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gloures

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The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« on: January 20, 2018, 06:28:12 pm »
+14

The Best Potion Cost Cards

And now we get to see the ranking of Potion cards! For these cards you always have to factor how and when you will get the Potion that's necessary to buy them. This is a big factor that affects the strength of all cards with this cost


We had 39 votes for this list, though some cards received 38 and Possession 36.


#10 =0 Transmute (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 3.8%▲1.0pp / Unweighted Average: 4.5% / Median: 0% =0pp / Standard Deviation: 8.4%

Transmute is a clear last place, it had 26 last place votes and 11 votes for second to last. So why is Transmute so bad? Turning Estates into Gold should be great right? The problem is that it's just sooo slow... Going for it requires you buying a Potion, then buying a Transmute with that Potion and lastly lining up the Transmute with Estate. In the best case scenario, this will happen in the third shuffle, by then the odds that you actually manage to get a hand with both Transmute and Estate are no longer very good, and even if you do, is that Gold worth two dead (or almost dead) cards in your deck? But that's not all that Transmute does, right? It can do other stuff too, it can transform your treasures into Transmutes, which could be a decent option, if Transmutes were actually any good. But that's a big if, I'd rather have the Copper most of the time. The other option of transforming actions into Duchies could be a good late game option, if you didn't have to have a Transmute already in your deck by then. Now when is Transmute actually worth it? The main case, should be when you already wanted to get another Potion cost card and didn't manage to reach the price point, Transmute can sometimes be better than nothing, specially with Familiar, it's good to remember it can still trash Curses. I have also already seen Transmute being effectively used against Cultist, where trashing a Ruin for a Duchy can be a good way to earn points in a game that will probably three pile.  I'd say Transmute makes a good case for being the worst kingdom card in Dominion

#9 =0 Philosopher's Stone (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 9.6% ▼3.2pp / Unweighted Average: 9.6% / Median: 11.1% =0pp / Standard Deviation: 8.0%

As a clear second to last place, Philosopher's Stone received 10 votes for last place and 25 for second to last. Now, I just spoke wonders about Transmute, yet for ten voters this card actually manages to be even worse than it... How can that be? Well, while I agree with the general community consesus that this is the better card, I can't say I do not understand those voters. Philosopher's Stone simply cannot work in any kind of engine, if you draw your deck this ends up worthless, and it doesn't help that pretty much every other potion cost card is an engine card (except Familiar, Philosopher's Stone can actually work pretty well if you happen to reach 3P after the early game in a Familiar slog). Phil Stone will only work well in a thick deck that doesn't draw itself, which mainly means slogs, it would be a great card to have in those terrible junking slogs, except that even in those games it's very hard to justify buying a Potion, since the chance that you get 3P with a junked deck is somewhat low. The main cases for getting a Philosopher's Stone would be when you can artificially bloat your deck with somewhat decent cards, silver flooding comes to mind, and Phil Stone can work somewhat fine in a deck that goes heavy on Delve or Trader for example. Specially if Colonies are present, since it both makes use of spikier turns PS provides and extends game duration which make PS worth more. There are also somewhat decent decent combos (though far from great) with both Herbalist and Storeroom which should be mentioned.
#8 ▼2 Golem (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 28.9% ▼14.7pp / Unweighted Average: 36.9% / Median: 22.2% ▼22.2pp / Standard Deviation: 22.2%

Now with a big jump of almost 20pp we have Golem, even though it was a big loser this year dropping two positions and almost 15pp. It received two first place votes and none for last. Now even though Golem's position is low in this list, being above two of the weakest Dominion cards, I wouldn't call Golem a bad card, it's just that, as you will see, competition is quite tough. Golem's effect when played is really strong, it's comparable (and probably better) to Lost City, which even with a on buy drawback got to #19 in the $5 list. However there a two major problems with Golem, the first is that it's one of the few cards in Dominion where you play without knowing if it's a terminal or not, this can lead to a few awkward situations in decks that have a good number of terminals. The other, and biggest issue is it's cost. 4P is an incredibly awkward cost, specially for such a clear engine card. It's a cost where you can't really count on reaching unless you end up playing something moneyish or you already have a somewhat decent engine running. Now, in the first case Golem is simply not that great and in the second it might be hard justifying taking such a big detour to get Golem. That said, it's easy to see why one of the biggest friends of Golem is other Potion cards that you actually want (pretty much all the ones above). In other cases, if Golem is necessary to run an engine, you will still frequently go for it, and at least you get to buy something useful if you end up with 3P... (I'll get to talk more about that when we reach Familiar)
#7 ▼3 Apothecary (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 48.9% ▼13.1pp / Unweighted Average: 46.0% / Median: 44.4% ▼18.1pp / Standard Deviation: 19.9%

Another jump of 20pp and another big loser. Apothecary drops three positions and close to 13pp since last year. Even with this low placement I'd say Apothecary is a strong card, it's just that it's understandable that Potion cards have to be strong to justify investing in the Potion (when they aren't you end up with Phil Stone and Transmute). An early Apothecary is a great early game accelerator since it both draws a lot and helps reach higher price points and even if you end up trashing your Coppers afterwards Apothecary's ability to reorder the top of your deck while still being a cantrip should not be ignored. All in all a very solid card. A few things that might make me avoid Apothecary are strong thrashers that will get rid of copper too quick for Apothecary to be useful, and other strong competing lines of play which might get hurt by having to get a Potion on the opening.

#6 ▲1University (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 54.0% ▲11.8pp / Unweighted Average: 52.8% / Median: 55.6% ▲11.2pp / Standard Deviation: 18.6%

One of the winners of this year, University rises one position and almost 12pp. It's a village and it gains 5 cost actions, the most important price point in Dominion! What's there more to say?? This should be a great card! And it is, just not without some very noticeable drawbacks. Being a stop card means that there are only so many Universities you can get before they actively start to hurt your deck, this can be specially annoying if you are relying on them as your only source of +Actions. Also a big thing is how it's one of the only gainers that cannot (usually) gain Victory cards, so unlike other gainers, this cannot be used to catch up on points and it frequently makes it so that this becomes nothing more than an expensive Necropolis in the endgame. That said I would like to highlight that this is a really good card, being one of the best cards for building an engine in the game and that I feel like it's rise in the rankings is fully deserved.
#5 ▲3 Possession (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 59.7% ▲21.4pp / Unweighted Average: 58.0% / Median: 55.6% ▲22.3pp / Standard Deviation: 24.3%

This holds the dubious honor of being by far the most hated card in Dominion, yet this has nothing to do with this list (though one last place vote might disagree), and Possession finally gets some much deserved recognition for it's power by rising three positions and over 20pp (I'd add that I feel like this could rise even more in the future). Possession is kinda the ultimate engine payload. At the very high price of 6P it get's you another full turn, without having to have a smaller starting handsize or having restrictions in what you can buy, smaller starting hands and in how many extra turns you can get (I'm curious if the people over at the at the Puzzles Forum have already managed to find a way to play Possession an arbitrary amount of times). The only caveat is that you do it with your opponent's deck and not yours. This rise in the ranking, I fell that is very much influenced by how we saw a big rise in how strong engines are perceived over the last year (rise which was caused either by having more engine cards in recent expansions or by the community getting better at playing, although I'd say both factors are very present). Playing better engines leads to getting Possession earlier and playing it more frequently, making it a real powerhouse in many boards. This rise in Possession also ends up aggravating just how much people hate it, which is something completely understandable as it warps the game in a way where you often end up wanting to destroy your own deck. It can also lead to stalemates (with Donate reaching the stalemate is almost a given) and it works somewhat poorly with Ambassador, Masquerade and debt cards. A noteworthy fact is how it can warp trash for benefit cards, since your opponent can safely trash your expensive cards without worrying about any consequenses.

#4 ▲1 Alchemist (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 61.5% ▲3.2pp / Unweighted Average: 62.0% / Median: 66.7% ▲11.1pp / Standard Deviation: 18.1%

Also rising one rank and 3pp is Alchemist. This lab variant is really strong, being great draw and also providing amazing consistency for an engine, you should go for this much more often than not. This card poses an interesting conundrum, of whether you should risk opening Potion for this and not getting 3P on the second shuffle, or wait a bit to get the Potion after you can do that more reliably, I have seen success and failure with both approaches
#3 =0 Vineyard (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 62.9% ▼8.1pp / Unweighted Average: 62.2% / Median: 66.7% ▼11.1pp / Standard Deviation: 23.9%

Vineyard keeps it's rank, but loses over 8pp. it also has the second highest deviation on this list after Possession. Of all the alternative Victory cards (or pretty much all Victory cards, alternative or not) in Dominion, Vineyard is by far the one who is easiest to get crazy amount of points. all it needs is a decent source of plus buy and some cheap cards, or some decent gainer. But even in any common engine, Vineyards are a great way to green as long as there is some +buy, since it allows you to score points while still building continuously. When to get Potions and how many will you get, are some of the questions that will almost always arise when playing with this card.
#2 =0 Familiar (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 74.0% ▼0.6pp / Unweighted Average: 73.3% / Median: 77.8% =77.8pp / Standard Deviation: 21.5%

Familiar stays pretty much the same as last year. It's the only unconditional nonterminal junker in the game, and this is enough to make it one of the strongest cards in the game. Being a cantrip curser makes it so it's very easy to chain Familiars together to quickly bury your opponent in curses, with the drawback that it's Potion cost makes it so it's not as easy to quickly get a good number of Familiars in your deck. Familiar also ends up getting a lot of (deserved) hate due to it's cost. It's a card that really pushes for a Potion opening, and opening Potion/Silver you have a roughly 35% chance of missing 3P on turns 3/4, and when players end up on opposing sides of that odds, it frequently leads to very one sided games, as 2P hands often mean a dead turn and the cursing effect of Familiars makes it so it's even harder for the opponent to reach 3P in the future, which can lead to a very uneven Curses split. One extra positive point about Familiar, is that unlike most other cursers, it also rarely hurts your deck after the Curses are gone.
#1 =0 Scrying Pool (Alchemy) Weighted Average: 97.9% ▲4.3pp / Unweighted Average: 95.1% / Median: 88.9% =100pp / Standard Deviation: 9.9%

What's there to say about Scrying pool? It's a clear winner in this list again and it even manages to get over 4pp more getting to an overwhelming 97.9pp score, having been voted first 28 times, and all that with some pretty amazing competition. Scrying Pool is just bonkers. Possibly the best draw card in the game, and it's nonterminal! The only potential drawback this card has, it's that a bit slow to get going, but still, it's simply amazing and one of the very top Dominion cards. One common complain about Scrying Pool is how it frequently makes games take a very long time, it not only enables gigantic engines which naturally take long to play out, but it also is a card that involves a lot of decisions (though usually simple ones), one of the culprits of this, is the attack that this card possesses, that, while sometimes it can be somewhat useful, it's pretty much never a thing that influences your decision to go for Pools.




I'd like to end this, by thanking Qvist for all the work he has put throughout the years in making these very cool lists for the community!
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 10:06:11 am by gloures »
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Commodore Chuckles

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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2018, 07:16:43 pm »
0

...I have no complaints with this list.

Actually, I have one:

This holds the dubious honor of being by far the most hated card in Dominion

I get the impression that Rebuild is more hated, actually. I hate Rebuild more, at least.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 07:18:53 pm by Commodore Chuckles »
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Gazbag

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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2018, 07:29:55 pm »
+1

Apothecary too low, Alchemist too high. Possession should be #2 but I didn't rank it.

University should be higher than Alchemist. Alchemist is really not a great card...
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Commodore Chuckles

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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2018, 09:15:39 pm »
0

Apothecary too low, Alchemist too high. Possession should be #2 but I didn't rank it.

University should be higher than Alchemist. Alchemist is really not a great card...

No, Alchemist is in fact a great card. A hand of 5 labs is insane. It's very rare to ignore it and still win.
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werothegreat

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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2018, 11:32:35 pm »
+1

The only meaningful question to ask with these cards is: Is it worth getting a Potion if it's the only -costing card?

Scrying Pool, Familiar, Alchemist: Yes, and you should open Potion
Vineyard: Yes, but you can wait to get a Potion
Possession, Apothecary: Usually
University, Golem: Often, turning to "yes" if it's the only Village
Transmute, Philosopher's Stone: Fuck off these are garbage
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popsofctown

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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2018, 11:49:01 pm »
0

Philosopher's stone is underrated.  It should be second to last with much more certainty.  It takes a lot of skill to recognize the boards where it is the strongest thing.

Selecting Philosopher's stone is a lot more complicated than the writeup makes it sound.  Every cantrip or dead draw card has to be weighed against Philosopher's stone for costing you that many ticks.  Expected discards add ticks (as does Ghost Ship, unlike most things in the game).  You need a very synergistic terminal that is your motivation for playing Philosopher's Stone, and that is some of the appeal.  In theory in a Harvest/Harvest BMU mirror, your opponent buys Harvest every time they hit 5$ up until the point they've hit 5$ too many times and must buy Silver instead, losing some value.  You hit 3P some of the times you're supposed to hit 5$ and are buying your strategy's Gold for "5$", and get some edge there.

Then one of the most significant properties of the card is the strength it has as it moves into greening.  As your deck quality degrades, you add one more tick to the stones, making it ok when you draw those green cards instead of coppers in your philostone hands.  This property it what makes it even possible to beat very weak engines.  Ones that like, can only hit 10$, but can feasibly play a Monument every other turn and a Militia two out of three turns as an upside of being an engine.  When you're supposed to choke so that can catch up, you just don't.  It is tricky to determine when this property matters.  You have to have a good understanding of the curve of what each available strategy looks like when it starts choking against the other.  Sometime's your ability to continue to clock in Provinces against a weak engine deck that wanted to do something very cool starting after your fifth Province purchase makes this a better call than a BM strategy that's initially faster.  Other times it's possible to pull the other deck's strategy into a Duchy dance that you're fated to win.  Sometimes neither of these things will happen, and if you miss out on that benefit of philo stone then it really won't matter whether there are mechanics that more explicitly cooperate with philo stone like Storeroom or "silver bloat" (which is technically a synergy I guess, but is going to accelerate other BM strategies on the board past Philo Stone anyway a lot of the time).


All of this is restricted to a subset of very low power boards, so it doesn't come up for discussion let alone execution very much.  But it's miles ahead of Transmute, to the point that ranking Transmute second to last seems as embarassing as rating Scrying Pool second, to me.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 11:57:26 pm by popsofctown »
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faust

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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2018, 03:45:23 am »
0

Alchemist is at spot 8 for me. Also Transmute > Philstone, at least you sometimes buy Transmute on boards with other Potion-costs. I am not embarrassed about this view by the way.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 03:46:44 am by faust »
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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2018, 03:58:38 am »
+2

No, Alchemist is in fact a great card. A hand of 5 labs is insane. It's very rare to ignore it and still win.

It is very common to ignore Alchemist and win.
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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2018, 04:13:27 am »
0

Alchemist overrated here by lot, it is so slow to setup that almost any other engine would win. You need two potions for consistency and spend buys for more expensive lab that takes ages before you line them up
« Last Edit: January 21, 2018, 04:22:30 am by luser »
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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2018, 04:37:35 am »
+2

Alchemist overrated here by lot, it is so slow to setup that almost any other engine would win. You need two potions for consistency and spend buys for more expensive lab that takes ages before you line them up

You shouldn't need two Potions for consistency. If you need two Potions at all, you need them to buy Alchemists faster.
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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2018, 08:56:08 am »
+1

It's suggested here that Philosopher's Stone is at its best in slogs, so maybe it would be a good idea to reference Familiar. If one of the reasons given for the low ranking of Philosopher's Stone is that it's hard to justify the potion buy in slogs, then maybe Familiar, which it is suggested here almost mandates a potion buy, is worth mentioning in that context. Not the greatest combo in the world, sure, but the way these two cards were discussed seemed to suggest synergy that wasn't mentioned directly. Just a thought!
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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2018, 10:03:34 am »
+1

It's suggested here that Philosopher's Stone is at its best in slogs, so maybe it would be a good idea to reference Familiar. If one of the reasons given for the low ranking of Philosopher's Stone is that it's hard to justify the potion buy in slogs, then maybe Familiar, which it is suggested here almost mandates a potion buy, is worth mentioning in that context. Not the greatest combo in the world, sure, but the way these two cards were discussed seemed to suggest synergy that wasn't mentioned directly. Just a thought!

Yeah! That might be good to mention... I'll make a quick edit! Thanks!
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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2018, 10:55:17 am »
0

Apothecary too low, Alchemist too high. Possession should be #2 but I didn't rank it.

University should be higher than Alchemist. Alchemist is really not a great card...

No, Alchemist is in fact a great card. A hand of 5 labs is insane. It's very rare to ignore it and still win.

As far as draw goes, it's far from great. I mean it's still non-terminal draw so you get fairly often anyway - it isn't a bad card by any means, but if there's any alternative you're often better off going for that. The main problem with Alchemist is that going for the Potion results in a huge tempo loss, because you're adding what is essentially a dead stop-card to your deck in Potion you basically have to buy 2 Alchemists to actually increase your draw/cycling. That's 3 buys until you actually start seeing the benefits of the Alchemists, and because of the Potion mechanics that's 3 shuffles (top decking an Alchemist can make this less bad, but you can't count  on that in the early turns). That's so slow! Hmm I was planning to write something more concise than this, oh well!
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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2018, 12:52:25 pm »
0

Apothecary too low, Alchemist too high. Possession should be #2 but I didn't rank it.

University should be higher than Alchemist. Alchemist is really not a great card...

No, Alchemist is in fact a great card. A hand of 5 labs is insane. It's very rare to ignore it and still win.

As far as draw goes, it's far from great. I mean it's still non-terminal draw so you get fairly often anyway - it isn't a bad card by any means, but if there's any alternative you're often better off going for that. The main problem with Alchemist is that going for the Potion results in a huge tempo loss, because you're adding what is essentially a dead stop-card to your deck in Potion you basically have to buy 2 Alchemists to actually increase your draw/cycling. That's 3 buys until you actually start seeing the benefits of the Alchemists, and because of the Potion mechanics that's 3 shuffles (top decking an Alchemist can make this less bad, but you can't count  on that in the early turns). That's so slow! Hmm I was planning to write something more concise than this, oh well!

How often is there any alternative, though, really? You'd need a very strong engine to beat a topdecking lab. Are we talking about completely random boards here?
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Re: The Dominion Cards Lists 2017 Edition: Potion cost cards
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2018, 01:53:34 pm »
+1

Apothecary too low, Alchemist too high. Possession should be #2 but I didn't rank it.

University should be higher than Alchemist. Alchemist is really not a great card...

No, Alchemist is in fact a great card. A hand of 5 labs is insane. It's very rare to ignore it and still win.

As far as draw goes, it's far from great. I mean it's still non-terminal draw so you get fairly often anyway - it isn't a bad card by any means, but if there's any alternative you're often better off going for that. The main problem with Alchemist is that going for the Potion results in a huge tempo loss, because you're adding what is essentially a dead stop-card to your deck in Potion you basically have to buy 2 Alchemists to actually increase your draw/cycling. That's 3 buys until you actually start seeing the benefits of the Alchemists, and because of the Potion mechanics that's 3 shuffles (top decking an Alchemist can make this less bad, but you can't count  on that in the early turns). That's so slow! Hmm I was planning to write something more concise than this, oh well!

How often is there any alternative, though, really? You'd need a very strong engine to beat a topdecking lab. Are we talking about completely random boards here?

You don't need anything special at all, the Potion slows you down so much. I'd rather use regular Labs than Alchemists if there's any trashing - Alchemists main benefit is adding reliability to no trashing engines. Most Village+Smithy variant combinations should be faster to set up. If there's any important $5 to get asap you really don't want to have to go for Potion, which is most games. There's just so many negatives that outweigh the top-decking and the on-play of a Lab is really nothing special.

And yes I'm talking completely random - remember that I'm not saying Alchemist is bad, it's just that Familiar, University and Apothecary are all incredibly powerful and Pool and Possession are just plain broken. Alchemist is not on the same level.
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