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### AuthorTopic: Dominion 101: What is an engine?  (Read 5894 times)

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#### josh56

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2017, 01:14:50 am »
+1

An engine is something that works reliably all the time. Be it an actual engine, a board game engine or a Dominion engine.
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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2017, 04:21:32 am »
+1

Regarding deck taxonomy, I think maybe a key distinction is this: if you were to replace each card in your deck with n copies of itself (for n=2 the starting deck becomes 14xCopper, 6xEstate), would you typically be drawing the same number of cards each turn, or the same proportion of your deck?

I haven't done the math, but I would assume that Smithy/BM draws the same 5-sometimes-8 cards if you double/triple/etc. the deck, and most conventional (village+smithy) engines continue drawing 100% of the deck when you double it, since drawing deck is a function of total +cards, having enough +actions to support that, and drawing those in the right order, all of which stay the same when you add more of everything while preserving proportions (I gut-sense). [hand-wavy justification-ish: sampling with and without replacement converge to the same limit when the thing sampled from grows to infinity. Variance decreases as n increases—the sum of more dice looks more bell-shaped and less flat.]

So my distinguishing criterion seems to do the right thing for typical BM and typical engine decks. Probably it also works for engines that draw 70-90% of the deck, e.g. 10xCity plus starting deck plus some Bridges—though I definitely would want to do the math here and verify that nothing weird happens when you double all the things.

The impact of drawing O(1) cards vs. Ω(n) cards is of course that your output on a typical turn is proportional to the average/total per-card output, respectively, and that changes how you build your deck. So even though I'm not running the deck-doubling thought experiment when analyzing a board, I probably am thinking through the implications of that math.

One open question: are there in-betweens? Are there decks where you draw something like Θ(sqrt n) or Θ(log n) as you double/triple/n-plicate your deck? What do they look like?

MQ raises both the trivial point that decks are not static over time (duh) and the non-trivial point that this makes "draws the deck" undefined unless we're talking about one or more points in time. For my O(1)-vs.-Ω(n)-criterion, "when you start greening" sounds like a good point in time, or else "at the maximum" (and please don't tell anyone that O(...) is a partial ordering)—these seem roughly to be what we mean when we try to distinguish between engines and non-engines. (I also read MQ's post as saying "there's quite a bit of gray area". I'm not addressing that here.)
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#### faust

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #27 on: October 15, 2017, 02:11:44 pm »
+5

An engine is something that works reliably all the time. Be it an actual engine, a board game engine or a Dominion engine.
I mean that is just a random component of an engine. I have a spoon at home that works reliably all the time; that does not make it an engine.

According to wikipedia:
Quote
An engine is a device that converts energy in one form into mechanical energy.
So I guess in Dominion terms an engine is anything that makes your opponent sufficiently mad to topple over the table you are playing on.
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#### faust

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #28 on: October 15, 2017, 02:21:28 pm »
0

One open question: are there in-betweens? Are there decks where you draw something like Θ(sqrt n) or Θ(log n) as you double/triple/n-plicate your deck? What do they look like?
I think draw.to-X engines with some Treasures would probably fit in here. You can draw your deck with like 4 Treasures, but with more you'll stop at some point.
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Since the number of points is within a constant factor of the number of city quarters, in the long run we can get (4 - ε) ↑↑ n points in n turns for any ε > 0.

#### crj

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #29 on: October 15, 2017, 09:43:43 pm »
0

An engine is...
"Engine" is a word with many meanings. But that's not important right now; in Dominion it's a term of art with a specific meaning.
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#### ben_king

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2017, 01:01:20 pm »
+5

I haven't done the math, but I would assume that Smithy/BM draws the same 5-sometimes-8 cards if you double/triple/etc. the deck, and most conventional (village+smithy) engines continue drawing 100% of the deck when you double it, since drawing deck is a function of total +cards, having enough +actions to support that, and drawing those in the right order, all of which stay the same when you add more of everything while preserving proportions (I gut-sense).

Unfortunately, this doesn't work out in practice.  Here's a simple example to show it.

Suppose you have a simple draw-your-deck engine:
1x Village
1x Smithy
1x Woodcutter
3x Treasure

We'll define drawing the deck as having an empty deck and discard during your turn (which is being a little generous, since that doesn't guarantee that you get to play your woodcutter).  But with this simple deck, it's impossible not to draw it.  But now let's double it:

2x Village
2x Smithy
2x Woodcutter
6x Treasure

This deck only draws itself about 38% of the time.  If we triple it:

3x Village
3x Smithy
3x Woodcutter
9x Treasure

It's now literally impossible for this deck to draw itself.
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#### faust

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2017, 01:18:37 pm »
+3

I haven't done the math, but I would assume that Smithy/BM draws the same 5-sometimes-8 cards if you double/triple/etc. the deck, and most conventional (village+smithy) engines continue drawing 100% of the deck when you double it, since drawing deck is a function of total +cards, having enough +actions to support that, and drawing those in the right order, all of which stay the same when you add more of everything while preserving proportions (I gut-sense).

Unfortunately, this doesn't work out in practice.  Here's a simple example to show it.

Suppose you have a simple draw-your-deck engine:
1x Village
1x Smithy
1x Woodcutter
3x Treasure

We'll define drawing the deck as having an empty deck and discard during your turn (which is being a little generous, since that doesn't guarantee that you get to play your woodcutter).  But with this simple deck, it's impossible not to draw it.  But now let's double it:

2x Village
2x Smithy
2x Woodcutter
6x Treasure

This deck only draws itself about 38% of the time.  If we triple it:

3x Village
3x Smithy
3x Woodcutter
9x Treasure

It's now literally impossible for this deck to draw itself.
This just goes to show that a deck with 50% basic treasures is probably not an engine. Your suggested deck is not an engine.
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Since the number of points is within a constant factor of the number of city quarters, in the long run we can get (4 - ε) ↑↑ n points in n turns for any ε > 0.

#### Kirian

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #32 on: October 16, 2017, 03:36:59 pm »
+1

An engine is something that works reliably all the time. Be it an actual engine, a board game engine or a Dominion engine.
I mean that is just a random component of an engine. I have a spoon at home that works reliably all the time; that does not make it an engine.

According to wikipedia:
Quote
An engine is a device that converts energy in one form into mechanical energy.
So I guess in Dominion terms an engine is anything that makes your opponent sufficiently mad to topple over the table you are playing on.

Amusingly, your definition there means that while the spoon isn't an engine, your arm is when it lifts the spoon.
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#### Chris is me

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2017, 04:13:03 pm »
+7

An engine is something that works reliably all the time. Be it an actual engine, a board game engine or a Dominion engine.

Clearly you’ve never worked on a car before.

No but seriously, your definition isn’t used by anyone else in the Dominion community. Our definition is for our game and is specifically useful for our game because of the way we use it. Let’s not make our communication shitty because you’re stubborn.
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#### josh56

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2017, 04:45:53 pm »
+1

An engine is something that works reliably all the time. Be it an actual engine, a board game engine or a Dominion engine.

Clearly you’ve never worked on a car before.

No but seriously, your definition isn’t used by anyone else in the Dominion community. Our definition is for our game and is specifically useful for our game because of the way we use it. Let’s not make our communication shitty because you’re stubborn.
I don't care if you are a sect member and cannot accept that the most general (easy to get lost in trivial details) attribute of an engine over all deck- and tableau-building games is reliability and consistency.
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#### JW

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2017, 05:29:54 pm »
0

Unfortunately, this doesn't work out in practice.  Here's a simple example to show it.

Suppose you have a simple draw-your-deck engine:
1x Village
1x Smithy
1x Woodcutter
3x Treasure

We'll define drawing the deck as having an empty deck and discard during your turn (which is being a little generous, since that doesn't guarantee that you get to play your woodcutter).  But with this simple deck, it's impossible not to draw it.  ...

If we triple it:

3x Village
3x Smithy
3x Woodcutter
9x Treasure

It's now literally impossible for this deck to draw itself.
This just goes to show that a deck with 50% basic treasures is probably not an engine. Your suggested deck is not an engine.

To me, this example shows that a very thin deck is easier to draw all of than a multiplied version of that deck, because you need to draw fewer additional cards above your 5 starting cards to draw the whole deck.

The percentage of basic treasure in your deck that you can have while still having a high chance to draw your deck depends on the size of the deck and the strength of the draw available. 50% or higher basic treasure is consistent with having a high chance to draw the deck if the draw is good enough. For example, decks like 2 Margrave (with +Action token), 4 Gold, or 4 Margrave (with + Action token), 8 Gold draw themselves reliably.
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#### Cave-o-sapien

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #36 on: October 16, 2017, 05:44:12 pm »
0

An engine is something that works reliably all the time. Be it an actual engine, a board game engine or a Dominion engine.

I think people are getting hung up on this definition because you've made the requirement too strict. Very, very good Dominion engines can still fail to fire X% of the time.

If I fail to draw my entire deck with probability 0.01, does that mean I haven't built an engine?
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#### Kirian

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #37 on: October 16, 2017, 07:02:47 pm »
+2

I don't care if you are a sect member

We don't look kindly on ad hominem attacks around these parts, mister.

Quote
(easy to get lost in trivial details)

Dude, that describes 80% of the discussion on this board and almost every relevant post in this thread.

Quote
most general... attribute of an engine over all deck- and tableau-building games is reliability and consistency.

We've already told you that you are technically correct, but that this definition doesn't apply to Dominion.

The most common attribute of worker placement games (ignoring the literal placing of workers) is that you get one action on your turn, barring rare exceptions, but oh wait! Here comes Manhattan Project, where that's totally untrue for most of the game.  Are you going to tell me it's not a worker placement game?

Dominion engines aren't necessarily reliable or consistent.  So they don't always fit the more general definition.  And that's all right!  If we all fit general definitions, life would be boring.
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#### ben_king

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #38 on: October 17, 2017, 10:26:36 am »
+2

To me, this example shows that a very thin deck is easier to draw all of than a multiplied version of that deck, because you need to draw fewer additional cards above your 5 starting cards to draw the whole deck.

The percentage of basic treasure in your deck that you can have while still having a high chance to draw your deck depends on the size of the deck and the strength of the draw available. 50% or higher basic treasure is consistent with having a high chance to draw the deck if the draw is good enough. For example, decks like 2 Margrave (with +Action token), 4 Gold, or 4 Margrave (with + Action token), 8 Gold draw themselves reliably.

Even this deck falls victim to the same principle.  The 2 Margrave (with +action) and 4 gold deck is 100% reliable.  Double it and it drops to 89%.  Triple it and you're at 76%.

In terms of combinatorics, as you increase the size of the deck (keeping the proportions the same), a smaller and smaller proportion of the possible starting hands has the cards that you need to kick off.  I've not yet quite wrapped my mind around why this should be the case in general.  I'm not sure if it's only due to having a fixed-size starting hand or if there are other combinatorics principles in play also.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 10:28:28 am by ben_king »
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#### trivialknot

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #39 on: October 17, 2017, 10:56:20 am »
+3

Even this deck falls victim to the same principle.  The 2 Margrave (with +action) and 4 gold deck is 100% reliable.  Double it and it drops to 89%.  Triple it and you're at 76%.

In terms of combinatorics, as you increase the size of the deck (keeping the proportions the same), a smaller and smaller proportion of the possible starting hands has the cards that you need to kick off.  I've not yet quite wrapped my mind around why this should be the case in general.  I'm not sure if it's only due to having a fixed-size starting hand or if there are other combinatorics principles in play also.
The larger the deck you have, the more it becomes like a random walk.  Suppose that all the draw is from labs.  Draw a lab, that's one step forward; draw anything else, and it's one step back.  If the random walk ever reaches zero, then you dud.

So we have the question "What is the probability that a random walk will reach zero within a given number of steps?"  If your deck can exactly draw itself (not including the starting 5 cards), then the probability of dudding approaches 100%.  However, if you have a little bit of overdraw, the probability approaches something less than 100%.  (See this stack exchange question)
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#### josh56

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #40 on: October 17, 2017, 05:47:38 pm »
+1

I don't care if you are a sect member
We don't look kindly on ad hominem attacks around these parts, mister.
And I don't look kindly upon exclusionary "we do and call things our way in our club so you either comply or STFU" games.

Quote
The most common attribute of worker placement games (ignoring the literal placing of workers) is that you get one action on your turn
That's a feature of many games which are not worker placement games and anything but a general feature of all worker placement games. For example in Caylus you first place several of your workers before you later get to execute the actions. In Tzolkin you leave the worker on the slot and execute the action in one of the following rounds.

The key feature of all worker placement games is that there is a competition for slots which are rival in their nature, i.e. me taking doing A makes it impossible for anybody else doing A this round, which makes the game more interactive than a Euro often is. Whether you take one or several actions per round, when they are executed and so on are details which differ over games.

Same in the case of engines. You can get lost in trivial details or care about the general stuff. I am definitely a fan of the latter, especially as the details folks pick out, as we just saw with your dubious worker placement definition, are often simply wrong.
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#### Chris is me

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #41 on: October 17, 2017, 07:29:30 pm »
+1

I don't care if you are a sect member
We don't look kindly on ad hominem attacks around these parts, mister.
And I don't look kindly upon exclusionary "we do and call things our way in our club so you either comply or STFU" games.

This is, quite literally, exactly what you are doing. You are saying “this is my definition I use in a completely different context and everyone else who uses any other definition is wrong”.

We’re giving you the definition *basically everyone who plays Dominion* uses. There aren’t dozens of threads by other board gaming fans here talking about your specific definition, even though we have dozens of people who play those games. I really don’t think it is nearly as common or universal across all similar games as you’re implying, honestly. But in any case, we are saying, this is what everyone means when everyone says it here, and that’s not going to change because one dude who plays a bunch of completely different games uses it completely differently.

What’s your end game here? What do you hope to get out of this?
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#### Cave-o-sapien

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2017, 08:05:52 pm »
0

I don't care if you are a sect member
We don't look kindly on ad hominem attacks around these parts, mister.
And I don't look kindly upon exclusionary "we do and call things our way in our club so you either comply or STFU" games.

We’re giving you the definition *basically everyone who plays Dominion* uses.

To be fair, I don't think f.ds is representative of "basically everyone who plays Dominion." I happen to think it's representative of those who like to exhaustively discuss Dominion strategy. But then again, maybe someone from another Dominion strategy sect would disagree.
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#### josh56

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #43 on: October 17, 2017, 08:49:07 pm »
+1

I don't care if you are a sect member
We don't look kindly on ad hominem attacks around these parts, mister.
And I don't look kindly upon exclusionary "we do and call things our way in our club so you either comply or STFU" games.

This is, quite literally, exactly what you are doing. You are saying “this is my definition I use in a completely different context and everyone else who uses any other definition is wrong”.

We’re giving you the definition *basically everyone who plays Dominion* uses. There aren’t dozens of threads by other board gaming fans here talking about your specific definition, even though we have dozens of people who play those games. I really don’t think it is nearly as common or universal across all similar games as you’re implying, honestly. But in any case, we are saying, this is what everyone means when everyone says it here, and that’s not going to change because one dude who plays a bunch of completely different games uses it completely differently.

What’s your end game here? What do you hope to get out of this?
I never play exclusionary games, I never claim to be right just because I represent some group opinion and I never speak for anybody but myself.
By the way, I find it revealing that you seem to imply that playing boardgames besides Dominion is a liability.

Anyway, back to the actual topic. Of course I never use the term engine when playing Dominion for the consistent Silver-gaining decks I mentioned which are pretty smooth and reliable. But if you zoom out and think about what engines are really about, that it is not about Treasures vs. Actions (e.g. Relic can be a better engine piece than Lighthouse), then calling such smooth decks engines would make sense.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 08:55:32 pm by josh56 »
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#### crj

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2017, 09:55:52 pm »
+13

And I don't look kindly upon exclusionary "we do and call things our way in our club so you either comply or STFU" games.
It's normal for specialist domains to have specialist vocabulary. It's not exclusionary, it's just pragmatic.

Please, go and tell software engineers that a map is anything that shows you where things are rather than specifically an associative array. Tell a driver in the UK that an "indicator" is anything that indicates anything and can't be used in the specialised sense of a turn signal, or a chemist they can't use "indicator" specifically to mean something that indicates pH. Insist to a chef that "mise en place" can refer to putting anything where it ought to be. Tell an oceanographer that a gyre is anything that goes round in circles. Demand that climbers accept that many large-ish vertical things are big walls, not just climbs which will take more than one day to complete.

Indeed, go tell automotive engineers that the entire vehicle is an engine.

I'm sure they'll all be delighted to hear from you.
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#### O

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #45 on: October 17, 2017, 10:12:12 pm »
+6

Civility aside, I think these kind of unproductive discussions are mostly a natural and inevitable conclusion on deciding to try and write about terminology.

I'm also convinced that the majority of time wasted with having "less exact" terminology is wasted by those who are adamant on defining a single set of terminology -- if we could all just live with messy terms that mean different things to different people, I don't think we lose that much ability to communicate and I think we do lose a lot of heated yet inconsequential discussions.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2017, 12:41:09 am by O »
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#### Cave-o-sapien

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #46 on: October 17, 2017, 11:54:55 pm »
0

Civility aside, I think these kind of unproductive discussions are mostly a natural and inevitable conclusion on deciding to try and write about terminology.

I'm also convinced that the majority of time wasted with have "less exact" terminology is wasted by those who are adamant on defining a single set of terminology -- if we could all just live with messy terms that mean different things to different people, I don't think we lose that much ability to communicate and I think we do lose a lot of heated yet inconsequential discussions.

But we would also lose this comment, which was awesome:

It's normal for specialist domains to have specialist vocabulary. It's not exclusionary, it's just pragmatic.

Please, go and tell software engineers that a map is anything that shows you where things are rather than specifically an associative array. Tell a driver in the UK that an "indicator" is anything that indicates anything and can't be used in the specialised sense of a turn signal, or a chemist they can't use "indicator" specifically to mean something that indicates pH. Insist to a chef that "mise en place" can refer to putting anything where it ought to be. Tell an oceanographer that a gyre is anything that goes round in circles. Demand that climbers accept that many large-ish vertical things are big walls, not just climbs which will take more than one day to complete.

Indeed, go tell automotive engineers that the entire vehicle is an engine.

I'm sure they'll all be delighted to hear from you.
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#### faust

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #47 on: October 18, 2017, 01:19:04 am »
+2

I think we do lose a lot of heated yet inconsequential discussions.
But that's what makes f.ds fun!
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Since the number of points is within a constant factor of the number of city quarters, in the long run we can get (4 - ε) ↑↑ n points in n turns for any ε > 0.

#### O

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #48 on: October 18, 2017, 01:24:47 am »
+3

I think we do lose a lot of heated yet inconsequential discussions.
But that's what makes f.ds fun!

Wait I just described FDS mafia...
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#### josh56

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##### Re: Dominion 101: What is an engine?
« Reply #49 on: October 18, 2017, 08:28:04 am »
+1

And I don't look kindly upon exclusionary "we do and call things our way in our club so you either comply or STFU" games.
It's normal for specialist domains to have specialist vocabulary.
I referred to the exclusionary game that poster played, not to specialist language. Not that engine is Dominion-specific language in the first place, as I pointed out it is used more generally in virtually all tableau- and deckbuilding games. Of course if you consider Dominion to be something that exists on its own plane, as something that should never be compared to other boardgames, such a perspective is not something you would appreciate. Obviously I have a different view and always, mostly involuntarily, compare boardgames with each other when I play them.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2017, 08:31:25 am by josh56 »
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