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dedicateddan

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Dominion Fundamentals
« on: June 17, 2016, 07:59:13 pm »
+24

Dominion Fundamentals
By: Dan Brooks

There are a lot of great articles on f.ds and I've been meaning to write one for a while now. The focus is less on particular card interactions and more on developing, selecting, and evaluating plans. This is followed by some practical tips on deck tracking and learning from previous games. I hope that you enjoy the read!

Have a Plan
First and foremost, have a plan.

As a simple example, consider a board with Hunting Party and terminal actions. Here, you might open Militia/Silver, pick up a bunch of Hunting Parties and a Gold before hammering the Provinces.

This type of deck only wants one terminal and the choice of terminal might depend on how the game plays out. Facing a library opening, for example, Monument might be better than Militia.

Selecting a Plan
There are many possible plans for each board of Dominion. Sometimes one plan is clearly stronger than the others, and some cards are strong enough that they will work themselves into whatever plan you elect to play.

Even in these games, marginal decisions arise on how to open, which cards to buy, and when to start greening. For these spots, I propose the following principle:

When in doubt, maximize payload

Payload
Loosely defined, payload is anything that your deck does. This includes +coins, +buys, gains, attacks and durations, with draw and +actions as enablers.

There are a multitude of benefits from adding payload.

High payload decks grow exponentially and can rapidly adapt their buys to the current state of the game. Going into the endgame, they have pile control and threaten to pick up a large number of points in a single turn.

The fewer players in a game, the more important endgame control becomes. So, in two player games, playing a high payload deck is especially critical.

Building the Engine

Draw as much of your deck as possible

First, take a look at the board and identify the most powerful actions. In the early game, trashing and junking are particularly important.

Consider the most expensive action that you would like to pick up. Build the thinnest deck that can reliably purchase that action, picking up a Silver if necessary.

When in doubt, favor the actions that were votest strongest by the Qvist rankings:
http://wiki.dominionstrategy.com/index.php/List_of_Cards_by_Qvist_Rankings

After you've purchased a powerful action or two, draw as much as your deck as possible. The traditional method for doing this is trashing aggressively. Going straight for draw can also be viable, particularly powerful draw like Wharf or Lost Arts/Smithy.

In any case, maximize the fraction of the deck that you see each turn. Often this means cycling through the deck while minimizing stop cards. Warehouse, for example, gets you three cards closer to the relevant actions, whereas a silver leaves you one card farther.

Then, grow exponentially

Once you are able to draw deck, continue to add payload - coins, buys, gains, attacks, along with the necessary draw, until you reach the endgame.

The Endgame
The goal of dominion is to end the game, either by emptying provinces or piles, while you have a point lead.

Payload helps greatly with pile control, so it's generally desirable to build for as long as possible before greening.

Piles running low (or the VP pile running low!) are generally triggers to start thinking about greening.

The key questions are:
1. Can I win this turn?
2. How do I prevent my opponent from winning next turn?
3. Can I threaten a win for next turn?
4. How do I best set up for future turns?

Deck Tracking
Making good decisions, particularly during the endgame is contigent on having clear information.

The simplest method for deck tracking is to note changes to your deck, then use the supply and trash to keep track of your opponent's.

For example, "this will be my second village, there are 7 in supply and none in the trash, so my opponent must have 1."

With a little bit of practice, you can use this method to count coins and buys in the end-game, as well as tracking deck composition to fine tune the building phase.

On Money
In additional to draw-the-deck engines, dominion features money decks, which aim to hit 8 to buy provinces, and slog decks which aim to buy alt-VP over an extended number of turns.

On some boards, these decks have favorable matchups against engine. For example, on a board without +buy, a money strategy might be able to outrace engine on provinces. And if strong alt-VP like Duke is on the board, a slog might outlast the money deck.

However, on boards with trashing, draw, alt-VP, and attacks, engine has a lot of options against money. Commonly, the engine builds as the money deck picks up a few provinces. Then, the engine adds a few attacks as the money deck stalls on green. Finally, the engine dips into alt-VP to generate points in a few swoops before ending the game on piles with a small point lead.

For this reason, draw-your-deck engines tend to have favorable matchups against money, unless a key component is missing. Sometimes this means there's not enough trashing to build a consistent engine. Other times, a village might be missing or terminal draw.

When selecting a strategy, first look for the highest payload deck. Then, look for decks that might compete with it

After the Game

Postmatch discussion is a great way to learn about the game. Consider questions such as:
-What was my plan?
-What as my opponent's?
-How were they executed?
-Any surprises during the game
-How would I play the board next time?

Game logs are are also a great resource for review, and are available at http://gokosalvager.com/logsearch

Win or lose, maintaining a positive attitude can help keep you interested and engaged after the game

The same goes for interacting with great community over at f.ds

Thanks for reading! I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on dominion fundamentals.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 05:45:51 pm by dedicateddan »
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2016, 08:04:06 pm »
+4

One thing that I have found is not just have a plan, but stick to the plan. A good way to lose is changing strategy halfway through the game. It might work on occasion, but generally it won't.
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dedicateddan

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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2016, 08:12:47 pm »
0

One thing that I have found is not just have a plan, but stick to the plan. A good way to lose is changing strategy halfway through the game. It might work on occasion, but generally it won't.

Absolutely. The games that I mess up the most usually involve having one plan turns 1-4, another plan turns 5-8, and another plan turns 9+

Often, I commit to thinning/drawing early, without knowing exactly what the payload will look like. Then, depending on how the game develops, the exact payload can be tuned on a game-by-game basis
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2016, 08:54:32 pm »
+1

One thing that I have found is not just have a plan, but stick to the plan. A good way to lose is changing strategy halfway through the game. It might work on occasion, but generally it won't.

That only works for 2 player games. In multiplayer games you sometimes need to have a plan A and a plan B, probably a plan C too, and should change plan when your opponents drive the game in a particular direction. There's no point trying to build a deck with six minions when your opponents already have three each.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2016, 10:00:32 pm »
+2

Great advice!  My only criticism here is that beginner to intermediate players might not know what a plan looks like, much less how to select it.  They won't realize that 1 Militia is just as good as 2 in a Hunting Party deck, or that Lost Arts synergizes with Smithy, or the countless other known tricks and multi-card relationships and stuff.

Also, yes, a deck with a high payload is desirable but how do you get to that point?
First, draw deck. Then, grow exponentially
Um, ok.. but how do I draw my deck??

And also..
The key questions are:
1. Can I win this turn?
2. How do I prevent my opponent from winning next turn?
3. Can I threaten a win for next turn?
4. How do I best set up for future turns?

Again, these are very hard questions to answer (not to mention even expert players sometimes just don't realize they can win on piles).

I guess what I'm saying is I'd like to hear your insight on how to arrive at the goals that you point out, not just what the goals are.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2016, 01:46:59 am »
+1

Everything you listed, I never realized was a thing, but di every game. Especially post game discussion. Which is especially interesting in my family, since we play each board twice.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2016, 07:13:06 am »
+1

Quote
In any case, cycling accelerates the early game trashing process. Warehouse, for example, gets you three cards closer to the relevant actions.
I think you need to say more about that. It's a very important point and sometimes is really the key.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2016, 10:45:44 am »
+2

One thing that I have found is not just have a plan, but stick to the plan.

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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2016, 03:16:05 pm »
+1

I kind of want to compile information about all general strategy and write it into a big article.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2016, 01:53:43 am »
0

I kind of want to compile information about all general strategy and write it into a big article.
Good luck with that. I'd help, but I'm not sure if I'd be very useful.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2016, 02:48:26 am »
0

I kind of want to compile information about all general strategy and write it into a big article.

This article is already big enough. Just compile a list of good articles with links to them (not sure if that's already a thing on the wiki).
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2016, 02:29:00 pm »
0

I kind of want to compile information about all general strategy and write it into a big article.
Good luck with that. I'd help, but I'm not sure if I'd be very useful.

Don't be so down on yourself, dude. You truly learn when you can teach something to someone else.

I kind of want to compile information about all general strategy and write it into a big article.

This article is already big enough. Just compile a list of good articles with links to them (not sure if that's already a thing on the wiki).

I could do that as well. I want to condense the information from all articles into one mega big article.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2016, 02:46:18 pm »
+2

I want to condense the information from all articles into one mega big article.

The problem with mega big articles is that they tend to be tl;dr.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2016, 03:15:28 pm »
0

I kind of want to compile information about all general strategy and write it into a big article.
Good luck with that. I'd help, but I'm not sure if I'd be very useful.

Don't be so down on yourself, dude. You truly learn when you can teach something to someone else.

Not trying to be. Simply saying that I don't think I've had enough experience with the game to really contribute anything you don't already know.
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dedicateddan

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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2016, 06:03:07 pm »
0

Um, ok.. but how do I draw my deck??

Good point! I've added a 'building the engine' section to the article, focused on "drawing as much of your deck as possible."

1. Can I win this turn?
2. How do I prevent my opponent from winning next turn?
3. Can I threaten a win for next turn?
4. How do I best set up for future turns?

Again, these are very hard questions to answer (not to mention even expert players sometimes just don't realize they can win on piles).

I guess what I'm saying is I'd like to hear your insight on how to arrive at the goals that you point out, not just what the goals are.

Count your buys. Count the cards left in supply. Check if you can win. Count your opponent's buys. See how they might be able to win next turn. See if you can threaten a win next turn. See which buys apply the most pressure and give you the most options for next turn. Stare at the supply piles for a minute, then buy something.
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dedicateddan

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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2016, 06:05:01 pm »
+1

I kind of want to compile information about all general strategy and write it into a big article.

This might be a good starting point:
https://www.reddit.com/r/dominion/comments/4bc3xi/list_of_dominion_articles/
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2016, 02:05:12 pm »
0

Of course it is good to have a plan but your decisions are sometimes contingent upon those of the other players. Not to mention that there is stuff you simply just realize during the game like certain combos or the power of a particular card.
Of course this is moot if you have played the game a zillion times but then you do not really need strategy advice in the first place.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2016, 05:12:26 am »
+1

Originally, this article was going to be two articles, one on planning and one on execution

The plan is simplest enough (play the biggest engine that you can find!) that I decided to merge the two into one article

The idea is that you can separate planning and execution in the game

After a game, I like to compare the plan I had coming into the game with the plan I would have if I were to play the board again
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2016, 05:18:52 am »
0

The idea is that you can separate planning and execution in the game.
Nope. If you do not have a lot of playing experience you learn during the game. And even if you have a lot of playing experience and do not forsee the rough outlines of the game during setup you gotta sometimes react to what the other players are doing.
For example in a Kingdom without any trashers besides Ambassador, if the other player buys a non-Ambassador, you buy an Ambassador and he buys anoter non-Ambassador the incentive to buy a second Ambassador is smaller than in the case in which the other player bought an Ambassador during the first two turns.
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2016, 03:42:55 pm »
+1

a common cause of my losses lately has been trying to build the biggest engine that's theoretically possible on the board, without respecting attacks/lack of trashing enough.

like in the 4-card kingdom of village, smithy, horn of plenty & embassy (well, let's add like counting house to make horn work)...i'll try for the horn megaturn and i'll get bodied by the boring crap.

this is the sort of thing that deserves an article of its own, but i mentioned it since there are plenty of exceptions to the whole "maximize payload" deal

otherwise, great stuff and thank you! =)
« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 03:44:33 pm by funkdoc »
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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2016, 04:33:57 pm »
+2

a common cause of my losses lately has been trying to build the biggest engine that's theoretically possible on the board, without respecting attacks/lack of trashing enough.

like in the 4-card kingdom of village, smithy, horn of plenty & embassy (well, let's add like counting house to make horn work)...i'll try for the horn megaturn and i'll get bodied by the boring crap.

this is the sort of thing that deserves an article of its own, but i mentioned it since there are plenty of exceptions to the whole "maximize payload" deal

otherwise, great stuff and thank you! =)
If it doesn't win it isn't an engine.
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dedicateddan

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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2016, 06:28:20 pm »
0

like in the 4-card kingdom of village, smithy, horn of plenty & embassy (well, let's add like counting house to make horn work)...i'll try for the horn megaturn and i'll get bodied by the boring crap.

otherwise, great stuff and thank you! =)

Here you can get early horns, pick up a bunch of villages, then go for the megaturn

I think the engine comes together here with careful play. And if you don't think it's going to come together (multi-player, heavily contested village pile), then Embassy/BM is going to take it down
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Seprix

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Re: Dominion Fundamentals
« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2016, 06:46:17 pm »
0

a common cause of my losses lately has been trying to build the biggest engine that's theoretically possible on the board, without respecting attacks/lack of trashing enough.

like in the 4-card kingdom of village, smithy, horn of plenty & embassy (well, let's add like counting house to make horn work)...i'll try for the horn megaturn and i'll get bodied by the boring crap.

this is the sort of thing that deserves an article of its own, but i mentioned it since there are plenty of exceptions to the whole "maximize payload" deal

otherwise, great stuff and thank you! =)

You must know when to hold back and keep building, or when to let go and score. This very issue is what Titandrake's Article "Who's the Beatdown?" discusses. Having control is fantastic, but that takes more time to build than going for the win. In addition, there are varieties of combinations of speed and control in any given kingdom, even ones with similar strategies.

For example, you might get one less Worker's Village (one less +buy) and go for the win earlier. Because of this, you now have less control than your opponent but also an edge in speed. On his turn, your opponent opts to get that 8th Horn instead of scoring. All of his building will eventually come to fruition. He will win the long game against you with a bigger supply (16 Provinces, let's say), but can he win against your quicker release in the short term (8 Provinces)?
« Last Edit: June 21, 2016, 06:47:22 pm by Seprix »
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