or that they aren't interesting. They just don't have as much influence on your winrate as your decisions in engines do. Off course you can completely throw the game, and a level 10 player will probably do that almost every time against a level 50 player. But a level 35 player should be able to win around 40% of the Money-ish games against a level 50 player. That same level 35 player probably doesn't win >10% of the games in a Black Market engine.

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I think "engine" is a very poorly chosen term to describe a board or strategy. It creates the idea that "all these boards the same" and therefore there wasn't all that much variety. *if* you want to classify all the dominion boards (I personally have no interest in doing so), you're certainly going to need a whole bunch of subtypes for this concept of "engine". I considered the boards that we played in the last championship match both interesting and different, as I did in the previous matches I played.

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I know I sometimes misplay boards dramatically. Sometimes I try to build something where I shouldn't, sometimes I go money-ish where I shouldn't. The latter is quite rare for me, the former not so much. There are also some very good players that have exactly the opposite problem. WanderingWinder is probably the best example of that, especially if you look at some of his older videos. The mountebank-gardens board mentioned above by drsteelhammer is a good example of where I try to build where I shouldn't.

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I think the way we play this final now is better suited to select the better player than playing 6 random boards. I also think it makes for a better viewing experience. I'm not saying it's ideal at all, it's just the best we've been able to come up with given the constraints. Playing 60 random boards would be far better than what we do now for selecting the better player.
Recording them all and broadcasting the six most interesting ones would probably be a nice viewing experience. But playing 60 boards is not very doable.
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AdamH

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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #23 on: December 14, 2015, 01:29:39 pm »
+3

I find it hard to believe that no-one on the team had played a remotely interesting game of Dominion in the last several weeks that didn't include a village or a throne-variant. Playtesting, and if necessary, tweaking, such boards to create a variety of games for the championship match will produce a set of games that better reflects the competitors' skills in different areas of Dominion play, not just engine building.

We do a lot of playtesting already. Tweaking or adding boards to the mix isn't exactly the kind of rule we can just make up. There has been a good amount of debate on what kind of kingdoms we want to accept in certain seasons: every few seasons we might choose to do designed kingdoms but for the most part it's randomly generated boards that people find interesting.

Early on, I would submit boards I liked, and other playtesters have done this in the past. My matches were usually streamed and watched by A-division players so it took a lot of mine out of the running, but whenever we did get an entry by one of the playtesters, it was pretty awkward to try and fairly compare it to the other entries. I don't like submitting my own boards anymore just so this can be avoided.

My goal when making these broadcasts is to get people to watch them and get people to enjoy watching them (so more people will watch them). Sure, a lot of people enjoy watching competitive Dominion at the highest level so I want to preserve the integrity of the competition. That's why we take measures to avoid kingdoms that either finalist has seen and why we avoid kingdoms that can cause a crash or other problems with the client. It's why I continue to be so critical of my commentary and all that stuff.

It's not the best thing in the world to get lots of submissions from people who want to see their kingdoms played by the best people in the world and then to tell them that we added in our own because the pool of what we got wasn't good enough. Even if we changed the rules so we could do that, I still wouldn't want to do that. There are problems you run into with how many engines do you want? How many big money games? How do you justify that the number of each of these things somehow preserves what you see on full-random boards? How do you define those things? It's much easier for me, in my position, to say that anyone who is unhappy with what came out of the kingdom selection process should work to change what goes into it and I'll just be as transparent as possible about how it's done.

I would rather the matches reflect what the people in the community want rather than my own (or any individual's) ideas on how it should be -- if you want to change it, you'll have to get the community behind you; and so far I've heard so many different things and not much agreement on any of them.

If a format change is what people want, then we'll get it; though I don't think we're anywhere close to that right now. There's no reason we can't also start submitting the boards we like, though. Submissions can be sent to the LeagueKingdoms account at any time!
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popsofctown

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Re: what makes a good non-engine game?
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2015, 06:00:56 pm »
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The main problem with evry board being an engine board is that it removes the strategical decision of wether you want to build an egine or not.

While that's true, that is at most one yes/no decision.  It's usually better to rely on a kingdom providing multiple decisions for skill to win out the match, in particular because of the high likelihood that both players agree on the yes/no decision.

Decks that provide weird tweener BM/engine/what is this? opportunities are an exception, and those are usually good.  A lot of times it's truly binary though, like you're extremely rarely gonna be able to incorporate Embassy in an engine strat but it offers a powerful monolithic strategy if you know where embassy ranks in the BM monolith ranking and compare it to the engine on the board and decide it edges out.  Which is pretty great apart from when the opponent makes the same decision, and you rather naturally agree how many Embassies are appropriate for the strategy and naturally agree you want Silver over all the 3-4$ terminals.

I would argue the ideal championship BM board shouldn't offer an engine at all, as there is too much risk of players agreeing on it.  Instead it should present an awful lot of BM strategies that subtly interact with eachother in various ways and make it unlikely there is agreement in how to play the BM.
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