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tripwire

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Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« on: September 30, 2017, 05:18:30 pm »
+26

I'm taking the plunge and posting a potential article. This is certainly a rough draft, so feel free to give any kinds of feedback you want.

In particular I'm concerned about these things at the moment:This article is a little different than the kinds of stuff that normally gets posted here, so I'm curious if anybody thinks stuff like this is worthwhile. Additionally, I'm curious if people think the different "plateaus" I've identified are distinct and useful? I know that many people's actual experience with Dominion may not match one-to-one with what's described here, but is this close enough to a general experience? And more importantly, do you think these tiers of Dominion mastery are useful to consider? Is this too long?

Ultimately, I'm writing this to encourage people to continue in their mastery of dominion regardless of their level and to give people a potential roadmap for that development. Do you think this does that?



Common Skill “Plateaus” in Mastering Dominion

Dominion is a deep game, but a lot of that depth isn’t always evident when you first start, or even as you start becoming better. This a great quality for a game, but it can also lead some people to never fully appreciate everything this game has to offer.

The purpose of this article is to describe common skill “plateaus” that people often progress through as they become more skilled at Dominion. I’m calling them plateaus because it seems like many players’ progression is marked by a number of significant breakthroughs and then a period of time where they fixate on that breakthrough, before moving on. I think this is common, natural, and even useful for learning the game.

To be clear, I don’t see this progression of plateaus as a bad thing. In some ways, I actually think it’s a necessary experience. By moving through these plateaus, players tend to develop knowledge and techniques important for strong Dominion play in isolation, before moving onto new elements. That being said, not everyone’s experience is going to be exactly the same as what I present here, nor does it have to be. Ultimately, I just want to give players (mostly beginning to intermediate players) a sense of what they might know or be good at and where they might go next in their mastery of Dominion.

One potential downside of this plateau-like progression is that sometimes players reach a plateau and assume, “Well, I guess I got this all figured out. I’ve solved Dominion!” For example, there’s countless stories of people who felt this way when they discovered “big money.” This happens because each breakthrough can lead to you crushing your peers who have yet to make that same breakthrough, and the next breakthrough might take you a while to recognize. As a result, I hope this article can help those who think they’ve “solved” Dominion. If that describes you, hopefully this can show you how there’s still more to consider before you’ve “mastered” this game. Or, if that describes someone you know, I hope this can help you encourage them to stick with the game. I think very few games can continue to be as rewarding to play for as long as Dominion.

Sea Level – Just buying stuff

We all got to start somewhere, and I think the best (only?) way to learn Dominion is to just buy stuff and see how it works. At this point, people just buy cool cards, often the most expensive cards they can afford and aim to have the most points when the provinces run out. I don’t think many people stay at this level for too long (very quickly people run into problems with having more actions in hand than you can play (terminal collision), or getting stuck with small amounts of money, and learn that they need some semblance of a plan) but some people will already give up on the game here. At this stage, the game can feel really luck based. And sure, there always will be some luck in Dominion, but the first hurdle to overcome is to start trying to figure out how to minimize that luck. In other words, to steal Adam Horton’s phrase, you need to start to “make your own shuffle luck.”
One other thing I want to note is that just because people often start at this point, don’t assume that new players who do this aren’t having any fun. Try to keep in mind how much you enjoyed the game even when you were at this point. Buying stuff is fun. Playing that stuff is fun. Seeing what’s going to happen is fun. Take solace in this fact, and don’t force people to climb these plateaus faster than they want to.

1000 ft – Big Money

One of the easiest ways to mitigate terminal collision or lack of money is to just buy lots of treasure. Trying this leads to the discovery of what many call “big money.” This strategy involves buying mostly treasure, non-terminal actions, and only a couple terminal actions. It’s not usually the best strategy, but it is a strategy. In other words, it will crush those playing at “sea-level.” This level is especially dangerous because even though it can be fun to start winning more, it means many games will play out in the same way (you buy silver, then gold, then provinces). The good news is that this level can start giving people a taste of plateaus to come. For example, greening too early can make a big money deck fall apart, so it can serve as the basis of considerations of tempo.

Although some people find big money boring, there’s 3 things I want to note. First, as you get better, big money will rarely be the best strategy on the board. In other words, you eventually won’t be playing big money that often. Second, as you begin to understand finer strategic and tactical considerations, you start to recognize that even big money games often require important decisions. And it can feel really good when you recognize those rare moments where big money is the best strategy. Finally, just because you might find big money boring, some people still find it fun. For example, one of my nephews loves nothing more than buying and playing Golds and Platinums; and I have a suspicion that Tom Vassal is a big money lover (check out his favorite Dominion cards for evidence).

3000 ft – Knowing the Power Cards and Combos

Eventually people will start to realize that some cards are just stronger than others, whether that’s always the case or only in specific situations. I think it’s at this point that many people discover dominionstrategy.com, whether that’s through the wiki, the many single card articles, or Qvist’s annual power rankings. People start thinking, “If Mountebank is on the board I need to get one as soon as possible,” “I should open Chapel and trash all my starting cards as quickly as possible,” “Wait, Pirate ship isn’t amazing?” etc.

I think this is one of the most important stages for people’s Dominion development. It’s when people start learning the ins-and-outs of each card, common card archetypes, and how some card synergies can end up being crazy. But it also carries its own dangers. People might think that the game just comes down to memorizing various combos or card power levels, and following the right script every time those cards show up. But like big money, even though these rules-of-thumb will beat people below “3000 ft,” these strategies will often flounder against players thinking on a higher plateau. [thinking about putting a link to the game where Counting House beat Mountebank, anybody have a link?]

5000 ft – Engines

The next step is to start putting all the pieces together to build what people call an engine. Engines often use multiple different cards that serve different roles to eventually be able to draw one’s whole deck (or lots of it anyway) and produce high buying and gaining power. At this plateau players don’t look at cards individually, but rather as card archetypes or card categories (e.g. village, trasher, +buy, draw, payload, etc.) Then they fit these different archetypes together. These decks often start buying victory cards much later than big money decks, but buy them much more quickly once they do. Furthermore, they can often gain multiple cards, so they can force a three pile ending much more easily, giving them great endgame control. As a result, engines are the best deck to be built for most Dominion kingdoms.

This is the level where I find that Dominion really shines. Unlike big money, each engine plays out a little differently, can use a wide range of cards, and can produce really powerful interactions. That being said, this plateau offers its own dangers as well. Building a strong engine is hard, so players can become discouraged. I also see players who can get too caught up in this stage. When you first start playing engines it often makes sense to build a lot longer than you normally would, but sometimes players build for too long so that by the time they start buying victory cards they can’t catch up quickly enough. Additionally, even though engines are often the best thing to do on a board, they aren’t always. Try to start recognizing the times when a big money deck or something else is actually the better choice.

7000 ft – Tactical Awareness

Dominion is sometimes criticized as being a multiplayer solitaire game. In other words, people think each player is just playing by themselves until the game ends. But even when there are no cards with explicit player interaction (attacks, council room, etc.), good players always need to pay attention to what other players are doing. Over time, players start becoming aware of little tactical considerations such as winning splits, PPR, endgame control, shuffle control, deck tracking, deck tempo. Each of these considerations has the potential to increase a player’s win-rate.

This “plateau” isn’t as monolithic as the others. In my experience, people tend to pick these different principles up here and there as they are learning the game, but it’s these fine-tunings can make the difference at higher levels of play. I also wanted to highlight this “plateau” to challenge those who do think of the game as multiplayer solitaire. At higher levels of play, that’s should never be the case.

10000 ft & counting – The Holistic Perspective (or “it depends on the board”)

The final stage of one’s dominion development is to bring all of these things together and to recognize that each subsequent “plateau” is not always better than another one. Sometimes, big money will be best, sometimes an engine, sometimes you’ll find a new synergy that you have never experienced, and often the best strategy on a board will not fit into any neat category or deck type. Every principle or rule of thumb in Dominion can prove to be wrong depending on the cards on the board. There’s always an edgecase. As a result, allow yourself some flexibility, continue updating your assumptions about dominion strategy, and always ask yourself what could I have done differently? This doesn’t mean throw everything you learned in previous “plateaus” out the window, but open up some space for creativity, for experimentation, for having some fun.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 06:06:39 pm by tripwire »
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markusin

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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2017, 06:02:09 pm »
+1

I'm reading this, and realizing that I was basically stuck at 3000-ft (power cards + combos) throughout the Isotropic era of Dominion. I remember feeling like any Iso level 40+ player had insight I couldn't grasp.

I think Empires has made the 7000-ft (tactical considerations) plateau much more apparent with its landmarks and gathering cards. Dominion feels much more complicated.
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Awaclus

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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2017, 06:44:57 pm »
+2

I just quickly skimmed through the descriptions you wrote about each plateau, but I'm not really sure if there are any plateaus beyond engines. After that, you just get gradually better at the game. If you look at what various top players are doing, I don't think there's currently one standard that everyone is striving to achieve or one milestone that all the pros have reached, but rather, different individuals have different strengths.

If there is a concrete point at which you can say that you've finally reached the stage that's better than just engines, I don't think any of us are there yet or know what it is.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 06:47:42 pm by Awaclus »
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2017, 06:27:52 am »
+8

I like that the highest Plateau is over 9000!
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2017, 12:21:44 pm »
0

I feel like 10,000 could be understanding the intricacies of the current board - a skill that gets better with experience and much better with practice
« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 02:40:47 pm by dedicateddan »
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2017, 12:39:51 pm »
+1

Post 10k: You understand the intricacies of kingdoms, but are now aware of mistakes you or opponent are making despite recognizing those intricacies and able to be critical of your plays.
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tripwire

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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2017, 11:15:06 am »
+1

I just quickly skimmed through the descriptions you wrote about each plateau, but I'm not really sure if there are any plateaus beyond engines. After that, you just get gradually better at the game. If you look at what various top players are doing, I don't think there's currently one standard that everyone is striving to achieve or one milestone that all the pros have reached, but rather, different individuals have different strengths.

If there is a concrete point at which you can say that you've finally reached the stage that's better than just engines, I don't think any of us are there yet or know what it is.

I didn't intend to suggest that once somebody moves past the "engine" plateau, that they don't play engines any more. Instead, they add to that understanding the various other considerations that make up strong dominion play. In general, each plateau doesn't obsolete the previous ones (except for maybe "sea level"), it adds to it. And I think people start playing with engines before they understand all the finer points of tactical play and deck control.

I'm also imagining some common mistakes for people at the "engine plateau" that top players are more aware of. For example, people at this stage often still try to follow some script of what an engine should be rather than try to determine what's best given the particular board state at any point in a game. For example, this is the point where people get too caught up in building their engine and fail to notice that piles are getting too low, or that their opponent has started greening early enough that they can come out ahead before their engine is fully "online."  That's why I don't think it's synonymous with high level play.

I feel like 10,000 could be understanding the intricacies of the current board - a skill that gets better with experience and much better with practice
Post 10k: You understand the intricacies of kingdoms, but are now aware of mistakes you or opponent are making despite recognizing those intricacies and able to be critical of your plays.

I agree with both of these statements. I wasn't exactly sure how to approach the 10,000 and beyond paragraph (I don't consider myself a "top" player). Generally, the idea I was thinking for this stage is that it's where you stop trying to follow particular "scripts" for play and focus more on the particular board and adapting to each particular moment throughout the game. Does that make sense? Do higher level players agree with that?

At the very least, I'll revise to include the importance of experience, practice, and self-critique at this stage.
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Awaclus

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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2017, 11:20:13 am »
+1

I didn't intend to suggest that once somebody moves past the "engine" plateau, that they don't play engines any more. Instead, they add to that understanding the various other considerations that make up strong dominion play. In general, each plateau doesn't obsolete the previous ones (except for maybe "sea level"), it adds to it. And I think people start playing with engines before they understand all the finer points of tactical play and deck control.

I'm also imagining some common mistakes for people at the "engine plateau" that top players are more aware of. For example, people at this stage often still try to follow some script of what an engine should be rather than try to determine what's best given the particular board state at any point in a game. For example, this is the point where people get too caught up in building their engine and fail to notice that piles are getting too low, or that their opponent has started greening early enough that they can come out ahead before their engine is fully "online."  That's why I don't think it's synonymous with high level play.

I know. What I was trying to say is that there are no more grand discoveries after you've discovered engines, there are just minor improvements. When the minor improvements pile up, you get a big difference in skill, but you can't point out any one thing that the lower skill player can learn to get on the better player's level.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2017, 11:28:12 am »
+3

I'm also imagining some common mistakes for people at the "engine plateau" that top players are more aware of. For example, people at this stage often still try to follow some script of what an engine should be rather than try to determine what's best given the particular board state at any point in a game. For example, this is the point where people get too caught up in building their engine and fail to notice that piles are getting too low, or that their opponent has started greening early enough that they can come out ahead before their engine is fully "online."  That's why I don't think it's synonymous with high level play.

A telltale sign that someone is stuck at this stage is a fixation on building to be able to gain two Provinces per turn.  In reality, there is nothing special about being able to gain two Provinces in a turn.  How long one should build is super context-dependent, and should never be scripted.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2017, 12:53:19 pm »
+1

I know. What I was trying to say is that there are no more grand discoveries after you've discovered engines, there are just minor improvements. When the minor improvements pile up, you get a big difference in skill, but you can't point out any one thing that the lower skill player can learn to get on the better player's level.

I agree with this. I feel like I'm on the slow incline that leads up from the Engine plateau. I don't see any big gaps in my understanding of the game, but rather hundreds of little tactical improvements.

Often, when I lose to a player 5+ levels higher than me, it's not that we did dramatically different things: there might just be one or two decisions that separate us. I don't think you can ascribe consistently making one more correct decision than your opponent to some plateau of higher understanding: I see it as an accumulation of experience.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2017, 01:35:12 pm »
+1

I know. What I was trying to say is that there are no more grand discoveries after you've discovered engines, there are just minor improvements. When the minor improvements pile up, you get a big difference in skill, but you can't point out any one thing that the lower skill player can learn to get on the better player's level.

I agree with this. I feel like I'm on the slow incline that leads up from the Engine plateau. I don't see any big gaps in my understanding of the game, but rather hundreds of little tactical improvements.

Often, when I lose to a player 5+ levels higher than me, it's not that we did dramatically different things: there might just be one or two decisions that separate us. I don't think you can ascribe consistently making one more correct decision than your opponent to some plateau of higher understanding: I see it as an accumulation of experience.

Yeah, and everyone learns these things in a different order. Sometimes you might be the person who more or less knows how to play a particular board while the 5+ levels higher opponent goes for a much weaker strategy or misses some key element about end game tactics or whatever. It happens to me both ways.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2017, 02:13:39 pm »
0

A critical aspect of improving at Dominion that this article is missing is when players learn the value of trashing, particularly for action-heavy decks. When a player learns to aggressively trash their starting deck when trying to build engines, that's a major improvement.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2017, 02:25:18 pm »
+2

While I can certainly see the case for "there are no plateaus, it's all just a continuum", it does help me to think in terms of plateaus and I generally agree with the ones you've mentioned.

I am therefore curious what other top players' thoughts are on what the 10,000ft+ plateaus are, how to get past them, etc. I feel like I went from 0 to 7000ft relatively quickly (like maybe in 50 games or so), but have been stuck at 10,000ft for over 5 years now.

Also, how does blaming bad luck for all losing come into play in all this? I feel like bad luck blaming is a hurdle inside ever plateau.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2017, 02:44:50 pm »
+1

I am therefore curious what other top players' thoughts are on what the 10,000ft+ plateaus are, how to get past them, etc. I feel like I went from 0 to 7000ft relatively quickly (like maybe in 50 games or so), but have been stuck at 10,000ft for over 5 years now.

I think a couple concepts under the 7000ft bucket are really hard and nobody has mastered; in particular: endgame control and deck tempo.

As a community, I think we recognize that endgame control is important and difficult: just look at the "forced win training" threads that pop up every now and again.  Endgame control is even harder when you back up a turn or two and consider how those decisions affect who is in the driver's seat as it concerns ending the game.

Deck tempo, on the other hand, is an underexplored topic.  I think it might be the most important concept in Dominion that I don't have a good framework for understanding.  Even the best players can have games snatched from them by a player that doesn't trash as aggressively or build as big, but manages to grab enough VP.  And on the flipside, I've also lost a fair few times where I overestimated the tempo of my deck and got really punished by a slower, bigger engine (usually via attacks).

So, I'd highlight those two as areas I'm working towards understanding better to improve as a player.  There's some other stuff, too, like not glossing over any of the kingdom cards or getting tunnel vision (10,000ft concepts), and executing on complicated midturn gaining better (boards with complicated midturn gaining really favor the top Dominion players).
« Last Edit: October 02, 2017, 03:04:27 pm by aku_chi »
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2017, 02:59:24 pm »
+1

As a 3k ft - 5k ft "Plateauee" I just want to say that I've really enjoyed reading your article. I see why some people struggle with the idea of categorizing an ongoing continuous progress. I think the plateaus can help to classify the own play style beside existing abstract mathematical ranking systems, but that's only my subjective viewpoint.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2017, 02:59:36 pm »
0

Perhaps the 10,000 ft level can be finding the elegant plays?

Playing with single terminal decks on boards without villages
Buying cards on turn 3 that end up being good on turn 9
Overdrawing by 1 card to ensure that you play all of your actions
Greening without introducing the possibility of dud turns

And generally, looking for lines that are as close to 100% reliable as possible
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2017, 03:57:28 pm »
+1

Also, how does blaming bad luck for all losing come into play in all this? I feel like bad luck blaming is a hurdle inside ever plateau.

Embrace it; man can wish for no better servant than the scapegoat.

As long as you're not giving up on your continuous process of looking for improvements you'll be fine. There only ever is a problem if you try to make yourself not feel things you are clearly feeling, and let the subsequently unresolved emotions obscure your vision.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2017, 04:01:28 pm »
+2

A critical aspect of improving at Dominion that this article is missing is when players learn the value of trashing, particularly for action-heavy decks. When a player learns to aggressively trash their starting deck when trying to build engines, that's a major improvement.

I agree. Chapel gets a mention in the 3,000 ft section, but the concept that trashing less useful (not just Curses) cards is (usually) a good thing -- and sometimes a VITAL thing -- is a HUGE step in playing this game well, and it's not obvious to many less experienced players.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2017, 04:10:21 pm »
+9

I agree. Chapel gets a mention in the 3,000 ft section, but the concept that trashing less useful (not just Curses) cards is (usually) a good thing -- and sometimes a VITAL thing -- is a HUGE step in playing this game well, and it's not obvious to many less experienced players.

Case in point:

I have a dozen or so text files saved with advice from opponents who just crushed me. The oldest one is from the 2nd of September 2012, it's quite amusing:

Quote
...
21:14 SheCantSayNo: e.g. why do you buy a Chapel as your first move with three coppers, rather than, say, a silver?
...
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2017, 09:35:22 pm »
0

Hey everybody, thanks for the great feedback. Just a heads up that revisions may take a little while, though. But I'm listening  :)

I know. What I was trying to say is that there are no more grand discoveries after you've discovered engines, there are just minor improvements. When the minor improvements pile up, you get a big difference in skill, but you can't point out any one thing that the lower skill player can learn to get on the better player's level.

Okay, I agree with this, and I'll try to make the more incremental nature after that a little bit clearer. As well as the fact that these skills are developed in a more or less random order at that point. But I still think it's useful to describe things beyond the "engine" plateau.

Maybe the metaphor falls apart at that point, though, and I should arrange the rest some other way? What do people think?

Also, how does blaming bad luck for all losing come into play in all this? I feel like bad luck blaming is a hurdle inside ever plateau.

I can certainly see the case for this concern to be present at all levels, but does that mean it's something I should repeat each time, or just make clearer in the first plateau that you might always feel the urge to use luck as an excuse not to examine your own play? Or, do people think I should make another plateau that addresses this and similar concerns: like, improving your "mental" game?

A critical aspect of improving at Dominion that this article is missing is when players learn the value of trashing, particularly for action-heavy decks. When a player learns to aggressively trash their starting deck when trying to build engines, that's a major improvement.

I'm down with that. Do people think this is significant enough that it needs to be its own "plateau"? Or, is there a specific place people think I should highlight it?
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Cave-o-sapien

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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2017, 11:26:18 pm »
0

Also, how does blaming bad luck for all losing come into play in all this? I feel like bad luck blaming is a hurdle inside ever plateau.

I can certainly see the case for this concern to be present at all levels, but does that mean it's something I should repeat each time, or just make clearer in the first plateau that you might always feel the urge to use luck as an excuse not to examine your own play? Or, do people think I should make another plateau that addresses this and similar concerns: like, improving your "mental" game?

I think being able to discern luck from skill accurately is a really important skill and one that is difficult to master. I think it's in the 10,000 ft. category. It's similar to something jsh said about recognizing your own mistakes.
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ConMan

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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2017, 01:31:52 am »
+3

Maybe you could put a few "footholds" in between plateaus - things that help you get to the next plateau. For example:

~1500 ft: You trash your starting deck and discover just how good it feels.

~6000 ft: You pay attention to the Penultimate Province Rule.

~6100 ft: You stop paying attention to the Penultimate Province Rule, and instead think about the best time to fire your engine off.

~7500 ft: You play BM against a weak engine and win.

(As someone hovering around 5200 ft, actual elevations are likely to be wrong.)
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sudgy

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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2017, 01:47:22 am »
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~6000 ft: You pay attention to the Penultimate Province Rule.

~6100 ft: You stop paying attention to the Penultimate Province Rule, and instead think about the best time to fire your engine off.

~7500 ft: You play BM against a weak engine and win.

I actually really like these three.  The PPR is way too specific to always be useful, and discovering the line between BM and engine is important.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #23 on: October 03, 2017, 03:16:38 am »
+6

~6100 ft: You stop paying attention to the Penultimate Province Rule, and instead think about the best time to fire your engine off.

Well, the Penultimate Province Rule is actually extremely relevant in literally every game. The name is a bit weird because it doesn't always refer to Provinces, it doesn't always refer to the penultimate thing and it isn't a rule, but the idea of paying attention to what your opponent's deck can do and making sure you don't accidentally leave the supply in a state where the opponent can end the game and win on their turn (and knowing when you have to do that on purpose and just hope for the best) is something you should do every game.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2017, 05:26:21 am »
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  • It occurs to me that the path from one plateau to the next is sometimes a steady incline and sometimes you descend a bit before ascending again.
    Eg Sea Level to 1000ft, maybe even 3000ft, is a steady incline - you just win more as you learn to recognise better payload cards.
    But to get to 5000ft is difficult; you have to experiment and learn by experience, and during that time you're likely to lose plenty to the guy who just sticks to Big Money. Until you get it. That's what makes Big Money such a sticking point.
  • Also, in my experience there is a big difference between (i) knowing what the next plateau is, (ii) thinking you've reached the next plateau and (iii) reaching the next plateau.
As an example of both points, my first game of Dominion was the recommended "Victory Dance" set up in Intrigue 1st Ed. Only 2 players, but it took aaaages. I was truly at "Sea Level" and I just never seemed to hit more than .

My reflections after Game 1 went like this:
  • I could have just bought Silvers, then I could have afforded Golds and then Provinces. That would have beaten my opponent in that game. (Reached 1000ft.)
  • People on Board Game Geek are talking about engines being better than Big Money. (Aware of 5000ft plateau.)
  • Ooo, on that Victory Dance board I could use Ironworks to get lots of Ironworks and Great Halls, then Scouts later to draw all those Great Halls. Hmm, I won't be able to afford Provinces that way, but maybe I can get some Upgrades to turn all those Ironworks and Scouts into Duchies and Dukes and make a 3-pile ending on Great Hall, Ironworks and Duchy. (Thinking I've reached 3000ft with all those synergies, and maybe elements of 7000ft with some thought of deck tempo and how to end the game before opponents get too many Provinces.)
So bring on Game 2, months later, with a different group and they chose "Victory Dance" again. Here we go. I did win, but only just.

Conclusion: I thought I had progressed beyond 1000ft but in fact found myself floundering just above Sea Level.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2017, 09:19:17 am by infangthief »
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2017, 03:28:08 pm »
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People on Board Game Geek are talking about engines being better than Big Money. (Aware of 5000ft plateau.)

Does this actually happen?
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #26 on: October 04, 2017, 06:42:40 am »
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As someone stuck around the 5000ft line, I would apreciate a few more words and /or excplicit examples for the topics mentioned at 7k feet (winning splits, PPR, endgame control, shuffle control, deck tracking, deck tempo).

I also feel that incorporating your opponent's strategy ino your own play is another plateau that sits somewhere between 3k and 5k foot. You learn quite early on that you need to win an important split or that you should react to your opponent's garden rush.

What happens at 7k feet is that good players also study the opponent's tactics, like if causing a reshuffle would help or hinder them.

I also like ConMan's suggestion for subheadlines a lot.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #27 on: October 04, 2017, 11:02:33 pm »
+2

Somewhere in the 7000 range is knowing where certain decks and deck matchups are going to end up at the end of the game.  Hearing someone say, "This game will take 11-13 turns" always blows me away.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2017, 11:23:31 pm »
+2

Post 10k: You understand the intricacies of kingdoms, but are now aware of mistakes you or opponent are making despite recognizing those intricacies and able to be critical of your plays.

Post 30k: Screw all of that and play with Philosopher's Stone
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #29 on: October 04, 2017, 11:24:34 pm »
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Somewhere in the 7000 range is knowing where certain decks and deck matchups are going to end up at the end of the game.  Hearing someone say, "This game will take 11-13 turns" always blows me away.

Serious talk, a good benchmark for your strategy is about 16 turns (if not less) without attacks. If you cannot end the game by then you're probably doing it wrong.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #30 on: October 05, 2017, 02:34:04 am »
+1

Somewhere in the 7000 range is knowing where certain decks and deck matchups are going to end up at the end of the game.  Hearing someone say, "This game will take 11-13 turns" always blows me away.

Like, have you played with Governor? :)
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #31 on: October 05, 2017, 06:59:02 pm »
+2

Somewhere in the 7000 range is knowing where certain decks and deck matchups are going to end up at the end of the game.  Hearing someone say, "This game will take 11-13 turns" always blows me away.

Serious talk, a good benchmark for your strategy is about 16 turns (if not less) without attacks. If you cannot end the game by then you're probably doing it wrong.

I took this post as a comment on being able to accurately assess a kingdom rather than disbelief that a particular game could be over that quickly.

In other words, it's impressive that someone could look at a board and say: "Yep, this game will take X-Y turns".
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meandering mercury

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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #32 on: October 05, 2017, 11:46:01 pm »
+2

Somewhere in the 7000 range is knowing where certain decks and deck matchups are going to end up at the end of the game.  Hearing someone say, "This game will take 11-13 turns" always blows me away.

This isn't as hard as it sounds, and I think has something to do with how long you've been playing Dominion and reading the forums. These numbers came up more in the early days when Big Money was more prevalent.

Big Money only, no attacks: 4 provinces in 17 turns
Smithy only: 4 provinces in 14 turns
Moderately strong engine: 4 provinces in ~13 turns, plus endgame control
Super powerful engine: 11 turns

An example of a "super powerful engine" is the HoP megaturn game posted on the main DS webpage, Annotated Game #9 at https://dominionstrategy.com/2012/01/20/guest-article-annotated-game-9/. Very few games go faster than 11 turns. So someone saying "11-13 turns" is saying that there is a LOT of engine potential on the board and things will go fast. If the engine is weak, it'll be 14-15 turns unless there is duchy dancing.

These numbers also illustrate why Big Money is such a plateau, and why the entire dominion community was "stuck" on BM for multiple years. On many boards with an OK BM enabler (many cards are at least as good as Smithy) and no attacks, the line between great BM play and great engine play is razor thin: one or two turns. Past that, the BM player has 5 provinces and the engine needs 4 duchies to compensate. It's hard to play engines that well, but it's easy to play BM that well.
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josh56

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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2017, 12:47:19 am »
0

Somewhere in the 7000 range is knowing where certain decks and deck matchups are going to end up at the end of the game.  Hearing someone say, "This game will take 11-13 turns" always blows me away.

This isn't as hard as it sounds, and I think has something to do with how long you've been playing Dominion and reading the forums. These numbers came up more in the early days when Big Money was more prevalent.

Big Money only, no attacks: 4 provinces in 17 turns
Smithy only: 4 provinces in 14 turns
Moderately strong engine: 4 provinces in ~13 turns, plus endgame control
Super powerful engine: 11 turns

An example of a "super powerful engine" is the HoP megaturn game posted on the main DS webpage, Annotated Game #9 at https://dominionstrategy.com/2012/01/20/guest-article-annotated-game-9/. Very few games go faster than 11 turns. So someone saying "11-13 turns" is saying that there is a LOT of engine potential on the board and things will go fast. If the engine is weak, it'll be 14-15 turns unless there is duchy dancing.

These numbers also illustrate why Big Money is such a plateau, and why the entire dominion community was "stuck" on BM for multiple years. On many boards with an OK BM enabler (many cards are at least as good as Smithy) and no attacks, the line between great BM play and great engine play is razor thin: one or two turns. Past that, the BM player has 5 provinces and the engine needs 4 duchies to compensate. It's hard to play engines that well, but it's easy to play BM that well.
All of this simultator stuff becoems moot when Attack cards or alternative sources of VPs are present Kingdom. Which is the case more often than not, especially when you play with Empires.
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Re: Common Skill "Plateaus" in Mastering Dominion
« Reply #34 on: October 19, 2017, 03:54:31 pm »
0

[I'm] thinking about putting a link to the game where Counting House beat Mountebank, anybody have a link?

The KDC thread is at http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=11100.0

A video of the game is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi-olliYvWM&list=PLRTqbp6RCzFBaGbUHDTKoKlYsM7RjUAWx&index=5
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