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Author Topic: How to Win Less...  (Read 1298 times)

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weesh

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How to Win Less...
« on: November 14, 2017, 03:56:17 pm »
+7

I have three different dominion play groups, each of which uses my cards, and doesn't play without me.
What this means is that I play way more than these other players, and am much stronger than most of them, and I am the winner too often.

I think I'm a pretty good game explainer, I have taught games to hundreds of people, and the sharper ones can beat me in their first games sometimes. But it's really tough to not blow out a new player when you have 150+ matches under your belt.

So the question is:
How do I lose more often (without throwing games)(or teaching bad habits)?

I've tried creating very simple kingdoms.

I've tried breaking down the interesting combos in the kingdom to build awareness of things they might miss, but then I find that I build with much better efficiency and timing, and that I am better at trashing, and I still crush them.

I've tried building unfocused decks that don't go all in on the clear best strategy.

Many of these gamers are better than me at every other game we play, and literally the only thing holding them back is the weight of inexperience.  It is not uncommon for one of them to realize the best strategy before I do, but then to fall behind because they make mistakes in assembling it.

Help!  I don't want them to get tired of the game before they catch up.  I want it to be fun.  I want the games to be close.
Is there a way to handicap myself without obviously handicapping myself? 
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Seprix

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2017, 04:11:57 pm »
+2

handicaps are your friend. My favorite is playing with only one hand.
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weesh

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 04:25:18 pm »
+7

handicaps are your friend. My favorite is playing with only one hand.

Seems like shuffling would take a long time.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 04:47:54 pm by weesh »
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Chris is me

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 04:33:38 pm »
+4

Stole this tip from LFN: Identify a card in the kingdom you think is most important, and hallenge yourself to win without ever buying that key card.

Can you beat Witch without buying it? The engine without ever getting a Village?
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 04:35:50 pm by Chris is me »
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crj

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 04:38:30 pm »
+1

Open Silver/Silver and only then go looking for a strategy?
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weesh

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 04:50:21 pm »
0

I like both of those, and will try them out.

---

Maybe I can give you guys an example of a kingdom I created and see if it seems friendly to you?  This one that has weak trashing, and no game-breaking combos:

2$: cellar, vagrant
3$: hermit, village
4$: smithy, scavenger, marauder
5$: festival, mine, mystic

No one is going to get an absurd engine, because you can upgrade your copper, and cellar it, but can't trash it. Hermit will get bought, because it has cards that don't over-terminalize your deck, and there are a few cute combos to make the game fun. 

Is there anything about this kingdom that screams "the newbies will get crushed"?
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 04:54:32 pm by weesh »
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Polk5440

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 04:52:36 pm »
+4

Go last.

Don't play full random. Instead, try to get more repetition with fewer cards. You can do this by sticking with 2-3 expansions and don't reshuffle the entire kingdom each game. Instead, let each player remove a card from the kingdom and shuffle in a new one.


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Polk5440

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2017, 04:57:12 pm »
+9

Is there anything about this kingdom that screams "the newbies will get crushed"?

Yes. You've generated it in advance of play and thought about it.
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weesh

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2017, 05:00:07 pm »
+2

Go last.
I think this is only a benefit if the games are already going to be close right?  Going first allows others to see my thought direction, rather than getting to hide my opening strategy.  With completely new players, I always offer to not make them go first so they can watch a few people play before their turn.

Don't play full random. Instead, try to get more repetition with fewer cards. You can do this by sticking with 2-3 expansions and don't reshuffle the entire kingdom each game. Instead, let each player remove a card from the kingdom and shuffle in a new one.

I can do this sometimes, and will try it.  One group is co-workers, and we only have time for one game per lunch period.

Yes. You've generated it in advance of play and thought about it.

Lol, i hadn't thought about that.  Is there an easy way to create a simple kingdom randomly?  the apps don't have complexity options.  I've had players say that they don't like it when there are 5+ new cards at once, so I had been curating the kingdoms to limit the amount of new stuff.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 05:05:48 pm by weesh »
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crj

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2017, 05:04:53 pm »
+1

Is there anything about this kingdom that screams "the newbies will get crushed"?
I think anyone who doesn't buy Hermit will have a bad time of it, partly because of all the Ruins that'll be flying about and partly because they'll miss out on a Madman megaturn.

I don't think either of those considerations would be obvious to a newbie.

They'll probably lose reliably, though not by a 100VP to -10VP margin like one embarrassing Bridge Troll, Mountebank, King's Court, Colony game I played against newbies...
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weesh

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2017, 05:18:08 pm »
+1

I think anyone who doesn't buy Hermit will have a bad time of it, partly because of all the Ruins that'll be flying about and partly because they'll miss out on a Madman megaturn.

I don't think either of those considerations would be obvious to a newbie.

They aren't complete newbies.  They'll ask stuff like "what cards trash?", before the game start, because they haven't memorized the cards, but know how important early trashing is, and don't want to miss something.   obviously with complete newbies, I'm going to run a dominion base set only game, and save dark ages for the people with closer to 30+ plays.
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DG

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2017, 05:20:28 pm »
+4

With my friends I pick a sub-optimal strategy, leaving them lots of options to do something else better, and then play that strategy cleanly. They have a chance to find winning strategies for themselves but they also see good habits in deck construction.
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weesh

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2017, 05:49:28 pm »
+1

With my friends I pick a sub-optimal strategy, leaving them lots of options to do something else better, and then play that strategy cleanly. They have a chance to find winning strategies for themselves but they also see good habits in deck construction.

I like that.  That's kinda how I teach people how to play go.  I often play strong, simple pushing play without allowing myself to undertake brutal invasions that would eviscerate their territory.  Similarly, in Dominion, I've sometimes used "don't buy an attack until they do" to keep the game friendlier, allowing them to build if they want to, or be cutthroat if they want to.
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enfynet

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2017, 05:56:37 pm »
0

I bet my advice on how to win would ultimately lead to you losing more. At least, when it comes to Dominion.
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Polk5440

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2017, 06:20:56 pm »
+2

They aren't complete newbies.  They'll ask stuff like "what cards trash?", before the game start, because they haven't memorized the cards, but know how important early trashing is, and don't want to miss something.

This is exactly why I stick with 2-3 expansions and try to keep the amount of "newness" to a minimum by keeping some cards the same game to game. Until people have memorized what a card does, they cannot effectively think about strategy. They are simply spending all of their "thinking" time reading cards while you are actually strategizing. I stuck with Seaside, Intrigue, and Prosperity for years with a particular trio of friends for this reason and we all had fun.

As far as generating simple kingdoms on the spot? There are apps/generators, but I've had the best luck with sticking with the early expansions (which tend to be simpler) and drawing randomly. For a while, I had an alternative base Dominion set of cards I used. It was basically Hoard instead of Adventurer, Lighthouse instead of Moat, etc. plus some simpler cards from later expansions like Border Village. But the duds are mostly gone now, so I just use the early sets straight up.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 06:22:26 pm by Polk5440 »
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tripwire

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2017, 06:38:58 pm »
+2

Stole this tip from LFN: Identify a card in the kingdom you think is most important, and challenge yourself to win without ever buying that key card.

Can you beat Witch without buying it? The engine without ever getting a Village?

This is one of my common strategies, and I haven't found that it makes the game any less fun for those involved.

If the people you are playing are okay with knowing that you are handicapping yourself, I've tried a couple variations on this too:

1) letting people know which card you think is most powerful on the board, that you are going to avoid it, but they are welcome to use it. This can work for less experienced players who might think you aren't buying a certain card because you think it's weak.

2) letting the other players pick the card that I can't buy. This can get other players into the habit of identifying key cards in a kingdom but only works if people are familiar with the game.
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mameluke

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2017, 08:03:41 pm »
0

Yeah, you have to let them know you are handicapping yourself. Otherwise, when you likely win with a weaker strategy that you just executed well, they will get the wrong idea about what cards are strong and they'll never get better.
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JThorne

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2017, 12:46:24 pm »
+4

Knowledge is power. Don't make newbies struggle through "discovering" the process of deck-building. Spell it out for them. Teach them how to win, not just how to play.

I usually let players analyze the kingdom on their own first, then tell me what they see, just to give them practice. I then describe particular card interactions and rules clarifications. I then tell them all of the possible strategies that I can see, usually including money and engine, and occasionally a rush, especially if it's three or more players, which cards you should buy and how many.

My favorite way to handicap myself is to play a crappy engine in a money kingdom, doing stuff like trying to use Native Village, a sifter and deck tracking as a substitute for a proper trasher. I try to pick the most difficult approach, just to build my own skills. I also announce when I'm doing something odd just to see if it works.

Even when a complex strategy loses, it's an opportunity to get newbies to look at cards in a different way. If it succeeds, well, at least I'm getting them to lean away from money, which is usually the right call.

Story: I go on long tirades about horrible yellow cards when I'm teaching. Money is the root of all evil, especially in Dominion. Ugly stop cards is all I see. Sometimes I buy or gain them, but I always feel dirty.

I was playing a (yikes) 5-player game with family, and the randomized kingdom was perfect for multiplayer: No attacks, no big draw, and no spammable cards or even cheap cantrips that would threaten a 4-pile ending. And an amazing, but tricky, engine that wanted literally no treasure at all: City quarter(!), Junk Dealer, Altar, Artificer, Baker, Horse Traders, Vault and some other stuff. No big draw. I told everyone about the interesting interaction with Artificer/Vault and Horse Traders, in that HT does NOT say "if you do" so you get the $3/+buy even with an empty hand. And boy, does that engine run like blazes with no treasure. Two CQs will do it. It came together super fast.

So what do I open? Junk Dealer (with my Baker token)...and Silver. The whole table erupted with "WTF" after my emphatic anti-treasure rant. I explained that I MUST spike $5 after my first shuffle to buy Vault or I'm not going to be able to get Altar for a long time. Trust me, that Silver's days were numbered. (Some players opened $4/$4 for HT and Walled Village. Gross. Hey, I can't play the game for them.)

Oddly enough, this deck had so much discard-for-benefit that I started single-Provincing a little early during the build and then double-Provincing later, because I got very thin and did the math and realized that without any $2+ actions (Multiple HTs would be dumb) building to $16/turn was impractical, but each card effectively added $1 to my Vault or Artificer. The Baker smoothing helped that particular cause quite a bit. It was an odd build that way, in that I was killing the last few coppers (and the lone Silver!) with Altar as I was adding single Provinces and gaining Bakers. One of the few times I've seen a deck get better during greening.
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Cave-o-sapien

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2017, 01:14:26 pm »
+4

Go last.

Don't play full random. Instead, try to get more repetition with fewer cards. You can do this by sticking with 2-3 expansions and don't reshuffle the entire kingdom each game. Instead, let each player remove a card from the kingdom and shuffle in a new one.

I think this is the best advice here. If we think about Dominion experience in terms of depth and breadth, then playing a few games with mostly the same Kingdom helps attenuate your advantage in the breadth dimension. By game 2 or 3, they will familiar with the cards in play and have a better idea of their strengths.

This is my preferred way of playing IRL.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2017, 01:15:32 pm by Cave-o-sapien »
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luser

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2017, 12:16:14 am »
0

as posted kingdom its newbies will be crushed if they play with lvl 50+ player. Here one needs to open double hermit. If opponent doesn't then pick marauder and destroy his deck with ruins. With hermit opening relatively easy to build village/smithy engine with few festivals for buys and cellars for reliability.
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ackmondual

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2017, 08:29:00 pm »
0

Some "hidden handicap" ideas:
--you need to win by at least 20 pts
I'm assuming if they were close to winning, they won't get dejected

--buy one of each card
That should slow you down enough

--come up with your own "goals"
For example, you need to have executed at least 3 pairs of synergies...
-Village + Smithy
-Highway + gain a Gold
-get the most Estates, forcing you to buy them earlier than not.
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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2017, 02:15:58 am »
0

Start several turns after them. Vocalize your strategy. Stuff like that.
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JThorne

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2017, 10:54:42 am »
+4

I may have to rethink my approach.

I just played a 3-player game with one relatively new player in which I randomized a kingdom with an app and then swiped away all of the broken cards or cards that required a lot of decision-making. No brutal attacks, and no big draw card that would make an engine too easy. I was basically left with a bunch of cards that are easy to play, but difficult to play well, and really no idea how I was going to do anything with it. I could see that a money strategy was going to be easy to pull off and probably win and I promised myself not to pursue it.

I described all of the various options in detail, pointed out the card interactions, the different roads to victory, the different ways the game could end. With the new player, we often told him literally how to play his cards to achieve different effects and what his choices were with a particular hand and the likely future consequences.

It had two or three terminals, including Bridge Troll and Artisan. The only splitter was the expensive but flexible Plaza. I pointed out that with a Bridge Troll on the table, Artisan can gain gold to hand, then topdeck a colliding terminal, which the new player used to great effect. We encouraged him to buy Forager early for thinning, then he spiked $5 early and bought the first and second Bridge Troll, Artisan, started Gold-gaining and got a big lead with three Provinces.

What was I doing? Well, being an experienced Dominion jerk, I guess. Once I got a good look at the kingdom and thought about it for a minute, a plan came together.

Open double-Forager. Silver for Economy, Forager and Bonfire to trash down to practically nothing. Bridge troll on first $5, get a second Bridge troll quickly, Forage the Silver to thin and make Forager better. Pick up an Artisan and sprinkle in a couple of Plazas. With gobs of buys and two Bridge Trolls in play routinely, piledrive Patricians and Vagrants while buying other good stuff, and with so many actions in play subsequently, buy discounted emporia by the handful for points and more economy. Buy Triumph a few times in the process for piles of points, trashing the Estates with Forager. Buy discounted distant lands by the handful, and/or gain them to hand with Artisan and play them immediately, or draw them (and leftover Triumph Estates) with Vagrants. After impossibly drawing deck twice in a kingdom with no draw, end the game with a flourish, piling out the last four $2 Plazas and a final Triumph, winning 30 to 18 to something. (Plaza/Vagrant/Patrician-Emporium. Didn't even get to the bottom of the Distant Lands pile.)

I really didn't think that was going to happen that fast or be that effective. I was just playing an engine out of pure reflex.

The inexperienced player (but experienced gamer) said, "Wow. That's a lot of moving parts. It's sure not Settlers of Catan!" Ok, so, mission accomplised, new player is impressed with the game's depth and complexity. Follows that with "I should have bought more Vagrants." What? No! It's a terrible card! It just happened to fit in precisely with my wonky Distant Lands strategy that kind of shouldn't have worked, and hey, free discounted stuff. The downside to doing weird, suboptimal things in order to give new players a fighting chance is that they then overvalue cards that you've bought and played optimally.

There's another way to play which I've used in the past, and I think it might be the best way to teach, but I just hate doing it, and it rubs me the wrong way and goes against the spirit of Dominion:

Play the same kingdom twice.

I know, right? Bleah! But seriously, try it. On the first play, do the correct thing and stomp the living snot out of the beginner. They will see what you do and will copy it. In fact, during the second playthrough, help them decide what to do during the play to copy your strategy. In that second game, do something different yourself. You will usually lose, but the new player has had a chance to try the correct strategy. You will sometimes win, illustrating to the new player that there are many roads to victory, but they won't think that the wonky one is the correct one (because when you played the first game, the primary strategy was probably clearly better.)

But I only do that if I can get the new player to commit to playing at least two kingdoms, because you have to play at least two to understand how deep and replayable it is. Four games is still reasonably quick.
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JThorne

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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2017, 11:39:58 am »
0

I just realized that another strategy in that kingdom would be a completely treasureless golden deck. Three Plazas, two Artisans, topdecking the one leftover Forager and one junk card, picking up two Distant Lands to hand and playing them. With only four non-Plazas, it's guaranteed golden. Now if that wouldn't have warped a new player's perception of good play, I don't know what would have.

Many, I think about this game too much. I gotta get back to work.
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Re: How to Win Less...
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2017, 11:44:23 am »
+4

I may have to rethink my approach.

If I didn't know any better and I saw you playing this kingdom with a newbie, I would assume that your goal was to make sure they never played Dominion again.

You say they're a "relatively new player", so OK maybe it wasn't their very first game. But in one game you included a Duration card, a Reserve card, Events, debt, VP chips, Coin tokens, a split pile, and the -$1 token. I mean what the hell? They practically had to remember special rules for every single card on the board!

Maybe it's just that your goal is entirely foreign to me. If I'm teaching somebody Dominion, I want to make sure they have a good time and gain a solid understanding of the rules of the game. You shove this incredibly complex kingdom at them, and you're giving all sorts of (unsolicited?) advice about the best strategies? You're lamenting that they incorrectly identified Vagrant as a power card. Why? Why do you want this person to immediately become an expert? Do they want that? I'm just flummoxed by your story.
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