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Author Topic: Key card-based kingdom analysis  (Read 772 times)

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Awaclus

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Key card-based kingdom analysis
« on: January 02, 2018, 07:11:24 am »
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Key card-based kingdom analysis

This is my attempt to explain how I normally analyze kingdoms. It's recommended to read my Obstacles: Beyond the Five Deck Types article first.

Why you should or shouldn't use KCBKA

KCBKA takes advantage of your pattern recognition abilities, which are extremely good because you are a member of the human species. The benefit over, for example, AdamH's method is that this is much faster at identifying the available strategies, which frees up your time and attention span to better evaluate the pros and cons of each strategy as well as your opening buys. Some of the benefits of AdamH's method over this method are that it's easier to learn, and you're less likely to make careless mistakes.

It goes without saying that I prefer my own method, and I consistently rank in the top 50 on dominion.games to show for its usefulness. There are also roughly 49 others who have similar qualifications and I'm sure many of them analyze kingdoms in completely different ways. In summary, this is a method that works, it's not the only method that works, we have no idea which method really is the best, but I prefer this one especially for laddering. In tournament games, I do some additional analysis after applying KCBKA.

How do you analyze a kingdom using KCBKA?

1. Before you start a game, have an existing mental table of all the cards and the roles (component, support, counter, etc) they play in each strategy and roughly how strong they are in each role
2. After you start a game (i.e. when you see the kingdom), focus on cards starting with the most important ones until you find a strategy that works

In other words, there's just one simple step that you have to do each game. I make it sound very easy, but it really is very easy. If the kingdom is simple (e.g. base only), I can usually decide on a strategy in 2 or 3 seconds. The difficult part is having the table in your mind, and having a less-than-optimal table (which is inevitable, no pun intended) is the reason why you occasionally make those careless mistakes I mentioned earlier.

Constructing the table

Your table should be a collection of all the experience you've gathered while playing Dominion, specifically in regards to what each individual card has achieved, weighted towards the things that tend to matter more. For example, when you see Goons on the board, you should immediately think "engine payload!" even though Goons is also a very good card in other types of decks, and only consider the idea of Goons/BM after you have confirmed that the engine doesn't have all of its required components present on the board. Therefore, you should "mark it down" as primarily an engine payload card, and an extremely strong one too.

You should also consider card interactions here (the more you're able to consider them here, the less you have to consider them during the game). For instance, engines need cycling, and when you see Farming Village and Council Room on the board, you should immediately recognize that combination of cards as a means of cycling which is sufficient to build the engine. Similarly, you should recognize Counting House and Travelling Fair as the required components for Counting House/Travelling Fair.

Generally, the key cards are engine payloads (such as Goons), extremely strong engine components (such as Wharf), extremely strong big money enablers (such as Wharf), strong rush enablers (such as Rebuild), etc. In other words, they are reasons to go for a specific strategy. One card can be a key card for multiple different reasons, and one card can also be a key card for one reason while being a less important card for some other reason.

You should have a fair number of cards you think of as key cards. Preferably, you should aim to have one or two of them per average kingdom, but it's fine to get the occasional kingdom without any.

The table doesn't have to be very concrete. My example table provided below is, but I made it very concrete only for the purposes of demonstration; I have something more abstract in my mind.

Example table of base set cards

The relevance of each card in each role has been rated from 1 to 5 where 1 doesn't matter, 2 doesn't matter very much, 3 matters a little more, 4 is significant and 5 is a key card. Note that this is not directly a ranking of card strength (although strength is a factor to consider) — a lot of cards, such as Poacher, don't have to catch your attention at all during kingdom analysis even though they might be strong cards, and some weak cards have to catch your attention more than some strong cards. Note also that your individual experiences with these cards might differ from this example table, which is fine.

*you wouldn't remember three-piece interactions for all expansions full random, but you would for base-only full random

Cellar
weak engine support, 2

Chapel
extremely strong engine support, 4

Moat
counters Council Room/Militia based engines, 4*
weak engine support, 2
weak big money enabler, 2

Harbinger
1

Merchant
1

Vassal
1

Village
engine cycling with terminal draw, 4
engine payload with terminal payload Actions, 4
Workshop/Gardens rush support, 2

Workshop
weak to moderate engine support, 3
enables Workshop/Gardens rush, 2

Bureaucrat
1

Gardens
very weak engine support, 2
enables Workshop/Gardens rush, 2

Militia
counters big money, 5
strong engine payload, 5
strong big money enabler, 4

Moneylender
very strong engine support, 4
weak big money support, 3

Poacher
1

Remodel
strong engine payload with Gold gainers, 5
strong engine support with $4 or $3 engine components, 4

Smithy
strong engine cycling with anti-terminals, 4
mediocre big money enabler, 4

Throne Room
strong engine cycling with terminal draw and trashing/other support, 5
strong engine payload with payload actions and trashing/other support, 5

Bandit
strong engine payload with Remodel, 5
counters big money, 4
mediocre engine payload, 4
strong big money enabler, 4

Council Room
strong engine cycling with anti-terminals, 4
mediocre big money enabler, 3
mediocre engine payload with coin-generating cards, 3

Festival
weak engine cycling with terminal draw, 4
mediocre engine payload, 3

Laboratory
weak engine cycling, 4
weak big money support, 3

Library
strong engine cycling with anti-terminals and payload actions, 5
mediocre big money enabler, 4

Market
mediocre engine payload with coin-generating cards, 3

Mine
weak engine payload, 2

Sentry
strong engine support, 4
mediocre big money support, 3

Witch
counters engine, 5
strong engine payload, 5
strong big money enabler, 5

Artisan
extremely strong engine support, 4

Identifying the strategies using key cards
First, you search for something you rated as a key card, then you check whether or not all the required components for the strategy are present. Repeat this process until you have found every key card and figured out whether those strategies are enabled. If you found at least one key card whose strategy was enabled, you can move onto deciding which of those strategies is the best by looking at everything that supports or hinders those strategies, and once you have decided on the best strategy, that's the one you're playing.

If you didn't find any key cards whose strategies were enabled, you have to start considering the next most important rating of cards, and basically do the same thing with those as you did with the key cards. If that still didn't work, you move onto the next most important rating after that, etc.

A lot of the time, you'll find exactly one key card, find out that the strategy is available, and then you immediately know you're playing that strategy.

Conclusion

I have no idea whether or not any of this made any sense to you at all, but I would hope that it did.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2018, 11:06:41 am by Awaclus »
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JW

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Re: Key card-based kingdom analysis
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2018, 09:48:18 am »
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Is there an article by AdamH that you are thinking of when referring to his method? If so, can you provide a link?
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Awaclus

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Re: Key card-based kingdom analysis
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2018, 11:13:51 am »
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Is there an article by AdamH that you are thinking of when referring to his method? If so, can you provide a link?

I couldn't find an article by him, but it's the thing he does at the start of every video where he starts by looking for attacks, trashing, villages, draw and +buy.
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infangthief

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Re: Key card-based kingdom analysis
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2018, 07:51:24 am »
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Looks reasonable to me. I think I do something similar, but probably with less experience to contribute to my mental table.

And I think my table also has a 'fun' factor, like "Baron: I had fun that time I built an overdrawing deck that played 3 Barons per turn on a single Estate."
How much emphasis I give to the fun factor of course depends on the competitiveness of the situation.

A couple of clarifications:

1. Before you start a game, have an existing mental table of all the cards and the roles (component, support, counter, etc) they play in each strategy and roughly how strong they are in each role
2. After you start a game, focus on cards starting with the most important ones until you find a strategy that works
By "start" of game here you mean the moment when you see the board for that game. On my first read through I thought you meant the moment when you play your first card; "that's interesting, you start playing and buying cards until you find a strategy that works..." Could you choose a different phrase?

Having emphasized the abstractness of your mental table, and how it is gradually built up with experience, I think it would be better not to provide your whole example table in this article. Just a couple of example cards would suffice. By providing a detailed table you risk people arguing over your evaluations, instead of considering the overall analysis process which was the main point of your article.
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Awaclus

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Re: Key card-based kingdom analysis
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2018, 11:08:02 am »
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Having emphasized the abstractness of your mental table, and how it is gradually built up with experience, I think it would be better not to provide your whole example table in this article. Just a couple of example cards would suffice. By providing a detailed table you risk people arguing over your evaluations, instead of considering the overall analysis process which was the main point of your article.

I also emphasized that it's not essential to have the same evaluations as I did, so I don't think that's going to happen.
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jonaskoelker

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Re: Key card-based kingdom analysis
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2018, 07:35:48 pm »
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I also emphasized that it's not essential to have the same evaluations as I did, so I don't think that's going to happen.

Bwahaha! I think Harbinger, like Scavenger and Scheme, is a great support card for strategies where you have a few very strong cards which you want to play as often as possible—and for that reason should be rated higher*. Rebuild and Philosopher's Stone fit this description.

* But those strategies don't exist in base-only games; in base only, Harbinger is... meh, 1 is probably fine :)
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