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Author Topic: Distant Lands Cage Match  (Read 372 times)

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Distant Lands Cage Match
« on: May 22, 2017, 12:03:25 am »

I played a set of eight games against Rabid in which Distant Lands was always present.  Rabid pursued Distant Lands as a greening strategy in all but one of the games.  He vetoed two kingdoms where it didn't look like Distant Lands would be viable (or the board was otherwise unpleasant).  On the other hand, I avoided Distant Lands whenever that seemed reasonable (which happened to be 7/8 of the kingdoms we played).  Here's how it went:

Game 1 (3596085)

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Militia, Mill, Pirate Ship, Distant Lands, Mint, Donate, Royal Blacksmith, Encampment, Ambassador, Forager, Envoy, Training
Rabid went first.  We both opened with Militia.  Rabid Donated on turn 4 to Militia + Silverx2.  I Donated on turn 5 to Militia + Silverx2 + Encampment.  Rabid bought one Encampment and one Gold and started gaining (starting turn 7) and playing Distant Lands.  I gained a second Encampment, a Gold, and a Forager (for +buy) by turn 8.  By turn 12, I had gained all of the remaining Encampments and all five Plunders (trashing my Silver and Gold along the way).  Starting on turn 13, I stopped playing my Forager and my game plan was to play as many Plunders as possible and buy a Province.  I trashed a Province at some point for dubious reasons.  Rabid got his eighth and final Distant Lands into play on turn 15 and started buying Provinces on turn 16.  However, my Plunder points were too much and I grabbed the final Province on turn 18 for the 52 - 50 win.  I can't say for certain that it was optimal to avoid Distant Lands completely, but winning the Encampment and Plunder splits was key on that board.  Amusingly, Forager was the best way to do so.

Game 2 (3596379)

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Herald, Navigator, Courtier, Cultist, Distant Lands, Tactician, Crossroads, Shanty Town, Bishop, Conspirator
I went first.  This was a big Cultist board, obviously.  Rabid opened with Silver + Silver.  I dubiously opened Herald + Silver.  Rabid got four Cultists on turns 3-6.  I got two Cultists and a Crossroads (this game had Shelters, FYI).  Rabid won the Ruins split 7-3, and that was pretty much game over.  Much to my surprise, Rabid did decide to transition into Distant Lands (which I thought were bad for his deck).  Rabid's midgame was pretty spotty, but he eventually got enough Heralds and Cultists to put together some decent turns.  I decided to grab Bishops and try to win through attrition.  Rabid ended the game on piles (Ruins, Cultist, and Distant Lands) on turn 22 to win 23 - 10.  I don't think Distant Lands was great on that board, but Rabid demonstrated that it was one way to end the game after winning the Ruins split.

Game 3 (3596717)

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Militia, Port, Temple, Cultist, Distant Lands, Groundskeeper, Duchess, Vagrant, Philosopher's Stone, Duplicate, Museum
Rabid went first.  We both opened Militia + Silver and followed it up with Cultist + Ports on turns 3 and 4.  We eventually got 3 Cultists a piece, though Rabid got his earlier.  I ended up losing the Ruins split 7-3 again, but this wasn't nearly as catastrophic as in Game 2.  Due to Museum, I had a point advantage.  So, my plan was to empty piles aggressively while staying in the lead.  We each got a Temple on turn 10.  I ended up getting a Duplicate on turn 12 and another one on turn 15, which gave me some pile control.  I bought a Temple on turn 19 for 6 VP.  I managed to empty piles on turn 20 (Ruins, Port, Vagrant) for a 34 - 21 VP victory.  No green cards were purchased.  It was a weird game.

Following this game, Rabid vetoed two kingdoms because they were unfriendly to Distant Lands, or just plain unpleasant.  I didn't catch the first game Id, but the second was 3597007 (where it looked like Keep would dominate in VP department).

Game 4 (3597061)

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Distant Lands, Giant, Groundskeeper, Horn of Plenty, Wine Merchant, Envoy, Magpie, Poacher, Salvager, Baker, Baths
I went first.  We both opened Magpie + Salvager.  By the end of turn 6, our decks were pretty similar, each of us had a Baker and a Horn of Plenty.  I had a couple extra Magpies (one purchased, one gained).  Rabid had an extra Silver and Groundskeeper.  At that point, our strategies diverged.  Rabid stuck to a single Horn of Plenty and went heavily into Groundskeepers, gaining five by turn 11 and buying his first Distant Lands.  I decided to get three more Horns of Plenty, to take advantage of my Magpie lead.  I gained a couple more Magpies with Horn of Plenty and a few more from Magpie plays, to win the split 8-2 by turn 10.  Beginning turn 10, I started gaining Groundskeepers.  In turn 11, I drew three HoPs and gained 4 Groundskeepers!  At that point, I switched to gaining Bakers with my Horns and buying green.  I bought a Province on turn 12.  Rabid bought another Distant Lands on turn 12.  I couldn't even afford a Duchy on turn 13.  Rabid bought another Distant Lands, bringing him up to 7 VP from Groundskeeper VP, but he hadn't played a single Distant Lands.  On turn 14, I drew well enough to end the game on piles (Magpie, Groundskeeper, Baker) while buying a Duchy to win 13 - 7.  I think the key cards on this board were Magpie, Horn of Plenty, and Groundskeeper.  I was fortunate to win the Magpie split so completely.  Distant Lands weren't very good.  Nobody visited the Baths.

Game 5 (3597298)

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Festival, Junk Dealer, Merchant Guild, Patrol, Pillage, Annex, Lighthouse, Merchant, Swindler, Cultist, Distant Lands, Training
Rabid went first.  We both opened Swindler + Lighthouse.  We both bought Lighthouses early and often.  We ended up with four each after my Swindler trashed two of Rabid's.  I bought a Cultist on my first $5.  It only managed to sneak in one Ruin, and so was probably a mistake.  We both got two Junk Dealers.  We then transitioned into buying Festivals and Patrols to draw our decks.  Rabid put Training on Lighthouse (not optimal).  I put training on Festivals (which we split 5/5).  Rabid started buying Distant Lands on turn 14.  I started greening on turn 16, with a double Province and Festival purchase.  Rabid followed up with a Province and two Distant Lands on turn 17.  I had a partial dud and could only buy a Province and a Patrol.  On turn 18, Rabid got all his Distant Lands into play (4) and bought another Province.  I had another partial dud and bought a Duchy and Province (lowering the pile to two).  On turn 19, Rabid did not dud and was able to draw his deck and buy the last two Provinces for the win (43 - 27).  I definitely handicapped myself a little by not dipping into Distant Lands this game.  The extra green cards in my deck made it a little more likely for me to dud.

Game 6 (3597745)

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Bazaar, Distant Lands, Forum, Mountebank, Upgrade, Aqueduct, Scrying Pool, Harbinger, Steward, Swindler, Transmogrify
Rabid went first and opened Potion + Steward.  I had a 5/2 and opened with Mountebank.  Rabid focused on trashing and buying Scrying Pools.  He bought an Upgrade over Mountebank on turn 5, which surprised me.  I wasn't fond of an early Steward (due to potential collision with Mountebank), so I bought two Upgrades and two Harbingers (to see my power $5s more often) on turns 3-6.  I bought a Bazaar and Steward on turns 6+7 to make it more likely that I could play my Mountebank each turn.  I finally bought a Potion on turn 9, and a Transmogrify on turn 10.  By turn 11, Rabid had bought 4 Scrying Pools, 2 Upgrades, and two Harbingers.  Due to my superior deck cycling, I was able to buy five Scrying Pools on turns 11-15 and play Mountebank three times.  Unfortunately, Rabid blocked Mountebank all three times.  However, Rabid had a lot of duds, and was only able to buy a Scrying Pool and a Transmogrify on turns 12-15.  On turn 15, I decided that Distant Lands were too good to ignore on this board.  It's possible that I could have set up some big three-pile for Duchies, but gaining and playing Distant Lands midturn was so much safer.  Starting on my turn 15, both Rabid and I used our Transmogrifies and Upgrades to gain Distant Lands, and we also bought Distant Lands.  Action space was limited, so we both trashed our Stewards.  Rabid gained a Bazaar.  I also finally gained a second Bazaar on turn 18 to be able to (theoretically) play a Mountebank and two Distant Lands.  Foolishly, however, I left the piles low enough (Scrying Pool, Transmogrify, Distant Lands) for Rabid to take the win on turn 18 (18 - 17 VP) with some Transmogrify shenanigans and a fortunate draw.

Game 7 (3598315)

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Trader, Bandit Camp, Distant Lands, Upgrade, Forge, Wall, Gear, Merchant, Steward, Noble Brigand, Remodel
I went first.  I determined that the engine would definitely want to play with Distant Lands, so I decided to attempt a money strategy instead (though I had my doubts about my chances).  I decided to play with Gear and Upgrade.  I opened with Gear + Silver.  I bought Upgrade and a second Gear on turns 3 and 4.  I chose not to buy a Silver (or Gear) on turn 5 - expecting to get all I needed from Upgrade gains.  By turn 8, I had Upgraded a Copper and all my Estates (into Silver x2 + Gear) and bought two more Upgrades and a Gold.  Rabid opened with Steward and Silver, got an early Merchant, an Upgrade on his first $5, and two Bandip Camps on turns 7 and 8 - and thinned heavily.  On turn 9, I bought my first Province.  On turn 10, I trashed a Copper, an Upgrade for a Gold, and bought a Gold. On each of turns 11-14, I bought a Province, setting the pace of the game.  I also Upgraded an Upgrade into Gold.  Rabid bought Distant Lands on turns 9-13, thinned his deck, and got all five into play by turn 14.  Rabid bought a Province on turn 14, putting the Province pile to two.  I was sufferring -6 VP due to Wall, so Rabid led 26 - 24 heading into turn 15.  So, I Duchy danced, but Rabid was able to buy the last two Provinces (and gain a Duchy) on turns 15 and 16 to win 41 - 29.  Rabid and I agreed after the game that the combination of Distant Lands and Wall was what flipped the board in favor of the engine.

Game 8 (3598655)

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Talisman, Crown, Distant Lands, Mine, Royal Seal, Conquest, Embargo, Herbalist, Stonemason, Fortune Teller, Scheme, Pathfinding
I went first.  Both Rabid and I ended up getting Pathfinding on Scheme and our early buys are targetted to that goal.  We both opened double Silver.  Rabid was able to get Gold and Mine on turns 3 + 4!  I wasn't so fortunate, and I settled for Embargo + Royal Seal.  In retrospect, Mine was pretty reasonable on this board, and I probably should have picked one up (though Royal Seal was good in the midgame).  I bought another Embargo on turn 5.  I was a gentleman and chose not to Embargo Distant Lands (at Rabid's request), though he could have hypothetically worked around the issue by using Stonemason gains (either play or buy) to get Distant Lands.  I bought a Gold on turn 6 and Pathfinding on turn 7 (despite having no Schemes...).  Rabid gained two Silvers (from Mine), three Schemes, three Crowns, and a Stonemason on turns 5-9.  He bought Pathfinding on turn 10.  I overbought Stonemason for two Schemes on turns 8, 9, and 10.  On turn 11, I used Stonemason to gain the last Scheme (winning the split 7-3) and gained three Crowns and a Stonemason.  I can't seem to see the end of the game (maybe an undo bug?).  Ultimately, I believe Rabid got some points from Distant Lands.  I got some points from Conquest, which might have been a mistake.  Once again, I misplayed the endgame and left the piles low enough for Rabid to win (Scheme, Crown, Stonemason).  It's hard to say how valuable Distant Lands were here.  Certainly, they were a viable way to get points.  But, I think I could have done a lot better if I had gotten a Mine of my own and either worked up to Platinum for Colonies or just got Golds to Stonemason into Duchies.

Ultimately, Rabid won 5 games and I won 3 games.  Of the 10 kingdoms we saw, Distant Lands was definitely a part of the optimal strategy in three of those games (Games 5, 6, and 7).  Distant Lands were marginally or arguably useful in three other games (Games 1, 2, and 8 ) - but they did not impact the outcome.  Thanks for the games, Rabid!  Please weigh in if I'm misrepresenting something.
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