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HiveMindEmulator

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Ghost Ship
« on: February 21, 2012, 08:15:10 pm »
+9


A ship by the side of the sea
reduces hand sizes to three.
And when played every turn
will quite often earn
a rage-quit without a “gg”.




Understanding the Attack

When you first look at the Ghost Ship attack, you probably think it looks a lot like the attack of Militia. But then when you think about it or play with it a little more, you see some difference:
1. It seems weaker because your opponent can use the attack to organize their cards to give them one really good turn.
2. It seems stronger because you can’t just discard weak cards and forget about it, since getting rid of them means you have to see them next turn. It also slows progress through the deck so it takes longer to shuffle in your new better cards.

So which is it? Is it weaker or stronger?

Well, if you have only one Ghost Ship, it’s probably a bit of a wash. Situationally, one of these effects may appear more prominent. But the real strength of Ghost Ship comes from getting consecutive plays of the attack.

As a thought experiment, consider what happens when you get attacked. With Miltia, your average 5-card turn is reduced into a “good” 3-card turn (a turn consisting of the 3 best of 5 cards). With Ghost Ship, you have to think about next turn as well, so you either reduce 2 average 5-card turns into a good 3 and a bad 5 or a bad 3 and a good 5. Well, usually you’ll want the latter, as a bad 3 and a good 5 can actually at times be even better than 2 average 5s due to general convexity of card values (a Gold is better than two Silvers). But now imagine you opted to take a bad 3 and a good 5, and now, right before your good 5, you get attacked again. Now you’re looking at turning a good 5/average 5 into an average 3/good 5 or good 3/bad 5, both of which are now a major downgrade, even without considering the decreased cycle speed. This is where the real power of the attack shows.

Of course, in reality, you’re not just playing against BM, so the exact situation is different, and the attack comes out being a little weaker if your opponent has some card-drawing ability, since a decrease from 7 to 5 cards isn’t as bad as 5 to 3, but the point is that multiple consecutive attacks stack quite strongly since the one weakness of the attack (allowing the construction of one above-average turn) is only experienced once over a string of attacks, rather than once per attack.

How to use Ghost Ship

Now that you we understand that the strength of the attack comes from consecutive plays, the strategy question becomes how to set up a deck that can play multiple consecutive Ghost Ships -- preferably one every turn. There are a few ways this can be accomplished:
1. Get a lot of Ghost Ships
2. Build an action-chain that allows you to play one of your 1-2 Ghost Ships every turn.
3. (for 3+-player) Build off the Ghost Ships of other players.

The simplest answer is (1). If you just buy as many Ghost Ships as possible and as few other actions as possible, you have a pretty good Ghost Ship Big Money deck. The general plan with Ghost Ship BM is to try to get a bunch of Ghost Ships ASAP. You want to take an early Gold to help buy them, but a second Ghost Ship should probably take priority over a second Gold since the second Ghost Ship is where the real magic starts to happen. You may also want to get a third Ghost Ship before second or third Gold, but it’s hard to say. (The simulator can’t really answer this because it does not play against Ghost Ship properly.) Once you have have your Ghost Ships up, just buy Provinces, Gold, Ghost Ships, Silver, and eventually Duchies. You don’t really need to worry about over-buying Ghost Ships, because usually it’s better to have too many rather than too few. This is because a collision is just a waste of one card, but having a turn where you can’t play Ghost Ship gives your opponent an extra “good” turn, or at least 2 extra cards. For openings, you can go with early-game Estate-trashers that you only want to play 1-2 times like Chapel, Remake, Steward, or Island, but not cards that get their value from being played in the mid-game like Monument or Militia, as ideally you want to quickly get to the point where you just play Ghost Ship every turn. Fishing village can be a help, since it alleviates collisions while still providing money, but Walled Village or any of the other villages are probably not worth the loss in economy vs Silver since you’re not really trying to chain actions. Ghost Ship’s +2 Cards isn’t enough to fuel a real +Cards/+Actions chain.

That leads us to (2). If you want to play Ghost Ship in an action chain, you need a better source of draw, like Smithy, Council Room, or a Lab-type. Council Room has a nice interaction because the extra card given to your opponent by Council Room gets put back by Ghost Ship. If you’re going to compete with Ghost Ship BM, you probably also need some source of +Buy, since you’re bound to start buying Provinces later than the BM player. Generally, you want to play the action chain as you otherwise would, using the Ghost Ships, which are preferably acquired early, as extra terminals. While the draw isn't enough to fuel the chain, it can be enough to offset the fact that you have to buy more villages instead of draw cards. Another consideration is Scheme. If you have a Scheme, you don't have to draw a huge portion of your deck to keep your Ghost Ships coming every turn. Similar tricks can also be pulled with other cards that can save away an extra Ghost Ship like Haven, Courtyard, or Mandarin.

Option (3) is not really something you can control. The only thing to really take from it is that Ghost Ship gets strong more quickly as the number of players increases. When each player has 2 Ghost Ships, you may already be under perpetual Ghost Ships. It may affect timing of Ghost Ship purchases compared to Gold since you need fewer to get a perpetual Ghost Ship going when other players are playing Ghost Ship as well. Also, you may even want to have fewer Ghost Ships, and mix in other good terminals instead, since you don't actually have to play Ghost Ship every turn to get the full effect.

Playing against Ghost Ship

If you have no drawing cards and your opponent is unlikely to be able to play a Ghost Ship next turn, possibly because he has only one in the deck, it’s usually better to save up good cards for next turn unless you have enough for a Gold this turn or you’re about to reshuffle. If you’re under perpetual Ghost Ships, the decision is a bit tougher and depends on what you’re going to be able to buy. Ideally, however, by this point in the game, you will typically have some way of drawing back the cards you put back. If you are actually forced to play primarily 3-card hands with no drawing, you basically have no hope. So even if you have no real hard counter to Ghost Ship, you at least need some source of +Cards (Ghost Ships of your own if nothing else). If you're under perpetual Ghost Ships, you will also find that you play smaller hands than usual, and move through the deck slower, so you can afford to have a slightly higher density of terminal actions than you might have had otherwise. But don't overdo it, because you do want to be able to reach the point where you regularly draw back the cards you returned from the attack.

There are some “hard” counters to the attack, including reactions which defend hand-size attacks (Moat, Horse Traders), cards that “draw up to X” (Jack of All Trades, Watchtower, Library, Minion), and the generic defense of Lighthouse. But there are also other “soft” counters that don’t directly ignore the effect of the attack, but take advantage of the fact that you return cards to the top of your deck. With Menagerie or Shanty Town, it’s easy to set up your hand so that you can draw the two cards back. They're not "hard" counters because you just draw the cards back and miss out on further benefit from the cards. If you would have drawn 3 from menagerie or 2 from Shanty Town anyway, the attack still hurts. Cards that deal with the top of your deck (Secret Chamber, Spy, Scrying Pool, Jack, Oracle, Apothecary, Cartographer, Wishing Well, Venture, Loan, Farming Village, Golem, Native Village, etc.) can also take advantage of being able to know/arrange the cards on top of your deck. Note that Jack is both on this list and the list of “draw up to X” cards. It counters Ghost Ship pretty hard. You can also go for some cards that take advantage of the ability to use the attack to save a card for a later turn (Tournament, Baron, Treasure Map). And even even any card that just draw a lot of cards like Wharf or Tactician can help simply because the effect of returning 2 cards is less impactful when you draw and extra 4-5. If you can spare a terminal, either because you have lots of villages, or because it's a 3+ player game where you don't have to play Ghost Ship every turn, Monument is a nice soft-counter, because it gets you points regardless of what your other cards are, and its benefits quickly stack up over long Ghost Ship games. More generally, cards that benefit from longer games are going to be better that usual in Ghost Ship games.

Wharf Big Money should beat Ghost Ship Big Money, since the extra draw completely offsets the Ghost Ship attack, allowing both players to essentially play off of 6 cards every turn. However, Wharf has the added benefit of the +Buy and higher variance in hand-size (3-8 instead of 5-6). Oracle Big Money may also counter Ghost Ship Big Money. Even though the Oracle player will be playing with 4-card hands vs 6-card hands of the Ghost Ship player, the 4-card hands will be filtered into strong 4 card hands, while the 6-card hands will be filtered into weak ones. As mentioned before, Jack of All Trades is the sickest counter, and Ghost Ship BM with a Jack opening loses to plain old Jack+Money. Venture is a nice card to add in to your Ghost Ship play once you have 3-4 Ghost Ships, since it semi-counters the attack and is a treasure. You should open Loan pretty often on Ghost Ship boards, since it helps counter the attack by skipping Estates while at the same time trimming away Coppers. This leads well into engines, and is still useful in the Ghost Ship BM scenario.  Many of the other counters can be quite nice, but need to appropriately be incorporated into an engine. It’s generally not worth adding in something like a Moat purely for the reaction.

Works with:
  • Money
  • Single-use Estate-trashers
  • Fishing Village
  • Council Room
  • Scheme
Conflicts with:
  • Jack of All Trades
  • Oracle
  • Menagerie
  • Horse Traders
  • Library-types
  • deck-top inspection
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 11:36:22 am by HiveMindEmulator »
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O

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 08:41:37 pm »
0

I'd say a single Ghost Ship is still far more powerful than a single Militia... besides that, really well written.

You also missed Shanty Town as a counter. (Well, its better than loan...)
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 08:45:54 pm »
0

^Thanks for the note about Shanty Town. Single play vs Militia is not that important since you should basically never go for single play, but I wouldn't say it's "far" more powerful.
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jotheonah

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 08:52:07 pm »
0

+1 for referencing the limerick thread. Also for making an article on this card, which I've always found I have no idea how to use.
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mischiefmaker

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2012, 08:54:55 pm »
0

Nice article!

A couple things worth mentioning:

1. You talked about decreased cycle speed, but I think this is a point worth fleshing out. Part of what makes Ghost Ship's attack superior to Militia's is that not only do you play with a decreased hand size but you also slow down the rate at which you see your good cards. For that reason, I think Ghost Ship is a bit stronger in the early game (as it prevents your opponent from improving his deck and actually getting to any counters he might have).

2. Games dominated by Ghost Ship have a strong psychological component to them as well. When you're under relentless Ghost Ship attack, it's tempting to just say "aw, screw it, every hand is terrible" and not think about what you put back or just give up and resign. But if you're smart about tracking your deck, you can improve your chances of getting Gold, Province, or another Ghost Ship. You also need to be aware that the game will likely go much longer than usual, with smaller hand sizes, and prepare accordingly.
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DG

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2012, 09:12:03 pm »
0

There are a few other situations where it can be strong. One ghost ship mixed with torturers or rabbles can give the opponent even more painful decisions. When played against an opponent with +1 card actions it typically means the opponent has both a reduced hand and less choice of how to manage their deck (since they drawn nothing new if they play the +card actions).

It's worth remembering that wishing wells and shanty towns are not a total counter to the ghost ship. They might draw back the cards from to the top of the deck but you're still only left with a 4 card hand. The rest of the deck needs to be good enough to make those 4 card hands useful.
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dondon151

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2012, 09:21:44 pm »
0

It's worth remembering that wishing wells and shanty towns are not a total counter to the ghost ship. They might draw back the cards from to the top of the deck but you're still only left with a 4 card hand. The rest of the deck needs to be good enough to make those 4 card hands useful.

That's true, but consider that often, you have 4 card hands after playing Shanty Town from a 5 card hand anyway.
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Jimmmmm

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2012, 10:39:45 pm »
0

Scheme definitely deserves a mention, possibly a whole paragraph. It makes the whole Ghost Ship deck a whole lot easier, as you really only need one Ghost Ship and a bunch of Schemes to ensure you're Ghost Shipping every turn. I actually think Ghost Ship is probably the best companion for Scheme that there is.

Haven also goes really nicely in a Ghost Ship deck (in the absence of Schemes), and to lesser extents, Courtyard and sometimes Mandarin.
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2012, 03:01:45 am »
0

@mischiefmaker: Thanks. In my head I thought I wrote more about cycle speed, but I guess not. I added another sentence, but yeah. I don't think it's really that major early game. It's the fact that you get repeatedly hit that makes the -2 cards add up to a noticeably slowed pace.

@DG: I think I said all that stuff but maybe wasn't too clear. The "soft counters" don't ignore the attack, they just mitigate it a bit. And everything not specifically mentioned in the last paragraph needs some support to actually be worth it.

@Jimmmmm: Thanks for the note. I added some mention of Scheme.
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tlloyd

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2012, 12:11:34 pm »
0

It's worth remembering that wishing wells and shanty towns are not a total counter to the ghost ship. They might draw back the cards from to the top of the deck but you're still only left with a 4 card hand. The rest of the deck needs to be good enough to make those 4 card hands useful.

Wishing Well is not much of a counter, but it's still worth having. Shanty Town is a great counter if you get lots of them (remember that ST is a level-2 city when it triggers), and if you mix in drawers as well, like your own Ghost Ships, it's really strong. Menagerie is an effective enough counter that I might re-think a Ghost Ship strategy altogether.
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Taco Lobster

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2012, 12:29:17 pm »
0

How effective is Remodel as a counter?  Remodel can get a Province with a 2 card hand, and Ghost Ship helps in pairing up a Remodel with a Gold.  Remodel is usually too slow, but Ghost Ship games are already fairly slow.
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timchen

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2012, 12:33:02 pm »
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I do not agree. Well, probably the effect is there, but I don't like the way you phrase it.

Consider if militia and ghost ship are played every turn. For militia, you get the best 3 out of 5, and for the ghost ship, you get your average 3. That is the main difference, as simple as that.

The effect you talked about when played consecutively comes from the fact that it hurts more when you have a good hand while being hit. This is the same for both cards, but if you chose to put better cards back, then consecutive plays of ghost ship can guarantee to hit your good hand. It's sort of like a counter to the counter: while in average the ghost ship gives you average strength card of 3, you can somewhat mitigate the effect by increase your variance. But this is countered by another play of the ghost ship. Note that a militia played the turn after you played the ghost ship the effect might be even better. So this is not like an inherent part of the strength of ghost ship.
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Davio

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2012, 01:45:36 pm »
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How effective is Remodel as a counter?  Remodel can get a Province with a 2 card hand, and Ghost Ship helps in pairing up a Remodel with a Gold.  Remodel is usually too slow, but Ghost Ship games are already fairly slow.
I don't think it's a very effective counter. Ghost Ship will make it hard to get 5 or so Golds. Most games I don't even get to 5 before I (need to) start greening.
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Dauntless

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2012, 04:09:37 pm »
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It seems that Treasure Map would be a good counter to Ghost Ship.
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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2012, 04:15:37 pm »
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Tournament is often helped by Ghost Ship as well.
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petrie911

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2012, 05:17:55 pm »
+1

Minions can handle Ghost Ship quite well.  Just put the good cards back on your deck and leave a minion in your hand.  Then pitch the hand and continue with your Minion chain.
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ehunt

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2012, 02:00:20 am »
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Farming village is an ok counter, especially in late game or with tunnel.
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jotheonah

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2012, 02:12:10 am »
+1

A Golem engine shuts down a Ghost Ship deck. You either put your actions down, which generally makes them better since it turns cantrips into villages, or you put your Victory cards down knowing your Golem will skip 'em. Either way, that Ghost Ship didn't hurt you.
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jomini

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2012, 10:58:35 am »
+2

There are a number of other (softish) counters out there to ghost ship:
1. Venture. Venture allows you to dump green on top of your deck and forget about it. You blow past the green and get the same value hand. Yes, you do sometimes have to top deck treasures, but it is fairly easy to build a reliable venture engine if the other guy is overbuying ghost ship -particularly if he doesn't trash as well. With trashing, even something like moneylender, venture can easily green out and destroy heavy ghost ship decks.
2. Scrying pool - in addition to looking at the top of the deck, you also can draw idiotic hands. For a reliable SP deck, ghost ship is a completely worthless attack.
3. Adventurer sometimes counters as well. You can still have a 4 card hand, jump past green, and you can bury the adventurer for next turn if you've already hit 8 - thus reducing another weakness as you are less likely to have too many overpowered hands where the adventurer is superfluous. Fairly situation, but he is better than normal vs ghost ship and a very reliable counter when the trashing lines up.
4. Gardens - if there is some garden enabling card on the board - like workshop - you can often benefit from putting back a dead copy back and getting your garden & copper or estate. Ghost ship really only hurts when your enabling card is something that cost 4, otherwise it is pretty easy to just keep adding coppers, and pile depleting estates, gardens and whatever.
5. Duke - for a lot of boards 3 card hands will still get you a duchy/duke, yes it is a bit harder now that you can't just buy coppers to up treasure density but there are many enablers for duke that work quite well with ghost ship's sifting. Biggies include baron (copper, estate & baron is a fine 3 card hand), duchess (comes free and you can often engineer either a silver buy or a duchy/duke buy - free terminal silvers are nowhere near as bad when you use ghost ship to smooth out your hands), and throne room (with any silver action).
6. Tactician is a pretty good soft counter. You are going to have to pitch a hand anyways, may as well dump your gold and the goons back for next hand and tactician away two estates this hand. Yes, a reliable ghost ship deck will make 10 card hands into 8 card ones, but because you can save the best cards from your discard hands I'd say that on balance ghost ship is contraindicated on most tactician boards.


Secret chamber can suprisingly pull some nice shenanigans if you can get high enough treasure density. Secret chamber allows you to sift 7 cards to find three that make a province (e.g. gold, gold, chancellor) and putting 4 back on top. It then can either discard the dross for 4 coins (no second ghost ship) or sift again. When used in combination with a draw past counter (like farming village, venture, etc.) this can get quite effective.



Mostly for 3 or 4 player games I'd also consider the following to break out of the pack in a symmetrical ghost ship war:
1. Counting house. When it hits, you can often auto-province. Yeah it is weaker than ghost ship head to head, but if you can count on the other guys to keep each other hitting 3 card hands you often advance to gold & province far easier than just drawing back to 5 cards. Normally needs a cheap source of +buy.
2. Bishop & monument - particularly with throne room. Again I'm not convinced that these can beat ghost ship head to head, but if the other guys are doing sufficient attacking to nerf each other, then being able to reliably score a few points each turn can make for a strong game.


On a more general note:
Ghost ship can function as a sort of haven for the player who gets hit. This means that when playing against ghost ship you can often overload on terminals with less impact. Take the case of monument. Obviously, if monument is good enough to play, you want to hit it every turn, however you need to worry about action balance and still will have a number of hands where it is dead; after a certain point you almost always want to alternate village with monument for your buys to ensure that you can play everything you draw. With ghost ship out if you draw two monuments, you can toss a dead back to next turn where it will either be the only monument or be paired with another monument and village.

An even more striking example is treasure map. Being able to get a second shot each shuffle at pairing treasure maps is pretty strong. In general, ghost ship's haven like ability can allow you to save enabling cards until you hit a big combo or it can allow you to smooth out cards to avoid collisions. Trading potential for reliability is not often strong in dominion, but decreasing variance to achieve reliability can be strong in some situations. Particularly be careful about starting ghost ship wars in 3 and 4 player games where a reliable engine can cruise to victory while the attackers batter each other senseless.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 11:01:20 am by jomini »
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HiveMindEmulator

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2012, 02:01:35 am »
0

Sorry for the late responses, I'm trying to cut down my forum crawling to once a week :).

How effective is Remodel as a counter?  Remodel can get a Province with a 2 card hand, and Ghost Ship helps in pairing up a Remodel with a Gold.  Remodel is usually too slow, but Ghost Ship games are already fairly slow.
The problem with Remodel is that it when you play it in a 3-card hand, you won't be able to buy anything. You remodel one card and only have one left. So at best you add $2 of value into your deck, which is not good.

I do not agree. Well, probably the effect is there, but I don't like the way you phrase it.

Consider if militia and ghost ship are played every turn. For militia, you get the best 3 out of 5, and for the ghost ship, you get your average 3. That is the main difference, as simple as that.

The effect you talked about when played consecutively comes from the fact that it hurts more when you have a good hand while being hit. This is the same for both cards, but if you chose to put better cards back, then consecutive plays of ghost ship can guarantee to hit your good hand. It's sort of like a counter to the counter: while in average the ghost ship gives you average strength card of 3, you can somewhat mitigate the effect by increase your variance. But this is countered by another play of the ghost ship. Note that a militia played the turn after you played the ghost ship the effect might be even better. So this is not like an inherent part of the strength of ghost ship.
Maybe it's unclear, but I was not saying that Ghost Ship is only better than Militia because it's better with consecutive plays, though this is true, maybe in the way that you say. The main point I'm trying to make is that consecutive Ghost Ships scale really well. More so than with any other card, it's important that you find a way to actually play them every turn.

4. Gardens - if there is some garden enabling card on the board - like workshop - you can often benefit from putting back a dead copy back and getting your garden & copper or estate. Ghost ship really only hurts when your enabling card is something that cost 4, otherwise it is pretty easy to just keep adding coppers, and pile depleting estates, gardens and whatever
I don't think Gardens "counters" Ghost Ship any more than any other card. With Workshop+Garden, most $5-card+money strats are bad...

Quote
5. Duke - for a lot of boards 3 card hands will still get you a duchy/duke, yes it is a bit harder now that you can't just buy coppers to up treasure density but there are many enablers for duke that work quite well with ghost ship's sifting. Biggies include baron (copper, estate & baron is a fine 3 card hand), duchess (comes free and you can often engineer either a silver buy or a duchy/duke buy - free terminal silvers are nowhere near as bad when you use ghost ship to smooth out your hands), and throne room (with any silver action).
Again, it's hard to see that this really counters Ghost Ship. It, like Gardens fits more in the area of being a strong strategy-defining card which doesn't combo with Ghost Ship. It's not really a counter per se.

Quote
Secret chamber can suprisingly pull some nice shenanigans if you can get high enough treasure density. Secret chamber allows you to sift 7 cards to find three that make a province (e.g. gold, gold, chancellor) and putting 4 back on top. It then can either discard the dross for 4 coins (no second ghost ship) or sift again. When used in combination with a draw past counter (like farming village, venture, etc.) this can get quite effective.
I guess I should add a mention of Secret Chamber. Thanks.

Quote
On a more general note:
Ghost ship can function as a sort of haven for the player who gets hit. This means that when playing against ghost ship you can often overload on terminals with less impact. Take the case of monument. Obviously, if monument is good enough to play, you want to hit it every turn, however you need to worry about action balance and still will have a number of hands where it is dead; after a certain point you almost always want to alternate village with monument for your buys to ensure that you can play everything you draw. With ghost ship out if you draw two monuments, you can toss a dead back to next turn where it will either be the only monument or be paired with another monument and village.
This is also an important point I should talk about. If you expect to be playing a lot of smaller hands, you can afford a higher density of terminals. But you do have to be a little bit careful. Just stacking up on monuments isn't going to do it. You still need to find a way to draw up your cards.

A lot of the other points raised by people fit in the general category of Ghost Ship lining up combo cards together, which is definitely true, and I should add a mention of that.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2012, 02:16:51 am by HiveMindEmulator »
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jomini

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2012, 01:35:21 pm »
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Gardens and dukes are soft counters.

The big pain of repetitive ghost ships is getting 3 card hands over and over again; you need a treasure density of around a pure silver to get to province if you are just dead drawing with ghost ship. Gardens and dukes offer a shot to acquire healthy points from 3 card hands and provide a potentially superior alternative to ghost shipping.

For instance, let's say you have a 3 player match with openings of ghost ship/cellar, ghost ship/cellar and you open workshop/workshop. It is going to take your opponents forever to hit provinces whereas you can go for workshops on 3 coppers, estate & garden on workshop & 2 coppers, and garden & copper on workshop and anything else. Because of the sifting from ghost ship you can snag a few more workshops and reliably play them more turns. Workshop/garden is a perfectly legit "soft" counter to use the sifting & reduced hand size to your benefit. Because there a lot of cards that allow using 3 card hands to acquire alternate VPs and can use ghost ship sifting to their benefit I figured it was best to just say Gardens and Dukes rather than rattle off each of the combos that makes things work better for each of the alternate VP cards.

The basic point still stands - under the right circumstances (and there are a number, particularly in multi-player) alternate VP can use sifting well and win before the ghost ship player(s) can beat them with provinces. I mean seriously, at the end of the day if your opponent has a deck that only needs 3 card hands to score their points then your reliable ghost ship deck may as well just be full of moats.

Also another point I guess is less clear than I thought and might be worth dwelling on: Like most discard attacks, ghost ship can be a trap in multi-player. If your opponents are battering each other senseless with ghost ships, you have zero incentive to keep buying ghost ships - they can keep each other down quite nicely and you can do far better with just about anything else. If Bob and Alice both play Ghost Ship every turn I can either get ghost ship and play 4 card hands just like them ... or I can do anything else with my 3 card hands ... like say go baron/silk road and have good cards.

This is what I think you are missing with monument. It isn't that monument is strong enough to counter, it is that +2 coins +1 VP is better for you than +2 cards. Because ghost ship doesn't stack, in 3 or 4 person games you can just grab some duchies, maybe the odd province, and and have a stack of VP chips large enough to beat a 6/6 province split. Your crappy 3 card hands are much better than their crappy 4 card hands as you can sift your terminals and can afford to do something other than a painfully slow BM deck.
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WanderingWinder

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2012, 02:19:29 pm »
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A couple things. Monument's sort of a soft counter, because the games tend to last forever, and in long games, the VP chips are going to matter more, 'cause you get more. On the other hand, you'd probably prefer your terminals to be ghost ships. So that's a little out the window.
And Tactician is a fairly decent counter (actually engine decks are less affected in general), though double-tactician a bit less so. But hey, if you're running a double tactician deck, it's probably stronger than GS anyway. But yeah, on a turn I'm playing tactician your GS is positively a double haven for me.

O

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2012, 02:50:10 pm »
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A couple things. Monument's sort of a soft counter, because the games tend to last forever, and in long games, the VP chips are going to matter more, 'cause you get more. On the other hand, you'd probably prefer your terminals to be ghost ships. So that's a little out the window.
And Tactician is a fairly decent counter (actually engine decks are less affected in general), though double-tactician a bit less so. But hey, if you're running a double tactician deck, it's probably stronger than GS anyway. But yeah, on a turn I'm playing tactician your GS is positively a double haven for me.

Well, not a double haven, since haven increases the next turns handsize. A double-courtyard effect maybe.
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jomini

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2012, 02:56:07 pm »
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WW: In 2er, yes you want your terminals to be ghost ships, letting your opponent play 6 treasure card hands to your 3 with one action is not likely to be viable.

However, in 3er or 4er it absolutely can be a stronger terminal than ghost ship. The opportunity cost of foregoing a ghost ship is much lower if the other guys are already attacking each other reliably with ghost ships. Instead of it being a 6:3 ratio it is now a 4:3 ratio, you  have a far lower collision risk, and you can gain a VP each turn. This can be particularly good if you are the last guy to crack 5.
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jomini

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Re: Ghost Ship
« Reply #24 on: February 27, 2012, 09:24:06 pm »
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Another small bit that might be worth teasing out is that Apothecary can also function like a menage in that if you drop potions or coppers back into the deck you can be sure to draw them back out. You still are no better off than if the ghost ship hadn't hit, but you may have mitigated the damage just a small bit.

This can get pretty big if you are double dipping on your coppers
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