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Screwyioux

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Question- What is an Engine
« on: July 25, 2018, 02:25:31 pm »
+1

Just want to get some feedback from different voices. Put an Engine in Dominion into words as best you can:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1efjKpTpZoYOxlwtHwmSiBLxSdXxCZ17_IpTjB84LrjE/viewform?edit_requested=true#responses
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LastFootnote

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2018, 03:38:45 pm »
0

OK I had an answer all ready, but now I'm just wondering why you're doing this survey thing instead of people just posting here in this topic.
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Screwyioux

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2018, 03:40:17 pm »
+1

OK I had an answer all ready, but now I'm just wondering why you're doing this survey thing instead of people just posting here in this topic.

Mostly because that same link is in several different places throughout this series of tubes we languish beneath.

Doing it as a google doc puts everyone's responses in the same place.
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Watno

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2018, 05:15:42 pm »
+2

It also makes it so noone can see them?
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Seprix

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2018, 08:02:37 pm »
+4

After much deliberation, I have come to a point where I feel like I can adequately describe what an engine is in layman's terms.

An engine is a deck where you are able to both (a) potentially gain more than one set of points a turn and (b) seeks to increase consistency (or at least not decrease consistency) in the deck before greening. In this way, an engine seeks to expand further than a set boundary of one Province/Colony/Dominate a turn.

Let me break down what that means a bit. Say you buy an Estate. That is a set of points, or in this case a point. Say you buy a Province, that is a set of points. Any time you score with a purchase or gain, that is a single set of points, no matter how big or small. Play a Monument? That is a set of points. Play a Goons and buy something? That is a set of points. Buy a copper and get Fountain points? You get the picture.

Secondly, consistency increase in deck building, at least to the point of where consistency does not decrease. The idea is, you want to play your good cards more often. This means trashing, this means draw, this means sifting.

Since a "money" deck seeks to only buy a single set of points a turn, thusly it only has an X hurdle to clear. Engines have a higher hurdle to clear and thusly want at least the potential for an increase of consistency, and an output greater than a single set of points a turn.

Some edgecases:

1. Workshop/Gardens. This deck does gain more than one set of points a turn, however it does not increase consistency and thusly is not an engine.

2. Donate with Lucky Coin, a lot of action cards, but no other gains. This deck will be highly consistent, however it will have no cap larger than a single set of points, and thusly there is no engine on the board.

3. An engine that is possible given the rules, but can only gain estates from Workshop/Ironworks. This is indeed an engine because it will increase consistency and score more than one set of points, however it is a very weak engine, and may lose to the more focused money deck.

4. Council Room/Margrave deck with nothing else. Yes, this is an engine. It increases consistency and it can score more than one set of points a turn. However, it is a very weak engine.

5. A deck with Lurker, Graverobber, Chapel, and no money at all but no Action increasers: The idea here is you Graverob something every turn, score a single Province, and reget your trashed stuff every turn with Lurkers, while getting incredibly consistent with the Chapel. Yes, this is merely "money", it is not an engine since there does not exist a way to score more than one set of points a turn.

I might be missing something here, but that is my current theory on engines. As you can see, the terms "money" don't always naturally fit (due to case 5 as an example), and thusly I am open to ditching the term entirely and going with a new one, to entirely replace the concept of money, except in terms of referring to the really bad single draw card Big Money of ages past.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 08:14:26 pm by Seprix »
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LostPhoenix

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2018, 08:25:39 pm »
+2

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avorian

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2018, 09:14:50 pm »
+7

I said this on discord a few times but I'll put it here too: sometimes a word can be useful without painstaking definitions being possible or useful. I suppose its unclear what the survey is trying to get at especially since its only being posted here by an ambassador of the real person who made it.

I think the word engine sticks around because it captures a very essential mindset for a type of deckbuilding. I think trying to pin that down precisely with terms like "multiple sets of points" is just a losing battle. I think the more interesting question by far is to ask "If someone you trust tells you to build an engine on a given board, what are you looking around for?"

Anyway, my own 2 cents are that the interesting characteristics are (1) The deck as a total deck is close to the deck's turns: roughly speaking if you add a key card the average turn improves by close to the entire power of that card and (2) the deck aims to use (1) to improve its own capacity.

I think (1) is the real universal thing are saying, and (2) is a debatable characteristic which I mostly use to distinguish classic overdraw/gain-and-play/explosive engines from golden deck type of scenarios where a single pattern that involves the whole deck is repeated over and over again.
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trivialknot

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2018, 10:34:37 pm »
0

My answer, as typed in the google form:

An engine is a deck whose average value per turn derives from its total deck composition, rather than its average deck composition.  So, if you randomly set aside some cards from your deck, it would hurt this turn.  Most typically, an engine has a nonzero probability of drawing or sifting through the entire deck.  The probability does not need to be high, i.e. I don't think "consistency" is a requirement.

Of course, there are a bunch of pathological cases:
-A Travelling Fair/Counting House is an engine because its value derives from the total number of copper. 
-A deck that gains Silk Roads technically derives value from its total deck composition, but I don't count that sort of thing.
-A 5-card deck, or say a deck with 10 peddlers and 4 stop cards, I would put in a third category, neither engine nor good stuff.
-There are also stockpile decks, that collect e.g. coin tokens, Royal Carriages, Duplicates, or Native Village cards for a big turn.  Here, the value of the megaturn derives from the total deck composition, but the rate of building the megaturn depends on average deck composition (e.g. how quickly you can play Royal Carriages), so I actually consider these to be good stuff decks.
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trivialknot

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2018, 10:52:33 pm »
0

An engine is a deck where you are able to both (a) potentially gain more than one set of points a turn and (b) seeks to increase consistency (or at least not decrease consistency) in the deck before greening. In this way, an engine seeks to expand further than a set boundary of one Province/Colony/Dominate a turn.
What if I have a deck with only one gain per turn, but I try to draw deck every turn just so I can play Ghost Ship every turn?  Does that fulfill (a) or not?

I don't understand why Workshop/Gardens doesn't fulfill (b).  You say that gaining gardens decreases consistency, but by the time you're gaining gardens, that would be after greening, no?
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silvern

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2018, 11:04:42 pm »
+3

A lot of these definitions strike me as a bit strange in that they don't really describe how one uses the word "engine", how the word might have come into existence in the world of Dominion, etc.--it's just a whole lot of retroactively looking at a lot of engine theory and finding some ad hoc way of connecting loose threads: an engine is a deck which, on more than 60% percent of turns gains multiple cards OR plays more than x number of cards EXCEPT in the case of....etc.

The concept of engine is easy to explain! "Hey, that strategy where you buy one smithy and money? Well it's not as good as this deck--see how efficient it is? It's sort of an....engine, you could call it".

(I find a lot of the aforementioned descriptions really really interesting! And I'm not saying they are useless. But the concept of definition should be nailed down more.)

EDIT: Ahh, Avorian said something similar. Ninja'd, as they say.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 11:05:54 pm by silvern »
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trivialknot

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2018, 11:40:00 pm »
+6

The concept of engine is easy to explain! "Hey, that strategy where you buy one smithy and money? Well it's not as good as this deck--see how efficient it is? It's sort of an....engine, you could call it".
That's what the philosophers call an "ostensive" definition.  You define the concept by pointing to examples of it.  The limitation of an ostensive definition, is that it doesn't explain what in particular makes a deck an engine or not an engine.  So we might each hear the same ostensive definition, but develop different theories of what makes an engine, and then ultimately disagree on the classification of decks that neither of us thought to point to when we started out.

The thing that we're trying to pin down is an "intensional" definition.  The intensional definition describes necessary and sufficient conditions to call a deck an engine.  There's also the "extensional" definition, which would literally be a list of every deck that would be called an engine.

There's also prototype theory, which argues that the way we understand concepts isn't really through definitions, but through prototypes.  That is, we adopt a few central examples of "engines", and we deem a deck to be an engine if we think it bears enough resemblance to one of the central examples.

...I really like Wittgenstein, okay?

It's fun to invent intensional definitions but I totally agree that they aren't necessary, nor are they accurate descriptions of how we understand concepts.
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Chris is me

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2018, 11:53:18 pm »
+3

I really donít feel comfortable answering this without knowing why itís a survey and how the answers are gonna be used? Are my words going to be lumped with similar sets of words for a poll? Are my responses going to be picked apart and misinterpreted? This is just such a strange way to collect what should be a back and forth discussion.
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Seprix

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2018, 12:00:17 am »
0

An engine is a deck where you are able to both (a) potentially gain more than one set of points a turn and (b) seeks to increase consistency (or at least not decrease consistency) in the deck before greening. In this way, an engine seeks to expand further than a set boundary of one Province/Colony/Dominate a turn.
What if I have a deck with only one gain per turn, but I try to draw deck every turn just so I can play Ghost Ship every turn?  Does that fulfill (a) or not?

I don't understand why Workshop/Gardens doesn't fulfill (b).  You say that gaining gardens decreases consistency, but by the time you're gaining gardens, that would be after greening, no?

That is "money". Playing an attack isn't gaining points. Such scenarios also lend themselves to longer games anyways, meaning weaker engines are things you usually go for then, if possible. Engines favor the longer game, and attacks lend themselves to longer games. But what you describe by itself is not an engine, because there are no additional green gains.

Workshop/Gardens doesn't fulfill (b) because there's no consistency at all. You aren't trying to draw deck, you're not thinning down, you're not sifting.

Please, keep trying to tear my idea down. It needs to be tested.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 12:01:47 am by Seprix »
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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2018, 12:04:03 am »
0

Seprix, does reducing opponents' score count as scoring a set of points? Cursers, Swindler, Knights, etc.

Seprix

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2018, 12:06:15 am »
0

Seprix, does reducing opponents' score count as scoring a set of points? Cursers, Swindler, Knights, etc.

Hmmm, that is a great point. I am going to say yes, if it can lower points it is an alternate way of scoring, with the idea in mind that perhaps Curses can be trashed. It depends, but something I did not think about.

Another idea WanderingWinder presented: He postulates that Native Village/Bridge does not fit the qualifications, I counter that Native Village is setting aside cards and you are building to one giant turn, so there is a consistency factor there, and there is a scoring method that is higher than a single set of points.
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faust

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2018, 01:49:18 am »
+1

An engine is a deck where you are able to both (a) potentially gain more than one set of points a turn and (b) seeks to increase consistency (or at least not decrease consistency) in the deck before greening. In this way, an engine seeks to expand further than a set boundary of one Province/Colony/Dominate a turn.
What if I have a deck with only one gain per turn, but I try to draw deck every turn just so I can play Ghost Ship every turn?  Does that fulfill (a) or not?

I don't understand why Workshop/Gardens doesn't fulfill (b).  You say that gaining gardens decreases consistency, but by the time you're gaining gardens, that would be after greening, no?

That is "money". Playing an attack isn't gaining points. Such scenarios also lend themselves to longer games anyways, meaning weaker engines are things you usually go for then, if possible. Engines favor the longer game, and attacks lend themselves to longer games. But what you describe by itself is not an engine, because there are no additional green gains.

Workshop/Gardens doesn't fulfill (b) because there's no consistency at all. You aren't trying to draw deck, you're not thinning down, you're not sifting.

Please, keep trying to tear my idea down. It needs to be tested.
Your definition is inadequate to capture what we commonly refer to as engines then. YOu can definitely have an engine that plays Ghost Ship every turn and gains only one green card.

Also, the definition "gets more than one set of points" is super arbitrary. A deck that plays Swindler and buys a Dominate each turn is not an engine, but the same deck playing a Monument instead and buying a Colony each turn is?
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Awaclus

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2018, 04:00:59 am »
+2

An engine is a deck where:

  • You use a combination of trashing, draw and other methods to cycle through all or almost all of the starting cards every turn
  • You use the fact that you're cycling through your deck every turn to keep building in a positive feedback loop, resulting in a deck that is more reliable and/or has more payload, allowing you to green effortlessly
  • You acquire cards that draw more cards to increase your handsize and optimize your economy to match with the +buys available
  • You acquire enough antiterminals to play all the terminal Actions in your deck that you have to play
  • Since you're cycling through most of the deck every turn, it only takes one turn to use the new cards and you might be able to even gain and play the cards on the same turn
  • You maintain the correct balance between different engine components and cards that aren't engine components to minimize the odds of dud turns
  • Your resulting deck is extremely flexible and can opt to go for whatever greening tactics that counters the opponent the best
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Chris is me

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2018, 07:33:35 am »
+2

I havenít figured out the words for it, but ďan engineĒ (as much as like dozens of different decks can be lumped together like that) differs from money / slogs in that money and slog building aims around increasing the output of the average turn, where a turn sees a relatively small subset of the deck. Whereas an engine aims to consistently see and play / buy its key cards every turn (through draw, sifting, trashing, etc).

Itís much easier to define an engine in terms of what itís not. I have no problem calling a lot of golden decks or combos engines, either.

(If anyone wants to engage with the content of this post please reply in a forum where we can talk back and forth about it, Iím not going to submit it into a Google form)
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 07:35:57 am by Chris is me »
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GendoIkari

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2018, 09:43:53 am »
0

An engine is a deck where:

  • You use a combination of trashing, draw and other methods to cycle through all or almost all of the starting cards every turn
  • You use the fact that you're cycling through your deck every turn to keep building in a positive feedback loop, resulting in a deck that is more reliable and/or has more payload, allowing you to green effortlessly
  • You acquire cards that draw more cards to increase your handsize and optimize your economy to match with the +buys available
  • You acquire enough antiterminals to play all the terminal Actions in your deck that you have to play
  • Since you're cycling through most of the deck every turn, it only takes one turn to use the new cards and you might be able to even gain and play the cards on the same turn
  • You maintain the correct balance between different engine components and cards that aren't engine components to minimize the odds of dud turns
  • Your resulting deck is extremely flexible and can opt to go for whatever greening tactics that counters the opponent the best

Are these an "and"; are they all required?
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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2018, 10:09:37 am »
+1

I don't see why we can't just say an engine is where you draw/sift through your whole deck every turn (at least until you start greening.)

Arguing about whether edge cases like golden decks are engines might be interesting, but we already have terms for those (like "golden deck") so I'm not sure it will be that helpful, at least when describing what an "engine" is to beginners.

4. Council Room/Margrave deck with nothing else. Yes, this is an engine. It increases consistency and it can score more than one set of points a turn. However, it is a very weak engine.

I fail to see how this could be considered anything other than Terminal Draw Big Money. Tacking a +Buy on Smithy Big Money does not an engine make.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2018, 10:16:10 am »
0

I don't see why we can't just say an engine is where you draw/sift through your whole deck every turn (at least until you start greening.)


I don't like the "whole" in that sentence. If you can consistently draw 3/4 of your deck; and consistently generate enough coin and buy to keep going, I wouldn't think to call that not an engine just because you have a few more stop cards than you have draw.

Quote
4. Council Room/Margrave deck with nothing else. Yes, this is an engine. It increases consistency and it can score more than one set of points a turn. However, it is a very weak engine.

I fail to see how this could be considered anything other than Terminal Draw Big Money. Tacking a +Buy on Smithy Big Money does not an engine make.

Agreed.
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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2018, 10:29:24 am »
0

An engine is a deck where:

  • You use a combination of trashing, draw and other methods to cycle through all or almost all of the starting cards every turn
  • You use the fact that you're cycling through your deck every turn to keep building in a positive feedback loop, resulting in a deck that is more reliable and/or has more payload, allowing you to green effortlessly
  • You acquire cards that draw more cards to increase your handsize and optimize your economy to match with the +buys available
  • You acquire enough antiterminals to play all the terminal Actions in your deck that you have to play
  • Since you're cycling through most of the deck every turn, it only takes one turn to use the new cards and you might be able to even gain and play the cards on the same turn
  • You maintain the correct balance between different engine components and cards that aren't engine components to minimize the odds of dud turns
  • Your resulting deck is extremely flexible and can opt to go for whatever greening tactics that counters the opponent the best

Are these an "and"; are they all required?

Yes.
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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2018, 10:31:21 am »
0

I don't see why we can't just say an engine is where you draw/sift through your whole deck every turn (at least until you start greening.)


I don't like the "whole" in that sentence. If you can consistently draw 3/4 of your deck; and consistently generate enough coin and buy to keep going, I wouldn't think to call that not an engine just because you have a few more stop cards than you have draw.

Yeah, I guess this is the main sticking point for me. I think it's been implied by some people here that an engine just isn't worth doing if you can't draw/sift your whole deck, but I might be wrong?
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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2018, 10:47:19 am »
+2

I still like a variant of the definition of engine Wandering Winder used when laying out his 5 deck types. Here's what I entered into the Google doc.

Quote
An "engine" is a deck that aims to use good cards to fill as many of the following roles as possible, but generally in a modular fashion: a) something that lets you play extra cards in a turn, b) something to let you buy or gain more cards a turn, c) something that draws you more cards, d) something to trash or cycle, e) something to attack or slow down your opponent.

Engine decks have the following properties: they aim to 1) draw or cycle through all cards as quickly as possible and 2) play a large number of cards or select key cards with high frequency.

It is usually (but not always) strategically correct when playing an engine deck to lump the gaining of Victory Cards into as few of turns as possible. Sometimes engines will win with one turn of Victory Card purchasing or without having to gain any Victory Cards at all. I think of this last thing as a consequence of engines and correct play rather than a property that defines engine decks, though.

The problem I have with the term "engine" is that with more expansions and better play, it's becoming increasingly clear that the vast majority of the time, an "engine" of some kind is the correct build on a board. That makes the term "engine" and discussing "engine" versus "not engine" mostly strategically useless because what the best engine will look like and the build path to achieve it on any given board could vary widely from kingdom to kingdom and be very complex or unclear.

Saying "build an engine" on a given kingdom almost amounts to saying something generic, like "play well". It's mostly vacuous and minimally useful once you are beyond the point of understanding this type of deck is possible to build and should be built often.

This is a good thing. Dominion is a better, more complex, more fun game when the correct strategy for a kingdom is not something super simple. But it means we should resist using "build an engine" to end, rather than begin, a discussion of strategy.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 10:50:04 am by Polk5440 »
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Re: Question- What is an Engine
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2018, 10:56:43 am »
0

I don't see why we can't just say an engine is where you draw/sift through your whole deck every turn (at least until you start greening.)


I don't like the "whole" in that sentence. If you can consistently draw 3/4 of your deck; and consistently generate enough coin and buy to keep going, I wouldn't think to call that not an engine just because you have a few more stop cards than you have draw.

I think the difference between drawing 3/4s and drawing the whole deck is significant.  If you're drawing your deck (and let's say you have at least 1 overdraw), then when you add a stop card, you get the whole value of that stop card.  If you're drawing less than your whole deck, then when you add a stop card, then it only increases your deck value if it's better than your average stop card.

A concrete example of this is a double tactician deck with ~13 stop cards.  I don't consider that to be an engine.  It can still be a good deck though.
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