-Duchies vs. Distant Lands vs. IGG vs. other 5 cost cards that offer points?
probably buy the other one.
-if distant lands is in the kingdom and you're playing engine you uh probably shouldn't purchase duchies unless it's an i stalled, there's a three-pile and i need points now; buy duchy so you don't lose, 877-points-now!
sort of thing. but oftentimes that's just a province anyway.
-IGG sux for enginistas, unless you can remodel it somehow and i don't remember the last time i've done that. you wouldn't buy an estate for $5, and generally the igg hurts you more than the curse hurts the other guy (unless it's an engine mirror, in which case, uh. they can probably just trash the curse.)
-duke: he's interesting. typically, the thing that prevents you from getting dukes is that the duchies gunk up your deck for a really long time. with engine, not so! they are in fact in the supply for most of the game. if you think that you will, in a reasonable time frame, get something like $30 or $40 in one turn, just try to do that! and then play your gunked up engine against a bm player where your provinces are discounted by $3. in a non-mirror, the fact that engine gets to put off choosing between provinces and dukes till the last minute means duke usually favors the engine, and if your bm opponent is durdling around with duchies then you can just deny a bunch of them at some point and then put your eye on the provinces. if that doesn't end up winning you probably should have just picked bm.
in engine mirror it's not very simple. the first person that can handle getting 6 or so duchies in one turn kind of wins?
-fairgrounds: <---- buy that card
-gardens: also, counter-intuitively, favors engine i think. i actually think this is a way better card than silk road - people kinda chunk them in the same place (as did i for a while) because they're both the weird sloggy $4 alt-vp but silk road prescribes a specific set of stuff you have to do, whereas gardens is pretty easy to fulfill - people just tend to forget that their cantrips and engine pieces and stuff still count as cards in their deck, and they don't factor in the cards they will be able to gain by the end of the game. if, in a non-mirror, your engine gets to something like 25 cards (which is rather reasonable - say, 2 trashers left, 8 villages, 5 draw, 5 payload, and like 5 pearl divers or vagrants or whatever), you can remember gardens are on the board and then inflate it with whatever else there is - get the rest of the vagrants, more draw, more payload, something that gives you buys. doing that then getting 8 gardens can put you at like 40/45 cards, and then you can buy so, so many coppers by the end of the game. people think engines are good at getting provinces and engine pieces and whatnot, but no. seaway those squires and then just dive into the coppers. you can so
reasonably get like 60 cards by endgame, and that competes with provinces so nicely.
-any of the exciting empires stuff: <---- buy that instead of duchy. groundskeeper is a good example
the thing to remember is that bm can get to 4 provinces quickly but each province after that is more of a grind, and there are often things you can do to make that more so.