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Author Topic: MDMA: deck types  (Read 3937 times)

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Aleimon Thimble

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MDMA: deck types
« on: October 18, 2016, 09:23:32 am »
+7

We've discussed before about the vague definition of a combo deck, and about the fact that the five standard deck types exclude the fairly common 'good 'stuff' deck that is kind of in between BM and engine. Today, I would like to propose and discuss ideas for a new categorization into deck types.

One of the most important questions when playing Dominion is: what kind of deck should I build? What I've noticed is that the answer to this question depends on two variables. The first one is: how long is the game going to last? The second one is: how often can you play an Action in this game?

Now I don't want to discuss what you need to build a good engine (we've been over that before - villages, draw, +Buy/gainers, trashing, attacks, and alt-VP all help). What I do want to point out that these two variables - game length and number of actions played - are exactly that: variables. This means that it is difficult to give clear-cut boundaries where one deck type begins and another one ends. But everyone knows that a deck with 8 Villages, 5 draw cards, a gainer or two, a trasher and a handful of strong payload cards is definitely an engine, and a deck with two Jacks and otherwise only Treasures is clearly BM.

Let's take a look at this graph.



It's ugly as hell, but that's not the point. (I could have done something cool with Photoshop gradients, except I can't actually do anything like that.) Anyway, the idea is that the boundaries between the different deck types are sometimes a bit vague, and that there is such a thing as a 'good stuff deck', which isn't quite BM or engine or rush or slog, but kind of in the middle of everything - average number of turns, average number of Action plays.

There's another important thing: combo decks don't exist. I don't think so anyway. Combos definitely exist, and some decks are based on them, but they can all be divided into another category as well. Hermit/Market Square is a (megaturn-style) engine. PStone/Herbalist is a slog. CH/TFair(/Bank) is a rush. KC/Scheme and KC/Bridge are definitely (part of) an engine. A Golden Deck is pretty much a Good Stuff deck, as is Scavenger/Stash.

Discuss. What did I miss?
« Last Edit: October 18, 2016, 09:25:16 am by Aleimon Thimble »
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Chris is me

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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2016, 10:38:08 am »
+1

I generally agree.

I just want to chime in before the haters say "good stuff decks are always worse than engines" that they probably are using a different definition of engine than you.

I think the word "Big" should be removed from "Big Money", as that implies a monolithic strategy where Treasures are always better than Actions and you buy just 2 terminals ever, which is not always true. Money strategies are a spectrum from pure BM all the way to engine (though people generally call some of the strategies I call Money strategies "good stuff")

More words soon.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2016, 10:39:42 am by Chris is me »
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2016, 11:09:40 am »
0

My interpretation of this is that "good stuff deck" means an engine that uses Treasures for payload, and may not necessarily have +Buy?
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Aleimon Thimble

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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2016, 11:15:44 am »
0

My interpretation of this is that "good stuff deck" means an engine that uses Treasures for payload, and may not necessarily have +Buy?

It's rather ill-defined, but I'd say it's a deck that plays more Action cards than a BM deck, but less than an engine. It usually has Treasures as its main payload, doesn't necessarily have +Buy or a gainer, and it usually doesn't draw itself. Some of them are on the borderline of being called an engine, such as a Hunting Party stack with a single terminal Silver.
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2016, 11:16:03 am »
+2

My interpretation of this is that "good stuff deck" means an engine that uses Treasures for payload, and may not necessarily have +Buy?

It means that you don't have any Scouts in your deck.
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2016, 11:18:08 am »
0

Do we interpret an engine basically as a deck that either double provinces in the greening process (at worst) or draws the deck almost every other turn? Because I feel like I would call a lot of 'good stuff' decks just engines, then. Although I understand there is some middle point between an engine, that is built around action chaining (which eventually determines the payload), and big money, which is all about having the largest amounts of coin possible for one single buy as quickly as possible.

My interpretation of this is that "good stuff deck" means an engine that uses Treasures for payload, and may not necessarily have +Buy?

It means that you don't have any Scouts in your deck.

Look at my good stuff deck with 8 thieves and 7 harvests.
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2016, 11:19:33 am »
+1

My interpretation of this is that "good stuff deck" means an engine that uses Treasures for payload, and may not necessarily have +Buy?

It means that you don't have any Scouts in your deck.

Look at my good stuff deck with 8 thieves and 7 harvests.

See, Scouts would be terrible in that deck!
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2016, 12:17:15 pm »
0

In WW's article on engines, an engine is described as a deck where you play lots of actions, and draw lots of cards.  But of course playing lots of actions is distinct from drawing lots of cards!  I think of a "good stuff" deck as one that has high action density, but which doesn't necessarily draw lots of cards.  The value of a "good stuff" deck depends on the average value of cards in your deck, not the total value.

For example, suppose that the only village in the kingdom is Crossroads or Diplomat.  Or suppose the only draw is Madman or Native Village.  Or suppose there is no way to get more than 6 VP a turn.
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2016, 12:26:06 pm »
+2

Good stuff decks, in general:

- play more than 1 Action card per turn on average

- do not draw the entire deck with any sort of regularity

- payload is evaluated in terms of average production per turn instead of total deck production

Sound good? What's a good stuff deck that doesn't meet this, or an engine that does?
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2016, 01:09:16 pm »
+1

MDMA?  Is there a rave going on?
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2016, 01:21:15 pm »
0

MDMA?  Is there a rave going on?
in fact, quite the opposite
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2016, 01:23:53 pm »
+1

MDMA?  Is there a rave going on?

nah if it were a rave it would be "methylone, shitty bath salts, and sketchy stimulants people all call 'molly' for some reason discussion"
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2016, 01:28:55 pm »
+1

Good stuff decks, in general:

- play more than 1 Action card per turn on average

- do not draw the entire deck with any sort of regularity

- payload is evaluated in terms of average production per turn instead of total deck production

Sound good? What's a good stuff deck that doesn't meet this, or an engine that does?
-A golden deck that plays only one Bishop per turn.  Is it big money because it's only one action per turn?  (Actually I consider this a slog.)

-A deck with a bunch of Ventures and money.  No actions played, but it's nearly the same as a good stuff deck with Markets and money.

-A deck with a bunch of Markets, plus some Warehouses or Forums.  Does the addition of sifting turn it into an engine?

-Native Village/Bridge or Hermit/Market Square.  Doesn't work with regularity, but I would call it an engine because it only needs to work once.
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Aleimon Thimble

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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2016, 02:11:59 pm »
+1

MDMA?  Is there a rave going on?

nah if it were a rave it would be "methylone, shitty bath salts, and sketchy stimulants people all call 'molly' for some reason discussion"

Unless you're here in the Netherlands, where MDMA is still illegal (unfortunately) but everyone nevertheless has access to the most powerful and clean stuff in the world, even if they have to be careful for security guards.

Back ontopic:

-A golden deck that plays only one Bishop per turn.  Is it big money because it's only one action per turn?  (Actually I consider this a slog.)

-A deck with a bunch of Ventures and money.  No actions played, but it's nearly the same as a good stuff deck with Markets and money.

-A deck with a bunch of Markets, plus some Warehouses or Forums.  Does the addition of sifting turn it into an engine?

-Native Village/Bridge or Hermit/Market Square.  Doesn't work with regularity, but I would call it an engine because it only needs to work once.

-I consider a Bishop golden deck a 'good stuff' deck, but you could also argue that it's BM or a rush. It's somewhere around the three-way point of those archetypes. It's definitely not a slog, it ends way too quickly for that, milling a Province per turn once you get started.

-Pure Venture-BM is BM, as there are no Actions at all, but it's very rare for pure Venture-BM to be the optimal strategy. On almost all boards you want to add one or two terminals. That would still make it a BM strategy, but every Action added gets you closer to the 'good stuff' threshold.

-A strategy with Markets but no trashing, Villages or draw cards is pretty much the most basic example of a 'good stuff' deck. Adding Warehouses or Forums would get it closer to the border with engines, but not quite over it, I'd say.

-As mentioned, the last two examples are definitely engines in my book. Hermit-MS is fairly quick, so it's closer to the Rush border than to the BM and Slog borders. Native Village/Bridge is a bit slower so it's somewhere in the middle as far as engines go.

Graphically (an estimate):

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Chris is me

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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2016, 02:25:20 pm »
+1

Been thinking about this, and archetypes aside, I feel like most strategies can be plotted on 3 axes:

  • Turns to end game (speed)
  • Consistency
  • Control

"Number of actions played" is a good proxy for consistency but I really do think that a Bishop Golden Deck should be considered an engine because it has perfect consistency, even if it only plays 1 Action a turn. The existing definition AT provides has a thin deck that plays 3 Actions as less of an engine as a deck that is fat and big but plays 4-5 a turn.

The Control axis allows for, in a broad sense, anything that controls the state of the game and your opponent's deck / play. This ranges from attacks to number of gains to really even total economy. It's possible that Control is kind of a superset of "turns to end game" but I feel it should be more distinct than that, I guess?

Just spitballing here.
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Aleimon Thimble

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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2016, 02:38:44 pm »
0

Been thinking about this, and archetypes aside, I feel like most strategies can be plotted on 3 axes:

  • Turns to end game (speed)
  • Consistency
  • Control

"Number of actions played" is a good proxy for consistency but I really do think that a Bishop Golden Deck should be considered an engine because it has perfect consistency, even if it only plays 1 Action a turn. The existing definition AT provides has a thin deck that plays 3 Actions as less of an engine as a deck that is fat and big but plays 4-5 a turn.

The Control axis allows for, in a broad sense, anything that controls the state of the game and your opponent's deck / play. This ranges from attacks to number of gains to really even total economy. It's possible that Control is kind of a superset of "turns to end game" but I feel it should be more distinct than that, I guess?

Just spitballing here.

Your ideas are very interesting. You make a good case for the Bishop golden deck, perhaps one of the trickiest decks to fit into the current deck archetype paradigm, being an engine-ish deck.

But I'm not 100% convinced about the idea that consistency makes something an engine. A Feodum/Masterpiece deck is not an engine (it's somewhere near the BM-Slog border), but it's pretty consistent - with half of the Silver pile in your deck, it's very rare that you don't hit $4 or more every turn for a Feodum. On the other hand, a deck with Golem as the only splitter, a couple of non-terminals and a couple of strong terminal Attacks is not very consistent (prone to stalling), but it's definitely an engine.

As for control, I feel that's really just a property of many types of engines. Engines tend to have more control than other types of strategies, since they often incorporate extra buys/gains, but that's not always the case. Sometimes an engine can only buy a single Province per turn, but it's still better than BM, for example because there are strong attacks that BM cannot overcome.
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2016, 03:07:13 pm »
0

I like how our views of a bishop golden deck span the gamut.  WW considered it a combo, Aleimon Thimble considers it a good stuff deck, Chris is me says it's an engine, and I said it was a slog.

I consider golden decks slogs because they have the property of sustainability.  Usually a slog deck involves a very large deck, which isn't slowed down much by greening.  As a result, the slog wins the long game.  Another way to achieve sustainability is with VP chips.

But perhaps golden decks based on a single bishop are too fast, and should be considered rushes rather than slogs.  I think that's something missing from the OP: the way rushes and slogs bleed into each other.
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2016, 03:09:46 pm »
0

I like how our views of a bishop golden deck span the gamut.  WW considered it a combo, Aleimon Thimble considers it a good stuff deck, Chris is me says it's an engine, and I said it was a slog.

I consider golden decks slogs because they have the property of sustainability.  Usually a slog deck involves a very large deck, which isn't slowed down much by greening.  As a result, the slog wins the long game.  Another way to achieve sustainability is with VP chips.

But perhaps golden decks based on a single bishop are too fast, and should be considered rushes rather than slogs.  I think that's something missing from the OP: the way rushes and slogs bleed into each other.

A golden deck is the intersection of all other deck types. 
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2016, 03:13:14 pm »
0

Been thinking about this, and archetypes aside, I feel like most strategies can be plotted on 3 axes:

  • Turns to end game (speed)
  • Consistency
  • Control

"Number of actions played" is a good proxy for consistency but I really do think that a Bishop Golden Deck should be considered an engine because it has perfect consistency, even if it only plays 1 Action a turn. The existing definition AT provides has a thin deck that plays 3 Actions as less of an engine as a deck that is fat and big but plays 4-5 a turn.

The Control axis allows for, in a broad sense, anything that controls the state of the game and your opponent's deck / play. This ranges from attacks to number of gains to really even total economy. It's possible that Control is kind of a superset of "turns to end game" but I feel it should be more distinct than that, I guess?

Just spitballing here.

Your ideas are very interesting. You make a good case for the Bishop golden deck, perhaps one of the trickiest decks to fit into the current deck archetype paradigm, being an engine-ish deck.

But I'm not 100% convinced about the idea that consistency makes something an engine. A Feodum/Masterpiece deck is not an engine (it's somewhere near the BM-Slog border), but it's pretty consistent - with half of the Silver pile in your deck, it's very rare that you don't hit $4 or more every turn for a Feodum. On the other hand, a deck with Golem as the only splitter, a couple of non-terminals and a couple of strong terminal Attacks is not very consistent (prone to stalling), but it's definitely an engine.

As for control, I feel that's really just a property of many types of engines. Engines tend to have more control than other types of strategies, since they often incorporate extra buys/gains, but that's not always the case. Sometimes an engine can only buy a single Province per turn, but it's still better than BM, for example because there are strong attacks that BM cannot overcome.
Thats right, Id say generally the control scales with the cards played in a given turn, so that is probably not so useful.
But what about replacing the axis "Number of action cards played" with something like "Percentage of total cards in deck used per turn". You can define "use" either by cards (not only action cards) played per turn or by cards that were eg. played and/or trashed. In trashing aspect the latter case surely pushes the "gaining of cards" thing so we have the control aspect here too.

so:

-The bishop golden deck would be a pure engine, which is ok IMO

-most megaturn combos would be good stuff decks

-Feodum/Masterpiece would be in the corner BM/rush i think

-Scavenger/Stash depends on the definition of "using", but would be in the same area
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2016, 03:43:35 pm »
+2

I don't think there is any point in classifying decks based on how many Action cards they play and how many turns they take. Decks that are strategically extremely similar to one another might have super different numbers for those variables, and decks that are strategically extremely unlike one another might have very similar numbers. Some of the more important factors to consider, in my opinion, are

  • How do you green
  • How do you end the game
  • Where does the payload to do those things come from
  • How do you deal with the green cards in your deck

The "good stuff" deck is really just another term for big money, which is a strategy where you buy cards that are powerful on their own while you avoid antisynergies, aim to green by ramping up to frequent (but generally not guaranteed) single Province (or Colony) turns really fast, don't specifically care to have a lot of control over when the game ends, and deal with green cards by simply having enough good cards in your deck.

A rush is a deck where you green with easily acquirable Victory cards very early on, and end the game before decks that spend the early game building have a chance to catch up, which you do with the help of gainers such as Ironworks or Rebuild, which also enable you to have good turns even if your hand is full of green cards.

A slog is somewhat similar to big money, but instead of greening with Provinces, you green earlier and with heavier VP cards in an effort to beat a Province player by the time he is able to end the game.

An engine is a strategy where you utilize strong cycling and strong payload cards to ramp up to very big turns where you have lots of end game control and power to get lots of VP very fast when you're at that point, and the green cards won't be a problem because you won't be having them in your deck for a very long time.

There exists a hypothetical deck type, which sucks in practice and doesn't have a name, where you play a crap ton of Bakers or other coin token cards, and hoard an enormous pile of coin tokens to guarantee continuous single Province turns even if your hand is full of green cards.

Finally, there are decks that defy regular strategy principles and instead rely on very specific rules interactions that only occur when certain cards are present and spend their early games setting up those interactions instead of furthering their positions. These decks are usually labeled as combo decks and they include all sorts of Golden decks, Hermit/MS, Bridge/NV, Chancellor variant/Stash, etc.
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Amac

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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2016, 03:52:04 pm »
0

I like how our views of a bishop golden deck span the gamut.  WW considered it a combo, Aleimon Thimble considers it a good stuff deck, Chris is me says it's an engine, and I said it was a slog.

I consider golden decks slogs because they have the property of sustainability.  Usually a slog deck involves a very large deck, which isn't slowed down much by greening.  As a result, the slog wins the long game.  Another way to achieve sustainability is with VP chips.

But perhaps golden decks based on a single bishop are too fast, and should be considered rushes rather than slogs.  I think that's something missing from the OP: the way rushes and slogs bleed into each other.

I actually consider a Bishop golden deck sort of a rush as well. If your opponent can't buy provinces consistently, the idea is to finish the game as fast as possible. It's not a rush from the get-go, but if you get there considerably faster than your opponent, it becomes sort of a rush - piling out the provinces to finish quickly.

But yeah, that's not usually how it plays out. Still, it is pretty quick and can end the game quickly, whilst not really aiming to get a maximum of points out of all those provinces, which I do see as a rush.
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2016, 07:09:08 pm »
+1

Well, it seems nobody can agree on what anything is. I could tell someone what a car is and say that vehicle down there is a car, and then someone else will argue that I was not specific enough as to what a car is, or that the car is instead technically a truck.

So what is an Engine? I'll leave it to the ruling of the Supreme Court in the famous case of Jacobellis v. Ohio: You'll know it when you see it.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2016, 07:11:44 pm by Seprix »
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2016, 07:53:30 pm »
+4

I used to like the idea of deck type and all the distinctions. That has changed. It actually changed earlier today as I tried to piece together what was going on here and all the graphs and axis ideas and whatever.

I mean, this was the question:
what kind of deck should I build?
And you see, that is great and all. Planning ahead is good. But trying to think about how fast the game will go or how many actions will be played or how much control you have or how much of each of these exactly means that you are playing something which is called a something but if it doesn't win oops.

So what you are trying to do is ask three questions:
1. What do I want to do? - well, the cards on the board have some interaction.
2. How does it win? - so this is what I need to do when playing this strategy.
3. Is this way of winning realistic? - this other thing will or will not beat me.

(2) is what deck type is trying to make you answer. When you start answering it, stop trying to put everything you do into categories and just answer the question.

Like I have board with Beggar/Gardens.
1. I decide, hey, I want to play Beggar/Gardens, in which I buy some Beggars and play them, eventually buying Gardens.
2. It wins because after some large number of turns, I will have gained a large number of cards and my Gardens will be worth more than whatever points my opponent has. This means I need to ensure that the game takes a while and that I have Gardens.
3. Then with (2), I could look at the other cards and see if that is a realistic way to win: is there something that does better with a large number of turns (say, Goons engine) or is there something which will prevent me from having that large number of turns (say, Governor and Remake).

Actually using the deck types helps you get to the answer to (2) from (1) - you can recognize that Beggar/Gardens is considered a slog and so probably has some of these properties. It doesn't get you to (3) which is where you have the potential to lose badly. Ask yourself the meaningful questions, not the ones that make you feel smart.

Having said all that, deck type should be kept around, but for communication, not strategy. For these purposes, really only "engine" and "money" need to be kept for what they communicate - some form of village/draw in the former case and large amounts of treasure in the latter - payload and enabler also need to be attached, respectively. Everything else is identifiable purely by the involved cards, and as an added bonus, might make people think about the answer to question (2) from above.

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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2016, 09:30:43 pm »
+1

Having said all that, deck type should be kept around, but for communication, not strategy. For these purposes, really only "engine" and "money" need to be kept for what they communicate
agree
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Re: MDMA: deck types
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2016, 09:34:26 pm »
0

There exists a hypothetical deck type, which sucks in practice and doesn't have a name, where you play a crap ton of Bakers or other coin token cards, and hoard an enormous pile of coin tokens to guarantee continuous single Province turns even if your hand is full of green cards.

How is that anything besides a 'good stuff' deck, or even just Big Money?
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