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Author Topic: Making the Most of Your Turns  (Read 746 times)

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Titandrake

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Making the Most of Your Turns
« on: July 03, 2018, 02:02:39 am »
+10

This is basically a rewrite of an old article I wrote.

If you have an example of one of these, I'd appreciate a picture / replay.

Competitive Dominion is first and foremost a game of optimization. It's not enough to do something cool - you have to do it quickly. Accordingly, a lot of the strategy is about figuring out what's cool and whether you can do it fast enough to make it worth it.

I like to think of Dominion gameplay as two broad categories: strategy, and tactics. Strategy is your plan for the entire game - tactics is your plan for this turn. In this article I'm going to focus on just one aspect of the tactics: how to play your hand. This is the nitty-gritty of Dominion optimization - you can usually autopilot your hands, but sometimes you get a slight edge if you don't, and those edges can add up over the course of a game. More importantly, the correct play is a lot less ambiguous - this makes it easier to give advice that actually doesn't depend on the board (which is a rare situation in Dominion.)




There are two principles to keep in mind.

1. Keep your options open as long as possible.
2. Watch your reshuffle timings.

Let's begin.

Gainers

If you have a card that gains other cards to your discard pile, and you want to draw those cards, then playing the gainer before you reshuffle lets you get that card into your draw pile sooner. Conversely, if you don't want to draw the gained card, playing the gainer after the reshuffle guarantees you can't draw it for 1 cycle through your deck.

In either case, you should play the gainer as late as possible - if you can, gain cards right before the shuffle, or at the end of your turn. This gives you more information - depending on what you draw, you may decide to gain a different card than you intended.


Trashers

For cards that trash from your hand, play them later rather than earlier. It doesn't matter when you trash your cards, because you've already drawn them. The only thing that matters is that they get trashed before you finish your turn.

This is most important for Junk Dealer - because Junk Dealer is a cantrip, it can be tempting to play it early to draw another card, but unless you need that card now, you should play your other draw cards first, to see if you can find a better trash target.


Saving Your Throne Rooms

Some cards are better to copy than other cards. You always want to double the Action that gives you what you're lacking the most. If you need draw, then Throne Room Hunting Grounds. If you can comfortably draw your deck, save it for a card that gives +$ or +Buy. If you need Actions, then try to save your Throne Room for another Throne Room if you can, and then double a card that gives +Actions if you can't.

In any of these cases, it is better to hold onto Throne Room until you know what you need this turn. Maybe you need the +Cards because you drew poorly. Or maybe you don't, in which case you'd rather have the +$.

If you draw a hand of Throne Room and 4 other Actions, then playing Throne Room first is probably wrong. You want to play your other Actions first, to see if you can draw a better target for Throne Room, and then play Throne Room only when you're at-risk of running out of good Throne Room targets. (Either because you are running low on Actions, or because you are drawing too many Throne Rooms and not enough non-Throne Room actions.)

This logic is especially important for King's Court - the best target for King's Court is almost always another King's Court, so you want to save your KC until as late as possible.

A smaller note is that if you have plenty of Actions, you actually don't need to Throne Room your Throne Room. TR-TR-Action1-Action2 takes 1 action. TR-Action1 then TR-Action2 takes 2 actions. In both cases, you play Action1 twice and Action2 twice. The latter case costs 1 more action but gives you more flexibility. (For example, TR-Action1 to get close to the end of a reshuffle, play Butcher to gain a card, TR-Action2 to trigger reshuffle.)


Cards relying on cards in your deck

These are cards like Ironmonger, Chariot Race, and Golem, where they reveal cards from your deck and do something based on what you reveal. In games where you can draw your deck, you want to play your card-revealers first, while you still have cards in your deck to reveal. It's always sad when someone saves their Golem and then it only reveals 1 Action instead of 2.


Wishing Well ordering

Dan already mentioned this in another article. Say you have N cantrips, 1 Wishing Well, and the only thing you care about is drawing a specific card (say a Remodel to Remodel for the final Provinces.) You should play the Wishing Well last.

  • If the Remodel is in the top N+1 cards, you draw it no matter when you play Wishing Well.
  • If the Remodel is the N+2nd card, then you only draw it if you play Wishing Well last and wish for Remodel.

The same is true if your hand is generally draw cards, instead of just cantrips.


Card-Revealers and Shuffle Timings

Speaking of Wishing Well, note that because it draws a card and reveals a card, it triggers a reshuffle if you have fewer than 2 cards in your deck, even though it only draws 1. If you don't want to shuffle, your hand is Peddler + Wishing Well, and there are exactly 2 cards left in your draw pile, then you need to play WW first (wishing for a card you don't have), and then Peddler.

Similar principles hold for Sentry (reshuffles with < 3 cards), Cartographer (reshuffles with < 5 cards), Patrol (reshuffles with < 7 cards), and others.


Unintuitive Discards

If you get hit with a discard attack like Militia, you have to choose the best 3-card hand. Note this may be different from the 3 best cards in your hand.

Here's the game state: It's early in the game. I have 2 cards left in my draw pile. My hand is Warehouse, 2 Coppers, 2 Estates. My opponent plays Militia.

The play here is to discard 2 Coppers. Why? Well, I'm not going to buy anything that costs $2. If I discard 2 Coppers, I can play Warehouse to trigger the reshuffle, making both Estates miss the shuffle. Sure, the Warehouse misses the shuffle too, but that's worth it. This was a rare scenario where the best hand was actually one that had Estates in it.


Throne Roomed-Minions

An old classic. If you Throne Room a Minion and plan to discard your hand, you should discard your hand first. That way, you have the choice of +$2 (if your new hand is good) or a 2nd discard (if your new hand is terrible).



It's usually impossible to attribute a win entirely to these choices, since each choice only gives you a small edge. On the other hand, there's no reason to not do these things, so you should just do them. It takes a bit of practice to keep it all in mind, but soon it becomes second-nature, and then you can focus on the important strategy questions instead.
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infangthief

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Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2018, 06:43:09 am »
+3

Be aware of the impact your turn is having on your opponent's hand

There are lots of ways of applying this, but here is one example:
If you intend to play some Council Rooms and Militias this turn, consider playing some of the Militias before some of the Council Rooms, rather than leaving all the Militias to the end. The advantages include:
- force your opponent to choose their discards with less information
- cause your opponent's weak cards to get shuffled in rather than missing their shuffle
- reduce the chance of you opponent having useful reactions in hand when you play the Militias
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aku_chi

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Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2018, 08:50:04 am »
+1

Card-Savers
Play card-savers like Haven or Gear as late in your turn as possible.  And don't automatically play all of your villages and draw; you can save them for next turn if you don't need them this turn.  You can also play topdecking cards like Courtyard or Count at the end of your turn to topdeck a good card for next turn.

Imp and Conclave
If you have Imps and Conclaves remaining in your deck, prefer to play action cards that you already have in play.  If you need to play an action card that isn't in play, choose the card that, with all of its copies, will draw you the most cards.
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DG

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Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 09:56:37 am »
0

Be prepared to stop your turn earlyIf you just have a few good cards left in your draw deck and you don't need them this turn, stop drawing. They can start in hand for your next turn.

(As a general note, the introduction should mention that these concepts are for engine decks with card play options. Plenty of games don't have this much flexibility.)
« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 09:58:20 am by DG »
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JW

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Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 10:24:18 am »
+6

This is most important for Junk Dealer - because Junk Dealer is a cantrip, it can be tempting to play it early to draw another card, but unless you need that card now, you should play your other draw cards first, to see if you can find a better trash target.

Some cards are better to copy than other cards. You always want to double the Action that gives you what you're lacking the most. If you need draw, then Throne Room Hunting Grounds. If you can comfortably draw your deck, save it for a card that gives +$ or +Buy. If you need Actions, then try to save your Throne Room for another Throne Room if you can, and then double a card that gives +Actions if you can't.

Great article. It would be easier to understand for beginners if you used more cards from the base set and earliest expansions. Smithy instead of Hunting Grounds, Upgrade instead of Junk Dealer, Workshop instead of Butcher, Market instead of Peddler, and adding Vassal to the list of "revealers".
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Polk5440

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Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2018, 10:26:17 am »
0

In general, looks good.

I have a small issue with the Wishing Well section. If you are trying to maximize the number of cards you draw, then playing Wishing Well last is correct because you have more information about the contents remaining in your deck and can maximize the probability of a successful guess. So you're good there.

However, if you are wishing for a SPECIFIC card which is NOT the most common card in your deck, then there is an argument for playing Wishing Well earlier (i.e. second to last) and guessing the most common card remaining in your deck instead of the card you want.

To give a concrete example: assume there's one Goons left in your deck together with a ton of Coppers. Also assume that with just a single WW in hand, optimal play dictates wishing for Goons if you don't draw it. Then with both a WW and a single cantrip in hand, playing the cantrip first would force you to make a "suboptimal" (in the sense of not being most likely to succeed) WW guess, resulting most of the time in you drawing just 2 Coppers. If, on the other hand, you play WW first and now guess for Copper, you'll end up with 3 Coppers rather than 2 if the Goons isn't in the top 3 cards, without risking missing it because if it's revealed you can still draw it with your cantrip.


So by playing the WW second to last and wishing for Copper you still get the Goons when it's in the top three cards, but you also increase the coin you get when it's not.

(This whole thread on this topic is good.)
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Mic Qsenoch

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Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2018, 11:42:57 am »
+6

I actually think you're underselling the importance of careful card play (mostly in the final sentence). Bad reshuffles, missing gain and play, etc. can often cost a player an amount of deck improvement they might accomplish in a whole turn. This can add up to a few turns if several such mistakes are made throughout the game. In a game which typically has 10-20 turns, this is a big deal.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 11:44:06 am by Mic Qsenoch »
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Awaclus

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Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2018, 12:01:12 pm »
+1

I actually think you're underselling the importance of careful card play (mostly in the final sentence). Bad reshuffles, missing gain and play, etc. can often cost a player an amount of deck improvement they might accomplish in a whole turn. This can add up to a few turns if several such mistakes are made throughout the game. In a game which typically has 10-20 turns, this is a big deal.

Hell, just messing up one bad reshuffle can mean 2-3 dead turns on its own.
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Titandrake

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Re: Making the Most of Your Turns
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2018, 11:48:59 pm »
+1

I actually think you're underselling the importance of careful card play (mostly in the final sentence). Bad reshuffles, missing gain and play, etc. can often cost a player an amount of deck improvement they might accomplish in a whole turn. This can add up to a few turns if several such mistakes are made throughout the game. In a game which typically has 10-20 turns, this is a big deal.

After thinking about it, I agree, but I also think the two things pointed out (gain and play, reshuffle timing) are both the ones that are most important and the ones that are most subjective. Which makes them trickier to cover, but they should probably be mentioned.

I have a small issue with the Wishing Well section. If you are trying to maximize the number of cards you draw, then playing Wishing Well last is correct because you have more information about the contents remaining in your deck and can maximize the probability of a successful guess. So you're good there.

However, if you are wishing for a SPECIFIC card which is NOT the most common card in your deck, then there is an argument for playing Wishing Well earlier (i.e. second to last) and guessing the most common card remaining in your deck instead of the card you want.

To give a concrete example: assume there's one Goons left in your deck together with a ton of Coppers. Also assume that with just a single WW in hand, optimal play dictates wishing for Goons if you don't draw it. Then with both a WW and a single cantrip in hand, playing the cantrip first would force you to make a "suboptimal" (in the sense of not being most likely to succeed) WW guess, resulting most of the time in you drawing just 2 Coppers. If, on the other hand, you play WW first and now guess for Copper, you'll end up with 3 Coppers rather than 2 if the Goons isn't in the top 3 cards, without risking missing it because if it's revealed you can still draw it with your cantrip.


So by playing the WW second to last and wishing for Copper you still get the Goons when it's in the top three cards, but you also increase the coin you get when it's not.

I totally misremembered Dan's article. If you read it (http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=17849.0) he says exactly the same thing - spend all but your last wish on the most common card in your deck. Which makes a lot more sense.

I forgot about that SCSN advice but it also makes sense (i.e. it hedges better if you don't hit the card you want)
« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 11:54:01 pm by Titandrake »
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