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zededarian

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Ghost Town
« on: June 09, 2018, 06:20:09 am »
+13

Hey all!  I decided to write a strategy article on Ghost Town, since my opinion of it has changed a lot since Nocturne's release.

Feedback welcome and appreciated.



Ghost Town is a surprisingly hard-to-value village.  It's usually
worse than a vanilla Village, but it's better than it looks at first
glance, and in some situations you should actually prefer it.

The Main Tradeoff

If you're drawing your whole deck every turn, you need two Ghost Towns
in your deck to get the same +action as one normal village (i.e. an
extra action every turn).  To compensate for this, Ghost Town adds a
decent amount of reliability to your deck.

If you're playing a Ghost Town every turn, you're starting every turn
with 6 cards and two actions.  This feels very similar to playing a
Hireling, and being lucky enough to always draw a village in your
opening hand.

In any deck where you'd want to pick up a Hireling for consistency,
you should strongly consider picking up two Ghost Towns.  It's the
same total cost (6), with a bunch of other minor considerations that
mostly cancel out (you need two buys, but you get the effect right
away, etc. etc.).

In my experience, 90% of the time when I have a choice between Ghost
Town and a normal village, the decision comes down to whether or not I
need the extra reliability.  In a game with strong terminal draw and
weak trashing, it can matter a lot.  Even then, though, I'd advise
only picking up as many Ghost Towns as you need to reliably draw your
deck, and then switching back to normal villages.

What if you aren't drawing your whole deck every turn?

If you aren't drawing your whole deck every turn, the
efficiency/reliability tradeoff mostly goes away, and Ghost Town
becomes much more comparable to a normal village.  It's slightly
better because it's gained to your hand and isn't dead if you pick it
up off of a terminal draw, it's slightly worse because it doesn't play
nice with action synergy cards.

Usually in this case the decision comes down to whether or not there's
a good action synergy card on the board.  If there is, I usually
prefer a normal village.  The only exception is when there's strong
terminal draw and good junking / weak trashing.  I would pick up Ghost
Town over a normal village close to 100% of the time in Cultist games,
for example.

Other Considerations: Gaining to Your Hand

Aside from the main benefit of reliability, the fact that Ghost Town
is gained to your hand is relevant fairly often.

If this seems like a weak effect, consider that people will sometimes
pay $3 for Expedition, which draws two extra cards for your next hand.
Buying a Ghost Town lets you pay $3 to draw one extra card for your
next hand, and also start with an extra action.  This is usually a
weaker effect, but remember that you get to keep the Ghost Town.

There are two main uses for this: attempting to spike up to $5 or
higher to buy a power card, and racing in the late game.  (If you're
racing on provinces, often the best use of a weak turn is drawing an
extra card for your next turn.)

Note that it's usually a bad idea to buy Ghost Town with $3 turn one
to try and get a 5-buy turn two.  You only have a 3/5 chance of
hitting the 5-buy, and even when you do hit it, the extra card you
drew triggered a reshuffle, so it needs to wait an extra turn to enter
circulation.  This makes Ghost Town notably worse than Nomad Camp as
an early spike.

Gaining to your hand becomes much stronger in long slogs, when the
game might be over by the time a card you buy circulates back to your
hand.  In slogs where Ghost Town and a normal village are close in
value, often I will pick up normal villages early and switch to Ghost
Towns once the first province is bought.

Other Considerations: Gainers

The main downside of Ghost Town is that you often have to gain twice
as many of them for the same effect.  In games with lots of card
gaining (Workshop, Talisman, Artificer, etc.), this downside matters a
little bit less.  This usually isn't enough on its own to justify
picking up Ghost Towns, but it might sway the balance if it's already
a hard call.

Other Considerations: Delayed Effect

In a game where you aren't drawing your whole deck every turn, playing
a Ghost Town is kind of like drawing a 4 card hand followed by a 6
card hand.  Often it's preferable to have one weak hand and one strong
hand rather than two mediocre hands, so this can be surprisingly
useful, especially in games with strong junking and weak trashing.

My Ghost Town Flowchart

Do I expect to draw my whole deck every turn?
* Yes: is my engine reliable?
  * Yes: Do I desperately need an extra card next turn?
    * Yes: Get Ghost Towns.
    * No: Get normal villages.
  * No: Get at least two Ghost Towns.
* No: Do I expect to be drawing villages dead (e.g. Cultist)?
  * Yes: Get Ghost Towns.
  * No: Is there action synergy (e.g. King's Court)?
    * Yes: Do I desperately need an extra card next turn?
      * Yes: Get Ghost Towns.
      * No: Get normal villages.
    * No: Get Ghost Towns.
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samath

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2018, 06:43:40 am »
0

Well-balanced take and well-written! I think since Nocturne came out, Iíve been blown away at how fast GT + strong terminal draw decks are. Pooka is the clear in-set example, but Iíve seen it most effective with Margrave and Council Room ó those also give the +buy to pick up extra GTís.
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DG

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2018, 10:42:38 am »
+1

I've found a few other specific effects with ghost town:
  • If ghost town is the only village and they can provide an extra action only on alternate turns, this is a limit on the maximum potential of your deck.
  • if ghost town is your only village then you know how many actions you have at the start of the turn. It doesn't change with drawing. You can plan across turns with this knowledge.
  • Like other duration cards, ghost town decks can gather momentum as you get more ghost towns down each turn for draw and cards. Once you lose momentum, with no ghost towns in play, it could be a struggle to play the actions requred to get more ghost towns played and regain that momentum.
  • Your opponent's ghost towns give a measure of their future turns too.
  • Notionally, the cost of drawing a ghost town (which gives you +1 card next turn) is covered by the ghost town putting you a card ahead on it's first play. However once you start drawing your deck or have to discard/draw to fixed hand size then this calculation changes.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 12:09:00 pm by DG »
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markus

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2018, 07:18:16 pm »
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You only say that it "feels like" Hireling, but if you want to keep playing those Ghost Towns that is not true in the literal sense. As soon as you draw the Ghost Town that you want to play this turn, you are back to the same effective number of cards in hand as if it was Village.
It still has the feel of Hireling, because you only need to find your draw card in the first 6 cards, for example.

And on your last turn of the game, you need not draw up all those Ghost Towns or you can discard them to sifters. In that sense, I like thinking about the gaining to hand and drawing at the start of turn as a borrowed draw.
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crj

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2018, 09:35:25 pm »
+4

As a stylistic point, it's probably better to avoid using the first person in this kind of article. "In my experience", "I usually prefer", etc. don't read well.


As a more substantive point, I'd say one killer use for a Ghost Town is as a turn 3 purchase when you bought terminals on your first two turns and drew neither of them on T3. Even if neither of the terminals gives you any draw, buying a Ghost Town gives you a 6/7 chance of getting to play both on T4.

Although there's still a risk (15%) of drawing both on T3, having the Ghost Town option available if needed is enough of a help that it could tip the balance in favour of buying two terminals when you would otherwise open something like terminal/Silver.
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DeepCyan

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2018, 01:29:20 am »
+2

Great article! Only nit-pick I have is that you should maybe include something about using Ghost Towns reactively based on what you have in your deck. If you know you're gonna draw 2 or 3 important terminals next turn and are out of villages for the shuffle, spending 3 on a ghost town that you might not necessarily 'need' can make a huge difference for patching up what would otherwise be a dud turn.
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Holunder9

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2018, 04:08:42 am »
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While the following are general aspects of Night cards they matter quite a bit for the Night card of which you want on average the most copies:

First, unlike Actions you can never draw Night cards dead which makes draw engines with Ghost Town even more reliable, i.e. beyond the extra Action and card at the start of the turn.
Second, there are some cards like Herald, Scrying Pool, vassal or Conspirator that prefer a high density of Action cards and if they are present in the Kingdom Ghost Town becomes relatively worse.
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Dingan

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2018, 02:19:59 pm »
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Should all Night card articles mention Haunted Woods and Tactician, or should none of them and it just goes without saying?
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samath

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2018, 03:07:40 pm »
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Should all Night card articles mention Haunted Woods and Tactician, or should none of them and it just goes without saying?
Depends on the comprehensiveness of the article. This one was fairly sparse with mentioning individual card interactions (only citing Cultist and King's Court), so it seems fine not to mention them here. But they'd definitely be a part of my "flowchart."
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Holunder9

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2018, 03:49:41 pm »
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Should all Night card articles mention Haunted Woods and Tactician, or should none of them and it just goes without saying?
Who cares, I don't. But a long article that implies comprehensiveness via providing a decision tree should definitely mention the relevant stuff, especially if it already talks about reliablity.
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werothegreat

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Re: Ghost Town
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2018, 11:30:48 am »
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The best part about Ghost Town is that most other villages want to be in your start-of-turn hand, while Ghost Town doesn't mind (and actually prefers) being the last thing you draw, and if you don't draw it, you can just buy another one that turn to get the same effect anyway!
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