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Kirian

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Meta?
« on: October 11, 2016, 02:00:50 pm »
+4

Is there a meta in online Dominion?  Can there be a meta?  If there is one, is it fast for some reason?  Am I dumb for asking these questions, or for other gameplay reasons?

I've played a number of games lately where my opponent started grabbing single Provinces early--theoretically a bad strategy unless there's no +Buy around and an engine is available.  Yet I find myself losing these games; even though I can build to a three-province turn, when the opponent has five Provinces, that becomes a PDDD turn, and if the opponent hits another Province, the next turn is DDDD, and hope the opponent can't spike a Province.  As it happens, 6P beats 2P-7D.

Any thoughts?  When do you cut your losses on your engine and take single Province-single engine piece?
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Chris is me

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2016, 02:25:13 pm »
+5

Dominion absolutely has a metagame. It manifests itself in how your opponent plays and how you predict they will play, and which strategies are dominant.

A lot of various strategies are sort of "rock paper scissors" with each other. Some more blatantly than others, but usually to some extent. Lots of engine players tune themselves to win the mirror, or to build to a certain fixed point, when they should be more fluid and reactive. That fixed point they build to is a function of both the metagame and the strength of a traditional / average board.

In the scenario you're laying out, you definitely do let the time and rate of your opponent's greening override your original plan, being careful not to let Points Panic get to you. If they started greening, greening strictly reactively as soon as they start isn't always the ideal though. You're already behind - are you close enough to a milestone point that you can build and catch up? Maybe it's going Prov Duchy instead of double Prov - sooner than you planned but soon enough to overtake a single Prov player with a head start. If you cut your losses and just go single Prov, your only hope is that they trip and you don't.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2016, 02:52:45 pm »
0

What do you mean by a meta? I know what a meta game means as it relates to board games, but I'm not clear in how it relates to your question.
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Re: Meta?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2016, 02:56:21 pm »
+1

What do you mean by a meta? I know what a meta game means as it relates to board games, but I'm not clear in how it relates to your question.

More in reference to CCG's.  Like with Hearthstone, you might decide to include a weapon-destroying card if most people are playing decks with weapons in them, or you might include board clears if most people are playing decks with lots of minions.  With regards to Dominion, it could be something like, what strategy do you go for, given that it's more like your opponent will go for an engine?  Or maybe more people are going for big money.  The common strategies of other players outside of your current game informs your choices.
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Re: Meta?
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2016, 04:26:10 pm »
+2

In dominion, players start the game with the same 10 cards, so there's no "metagame" of starting decks

What does vary, however, is the style in which the game is played. Some players favor single-province play and others favor huge engines

What's correct on a given board depends on the specific cards and interactions on the board. Engine play gets stronger when there's a large pool of alt-VP to pull from. It gets weaker if 4-5 provinces make up the bulk of the VP

In the end, it takes a lot of attention to get these little things right
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Re: Meta?
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2016, 04:30:02 pm »
+1

The metagame is obviously not present in constructed decks, but in strategies chosen and the expected decisions you assume opponents will make, as well as the expectations of speed and performance you subconsciously set when strategizing. One obvious example of metagame driven strategy benchmarks is the evolution of BM strategies as primitve yardsticks - Gear can win in 14 turns, so you have to beat that, etc.

I think what's "correct"on a given board, in addition to what dan has outlined, is heavily dependent on your opponent'a strategy in all cases. You need to win before your opponent does, and there are tradeoffs in reliability, payload, explosiveness, three pile risk versus speed. The correct balance of these tradeoffs is opponent dependent, and before they have acted and you have profiled their strategy, your presumptions of their strategy constitute the metagame.
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trivialknot

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2016, 04:39:00 pm »
+1

In an optimal strategy, you don't need to make any presumptions of your opponent's strategy.  You watch what they do, and react to that.  If you react to what you predict your opponents will do, then they can just not do the thing.

However, people don't play optimally, therefore there is meta.  The fact that there is meta is proof that people aren't playing optimally.

The most obvious kind of meta is when newbies think Thief is really devastating, so the best strategy is to prepare for some Thieves.  However, I suspect that the metagame online is more subtle, since the players are better?  I dunno, I play offline only.
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SCSN

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2016, 05:01:20 pm »
+4

The most obvious kind of meta is when newbies think Thief is really devastating, so the best strategy is to prepare for some Thieves.  However, I suspect that the metagame online is more subtle, since the players are better?

I generally still prepare for my opponents going mass Thief.
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timchen

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2016, 05:16:10 pm »
+3

Meta originates from hidden information in a 2p game. Since there is no hidden information in dominion (opponent cannot build deck without being seen) in principle there should be no meta.

In reality when the play is far from optimality or when the strategy landscape is very frustrated then there can be meta; i.e., what kind of strategy people tend to play. In theory they are just non optimal strategies but the difference is just too small to matter or it is just very hard to play in the optimal way.

StarCraft is an ideal example that has both. For one you can't know for sure what your opponent is doing so your strategy really depends on the expectation of what he is likely doing. On the other hand a part of the reason why meta exists, especially when the game is young, is just because that the game has not been figured out and it takes a lot of practice to play a certain strategy good enough to know whether it is really good enough.

In the case of dominion, there certainly are strategies that beat one another, but since it is turn based, the optimal strategy exists between these strategies. The perceived meta can only be from the population adhering to playing in some non-optimal way.
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Re: Meta?
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2016, 09:37:44 pm »
+3

There's PLENTY of hidden information in Dominon, that's ridiculous. You have no certainty over what cards the opponents will buy in the future, even if you know all their options, and you can use knowledge of the metagame as one of many factors in predicting their likely strategy. That alone is sufficient evidence of metagame influences in Dominion.
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DG

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2016, 10:48:44 pm »
+3

In an optimal strategy, you don't need to make any presumptions of your opponent's strategy.  You watch what they do, and react to that.  If you react to what you predict your opponents will do, then they can just not do the thing.

This is of course only true in 2 player games. In multiplayer games you do have to make assumptions about how your opponents will play. It is an advantage to know the style of play that your opponents will employ.
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tristan

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2016, 06:23:01 am »
+3

Is there a meta in online Dominion?
Nope. Meta is usually referrs to some out of game thing going on, i.e. deck-building in CCGs/LCGs.
Players choosing different strategies and greening at different moments DURING the game, well, that's just the game and hardly a metagame.
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Re: Meta?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2016, 07:17:39 am »
+2

Is there a meta in online Dominion?
Nope. Meta is usually referrs to some out of game thing going on, i.e. deck-building in CCGs/LCGs.
Players choosing different strategies and greening at different moments DURING the game, well, that's just the game and hardly a metagame.

But think of it this way. Would players be choosing Jack BM strategies or Rebuild strategies or Hermit / MS strategies, and all the detailed choices that come with them, without the outside influence of online discussion boards or learning from the examples of other players on the ladder? Certainly not. And it's unlikely that this play is perfectly, universally optimal, so the way these strategies manifest are themselves products of the Dominion metagame.
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tristan

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2016, 07:35:02 am »
+3

Is there a meta in online Dominion?
Nope. Meta is usually referrs to some out of game thing going on, i.e. deck-building in CCGs/LCGs.
Players choosing different strategies and greening at different moments DURING the game, well, that's just the game and hardly a metagame.

But think of it this way. Would players be choosing Jack BM strategies or Rebuild strategies or Hermit / MS strategies, and all the detailed choices that come with them, without the outside influence of online discussion boards or learning from the examples of other players on the ladder? Certainly not. And it's unlikely that this play is perfectly, universally optimal, so the way these strategies manifest are themselves products of the Dominion metagame.
Sure, if you consider everything that happens outside of a game as metagame that's true. But then every game has a metagame and the concept becomes meaningless.
I view metagame as a strategic notion, i.e. considering e.g. what cards my opponents might put into their decks while preparing my own deck in an LCG. Chess is also an obvious example although here folks simply say opening preparation instead of metagame.
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Kirian

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2016, 01:19:37 pm »
0

So here's an example of what I was talking about:

http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=16382.new#new

Opponent buys a Province on T6.  And wins.
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Re: Meta?
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2016, 02:32:41 pm »
+1

i don't think two player dominion has much of a metagame. What I see frequently happening is that there are two competing strategies and one is stronger than the second only if the other player doesn't  mirror, so in the end both players end up somewhat suboptimally. Multiplayer dominion on the other hand should have a lot of meta. If three players go for the same engine, there might not be enough components for all of them, and a fourth player going BM might end up with a clear road to victory, in another case there might have a big engine available, but if all three other players go for something like workshop/gardens, your engine will never have a chance to get running. So being first player in a game like this (specially since a strategy like workshop/gardens generally requires commitment from turn 1) you really have too ask yourself what do you think the other players will do.

You seem too be talking about when to green, but that's not meta, that's evaluating strategy. You gotta evaluate if the optimal strategy in a given board is a late blooming engine that can overcome an strategy that greens early, or if the early greener can potentially build enough of an early lead that it becomes insurmountable. Of course since dominion has a decent  luck factor still you might always pick the best strategy and still lose, so evaluating when luck was a big factor is also an important thing when trying to improve your game.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2016, 03:04:22 pm by gloures »
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timchen

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2016, 04:11:08 pm »
+3

There's PLENTY of hidden information in Dominon, that's ridiculous. You have no certainty over what cards the opponents will buy in the future, even if you know all their options, and you can use knowledge of the metagame as one of many factors in predicting their likely strategy. That alone is sufficient evidence of metagame influences in Dominion.

Future information does not count as hidden information. Think about chess. Or any board game. If you know for certain what your opponent will do then there is not much of a game right?

You seem to confuse between concepts. Meta is called meta because it is something that affects the game that is outside the game. Think about rock-paper-scissors. If you just play one game, you will do as good as you can by always play rock. But if your opponent knows this then you will lose all the time.

This is what meta is about: you have several mutual exclusive strategy options which counters each other (while nash equilibrium would be a probability mixture of them). How you choose one among is really by preference, and is the hidden information I am talking about. The population preference is the current metagame.

Not so much in Dominion. The population can certainly have a preference on different strategies, but it is pure suboptimality. For a given board, one can always react to the way the other player is playing. The optimal strategy is a script of actions taken when seeing what opponent plays, that will give you the highest win percentage. This grand optimal strategy does not depend on any preference of the opponent so there is no meta.

 
« Last Edit: October 12, 2016, 04:46:18 pm by timchen »
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Kirian

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2016, 04:43:45 pm »
0

Not so much in Dominion. The population can certainly have a preference on different strategies, but it is pure suboptimality. For a given board, one can always react to the way the other player is playing. The optimal strategy as a script of actions taken when seeing what opponent plays, that will give you the highest win percentage. This grand optimal strategy does not depend on any preference of the opponent so there is no meta.

OK, I like this... definition?
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Chris is me

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2016, 04:48:10 pm »
+2

Not so much in Dominion. The population can certainly have a preference on different strategies, but it is pure suboptimality. For a given board, one can always react to the way the other player is playing. The optimal strategy as a script of actions taken when seeing what opponent plays, that will give you the highest win percentage. This grand optimal strategy does not depend on any preference of the opponent so there is no meta.

OK, I like this... definition?

I just don't agree. Strategic choices become better or worse based on predictions of opponent choices, not purely reactions to ones that have already been made, and there are a nontrivial amount of boards with dueling / countering strategies and choices where popular and social influence will have an effect on the game. I do not believe every board has a grand, purely optimal strategy, and as long as humans are playing the game it will never be reached anyway.
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AdrianHealey

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2016, 04:55:02 pm »
+2

Given my understanding of the word 'meta', there is no, nor can there be, a meta in dominion.

One easy way to grasp it, is: meta depends on things outside the particular instance of the game you are playing. There is no such relevant thing in dominion.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2016, 04:56:48 pm by AdrianHealey »
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timchen

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2016, 04:58:02 pm »
+1

I guess it is a definition, but it truly is (at least in principle) what the optimal strategy is.

I don't dispute that in a 2p game that is complicated enough such as Go, even though in principle an optimal strategy exists, there is still playing style shifting around as time goes forward. That is sometimes also called meta too, but it is understood as from our inability to play this game optimally too.

I just realized that in LoL we also called a similar thing meta. The current meta is induced by the game balance changes but in principle an optimal b/p strategy should also exist. The situation is blurred since there is this factor that different players can play a given hero to very different effectiveness as well. But in principle I guess I would say again, meta should not exist if we understand the game perfectly. Or maybe it is just called meta because we consider the b/p as a metagame perhaps.

For dominion I just don't think the game is complicated to the point that one should consider how his opponent would like to play more than trying to play optimally. To me that is the real implication whether there is meta or not in a game.
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timchen

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2016, 05:13:37 pm »
+1

Not so much in Dominion. The population can certainly have a preference on different strategies, but it is pure suboptimality. For a given board, one can always react to the way the other player is playing. The optimal strategy as a script of actions taken when seeing what opponent plays, that will give you the highest win percentage. This grand optimal strategy does not depend on any preference of the opponent so there is no meta.

OK, I like this... definition?

I just don't agree. Strategic choices become better or worse based on predictions of opponent choices, not purely reactions to ones that have already been made, and there are a nontrivial amount of boards with dueling / countering strategies and choices where popular and social influence will have an effect on the game. I do not believe every board has a grand, purely optimal strategy, and as long as humans are playing the game it will never be reached anyway.

Let's think about an example.

Suppose for a given board you perceive a popular strategy that your opponent is likely to play.

Now, is it a dominant strategy on this board that has no counter?
If so, then it is at least close to the optimal strategy so there is no preference to begin with.

If it has a counter, and the counter is a dominant strategy that has no counter, then it is pure suboptimality.

If it has a counter, but the counter has some other counter as well - then one should not blindly commit to play the counter. There is no necessity either. In the game one can see what the opponent is doing and go for the counter if necessary. This is clearly a better strategy than blindly going for the counter. Anticipating your opponent's play is itself suboptimal (especially if there is a counter to the play you are going to commit; and if not it is close to the optimal play anyway and anticipation does not change the way you play.) there is no necessity to counter it before it is gradually played out.

So in all situations, no prior knowledge, unless you know something with certainty, will change the way you play. That is how I think there is no meta.

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2016, 05:35:11 pm »
+3

Consider the following simplified example: Suppose you are going first and are deciding on one of two options for your first buy: one that's building the engine in a way that's better against an engine mirror, and the other that's building the engine in a way that’s better against a money strategy. You know that the engine is better, but your opponent may not know the same, and your first buy won’t influence your opponent’s choice of engine/money. Then your decision will depend on, among other things, a) how much better one option is than the other against an engine/money opponent; and b) your subjective view of the probability that your opponent will play engine as opposed to money.

Whether element b) qualifies as a “metagame” I leave to the judgment of the reader.
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Re: Meta?
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2016, 06:33:53 pm »
0

If it has a counter, but the counter has some other counter as well - then one should not blindly commit to play the counter. There is no necessity either. In the game one can see what the opponent is doing and go for the counter if necessary. This is clearly a better strategy than blindly going for the counter. Anticipating your opponent's play is itself suboptimal (especially if there is a counter to the play you are going to commit; and if not it is close to the optimal play anyway and anticipation does not change the way you play.) there is no necessity to counter it before it is gradually played out.

The implicit assumptions here are what I generally find fault in. You're assuming committing to the counter is particularly costly, and that the counter can be gone for with equal effectiveness later on versus early. If the counter is costly to your deck, that tilts things in the direction of a more conservative playstyle. If the counter can be easily gone for later with minimal opportunity cost to skipping it now, then yeah, why bother committing?

But oftentimes, there are cards that are viable enough to not be total trash, but that you will get further mileage of based on your evaluation of how likely they are to go for that strategy. Here's a dumb example off the top of my head. Fool's Gold is on the board, and it seems like viable payload. The speed at which you have to get Fool's Golds, and the amount you contest them, is probably one of the strategic facets most influenced by the Dominion metagame. If you both ignore it, you can build up and trash a bit and pick up a handful at once near the end as needed. If one of you rushes and the other mostly ignores it, the BM deck the Fool's Gold rusher can give has semi-serious potential to mess up some engines. If you both rush it, you split them evenly and essentially delay the start of the build phase around it.

Consider a Talisman open in that scenario. It's not a useless card; maybe the Buys are scarce on this board and there's lots of low cost engine components, but no great double Prov payload. Knowing how Fool's Gold rushes versus engine payload games play out in the current metagame, predicting based on attributes of the player, etc. will help you decide if you wanna open Talisman or something like Cutpurse instead. I think on smaller scales these kind of decisions happen all the time.
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timchen

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Re: Meta?
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2016, 07:40:39 pm »
+1

Hmm, I am not sure why do you think there is implicit assumptions about the counter. Also not quite sure what costly means. For the purpose if the counter strategy does not deviate from the strategy you are going to play anyways then there is not much to discuss, isn't it? Also I am not assuming it can always be gone from later in the game. If not, then the optimal strategy is likely needed to have incorporated some key elements of the counter.

Good to talk about an explicit example though. Still I am not sure what is the point you are trying to get to. In this case, maybe you are saying money-uncontested FG is strong, comparable to engines without it? Engines hoping to get a few FGs in a turn later can only work when the opponent is not getting them initially but becomes a dominant strategy when both players are not going for it initially?

Sure, but how does these factor into your own strategy decision?

For me the first thing to consider is that whether I need to contend FG. I don't need to know whether the current "meta" strategy likes FG or not; I will assume my opponent plays well enough and will contend it if it
is strong. So if I end up with a conclusion that an engine cannot win without contending FG against a FG-money strategy, then I will incorporate this part into my strategy. Getting a talisman can be a good way to contend a few FGs later in the game and it has some other uses, so that can be something I open with.

I agree, situation can get pretty complicated, but overall it is just a pretty big decision tree consisting of what can the opponent go for and what options does one have. Thinking about certain meta is restricting oneself into a smaller subset of this tree; it can save your thinking time and can give you better results if the opponent plays as you anticipate. However, that is not the advantage of knowing the meta, but is instead from the meta being suboptimal and your opponent still following it.

"Knowing how Fool's Gold rushes versus engine payload games play out in the current metagame" this I am not sure what you are talking about... how it plays out, it will play out, how does that depend on any meta?
« Last Edit: October 12, 2016, 07:43:25 pm by timchen »
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