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The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« on: January 16, 2018, 08:26:59 am »
+20

Finally, the top third of the $5s. I don't like to talk too much about absolute rankings, so I'll just dump the ordered list first, followed by my thoughts afterwards.

The Best Cards

~34 votes for Nocturne cards, as many as 39 votes for the rest.

#37 ▲1 Bazaar (Seaside) Weighted Average: 61.5% ▲1.8pp / Unweighted Average: 56.6%/ Median: 54.6% ▼2.2pp / Standard Deviation: 17.0%

#36 Replace (Intrigue - 2nd Edition) Weighted Average: 61.9% / Unweighted Average: 62.9% / Median: 60% / Standard Deviation: 17.0%


#35 ▼7 Laboratory (Base) Weighted Average: 63.4% ▼3.6pp / Unweighted Average: 65.4% / Median: 69.1% ▼2.5pp / Standard Deviation: 16.9%


#34 ▼1 Horn of Plenty (Cornucopia) Weighted Average: 65.1% ▲1.2pp / Unweighted Average: 64.5% / Median: 70% ▲4.8pp / Standard Deviation: 21.0%


#33 ▼2 Haunted Woods (Adventures) Weighted Average: 66.5% ▲1.2pp / Unweighted Average: 64.6% / Median: 66.4% ▼3.1pp / Standard Deviation: 17.1%


#32 ▲2 Stables (Hinterlands) Weighted Average: 67.4% ▲4.9pp / Unweighted Average: 66.1% / Median: 70% ▲7.9pp / Standard Deviation: 14.4%


#31 Den of Sin (Nocturne) Weighted Average: 67.4% / Unweighted Average: 63.6% / Median: 66.4% / Standard Deviation: 21.1%


#30 ▲4 Knights (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 67.8% ▲6.2pp / Unweighted Average: 64.5% / Median: 70% ▲7.0pp / Standard Deviation: 22.6%


#29 ▼3 Haggler (Hinterlands) Weighted Average: 69.3% ▲1.7pp / Unweighted Average: 67.0% / Median: 67.3% ▼1.1pp / Standard Deviation: 17.7%


#28 Cursed Village (Nocturne) Weighted Average: 70.1% / Unweighted Average: 66.6% / Median: 68.2% / Standard Deviation: 22.2%


#27 ▼5 Royal Carriage (Adventures) Weighted Average: 70.1% ▼0.5pp / Unweighted Average: 71.4% / Median: 73.6% ▲2.0pp / Standard Deviation: 14.5%


#26 ▼3 Count (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 70.7% ▲0.6pp / Unweighted Average: 71.0% / Median: 73.2% ▲0.6pp / Standard Deviation: 19.47%


#25 Vampire (Nocturne) Weighted Average: 71.1% / Unweighted Average: 70.0% / Median: 72.7% / Standard Deviation: 16.6%


#24 ▼1 Apprentice (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 72.5% ▲2.5pp / Unweighted Average: 69.8% / Median: 71.8% ▲2.3pp / Standard Deviation: 15.4%


#23 ▲3 Wild Hunt (Empires) Weighted Average: 74.4% ▲7.8pp / Unweighted Average: 72.6% / Median: 78.2% ▲7.7pp / Standard Deviation: 18.38%


#22 ▲32 Groundskeeper (Empires) Weighted Average: 74.6% ▲25.6pp / Unweighted Average: 65.4% / Median: 67.6% ▲20.2pp / Standard Deviation: 24.1%


#21 ▲6 Crown (Empires) Weighted Average: 74.8% ▲8.3pp / Unweighted Average: 72.6% / Median: 74.2% ▲6.8pp / Standard Deviation: 15.0%


#20 =0 Highway (Hinterlands) Weighted Average: 75.6% ▲1.4pp / Unweighted Average: 74.4% / Median: 77.3% ▼0.6pp / Standard Deviation: 13.4%


#19 ▼4 Lost City (Adventures) Weighted Average: 75.7% ▼2.3pp / Unweighted Average: 73.3% / Median: 82.7% ▲1.6pp / Standard Deviation: 21.8%


#18 ▼7 Minion (Intrigue) Weighted Average: 76.2% ▼6.6pp / Unweighted Average: 77.2% / Median: 81.8% ▼2.4pp / Standard Deviation: 17.2%


#17 ▼1 Ghost Ship (Seaside) Weighted Average: 77.3% ▼0.6pp / Unweighted Average: 74.5% / Median: 80.9% ▲0.4pp / Standard Deviation: 16.8%


#16 ▼8 Rebuild (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 78% ▼9.8pp / Unweighted Average: 75.4% / Median: 80.9% ▼13.8pp / Standard Deviation: 23.7%


#15 ▲4 Bridge Troll (Adventures) Weighted Average: 79.3% ▲3.9pp / Unweighted Average: 77.4% / Median: 81.8% ▲5.2pp / Standard Deviation: 18.5%


#14 ▲3 Counterfeit (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 80.7% ▲3.2pp / Unweighted Average: 79.7% / Median: 82.7% ▲0.6pp / Standard Deviation: 15.9%


#13 =0 Hunting Party (Cornucopia) Weighted Average: 81.2% ▲1.4pp / Unweighted Average: 80.3% / Median: 84.6% ▲0.4pp / Standard Deviation: 15.8%


#12 Avanto (Promo) Weighted Average: 82.2% / Unweighted Average: 79.1% / Median: 81.8% / Standard Deviation: 17.9%


#11 ▲2 Margrave (Hinterlands) Weighted Average: 82.2% ▲3.3pp / Unweighted Average: 83.1% / Median: 88.0% ▲4.1pp / Standard Deviation: 16.2%


#10 ▲7 Butcher (Guilds) Weighted Average: 83.3% ▲10.1pp / Unweighted Average: 76.2% / Median: 86.4% ▲7.4pp / Standard Deviation: 21.5%


#9 ▼1 Torturer (Intrigue) Weighted Average: 85.3% ▲0.6pp / Unweighted Average: 84.6% / Median: 88.2% ▼0.2pp / Standard Deviation: 11.6%


#8 ▲3 Upgrade (Intrigue) Weighted Average: 87.4% ▲5.3pp / Unweighted Average: 84.6% / Median: 88.2% ▲3.0pp / Standard Deviation: 15.76%


#7 Sentry (Base - 2nd Edition) Weighted Average: 88.5% / Unweighted Average: 87.0% / Median: 90% / Standard Deviation: 11.9%


#6 ▼2 Witch (Base) Weighted Average: 88.5% ▼4.7pp / Unweighted Average: 88.8% / Median: 93.6% ▼1.1pp / Standard Deviation: 19.9%


#5 =0 Governor (Promo) Weighted Average: 89.4% ▲0.4pp / Unweighted Average: 87.4% / Median: 92.7% ▼0.9pp / Standard Deviation: 15%


#4 ▼1 Cultist (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 89.8% ▼4.8pp / Unweighted Average: 89.9% / Median: 95.5% ▼2.4pp / Standard Deviation: 17.4%


#3 ▼2 Mountebank (Prosperity) Weighted Average: 89.9% ▼5.8pp / Unweighted Average: 89.5% / Median: 99.1% ▲0.1pp / Standard Deviation: 21.9%


#2 ▲6 Junk Dealer (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 90% ▲5.4pp / Unweighted Average: 86.3% / Median: 89.1% ▲1.1pp / Standard Deviation: 12.9%


#1 ▲1 Wharf (Seaside) Weighted Average: 92.1% ▼3.4pp / Unweighted Average: 93.3% / Median: 97.3% ▲1.0pp / Standard Deviation: 13.8%



Now, for my thoughts. There’s several classes of cards, groups of cards that serve similar functions and have similar properties, which are very well represented in these top 37. I’ll first discuss each class generally – why and when they’re good, then I’ll elaborate with a comparison between the members of that class in this top 37. Some cards are special that they don’t really have other cards that can be easily compared with them – they’ll be discussed individually. Feel free to skip around to the cards you're interested in, I'm fully aware very few people would want to sit here and read a wall of text.

Villages
Bazaar (37), Royal Carriage (28), Cursed Village (27), Crown (20), Lost City (19).


There’s a smattering of villages distributed around here, ranging from #37 to #19. Make no mistake – villages are really good cards. Villages are the lifeblood of engines (or maybe just the life – draw is the blood?), but expensive villages are a little awkward, and this is reflected in the ranking, especially when compared to the draw cards much further up the list.
You generally want your villages to be cheap, since you usually start picking them up just as you’re exiting the opening and you have a reasonable number of terminals that you want to connect. At these stages – the second and third shuffles, you’re not usually hitting $5 consistently (especially since you’re likely trashing half the time), and most gainers that you can open with usually can’t gain $5s. You’re usually only hitting $5 once a shuffle, so that $5 will have to alternate between terminal and village, before you start kicking off and having consistent turns.

Hence, for a $5 cost village to be a good village, you either want some means of making it easier to pick them up (like gainers that can gain expensive actions), or you want it have very compelling secondary functions – compelling enough that you don’t lose too much tempo from picking one up instead of a $5 terminal.

Bazaar
A peddler combined with a village, unfortunately both things are better cheap – we’ve talked about villages, and peddlers are usually a good way to help boost your economy to consistently hit $5, but this one costs $5 itself, so you can usually only afford it a little later than you’d want. The coin can help you extend your buying power a little bit especially with no better payload than Gold, as well as help sustain your $5 for a couple turns after the first, but you’ll usually find yourself wishing for an easier to get village.

Royal Carriage
The first of two throne-variants on this list. Works nice with payload cards, especially those that you’d rather not have too many of (Bridge comes to mind). The fact that you decide the throning post-play gives you some flexibility in whether you need to use them for draw or save them for payload. Being able to save excess ones also helps reliability and megaturny things. Biggest downfall is that you can’t carriage a carriage, so you can’t kick off with RC RC Smithy like you can with TR, for example, which might explain why Crown’s still rated higher.

Cursed Village
The first village is a Lost City, and as long as you keep interspersing terminal stop cards, they’ll keep being Lost Cities. The drawback isn’t too major – most hexes just whiff, though Delusion, Envy, Locusts (especially with an empty deck) and War can be annoying. Doesn’t really work too well with terminal draw, you’d rather it be its own draw and just tack on payload. Will discuss more in the Draw-To-X section.

Crown
It says something about Throne Room that a card that 90% of the time functions identically but costs 5 is still regarded as one of the better ones. It’s pretty much just Throne Room – you’ll find yourself able to play a lot more stuff, especially if you manage to Crown Crowns. Look out for synergies with Spoils, Capital, Storyteller, treasure gainers, other special treasures etc. You won’t dupe normal treasures much, but Gold and Plat can turn excess Crowns into decent payload. Since you’re probably already using Crowns to draw, it helps your reliability in comparison to adding another copy of the treasure itself, and for cheaper too!

Lost City
Normal villages are a lot more reliable for kicking off than non-drawing villages (like Festival), and Lost City, as you’d expect, is a further step beyond. By tacking draw onto your village, you reduce the number of actions you’re spending on terminal draw and hence you can free up actions for payload. It feels good to buy this as your first $5 since your early econ cards / trashers / gainers tend to be terminal, so this can help line them up and let you play them all too. The drawback is usually just a minor boost, but be sensitive when your opponent’s around the point where he’s just about to have his first big turn. Letting him kick off a turn sooner can be game losing. Try not to rely on this as your only draw (see Labs) – you can build a little quicker by getting some dedicated draw cards, since you’d have excess actions anyways.

Draw
As mentioned, there’s a lot of nice strong $5 draw cards. Usually you don’t want draw too early, only once you’re lightly thinned, you’ve got some starting economy, and you’ve actually got enough stuff to do in your deck to make drawing worth your while – hey guess what, you’re naturally hitting $5 consistently at this point anyways. Slot in a couple big draw cards and you’re kicking off!

Labs
Laboratory (35), Stables (32), Den of Sin (31), Lost City (19), Hunting Party (13), Governor (5)

Or things that get you at least +2 cards, nonterminally, that aren’t uncapped and absolutely crazy (looking at you, City Quarter / Shepherd / Scrying Pool). For some reason they’re all $5, and they’re actually reasonably close to each other in ranking, with Lost City bumped up a bit and HP bumped up a lot.

These guys generally are a little less explosive than their terminal cousins, because they usually give half the net draw (net +2 on a Smithy vs net +1 on a Lab), so your power curve goes up a lot more gently. You might be like ‘hey, isn’t playing Village + Smithy equivalent to playing two Labs?’ and you’d be right, but the latter requires you to hit $5 twice as much, which you’re probably only doing once every 2 turns or so from shuffle 2 to 4. You hence take a bit more time to build up your draw, but you can at least pick up some payload or cycling or inoffensive cantrips in between. Furthermore, when the Lab pile piles (which it usually does if it’s the only draw), you’ll find that you’re not actually drawing that many cards, so labs alone tend to be awkward with payload that wants lots of cards in hand or overdraw, and they can’t soak as much green as their terminal counterparts.

They’re reliable, they have a far lower chance of dudding catastrophically, but they pay for that in power, and hence why the terminal draw tends to be rated higher.

Lab
It’s literally as vanilla as you can get. This is the baseline the other labs compare to.

Stables
Much better cycling, so you’re very happy picking this up over lab, since you’ll get through your early cycles much quicker than you would with Lab. The reason why it’s ranked so closely is that there’s a few traps with this: Being careless can trigger an awful shuffle with nothing but treasures, you’re at risk of completely dudding if you have too many and you draw a couple with no treasures in your starting hand, and if you trash too many coppers your deck cannot function as well. You’d ideally want as many coppers as Stables, or maybe even more – trying to ‘overdraw’, to draw the treasures you discarded to Stables the first time around, is where these decks tend to fall apart, unless you have an abundance of treasures that you’re in no risk of running out in hand.

Den of Sin
It’s like a duration Lab, with all the perks of duration draw – it’s super reliable, in that you literally cannot dud if you have enough Dens to draw your deck, and it’s spiky, so you have an extra card to line things up with on your next hand as compared to if you’d just played a Lab on the next turn – this is great with other things that deal with start of turn, like Transmogrify, or things that are very volatile depending on your starting hand, like City Quarter. It’s also nonterminal, compared to other duration draw like Haunted Woods or Enchantress, so you can just spam them like you’d spam Labs. The fact that you gain it into hand means you can get the draw, and hence kick off, a shuffle earlier.

The downside is that, being a duration, once you’re drawing the deck you’re getting half the benefit that you’d get if they were normal Labs. 3 pairs of Dens gives you an 8 stop card hand to work with (3 more cards being dens), compared to the 10 of 5 Labs (or the 15 of 3 pairs of Village-Smithy). You get the draw a lot quicker, and it’s far more reliable once you get going, but ultimately you’re spending twice as much for the same draw. The tempo you gain from it is sufficient to put it above Lab and Stables, though.

Lost City
As draw, it’s pretty much Lab. Lost City games will feel a little faster, though, since while you both are picking them up, you’ll be inflating each other’s handsizes, allowing both players to get to kicking off a little sooner. Ultimately, it’s a better village than it is draw – you’re happy with 5 bonus actions, but being capped at 5 extra draw is a little stifling. In comparison to Lab, it gives you a little more freedom to build early on and taking on terminal stop cards as payload, and just adding a single big draw card to a handful of Lost Cities can get you drawing very quickly.

Hunting Party
This guy has a small tweak which makes a huge difference. Early on, it’s a crazy good cycler, usually skipping all your estates and coppers a-la Sage. Once you start drawing your deck, you can manipulate your hand via selectively playing cards between Hunting Party plays to increase your chance of drawing particular cards – you usually won’t draw more than a single copy of your payload cards, so HPs can seek out your villages or supplementary draw if you’ve played all the copies you had in your hand. It’s a lot harder to dud with HP, since playing your last copy in hand means it’ll likely pick up another one from the deck, and so you’ll find that you can draw much thicker decks, and thus green, more comfortably with HP than you can with other labs.

Governor
You don’t really want to be drawing too much with Governor. It’s a lot of draw, and you definitely do draw with it if it ends up in your hand when you happen to need draw, but you shouldn’t be picking them up with the intention to mostly draw with them if you have any other choice, since the start-of-turn draw for your opponent helps a bit more than the extra one draw you get over Lab. The strength of governor is primarily in its value as payload, with its draw just as a supplemental function to support it.

Big Terminal Draw
Haunted Woods (33), Wild Hunt (23), Avanto (12), Margrave (11), Torturer (9), Wharf (1)

Or things that get you at least a net 2 cards (in some way). Most people call these Smithy Variants, but then we’ll get into an argument about whether Wharf should really be a “Smithy Variant” etc. and I don’t want to open that can of worms.

As mentioned in the previous sections, Smithies are really good cards, even at $5 (which is less of a detriment than it would be to other types of cards). The weaker smithy variants, in the previous $5 lists, tend to be some form of ‘oh, we draw you 3 cards, but in an interesting way’ which, while helping reliability quite a bit, isn’t particularly inspiring. These guys, on the other hand, have really significant secondary effects as well. They’re either really –really- good draw, or they’re essentially a payload card stapled to a Smithy, which makes for an extremely powerful card.

Haunted Woods

The Smithy to Den’s Lab. This analogy works really well in helping to judge how they play and their relative power levels, if you’re not too comfortable with your read on either one.
Everything that I mentioned regarding duration draw under Den applies here – the spikiness, the reliability, but also the missing shuffles and the ‘needing pairs for the effect of one card’, though HW draws enough that the last point isn’t as much of an issue (especially if you win the split). One more advantage of duration draw that’s probably not as apparent with Den is its ‘semi-terminalness’ – you get the bonus cards in hand with the fresh action from the next turn, so you can easily set up things that need to collide, or would like lots of things in hand (Urchin? Lamp?), that you can’t really do with Smithy without doing a full Village – Smithy draw engine setup.

As an attack, Haunted Woods is usually not too effectual until the endgame, where it can absolutely cripple turns if not played around. It can also shut down Night cards and Villa, so look out for those traps on a board with Haunted Woods.

Wild Hunt
As a draw card, it’s just a vanilla Smithy. We’ll talk more about it as a VP source in a later section. The fact that it’s a potent VP source means that you’re perfectly fine picking up extra Wild Hunts that would otherwise go to other terminal payload – this means that you’ll usually have more Wild Hunt – village pairs than you need to draw, so it tends to be more reliable.
A lot of lower ranked players also miss that this gives a lot of pileout pressure on the estates, especially if you don’t need too many to draw your deck.

Avanto
It’s mostly really good because of its very strong synergy with Sauna - this ranking is more a representation of their strength as a pair than Avanto's individual strength. By the time you’re getting around to grabbing Avantos, you probably have a couple of Saunas, and you have a somewhat thinned deck to let you chain them. Your cantrip trashers turn into villages, which means you can just stock up on Avantos without needing to grab village support at the same time like with other terminal draw, which accelerates your build. The bulk draw that Avantos give also helps line up your junk and silver with Saunas – give it a good turn or two and you’ll suddenly find yourself totally clean.

Another sort of meta-reason why Avanto is rated this highly is that in a lot of games featuring it, contesting it is incredibly important. If Avantos are the only draw, then draw is at a premium - whoever wins the split has a huge advantage. Whoever gets more Avantos can draw more, build larger, and has a much lower chance of dudding.

In combination with other draw/villages, it still works pretty well, though you probably want to have some sort of cycling or topdecking support to get your supplemental draw first – you only want to play your SaunAvantos when you’re sure to line them up, so it’s a little awkward in these situations.


Margrave

Margrave is a card that does a lot of things that you’d usually go out of your way to get, but because it’s stuck onto a strong draw card, you can pick one up naturally and get the bonuses straight away. Discard attacks are great for hindering your opponent, and we’ll talk about them later. The +buy is also great, and a usually underrated part of Margrave. Getting your +buy with draw is surprisingly rare, limited only to Wharf, Margrave, Ranger and Tragic Hero. Like the $5 price point for draw, the +buy is a very natural bonus to get with draw, since the time when you’d really want to pick up +buy is around the time you start drawing a significant portion of your deck. This lets you avoid the awkward detour for an $11 Herbalist.
If Margrave is your primary draw, in endgame scenarios you’ll find yourself having a ton more buys than you would if your +buy source was a terminal payload card like Wine Merchant, giving additional pile pressure.

Torturer
Torturer plays more like an attack primarily, but it also happens to be good draw so you can line them up with each other easily, which is great because the attack is only effectual if you play multiples. On boards where you can’t easily deal with the Curses or the stacked discards, this actually plays a lot like Wild Hunt – you can get a lot more copies of your draw card than you’d normally get, since your draw card provides significant self-stacking payload.

Wharf
Wharf is the first card to usurp the throne from Mountebank, and it has routinely been the highest-ranked non-attacking $5 in previous years. It takes all the advantages of duration draw, and wipes out its biggest disadvantage simply by providing draw on the turn you play it too. Wharf draws so many cards that just getting one in an early shuffle pretty much gets you halfway to drawing your deck.

Add onto that the +buy with your draw thing mentioned under Margrave (but for 2 consecutive turns off one play!) and you can quickly see why Wharf is so well received.

Draw-To-X

Cursed Village (27), Minion (18)
A lot of the Draw-to-X (and similar-playing cards) happen to be at the $5 price point: Library, Tactician, Tragic Hero (?) and these two up here. The big reason why these two are here and the rest aren’t, is that these two are nonterminal. A big thing with Draw-to cards is that they demand a lot of villages to function, usually, because they need a lot of disappearing things to become strong draw, and most disappearing things are usually terminal. Couple that with the draw card itself being terminal and you end up with a deck that needs either a ton of villages, or some special nonterminal support to function reliably. These guys tend to fare a lot better in their absence, and hence they’re more often viable as the main draw in a deck.

Cursed Village
Having your draw-to be a village itself is really handy for the typical draw-to deck, since it means even terminal support like Storeroom or Vault don’t need any additional support. Library may draw one more card, but to get use out of that additional card requires so much support that CV probably ends up drawing more for you anyways. The hexes on buy usually don't do much of anything, with Deluded, War, Locusts, and usually Envious being exceptions. I expect this to rise.

Minion
This draws the least of all the draw-tos, but makes it up by shrugging off treasures and green unlike the others, as well as being some disappearing economy in itself. Minion by itself generally isn’t strong enough payload to justify constructing the deck, but the payload (and the villages to play it, if necessary) is usually all that is necessary.

Discard Attacks
Minion (18), Ghost Ship (17), Margrave (11), Torturer (9)

These all happen to be coupled with some form of draw (probably so you don’t feel too bad about having fewer cards to start with since you can draw yourself more). Discard attacks hurt, and they hurt in a couple of ways. Early game, or against a money-playing opponent, they’re an economic penalty – discard a copper, lose a buck. Lategame money – discard a copper and a silver, and suddenly you can’t afford Province any more. This is one of the reasons why these guys are so good at controlling money – they make it really hard to hit $8, which buys you a couple turns to catch up in VP.

Secondly, against another well-thinned opponent, it can hinder reliability, forcing components in the starting hand to be discarded. This usually isn’t too major, since engines usually have stop cards or treasures that they don’t mind discarding and redrawing later, and those that routinely have starting hands full of components are thin enough that it doesn’t matter anyways. Occasionally your opponent draws a hand full of components in a deck that doesn’t have many and is forced to discard two – that’s when it really hurts, since those components are essentially bottomdecked and unusable. The exception is cards that are really reliant on other cards in hand to draw – City Quarter, Shepherd can have huge issues kicking off from 3 card hands. Also problematic are things that make you want to hold on to non-drawing cards: Encampment and Masquerade are two examples.

Thirdly, in certain situations, these attacks can negate draw. For engines that overdraw, the cards discarded have to be drawn again. Essentially, it’s a double -Card attack, but only if the opponent wants to redraw those discarded cards, or gain-and-play or something. Double –Card would be a really strong attack, but in this context it’s only for decks that are overdrawing anyways. If you’re unfortunate enough to be hit midway through a shuffle, and you trigger the shuffle, that triggered shuffle would be slowed by 2 cards, again, like a -2 Cards.

Each of these attacks vary in how strong their attack is in these 3 ways, and their secondary effects. Speaking of secondary effects, the fact that they’re draw means you can pick them up naturally as you build, unlike Legionary (54), which, while being a much meaner attack, forces you to go out of the way to get its attack off, and hence is rated much lower.

Minion
It’s not a particularly strong attack, nor is it usually a significant reason why you get it. Economically, it’s a wash, depending on your opponent’s deck, whether it hurts more or less than Militia, since the lost card is random. Similar is its effect on reliability (However, your opponent is likely building a Minion deck too, and that only requires that one card in hand to kick off). It’s important to not forget that it cycles for your opponent which might be relevant especially early on.

Ghost Ship
Ghost Ship’s topdecking means that it hurts cycling every time it’s played, not just in special circumstances. This can be especially hindering early on when shuffles are longer relative to draw power. Its effects on economy are slightly stronger – while Militia lets the opponent keep the 3 best of every 5 cards, Ghost Ship forces him to play every one, but 3 at a time. While this means the opponent’s hand quality is usually worse, he can ‘force spikiness’ by topdecking his best cards – this way, a money player (especially Fool’s Gold) that’s almost done greening can sneak a few provinces that he otherwise would be hard pressed to if he were to be constantly hit by Militia.

Margrave
The first Margrave is a reasonably strong attack. The extra cycling helps blunt it somewhat, although its strength is still comparable to a plain Militia, especially considering the usual state of the decks at that point. Repeated plays dilute its effect on turn-by-turn economy while usually even helping reliability, hence significantly weakening the attack, which is why you should usually look for alternate sources of draw/buy after the first Margrave if you can.

A lot of Margrave’s strength is in its non-attack facets, which leads to it being somewhat underrated as a consequence of many just looking at the weakness of Margrave’s attack.

Torturer
Torturer gives a choice between a strong discard attack and a crappy junking attack. As a pure discard attack, the first attack is Militia, the second is ridiculous – crippling most turns, and the third just completely kills the turn (unless you’ve got a boatload of duration draw). Of course, Torturer isn’t a pure discard attack – two crappy junking attacks can negate one discard attack, and usually when facing stacks, that’s the best option. A good way to think about it is a lone Torturer is like a stronger Margrave (without the +buy), but a stack of Torturers is like a bunch of Smithies with a crappy junking attack. Which as we’re about to see, isn’t so bad after all.

Torturer’s pretty notable in that it’s the only discard attack that stops working after a while. Which makes sense, since it’s not really a discard attack, more of a crappy junking attack.

Junking Attacks
Torturer (9), Witch (6), Cultist (4), Mountebank (3)

Junking attacks are really, -really- mean. They’re among the meanest attacks in the game, and hence why they’re rated amongst the top $5s. Like discard attacks, they do one thing, but that one thing (primarily) hurts in the same three ways:

Economically – the junk cards take up space that cards that provide economy could’ve used. Once junk starts coming in, until you deal with them via trashing or other means, you’ll find it very hard to keep hitting the price points for your components. Hence, that’s why games with junkers and moderate trashing tend to go like opening trashing -> junking -> junk runs out -> cleanup -> resume normal building.

Reliability – A lot worse than discard attacks, because you don’t see the card that the junk would’ve been, so you don’t get to pick and choose which cards stay in your hand for you to attempt to kick off with. So even if you manage to afford your components and grab them, it’s so hard to get a decent turn going that, again, you’re forced into the aforementioned roadmap.

Cycling – Every junk card forces you to draw it, and sulk at it, every shuffle. Every shuffle from the moment you get the card to the moment it’s trashed is lengthened by 1. That delays the time to your next shuffle, delaying when you’ll see the cards you just gained, lowering the frequency in which you can play the cards you already have, even slowing your progress towards clawing your deck back under control. This kills the pseudo-exponential feedback loop that defines engines, at least until the junk is cleaned up.

These cards, again, differ in how much they hurt in each of these categories, due to the way they deliver junk, as well as their secondary effects.

Torturer
So why is Torturer a crappy junking attack? The curses go to hand, for one, letting you deal with them before they do any damage at all, if you have the tools. Secondly, it doesn’t even work with only one of them – you need multiples to start reliably giving curses out, which just gives the opponent time to build up to be ready to deal with them. Thirdly, even if you get a stack ready, it only works two thirds of the time – Three Torturer plays only gives two curses, or even just one if the opponent’s turn isn’t significantly affected by only having two cards.
The good thing is that since Torturer is good draw, it’s a lot easier to put multiples of them into play than those that only give +2 Cards.

Witch

This is a bare bones junking attack. No fuss, no mess. +2 cards cycles a little, to let you see them a little more often than if it didn’t have +2 cards. Which is great, since your deck’s probably getting filled with Curses. Also gives you a reason to keep them around after the curses run.

Cultist
Witch on steroids! Getting more junk out quickly is great because junk tends to have a snowballing effect: Junk more -> Opponent slows down -> you play your junkers more than he plays his -> opponent covered in junk. Anyone who has played a game with Ambassador can testify to that. Cultist beats Witch in the head-to-head just because it dumps junk way quicker once you get a couple of them. It also cycles quicker while it dumps the junk, and functions much better as draw post-junking. Witch’s only upside, that Curses drain VP, isn’t a primary reason why you get junkers – the primary reasons are listed above.

Mountebank
This guy gets junk out even faster! Noticing a trend?
Witch sends one junk per play – Cultist starts sending multiple once you line a few up, maybe on the fourth shuffle on. Mountebank sends two on the very first play! Two! That’s double the junk! It might miss a couple shots later on, but by then the damage is already done. There’s a reason why he’s been on top of the $5s list ever since there has been a $5s list.

+2 Coin doesn’t provide cycling like Witch or Cultist does, but what it does do is help you buy more $5s while you still can, and silvers once you can’t. In a deck flooded with crap, +2 Coin is probably more useful for a long time anyways.

Payload

These are, as succinctly as I can put it, the ‘end goal of your turn’. Or in a more specific sense, payload is what converts the resources you've generated during your turn - Cards, Actions, etc. into outcomes that either directly allow you to improve your deck, or grant you the coin and buys to improve your deck.

Trashers
Early on you’ll be spending a lot of turns trashing, even at the expense of picking up key components, because it pays immense dividends over the course of the game. As to the specific benefits, look at the three factors mentioned under Junking and invert them.

Count (26), Bats(Vampire) (25), Apprentice (24), Counterfeit (14), Upgrade (8), Sentry (7), Junk Dealer (2)
$5 trashers, like villages, tend to need to be extra-special, because trashers are things you want to get as early as possible, but you generally don’t get to hit $5 until the second shuffle. (This has the nasty side effect of generating a huge tempo lead for anyone opening with an unmirrored 5/2 on a board with one of these). Since you’ll be trashing with these a shuffle later than a trasher you open with, the turns that you trash on would tend to be more valuable too – you wouldn’t mind giving up your buy on T3 to trash, since you’d probably be buying at most a Silver anyways, but losing a $5 buy on T6 is a little more painful. Hence, these trashers tend to compensate in some way for the negative economic effect that trashing usually has.

Count
Count is the only trasher on this list that is terminal, and it pays dearly for that in the ranking. It can be incredibly swift if you pick one up early – it trashes 3 cards per play, usually, in the early game, comparable to Chapel, which typically gets you clean in 3 plays too. It’s awkward to pull off more than two trashes, though, so it’s hard to get fully clean, and it doesn’t deal with junk too well. Being priced at $5 also hurts it since you usually can’t open it. Later it transitions into a weak-ish payload card, though utility in topdecking and duchy gaining can make it more useful than other trashers when spent.

Bats
Bats comes out around the same time as a best-case Mercenary, and it trashes about as much though it’s far, far worse for the same-turn economy, though being Night makes it easier to play before you pick up any villages. Generally you get Vampire more for the Vampire effect than the Bats one, but it’s not a horrible trasher in lieu of anything better.

Apprentice
Apprentice is the lowest ranked of the ‘cantrip’ $5 trashers, mostly because it’s not a cantrip when trashing coppers, which is most of the time. Compare to Raze, which does pretty much the same job, for $2, and offs itself when it’s done, or in a pinch. That’s decent, but for a $5 you’re really expecting more. Its upside, when there’s some way to get expensive fuel easily (Fortress, Market Square, Lurker, etc.) makes it pretty impressive terminal draw, though, which bumps it up to where it is.

Counterfeit

Counterfeit’s the first trasher on this list that you’re very happy to have as your only trasher. It’s ranked slightly lower than the rest because it’s not a cantrip in that it doesn’t draw, but being a treasure, it works better with terminal draw. It’s great for helping to continue hitting $5, like Moneylender or Salvager. It’s also more useful when spent since it’s at minimum a CSM, and usually gives additional endgame pile pressure by increasing your maximum money and buys.

Upgrade
First of the cantrip trashers. Worst at helping to hit price points (4/5), but can be best if the $3s are good. Much more board-dependent than the other two, and can be killed by Poor House. Situational $4-> duchy endgame utility.

Sentry

Can be really fast, and isn’t a dead card late, even helping reliability and cycling somewhat. Ridiculously good very early when it has a good shot at hitting 2 junk. Out-of-hand trashing means it’s better for econ than Upgrade, for example.

Junk Dealer
Really, really good at hitting 4, and great at hitting 5, especially once an estate or two are chucked. A little overrated (should be closer to, or even below Sentry), but still a really good trasher.

Money Providers
None!

The most basic form of payload is the stuff that just gives you money, Gold being a basic example. Tons of payload cards give you money, and often buys, to help bolster your buying power. Being able to buy more stuff = stronger deck! Then why are there none of these cards in the top third of the $5s? Turns out straight up buying cards with money is really inefficient. Money-providing cards, while usually being better than Gold, can’t be too much better than Gold, else they’d look (and possibly be) downright broken. Hence most of them (around the $5 price point) cap themselves around $3 and a buy, with those with the potential for more forcing you to jump through hoops (Harvest, Wine Merch). Other forms of payload, since they force you to jump through hoops too, are allowed to be much stronger, and hence some of them do get high spots on the list.

Gainers
Replace (36), Horn of Plenty (34), Haggler (29), Vampire (25), Butcher (10), Governor (5)

Honorable Mention: Upgrade (8) (while this can gain like a remodeler, its primary function is usually just trashing – its gaining is often just limited to cannibalizing $4s into Duchies lategame, or small tactical midturn gains in the mid-to-endgame. It earns its rank as a trasher, not a remodeler.)

There’s two clear types of gainers here: the remodelers – the things that turn stuff into other stuff – and the straight gainers – the things that give you stuff. An important point is that straight gainers can almost never gain you Provinces, while remodelers, given appropriate fuel, can. Hence, throughout the game, these two types of gainers function remarkably differently.
Since remodelers need targets, and the starting cards are usually pretty bad targets, they’re generally not very good early game. They need a lot of support – draw, to line them up with their targets, and villages, since they tend to be terminal. Sans actual trashing, you might still pick one up to get rid of estates. Gainers, on the other hand, are great – they can pick up your components while you buy others, allowing you to kick off much quicker than without them.

Midgame, both function similarly – they continue to pick up components you need, with remodelers needing fuel either in the form of Silvers / Golds (either bought, or more likely gained from one of their respective gainers), or parts that you don’t mind turning into something better (inoffensive cantrips like Harbinger that you buy with spare $3s are good options). If you start overdrawing, you can even gain-and-play. With fuel, remodelers start to shine here due to their ability to pick up more expensive parts that tend to be out of reach of the straight gainers.

Endgame, the balance flips. Remodelers can threaten the province pile, multiplying your ability to pick up provinces through cannibalizing parts, Golds, or even already-gained provinces. Having extra remodelers can put your opponent in an awkward position with regard to the last few provinces. Some gainers can help pick up Duchies or cheaper alt-VP, but being able to threaten the Province pile is definitely the bigger boon lategame. Both can help you with pile pressure (especially since you can gain-and-play cards that themselves give you more gains)
These gainers each earn their spots based off how they gain, what they can gain, and their other functions. For the straight gainers, as $5 costs, they tend to be less restricted in their targets, but they usually still make you jump through hoops.

Replace
Pretty much vanilla remodel, though amazing at milling green, and you’re not as sad for copper -> estate. Topdecking is a slight boost to estate -> $4 and silver / gold -> $5, but it’s not enough to make it a top tier card since vanilla remodel is a little uninspiring. Its cursing shouldn’t be underestimated though.

Horn of Plenty

It’s easy to make it able to gain $5s, and it’s the only non-remodeller that can gain Provinces regularly. The inability to gain-and-play (sans Villa) and its dependency on draw hurts it somewhat in the rankings.

Haggler
Great for picking $5 component + cheaper component, or Gold + components, or Province + Gold in money. Amazing pile pressure if you can get multiples in play. Can get awkward if the cheap inoffensive piles run and you’re forced to gain Silver or something.

Vampire
Unrestricted $5 gaining is super strong, and it’s nonterminal, but it’s hurt by lack of gain-and-play and the fact it only fires every other shuffle. You generally want a pair because of this. Hex is a small bonus too. Vampire and Bats alone are weaker than their competitors but the combination does give a lot of varied utility that makes them stronger together.

Butcher
Butcher is much better regarded than most other remodelers because it serves all the main purposes of remodel (as listed above), while providing pretty good economy for the early game in the form of two coin tokens. Being able to butcher beyond just +2 also means you have more options for trash and gain targets than normal remodels.

Governor
Governor’s nonterminalness is the primary reason why it’s so nuts as a gainer. It’s the easiest-to-use nonterminal Gold gainer (others being like HoP or Upgrade), and the only nonterminal remodeler (Upgrade doesn’t really count due to missing the crucial Silver -> $5 and Gold -> Province paths). The bonuses for your opponent can be mitigated (Silvers are usually not too good after a while, and the +1 remodel is great for trashing but you usually get a lot more by remodeling into Provinces or $5s). Add that to the fact that these two functions have an obvious and strong synergy (Gain gold -> remodel Province) and you have payload that can threaten a huge number of provinces in a single turn by itself, which is very unlike any other card here.

Cost Reduction
Highway (20), Bridge Troll (15)

This is essentially providing money, but scaling with buys. With a lot of buys, you can get an absurd amount of equivalent value from them. Just 3 buys brings you to the aforementioned 3-coin 1-buy threshold that most $5 payload cards tend to hover around, and many strong engines can easily exceed that. There are also a bunch of tricks you can do with these, having good synergy with anything that’s cost-sensitive (a bevy of gainers come to mind).

Being $5 costs, though, they’re not that amazing for early economy (cards that give you money early to help you consistently hit your price points). It’s not that they’re bad, but in terms of helping you hit $5 consistently, Highway does no more for you than Peddler, and Bridge Troll no more than Lighthouse. This is a big point of contrast to those $5 payload cards that do provide actual coins, since those actually help your chances of hitting $5 and spiking higher costs significantly.

Highway scales less, since it doesn’t come with buy, but it’s easier to get it in play with something that likes cost reduction in some way other than giving +buy (like gainers, remodelers maybe), since those tend to be terminal. Bridge Troll has the crazy multiplicative nature of Bridge, but makes it much easier to access by providing its benefits nonterminally half the time. In this way, it’s almost like a ‘best of both worlds’ combination of Highway and Bridge, which justifies its higher ranking. The attack is usually minor, but bumps its strength up just a bit further.

Points
Wild Hunt (23), Groundskeeper (22)

VP chips are amazing. The things that give you a couple (Monument, Landmarks) can give you a small leg up in the endgame, putting you in a slightly better position to threaten piles, or allow you a bit more room to build against an opponent hammering green. The ones that give you a ton (like Goons), can fundamentally change your strategy, allowing you to score to a degree that can compete with or even exceed the VP that you can get from Provinces, all without that nasty business of actually buying green cards. These two give you a ton.

Wild Hunt
You naturally want a lot of these (As mentioned way back with the other Smithies), which is great, since the amount of VP you get from these scales with the number you have. While you don’t get as much VP as say Goons or Groundskeeper, the points you get from this is still really significant and can allow you extra breathing room to build more. In addition, an often overlooked benefit is that it gives a ton of pile pressure on estates. You can easily snag 3-4 estates in a single turn off Wild Hunts alone to pull off a sneaky pileout. This is one I expect to rise further.

Groundskeeper

I think by now everyone knows how many points you can get with this. Just being able to play 5 consistently turns the Estates into Provinces, and being cantrips, that’s not hard to do. With any sort of engine support and maybe extra gains, this becomes game-defining payload, allowing you to build way, way longer than you'd otherwise be able to. I expect this to rise.

Knights (30)

Trashing attacks are usually pretty weak in Dominion. Those that aren’t limited to treasures only usually have some limiter attached to them, (Rogue and Giant only attack every other turn, Warrior has a gimped range and usually runs into Champion by the time it chains, Swindler sometimes is ineffectual for certain price points, War and Locusts are boons) and furthermore they’re usually terminal stop cards, which means you usually need extensive engine support to play multiples (extensive engine support that ends up getting trashed away, so it’s somewhat of a self-rectifying problem)

The knights have a (relatively) unrestricted trashing attack, and a search space of two – while this means Silvers can sometimes bodyblock for jucier components, it more often just means you’ll get more hits to score than Giant or even Swindler per play on average. Destry, Molly and Bailey also make it easier to get multiple Knights into play, if you happen to snag them.
The limiter for this unrestricted trashing power is that they tend to kill themselves. Given an even split, all of them will eventually end up in the trash, or both players will just end up with one each when the game ends, which while annoying, is manageable. Losing the split, however, in a game with a buildable engine means you’re losing almost two components a turn on average. You need to end the game quickly or your deck will get gobbled up. In any game where the engine isn’t explosive enough that piles will run before too many attacks fly out, ignoring the knights is a death sentence.

Furthermore, recent releases like Rogue, Lurker, and Necromancer mean that the war isn’t over when they’re all trashed. These games tend to be even more Knights-focused and degenerate into a battle of trashing until one player loses enough components that he’s no longer able to contest the Knight zombies and resigns.
With how centralizing they usually end up being, I’m expecting them to rise in the future.

Rebuild (16)

Ah, here’s a controversial one (hence why I saved it for last). It continues to plummet from last year, and a lot of people may think it’s too low, but still many others (myself included) feel that it hasn’t fallen enough.

Why is Rebuild strong (and so hated)? It’s a monolithic strategy that’s reasonably fast and easy to execute, hence it has a very good winrate against opponents that don’t play precisely and efficiently enough to outscore it before it mills out the Provinces. It likes early economy, cycling, and things to help it hit $5, but otherwise it doesn’t improve much given the typical draw engine support, so there’s a persistent attitude of ‘d’oh, why try anything complex when you can just Rebuild and win?’.
The typical Rebuild (non-mirror) goes like this: get early economy, get a ton of Rebuilds while Rebuilding starting Estates into 3 Provinces, maybe buy a Duchy or two, and empty the Provinces, either through milling Provinces or upgrading bought Duchies before the opponent can catch up. Getting the first 3 provinces requires 6 Rebuild plays, and each play after that either gains or mills a Province. You probably can hit 4 Provinces around Turn 12, and can mill the remainder by Turn 16 or so. This is reasonably fast, but it’s not as unassailable as many would think.

Any engine with reasonable draw, villages, buy and trashing or sufficiently strong alternatives can be clean and kicking off by Turn 9-10 (especially since the Rebuild player likely isn’t doing anything to hinder their opponent’s progress), and should be built to green reasonably soon after. A strong engine can pull off a sufficient number of strong turns, buying a combination of the remaining Duchies + Provinces to outscore the Rebuilder’s projected VP gains. Building an engine efficiently and precisely enough to beat the clock set by a Rebuild player is difficult, but very possible on a surprisingly large number of boards.

This isn’t even including alt-VP. Rebuild usually doesn’t want to deal with alt-VP since it wants to empty the Provinces before the opponent can catch up. But for the engine player, even small pools of VP like Nobles or Emporium, Landmarks or Monument can provide much needed breathing room – Rebuild usually plateaus at around 30 VP, so these cards can help close the gap while buying time by ignoring Provinces till the end.

Rebuild generally isn’t slowed down much by attacks, but certain things like Pillage and Enchantress can really cripple the strategy, and give the engine a ton of time to saunter into the lead.
Finally, fast money strategies can outrace rebuild too. Things like Gear / Trade or Jack / Bonfire can routinely beat Rebuild’s timings and outscore as well.
Ultimately, Rebuild is still a good benchmark strategy, especially on weak boards, but it’s a lot more beatable than the popular consensus, and its falling rating is a reflection of this consensus turning against it.



« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 10:10:41 am by tailred »
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Fragasnap

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2018, 08:36:33 am »
+3

At least people are willing to see how amazing Remodel is when it's a new card.
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weesh

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2018, 09:18:30 am »
+3

this format is horrible for me.
I have to keep scrolling up and down to read the cards, then read the commentary.
I hope the people doing the other sections will return to the default format.

Quote
Payload
These are, as succinctly as I can put it, the ‘end goal of your turn’. Or in a more specific sense, payload is what converts the resources you've generated during your turn - Cards, Actions, etc. into outcomes that either directly allow you to improve your deck, or grant you the coin and buys to improve your deck.
This section doesn't have any cards under it....is that on purpose?
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 09:28:25 am by weesh »
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terminalCopper

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2018, 09:19:31 am »
+3

The first article I wrote claimed that Junk Dealer was underrated, it was on place 32/61 in 2013. Now I think it went up too high ... I mean, yeah, it's powerful, so if you skip it, you often fall behind. But if you skip Cultist or Mountebank, in many games you have basically resigned.
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tailred

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2018, 09:30:10 am »
+1

Quote
Payload
These are, as succinctly as I can put it, the ‘end goal of your turn’. Or in a more specific sense, payload is what converts the resources you've generated during your turn - Cards, Actions, etc. into outcomes that either directly allow you to improve your deck, or grant you the coin and buys to improve your deck.
This section doesn't have any cards under it....is that on purpose?
[/quote]
Payload's a superclass that contains the following few sections (trashing, gains, money, points etc.) I guess that could've been made clearer.
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markusin

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2018, 09:40:13 am »
+1

Quote
Quote
Payload
These are, as succinctly as I can put it, the ‘end goal of your turn’. Or in a more specific sense, payload is what converts the resources you've generated during your turn - Cards, Actions, etc. into outcomes that either directly allow you to improve your deck, or grant you the coin and buys to improve your deck.
This section doesn't have any cards under it....is that on purpose?
Payload's a superclass that contains the following few sections (trashing, gains, money, points etc.) I guess that could've been made clearer.

Maybe try playing around with font sizes.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 09:46:42 am by markusin »
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Fuu

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2018, 09:56:59 am »
+1

Surprised that Junk Dealer is #2. The other high-rated attacks seem to be much more essential buys.

Also surprised that Upgrade is so high. I love Remodel and its cousins but 'costing exactly one more' is pretty limiting.
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weesh

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2018, 10:00:34 am »
+1

Also surprised that Upgrade is so high. I love Remodel and its cousins but 'costing exactly one more' is pretty limiting.
It's also an opportunity.  It's much better at trashing coppers than remodel.
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Fuu

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2018, 10:13:05 am »
0

Also surprised that Upgrade is so high. I love Remodel and its cousins but 'costing exactly one more' is pretty limiting.
It's also an opportunity.  It's much better at trashing coppers than remodel.

I agree about the coppers, Remodel sucks at that, but comparing to Remodel is not of great significance to this list, since Remodel is a 4-cost.

If we're talking early game, instead of Upgrade you could get Count to trash your hand, or Hunting Party and mostly skip over coppers, and so on, but both of these are ranked lower than Upgrade here. A cantrip also doesn't seem to be especially valuable in the first few turns, where terminal collision is unlikely. Is Upgrade that good for turning Estates into 3-cost in the early game?

I don't know, I just don't see why Upgrade's abilities put it in the top ten, and I am curious to learn what I am failing to understand. There are several other cards in the top 20 that could conceivably be more critical than Upgrade in any given kingdom, like Minion, Avanto and Rebuild.
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4est

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2018, 10:14:32 am »
+3

Payload's a superclass that contains the following few sections (trashing, gains, money, points etc.) I guess that could've been made clearer.

One quick comment from this above definition: Trashing in general really shouldn't be included under the umbrella term "payload" at all.  Sure, there are payload cards that happen to also be trashers (e.g. Replace or Butcher), but cards whose main purpose are deck thinning such as Sentry or Junk Dealer aren't your payload.  Trashing, along with draw and actions, are things you do maximize your deck's actual payload, which can be money, gains, attacks, points, basically whatever your deck is doing to end the game while you're ahead. 


Anyway, on this list, I agree that Junk Dealer is probably a bit too high and should be nearer to Sentry and Upgrade.  I'm glad to see Groundskeeper skyrocket in the ranks--it could probably go even higher (I had it in the top 20).  I overrated Minion in my ratings this year out of habit, but seeing the lists now, it makes sense that it shouldn't be top 10 anymore.  Of the new cards, I think Sentry, Vampire, Cursed Village, and Den of Sin are all pretty well positioned for their initial rankings, though Avanto seems a bit overrated. 
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Chris is me

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2018, 10:29:50 am »
+2

Also surprised that Upgrade is so high. I love Remodel and its cousins but 'costing exactly one more' is pretty limiting.
It's also an opportunity.  It's much better at trashing coppers than remodel.

I agree about the coppers, Remodel sucks at that, but comparing to Remodel is not of great significance to this list, since Remodel is a 4-cost.

If we're talking early game, instead of Upgrade you could get Count to trash your hand, or Hunting Party and mostly skip over coppers, and so on, but both of these are ranked lower than Upgrade here. A cantrip also doesn't seem to be especially valuable in the first few turns, where terminal collision is unlikely. Is Upgrade that good for turning Estates into 3-cost in the early game?

I don't know, I just don't see why Upgrade's abilities put it in the top ten, and I am curious to learn what I am failing to understand. There are several other cards in the top 20 that could conceivably be more critical than Upgrade in any given kingdom, like Minion, Avanto and Rebuild.

Trashing coppers without using a terminal action and drawing a card to replace itself is great.

Trashing Estates to gain a $3 is great (at worst Silver).

After that, Upgrade isn’t useless. If there are power $4s, a Silver gainer pairs well with Upgrade, or even trashing the Silvers you already had. One common trick is to get 2-3 Upgrades and then Upgrade the extras into Golds.

For all of the reasons Remake is far and away the best $4, Upgrade is good. You’re focusing too much on the Remodel-like effect and too little on the thinning - Remodel can’t thin at all because of the phrase “up to”, but Upgrade can because of the word “exactly”.
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Jimmmy

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2018, 10:37:54 am »
+1

I consider Upgrade about the same level as Junk Dealer, so I think its place is well deserved in Top10, although Junk Dealer at #2 is a bit surprising.
Btw Sentry might just be better than both of them with being optional, and trashing 2 from the DECK.

Replace being so high is just another proof of Remodel is heavily underrated in the 4$ section.

Edit: Also I expect Cursed Village to rise in the future. Usually it's a Lost City, but I think most of the times its better than LC, and only rarely worse.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 10:40:57 am by Jimmmy »
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Gazbag

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2018, 10:39:52 am »
+2

Junk Dealer isn't too high- Sentry and Upgrade are too low! I actually have Junk Dealer as being the worst of the 3. Upgrade I like the best because it can be the best "payload" on many boards. Even just Upgrading excess Upgrades into Golds is pretty good and that's like the weakest option.

I also like Cultist above Mountebank and Torturer above Witch - the are more boards where you skip Witch/Mountebank and not the other because the others are much better draw. I'd also put Margrave above Witch because the card is unreasonable.

Groundskeeper is top 5 material. Needs to move up more, if you ignore it your opponent will easily get like 100 VP no joke.

Count seems low too, it's a premium trasher. Same for Apprentice except Apprentice is also premium draw so it's even better.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 03:47:22 pm by Gazbag »
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2018, 10:44:58 am »
0

Also surprised that Upgrade is so high. I love Remodel and its cousins but 'costing exactly one more' is pretty limiting.
It's also an opportunity.  It's much better at trashing coppers than remodel.

I agree about the coppers, Remodel sucks at that, but comparing to Remodel is not of great significance to this list, since Remodel is a 4-cost.

If we're talking early game, instead of Upgrade you could get Count to trash your hand, or Hunting Party and mostly skip over coppers, and so on, but both of these are ranked lower than Upgrade here. A cantrip also doesn't seem to be especially valuable in the first few turns, where terminal collision is unlikely. Is Upgrade that good for turning Estates into 3-cost in the early game?

I don't know, I just don't see why Upgrade's abilities put it in the top ten, and I am curious to learn what I am failing to understand. There are several other cards in the top 20 that could conceivably be more critical than Upgrade in any given kingdom, like Minion, Avanto and Rebuild.

Trashing coppers without using a terminal action and drawing a card to replace itself is great.

Trashing Estates to gain a $3 is great (at worst Silver).

After that, Upgrade isn’t useless. If there are power $4s, a Silver gainer pairs well with Upgrade, or even trashing the Silvers you already had. One common trick is to get 2-3 Upgrades and then Upgrade the extras into Golds.

For all of the reasons Remake is far and away the best $4, Upgrade is good. You’re focusing too much on the Remodel-like effect and too little on the thinning - Remodel can’t thin at all because of the phrase “up to”, but Upgrade can because of the word “exactly”.

Appreciate the thorough response, thank you.
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2018, 10:50:29 am »
+2

Sentry only looking at 2 cards is a big drawback. If you don't get it until the second shuffle it can really whiff by hitting your opening buys, and you're looking at turn 10 or so with 2 estates and 5 coppers still in your deck.

Also agree that Groundskeeper is way underrated. Winning the Groundskeeper split when it's there should be a priority on a lot of boards. It's also bonkers in the endgame with any +buy.
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2018, 11:29:44 am »
+1

Junk Dealer isn't too high- Sentry and Upgrade are too low! I actually have Junk Dealer as being the worst of the 3.

That would make Junk Dealer rank #3 at most, which would mean Junk Dealer is too high.
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2018, 11:30:14 am »
+12

Let's scrutinize the top 3 with a statistical eye.

#3 ▼2 Mountebank (Prosperity) Weighted Average: 89.9% ▼5.8pp / Unweighted Average: 89.5% / Median: 99.1% ▲0.1pp / Standard Deviation: 21.9%


#2 ▲6 Junk Dealer (Dark Ages) Weighted Average: 90% ▲5.4pp / Unweighted Average: 86.3% / Median: 89.1% ▲1.1pp / Standard Deviation: 12.9%


#1 ▲1 Wharf (Seaside) Weighted Average: 92.1% ▼3.4pp / Unweighted Average: 93.3% / Median: 97.3% ▲1.0pp / Standard Deviation: 13.8%



Notice that Mountebank has, by far, the highest median on this list.  In fact, more than half of the voters voted Mountebank at 2nd place or higher, and it received 18 1st place votes (considerably higher than Wharf's 6).  Mountebank's average is dragged down by a couple extremely low outliers (below 20%) and a few more votes around the middle, some of them errors by high-rated players.  Mountebank: you're still #1 in my heart and mind!

Junk Dealer, meanwhile, has an average and median shy of the top 10.  It received no 1st place votes, and only one 2nd place vote.  It has a few votes near the middle of the list, but no extreme outliers.  So, while most voters agree that Junk Dealer is very strong, almost no one actually believes it's a #2 card!

Wharf has high stats all around.  If it doesn't deserve its 1st place rank, it certainly deserves 2nd place without a doubt.

FYI: Cultist has the third highest median with a super-low outlier and a few middling votes that bring it down.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 02:29:34 pm by aku_chi »
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2018, 11:48:57 am »
0

Apologies if I was one with an error on Mountebank.
I had trouble switching from different rating modes with the $5 list.
(I guess the list length causes the website trouble?)
Thought I had fixed but I might have missed a few.
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2018, 02:13:44 pm »
+1




When I saw Sentry the first time, it seemed overpowered to me. But that‘s not true, for three reasons:

1.) Sentry doesn‘t trash much more than one card per turn on average.
I can‘t prove this with stats, and there‘s a lot to factor in, so let‘s try to look at a somewhat average case for the sake of simplicity and assume, that

• you play Sentry in T5, T7, T8,
• You gain one good card per turn.

When you play Sentry in T5, you have bought three (other) good cards and ten starting cards, so you will trash 2*(10/(10+3)) = 1.5. cards in average. From there, the ratio bad cards/good cards will decrease, e. g.    in T8 you might have 7 bad cards left compared to 7 good cards, which means that the number of expected trashed cards is close to 1.

In total, in the first three plays I expect Sentry to trash about 1.2 cards per turn, and less afterwards.


2.) Sentry trashes fewer estates than e. g. Jung Dealer.

A big downside is that you can‘t trash cards from your hand, and among three trashed cards, a typical number of trashed estates is probably one. I guess Junk Dealer has good chances to trash one more estate.

3.) The bonus (reordering) helps rarely in the beginning.

You don‘t want to discard good cards in the beginning, and the only situation reordering might help you is if you find two good cards, and put the convenient one on top for cards like Vassal. It is way more likely that you can make use of Junk Dealers +1$  when he trashes an estate, or Upgrades ability to gain a 3$-cost.

Summed up, Sentry trashes merely a little faster than upgrade or Junk Dealer, but suffers from catching less estates and providing fewer bonusses.

Of course, this doesn‘t make Sentry a weak card. It‘s a cantrip trasher, that‘s fine. It‘s just not OP like it looks at first glance.


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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2018, 03:15:14 pm »
0

Overrated

Junk Dealer: Yeah, Upgrade is better. You can get a ton of them and keep upgrading your engine components, and then trash 4s for Duchies at the end. Junk Dealer outlives its usefulness and becomes a dead card. The Poor House and Shelter exceptions don't come up that often.

Sentry: I have to admit that for me, playing with it actually feels a lot WORSE than it probably is. Having a bunch of junk in your hand but being unable to trash it feels very unsatisfying, and then all those times when you turn over 2 good cards really grate. Overall though, trashing without reducing your handsize is pretty great, and the card remains useful after you've trashed down. Still, I think Upgrade and possibly Junk Dealer are better.

Replace: I think the cursing part is what makes this seem better than it is. Cursing is good, but if you do it too soon here you'll junk yourself as well.

Butcher: I simply do not get all the hype surrounding this card. As a trasher, it's terrible. As a gainer, it's pretty good, but not any better than Horn of Plenty.

Underrated:

Count: I think it's top 10 material for sure. It has almost Chapel-level trashing and remains useful after your junk is gone.

Laboratory: It seems to me that it's definitely better than Stables or Den of Sin. With Stables you need to keep treasure around, which might not be that good, and even then it can dud. I have to admit that I haven't been too impressed with Den of Sin so far; it draws a lot but that also means it misses the shuffle a lot.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 03:59:13 pm by Commodore Chuckles »
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Chris is me

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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2018, 03:23:14 pm »
+2

I did some simulation of Sentry and Junk Dealer that I partially discussed here:

http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=16577.0

Of note, assuming in either case you buy 2:
Sentry’s odds of trashing 2 cards more than once are just shy of 50%. The odds of trashing 2 cards more than twice are just under 1/6 (note how this correlated to the odds of opening 5/2).

Double Sentry trashes ~5 cards on average by Turn 10, which is around the turn Double JD trashes 5 cards assuming no other cycling.

I think both are great cards. I think JD is “the better card”. I think on boards with both you buy Sentry first if you can hit $5 before the end of the second shuffle, then you buy JD(s) after that.

I think both are clearly better than Upgrade - neither have a significant negative effect on your current turn, which is huge. Upgrade does by reducing your hand size without providing compensatory economy. All 3 are very good though.
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2018, 03:33:41 pm »
0

Junk Dealer is a more convenient trashed, but it can be something of a dead card while Sentry still does a half-Cartographer effect. Upgrade trashes worse than Junk Dealer, but sometimes the "upgrade" part of it can be used to good effect.
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2018, 03:36:23 pm »
0

The thing with Upgrade is that at it's worst (ignoring Poor House) it's only slightly worse than Junk Dealer and then it really doesn't take much at all for it to do all kinds of things that JD can never do. And then there are games with strong draw or Fortress/Rats when you can go bonkers with it.

I guess it just comes down to whether you value a lower floor higher ceiling card over a higher floor lower ceiling card.

On a different note I don't quite understand Crown being higher than Royal Carriage.
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2018, 03:43:20 pm »
0

Crown is a noob trap.

Sentry is good, but not #7 good.  You need like 3 of them in order to reliably trash all of your starting Estates and Coppers.  The one upside it has over Junk Dealer and Upgrade is that it remains useful after you no longer want to trash anything, and so overbuying them doesn't "hurt" other than in the normal opportunity cost-y way.
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Re: The Dominion Card Lists 2017 Edition: $5 Cards, 3/3
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2018, 03:55:05 pm »
0

I guess the advantage of Crown is that, *if8 your payload is going to be Treasure, then you can buy only one or two Treasure Cards, and everything else would be Crowns, for extra reliability (compared to having, say, half your Crowns be TR, and half your Crowns be Gold).

Analogy: buying two BoM instead of a Village and a Smithy. The former is a lot more expensive, but a lot less likely to dud.
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