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Author Topic: The Value of Loan  (Read 1611 times)

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Bowi

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The Value of Loan
« on: September 24, 2017, 05:44:08 pm »
+6




Loan is much-maligned trasher. It is constantly criticized for what it can't do, but seldom praised for what it does well. It's a card that occasionally "feels bad" when you play it. Perception, however, does not always match up with performance. Let's look at the specific things this card can and cannot do.


Cannot:
  • Loan cannot trash Estates
This is obviously a major thing not to have. Trashing Estates is excellent for your deck. However, there are plenty of respectable to great trashers that can only trash Copper (Moneylender, Spice Merchant, Counterfeit).
  • Loan cannot avoid skipping your good cards
Skipping a valuable card hurts, especially on your first shuffle, where you do not yet have the ability to cycle your deck quickly. However, there is only a 5/48 (about 10.42%) chance of Loan skipping your $4 buy on the first shuffle. That chance goes up the more good cards you have, but the impact of skipping cards goes down.
  • Loan cannot always trash Copper with Silver in your deck
This is actually not a big deal. First of all, when you're going for an engine (i.e. when you would buy Loan) you generally try to go as light on Silver as possible. Second, even if you buy a Silver, you only have a 1/8 (12.5%) chance of hitting it with Loan. Lastly, you may not even need Silver since Loan has pretty good economy for a trasher.
  • Loan cannot trash Copper from your hand
This comes into play late in the game when you're drawing your whole deck. It's kind of unfortunate, but generally most of your coppers will be gone by this point.


Can
  • Loan can trash a Copper from your deck
This is quite a bit better than trashing from your hand for two reasons. One is that you don't have to reduce your buy power for this turn, and the other is that you don't have to draw that Copper on this shuffle.
  • Loan can give $4 hands often early
Since Loan does not trash from your hand and it gives $1 of its own, it is actually pretty solid at having valuable hands early. In a deck of only the ten starting cards and one Loan, Loan's average hand value is $3.8.
  • Loan can be played with an action
Loan is a treasure, therefore it does not require an action to play. One does not have to worry about colliding Loan with your $4 buy on the first shuffle, nor does one have to buy villages to ensure repeated plays.

The "cannots" are generally overblown and the "cans" underrated. This has led to Loan being ranked 37th out of 49 $3 cards. Normally to argue against this one would compare Loan to another $3 cards that's above it, but it has a far more comparable analog:


Loan vs Spice Merchant

Early in the game, Loan actually has an edge on Spice Merchant. While Spice Merchant has to decide between drawing and non-terminality or a consistent $2, Loan gets non-terminality, $2, and cycling always. As the average value of the deck rises above Copper, +2 Cards becomes more valuable than $2. Once the whole deck is being drawn, Spice Merchant can give +Buy while Loan cannot hit the Coppers in hand. Even though Spice Merchant is clearly the better card overall, it's a testament to Loan's strength that it can compare to one of the stronger $4.

As for a comparable $3, the closest is probably Lookout, which is 17 ranks above Loan. Each has advantages over the other (Lookout can trash Estates but has trouble finding them, Loan can't trash Estates but can easily find Coppers), but overall they are about the same power level. Forager is another comparable card (rank 10) that can trash Estates, but provides no economy until someone trashes a treasure.


TL;DR: Loan could stand to move up 15 or more spots on the rankings.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2017, 06:17:32 pm by Bowi »
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Awaclus

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2017, 06:07:52 pm »
+1

More importantly, Loan helps you hit $5 if you pair it up with something else that you'd normally use for hitting $5 (preferably not Silver, but Silver can do if there's nothing else), and it doesn't slow your cycling down since it removes a stop card from your draw pile, and it might even speed your cycling up if it skips over some Estates but you shouldn't count on that, it's not very common.

I'd certainly say that Loan is at least as strong as Forager. If Forager is in the game, you buy one so that you can trash the Estates at all, but you also buy a Loan because its effect is better.
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KingPeter

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2017, 06:26:53 pm »
0

It's a solid light trasher in Big Money games.  It doesn't take up terminal space, so Smithy/Loan is usually better than Smithy/Silver.  In engines, Loan is probably too slow and too limited.

Loan as a trasher is better than Forager, although Forager can be used as a payload.
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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2017, 06:32:40 pm »
+5

When everything lines up correctly, Loan is similar to a Junk Dealer for $3, trashing a Copper and leaving you with a four card hand.

Of course, Junk Dealer is infinitely more flexible. You can toss a few Junk Dealers into almost any deck and they will be useful, trashing Curses, Estate, Coppers and other junk before finally trashing themselves when the other junk is gone.

Loan is often a good opener on a 3-4, but it's range of applicability is narrow - mostly trashing copper in decks that don't have a lot of other treasures.
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aku_chi

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2017, 07:05:19 pm »
+8

It's a solid light trasher in Big Money games.  It doesn't take up terminal space, so Smithy/Loan is usually better than Smithy/Silver.  In engines, Loan is probably too slow and too limited.

This seems precisely backwards.  It's rarely worth it to trash Copper in money strategies, and Loan is especially poor at Copper trashing in a deck that has a bunch of treasures that you want to keep.  But, sometimes, Loan is the only/best way to get rid of your starting Copper, and the engine is improved by eliminating the Copper.  If you can get by without buying any other treasures, you can even feel good about buying Loan.

Forager is much better than Loan.  It isn't even close.  Does any Loan-lover want to play a match where Loan and Forager are always in the kingdom, I can't buy Loan, and you can't buy Forager?
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KingPeter

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2017, 07:28:00 pm »
0

It's a solid light trasher in Big Money games.  It doesn't take up terminal space, so Smithy/Loan is usually better than Smithy/Silver.  In engines, Loan is probably too slow and too limited.

This seems precisely backwards.  It's rarely worth it to trash Copper in money strategies, and Loan is especially poor at Copper trashing in a deck that has a bunch of treasures that you want to keep.  But, sometimes, Loan is the only/best way to get rid of your starting Copper, and the engine is improved by eliminating the Copper.  If you can get by without buying any other treasures, you can even feel good about buying Loan.

Forager is much better than Loan.  It isn't even close.  Does any Loan-lover want to play a match where Loan and Forager are always in the kingdom, I can't buy Loan, and you can't buy Forager?

I think Loan is slow enough that it's fine in BM, unlike Chapel.  When it's the only trasher, it's better than no trashing.  As a whole, Forager is better, but only because it can do more than just trash Copper.
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Limetime

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2017, 07:45:49 pm »
+3

While Spice Merchant has to decide between sifting and non-terminality or a consistent $2,
Drawing is much better than sifting.

It's a solid light trasher in Big Money games.  It doesn't take up terminal space, so Smithy/Loan is usually better than Smithy/Silver.  In engines, Loan is probably too slow and too limited.

Loan as a trasher is better than Forager, although Forager can be used as a payload.
According to the geronimoo's simulator
Smithy money without loan beats with smithy money with loan by 59.99% to 32.48%
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 07:53:43 pm by Limetime »
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Bowi

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2017, 08:01:07 pm »
0

While Spice Merchant has to decide between sifting and non-terminality or a consistent $2,
Drawing is much better than sifting.

I changed the wording to clarify what I was saying. Sifting was 100% the wrong word. My point basically is that Spice Merchant can't both give you $2 guaranteed and cycle your deck faster. If you choose the option that helps you cycle you have a good chance of not drawing the $2 that you otherwise could have had.
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Commodore Chuckles

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2017, 08:33:51 pm »
0

It's definitely underrated. Its drawbacks are only magnified by perception, I think. The fact that it's "only" a Copper on play is actually pretty good considering its other abilities. The fact that it can only trash treasures is a problem, but really, trashing 7 practically-junk cards is almost always better than trashing 3 completely-junk cards. Then there's the fact that it can trip over your good treasures, but even that's not completely terrible, because treasures are stop cards and engine creep continues to make treasures worse anyway. The comparison with Lookout is apt; both are solid trashers with unfortunate drawbacks that can make them seem worse than they actually are. Hey, maybe we'll see its Qvist ranking improve because of this discussion. Though it'll be interesting to see how Heirlooms affect it.

Also, all of this should probably be in the Let's Discuss section.
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Seprix

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2017, 09:02:01 pm »
+1

Loan is certainly underrated, but no way it's ever better than a Spice Merchant.
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Bowi

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2017, 09:09:31 pm »
+1

Loan is certainly underrated, but no way it's ever better than a Spice Merchant.

When I said Loan has an early game edge, I meant in power of effect not power of purchase. You should always buy Spice Merchant over Loan because of its mid and late game power. Maybe I should clarify in the OP.
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DG

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2017, 09:47:54 pm »
+6

Problems with loan
- Is itself a fancy copper so even after you've trashed one copper it is doing no better than breaking even. You need to play the loan a lot more times to make it worthwhile.
- Getting multiple loans always seems poor (so doesn't solve the speed problem above)
- Bad with potions and other kingdom treasures
- It isn't good at creating a 5 coin hand on turn 3 or 4 and continues to erode income after that (depending upon the deck)
- hinders control of the draw deck and risks badly timed shuffles (especially if the starting estates are still around)
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Cave-o-sapien

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2017, 01:36:43 am »
0

This is obviously a major thing not to have. Trashing Estates is excellent for your deck. However, there are plenty of respectable to great trashers that can only trash Copper (Moneylender, Spice Merchant, Counterfeit).

I assume you meant Treasure here and not Copper, specifically?

Good article. I think it's worth mentioning that there are situations where you should probably forego playing a Loan from your hand (e.g. Turn 3 with Sea Hag still in deck) and that diminishes its expected value.

- Bad with potions and other kingdom treasures

How does it fare with Venture? Sure there's the Loan->Venture anti-synergy, but Loan makes Venture better in the long run, and Venture->Loan isn't bad.
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faust

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2017, 01:43:11 am »
0

It could probably be noted that Loan also cycles your deck, which is nice. This improves its mid to late game performance - if you play an engine and trigger a bad shuffle, Loan can do a Chancellor effect. Early on, you shuffle more often with Loan, which is also a positive.
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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2017, 03:09:44 am »
0

While Spice Merchant has to decide between sifting and non-terminality or a consistent $2,
Drawing is much better than sifting.

It's a solid light trasher in Big Money games.  It doesn't take up terminal space, so Smithy/Loan is usually better than Smithy/Silver.  In engines, Loan is probably too slow and too limited.

Loan as a trasher is better than Forager, although Forager can be used as a payload.
According to the geronimoo's simulator
Smithy money without loan beats with smithy money with loan by 59.99% to 32.48%

I suspect the simulator is not playing loan correctly... loan probably is a poor decision but I don't see it shifting the winrates quite that harshly on its own.
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Awaclus

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2017, 04:22:03 am »
0

Forager is much better than Loan.  It isn't even close.  Does any Loan-lover want to play a match where Loan and Forager are always in the kingdom, I can't buy Loan, and you can't buy Forager?

No, but I can play a match where Loan and Forager are always in the kingdom, you can't buy Loan and I can't buy more than one Forager.
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Awaclus

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2017, 04:28:44 am »
+4

Good article. I think it's worth mentioning that there are situations where you should probably forego playing a Loan from your hand (e.g. Turn 3 with Sea Hag still in deck) and that diminishes its expected value.

You should absolutely play Loan if it's turn 3 and you still have the Sea Hag in your deck. The chance of skipping the Sea Hag is very small (the exact number depends on the number of Estates you have in your hand), and there's an equal chance that the Loan actually prevents the Hag from missing the reshuffle where it otherwise would have.
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Gazbag

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2017, 10:06:42 am »
+5

When you play the game of Loans, you thin or you die.
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Cave-o-sapien

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2017, 02:38:16 pm »
0

Good article. I think it's worth mentioning that there are situations where you should probably forego playing a Loan from your hand (e.g. Turn 3 with Sea Hag still in deck) and that diminishes its expected value.

You should absolutely play Loan if it's turn 3 and you still have the Sea Hag in your deck. The chance of skipping the Sea Hag is very small (the exact number depends on the number of Estates you have in your hand), and there's an equal chance that the Loan actually prevents the Hag from missing the reshuffle where it otherwise would have.

How dare you use probability to disprove my hypothetical scenario!

So the worst-case scenario, in terms of skipping, is Loan + 4 Coppers, in which case you've got 3 Estates, the Hag and 3 Coppers left in your deck. And yeah, looking at it that way, I'd still play the Loan, and that's before considering that it's the difference between $4 and $5 that turn.

This anecdote-based Sea Hag FOMO is a good thing to address in the article, and I think your point about Loan potentially saving the $4 card from missing the reshuffle would be a nice addition to the "Loan cannot avoid skipping your good cards" section.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 02:46:46 pm by Cave-o-sapien »
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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2017, 02:56:58 pm »
+1

The more appropriate (and less clear) example is turn 4 loan with Estate + Seahag remaining in draw pile (or potentially copper + seahag, but I think you just play the loan there).
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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2017, 03:00:57 pm »
+1

Good article. I think it's worth mentioning that there are situations where you should probably forego playing a Loan from your hand (e.g. Turn 3 with Sea Hag still in deck) and that diminishes its expected value.

You should absolutely play Loan if it's turn 3 and you still have the Sea Hag in your deck. The chance of skipping the Sea Hag is very small (the exact number depends on the number of Estates you have in your hand), and there's an equal chance that the Loan actually prevents the Hag from missing the reshuffle where it otherwise would have.

Assuming you only have one Sea Hag in your deck, the odds of skipping it is 1/(n+1), where n is the number of Treasures in your deck. It does not depend on the number of Estates or anything else in your hand or elsewhere, unless that was a roundabout way of saying what I just said?

So, for example, if it's turn 3 and you have Loan and three coppers in hand, hence four coppers in your deck, the odds of skipping Sea Hag are 20%.
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Awaclus

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2017, 03:10:35 pm »
+1

Assuming you only have one Sea Hag in your deck, the odds of skipping it is 1/(n+1), where n is the number of Treasures in your deck. It does not depend on the number of Estates or anything else in your hand or elsewhere, unless that was a roundabout way of saying what I just said?

Well, yeah. There's a direct correlation between how many Estates are in your hand and how many Treasures are in your deck.
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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2017, 01:43:46 pm »
0

Second, even if you buy a Silver, you only have a 1/8 (12.5%) chance of hitting it with Loan. Lastly, you may not even need Silver since Loan has pretty good economy for a trasher.

This feels disingenuous. Of course you only have a 1/8 chance on the first shuffle. But nobody buys Loan planning to use it only once anyway. On the first use of Loan, you're only breaking even (you bought a glorified Copper, and you used it's special ability to trash a regular Copper. Same money density and distribution as when you started). It's going to take a few more uses to pay off noticeably.

I think the more valuable point you made is that you may not need the Silver at all (and would argue that buying Treasures instead of Actions that give money is a poor move if you're going for Loan)

However, there is only a 5/66 (about 7.6%) chance of Loan skipping your $4 buy on the first shuffle

I'd love to see the calculations on this if you have it. I haven't finished doing the math, but so far it looks like it's going to be at least 10% (but certainly no more than 23%. So either way, your point stands about Loan not being likely to skip your other opening Buy)
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Bowi

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2017, 06:34:17 pm »
+2

Problems with loan
- Is itself a fancy copper so even after you've trashed one copper it is doing no better than breaking even. You need to play the loan a lot more times to make it worthwhile.
- Getting multiple loans always seems poor (so doesn't solve the speed problem above)
- Bad with potions and other kingdom treasures
- It isn't good at creating a 5 coin hand on turn 3 or 4 and continues to erode income after that (depending upon the deck)
- hinders control of the draw deck and risks badly timed shuffles (especially if the starting estates are still around)

-This is true of literally every trasher that trashes one at a time. For Loan the payoff comes in the shuffle after you play it rather than the shuffle after that, so in a way it's faster.
-Getting multiple Loans is not always poor, though generally one is enough. As stated in the article collision with treasures is uncommon and not harmful enough to skip trashing.
-Kingdom treasures are not reason enough to skip trashing your Coppers. Fool's Gold, Quarry, and Potion are the only ones to really worry about anyway since most kingdom treasures are bad or acquired later.
-This is true, but on the flipside it doesn't risk colliding with your 5 coin spiker (generally a terminal Silver).
-This is also true, and certainly a downside of Loan later in the game. Loan sputters as you begin to control your deck.

The overall point is that
  • If Loan is the only Copper trasher, then you definitely need it.
  • Loan works great in tandem with other trashers when they are available (except for the strongest of trashers).
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Bowi

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Re: The Value of Loan
« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2017, 06:42:30 pm »
+1

This feels disingenuous. Of course you only have a 1/8 chance on the first shuffle. But nobody buys Loan planning to use it only once anyway. On the first use of Loan, you're only breaking even (you bought a glorified Copper, and you used it's special ability to trash a regular Copper. Same money density and distribution as when you started). It's going to take a few more uses to pay off noticeably.

I think the more valuable point you made is that you may not need the Silver at all (and would argue that buying Treasures instead of Actions that give money is a poor move if you're going for Loan)
I agree that not needing Silver at all is the more valuable point. Maybe I'll add more emphasis to it. I just wanted to point out that opening Loan/Silver isn't the worst thing ever.

I'd love to see the calculations on this if you have it. I haven't finished doing the math, but so far it looks like it's going to be at least 10% (but certainly no more than 23%. So either way, your point stands about Loan not being likely to skip your other opening Buy)
I did a new calculation since I didn't consider all variables. It came out at 5/48 or 10.42%:
2*5/12*(1/11+3/11*(1/10+2/10*(1/9+1/9*1/8))
2*5/12: Chance of Loan being in your first or second hadn
1/11: Chance of $4 being the top deck
3/11: Chance of Estate being the top deck
1/10: Chance of $4 being the next top deck after one Estate
2/10: Chance of second Estate being the next top deck after one Estate
1/9: Chance of $4 being the next top deck after two Estates
1/9: Chance of third Estate being the next top deck after two Estates
1/8: Chance of $4 being the top deck after 3 straight Estates
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