Thanks for all the replies. I am in fact new to Dominion Online as well---so new that I created my account after reading your replies---and thanks for the guidance. I get the error "More cards required than available" when I try to load the games. Any idea why, and what to do about it? I haven't purchased anything on DO, but I hear you get to play the base set for free. I played a game against a bot, and that game had Bandit, so it's not like I can't play 2nd ed. base set I would think...
Here are my thoughts in response to all the great comments:
"mix[ing] two different strategies", I think I did that in my post. I don't think I did that in my game. I think I built a fairly well-running Village/Smithy engine, supplemented by a bunch of Laboratories, even though that wasn't my initial plan. I think I did it waaaay too slowly, though.
"Library [...] antisynergizes with Treasures and Smithies." True, and a good point. It also anti-synergizes with green, but almost everything does. Is Library or Smithy worse with green? Not on the board, but does Cellar help Library or Smithy more? I'm thinking green is worse for Library, because each green in hand makes each subsequent Library worse, but that's not true about Smithy (and that's true in general for +cards vs. draw-up-to-n). I'm thinking Cellar helps Library more, because the net -1 card doesn't hurt Library, and delivering its payload mid-turn (Festival, maybe some terminals) makes the next Library a stronger draw. Agree, with both conclusion and reasoning)? Nice point regarding Council Room only giving Library what it would have gotten by itself. (Unless of course you help someone into a kickoff they didn't have otherwise).
"[in Village/Smithy you don't want too many Festivals]", right, it's a Silver/Village in one, with relative -1 card and +1 buy. The +1 card of Village helps the pieces connect better, which is more important during kickoff, the +$2 is not an amazing payload, and +1 buy should be enough both for building and greening. So you only want one. Maaaaaaybe two. Yes? And if your opponent is playing Library, go for Council Room over Smithy for more cards with +1 buy as a side benefit, and you won't even need the Festival. (I get why you skip CR vs. Big Money; in that case, playing Bandit every turn should grind your opponents deck into Smithy/Copper/green which loses, yes?)
"[play Moneylender often]" In general, thinning helps your engine pieces connect better, that's why you want to do lots of it, yes? Losing copper doesn't harm your money base too much during build-up on Village/Smithy because the parts are cheap and you have Workshop, nor on Festival/Library because Festival carries money which compensates for the lost copper.
I really like Laboratory. No one talked about it. I bought lots of them in my trainwrecked game. Here's a bit of math: Village+Smithy gives +2 actions, +4 cards, the same as 2xLaboratory, in both cases by spending two cards and actions. To kick off with Laboratory you just need enough of them. To kick off with Village/Smithy you need enough of them *and* in the right mixture (more Smithy than Village makes you run out of actions), which I guess you could model as some kind of random walk that should never cross the zero point, maybe. So I guess Laboratory can be a good supplement to Village/Smithy, but not so much Festival/Library, for many of the same reasons that Smithy is bad with Library. Also, 2xLaboratory costs $10, whereas Village+Smithy only costs $7, and with a lower threshold (3/4 vs. 5) when buys are spread out among several turns.
Could a Laboratory-based engine work here? Open Smithy/Silver, get Laboratory whenever you can, a few villages on dud turns to support the Smithy, plus Moneylender and Bandit later? Maybe Festival instead of Village if you never dud, for the +buy/+$? Or is opening Moneylender/Silver better here? Drawing and shuffling often with Smithy is a virtual thinness, of sorts, I think, maybe, and the Laboratory will only amplify this. Once Smithy draws Laboratory dead often, you should also collide Laboratory and Smithy in your opening 5 often, so this will probably not be a problem? Will the cheapness and extra gain from Workshop in the cheaper engine outrace this?
Soo much question. Maybe I should simulate some of this if I want to know what's best :-)
(Dylan) "You need [just?] enough villages to play all your stuff, so [add Village/drawing ~50/50]", yep, you don't want to over-plus-action'ate if you don't have a use for it. I think maybe in the Festival/Library strategy, you want more Festivals than Libraries, (a) because Festival is your payload, and (b) because playing multiple Festivals per Library makes the Library better. Agree/disagree?
So, for building V/S, open Moneylender/Workshop, then trash/gain/buy as trash/gain/buy can. In the end, I want balance between Village and Smithy, plus extra Villages for Moneylender and maybe Bandit. Should I aim for balance during the opening (before drawing the deck)? Or buy expensive parts whenever possible and cheap parts when impossible? How important is faster shuffling due to more draw from Smithy?
When building F/L, open Moneylender/Silver, then... grab as grab can? I'm thinking early on, a turn consisting of "Library, then buy a $5'er" is not so bad, and more drawing and shuffling is good, so perhaps the first $5'er should be a Library, then a Festival, then a second Library, then pile on the Festivals? Turns with just "Library, then buy" get progressively worse as Moneylender does more of his job, though, but by then you should have more of your engine together, so those turns will also become a lot rarer.
Finally, thanks to everyone for your thoughts, and DrHandsomeface for your praise of my post.