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Author Topic: The Best Dominion Cards List 2012 Ed.1: $4 cards  (Read 36287 times)

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WanderingWinder

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2012, 03:40:27 pm »
+1

Really surprised to see spy (my rank #43) winning out over situationally useful cards like bureaucrat (my rank #33), thief (#39) and feast (#27). Buying a spy is almost the same as skipping your buy. You haven't made your deck any weaker by adding a spy but you haven't made your deck any stronger either. In fact, if you have any kind of terminal draw, buying a spy hurts you more than it helps. The attack is at best a weaker bureaucrat that can't be chained and buying a catnip for the sake of buying a catnip is almost always a stupid idea. If it let you look at the top card before drawing it, it might have some use but I honestly can't think of a use for spies when vineyards, conspirators or peddlers aren't on the board.
It's quite good in TR and KC chains.

toaster

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2012, 03:43:18 pm »
+1

Well, you've already listed 3 great use cases for spies, but more broadly any cantrip based deck (and there are many variations on this theme) benefits from spy.  It's not generally the "killer card" to any deck, but it's often the best of the 4 or less cards later in the game.
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rinkworks

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2012, 03:54:22 pm »
0

Really surprised to see spy (my rank #43) winning out over situationally useful cards like bureaucrat (my rank #33), thief (#39) and feast (#27). Buying a spy is almost the same as skipping your buy. You haven't made your deck any weaker by adding a spy but you haven't made your deck any stronger either. In fact, if you have any kind of terminal draw, buying a spy hurts you more than it helps. The attack is at best a weaker bureaucrat that can't be chained and buying a catnip for the sake of buying a catnip is almost always a stupid idea. If it let you look at the top card before drawing it, it might have some use but I honestly can't think of a use for spies when vineyards, conspirators or peddlers aren't on the board.

This seems really harsh.  It may not be a great card, but it gives you a shot at improving your next hand and a shot at hurting your opponents'.  The very real possibility of failing to do any of those things is significant, but not so much that it renders it "almost" useless.  And it can be chained:  it can be chained right up until the first one fails.

Even in the absence of combos, a Spy or two can tip the balance:  note how a Sea Hag discarding your opponent's key opening buy can win the game for you outright.  Why is it strong and swingy when a Sea Hag discards a power card, but weak when a Spy does it?
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WanderingWinder

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2012, 03:57:44 pm »
+1

In trying to optimize Big Money/spy, I find that it's optimal to play... straight up BM. It helps, though, when colonies are involved.

jotheonah

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2012, 03:57:55 pm »
0

Really surprised to see spy (my rank #43) winning out over situationally useful cards like bureaucrat (my rank #33), thief (#39) and feast (#27). Buying a spy is almost the same as skipping your buy. You haven't made your deck any weaker by adding a spy but you haven't made your deck any stronger either. In fact, if you have any kind of terminal draw, buying a spy hurts you more than it helps. The attack is at best a weaker bureaucrat that can't be chained and buying a catnip for the sake of buying a catnip is almost always a stupid idea. If it let you look at the top card before drawing it, it might have some use but I honestly can't think of a use for spies when vineyards, conspirators or peddlers aren't on the board.

Did you mean to say catnip instead of cantrip ... twice?

Thief is pretty strong in 4p gardens games. No, seriously.

I tried this in an IRL Gardens game with no +buy and no Workshop variants and I can vouch for this.
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olneyce

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #30 on: January 11, 2012, 04:19:11 pm »
0

Echoing a few others, this is a very solid list for the bottom $4s.  11 of my bottom 12 are included here, and the only outliers at the top are Spy (which I think is unfairly maligned, and is a solid - though not great - card) and Walled Village, which I had at 29, and probably overrated.

I think Navigator and Bureaucrat are both better than they got ranked here, but neither is really strong enough to raise much of a fuss about. 

It is interesting to look at the outlier rankings and try to figure out why people rate certain cards so differently.
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jotheonah

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #31 on: January 11, 2012, 04:22:44 pm »
0

I think I rated Walled Village dead last.  It's a village you can have back if you didn't use it, pretty much. Well, ok, but when I put villages in my deck it's because I want to use them a lot. A much bigger problem is not drawing a village when I need one than drawing a village when I don't need one. It's already self-replacing so that's not really that much of a problem at all.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2012, 04:25:06 pm »
+2

This is a pretty reasonable bottom third, but I have a few comments:

Ranking bureaucrat or navigator last is pretty crazy. Both belong in the bottom third, but nowhere near last. The strength of bureaucrat has been shown recently in a few threads. In particular, it's good with big money and with cheap VP cards.

Navigator is not a top opener, and it's usually better to open with something that trashes, attacks, or gains VPs, but outside of those cards, you can't do much better than Navigator. There was a thread on the main blog about openers odds of getting you $5+ cards on turns 3-4, but what they don't talk about is the odds of getting and playing those cards by turn 5. Navigator has pretty good odds of letting you play a $5+ card by turn 5, and even a reasonable chance of letting you play it by turn 4. If you liberally use the discard ability, it can let you play a key card earlier and more often than your opponent. For example, in sim, if you take the mountebank bot and add in a navigator to one player and a moneylender to the other, which do you think wins? Navigator 51-44. How about navigator vs feast? Navigator 49-46.

I also don't get how walled village can be ranked significanly worse than farming village. I agree that it is worse, but at least 85% of the time, they are functionally identical. Take any board in which you would go for an engine involving farming village. Now if that card were walled village instead, would that cause you to choose a different strategy? Most of the time, the answer is "no". With that being the case, ranking walled village 5+ spots lower than farming village simply doesn't make sense.

Pirate ship gets a good amount of debate and the variance in ranking is insane, but I think that at the end of the day, it's in about the right place. It isn't as good as it looks when you first read it, so newer players will overbuy it, giving it bad stats on council room, but I think there are still a reasonable number of situations in which the best strategy features pirate ship (even in 2-player). And the simple fact that it exists in a kingdom can affect your strategy even if you aren't going for it.

How feast got a #7 vote blows my mind. It is so rarely better than silver...
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Kore

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #33 on: January 11, 2012, 04:27:44 pm »
0

Really surprised to see spy (my rank #43) winning out over situationally useful cards like bureaucrat (my rank #33), thief (#39) and feast (#27). Buying a spy is almost the same as skipping your buy. You haven't made your deck any weaker by adding a spy but you haven't made your deck any stronger either. In fact, if you have any kind of terminal draw, buying a spy hurts you more than it helps. The attack is at best a weaker bureaucrat that can't be chained and buying a catnip for the sake of buying a catnip is almost always a stupid idea. If it let you look at the top card before drawing it, it might have some use but I honestly can't think of a use for spies when vineyards, conspirators or peddlers aren't on the board.

This seems really harsh.  It may not be a great card, but it gives you a shot at improving your next hand and a shot at hurting your opponents'.  The very real possibility of failing to do any of those things is significant, but not so much that it renders it "almost" useless.  And it can be chained:  it can be chained right up until the first one fails.

Even in the absence of combos, a Spy or two can tip the balance:  note how a Sea Hag discarding your opponent's key opening buy can win the game for you outright.  Why is it strong and swingy when a Sea Hag discards a power card, but weak when a Spy does it?


It may be harsh but I think spy deserves it. The value of a spy to your deck is roughly equilivent to ( the # of dead cards in your deck) * (average card value) assuming that you never buy any terminal card draw which is a major assumption. That means that spy improves your starting deck by less than if you had bought a copper! (not 100% certain on my math but it seems right). You might say that this is stupid, we already know that spy is a bad opener but it becomes more valuable later when your ACV increases. But remember that the ratio of dead cards decreases as you buy better cards so the chance of spy hitting something bad in either yours or your opponent's deck also decreases. The fact that it's a cantrip (not catnip ) that sometimes fails when chained doesn't help it either.

I did overlook spy as part of a kings court/terminal drawer combo which it is indeed worthwhile to buy a few spies. Kings Court is a major game changer though and can make alot of cards better than they could be alone.

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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #34 on: January 11, 2012, 04:35:25 pm »
+4

^Of course spy is bad if you ignore the attack. You can do the same thing with any attack card... Sea hag makes your deck worse, does that make it bad card?
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toaster

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #35 on: January 11, 2012, 04:37:01 pm »
+1

Evaluating the usefulness of spy relative to one's opening deck seems silly...of course cycling your deck isn't useful until you have something to cycle it to.  As for your later comment, it should be pointed out that you *want* spy to hit your opponent's good cards...so I'm not quite sure what you're getting at there.
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chwhite

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #36 on: January 11, 2012, 04:38:54 pm »
+2

I'll echo HiveMind and olneyce in saying that Bureaucrat and Navigator both belong here, but a couple spots higher than they are; I think both of them were definitely improved by Hinterlands, not just in perception (sifting and Silver getting its day in the sun vs. trashing and chaining) but in specific combos (esp. Tunnel for Navigator and Silk Road for Bureaucrat).  I appear to have ranked Nomad Camp above those two, which I'd probably take back, but perhaps not; those three cards plus Treasure Map are all roughly equal strength in my mind.

There is no way whatsoever Walled Village should be last, or frankly even in the bottom 10 (I had it at #31 FWIW).  Yes, it is usually just an expensive Village, and it compares poorly to other +2 Action cards most of the time.  If you're going BM it's a bad buy, but that's true of nearly every Village.  But if the rest of the kingdom calls for chaining, I'll happily pay the extra $1 more often than I'd try to make a marginal engine work with Native Village or Shanty Town.  And Walled Village is in fact better than plain Village in the specific case of a mostly-money deck with a couple linchpin terminals, Torturer being the prime example.

Spy... Spy is never awesomesauce but it is very often better than Silver after the second reshuffle: not just Vineyards and Conspirators, but Goons and Colonies and Minions and many other decks will prefer Spy to Silver with their midgame $4s.  And the attack is mild, but it can sting a bit when chained.  A mediocre card, sure, but a very far cry from the bottom of this list.

...

As for Thief's usefulness in 4p Gardens games... I'm willing to accept it in the abstract though I've never really seen it; searching Council Room I only have one instance of a multiplayer game where my opponents bought Thief, and I won that one despite losing four Gold.  I see 16 2-player games where one of us bought Thief (out of a few hundred where it was available): 2 times we both bought it (and they were split); 12 times my opponents bought it and I won, once I bought it and lost, and a grand total of once my opponent bought it and won.  Gardens were in fact involved in that one game, but I think the bigger problem was that I let them get an 8-0 lead in Grand Markets.  So I'm not going to credit that loss to Thief. :P

I think that even if you folks are right about this additional niche for Thief (and I guess you probably are), it doesn't change the fact it's still the worst card in the game, because what's second-worst? 
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 04:52:20 pm by chwhite »
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Kore

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #37 on: January 11, 2012, 04:43:07 pm »
0

If sea hag's attack was a weaker version of fortune teller, it certainly would be a bad card.

To put spy's power into perspective, imagine it was an alternate version of fortune teller that gave you your average card value instead of +2$ and the attack only worked ~%50 of the time. Would you spend more to buy it over fortune teller which is already one of the weaker $3?
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #38 on: January 11, 2012, 04:46:59 pm »
+1

If sea hag's attack was a weaker version of fortune teller, it certainly would be a bad card.
I read this as: "If you replace the strongest attack ability in the game with a weak one, it certainly would be a bad card."

Quote
To put spy's power into perspective, imagine it was an alternate version of fortune teller that gave you your average card value instead of +2$ and the attack only worked ~%50 of the time. Would you spend more to buy it over fortune teller which is already one of the weaker $3?
This is a misrepresentation of why spy does. You're leaving out the +1 action, as well as the fact that fortune teller's attack can go very wrong, while spy's is optional, so it can't go terribly wrong.

Spy's attack compares much better to oracle. Spy:Oracle::Familiar:Witch. It's a bit harder to buy, but a cantrip instead of a 2-card drawer.
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rinkworks

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #39 on: January 11, 2012, 04:57:30 pm »
+1

It may be harsh but I think spy deserves it. The value of a spy to your deck is roughly equilivent to ( the # of dead cards in your deck) * (average card value) assuming that you never buy any terminal card draw which is a major assumption. That means that spy improves your starting deck by less than if you had bought a copper! (not 100% certain on my math but it seems right).

This is true of Village and Menagerie as well.  (Actually, it's more true of Village and Menagerie, since you're ignoring the attack portion of Spy, which provides a benefit you're not even considering here.)  Does that make these cards worse than Copper too?

You don't evaluate a card's power by how bad it is when you misuse it.  How bad it is as an opener is not just a minor consideration, it is no consideration.  It's irrelevant, and the fact that it anti-synergizes with terminal draw is fairly irrelevant, too.  You simply don't use the card that way.

Quote
But remember that the ratio of dead cards decreases as you buy better cards so the chance of spy hitting something bad in either yours or your opponent's deck also decreases.

Then Spy retains its utility throughout the game.  You want to hit your opponents' good cards, so you can skip them.  Later on, after you're both choking with green, the Spy's attack stops working as well just in time for it to do a better job helping your own deck out again.

Quote
The fact that it's a cantrip (not catnip ) that sometimes fails when chained doesn't help it either.

I agree, but again, not a persuasive argument:  Menagerie, Apothecary, and Cartographer are all cantrips that can fail, too.  They fail less often, but then again I don't dispute that these are all better cards than Spy.

Quote
I did overlook spy as part of a kings court/terminal drawer combo which it is indeed worthwhile to buy a few spies. Kings Court is a major game changer though and can make alot of cards better than they could be alone.

This, at least, I agree with.  King's Court changes things up in a big way, and Spy is simply one among a great many whose power similarly explodes.

To put spy's power into perspective, imagine it was an alternate version of fortune teller that gave you your average card value instead of +2$ and the attack only worked ~%50 of the time. Would you spend more to buy it over fortune teller which is already one of the weaker $3?

Fortune Teller is a terminal.  That fact is a factor in how good a card it is overall.  Spy a cantrip, which means its attack doesn't have to be as strong for the card to be competitive or even superior as a whole.  So once again, an extremely unfair argument.

Would I spend more money on a version of Fortune Teller that didn't give me +$2 but did give me +1 Card, +1 Action?  Unless I had a lot of spare actions, like in a Fishing Village deck, boy I sure would.  Spy, by contrast, has a (usually) weaker attack in exchange for a little cycling power in your own deck.  Sounds about right to me.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 05:09:16 pm by rinkworks »
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brokoli

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #40 on: January 11, 2012, 05:21:03 pm »
0

Coppersmith :  :'( I love this card. Coppersmith is sometimes incredibly good. I know 90% of the times coppersmith is weak, but the last 10%, it's awesome. So awesome, that I think it doesn't deserve this spot. I don't remember, but I think It's me who ranked it at 16.
Pirate ship : In a 4p game, Pirate ship should be the best 4$ card of the list. But even in a 2p game Pirate ship can be often a viable strategy. However, it's annoying...
Treasure map : Firstly, I thought it was excellent. After I realize how swingy it is. But I don't think Treasure map is that bad.
Navigator : The only card of Dominion I never understood. I don't remember any games where he helped. But, as an action silver, seems not so bad.
Talisman : I don't think Talisman help a lot for conspirators chains, but I like talisman. It's a great buy to get villages+, caravans or good 4$ cards you need in quantity. Really, Talisman is quite good.
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rinkworks

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #41 on: January 11, 2012, 05:30:11 pm »
+8

In rereading the debate over Spy, it occurs to me that a lot of Kore's objections about Spy are focused on individual pieces of the card, rather than the card overall.  And in realizing that, I am reminded of a lot of the arguments new players have against Masquerade, and also the reaction a lot of us had to Jack of All Trades when Hinterlands first came out.

Cards that do a lot of little things can be grossly underestimated.  They're easy to pick on, too, simply by looking at each effect in turn and explaining -- correctly! -- how weak it is.  Masquerade only draws 2 cards and is terminal.  Just like Moat, which is a bad card!  Masquerade passes cards around the table, which is cute but rarely does more than play hot potato with Estates.  Ineffectual!  Masquerade only trashes one card at a time, twice as slow as Steward and four times as slow as Chapel.  What's there to like?

And yet the combination of these three features make it a power card, a fact borne out by experience and statistics.

Jack of All Trades similarly does four different things, none of them exciting in isolation.  And yet by doing them all in combination, Jack is one of the most powerful cards in the game, a fact also borne out by experience and statistics.

Spy is admittedly not a power card.  It belongs in the bottom third of the $4 card list.  But nowhere near the bottom 5, a fact borne out by experience and statistics.  But it's easy to dissect and pick apart, because it does no individual thing well:  It's a cantrip, but that alone is useful only in specific combos.  It inspects your deck, but fails a lot of the time and only skips one bad card when it succeeds.  It attacks, but fails a lot of the time and only skips a card when it succeeds.

But...the combination of all these things is so much better than any of the individual effects are in isolation.  Often still not worth bothering with, I grant you, but the situations where it's a good buy are greater than a dissection of the card's elements would suggest.  It's a very subtle thing, how a number of small things can add up.
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rinkworks

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #42 on: January 11, 2012, 05:40:27 pm »
+5

Talisman : I don't think Talisman help a lot for conspirators chains, but I like talisman. It's a great buy to get villages+, caravans or good 4$ cards you need in quantity. Really, Talisman is quite good.

It has its uses, but the thing about Talisman is that when you bought it, you could have bought whatever card you want to double instead.  And that, to me, is really where its weakness shows.  If we all started out with a Talisman in our starting decks, then yeah, it would be terrific.  But since you have to actually obtain the Talisman before you can use it, it sucks a lot of its power away.  For example:

Shuffle 1: Open Talisman.
Shuffle 2: Use Talisman to get two X's.

Had you gotten an X instead of a Talisman on Shuffle 1, then bought another X on Shuffle 2, then not only would you have the same number of X's in your deck at that point, but you'd have already been able to use an X as well.  So at this point, Talisman is still losing.

To make Talisman work, you have to use it at least twice, and even then it's not necessarily an improvement:  you have one more X than you'd have had if you'd skipped Talisman, but you've paid for it by playing fewer X's in the meantime.  So you probably need to use it three times AND have a legitimate use for six X's (because otherwise using Talisman that many times isn't really an improvement) for Talisman to be a good strategy.  Complicating things is the fact that you have no guarantee that your Talismans will turn up on a turn where you have enough money to buy what you want to duplicate AND not so much that you wouldn't rather buy a single $5+ card instead.

It helps if you're shooting for a megaturn, in which case the delayed plays of X's don't hurt as much.  If the idea is to play your X's early, then Talisman is a bad bet.  All told, Talisman has its place, but its place is a very small one.
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Mean Mr Mustard

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #43 on: January 11, 2012, 06:03:13 pm »
+1

I think there is as skill progression that most players go through in regards to reading boards with these lower-tier cards.  In the beginning they look great, then with some research or play experience they seem very bad, and are ignored and written off.  Once the player has progressed this far, perhaps the lvl 20-30 range, they have reached a pretty safe plateau.

To progress further the player must begin experimenting with and using these cards in the situations where they are very good. 
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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #44 on: January 11, 2012, 06:10:07 pm »
0

Would it be true to say that when silver is a poor card the spy is generally a good card? This immediately skips a problem faced by a navigator, say, that it always has to be more useful than silver in your deck.
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toaster

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #45 on: January 11, 2012, 06:19:23 pm »
0

To progress further the player must begin experimenting with and using these cards in the situations where they are very good.

I think that's an excellent point, and definitely where I am in the development of my game (low to mid 30's).  I've gotten pretty good at identifying "trap" cards and avoiding them, now I need to work on identifying the situations where they're actually good. 

By way of comparison, there are 21(!) cards that I buy in less than 10% of games.  For WanderingWinder, for example, the number is 2 cards.

I should note that among those cards I don't play much, I don't view all as traps...some (like Horn of Plenty and Vineyard), I know are good but haven't figured out how to play well.
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chwhite

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #46 on: January 11, 2012, 08:32:55 pm »
0

So apparently there's one card not in this bottom third which got a last-place vote, and I am racking my brain trying to think what missing card could conceivably be considered that bad.  I'm kinda hoping someone gave JoaT a last-place rank just for the lulz, but I fear it's going to be something criminally underrated like Cutpurse.
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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #47 on: January 11, 2012, 08:37:51 pm »
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Funny how theory's original worst-of list had Cutpurse at #2, and Ironworks #4.
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DrHades

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #48 on: January 11, 2012, 09:18:44 pm »
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So apparently there's one card not in this bottom third which got a last-place vote, and I am racking my brain trying to think what missing card could conceivably be considered that bad.  I'm kinda hoping someone gave JoaT a last-place rank just for the lulz, but I fear it's going to be something criminally underrated like Cutpurse.

Probably Cutpurse or maybe someone really doesn't like green cards so he put Silk Road/Gardens there (that would be badass)...
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Anon79

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Re: THE Dominion Card List(s): $4 cards Part 2/3 posted
« Reply #49 on: January 11, 2012, 10:34:47 pm »
+1

So apparently there's one card not in this bottom third which got a last-place vote, and I am racking my brain trying to think what missing card could conceivably be considered that bad.  I'm kinda hoping someone gave JoaT a last-place rank just for the lulz, but I fear it's going to be something criminally underrated like Cutpurse.
My guess is Throne Room. Alternatively, I've seen someone repeatedly play Mining Village -> trash -> play 2/3 coppers -> buy a Mining Village, so if he submitted a ranking...
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