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#### werothegreat

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##### Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« on: October 11, 2017, 11:54:22 pm »
+11

Dominion 101 is a series geared toward newer players.

What is an engine?

One of the most important strategic concepts in Dominion is the engine.  Most experienced Dominion players will spend their first few moments of a game looking at the Kingdom and figuring out if an engine is possible, and if so, how they can cobble one together.  Engine strategies can reliably beat most decks that just buy bigger and bigger Treasures (called Big Money decks), and getting an engine running is for many players one of the most satisfying and rewarding parts of playing the game.

So what exactly is an engine?  An engine is characterized by two main features:
• Strong draw, typically being able to draw your entire deck in a single turn
If the strong draw and/or payload is terminal (that is, not giving any +Action when played), an engine will also require a card that gives at least +2 Actions (usually called Villages, after the simplest Kingdom card that gives this effect).

For an example of each of these, we need look no further than the recommended First Game from the Base Set: Cellar, Moat, Merchant, Village, Workshop, Militia, Remodel, Smithy, Market, Mine.  (If you don’t recognize Merchant, it was added in the Second Edition, which we’ll discuss next time, and replaces Woodcutter in this game.)  For our strong draw, we have Smithy, which gives a snazzy +3 Cards for the low, low price of .  However, it is also terminal - if you play Smithy as your first Action on a turn, you can’t play any more Actions afterwards, which undermines the whole point of making an engine in the first place.  So we’ll also rely on Village to give us the extra Actions necessary to play enough Smithies to draw our entire deck.

But we can’t stop here; one of the common pitfalls newer players experience is grabbing a bunch of Villages and Smithies, but not adding in anything else to the mix other than maybe a couple Treasures.  That kind of deck can pretty reliably draw itself, but then you’re stuck with a bunch of coins and only one Buy, and now you’re not doing any better than the Big Money deck, except you’re actually a few turns behind; while you were picking up the Villages and Smithies, the Big Money player was picking up Silvers and Golds and has already bought a Province or two, and there’s no way you’ll catch up to them at this point.  What you need is the final, and most crucial, engine ingredient: payload.

Payload is just a fancy word for “whatever makes your engine worth it”.  This can be a +Buy card like Market, or an Attack like Militia.  An engine may have several different payloads, and the engine from the First Game has room for a few.  You could pick up a Mine, which increases the overall buying power of your Treasures.  You’ll also need Markets, so that you have the extra Buys necessary to gain multiple Provinces a turn near the end of the game, and a Militia would certainly be recommended, to slow down your opponent.

Specifically for the First Game, my preferred method would be to open Silver/Remodel (or Workshop/Remodel, if I’m feeling lucky), then pick up a Mine with my first , and Markets with each subsequent , getting Villages, Smithies, and a single Militia as I can along the way.  Remodel turns my starting Estates into Villages and/or Smithies, then a Silver or two into an extra Market, and later in the game can turn Golds I get from Mine into Provinces.  A typical late game turn should see me draw my entire deck, play my Militia, Mine a Silver into a Gold, then immediately Remodel that Gold into a Province, then buy 2 more Provinces and maybe one other cheap card (usually Cellar).

Remember that, unless you’re pulling off a particularly wacky strategy, you’re still going to need some coins in order to buy everything.  The First Game provides this rather naturally, sticking it onto Market and Militia in addition to their +Buy and Attack payload.  Mine also serves this purpose in slowly upgrading your Treasures.  If a Kingdom has draw, +Action, and other sources of payload, but no useful Actions that give extra coins, then it’s perfectly fine to pick up a couple Golds to help serve as a payload.  However, in general, your engine should be made up almost entirely of Action cards, if possible.

So now when you see a board with good draw, a Village, and some cool payload cards, you’ll think to yourself, “It’s engine time.”
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#### markusin

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 12:52:15 am »
0

Pretty nice article. It goes over the essentials of the first game engine without being too bogged down by text. Be sure to emphasize that it would be a good idea to practice the first game engine to get a feel for how the engine is built.

I'm not sure how great this is, but you can mention how Remodel can be used to turn Silver or even Workshop into a Market while still in the building phase.

You say this line:

"However, in general, your engine should be made up almost entirely of Action cards, if possible."

I didn't feel like you made it clear why this should be the case. Maybe refer back to your article on trashing once again here.
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#### Kirian

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 01:48:44 am »
+1

I'm going to disagree with the idea that an engine "typically" draws your entire deck each turn.  Often, perhaps.  But I don't think it's even 50% of engines.  The engine you describe has too many coins in it to reliably draw the deck each and every turn, as it has enough treasures that it's likely to draw no Villages before drawing two terminals.
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#### faust

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 02:26:58 am »
+1

However, in general, your engine should be made up almost entirely of Action cards, if possible.
This is not good advice. I mean, it is true that most treasures that exist right now aren't good for engines, but that fact is purely coincidental. It's like saying "If possible, your engine should be made up almost entirely of cards that start contain the letter K". Maybe all cards with the letter K happen to be good engine cards, and the others are not, but that does not teach newbies anything about the game. And it might change in the future, just as the Treasure paradigm has: We now have Counterfeit, Charm, Fortune, Plunder, Coin of the Realm, all of which are best used in engines (and we even have some engine cards that want you to have basic treasures in your deck).
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#### LaLight

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 03:16:29 am »
+3

However, in general, your engine should be made up almost entirely of Action cards, if possible.
This is not good advice. I mean, it is true that most treasures that exist right now aren't good for engines, but that fact is purely coincidental. It's like saying "If possible, your engine should be made up almost entirely of cards that start contain the letter K". Maybe all cards with the letter K happen to be good engine cards, and the others are not, but that does not teach newbies anything about the game. And it might change in the future, just as the Treasure paradigm has: We now have Counterfeit, Charm, Fortune, Plunder, Coin of the Realm, all of which are best used in engines (and we even have some engine cards that want you to have basic treasures in your deck).

If possible your engine should consist mostly of King's Courts actually.
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#### Awaclus

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 04:31:21 am »
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I'm going to disagree with the idea that an engine "typically" draws your entire deck each turn.  Often, perhaps.  But I don't think it's even 50% of engines.

It's way above 80% of engines and the remaining decks all have Goons, Fortune or cost reduction in them.
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#### O

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2017, 05:38:09 am »
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I'm going to disagree with the idea that an engine "typically" draws your entire deck each turn.  Often, perhaps.  But I don't think it's even 50% of engines.

It's way above 80% of engines and the remaining decks all have Goons, Fortune or cost reduction in them.

Is this differing play styles or differing definitions of engines? What percentage of total games would you guys say you end up drawing your deck each turn?
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#### Awaclus

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2017, 05:45:04 am »
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I'm going to disagree with the idea that an engine "typically" draws your entire deck each turn.  Often, perhaps.  But I don't think it's even 50% of engines.

It's way above 80% of engines and the remaining decks all have Goons, Fortune or cost reduction in them.

Is this differing play styles or differing definitions of engines? What percentage of total games would you guys say you end up drawing your deck each turn?

More than 50℅ of all games.
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#### Chris is me

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2017, 08:10:08 am »
+1

This is pretty great for a basic article, and I think a lot of these comments could make it into a follow up article about the concepts of other kinds of engines. I think it’s important to start with this as your base so that you can branch out to sketchier low draw engines later, rather than starting at Big Money and adding Good Stuff.

But maybe change Draw to cycling, and point out that draw is far more effective cycling than not-draw? We’ve all seen magic Forum engines before, and using cycling instead of draw as a term accommodates those cantrip based engines we all love (since the payload also cycles you need less draw).
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#### DG

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2017, 08:43:09 am »
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An engine is a group of cards that do more together than they do individually.

Let's wait to define it further until after Nocturne is released.
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#### aku_chi

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2017, 08:44:25 am »
+1

Nice article.  I think this article could most be improved by linking to a video of a strong player building the engine on the First Game.  For some people, an engine isn't going to click until they see someone play it.

Once your engine is mostly drawing your entire deck, and has enough payload to gain more than one Province per turn, you should start grabbing some Victory cards.  Be careful, though: start buying Provinces too soon, and your engine will sputter, and you will lose.  But hold off buying Provinces too long, and your opponent will get more Victory cards than you, and you will lose.  Knowing exactly when to start doing each step is not an exact art, and will take some practice to get right.

There is nothing special about being able to gain 2 or more Provinces each turn.  In fact, I think it would be more helpful to suggest that players continue to add draw to supplement the stop cards they add to their deck while greening.

The usual phrase is to contrast "exact science" with "more of an art".
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#### Cuzz

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2017, 09:08:05 am »
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I'm going to disagree with the idea that an engine "typically" draws your entire deck each turn.  Often, perhaps.  But I don't think it's even 50% of engines.

It's way above 80% of engines and the remaining decks all have Goons, Fortune or cost reduction in them.

Is this differing play styles or differing definitions of engines? What percentage of total games would you guys say you end up drawing your deck each turn?

More than 50℅ of all games.

I feel like I made a big skill jump once I wrapped my head around the fact that "draw your deck" means "no, like literally draw your whole deck every turn."
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#### markusin

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2017, 09:15:28 am »
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I'm going to disagree with the idea that an engine "typically" draws your entire deck each turn.  Often, perhaps.  But I don't think it's even 50% of engines.

It's way above 80% of engines and the remaining decks all have Goons, Fortune or cost reduction in them.

Is this differing play styles or differing definitions of engines? What percentage of total games would you guys say you end up drawing your deck each turn?

More than 50℅ of all games.

I feel like I made a big skill jump once I wrapped my head around the fact that "draw your deck" means "no, like literally draw your whole deck every turn."

More like I kept losing to people who would end up drawing their deck. Learning the hard way, and that awful feeling where you see your opponent with no deck or discard pile when you can't do the same with your deck.
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#### Cuzz

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2017, 09:19:39 am »
+1

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