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4est

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Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« on: January 30, 2018, 02:17:19 pm »
+19

Here’s my article on Archive, which doesn’t have much written on it yet.  It’s not as concise as I’d like currently, so I’m looking for good ways to trim it down.  Also, as with my articles on Sentry and Secret Passage, I try to conclude with a general lesson we can take from the card and apply to playing Dominion as a whole.  The transition here is always a bit tricky, but I believe it’s valuable especially with card-specific articles to provide a nugget of wisdom that applies in all games, not just those with the specific card.  Is this helpful/relevant, and how could this be done better?  I would appreciate feedback and edits! 




Archive is an odd card. 

As a sort of mash up of Caravan, Haven, and Gear, Archive can provide duration draw, deck thinning, and next-turn set up all in one package, however it does each of these things very differently compared to other cards that provide these benefits individually.  This often means that on boards with better draw or thinning, Archive will be passed over in favor of more reliable and more typical options (especially given its high price which competes with other powerful $5s).  But under the right circumstances when draw or thinning are lacking, Archive can humbly step in as a quiet yet versatile hero.  By learning how to recognize boards where Archive is useful and where it’s less so, we can get better at noticing when key deck components are missing, and capitalize on “unconventional” solutions.   


What does it do?

As mentioned above, Archive provides three essential benefits: duration draw, deck thinning, and next-turn set up.  We’ll briefly examine each piece and discuss how Archive is different from other cards that fulfill similar roles. 

Draw
Similar to Caravan, Archive only increases your handsize on its duration plays.  When you take into account the ability to decide what you draw when, Archive plays as a strong cantrip the turn you play it, a strong Laboratory the second turn, and a weaker Laboratory on the third.  As a nonterminal action, Archive’s draw requires no village support; thus multiple Archives stack very easily (also similar to Caravan) giving you greater control and flexibility of what exactly your larger starting hand looks like.  However, Archive gets tricky in decks which want to draw themselves, since you’ll be required to leave some of your cards set aside.  This can hurt especially in conjunction with heavy trashing and powerful payload cards—it’s sad to see Archive turn over three great cards that you’d love to play all of, but be forced to set two aside for later (e.g. King’s Court, Platinum, Goons).  Thus, in slim and powerful deck-drawing engines, Archive is often passed over in favor of more typical draw cards. 

Thinning
Archive is obviously not a trasher.  And as mentioned earlier, Archive can be a liability when used in decks that trash most or all of the starting cards.  However, in kingdoms where trashing is weak or unavailable, Archive’s ability to set aside cards can function as a sort of cycling/pseudo-trash ability, keeping Coppers and Victory cards out of your deck for a few turns.  With multiple Archives, you can very quickly get a large percentage of your cards set aside, literally making your deck thinner, and providing surprising control even in an untrimmed deck.  Archive can work well as both an early game cycler, and a late game Province stasher, keeping your deck reliable while managing the green.
 
Next-Turn Set Up
This component is not quite as important as Archive’s draw and thinning, but the ability to seed your next turn and help prevent duds is quite powerful.  This often occurs unintentionally—your Archive turns over two Villages so you take one and leave the other for next turn—but with careful deck tracking, you can use Archives to set up a big plays later.  Archive also works well in money-ish decks by smoothing your price points, very similarly to Gear—if Archive turns over Gold, Copper, and Estate, with $7 in hand, you can take a Copper, buy Province, and leave the Gold for hitting $8 again next turn.  Finally, this effect can be used for connecting cards like Tournament + Province, Crossroads + Victory cards, etc.


When is it most useful?

Archive is a situational card and not always a must-buy.  First, it has stiff competition at the $5 price point—many $5 attacks, draw, and trashers are of much higher priority.  Second, what Archive actually does is sometimes outclassed by more conventional draw and trashing cards when they’re available—on a board with Laboratory and Chapel, it’s possible you won’t really need Archive.  With this in mind, Archive is actually least useful in kingdoms with heavy trashing and strong draw

Where Archive shines is when crucial engine components are missing.  On boards with no +Actions, Archive’s ability to nonterminally increase hand-size looks pretty attractive.  On boards with no Copper trashing, Archive is excellent at sifting through those Coppers and keeping them out of your deck to get to your payload faster.  When Archive is in the kingdom, always look to see how it compares to other draw or thinning cards on the table—if they’re present, Archive may be of less use, but if they’re lacking, take care to consider Archive more highly in your deckbuilding process, as it might be the best patch for those missing pieces. 

Finally, this isn’t to say that Archive is useless if there’s other draw or trashing available.  To the contrary, Archive fits very well into the support card role, to supplement other draw and trashing as a sort of sifter/cycler, not unlike something like Forum or Cartographer.  It’s not a powerhouse card here, but it certainly can keep your deck more reliable and reduce the chances of stalling.  If there’s time, it’s definitely worth adding, but may be a bit lower on your priority list of other deck components. 


Playing with Archive

How you play with Archive largely depends on what you’re using it for—using it as your primary draw or deck thinner will look different than if you’re using it as a supplemental cycler or sifter.  Based on this, let’s touch on a few general play principles to be aware of with Archive.

First, how many Archives do you need?  With most Duration cards, you end up playing them less frequently than normal actions since they stay in play multiple turns and will often miss shuffles. This is exacerbated further with Archive since it stays out a full turn longer than typical Duration cards.  When it’s your primary draw and/or deck thinner, you’ll usually want several Archives, ideally played on staggered turns to maximize their effect and keep things consistent.  When Archive is functioning more as a support card and is supplementing other draw or thinning (e.g. as an early game cycler or late game Province sifter), usually just one is enough to get the job done—with too many, there’s the risk of having key cards stuck outside your deck. 

Next, how do you decide which cards to take after playing Archive?  Usually, this is intuitive—if you need +Actions right now, take the Village; if you need just $2 more to hit Province, take the Silver.  But more importantly than what you take now, pay attention to what you leave for later turns.  Do you know you still have two terminals left in your deck?  Maybe leave that Village for next turn.  Did you reveal two Estates and a Copper?  Great, they’ll miss some shuffles!  And what about when you reveal another Archive?  If you’re digging for a key card this turn or need to set up a big next turn, go ahead and take the Archive—but if you really need the consistency, stash it away for next turn so your Archives can alternate. 
 

Learning to Work with What You’ve Got

Archive is a unique and versatile card that fits in a variety of decks and plays different roles, depending heavily on what else is available.  The key with Archive is learning to recognize which role it can play in your deck, given each kingdom.  When Archive is out, look over the other actions to see if there are stronger ways to draw or thin your deck—if there are, Archive is more likely just a support card.  If not, then Archive might just be your best bet for building a winning deck.  Ideally, this is a skill that all players should be doing to begin with in any Dominion game: start by scanning the kingdom for the key deck components (draw, trashing, +actions, payload), and identify which cards will play which roles.  If you aren’t starting each game by doing this, try to make it a habit before jumping into your turn one buy.

So much of Dominion is learning how to work with what you’ve got.  Archive isn’t the best draw or the best deck thinner, but in some games, it’s your best option.  And that’s the funny thing about analyzing cards in a vacuum—we can compare and contrast and rank, but at the end of the day, the only cards that matter are the ones in the game you’re playing, which means sometimes an “unconventional” solution is the way to go.  Sometimes Summon is your only +Actions.  Sometimes Spice Merchant is your only +Buy.  (And sometimes a "boring" Big Money strategy is faster than that fancy Summon engine).  In Dominion, a little bit of adaptability goes a long way. 
« Last Edit: February 18, 2018, 08:45:23 am by 4est »
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O

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2018, 02:22:53 pm »
+3

Good article! Concise and actually focuses on specific low-level concepts. Should probably mention somewhere that you all else being equal, you want to skew the more powerful cards towards being picked earlier as then they will be in more shuffles/rotations of your deck. It's implicitly said when you talk about Archive's pseudo-trashing ability, but it's relevant enough to state explicitly as well IMO.
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trivialknot

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2018, 05:26:10 pm »
+1

A single Archive, on average, draws 2/3 extra cards per turn, and sifts/pseudotrashes 1 card per turn.  I tend to think Archive is competitive with mid-tier thinners, say Plan.

I disagree with the general advice of stashing Archive.  If you want smoother turns (and you don't always), another way to achieve that is by buying more Archives.

Good article! Concise and actually focuses on specific low-level concepts. Should probably mention somewhere that you all else being equal, you want to skew the more powerful cards towards being picked earlier as then they will be in more shuffles/rotations of your deck. It's implicitly said when you talk about Archive's pseudo-trashing ability, but it's relevant enough to state explicitly as well IMO.
If you know you won't get any value out of the card from Archive this turn, then by default you should pick the 2nd best card.  Next turn, both the 1st and 2nd best cards will be available in your deck, and the best card is guaranteed to be in hand.
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DG

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2018, 06:00:42 pm »
+1

Good stuff. The 'next turn preparation' could talk about pairing specific cards together or specific types of cards. For example, if you are playing with crossroads and victory cards you can use the archive to set aside a crossroads until you need it or put victory cards into a hand that already has a crossroads. The archive delivers more here than a caravan or haven would do.
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O

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2018, 06:03:56 pm »
0

A single Archive, on average, draws 2/3 extra cards per turn, and sifts/pseudotrashes 1 card per turn.  I tend to think Archive is competitive with mid-tier thinners, say Plan.

I disagree with the general advice of stashing Archive.  If you want smoother turns (and you don't always), another way to achieve that is by buying more Archives.

Good article! Concise and actually focuses on specific low-level concepts. Should probably mention somewhere that you all else being equal, you want to skew the more powerful cards towards being picked earlier as then they will be in more shuffles/rotations of your deck. It's implicitly said when you talk about Archive's pseudo-trashing ability, but it's relevant enough to state explicitly as well IMO.
If you know you won't get any value out of the card from Archive this turn, then by default you should pick the 2nd best card.  Next turn, both the 1st and 2nd best cards will be available in your deck, and the best card is guaranteed to be in hand.

That's why I said all else being equal.
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crj

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 07:11:29 pm »
+1

Archive plays as a strong cantrip the turn you play it, a strong Laboratory the second turn, and a weaker Laboratory on the third
...or any other combination.

You might instead choose to have a weak cantrip, followed by a mediocre Laboratory, followed by an excellent Laboratory, for example.
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bobbydj18

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2018, 10:51:56 pm »
0

I'm excited to see an article on Archive.  I feel like it's highly under-rated.  'Archive-BM' where you get 3-4 silvers, 4-5 archives and maybe one gold before greening is hard to beat.  At least it consistently wins for me against mid to high lvl 50 opponents.  I hadn't considered stashing a revealed archive for a turn to spread out when they 'come back'.  I could see instances where that is good strategy, but I'd be surprised if that's often the right move.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 10:57:12 pm by bobbydj18 »
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ipofanes

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2018, 03:20:35 am »
0

The net effect of an Archive on the turn you play it is basically a Forum. On the next turns, it is more of an Advisor.

In the last paragraph you talk about the power of Archive to connect cards. I think this section needs more emphasis. May I shamelessly plug an example I was giving: http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=16947.msg743900#msg743900 (which echoes bobbydj18 in that you can start to green surprisingly soon). Multiple archives should help to connect Urchin with that other attack, two Treasure Maps, and so on.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 10:11:29 am by ipofanes »
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markusin

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2018, 09:27:48 am »
0

Archive is actually better than a scrying cantrip on the first turn because it also sets aside a card that you won't draw next turn, so it gives you a free sift of sorts on the second turn along with the "Lab" effect.
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ipofanes

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2018, 09:52:42 am »
0

I don't know if you could state the sifting effect as being in addition to the Caravan effect.

Archive giving you a Copper? Hooray, $5 instead of $4 to spend!

Archive giving you an Estate? Hooray, a green card sifted out!

« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 10:09:25 am by ipofanes »
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markusin

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2018, 11:13:39 am »
0

I don't know if you could state the sifting effect as being in addition to the Caravan effect.

Archive giving you a Copper? Hooray, $5 instead of $4 to spend!

Archive giving you an Estate? Hooray, a green card sifted out!

I don't know if this was in response to my comment, but I was referring to how the card you don't pick on the second turn is "sifted out".
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Cave-o-sapien

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2018, 05:42:40 pm »
+1

As others have mentioned, I think it's worth talking about some of the specific collisions that Archive facilitates, such as Tournament/Province, Urchin/Urchin etc.

It's also helpful in advancing Travelers, since you can preferentially play them while reducing the effective size of your deck.
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pacovf

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2018, 11:13:07 pm »
0

Assuming you are playing an Archive every turn (so, you need 3 of them in your deck), the net effect is +3 cards, keep an average card and two bad cards out of your deck for as long as you keep playing the Archives. But you have to divide that by 3, since you need 3 Archives...

In other words, if you are drawing your deck, Archive is not a whole lot better than Pearl Diver with Plan on it, unless you are relying on its capacity to get combos in your starting hand.

EDIT: never mind, don’t know how to count properly. 3 Archives do increase your hand size, so it’s better than what I said above.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 11:21:22 pm by pacovf »
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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2018, 11:22:49 pm »
+4

Archive is not a whole lot better than Pearl Diver with Plan on it

this disease won't stop until the entirety of F.DS is consumed, will it?
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ipofanes

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2018, 02:54:52 am »
0

I don't know if you could state the sifting effect as being in addition to the Caravan effect.

Archive giving you a Copper? Hooray, $5 instead of $4 to spend!

Archive giving you an Estate? Hooray, a green card sifted out!

I don't know if this was in response to my comment, but I was referring to how the card you don't pick on the second turn is "sifted out".

Pardon me if I was unclear but I was taking issue with the impression I had from your comment that the sifting effect is in addition to the lab effect. If this wasn't what you were aiming at, then there'd be no point I'd be arguing.
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Accatitippi

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2018, 07:29:38 am »
+8

Archive is not a whole lot better than Pearl Diver with Plan on it

this disease won't stop until the entirety of F.DS is consumed, will it?

It's exactly like gaining a Rats and then using Balls to gain Secret Passages and Heralds, but the Secret Passages can only target Rats and put them in the second position, and for some reason you have to play all your Heralds, and your opponent is sending you Ghosts and Golems with Masquerade, and you are using 1st edition Throne Room, and your name is Lord Rattington, if you see what I mean.
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markusin

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2018, 09:02:29 am »
0

I don't know if you could state the sifting effect as being in addition to the Caravan effect.

Archive giving you a Copper? Hooray, $5 instead of $4 to spend!

Archive giving you an Estate? Hooray, a green card sifted out!

I don't know if this was in response to my comment, but I was referring to how the card you don't pick on the second turn is "sifted out".

Pardon me if I was unclear but I was taking issue with the impression I had from your comment that the sifting effect is in addition to the lab effect. If this wasn't what you were aiming at, then there'd be no point I'd be arguing.

I do believe the sifting effect is in addition to the lab/Caravan effect because the card you don't choose to draw on the second turn can't later be drawn in the middle of that turn.

If in your example you choose Copper over Estate, you got a Caravan that drew Copper and the Estate cannot be drawn later in the turn, so it is "sifted" in that sense.
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pacovf

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2018, 09:40:14 am »
+2

Archive is not a whole lot better than Pearl Diver with Plan on it

this disease won't stop until the entirety of F.DS is consumed, will it?

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.
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4est

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Re: Archive: Learning to Work with What You’ve Got
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2018, 08:56:14 am »
+1

Thanks everyone for the comments and feedback (and for the classic f.ds thread derailment at the end there...)! 

I've updated the OP with a few touch-ups and edits, incorporating some of the key recommended changes: I added a line in the next-turn set up section about connecting cards, there's more nuance now in the spot about stashing a revealed Archive vs. playing it, and I've cleaned up a few other minor wording/phrasing items. 

If there's any other thoughts or criticisms on this Archive article, let me know, otherwise, I'm going to consider this one complete for now. 

Thanks again all!
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