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Author Topic: Engines that don't increase handsize  (Read 978 times)

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connorbr011

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Engines that don't increase handsize
« on: June 26, 2018, 10:58:29 pm »
+1

So, I have noticed that people have said that engines don't necessarily require handsize increasers. I have always wondered how they were possible.

So far, I have come to the conclusions that trashing and/or sifting are necessary for a functioning engine, besides the usual village, payload, etc.

Is it actually possible to build engines without handsize increasers?
If yes, then are there any other components besides the ones listed that are either mandatory or help quite a bit?

Thanks!
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Commodore Chuckles

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2018, 11:06:23 pm »
+3

The two big examples that spring to my mind are Grand Market and Conspirator. A cantrip +$2 is very strong even if your handsize never goes above 5.

There's also draw-to-X engines, if that counts. In those your handsize changes but never goes above a certain limit.
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DeepCyan

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2018, 11:18:39 pm »
+1

If, when mentioning handsize increases, we restrict any and all forms of draw, building an engine becomes difficult, but there are some cases where it’s possible. For starters, you usually need all your estates and coppers trashed - if you can’t draw through them, an engine would be far too unreliable. Provided this, there’s a few cards that can definitely play through your deck with a massive payload to boot, even without any draw.

Economy cantrips are the obvious example - a deck of highways and markets is one of the simplest 8+ province megaturn engines you can set up. Minions are also good at this. While they don’t conventionally increase handsize, you can play them for virtual money, discard 1-0 cards, then end up with a fresh, albeit smaller hand of 4 new cards. There’s also Vassal and Herald - cards that don’t increase handsize on their own, but let you play cards from the top of your deck to get around the limitations of a 5 card hand.

If you’re being lax about the ‘no draw rule’, you can simulate a minion deck with economy building engine pieces and ‘draw to X’ cards. Play 3 squires for actions, nomad camp, jack of all trades, draw back up to 5 cards with $5 and 2 buys. There’s also a few niche cases - rebuild can work with a draw-less engine (if we’re counting rebuild as an engine here), and a whole bunch of groundskeepers along with a couple buys/gainers can let you rapidly gain estates or duchies at the value of provinces or colonies to make up for a more limited payload.

In short, there are definitely options out there. They aren’t guaranteed, and access to draw almost always improves an engine’s potential, but there’s still options.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 01:47:23 am by DeepCyan »
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popsofctown

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2018, 01:16:03 am »
0

Minion seems like it's own separate category.  Like Draw to X, you're actually resolving action cards that are going to get you more than one new card, and like Draw to X you're not exceeding a certain fixed handsize.  But unlike Draw to X, having some junk cards isn't a deathknell, Minion retains a characteristic similar to a traditional village-smithy engine that if your deck needs to retain your starting Estates, you can address that by getting even more engine components to compensate.

The Double Tactician deck is also a special type of Engine, kind of.
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Awaclus

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2018, 02:12:26 am »
0

Minion seems like it's own separate category.  Like Draw to X, you're actually resolving action cards that are going to get you more than one new card, and like Draw to X you're not exceeding a certain fixed handsize.  But unlike Draw to X, having some junk cards isn't a deathknell, Minion retains a characteristic similar to a traditional village-smithy engine that if your deck needs to retain your starting Estates, you can address that by getting even more engine components to compensate.

It's discard to X where X is 0.
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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2018, 09:12:40 am »
+1

So, I have noticed that people have said that engines don't necessarily require handsize increasers. I have always wondered how they were possible.

So far, I have come to the conclusions that trashing and/or sifting are necessary for a functioning engine, besides the usual village, payload, etc.

You can build (winning) engines without trashing or sifting.  And you can certainly build engines without villages or with only kingdom treasure payload.  An engine aims to see most/all of its important cards each turn.  Trashing and draw are on opposite ends of a spectrum for how to do this.  You do absolutely need one or the other (at least, I can't think of a counter-example).  For an engine to work without increasing handsize, you need to be able to trash all of your starting cards and have powerful cantrips.  For an engine to work without trashing, you need strong draw, and preferably some amount of starting-hand reliability (e.g. duration draw, Gear, Scheme, etc...).  For one of the most unlikely engines, with no trashing and weak draw, check out this Dan Brooks video:

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2018, 09:48:23 am »
0

Not sure that video is the best example to underline your point here. The main reason it works is that Ghost Ship is such a strong counter to BM that you almost always want to build the engine when it's on the board.
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Mic Qsenoch

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2018, 10:00:53 am »
+2

Here is a recent game I played with Dan Brooks featuring a drawless engine:
https://youtu.be/su0rSyR2KKU?t=4110

Includes trashing (Amulet), cantrip money and VP (Treasury, Groundskeeper) and a way to gain the cantrips quickly (Horn of Plenty).

It also features me getting really lucky and playing an Amulet every single turn from T3 on.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 10:04:01 am by Mic Qsenoch »
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jomini

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2018, 10:03:27 am »
+1

So, I have noticed that people have said that engines don't necessarily require handsize increasers. I have always wondered how they were possible.

So far, I have come to the conclusions that trashing and/or sifting are necessary for a functioning engine, besides the usual village, payload, etc.

Is it actually possible to build engines without handsize increasers?
If yes, then are there any other components besides the ones listed that are either mandatory or help quite a bit?

Thanks!

Sure, cantrips like Market or Conspirator can generate cash with just 5 stop cards. In order to make that work you need something to get past the dross. Early on that means trashing, but for a long game you can actually get more out of sifting (Forum, for instance is absolutely clutch on a no-net-draw engine). You can also make headway with things like Tr/Chariot or Village/Bish that can generate VP and let your engine chug along while the other guy tries to burn through 8 provs with BM. You can also make extremely high space efficiency cards - like Forge/Fort work for generating provs.

No-net-draw does put more constraints on the engine - hand size reduction can be an absolutely brutal counter, trashing is perversely more useful early (each trash has much more impact on drawing your entire deck) and much less useful later (keeping around a dead trashing card drastically decreases the amount of green you can carry without a whiff). With sifting (e.g. Sentry) you can keep a no-net-draw engine alive much longer, but you should expect such an engine to die much more rapidly than the more traditional varieties. Likewise, you absolutely cannot rely on treasure as payload without elite level sifting. Using cash gets tricky if your cantrip cash is >$4 so you absolutely have to be savvy about how many silvers you buy and when/if you trash them (general rule of thumb is 2 silvers, trash them just before greening or when you fill all of stop slots).

In like fashion you need to be wise about the number of stop cards you are putting in the deck. Each stop card means that you have fewer slots for green before your deck becomes fragile. It can totally be worth it to run 2 or 3 stop cards (e.g. Uni x2/Pot) but 4 means you cannot green without risking whiffs and 5 means you risk them during the build up. Sifting can be helpful, but a lot of sifters (e.g. Cellar) reduce your hand size.

You can totally build engines without villages or draw, but you need to be much more careful about when and how many of each card you get. Space being at a premium does change your buy patterns.
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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2018, 10:48:04 am »
0

There are all sorts of things, generally a collection of edge cases strategies, but why not?
  • Build the next hand onto the top of the deck every turn to establish consistency with a travelling fair style strategy
  • Sift the deck each turn to give consistentcy with a scouting party style strategy
  • Golden decks that generate vp each turn with no deck changes
  • Use improved cards with +action, +card, or +coin tokens that can be the centre of a strategy even without draw
  • Find methods to get more cards into play without draw, such as Prince
  • Beat your opponents down with attacks using an abbreviated engine with an ambassador style strategy
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crj

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2018, 11:09:25 am »
0

  • Golden decks that generate vp each turn with no deck changes
Yes, this.

To me, a Golden Deck is the epitome of an engine that never draws.
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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2018, 11:27:02 am »
0

a Golden Deck is the epitome of an engine that never draws.

Well, not really. One of the key characteristics of engines is that they cycle very fast to use their newly bought cards as soon as possible, which enables them to get a very strong positive feedback loop going. One of the key characteristics of golden decks is that they don't ever see their newly bought cards because they just play the exact same turn over and over again.
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DeepCyan

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2018, 12:40:22 pm »
0

a Golden Deck is the epitome of an engine that never draws.

Well, not really. One of the key characteristics of engines is that they cycle very fast to use their newly bought cards as soon as possible, which enables them to get a very strong positive feedback loop going. One of the key characteristics of golden decks is that they don't ever see their newly bought cards because they just play the exact same turn over and over again.

To expand on this, you *can* build a Golden Deck without handsize increase, but Golden decks still like draw. IIRC all golden decks require a certain number of stop cards to work (Bishop and Bishop fodder, Islands and VP to store, Goons and an unplayed Watchtower, Ritual fodder and Curses/curse trashers, etc.). Mind you, in most cases you can limit the number of stop cards to 4, but with +draw you can and most likely should run Golden decks with 5+ stop cards.
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Awaclus

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2018, 12:52:56 pm »
0

To expand on this, you *can* build a Golden Deck without handsize increase, but Golden decks still like draw. IIRC all golden decks require a certain number of stop cards to work (Bishop and Bishop fodder, Islands and VP to store, Goons and an unplayed Watchtower, Ritual fodder and Curses/curse trashers, etc.). Mind you, in most cases you can limit the number of stop cards to 4, but with +draw you can and most likely should run Golden decks with 5+ stop cards.

But if you're adding more and more draw and more and more payload to your "golden deck" every turn, then you're playing a strategy that has everything in common with engines and doesn't have very many things in common with golden decks.
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DeepCyan

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2018, 01:00:44 pm »
0

To expand on this, you *can* build a Golden Deck without handsize increase, but Golden decks still like draw. IIRC all golden decks require a certain number of stop cards to work (Bishop and Bishop fodder, Islands and VP to store, Goons and an unplayed Watchtower, Ritual fodder and Curses/curse trashers, etc.). Mind you, in most cases you can limit the number of stop cards to 4, but with +draw you can and most likely should run Golden decks with 5+ stop cards.

But if you're adding more and more draw and more and more payload to your "golden deck" every turn, then you're playing a strategy that has everything in common with engines and doesn't have very many things in common with golden decks.

Point taken. The Goons and Ritual examples are a little lackluster, since Goons/Watchtower's strength relies on letting you build your engine indefinitely *while* trashing coppers for VP, and Ritual strats are both niche as hell and generally involve building while Ritual-ing as well (though not always). As for island...well, Island golden decks are usually limited to 4 stop cards anyway. By the time you're working with 3 or 4 islands a turn, you're probably piling them out too quickly for a conventional golden deck.

However, I think my point at least somewhat stands for bishop decks. Say you have a golden deck with 3 bishops, and 3 cards you want to feed the bishops. Even if the only thing you ever buy upon your engine's completion is replacements for those 3 cards you're trashing with bishop, you still have a golden deck that requires at least one source of draw (even though the draw in question is a mere +2 cards, ignoring duds). Mind you, it's still a bit of a nit-picky example (2 bishop decks work perfectly fine in most cases), but I don't think it's always accurate to say that golden decks never draw.
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markusin

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2018, 01:26:21 pm »
0

To expand on this, you *can* build a Golden Deck without handsize increase, but Golden decks still like draw. IIRC all golden decks require a certain number of stop cards to work (Bishop and Bishop fodder, Islands and VP to store, Goons and an unplayed Watchtower, Ritual fodder and Curses/curse trashers, etc.). Mind you, in most cases you can limit the number of stop cards to 4, but with +draw you can and most likely should run Golden decks with 5+ stop cards.

But if you're adding more and more draw and more and more payload to your "golden deck" every turn, then you're playing a strategy that has everything in common with engines and doesn't have very many things in common with golden decks.

I would call a golden deck anything that is guaranteed to draw all its cards every turn and has a minimum, or worst case, output that still pushes you towards a victory condition if you get that minimum output every turn.

For example, adding cantrips to a golden deck generally doesn't stop it from being a golden deck, as was the case for the King's Court x2 + Goons + Masquerade combo of old before the Masquerade text change. Maybe those cantrips did something like produce coins or VP tokens (in the case of Chariot Race), but they would never prevent you from doing the KC/KC/Goons/Masquerade combo on your turn.

Now, having exactly 5 stop cards still guarantees you always see those 5 stop cards every turn, but I wouldn't call your entire deck "golden" if it doesn't see all its throwaway cantrips and whatnot, purely out of aesthetic principle.

You can generalize to a "golden subdeck" where a certain subset of cards is guaranteed to be played every turn and which on its own pushes you towards victory. Simple example would be like having princes Monuments whose +$2 would eventually let you empty the supply. In this example, the Monuments and Princes would be part of your golden subdeck. Also, that deck with only 5 stop cards will always see those 5 stop cards. Those 5 stop cards, but only those 5 stop cards, make up the golden subdeck.

Adding more draw to support more stop cards will make your deck no longer golden if there is a non-zero chance you don't draw everything, and having 6+ stop cards means that if you start the turn with 5 stop cards, there is no guaranteed combination of stop cards that will be present in that 5 card dud hand because any one of the stop cards can be absent (edit: ignoring multiple copies of the same card).
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 01:33:10 pm by markusin »
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Donald X.

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2018, 03:31:26 pm »
0

Here is a recent game I played with Dan Brooks featuring a drawless engine:
https://youtu.be/su0rSyR2KKU?t=4110

Includes trashing (Amulet), cantrip money and VP (Treasury, Groundskeeper) and a way to gain the cantrips quickly (Horn of Plenty).

It also features me getting really lucky and playing an Amulet every single turn from T3 on.
And Dan buying Duchies for Groundskeeper points even though he can't win that way.
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popsofctown

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2018, 01:54:36 am »
0

I'm skeptical that a Golden Deck can beat Big Money without Smithies, Libraries, or heavy trashing being involved.  So I didn't think it deserved a separate mention.
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jomini

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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2018, 06:01:35 pm »
0

I'm skeptical that a Golden Deck can beat Big Money without Smithies, Libraries, or heavy trashing being involved.  So I didn't think it deserved a separate mention.

Okay, what BM deck beats Bish/Fort?

12 VP/turn is a huge payout even if you are accelerating their Smithy-BM.

Even something like Bish/Msqr/most any village works very well at crushing BM. Village -> Bish an estate/discard a Msqr (gain a G) -> Msqr (x2 if needed) -> Bish a gold. 5 VP per turn plus the 13 VP from trashing away the starting crud is pretty nice when BM is trying to burn through all eight Provs. You have 8 turns to make it through the Provs once the Bish player is at end game. That is very hard with pure BM to beat in the 7 or so turns before the Bish overtakes the province pile.

Other Golden decks - like Kc/Monument/trash (no draw) can likewise destroy BM. Something like Monastery is well more than enough setup for a quick Kc/Monument deck that hits 6 VP turn forever.

Something like Tomb/Fort/Forager can churn 4VP per turn exceedingly fast. Add in an Outpost or a Mission and you can again destroy the BM.

Sure your average Golden deck wants strong trashing or something else, but so too does your average BM.
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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2018, 08:35:17 pm »
+4

When I realized that “Msqr” didn’t mean Masquerade I had to back up and reread the paragraph and it made much more sense.
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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2018, 08:41:38 pm »
+9

Please dude for the love of god just type out your words, at least the first time you use them in a post.
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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #21 on: July 01, 2018, 11:37:55 pm »
+2

Not sure that video is the best example to underline your point here. The main reason it works is that Ghost Ship is such a strong counter to BM that you almost always want to build the engine when it's on the board.
Dan didn’t actually win that game the first time he played it. His actual opponent played Rebuild with Scavenger support, and after a certain point, Ghost Ship is neutral to helpful to a Rebuild player. After seeing this video, we all agreed that Rebuild is still the way to go, but it was now not unthinkable that Dan’s Dominate engine could win, which was surprising.
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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2018, 09:22:44 am »
0

Please dude for the love of god just type out your words, at least the first time you use them in a post.

It is always blindingly obvious in context. If my writing offends you, don't read it.
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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2018, 09:40:15 am »
+2

Please dude for the love of god just type out your words, at least the first time you use them in a post.

It is always blindingly obvious in context. If my writing offends you, don't read it.
How is one supposed to know whether it offends them before they read it?

Clearly you need to include trigger warnings.
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Re: Engines that don't increase handsize
« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2018, 01:54:37 pm »
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It is always blindingly obvious in context. If my writing offends you, don't read it.
No, it isn't. Especially when you're illiterate enough that you say "Msqr" instead of "MSqr".

Sure, we can all ignore you if that's what you want. But don't say you weren't warned.
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