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faust

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Shepherd
« on: February 20, 2018, 06:37:34 am »
+18


Shepherd is the strongest card in Nocturne. But its power is subtle, and using it correctly requires some skill.

The composition of a Shepherd deck

A Shepherd deck runs on green and Shepherds. That means that in order to get started, you want to always start with a Shepherd in hand. In order to expect one Shepherd in a hand of five cards, 20% of your deck should be Shepherds. Note that this also puts a limitation to the total size of your deck: For every Shepherd you have, you can add 4 other cards. The more Shepherds you have, the longer your deck remains stable. If you have ways of manipulating your starting hand (like Scheme or duration draw), your can afford to stretch a bit thinner on Shepherds.

On the other hand, your deck wants to keep on drawing. If you want your second Shepherd to draw at least at much as your first, then you should draw 50% green cards from each Shepherd play. This is a figure to aim for for your deck composition: You should have around 50% green. I would point out however that you should prioritize getting your Shepherds to a 20% density before adding more green.

How to get there

Well, getting your Shepherd ratio up is simple; just buy or gain more. The tricky part is keeping your green high. There are 2 ways to go: One is to trash your starting Coppers, which automatically increases the share of green you have. The other is to buy or gain a bunch of green. Cantrips are also great in a Shepherd deck as they do not really affect your deck composition at all.

This gives 2 things that go well with Shepherd: light trashing and gain/+buy. Especially look out for cantrip +buy like Market Square. I say light trashing here because when the trashing is super strong, it tends to boost other strategies on the board more than it boosts the Shepherd deck.

A very simple yet efficient deck for Shepherd is to just add a single Silver, a Shepherd for every 5 cards you have and the best green card available otherwise. This already beats Big Money. However, the real strength of the Shepherd deck is that you draw through your deck in many turns, so any card you add to the deck has a bigger impact as it is played more often.

So what do I add in otherwise?

We have already seen that light trashing and +buy are good things to have. Since Shepherd is nonterminal draw, you can add in any number of cantrips to your deck as well. What you should avoid is stacking up on terminals and splitters. The issue is that Shepherd decks are unreliable, and adding more unreliable components will often push it over the critical point where it's just no good anymore. Also, every stop card you add also requires you to increase your share of Victory cards. A good question to ask yourself with every buy is "is this better than a victory card for my deck?"

But apart from that, Shepherd decks are flexible and can accomodate a variety of different payload cards: +coin, +buy, attacks, gainers all work well with it.

Shepherd in non-Shepherd decks

Shepherd is best used in an environment fitted for it, but sometimes you want to add a Shepherd to other deck types. One way to do this are very reliable engines that draw your deck. Here, you can make sure to have all your green in hand before you play Shepherd, and then profit form the extra draw with discard-for-benefit.

Shepherd can, in theory, also be used as a sifter, though in that function it is inferior to most other sifters as it only works on a very small subset of your cards. But if you know you're going to have some green in your hand anyway (due to e.g. Haunted Woods), then you can also use Shepherd in this capacity.

When Shepherd is bad

Though a strong card, not every board is a Shepherd board. The hardest counter are handsize attacks. It is so much more difficult to get started if you only have 3 cards available in your hand. Another problem is strong terminal payload. A Shepherd deck can often play only one terminal per turn. If there is stuff like Bridge Troll or Knights, chances are you you'd rather want to build that deck. Finally, VP tokens and strong Landmarks can be reasons to avoid Shepherd.

Some tactical remarks

A key thing to look out for with Shepherd is reshuffle triggering. It is easy to trigger a reshuffle that just puts 10 Victory cards on top of your deck without a Shepherd to utilize them. Vice versa, if you know you can shuffle in a Shepherd with a lot of green, then that's quite good.

It may seem tempting to add a Shepherd to a priorly Shepherd-less deck once you start greening. The problem is that most of the time, you will not connect the Shepherd with enough green for that to be worth it.

A word on Pasture

Of course, the Heirloom that goes along with Shepherd should not go unmentioned. Getting an extra VP from Estates often gives the Shepherd deck the edge to be competitive. It also means that buying 4 Estates for $8 is usually better than buying a Province, if you have the buys. Because Estates are more attractive than normal, Shepherd mirrors can easily end on three-piles with Estates, Shepherds and some other kingdom pile or Duchies gone. Consider this option in your planning.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 07:56:48 am by faust »
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markus

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2018, 07:54:32 am »
+1

I think you should mention that it benefits a lot from starting your turn with a larger hand (duration draw, expedition) or sifting (Dungeon, but also other sifters can be fine).
Without those, Shepherd is often not reliable enough in my opinion. For example, how well does it do with just Market Square and Trade Route (as light trashing)?
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markusin

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2018, 08:18:28 am »
+2

I disagree with the tactical remark that you don't want to add Shepherd to a deck that isn't Shepherd based to start with after greening begins. If you are ever at the point where your stop cards are minimal and the only stop cards you are adding are green cards, then Shepherd is convenient on a spare $4. Pasture points are often meaningful enough to want to keep it around as well, possibly with some Estates that you may or may not have been able to trash.

Shepherd is peculiar because it can allow one to draw their deck during the greening phase even if that wasn't possible before the greening phase.
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faust

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2018, 08:32:19 am »
+1

I disagree with the tactical remark that you don't want to add Shepherd to a deck that isn't Shepherd based to start with after greening begins. If you are ever at the point where your stop cards are minimal and the only stop cards you are adding are green cards, then Shepherd is convenient on a spare $4.
I guess my point is, in this case you really should have gone for the Shepherd deck to begin with.
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aku_chi

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2018, 08:56:47 am »
+8

In addition to duration draw, which markus mentions, I would point out the strongest Shepherd enablers are cards that can guarantee that you have a Shepherd or two in your opening hand: Gear, Save, Haven, Cobbler, Scheme, Count, etc...  When these cards are present, it's also more realistic to play Shepherd in an engine (you still need more green than in most engines, of course).

Shepherd is the strongest card in Nocturne.
I recommend amending this to "one of the strongest".  Some people are going to discount the rest of this article because there's some other Nocturne card they think is better.
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markusin

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2018, 09:25:07 am »
+1

I disagree with the tactical remark that you don't want to add Shepherd to a deck that isn't Shepherd based to start with after greening begins. If you are ever at the point where your stop cards are minimal and the only stop cards you are adding are green cards, then Shepherd is convenient on a spare $4.
I guess my point is, in this case you really should have gone for the Shepherd deck to begin with.

Possibly this is true in a lot of cases. Sometimes though, there is a compelling reason to prioritize villages or something rather than going all out on Shepherds. You mention this in the article though.

I agree that Shepherd in itself is not a great engine enabler, but it can be a great late game include to add failsafe redundancy or overdraw to your engine. In fact, your second and third paragraph in the tactics section are kind of at odds with each other. The second paragraph talks about how you can profit from overdraw, but then the third paragraph discounts Shepherd in an engine because you "probably didn't need the extra draw". Does the engine "need" the extra draw? Maybe not. Can it profit from the extra draw? Absolutely when we are talking about a single $4 buy.
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Screwyioux

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2018, 11:22:21 am »
+3

I have a few points of contention here, though I did enjoy the article.

When you say a "Shepherd deck," to me that implies that you're focusing on Shepherd as your means of winning the game.
The only payload to be gained from shepherd is drawing a card off your greens. I say card and not cards because you're also discarding one. Yes, the green was probably useless for your turn, but you've only increased your hand size by one, so the effect of Shepherd is really draw one sift one for each green.

I would almost never consider adding extra green cards to my deck simply to draw off Shepherd. That's worse than adding coppers to your deck just because you can draw them with Apothecary. In other words, Shepherd doesn't reward you for being dense with green cards, it mitigates the punishment of it.

So how would a "shepherd deck" go about winning the game? That would rely on the (somewhat weak) draw it enables. So what are you drawing into? As you mentioned, most of the strong action cards that constitute mid to endgame payload don't fit all that well into the deck you're describing for reliability reasons, so most of the time that deck relies on treasures for payload. A few shepherds here and there probably fit decently into a big money deck, but the support is mediocre, and the deck probably produces a similar score with or without Shepherd.

If Shepherd is akin to anything, it's Crossroads. It mitigates the punishment of being dense with green cards and provides you a marginal benefit to save your turn. In fact, Crossroads is likely to enable a much stronger deck than shepherd does.
The similarities continue in that the things that actually make Shepherd good are the same things that make Crossroads good-- mostly hand seeding and to-hand gaining (think Gear, Cobbler, Save).

In conclusion, I don't think the Shepherd split will be significant on very many games (in fact, I rarely expect to see the pile run out without some gimmick encouraging it), as Shepherd doesn't enable any road to victory in and of itself, it's a decent support card that you'll sometimes pick up over silver.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2018, 11:25:44 am by Screwyioux »
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trivialknot

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2018, 11:32:04 am »
+8

While the article is not poorly written, I flatly disagree with many of the specific factual claims in it.  For example...

-A pure Shepherd deck needs more green than Shepherds, so I don't agree that getting shepherds is "the more important thing to focus on".
-Shepherd is a good engine enabler.
-It's not clear to me that you need to add a green card for every stop card you gain in a shepherd deck.  And even if true, I don't see how this is worse than having to add a village/smithy pair for every two stop cards you put in a village/smithy deck.
-I fail to see how village + terminal draw is better for playing terminal payload than village + Shepherd.
-While handsize attacks hurt Shepherd decks, it's not clear to me that it hurts more than when playing a BM or village/smithy engine.
-Adding a Shepherd to a deck when it starts greening is good in many situations when you're drawing most of your deck.  It is not comparable to Scout.

Now it's possible that I'm wrong on each and every point.  I really don't know.  But the problem is your article didn't persuade me of anything, because it doesn't offer evidence of any kind.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2018, 11:33:16 am by trivialknot »
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trivialknot

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2018, 12:36:21 pm »
+11

I scanned through some Dominion streams for games with Shepherd, and here are a bunch:

Mic Qsenoch vs LuciferousPeridot
Seprix vs Jimmmy
Seprix vs vsiewnar
Seprix vs Tracer
aku chi vs Gazbag
aku chi vs Gazbag
Mic Qsenoch vs Burning Skull
vsiewnar vs ehunt

I'm not saying the article needs to have a bunch of case studies, but maybe this will help in figuring out what the article should say in the first place.

I haven't watched most of the videos but it seems like players buy Shepherd in almost every game, and often pile them out.  I only found one game where players ignored Shepherd.
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Chappy7

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2018, 07:03:03 pm »
+2


-While handsize attacks hurt Shepherd decks, it's not clear to me that it hurts more than when playing a BM or village/smithy engine.

I feel like it probably hurts a bit worse because in a village smithy engine, you can discard and junk you have and keep village smithy.  With Shepherd, you have to discard good stuff and keep your green just so you can discard that green to draw other stuff.  Say you have Village Smithy 2 estates and a copper.  Discard estates, play village then smithy, end up with 5 cards and an action left.  With Shephard 2x extate 2x copper, you'd discard coppers when attacked, then on your turn play shepherd, discard estates, end up with only 4 cards in hand. 
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Beyond Awesome

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2018, 09:03:40 pm »
+2

I've built engines when Shepherd is the only draw. I'm not sold on it not being good for engines.
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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2018, 09:07:20 am »
+8

This article contains a lot of incorrect information, in my experience. Shepherd can be made to work a lot of the time in a wide variety of decks, the points that going heavy Shepherd supplies are kind of a big deal not infrequently, what aku said is absolutely critical to include in a Shepherd article (as well as the possibility of purposefully triggering terrible green-filled shuffles with i.e. a saved Shepherd), and the math about Shepherd density is very misleading with respect to how to actually play the early game.

I appreciate the article, but I do have a ton of points of contention with this as to where I feel that someone who has not yet played with Shepherd much will walk away a worse player than they were before if they try to stick to this article's principles.
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Holunder9

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2018, 09:34:54 am »
+2

In my limited experience Shepherd is powerful non-terminal draw that takes some time to build up and is more volatile than ordinary draw engines.
If you play a village without having a Smithy it is just a cantrip and if you play a Smithy and draw into a village it is just one extra dead card. If your Shepherds and green don't match they are all dead.
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markusin

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2018, 09:45:31 am »
+2

In my limited experience Shepherd is powerful non-terminal draw that takes some time to build up and is more volatile than ordinary draw engines.
If you play a village without having a Smithy it is just a cantrip and if you play a Smithy and draw into a village it is just one extra dead card. If your Shepherds and green don't match they are all dead.

Basically, a lot of the things that apply to Crossroads when it comes to the first Crossroads/green collision also apply to Shepherd/green collision. An important difference is that Shepherd has the Pasture heirloom, and Estates are worth extra VP so long as Pasture is around.
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crj

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2018, 10:51:38 pm »
+1

It feels remiss not to mention Tunnel when talking about Shepherd. And not to mention Inheritance when talking about Pasture.

But this bit bugs me considerably:
in order to get started, you want to make sure to always start with a Shepherd in hand. Assuming a 5 card starting hand, that means that 20% of your deck should be Shepherds.
It's simply not true that 20% of your deck being Shepherds means that if you draw 5 cards you're certain one will be a Shepherd. All you're certain of is that you'll average one Shepherd per five cards.

As an example, if you have twenty cards, four of which are Shepherds, you only have a 72% chance of drawing a Shepherd.

That's not just mathematical nitpicking; it seems to me it strikes at the heart of the viability of a Shepherd engine. Especially as a hand with multiple Shepherds is also undesirable.
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terminalCopper

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2018, 04:53:29 am »
+10


I believe that the community is still far from deeply understanding this complex card. Anyway, I‘d like to contribute something I consider to be important:

Shepherd is an excellent opening, even if you don‘t plan to focus on a sheperd deck.

Like few other cards, it is both a very good cycler and a card with good odds to hit five bucks - here‘s the scenarios where you spike the price point, with the according probabilities:

If sheperd doesnt miss shuffle (5/6),
4 coppers with shepherd, two estates miss shuffle  (6 choose 4 / 11 choose 4)* 3/7*2/6
3 coppers + pasture with shepherd, Sheperd draws silver (6 choose 3 / 11 choose 4) * 2/7
3 coppers + pasture with shepherd, Sheperd draws two copper (6 choose 3 / 11 choose 4) * 4/7 * 3/6
3 coppers + pasture with shepherd, Sheperd draws two estates (6 choose 3 / 11 choose 4) * 3/7 * 2/6
Sheperd comes with at least one estate or silver (1- (7 choose 4 / 11 choose 4))

If sheperd misses shuffle (1/6),
misses with estate: 3/11 *1
misses with copper/pasture, 5 treasures in one hand: 7/11 * 1/6
misses with copper/pasture, other treasures split „4-3“, silver in the hand with 4 treasures: 7/11 * 5/6 * 1/2
misses with silver, 5 copper/pasture in one hand 1/6*1/11*1/6

5/6*
((6 choose 4 / 11 choose 4)* 3/7*2/6)+ ((6 choose 3 / 11 choose 4) * 2/7) + ((6 choose 3 / 11 choose 4) * 4/7 * 3/6)
+ ((6 choose 3 / 11 choose 4) * 3/7 * 2/6) + (1- (7 choose 4 / 11 choose 4))

+1/6*
(3/11*1 +  7/11 * 1/6 + 7/11 * 5/6 * 1/2 + 1/6*1/11*1/6)

=

5/6 * 0.9437+ 1/6 * 0.6464 = 0.894

-> if you open Sheperd/Silver, you have an 89.4% chance to hit 5$ in T3/4.
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faust

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2018, 05:17:57 am »
+1

I will take some time to revise this at some point. I do want to point out that:

-> if you open Sheperd/Silver, you have an 89.4% chance to hit 5$ in T3/4.


This is actually worse than for a Silver/Silver opening I believe.
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Chris is me

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2018, 09:01:45 am »
+3

I will take some time to revise this at some point. I do want to point out that:

-> if you open Sheperd/Silver, you have an 89.4% chance to hit 5$ in T3/4.


This is actually worse than for a Silver/Silver opening I believe.

It’s not that the odds are higher than Silver / Silver, it’s that you get to cycle a lot more, and in many of those cases you end up with a “clean” T5 rather than lingering cards. This speeds things up a fair bit. If your key $5 is like, Upgrade, this is a super way to start the game.
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faust

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2018, 09:18:31 am »
+1

I will take some time to revise this at some point. I do want to point out that:

-> if you open Sheperd/Silver, you have an 89.4% chance to hit 5$ in T3/4.


This is actually worse than for a Silver/Silver opening I believe.

It’s not that the odds are higher than Silver / Silver, it’s that you get to cycle a lot more, and in many of those cases you end up with a “clean” T5 rather than lingering cards. This speeds things up a fair bit. If your key $5 is like, Upgrade, this is a super way to start the game.
That's true, but if you trash your Estates later then Shepherd will become a dead card. (of course in your Upgrade example that's not bad as you can just turn it into something else)
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Accatitippi

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2018, 12:36:15 pm »
+2

Shepherd is a good Victory sifter that can level up to become nonterminal draw.

I think an article should consider the three different cases:
- Shepherd used as a glorified Cellar
- Shepherd used as support draw
- Shepherd used as your only draw

And of course Shepherd poses two questions:
When is Shepherd good?
When are Estates good?

The article seems to only consider the third case, and doesn't mention how it compares with other sources of draw, which is another interesting question.
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faust

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2018, 05:41:29 am »
0

In addition to duration draw, which markus mentions, I would point out the strongest Shepherd enablers are cards that can guarantee that you have a Shepherd or two in your opening hand: Gear, Save, Haven, Cobbler, Scheme, Count, etc...  When these cards are present, it's also more realistic to play Shepherd in an engine (you still need more green than in most engines, of course).
You're right, it's probably a large enough group of cards to warrant a mention.

Shepherd is the strongest card in Nocturne.
I recommend amending this to "one of the strongest".  Some people are going to discount the rest of this article because there's some other Nocturne card they think is better.
Well I think an article should be thought-provoking to some extent. I for one prefer to read an article that starts with a statement I disagree with to figure out what the reasoning behind it is.
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faust

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2018, 05:55:31 am »
0

-A pure Shepherd deck needs more green than Shepherds, so I don't agree that getting shepherds is "the more important thing to focus on".
But your deck already starts with a decent quantity of green, and it starts with 0 Shepherds. I guess I might make clearer that you should of course not gain a lot of Shepherds above the 20% mark if you don't have the green, but if both green and Shepherds are below the ratio where you want them to be, in general it is better to get the Shepherd first.

-Shepherd is a good engine enabler.
This is the strongest point of contention. I will definitely add more to the section. I don't think Shepherd is good in an engine due to its inherent unreliability. Engines like consistency which Shepherd usually cannot offer. It's more of a slog card really.

-It's not clear to me that you need to add a green card for every stop card you gain in a shepherd deck.  And even if true, I don't see how this is worse than having to add a village/smithy pair for every two stop cards you put in a village/smithy deck.
The difference of Village/Smithy compared to Shepherd/green is, a hand of all Villages is still good, but a hand of all green is not. Shepherd/green works more like Squire/Smithy, and that is hard to get to work without massive trashing.

-I fail to see how village + terminal draw is better for playing terminal payload than village + Shepherd.
In the former case, Village is more flexible. You can play Village to enable your drawing, you can play Village to play more payload. You're going to have a bunch of Villages and almost always start with one in your hand. A Shepherd deck has no time to load up on that many Villages as they compete with Shepherd, green and payload.

-While handsize attacks hurt Shepherd decks, it's not clear to me that it hurts more than when playing a BM or village/smithy engine.
If you have to discard 2 cards in Village/Smithy, you need to draw 2 extra cards drawn to draw everything. With Shepherd, it's very likely you'll have to discard a Victory card, and that means that in addition to the 2 cards you have less in your starting hand, each subsequent Shepherd played will draw about 2 cards less than it would otherwise.

-Adding a Shepherd to a deck when it starts greening is good in many situations when you're drawing most of your deck.  It is not comparable to Scout.
It may be okay sometimes. I'll look into maybe altering this.

In general, I'd like to add some of this to the article, but I don't want it to become too long.
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faust

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2018, 05:57:49 am »
0

In my limited experience Shepherd is powerful non-terminal draw that takes some time to build up and is more volatile than ordinary draw engines.
If you play a village without having a Smithy it is just a cantrip and if you play a Smithy and draw into a village it is just one extra dead card. If your Shepherds and green don't match they are all dead.

Basically, a lot of the things that apply to Crossroads when it comes to the first Crossroads/green collision also apply to Shepherd/green collision. An important difference is that Shepherd has the Pasture heirloom, and Estates are worth extra VP so long as Pasture is around.
The other important difference is that there is a limit to how many Crossroads you can play in a turn without other support.
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Since the number of points is within a constant factor of the number of city quarters, in the long run we can get (4 - ε) ↑↑ n points in n turns for any ε > 0.

faust

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2018, 05:58:48 am »
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But this bit bugs me considerably:
in order to get started, you want to make sure to always start with a Shepherd in hand. Assuming a 5 card starting hand, that means that 20% of your deck should be Shepherds.
It's simply not true that 20% of your deck being Shepherds means that if you draw 5 cards you're certain one will be a Shepherd. All you're certain of is that you'll average one Shepherd per five cards.
It's true that this isn't formulated clearly. Will fix.
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Since the number of points is within a constant factor of the number of city quarters, in the long run we can get (4 - ε) ↑↑ n points in n turns for any ε > 0.

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Re: Shepherd
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2018, 06:00:28 am »
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Shepherd is a good Victory sifter that can level up to become nonterminal draw.
I would rather say that Shepherd is a good nonterminal draw card that you might occasionally use as a Victory sifter.
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Since the number of points is within a constant factor of the number of city quarters, in the long run we can get (4 - ε) ↑↑ n points in n turns for any ε > 0.
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