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Author Topic: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?  (Read 2101 times)

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faust

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #25 on: May 01, 2018, 03:36:19 am »
0

I meant to respond to this...

3. If two top players of similar strength play a match where they are and aren't allowed to gain a card, respectively, how big of an advantage will the former have
This addresses all of the previous problems, but introduces a new one: the player who is allowed to buy the card has access to the knowledge that the other player will surely not buy it, which gives them an inherent advantage, partially independently of the card's strength.
This is certainly not ideal, but I don't think it's a big issue in practice, as the advantage you gain from knowing you get from knowing that will be roughly proportional to the card's strength anyway. At least I cannot think of an example where this would push an otherwise weak card up. Of course there's a 3-pile threat that means that low-cost cards will get rated better, but you can get around that by enforcing that the player who may gain all the cards should play as though their opponent were allowed to gain the card when it comes to pile control.

This also makes self-synergistic cards seem stronger than they really are.
I don't see why. I mean you would first have to define what "how strong they really are" means.

In the case of a real match between two real players, as opposed to a thought experiment, it also has the problems that six games is a very low sample size which can result in kingdoms or shuffles favoring one player over the other, and the players might not be giving their best performance at the time of the match even if they are very closely ranked.
Of course measurements will get more accurate the more data you have. That would be a trait common to all measuring methods.
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Awaclus

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #26 on: May 01, 2018, 05:05:36 am »
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I don't see why. I mean you would first have to define what "how strong they really are" means.

Well, if we take the "impact" metric from trivialknot's thread as an example, Fool's Gold doesn't make a very big impact in many kingdoms because getting 5 Fool's Golds isn't very impressive and you're better off gaining none, and then nobody buys it and it doesn't affect anyone's other buys either (so we would understand that it's a weak card). But also in many kingdoms, if your opponent starts to buy it, you have to buy it too because getting all 10 Fool's Golds is pretty often too good.
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2018, 10:52:43 am »
+6

To make an observation that's semi-obvious but I've not seen articulated yet in this thread:

The fact it's so hard to pin down exactly what we mean by "good", "powerful", etc. is a big part of why Dominion is such an excellent game.
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2018, 02:15:26 pm »
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The fact it's so hard to pin down exactly what we mean by "good", "powerful", etc. is a big part of why Dominion is such an excellent game.

It's true; but it's also what makes such it such a compelling pursuit.
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2018, 03:16:47 pm »
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Also, gaining the card is probably always allowed for the purpose of ending the game on piles
This is problematic as for some cards (Messenger, Stonemason), the ability to quickly end the game is part of what makes up their strength.

That's a good point. Let's use Dan Brooks' recent turn 3 victory as an example to show the rationale for and potential pitfalls of this guideline: http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=11060.msg755449#msg755449

Using Stonemason's on-gain ability is essential to Dan's strategy. But he also needs to buy out the Trade Routes to end the game. So in a "Dan can't buy Trade Route" cage match game, he wouldn't have been able to pull of the same win. Which wouldn't indicate anything about the strength of Trade Route, just that it happened to be a pile that could get bought out to end the game on a win. So presumably the rule for Stonemason would be something like "gaining Stonemason is allowed for the purpose of ending the game on piles, but using the over-pay is not". Or buying Messenger on the first buy of a turn would only be allowed if the game could be won without using the on-gain ability. The idea is not to artificially restrict paths to victory but to avoid having the abilities of the particular card come into play.
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faust

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2018, 12:54:51 am »
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Also, gaining the card is probably always allowed for the purpose of ending the game on piles
This is problematic as for some cards (Messenger, Stonemason), the ability to quickly end the game is part of what makes up their strength.

That's a good point. Let's use Dan Brooks' recent turn 3 victory as an example to show the rationale for and potential pitfalls of this guideline: http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=11060.msg755449#msg755449

Using Stonemason's on-gain ability is essential to Dan's strategy. But he also needs to buy out the Trade Routes to end the game. So in a "Dan can't buy Trade Route" cage match game, he wouldn't have been able to pull of the same win. Which wouldn't indicate anything about the strength of Trade Route, just that it happened to be a pile that could get bought out to end the game on a win. So presumably the rule for Stonemason would be something like "gaining Stonemason is allowed for the purpose of ending the game on piles, but using the over-pay is not". Or buying Messenger on the first buy of a turn would only be allowed if the game could be won without using the on-gain ability. The idea is not to artificially restrict paths to victory but to avoid having the abilities of the particular card come into play.
I disagree that it wouldn't indicate anything about the strength of Trade Route. Trade Route is a $3 action, and you need that here to pull off the win. Restricting card "abilities" is super artificial here because cost is also a card ability. It is easier to pile out with Poor House because it only costs $1. It's arbitrary to describe Forum's +buy as a card ability (though it's essentially just "this doesn't cost a buy") and not take Poor House's $1 as a card ability.

It's super rare for that particular ability of Trade Route to be important (partly because so many other cards have it too), but that doesn't mean it's not part of what determines the strength of the card, just that it's a very very minor factor that matters in maybe 0.1% of games.
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faust

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2018, 12:59:40 am »
0

I don't see why. I mean you would first have to define what "how strong they really are" means.

Well, if we take the "impact" metric from trivialknot's thread as an example, Fool's Gold doesn't make a very big impact in many kingdoms because getting 5 Fool's Golds isn't very impressive and you're better off gaining none, and then nobody buys it and it doesn't affect anyone's other buys either (so we would understand that it's a weak card). But also in many kingdoms, if your opponent starts to buy it, you have to buy it too because getting all 10 Fool's Golds is pretty often too good.
I don't think the impact metric says all about card strength though. If getting all Fool's Golds is too good, then you have to build your deck so that it can accomodate some Fool's Golds in case your opponent goes for them and you need to get some. Because if Fool's Gold is better for them and they can force you to get some, then that's an advantage for them. So it impacts the game even if it isn't bought.

That is assuming that your assessment above of Fool's Gold's strength is correct. I think a lot of the time it isn't super important to prevent your opponent from getting all the Fool's Golds.
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #32 on: May 02, 2018, 01:05:22 am »
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This doesn't take into account a scenario in which nobody gains the card, but it makes an impact by merely being present in the kingdom (e.g. Salt the Earth).

Yeah this basically doesn't come up. Salt is very weak.

But solutions.

It really comes down to usage frequency. Any time Governor is on the board, you basically have to incorporate it. Same with Goons, or Page, or Peasant, etc. And thus those are top tier cards. The less this is true, the less strong the card. There can be cards with a seemingly weak effect (Dungeon for example) that are absolutely critical to win with. Dungeon increases cycling and start of turn consistency, and despite the lack of flashiness that a card like Goons has, Dungeon has somehow managed to be a very strong card in its own right, simply due to the frequency with which I open it with.
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2018, 02:17:19 pm »
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It really comes down to usage frequency.

By 'frequency', do you mean 'at least once', or actual frequency? I might only use (i.e. play) Page once in a game, but it's still a very strong card. I might only use Chapel 2 or 3 times in a game, but it's very strong.

And by 'usage' do you mean 'play', or 'gain', or what? I may gain IGGs, without ever really needing to "use" them, or even wanting them in my deck altogether. And there's gaining by choice (Witch) vs. gaining not by choice (Curse) -- do you mean the former?

There are still flaws with this though. I use Silver a lot -- but often just as a stepping stone to get to other things. Oftentimes I wouldn't use it if I didn't have to. I use Potion a lot in Scrying Pool games. I use Gladiator to get to Fortune - even if I don't necessarily want the Gladiator. For that matter, are split piles by definition top half stronger than bottom half, cus (barring edge cases) it's guaranteed that there are more games in which a card from the top half is gained but not the bottom half than there are vice versa?

How would you do non supply cards? Tournament (and Province?) is strong because of Followers and Trusty Steed, but how would you handle the Prizes?

How would you do Knights/Ruins/Castles?

How does this definition handle cards from the Black Market deck? Rats is (arguably) stronger if it came from the BM deck; Magpie is weaker. Why?

If you do mean something like 'percentage of games this card is in in which you gain the card by choice at least once in the game' then, off the top of my head, Butcher comes to mind (Dungeon in your case). There are probably fewer games that I ignore Butcher than there are games where I ignore Cultist and Monty. But I'd still say Cultist and Monty are "stronger" -- air quotes, because as this thread suggests, I don't really know what makes a card strong.
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2018, 02:55:00 pm »
+1

Nuclear weapons are pretty weak.
The top players don't use them.

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GendoIkari

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #35 on: May 03, 2018, 03:00:02 pm »
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Nuclear weapons are pretty weak.
The top players don't use them.

Are you implying that the United States is not a top player?
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #36 on: May 03, 2018, 03:33:40 pm »
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It really comes down to usage frequency.
There are still flaws with this though. I use Silver a lot -- but often just as a stepping stone to get to other things. Oftentimes I wouldn't use it if I didn't have to. I use Potion a lot in Scrying Pool games. I use Gladiator to get to Fortune - even if I don't necessarily want the Gladiator. For that matter, are split piles by definition top half stronger than bottom half, cus (barring edge cases) it's guaranteed that there are more games in which a card from the top half is gained but not the bottom half than there are vice versa?

This actually sounds like an argument for Silver being a good card.
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #37 on: May 03, 2018, 03:43:32 pm »
0

If you do mean something like 'percentage of games this card is in in which you gain the card by choice at least once in the game' then, off the top of my head, Butcher comes to mind (Dungeon in your case). There are probably fewer games that I ignore Butcher than there are games where I ignore Cultist and Monty. But I'd still say Cultist and Monty are "stronger" -- air quotes, because as this thread suggests, I don't really know what makes a card strong.

This was what I proposed above, and I still suspect it's better -- because it's both feasible and 'good enough' -- than the other proposed metrics.

Maybe it's not powerful or precise enough to distinguish Mountebank/Cultist/Butcher, but maybe it is! And maybe it would lead to some more interesting discussions about what makes a card 'strong'.
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #38 on: May 03, 2018, 03:58:09 pm »
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If you do mean something like 'percentage of games this card is in in which you gain the card by choice at least once in the game' then, off the top of my head, Butcher comes to mind (Dungeon in your case). There are probably fewer games that I ignore Butcher than there are games where I ignore Cultist and Monty. But I'd still say Cultist and Monty are "stronger" -- air quotes, because as this thread suggests, I don't really know what makes a card strong.

This was what I proposed above, and I still suspect it's better -- because it's both feasible and 'good enough' -- than the other proposed metrics.

Maybe it's not powerful or precise enough to distinguish Mountebank/Cultist/Butcher, but maybe it is! And maybe it would lead to some more interesting discussions about what makes a card 'strong'.

Perhaps it's the best we've got (for now). In which case Border Village looks like a REALLY strong card .. but maybe it just is? ???
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theblankman

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2018, 04:38:54 pm »
0

If you do mean something like 'percentage of games this card is in in which you gain the card by choice at least once in the game' then, off the top of my head, Butcher comes to mind (Dungeon in your case). There are probably fewer games that I ignore Butcher than there are games where I ignore Cultist and Monty. But I'd still say Cultist and Monty are "stronger" -- air quotes, because as this thread suggests, I don't really know what makes a card strong.

This was what I proposed above, and I still suspect it's better -- because it's both feasible and 'good enough' -- than the other proposed metrics.

Maybe it's not powerful or precise enough to distinguish Mountebank/Cultist/Butcher, but maybe it is! And maybe it would lead to some more interesting discussions about what makes a card 'strong'.

Perhaps it's the best we've got (for now). In which case Border Village looks like a REALLY strong card .. but maybe it just is? ???
I think we can do better. Two things that come to mind are measuring how often one "safely" ignores the card, and how often it makes the difference in a win. We can approximate those respectively by: percentage of games with the card where the loser gains it by choice and the winner doesn't, and percentage of games with the card where the winner gains it by choice and the loser doesn't (the third category to make this add to 100% is games with the card where both players gain it).

More generally, I think we could be looking at which events correlate with winning the game: gaining a card at all, gaining more copies than the opponent, playing the card more often than the opponent, etc. We might end up with a "power" measurement that includes a bunch of metrics, or even finding numbers to back up intuitive statements like: Chapel is most powerful in singles but Scrying Pool is most powerful in stacks.
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trivialknot

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #40 on: May 03, 2018, 06:38:29 pm »
+8

For reference, here are some links to card rankings generated by statistical analysis:

1. How often top players gain the card
2. Win rates conditional on gaining the card
3. How much the presence of a card affects gain percentages of all cards
4. How much player skill correlates with gaining the card
5. How hard it is to predict the winner in the presence of a card

Numbers 1 and 2 are the same as ideas that Awaclus proposed in the OP, and they indeed have the problems that Awaclus mentioned.  Awaclus' third proposal is to play games where one player is banned from gaining the card, but as he said you can't really perform statistical analysis because you'd have to play hundreds or thousands of games.  Basically, Awaclus knows what he is talking about.

Number 3 is the analysis that I proposed, and I personally think it works well, although it overrates things like junkers and copper gainers.

Numbers 4 and 5 aren't attempts to measure card strength, but are nonetheless interesting.  Number 4 mostly shows how overrated or underrated cards are by weaker players (at least they were in 2014).  Number 5 shows how effectively a given card separates strong and weak players.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 06:41:14 pm by trivialknot »
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #41 on: May 04, 2018, 03:56:27 pm »
0

For reference, here are some links to card rankings generated by statistical analysis:

1. How often top players gain the card
2. Win rates conditional on gaining the card
3. How much the presence of a card affects gain percentages of all cards
4. How much player skill correlates with gaining the card
5. How hard it is to predict the winner in the presence of a card

Numbers 1 and 2 are the same as ideas that Awaclus proposed in the OP, and they indeed have the problems that Awaclus mentioned.  Awaclus' third proposal is to play games where one player is banned from gaining the card, but as he said you can't really perform statistical analysis because you'd have to play hundreds or thousands of games.  Basically, Awaclus knows what he is talking about.

Number 3 is the analysis that I proposed, and I personally think it works well, although it overrates things like junkers and copper gainers.

Numbers 4 and 5 aren't attempts to measure card strength, but are nonetheless interesting.  Number 4 mostly shows how overrated or underrated cards are by weaker players (at least they were in 2014).  Number 5 shows how effectively a given card separates strong and weak players.

Cool. Thanks for compiling those links.

RankCard% games gained# games gained# games available
1Tournament95.4%74677825
2Governor93.0%24172598
3Border Village89.3%67087512
4Fishing Village89.2%70067854
5Wharf89.0%70927965
6Forager88.7%70947999
7Goons88.4%70537979
8Masquerade87.7%70318015
9Chapel87.6%84089596
10Ironmonger87.2%69477970
11Mountebank86.9%67577779
12Ambassador83.6%67578078
13Squire83.4%64527732
14Hamlet83.2%65647892
15Plaza82.7%59537196
16Warehouse82.6%66748084
17Hunting Party81.1%62467705
18Candlestick Maker80.9%58597242
19King's Court80.8%62767769
20Black Market80.6%27293386
21Minion80.1%62527807
22Wandering Minstrel79.4%62157828
23Crossroads79.2%61127713
24Swindler79.1%64478147
25Cultist79.0%61037730

I think it's reasonable to conclude from this (old) data that King's Court suffers on this ranking based on its high cost; while Crossroads, Squire and Hamlet benefit from their low cost. The weirdest outliers to me here are Forager and Warehouse, but maybe this is an accurate reflection of the time? Or maybe 3-cost cards get a similar boost to 2-cost cards.

It's hard to judge this list while no longer being in the context that generated the data.
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Seprix

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #42 on: May 05, 2018, 01:31:15 pm »
0

It really comes down to usage frequency.

By 'frequency', do you mean 'at least once', or actual frequency? I might only use (i.e. play) Page once in a game, but it's still a very strong card. I might only use Chapel 2 or 3 times in a game, but it's very strong.

And by 'usage' do you mean 'play', or 'gain', or what? I may gain IGGs, without ever really needing to "use" them, or even wanting them in my deck altogether. And there's gaining by choice (Witch) vs. gaining not by choice (Curse) -- do you mean the former?

There are still flaws with this though. I use Silver a lot -- but often just as a stepping stone to get to other things. Oftentimes I wouldn't use it if I didn't have to. I use Potion a lot in Scrying Pool games. I use Gladiator to get to Fortune - even if I don't necessarily want the Gladiator. For that matter, are split piles by definition top half stronger than bottom half, cus (barring edge cases) it's guaranteed that there are more games in which a card from the top half is gained but not the bottom half than there are vice versa?

How would you do non supply cards? Tournament (and Province?) is strong because of Followers and Trusty Steed, but how would you handle the Prizes?

How would you do Knights/Ruins/Castles?

How does this definition handle cards from the Black Market deck? Rats is (arguably) stronger if it came from the BM deck; Magpie is weaker. Why?

If you do mean something like 'percentage of games this card is in in which you gain the card by choice at least once in the game' then, off the top of my head, Butcher comes to mind (Dungeon in your case). There are probably fewer games that I ignore Butcher than there are games where I ignore Cultist and Monty. But I'd still say Cultist and Monty are "stronger" -- air quotes, because as this thread suggests, I don't really know what makes a card strong.

You're worrying too much about the specifics.

When I say usage frequency, I just mean it comes down to how often you pick it up.

Dominion is a squinty game, it's okay to squint. With something like Page, that you pick it up every game nearly speaks to the power of Champion and the other stuff. You're not picking up Page for Page, but that doesn't make Page weak by any means.

You are right that Silver is picked up a lot, merely as a stepping stone, but it is still picked up a decent amount of times, and is thus a decent opener. But there are plenty of games where you don't in fact pick up a Silver. The point is, you do have to get a Silver sometimes to get to other cards, and if you do have to use a Silver, hey Silver is decent sometimes. It's better than people say it is, because it does accelerate your deck. If it doesn't, that means there's a better route, whether that be a Steward, or an Ironmonger, etc. You say you'd never pick up Silver if you didn't have to, and I agree. I also wouldn't use any other trasher besides Donate if I didn't have to. We're arguing all of the boards, not the best case scenarios.

Black Market, who cares. Completely different rule. You're picking up Black Market every time because it can supply something to you that is ordinarily not in the Kingdom, whatever that might be. You don't worry about non-supply cards, those come packaged with whatever card you can in fact purchase. Knights? Yeah, I pick those up a lot. Don't worry about specific Knights, that there are Knights and you often pick them up is good enough!
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 01:35:58 pm by Seprix »
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Seprix

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #43 on: May 05, 2018, 01:37:55 pm »
+1

For reference, here are some links to card rankings generated by statistical analysis:

1. How often top players gain the card
2. Win rates conditional on gaining the card
3. How much the presence of a card affects gain percentages of all cards
4. How much player skill correlates with gaining the card
5. How hard it is to predict the winner in the presence of a card

Numbers 1 and 2 are the same as ideas that Awaclus proposed in the OP, and they indeed have the problems that Awaclus mentioned.  Awaclus' third proposal is to play games where one player is banned from gaining the card, but as he said you can't really perform statistical analysis because you'd have to play hundreds or thousands of games.  Basically, Awaclus knows what he is talking about.

Number 3 is the analysis that I proposed, and I personally think it works well, although it overrates things like junkers and copper gainers.

Numbers 4 and 5 aren't attempts to measure card strength, but are nonetheless interesting.  Number 4 mostly shows how overrated or underrated cards are by weaker players (at least they were in 2014).  Number 5 shows how effectively a given card separates strong and weak players.

Thanks for posting all of this, but it's all also pretty much moot information nowadays. New expansions, new ideas, heck, the entire concept of engine building has improved even further. I would love to have this information compiled today, and see what the numbers say.
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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #44 on: May 05, 2018, 03:34:06 pm »
0


I think it's reasonable to conclude from this (old) data that King's Court suffers on this ranking based on its high cost; while Crossroads, Squire and Hamlet benefit from their low cost. The weirdest outliers to me here are Forager and Warehouse, but maybe this is an accurate reflection of the time? Or maybe 3-cost cards get a similar boost to 2-cost cards.

It's hard to judge this list while no longer being in the context that generated the data.

Forager is pretty splashable in like every deck. Pre-adventures, it was almost never a question of "do I want Forager?" but "how many extra Foragers do I want?"
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ipofanes

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #45 on: May 11, 2018, 06:46:22 am »
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Rats is (arguably) stronger if it came from the BM deck; Magpie is weaker. Why?

Rats is stronger because you don't gain a copy of it.
Magpie is weaker because you don't gain a copy of it.

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crj

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #46 on: May 11, 2018, 09:25:07 am »
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Rats is pretty situational, but if you're using it properly then gaining $4 cards is a strength, not a weakness.

What would be the right cost for a straightforward +1 Card, +1 Action, trash a card? Comparing with Ratcatcher, Lookout and Junk Dealer it's pretty clear it couldn't cost more than $4, and maybe even $3 would be OK.
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ipofanes

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Re: What does it mean for a card to be "powerful"?
« Reply #47 on: May 11, 2018, 09:50:53 am »
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I think it's backwards: If you cannot use the aspect it's a $4 card, the gaining copy aspect is a weakness. If there's no trash for benefit nor remodel type cards in the kingdom, it's hard to justify them. Hitting more consistently with Doctor or drawing them with a string of Scrying Pool draws should not be enough reason. There is a crazy combo with Training and Dominate, and I haven't tried Advance with them. Rats from Black Market are purchased very often, I would guess.
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