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Anodos

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Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« on: January 29, 2018, 06:51:05 pm »
+6

Hi all,

I received Dominion (2nd edition) as a Christmas present, and have played perhaps a dozen games so far. My girlfriend and I have really enjoyed the game - we've read about/stumbled upon some very basic card combinations (mainly just cycling with Village + Smithy, Chapel deck and Big Money) but apart from that are basically total novices.

My question concerns the recommended 'size distortion' deck: Artisan, Bandit, Bureaucrat, Chapel, Festival, Gardens, Sentry, Throne Room, Witch and Workshop. We were playing 4 player with my girlfriends parents, and we played this card combination perhaps half a dozen times. Once or twice someone managed to get a Chapel deck working (the Bandit was nice to keep topping up Gold) but as soon as we realised how good Witch was (it's a mini-Smithy, and those curses destroyed any Chapel engines, especially when multiple players had them) we stopped doing that. I tried to get a Festival, Witch and Bandit monstrosity going (mainly because no one had touched Festival, and I wanted to see what it could do), but that didn't seem to work either. At some point, discussing the board, we realised we could rush Gardens & Workshop, and then empty the Chapel deck and finish the game before we knew what was happening (after reading about this later online, emptying the Estates would have been more sensible, but we didn't think of that :) ). From that moment on, it felt like a 'dominant strategy' on this board. Nothing I tried could beat this quick rush, at least in 4 player, and with so many interesting cards on the board, it was quite disheartening that one algorithmic approach seemed to win so easily.

My question is, what's your read on this particular board? How would you counter a workshop + gardens rush - or would optimal play, when both of these cards are available, be for all players to go for the rush and try and execute it better than their opponent? I'd be curious how this would scale with the number of players.

Thanks
Tom
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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2018, 06:53:29 pm »
+3

 I don't play very much four players, but I'm confused when you said that which was too strong against the people who had chapel. Are the players with chapel not trashing all of their coppers with it also? As long as you're willing to trash all your toppers, it's not hard to trash the curses with chapel as they come in general.
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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 06:54:48 pm »
+4





Welcome to the forums! I don't know what the dominant strategy is here, but a Workshop/Gardens rush seems good, but I don't know how it fares against a Chapel Witch-BM deck. Artisan is usually good, and with Festival I think a Festival/Witch engine might be able to double Province pretty well. Sentry is a total waste of time though.
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ednever

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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2018, 07:58:24 pm »
+3

What I would play:

Open Chapel/Workshop
Trash down. Use Workshop to build economy + Throne Rooms
Pick up a Festival on first $5 (I think), then Witches
Pick up an Artisan
Use Throne Rooms + Witches for draw, then Workshops and Artisan to build your deck

I think it would beat Workshop-Gardens in two player (you could even contest Gardens and end up with a bigger deck than the rush player), but it might fall apart with 3-4 players as the game ends before it builds up steam
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DG

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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2018, 08:23:39 pm »
+13

Sometimes in Dominion kingdoms there is 'group think' where if three players use the same strategy then they force it to dominant. However if only one or two players use that strategy then it gives time for other strategies to be stronger. In this kingdom, if all the players try to play pure workshop gardens then yes it will look strong and there will be very little time for anything else to happen. In that case bureaucrat/workshop is worth considering as that can often buy duchies when the gardens run out. If three players try bureaucrat/workshop then maybe the gardens won't run out so fast and the fourth player has time to win with something completely different. A kingdom doesn't necessarily have a single best strategy in multiplayer.
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ipofanes

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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 05:39:22 am »
0

Sorry if you are getting nomenclature discussions instead of strategy tips here, but if you have browsed the board as you said, you will hae realised that this is the nature of it.

(mainly just cycling with Village + Smithy, Chapel deck and Big Money)

Cycling is what you do with Cellar, and if you use Sentry for discarding. It does not increase handsize (which Village/Smithy does), but you get to draw your nice cards faster. As a general strategy hint: You may get a foothold into an engine by cycling cards if no powerful trashers are available, but with cycling there is a higher danger to start a turn with a useless hand than with trashing. Also, you have to be careful not to draw the chaff you discarded while cycling with your next hand (by reshuffling during your turn and therefore make your in-play cards miss the draw pile). That being said, cycling is a very viable and oftentimes underrated strategy.
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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2018, 07:45:21 am »
+2

The challenge here is in a four player game, youíre going to eventually be getting three Curses per shuffle, which is tough. A lot of the advice here is going to be tailored around 2 player where you have a bit more time (eg, Chapel Workshop works in 2P because youíre not dealing with so many Curses, but in 4P not getting Witch early is tough to come back from).

I would open Chapel Silver, and hope for the Silver and Chapel to miss each other, ideally getting you a $5 Buy and trashing 4 cards. Trash anything you line up with Chapel from the starting deck, any time. Get a Witch ASAP. You will need 2-3 more Silver fairly early since hitting $5 is so essential.

Itís quite possible (likely, even) that the one Chapel wonít be enough when you could be getting 3-5 Curses every 2-3 turns. Contrary to normal wisdom, in 4P junking games itís okay to get a second Chapel if you need to! Ideally you would get a pair of Sentries fairly soon after the first Witch, but hitting $5 that consistently is hard.

Throne Room is potentially great here, as it lets you get ahead on Curses. You need to either be thin or have tons of Actions for it to pay off, and it syncs well with Sentry making it into a pseudo Village of sorts. If you succeed in getting control of your deck, you can add a second Witch if you have time.

The alternate strategy is the Workshop / Gardens rush here; opening double Workshop, quickly getting at least 2 more, then attacking the Gardens pile while everyone else hands Curses to each other. As long as nobody establishes control of their deck you can get the majority of the Gardens with a deck that quickly gets very far, and then end the game on 3 piles before anyone can get back up off the ground. In 4 player this may be the right move.
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ipofanes

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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2018, 09:41:42 am »
0

In a 2p game, being the only one without a curser or trasher will end you up with 10 to 0 curses.

In a 4p game, being the only one without a curser or trasher will end you up with on average 10 to 6 2/3 curses. So the "get a Witch ASAP" may not even be the best strategy, as it would not make too much of a difference to the number of curses you'll end up with. As curses will come flying left and right, if you plan to get a Witch, better get it ASAP (and definitely get her before the shuffle on a 5/2 opening), but you may survive without getting a Witch at all and going for Festival, Sentry, or Bandit instead. In multiplayer, attack is not always best defense.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 09:43:29 am by ipofanes »
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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2018, 11:06:16 am »
0

This is a classic groupthink kingdom. If three players go engine and one goes rush, then the rush player loses badly. If three players go rush and one goes engine, then the engine player loses badly. There's a lot more depth than that once you get going, as there's the beuracrat option on the rush and the possibility of using the many buys of festival to pivot the engine to gardens (the best option against a BM/Witch player if nobody rushes) that are all very dependent on what other players do. I'd want to go last.
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Chris is me

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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2018, 11:34:31 am »
+1

This is a classic groupthink kingdom. If three players go engine and one goes rush, then the rush player loses badly. If three players go rush and one goes engine, then the engine player loses badly. There's a lot more depth than that once you get going, as there's the beuracrat option on the rush and the possibility of using the many buys of festival to pivot the engine to gardens (the best option against a BM/Witch player if nobody rushes) that are all very dependent on what other players do. I'd want to go last.

This is almost the opposite of the case. The rush / slog deck is hoping everyone else goes for Witch attacking, which the engine would certainly be doing immediately. Three players rushing would definitely hurt the only player going for Witch / engine though. In no game here do I see Bureaucrat as a particularly compelling choice, though. And you absolutely donít want to go last; turn advantage is way bigger than the Rock Paper Scissors effect of different strategies.
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ednever

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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2018, 11:49:25 am »
+2

I just tried playing it with two bots.

It wasn't great as the bots played so badly it was hard to say what REALLY would have worked (They both opened chapel and trashed down alright. Then picked up Silvers and Bandits for $$s, then picked up a Witch, then basically played big money from there)

I stuck with my plan (chapel/workshop, a couple of silver to hit $5, then Festival, then Witches and Throne Rooms, with an Artisan or two for more build, then pivot into Gardens once the engine is hitting)

It wasn't great. I barely used the Workshop. And I never really got to fully trash down - even without getting hit with a ton of curses off the top. I think it would lose to either the rush or simple Witch/Chapel.

I think the play is Chapel/Silver. Trash hard, and then make sure you have a deck that draws itself and can keep the curses under control.

I will try that next
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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2018, 12:02:51 pm »
+1

Okay. Much better.

Silver/Chapel. Trash hard to get to nothing

Pick up a Sentry on first $5

Then either a Festival or a Witch (depending on trash level)
(then the other)

I was able to trash down to Silver-Festival-Witch-Throne Room pretty fast

Then an Artisan

Then some Workshops to drive the Throne Rooms

Throne Rooms become super important. Without them you have no draw (Festival-Witch gives you net no change in hand size, but Throne Room-Throne Room-Witch-Throne Room-Witch-TR-Witch-Festival works great. But you need a lot of throne rooms and no junk)

Pretty soon the Throne Rooms and the Curses were out and the Witches were low. I took a mega-turn and empties the Witches and four Gardens and ended it on piles (on turn 15).

I think it was robust enough it would stand up against junkers and fast enough to beat the rush. (And you have a lot of deck control to drag out the game or speed it up)

If your chapel misses the shuffle though you are done before you get started....
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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2018, 12:18:18 pm »
+11

My question concerns the recommended 'size distortion' deck: Artisan, Bandit, Bureaucrat, Chapel, Festival, Gardens, Sentry, Throne Room, Witch and Workshop. We were playing 4 player with my girlfriends parents, and we played this card combination perhaps half a dozen times. Once or twice someone managed to get a Chapel deck working (the Bandit was nice to keep topping up Gold) but as soon as we realised how good Witch was (it's a mini-Smithy, and those curses destroyed any Chapel engines, especially when multiple players had them) we stopped doing that. I tried to get a Festival, Witch and Bandit monstrosity going (mainly because no one had touched Festival, and I wanted to see what it could do), but that didn't seem to work either. At some point, discussing the board, we realised we could rush Gardens & Workshop, and then empty the Chapel deck and finish the game before we knew what was happening (after reading about this later online, emptying the Estates would have been more sensible, but we didn't think of that :) ). From that moment on, it felt like a 'dominant strategy' on this board. Nothing I tried could beat this quick rush, at least in 4 player, and with so many interesting cards on the board, it was quite disheartening that one algorithmic approach seemed to win so easily.
Probably every board has either an optimal strategy, or a set of optimal strategies based on what your opponents do and how your hands fall out. If it takes you six games to figure out a particular board, I'd say that one was especially interesting.

The idea is to play with random cards. Then each game gives you a puzzle to solve, of what the best strategy will be this time. You compete with the other players to best figure out the puzzle. Maybe you will want to play that board a second time, to see if you've really learned what you think you've learned. But if you play the same 10 cards over and over, it will get less interesting.
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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2018, 05:45:36 pm »
+1

This is a classic groupthink kingdom. If three players go engine and one goes rush, then the rush player loses badly. If three players go rush and one goes engine, then the engine player loses badly. There's a lot more depth than that once you get going, as there's the beuracrat option on the rush and the possibility of using the many buys of festival to pivot the engine to gardens (the best option against a BM/Witch player if nobody rushes) that are all very dependent on what other players do. I'd want to go last.

This is almost the opposite of the case. The rush / slog deck is hoping everyone else goes for Witch attacking, which the engine would certainly be doing immediately. Three players rushing would definitely hurt the only player going for Witch / engine though. In no game here do I see Bureaucrat as a particularly compelling choice, though. And you absolutely donít want to go last; turn advantage is way bigger than the Rock Paper Scissors effect of different strategies.

Surely if three people go for the rush then the game will end so fast that the engine player won't have got going properly yet.
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JThorne

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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2018, 06:21:53 pm »
0

Definitely go to full random as soon as you know what all of the individual cards do. It's true that on some boards, certain card combinations are dominant, and other cards can be ignored. Figuring out which is which is part of the fun. The pre-game analysis and planning is the biggest skill-tester in the game.

A couple of other notes, though: Don't think of a draw-2 like Witch or Moat as a "mini-Smithy". Since you're playing a card on the table, the act of playing a draw-2 only increases your hand size by 1. Playing a Smithy increases your hand size by 2. It's effectively twice as powerful; you need half as many Smithies to draw your whole deck as you would need Witches or Moats. Also beware the lure of Festival. Non-drawing cards, even if they give +actions, actually decrease your hand size. A deck full of Festival/Witch can do no better than stay at the same hand size! It only sort of works at all because Festival gives coin, meaning you can skip buying extra Silvers. As soon as you try to combine Festival/Witch or Festival/Moat with any treasure, though, even Gold, it falls flat on its face. Same thing happens when you buy ANY green cards!

Go full random, play a few more games with Chapel and learn the glory that is trashing all of your starting ten cards as quickly as you possibly can. Trash early, trash often.

What you'll discover after some additional practice and reading is that complex action-based engines are usually the dominant strategy, but if they're not played correctly, they can be beaten by someone just buying nothing but money. Learning to play engines can be frustrating, but enormously rewarding when you draw your whole deck every turn, and every turn you can fire off all of the good stuff reliably: Gain a Gold...make everyone discard to 3...give out curses...trash the curse you got last turn...play a bunch of treasure, buy two or more Provinces... rinse, repeat. Glorious! (Note: Much easier to do in two-player, but still possible with more.)

Did I mention trashing? Chapel forever! A dozen expansions later, and a more powerful action has not been printed.
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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2018, 07:08:57 pm »
+1

The advice re: draw-2 and Festival is totally valid, but on this board, thereís Throne Room, so you can get a bit more mileage out of it. Festival, Throne-Moat gets you a net of +1, which while not nothing is at least some hand size increase.
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Re: Beginner's Question on 'Size Distribution' Deck
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2018, 10:27:09 am »
+1

Surely if three people go for the rush then the game will end so fast that the engine player won't have got going properly yet.

This is what usually does me in in 4-player games.  Even if it's just people jumping on the Villages and Smithies, I'm usually still stuck in 2-player mode, and don't get enough Victory cards before a three pile happens.
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